Of the 1,119 dogs competing at the 2021 AKC National Agility Championship, 248 are Border Collies. 109 are Shetland Sheepdogs. 98 are mixed breeds. 21 are Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Two are Pugs. One is a Borzoi. More than 100 different breeds are represented at the competition after qualifying last year.
This year’s event takes place March 26-28 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The March 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19.
A Borzoi? In Agility?
Lou Avant is used to being the only one representing her breed in Agility. In fact, her dog Whimsy is the first and only Borzoi to ever compete at the National Agility Championship (NAC.)
“Everyone is surprised to see a Borzoi that can really run competitively,” Lou says. “The two most common comments are how beautiful she is and how happy she looks when she is running a course.”
Lou and Whimsy began in Conformation, until someone suggested Agility might give Whimsy more confidence in herself. They were right. Both Lou and Whimsy were hooked from the start of their very first class.
“Never ever did I imagine my girl would qualify for NAC,” Lou says. “She’s accomplished a lot and I am most proud of this … being the first Borzoi at NAC.”
Whimsy was also the first Borzoi to qualify for the Westminster Kennel Club Masters Agility Championship. One of Lou’s favorite memories was stepping out onto the carpet and hearing the crowd “oooh” and “ahhh” as they realized she really could run.
Representing More Breeds in Agility
Speaking of not-so-common breeds, what about the breeds that aren’ represented? From Japanese Chins to Leonbergers, more than 100 breeds won’t be at the competition. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be present next year — the competition is open to any dog who qualifies.
Lou’s advice for other breeds that aren’t represented much in Agility? “Find good people to help you. It takes a village. Believe in yourself and your dog and never give up.”
All dog owners should consult their vet before beginning a new exercise or training routine.
Watch full coverage of the 2021 AKC National Agility Championships on AKC.tv and ESPN March 26-28. All rings will be live on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning on AKC.tv. The Challenger round and Preferred finals will also be live on AKC.tv. Stream on any device or download the AKC.TV app on Roku, Apple TV, or AmazonFireTV. Regular finals will move to ESPN. The regular finals can be enjoyed live on the ESPN app and will also be featured on ESPN2 on Wednesday, March 31st at 8 p.m. ET.