NEW YORK – A border collie named Kelso navigated a maze of obstacles Saturday, besting about 225 other dogs to win the Westminster Kennel Club show’s first agility competition.
Owned by Delaney Ratner, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Kelso jumped, darted and clambered better than the competition to break new ground at Westminster. The winner was one of 35 border collies entered in the competition.
A husky mix named Roo!, owned by trainer Stacey Campbell, of San Francisco, got a special award for the best mixed-breed dog at the event.
The agility trial added a dynamic, fast-growing sport to the nation’s best-known dog show and marked the first time mixed-breed dogs have appeared there in 130 or more years. Dogs are judged on accuracy and speed as they navigate jumps, tunnels, ramps and other objects off-leash, with handlers guiding them via calls and signals.
Established decades ago, agility is an increasingly popular canine pursuit. The number of dogs competing in agility trials sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, the governing body for many canine events, has grown by nearly 50 percent over the last five years.
But at Westminster, the sport is playing on dogdom’s biggest stage.