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Connie Fore - C4 Pet Photography

There’s never a question of whether or not “Toast” (KS Kneaded A Purebread CAX3 FCAT11 CGC TKN FITB) the two-year-old Beagle is at a Fast CAT event — you’ll hear him baying. But for Toast and his owner Hannah Schaede of Thompsonville, IL, there was a point in his life where he couldn’t even walk, much less run.

When he was a puppy, Toast had parvovirus, and couldn’t eat or walk for months. Now, he’s the Beagle with the most titles in Fast CAT, competing in the 2024 AKC Fastest Dogs USA competition, being held in Glendale, AZ, on February 22-23.

A Hard Start to Life

At 10 weeks old, just a few days after the Schaede family brought him home, Toast began to act off. As a precaution, they brought him to the vet, who was quickly able to diagnose that the puppy had parvo. “He was at an emergency care clinic, and he was there for seven days, just lifeless,” Schaede remembers. He hadn’t eaten that whole week, and they decided to move him to a different facility, where they gave him a feeding tube. He hospitalized for eight more days.

Hannah Schaede

Even after he was released, Schaede says that for the first six months of his life, he could barely walk on his own. They had to carry him outside any time he had to go to the bathroom, trying to help him regain his strength. “You’re supposed to be socializing your puppy during this time,” she says. “We were just trying to get him to survive, basically. It was so terrible.”

Slowly but surely, Toast regained his strength and could live like a healthy puppy again. Schaede remembers that once he started baying, he never stopped. Six months later, they took him to his first Fast CAT event.

Getting Involved in Fast CAT

Four years before getting Toast, Schaede was running Fast CAT events with another dog, her Dachshund, “Finn.” Schaede says that she was always interested in doing dog sports. “I really had always just admitted from afar agility, dock diving, things like that, but I never thought I would be able to do them,” she recalls. She says that she made the decision to go and watch dog sports, which led to her volunteering and getting more insight into how they worked. “I joined my local kennel club, and then it just took off from there,” she says. “We went to one Fast CAT event, and it was like, ‘Well, this is what we’re doing!'”

She brought Toast along to an event, and from there, he absolutely fell in love, just as she had a few years prior. Schaede started doing tracking with her Dachshunds, which is where her interest in Beagles came in. “I wanted to get another scenthound just to see if I could play into [tracking],” she says. “I just love the look of the breed, and I heard they’re just great dogs.”

Connie Fore - C4 Pet Photography

Toast’s first run wasn’t successful, but a few months later, he and Schaede gave it another shot. She ran Finn first, so Toast could see him running, and when Toast was up, he started baying. The whole time he ran down the track, he continued baying as he chased the bag, and he still does it any time he has a run. “Everyone knows when Toast is in line,” Schaede says. “He’s the loudest dog at the event!”

A Completely Different Dog

Her son was the one who came up with the name “Toast,” and Schaede worked off of this for his registered name: KS Kneaded A Purebread. “It’s funny because he changed color a bit since he was a puppy,” Schaede laughs. “Now he’s a little darker, so we like to call him ‘Burnt Toast’.”

Despite his difficult start to life, Toast is full of life and his mischievous personality shines through in everything that he does. “He’s very naughty,” Schaede says. “He gets into everything, eats everything. Anything he can get his mouth on, he picks up.” Schaede says that he’s known around the house for waiting until his owners get up to stick his tongue into their glasses or water until he hears you come back and walks away. “He’ll act like he didn’t just drink your whole drink while you were gone, every time.”

But the Schaede family sees his expression of personality as more of a blessing than anything else. “It’s such a stark contrast from when he wasn’t eating anything, couldn’t walk, all of that,” Schaede says. “I think because of that, he gets away with more than probably any of the other dogs we’ve had. He’s a little spoiled.”

Hannah Schaede

For the Love of the Lure

Toast’s complete love for the sport is the reason that Schaede spends nearly every weekend at different Fast CAT events across the country. It’s because of him that she became the primary lure operator for Time to Fly, a Fast CAT company.

“Fast CAT is not something that I actually set out to do, but he loves it so much that we’re just addicted at this point,” Schaede says. Toast is the only one of her Fast CAT dogs that will be running at the Fastest Dogs USA competition this year. The hardest part, she says, is that Toast wants to run more than twice a day.

“Toast loves Fast CAT so much, if he had it his way, he would run over and over again each day without limits,” she says. “Fast CAT is his favorite thing to do in the whole world. He’s a loud, squawking bird in a baby cheetah’s body.”

Connie Fore - C4 Pet Photography

He went from being gravely ill to being one of the best Fast CAT Beagles in the country. “Our howling Beagle, who couldn’t hold his head up or walk, is now the highest titled Beagle in Fast CAT and CAT,” she says. In 2022, he was the No. 3 Beagle, and in 2023, the No. 4 Beagle in the sport. Even so, the most important goal Schaede has for them at Fastest Dogs USA is to enjoy it.

“I feel like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. We probably will cherish this moment,” she says. “I hope that he does well, and he enjoys it, but he is going to have fun no matter what, which makes me have fun. ”

At Fastest Dogs USA, an AKC and ESPN production, the country’s speediest canines gather for the fifth annual, invitation-only event. Dogs of all breeds participate year-long, around the country, in AKC Fast Coursing Ability Tests (Fast CAT) – the 100-yard dash for dogs.