Verb just earned himself a new noun: champion.
On Saturday night, the 5-year-old Border Collie with the unusually grammatical name won the coveted title of 2019 Masters Agility Champion at the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual agility competition.
Competing in the 20-inch height division, Verb bested some 330 other canine competitors at Manhattan’s Pier 94, sailing across jumps, barreling through tunnels and teetering over seesaws to finish the timed obstacle course in just over 32 seconds. He ended his triumphant run by leaping into the arms of his handler, professional dog trainer Perry DeWitt of Wyncote, Pennsylvania.
Height Division Winners
The winners of the other height divisions were Gabby the Papillon (8 inches); Pixel the Miniature American Shepherd (12 inches); Pink the Border Collie (16 inches); and Harley the All-American Dog (24 inches). The competition’s top-ranked “All American Dog,” or mixed breed, was named Plop.
Border Collies are frequent winners at agility trials, thanks to their lightning speed and willingness to follow their handlers’ bidding – the same skills required of their original job tending livestock. Along with Australian Shepherds (still another herding breed), Border Collies have monopolized the top ribbons at Westminster since agility debuted there in 2014. But the owners of less traditional breeds also enjoy the intense teamwork and human-dog bond that result from agility competition. This year’s show saw an array of competitors across breeds of all shapes and sizes, from Bedlington Terriers to Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Agility was introduced to the world in 1978 at another iconic dog show, Crufts in England, where it was initially intended to entertain audiences during lulls in the big ring. Today, agility is an international dog sport, with governing bodies and competitions on five continents.