When you think Basset Hound, athleticism might not be the first word the pops into your mind. But Karen Prichard and her Instagram-famous Basset Hound, Poppy, are out to prove all breeds can excel at dog sports.
Karen and her husband, Timothy, from Pensacola, Florida, were initially drawn to Basset Hounds because of their personalities. Shortly after they were married, the couple started going to dog shows to look at and research breeds.
“We love a lot of different breeds, but we kept going back to the fact that the Basset Hounds just made us smile each time we saw them,” Karen says. They were also drawn to the fact that Basset Hounds make good therapy dogs.
The Birth of a Puppy Athlete
Poppy was three months old when the Prichards brought her home.
Poppy’s breeders of record are Debbie & Mike Moore (Baywind Bassets), Baba Monk (Briea), and Sandra Campbell (Craigwood).
“Poppy was one of a litter of 10 puppies,” says Debbie. “She descends from a line of Basset Hounds that were bred for correct body structure, movement, and temperament. Dogs in Poppy’s lineage were not only top competitors in the show ring, but also in other events.
“Our Bassets are not the stereotypical Bassets most people think of as big, gloppy couch potatoes. No, far from that – they are true athletes, and they look and move like it. As an achondroplastic breed, proper structure and conditioning is so important to having a healthy dog, capable of hunting with agility and endurance over rough terrain. When you breed for proper structure, you provide a sound foundation for achieving success in all endeavors.”
Debbie introduced Poppy and her littermates to an assortment of play toys, tunnels, and confidence-building activities at a very young age.
The morning after the Prichards brought their three-month-old puppy home, they began training for dog sports. Poppy immediately loved it. Since then, Karen and Poppy have trained daily with short, fun, and goal-oriented training sessions.
An All-Sport Basset Hound
Poppy’s favorite sport? That’s tough for Karen to answer. Poppy participates in so many sports that it’s hard for her to keep track. “I would say that Scent Work is one of her favorites because she gets to do what she was bred for…sniffing,” Karen says. “Agility is probably a really close second because she loves to run, climb, and jump. Weave poles are her favorite obstacle.”
But Poppy and Karen often get asked if they are spectators instead of competitors at Agility events. “People don’t expect to see a Basset Hound competing in Agility,” she says. “We are always pleasantly surprised by how many people enjoy watching her compete.”
Poppy, now three years old, competes in all types of sports: Barnhunt, Fast CAT, Trick Dog, Rally, Obedience, Agility, and Scentwork. She is also a certified AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, CGC dog, Therapy Dog, and a reading dog.
Poppy’s list of accomplishments is long:
- Passed the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy test at five months old
- Passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen at six months old
- Passed Therapy testing at one year old
- Youngest ever Trick Dog champion Basset Hound
- Back-to-back Obedience High in Trials at Basset Hound Club of America Nationals (BHCA) Scores: 196.5 & 195.5
- Triathlete Award at BHCA Nationals for qualifying in AKC Agility, Obedience, Rally, and Scent Work
- Qualified at one year old for AKC Rally National Championship (RNC)
- Competed at 2018 AKC RNC
- Qualified at two years old for 2019 RNC
Karen’s advice for others looking to get started in dog sports starts with the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. “It’s an excellent first goal which allows the dog owner to start working toward foundation skills like sit, stay, and being around a neutral dog. All of these skills can be used in all dog sports so it is a great place to start.”
She also wants those new to sports to know everyone started out in their position. “Just enjoy the journey of learning and becoming a team with your dog,” she says. “Don’t get hung up on the fact that you may not have the perfect breed for a particular sport. Train the dog you have and enjoy being with them!”
Think your dog has what it takes to be Dog Star of the Month? Use the hashtag #ThisIsAKC on Instagram.