Dozens of rescued dogs competed at the National Agility Championship (NAC) March 15-17 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While some of them were All-American dogs, there were several rescued purebred dogs as well. Agility is open to all dogs, regardless of whether or not they are purebred. Any All-American dog can compete in Agility by registering as a Canine Partner. Here are five rescued NAC competitors (both All-American and purebred) who have inspiring stories.
All-American Dog Zucchini, 11 years old
All-American dog handled by Trish Nelson
Zucchini was rescued from the Iowa City Animal Shelter when she was just four months old.
“Zucchini and her sister Sage were enrolled in agility classes as pups to help build their confidence,” Trish Nelson says. “At her first agility classes, she would cringe in the back of her crate until we patiently coaxed her out. It took a while, but we just kept making sure she had positive experiences with everything we asked her to do and gradually, she gained confidence.”
Zucchini competed in her first AKC agility trial when she was six years old and earned her first two PACH titles at age nine and 10.
Now, Agility has helped Zucchini become more confident than ever.
While Zucchini qualified for AKC Nationals the last two years, this is her first appearance at Nationals.
All-American Dog Vegas, 7 years old
All-American Dog handled by Gloria Krueger
Gloria Krueger saw an article on Facebook about an animal shelter so overrun with animals, that they were going to euthanize almost 100 cats and dogs by the end of the month.
“Since I already had four dogs, I wasn’t interested in keeping one myself, but was going to pull a young dog from the shelter and try to re-home her myself,” Krueger says.
Once she arrived at the shelter, she noticed a high-energy, loud, and obnoxious dog. She says no one was interested in her because of how intense she was. Someone at the shelter told Krueger the dog wasn’t available to be rescued and was on the euthanasia list. But Krueger was able to convince them she could handle her.
“After I started training her, I was taken back by how incredibly smart she was and how much she loved agility,” Krueger says. “So, needless to say, I decided to keep her.”
Krueger says the most memorable part of NAC with Vegas this year was their ISC run.
“I got so close to obstacle number four and spent the rest of the run trying to catch up to Vegas,” Krueger says. “She saved me several times, by responding to my call off cues.”
By the time Krueger got to jump number 20, her legs “turned to gummy” and she fell. “It was my first public fall,” she says. Instead of wrapping to the inside, Vegas flipped to the outside of the jump because Krueger’s forward falling motion pushed her that way.
“I was able to prevent her from back jumping and was able to send her over the last two obstacles while picking myself up off the floor,” Krueger says.
The pair not only qualified but won a fourth place ribbon.
All-American Dog Casper, 9 years old
All-American Dog handled by Ronda Harvey
“Casper was found roaming the streets at four months old,” Harvey says. “I was asked to rescue him and I couldn’t resist. He is such a joy and a great asset to our family. I am convinced that he rescued us.”
Casper has been to Nationals twice received the title of Top Preferred All-American dog in 2016. Harvey says they hope to continue attending Nationals in the future.
All-American Dog Gemma, 6 years old
All-American Dog handled by Sharen Hyde
Gemma was a 5-month-old stray at the Irving Animal Shelter located when she was rescued by Homeward Bound rescue group. The bond between her foster mom, Sharen, and Gemma seemed instantaneous.
At the time, Sharen says she wasn’t looking for a new agility partner. But Gemma was everything she was looking for.
“The foster failure flag quickly dropped and Gemma was enrolled in puppy agility at PAWS Agility in Rhome, Texas,” Hyde says. Gemma started competing a year later, achieving her Masters titles largely in straight trials.
“Just getting to be part of the National was something I never envisioned,” Hyde says. Her favorite part of Nationals was the warm-up run. “No pressure and the thrill of hearing our names announced along with Gemma’s bio. I was so proud of how far we had come.”
Gemma and Sharen would like to thank Debbie Spence of PAWS Agility and Debbie Mims of Dixie Dogs Agility for helping Gemma rise from “unwanted to undaunted.”
Australian Shepherd Spirit, 12 years old
Australian Shepherd handled by Dawn Bravard
Spirit was rescued at 18 months old as a very shy pup. Bravard credits Agility for turning her scared, rescued Australian Shepherd into a confident dog. “She wakes up happy every day and is the sweetest pup,” Bravard says.
Spirit has qualified for Nationals the last 6 years. “Agility is her first love, but she enjoys and holds titles in Dock Diving, Coursing, and Tricks.” She has recently started Herding and Nosework.
“I feel so blessed to still be playing this game with my best friend,” she says. “It has been an incredible 10-year journey.”
If you’re considering a rescue dog, check out the AKC Rescue Network.
Re-watch all the action by going to AKC.tv on any device.