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Westminster Dog Show Has Its First Mixed Agility Winner – NBC Chicago

When the Westminster Kennel Club dog show added an agility competition a decade ago, it opened the American dog industry’s most elite door to mixed breeds for the first time since the late 1800s.

But purebreds won every year — until Saturday, when a border collie-papillon mix aptly named Nimble topped 50 other finalists to capture the trophy and plant a flag for mixed-breed dogs everywhere.

“She’s just trying really hard and she’s a wonderful dog,” her owner Cynthia Hornor told the Associated Press this week.

About 12 inches tall, Nimble navigated an obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, ramps and other features like a well-aimed, furry, black-and-white torpedo to the cheers of the crowd during the agility finals.

Victory goes to the fastest dog, with penalties for any blunders when clearing obstacles. The owners run alongside to signal their dogs where to go. A time of less than 30 seconds is remarkable.

Nimble completed a flawless run in 28.76 seconds, more than a second ahead of his closest competitor, a border collie named Vanish. Border Collies have dominated in previous years, and no dog as small as Nimble had ever won before.

“I wasn’t sure it was possible,” said Hornor, an agility trainer from Ellicott City, Md., who won the agility competition last year with a border collie named Truant. Truant also competed this year, but Hornor thinks he wasn’t jealous of Nimble’s victory: “Truant loves him. »

Nimble was deliberately bred from two breeds known for their agility chops. Fans of this sport even have a term for this mixture: “border paps”.

Yet her victory amplifies Westminster’s commitment to celebrating all dogs.

“We were thrilled” to see what the entertainment world calls an “all-American” winner, said club president Donald Sturz.

The Westminster Show, which dates from 1877, included a few cross breeds in its early days, but quickly became a purebred event. It focuses on race-by-breed judging which leads to the coveted Best in Show award.

By adding agility in 2014, the club embraced a rapidly growing sport – and a way to widen its tent, attract a larger audience of dog lovers and provide something of a retort to long-standing critics dates animal rights activists who view Westminster as a misguided place. canine beauty contest for the whole pedigree. The agility competition includes a special prize for the best mixed race competitor.

As for Nimble, she may be a special mix of speedsters, but she’s also a regular dog who loves swimming, hiking and just hanging out, Hornor said.

“He’s a great dog to live with,” she said. “She’s calm, until she goes there.”

NBC Chicago

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