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Raluca Williams
Bones is one of Raluca Williams' six Carolina Dogs.

You may not have heard of the Carolina Dog, but that doesn’t mean you can count them out of dog sports like Fast CAT. Bones, a representative of this rare breed, is turning two years old on May 19. That same day, he’ll compete in the AKC Fastest Dogs USA event, taking place in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Owner Raluca Williams says having Bones participate in sporting events introduces some spectators to the breed, as many people have never seen a Carolina Dog before. But with a Fast CAT speed record of 31 miles per hour, Bones is a true competitor in his own right.

From Tirzah to Bones and Fastest Dogs USA

Williams wasn’t always familiar with Carolina Dogs, but when she and her husband were looking to add a family dog, they discovered their future dog, Tirzah. “We knew we wanted a Carolina Dog after looking at a number of primitive breeds,” Williams said. Primitive breeds tend to be older or ancient breeds, like the Basenji or Canaan Dog, who still behave like their early ancesters despite being domesticated. “After speaking with some of the Carolina Dog breeders that either didn’t have litters available, or it was across the country and not something we were going to be able to do, we just happened to see her listing come up.”

Tirzah was a wild-caught Carolina Dog from North Carolina. But the trip to see her was well worth it for the Belleville, Michigan residents. Not only did they discover the breed, but they also met the breed founder, Dr. Lehr Brisbin. He verified Tirzah as a Carolina Dog, which led to Williams’ eventual involvement in the Carolina Dogs breed club, breeding, and breed preservation. Dr. Brisbin suggested trying lure coursing with Tirzah, which eventually got Tirzah and her future puppies involved in the world of dog sports.

To be able to meet the breed founder and for him to still be alive and well was one thing Williams was already very thankful for, but Dr. Brisbin’s wife will also be releasing Bones at the Fastest Dog USA event. “We’re super excited to get the honor to go down there and do this,” she said. “It’s so special for us.”

Breeding to Preserve Carolina Dog Population

Williams had always wanted to breed dogs, but she didn’t know where to start or what breed to get involved with. When she met Tirzah, she knew she’d found the breed for her. Since there are so few Carolina Dogs, Williams met with other people in Carolina Dog groups and found a male to mate Tirzah with. She came across Bones’ sire, Tanka, and not too long after, they began having litters of Carolina Dog puppies.

Raluca Williams
Carolina Dogs are rare, but they make great family and sporting dogs.

“[Tanka] actually set the speed record previously in Fast CAT,” Williams said. “Tirzah, we knew, loved the game from the moment Dr. Brisbin tried it with her. So we figured between the two of them, there might be some fast pups in the little, and sure enough, it worked out.”

Williams has six Carolina Dogs now, but she and her husband weren’t always planning on Bones being one of them. He was part of a litter of eight puppies, and they had at first tried to find homes for him elsewhere, which, luckily for them, didn’t work out. “He had a number of people that either backed out, or their life circumstances changed. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work out, so he stayed.”

Naturally Fast Dogs

You could say Carolina Dogs are naturals at Fast CAT. “They have a really high play drive because that’s what allows them to survive on their own, so it just comes naturally to be able to run something like that.”

“Bones was an opportunity for me to kind of see what Carolina Dogs are capable of,” Williams said. While she started in the sport with Tirzah, she was able to start training Bones earlier. At just shy of two years old, he has earned close to 40 titles in all kinds of dog sport events. “I took him very early on to lots of different events and shows so he could see people and get a sense of everything.

Raluca Williams
Bones participates in Fast CAT, Barn Hunt, Diving Dogs, Scent Work, Trick Dog, and Conformation.

They take naturally to a lot of things. Barn hunt, for example, they naturally like to hunt. Coursing, they naturally like to run and chase. He’s shown that with the Carolina Dog, if you take them from an early age and expose them to lots of things, there’s nothing this breed can’t do.”

The Growing Carolina Dog Community

Most people who see Bones at events don’t recognize his breed, and he is the only Carolina Dog competing in Fastest Dogs USA this year. Williams urges people to consider the breed for many different things, helping to preserve the breed overall. “I would like to see more recognition for the breed, so few people know that it exists. When people are looking for a good family dog or a good sports dog, they just don’t know that this breed is even out there.”

The community has grown since they got Tirzah in 2015. Since then, their numbers have grown, and their AKC Breed Club was approved last year. “We had our National Specialty for the first time last year, and we have nice, quality dogs. It’s been a very encouraging development, just to see how the club has grown, how the dogs have grown.”

More Than a Sporting Dog

Bones isn’t just a record-setting sporting dog or a representative of his breed. He’s also a blood donor, which Williams emphasizes is even harder to come by than blood donors for people. While it’s important for Bones to bring awareness to his breed, he’s also helping other dogs on the side.

Photo by Ashley Nunnelly
Bones is not just a champion in Dog Sports, he also helps other dogs by being a blood donor.

Williams says that getting the breed out there is a big team effort. She emphasizes what a great family dog they are, and how eager they are to do a multitude of dog sports, including Fast CAT, Barn Hunt, Diving Dogs, Scent Work, Trick Dog, and Conformation, to name a few of Bones’ favorites.

“It is a dog that is very trainable,” Williams says, citing the size, ease of maintenance, and preservation as reasons to look into getting a Carolina Dog for yourself. “It’s not often that you have an opportunity to still be able to preserve a piece of history like this.”

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.