A Moment in the Sun for Mixed Breeds at Westminster.
Everyone knows that the 138 -year-old Westminster Kennel Club runs the nation’s foremost dog show. However, over the years many “everydog” owners held little hope that such a competition would ever acknowledge what are affectionately called mutts and invite the latter to participate in their events. For many years, numerous owners of unpedigreed dogs felt as if their pets were being slighted because there was no venue through which their dogs’ talents could be showcased. All that has finally changed, as mixed breeds will be competing in a Westminster Kennel Club event for the first time since the 1800s. Pet owners everywhere are rejoicing that the nation’s most celebrated dog show is now welcoming such animals. Many dog owners believe that this is the Club’s way of finally acknowledging that such dogs do indeed have something to contribute.
Over 100 years ago, mixed breeds were officially uninvited to participate in such competitions, due to the fact that their mottled bloodlines resulted in judges having no written conformity standard with which to evaluate them during the events. This resulted in many dogs being shut out of competitions. However, now that the agility event has been added to the conformation show, mixed breeds have finally made their way into the Westminster spotlight.
Rather than being judged on temperament, obedience, and beauty, the competing dogs will earn points for speed and overall agility. A total of sixteen mixed breed dogs–many of which were rescued from shelters–are scheduled to compete in the agility field against more than 200 purebred participants. Most dog owners, even those who refuse to purchase anything other than a pedigreed pooch, must admit that mutts stand a good chance to steal the show at such an event. Often stronger and able to exhibit more stamina than pure breeds, “every-dogs” frequently mow down their competition when running or maneuvering obstacles.
The agility event is a competition that requires participants to race against the clock. The handler directs the animal to run through an obstacle course , the latter of which includes dog walks, A- frames, weave poles, jumps, teeter totters and tunnels. All the obstacles are designed to challenge both the dog and the owner’s training skills.
Unfortunately, mixed breeds will not be able to compete for best in show award, as categorizing them is too difficult. However, certain individuals still speculate that the agility competition may open the door to further opportunities for the unsung heroes of the mixed breed world.
Some individuals state that Westminster made this decision due to an increasing amount of pressure from pet owners who felt as if their dogs were not being given a fair chance to showcase their talents, while other individuals are of the opinion that the decision was made simply because the agility competition is one of the few events that does not depend on temperament, appearance, and other standards that are difficult to judge if the competing dog is not a purebred.
Regardless of why this decision was made, the fact of the matter is mutts are now back at Westminster competitions for the first time since they were officially invited to leave more than a
hundred years ago. It makes one wonder if some dogs throughout the country are now saying to themselves “Who are you calling a mutt now?”