Kinder’s Chick Mickey Chewbaka Starwars BCAT CGC TKI—known by the call name “Chick”—is a triple threat when it comes to canine sports. Chick the Bulldog excels not only in the Fast CAT 100-yard dash, but also in Diving Dogs and more recently, AKC Rally. At two years old, Chick will put his talents on display, alongside owner Michelle Kinder, at the 2023 AKC Fastest Dogs USA competition taking place on May 19 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Already Part of the Family
Chick was born in 2021, soon after Kinder and her husband had said goodbye to their first two Bulldogs. She wasn’t sure if they were ready for a puppy until she thought about what it would mean to have Chick in their life. When they brought him home at 10 weeks old, Chick already had a special connection with the family. He’s the nephew of their late Bulldog, Mickey.
Having Chick in their lives is like having a part of Mickey with them. “We wanted to have a little bit of the dog we lost,” Kinder says. “It just turned out with Chick’s personality that he likes to please. We ended up having this really great dog.”
From Spectator to Dog Athlete
“We didn’t plan on getting into dog sports,” says Kinder. “We just had a really active Bulldog who needed an outlet.” At first, Chick was just tagging along with their other Bulldog, Chewy, who participated in Diving. Four-year-old Chewy was the first-ranked Bulldog in Diving with North American Diving Dogs (NADD) in 2022, setting the bar high for Chick.
Chick began swimming at four months old. He graduated from puppy kindergarten to obedience training, earning his novice and intermediate AKC Trick Dog titles. At six months old, he earned his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title.
Since he did so well at obedience, they decided to hone his skills in AKC Rally, enrolling him in an intermediate class. Chick trialed in Novice A and got third place at his first trial. “Chick was ready for the Rally ring, but I was a little intimidated by it because I had never shown in a ring before,” Kinder says. She is hoping that Chick will get his novice title in Rally by the end of the year and is planning to train him in Hydro Dash, a Diving discipline, next.
“When you think of a [sports] dog, [some people] don’t automatically think of a Bulldog. Since they can be stubborn, you have to find a way to motivate them, whether it’s with food or toys,” she says. Kinder recalls that Chick didn’t take to the water right away. But they worked with him and made it fun, and he loves it now.
A Bulldog Built for Sports
“When Chick turned one, we took him to his first Fast CAT [event] and he just blew us away. He was so fast. He likes chasing the lure, known as the ‘bunny,'” He earned his BCAT title in 2022, which happens when a dog reaches 150 points. At that time, his average speed in Fast CAT was 19.74 miles per hour, which put him third in the Bulldog breed rankings.
In the same year, Chick competed in Diving with NADD for the first time. Standing at 14 inches and weighing 43 pounds, he competes in the lap division, with his best performance coming at seven feet, four inches. Chick has earned his novice title and ranked third among Bulldogs in the sport for 2022.
It took a bit of training and patience to get him to this point. Whereas Chewy has a strong toy drive, it wasn’t as easy to motivate Chick initially. “He loves being in the water, but he doesn’t have all the confidence he needs yet to be jumping off the dock all the time.”
But Kinder knows how to put a spring in his step when they’re competing. “He loves a cheering squad. He wants praise and if it’s too quiet, he doesn’t really want to do anything. The more you cheer him on, and he hears his name, the more excited he gets.”
Getting Chick Competition-Ready
If it were up to Chick, he would probably eat whatever he wants. But Kinder makes sure to monitor his food intake to keep him in peak condition. Before an event, Kinder gives him extra protein like scrambled eggs, meat, or cheese for added fuel.
Since Chick burns a lot of energy competing, Kinder makes sure that he doesn’t exert himself too much in the day or two leading up to a competition. “When my dogs run, they run rough and land rough, so we try to keep them engaged with toys instead of chasing a frisbee or ball.” She also makes sure that he’s medically cleared to compete.
Chick sees a veterinarian and a chiropractor every few months, especially before the start of a new season. The vet will check to see that her dogs’ joints, eyes, and ears are in good health and that there are no signs of infection or inflammation. Chick’s chiropractic care includes getting adjustments to his hips, knees, neck, and pelvic area.
A Year-Round Athlete
Throughout the year, you’ll find Chick attending a Rally class every week. Diving season runs from May to September, during which time he competes two to four times a month, practicing at an indoor pool with a trainer. Chick doesn’t compete in Fast CAT during the summer, but he’s back at it again in the fall as the weather gets cooler.
“The heat is a concern any time we’re competing in temperatures above 75 degrees,” Kinder says. If she’s anticipating hot weather conditions at an event, she’ll contact the event organizers to arrange for accommodations, like scheduling her dogs’ runs early or late in the day. She also comes prepared with a car cover, fans, and a cooling coat, cooling collar, and cooling mat.
“When [Chick] sees the bunny at Fast CAT, he gets very excited. He’s doing somersaults and twisting into himself. But if he gets too excited, he may not do as well as what you want, because he can’t focus on what he needs to do.” In these high-energy events, Kinder keeps Chick engaged with treats and fun obedience games like playing touch. “The more he can stay in a calm state of mind, the better he does. He doesn’t get excited like that in Rally, but he’s very happy. You’ll see him twisting, wiggling, and watching you.”
Staying Fit and Active
“Bulldogs can be healthy and live wonderful lives, but you have to know what you’re getting into,” Kinder says. Keeping their ears, wrinkles, and tail pocket clean is simply part of owning and grooming a bulldog. She says you have to be mindful about them overheating or overexerting themselves.
Kinder tries to dispel misconceptions about this loveable breed. “They’re an energetic, athletic dog, and are meant to be fit and muscular. To me, they’re not meant to be a couch potato. They’re smart and love to be around people.”
“My Bulldogs are not from show or sport lines, but they’re achieving wonderful things,” Kinder says. “If you’re willing to be patient and work with your dog, they’ll probably do whatever you want and have fun with it. There’s much more to Bulldogs than the cuteness and the wrinkles.” Bulldogs in colors or markings not defined in the breed standard would be disqualified in Conformation events, but they can compete in Companion and Performance sports like the ones Chick enjoys.
At Fastest Dogs USA, an AKC and ESPN production, the country’s speediest canines gather for the fourth 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. Watch the AKC Fastest Dogs USA on Saturday, July 29 at 3 p.m. ET by tuning in to ESPN!