One of Maria Ruoto’s goals has always been to shatter the “couch potato” reputation that Mastiffs are oftentimes stuck with.
Maria first fell in love with the breed after lots of research and attending as many dog shows as she could. After meeting many different breeds, she decided the Mastiff would be the perfect fit for her family’s lifestyle.
“People often think that Mastiffs are slow, stubborn, and not necessarily intelligent,” Maria says. “But, they are a Working Breed and, as such, they should be physically fit, mentally sound, and able to perform.”
Her Mastiff, Quint (named after Captain Quint in Jaws), is out to prove just that. This December, Maria and Quint are traveling from Tennessee to Florida to compete in the first-ever Fast CAT Invitational in Orlando. As one of the fastest Mastiff’s in the country, Quint can run a 100-yard dash in 23.67 seconds.
A Mastiff CAN Do That
“When I hear ‘A Mastiff can’t do that’ or ‘Mastiffs are content sitting on the couch all day’ I take it as a challenge,” Maria says. “I figure if I can show people what Mastiffs can do maybe it will encourage them to try something new with their dog.”
Quint is the first Mastiff Maria has tried Fast CAT with and he immediately made clear he loved it.
“Quint loves to run and he has always had high drive, plus energy to spare. I knew after the very first time he competed in Fast CAT, when he wanted to chase the bunny back up the track, that this was something we would be doing together for a very long time.”
While they’ve only been involved in the sport for a little over a year, Maria and Quint have already made a name for themselves. In 2019, Maria estimates there were only about 20 total Mastiffs in Fast CAT.
Oftentimes, spectators and fellow competitors at events are surprised to see Quint run because of their preconceived notions that Mastiffs are slow and lumbering. “Quint shatters that notion and, let’s face it, watching a Mastiff run full speed is both amusing (jowls flapping) and impressive,” Maria says.
Representing the Breed
Maria’s three Mastiffs (Regan, Amity, and Quint) have trained and competed in several sports where Mastiff participation isn’t considered the “norm” including Rally, Obedience, Scent Work, Farm Dog, Agility, and Fast CAT. All three dogs also have their CGC and Trick Dog titles.
“I’ve also found that keeping them mentally and physically active improves their overall health,” Maria says. “Who doesn’t want that? I’m always happy to chat with anyone looking to do more with their dog. We’ve been very lucky to have had a lot of encouragement and great trainers along the way and I’d love to pay it forward!”
Maria is beyond excited for Quint to represent his breed at the first Fast CAT Invitational. “It is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate what Mastiffs are capable of.”
Watch Wednesday and Thursday’s runs live on AKC.tv and the AKC.tv app starting at 9 a.m. ET. On Friday, tune into the ESPN App from 2-4 p.m. ET to catch the finals live stream. The event will also air on ESPN2 on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. ET.
Watch the 2021 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on January 2 at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.