More than 100 competitors from 29 states and Canada submitted videos of performances for the 2020 AKC Trick Dog Competition. This 2nd Annual competition was a virtual event, open to Elite Performers, AKC’s highest level of trick dogs. The videos were then judged by three AKC licensed judges who selected the winners.
The winner, it turns out, comes from Hogwarts. Debbi Snyder and her Border Collie, “Amos” from Lakeland, Florida won with their routine, “Hairy Pawter and The Sorcerer’s Bone,” featuring Amos as Hairy Pawter.
Amos is Debbi’s first Border Collie. Over the years, she has had many different breeds — mostly Labrador Retrievers. But she had wanted a Border Collie for more than 20 years after watching a famous competitor show her Border Collie at the AKC National Obedience Championship.
Becoming Hairy Pawter
One Halloween, Debbi’s friends talked her into getting a Harry Potter costume for Amos. After taking photos, Debbi’s husband sent them off to an artist friend who added some finishing touches. That magical photo triggered the idea for their Trick Dog routine.
“Hours of work went into refining the storyline,” Debbi says. “I had suggestions from students and instructors who teach classes with me. Then I picked tricks that fit the story. Most of the tricks Amos already knew. We made little adjustments on some of the tricks to fit the story better, several weeks to be ready to film.”
Debbi always loved teaching her dogs fun tricks to do but never thought there would be a Trick Dog program to participate in. Now, Debbi and Amos have been doing formal tricks for about three years.
Before getting into Trick Dog, Debbi competed in many AKC sports. Shee has participated in AKC Rally, Obedience, and Conformation for more than 30 years.
The great thing about Trick Dog is that COVID-19 hasn’t restricted participation. “COVID-19 has only limited locations to practice in,” Debbi says. “So we worked at home and at my training building, inside and outside at both locations. No public locations.”
In response to the pandemic, all dog owners can earn their Trick Dog titles virtually.
Winning the 2020 AKC Trick Dog Competition
After Debbi submitted her video to the competition, she never expected she would win.
“I was absolutely speechless when Dr. Burch called me,” Debbi says. “I had no expectations of winning. Amos and I do tricks because we both love doing them, and to make people happy watching the tricks.”
Dr. Mary Burch, AKC Family Dog Director, was impressed by the pair’s routine. “This performance was fun to watch,” she says. “Amos performed his routine with joy, and he required minimal cues from his handler. A dog who works consistently and eagerly is ultimately what dog training is all about. We are so proud of the AKC Elite Performer Trick Dogs and their creative, devoted handlers.”
Debbi’s future goals for Amos are the continue progressing in Obedience and to try out Agility. She says she also plans to continue entering the AKC Trick Dog National Competition each year.
“I want to thank everyone at AKC who developed this whole Tricks program,” Debbi says. “It is a wonderful breath of fresh air in dog sports.”
Watch The Semi-Finalists
The two semi-finalists in the competition were Sandi Taylor and her Borzoi, Evie, from Tulsa Oklahoma, and Tracy Dulock and her Golden Retriever, Gryffindor from Robinson, Texas. Gryffindor was the 2019 competition winner.