AKC Agility Teams Captures Gold and Silver Medals

AKC Agility Teams Captures Gold and Silver Medals

In a stunning performance that included more than a dozen clean runs, the two AKC agility teams captured gold and silver medals in the international agility competition in Porto, Portugal, on October 5-7.

By: Patti Strand  Date: 01/8/2012 Category: | Canine Issues |

The teams bettered their performance of last year when the 26-inch team took a silver medal and the 16-inch team placed fourth.

Twenty-four standard teams competed for medals in the 26-inch division, and the AKC team brought home the gold. The US standard team members were

  • Steve Frick of Georgia and Comet,

  • Nancy Gyes of California and Riot,

  • Linda Mecklenburg of Ohio and Awesome, and

  • Elicia Calhoun of New Jersey and Suni.

  • Linda Kipp of New Mexico and Jessie.


Comet, Riot, Awesome, and Jessie are Border Collies and Suni is an Australian Shepherd.

Kipp and Jessie, Mecklenburg and Awesome, and Calhoun and Suni brought world experience to the team from the 2000 event in Helsinki, Finland.

Twenty one mini teams competed in the 16-inch division, and the AKC team won the silver medal.

The US mini-team members were

  • Barbara Davis of Washington State and Shimmer,
  • Jean LaValley of Tennessee and Taz,
  • Joan Meyer of Kansas and Dustin, and
  • Erin Schaefer of Pennsylvania and Jag.


Meyer and Dustin were alternates, but team member Barbara Lombard was benched when Turbo needed surgery.

Shimmer, Taz, Dustin, Turbo, and Jag are all Shetland Sheepdogs. Davis and Shimmer and Lombard and Turbo also competed in 2000.

In the individual competition, Erin Schaefer and Jag placed sixth overall in the mini-division with an amazing combined total of 68.78 seconds. That was only 3.37 seconds behind the top dog, a Miniature Poodle handled by Elena Klokova from Russia. Linda Mechlenburg and Awesome placed eighth overall in the standard division, a mere 2.36 seconds behind leader Jenny Damm from Sweden handling a Border Collie.

AKC's international teams are chosen based on past performances in agility competition. In order to be eligible, dogs must have a minimum of 10 perfect course runs. Qualified dogs are observed in competition, and their speeds and qualifying averages are taken into account.

The Iams Company sponsors the AKC/US agility teams in the international competition. Dan Dege, senior field representative for AKC, coached the US teams, and Sharon Anderson, AKC agility director, was captain. Each team had four members and one alternate.

Agility growth

Agility events began in England during the late 1970s as entertainment at the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham. AKC joined the growing sport in 1994 with 23 trials held that year. In 2000, the sport grew to 750 trials and nearly 200,000 entries. The vast number of exhibitors can be attributed to the fast-paced, upbeat attitude of dogs and handlers as they run the course.

Handlers of all ages participate in agility. Young people aged eight years to 18 years of age are part of the junior handler program. AKC has established a scholarship program for junior handlers who are high school students. Senior citizens also participate in the sport with renewed energy generated by the need to keep up with fast-moving dogs on the course. It is obvious to observers that competitors of any age develop a bond and mutual concentration with their dogs as they maneuver over, around, and through the course obstacles.

Agility has become one of the most filmed dog events in the country. It is not unusual to see the feature stories on major networks include dogs and handlers running the course and shouting for joy at the end of a successful run. The AKC agility nationals held at the beginning of November have been televised for the past three years, providing a full hour of enjoyment for dog owners and perhaps an incentive to take up the sport with their pets.

The AKC agility program includes courses and classes at all levels from novice for beginners to the difficult-to-achieve Master Agility Championship title. In two years, more than 100 dogs earned the MACH, a title bestowed on dogs with 20 perfect rounds and 750 championship points on excellent level courses. Twenty dogs achieved MACH 2 with 40 perfect rounds and 1500 championship points, and two dogs achieved MACH 3, an accomplishment that the agility department thought would take years to reach. This high level of competition is a direct result of AKC participation in the world championships.

A portion of this article was written by Sharon Anderson, AKC’s director of agility, for a previous NAIA News story.

About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Strand |
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