In her fourth appearance at the American Kennel Club National Agility Championship and first try at the preferred height class, 10-year-old Rival took home the Preferred National Agility Champion (PNAC) title. In a six dog final that featured four border collies and two aussies, Rival edged out Kayla Wieland and Danko by less than a second for the win, while slipping past Jennifer Crank and Xtreme, who actually had a time 0.1 seconds faster but with a five fault.
Handler Barbara Cote, a fourteen year veteran of the sport, explained that Rival “has a great temperament and is completely devoted to her family, especially my 8-year-old son. She is extremely athletic and can leap up to look over our 6-foot fence to see what’s happening on the other side. She is incredibly fast racing across the yard, but she is a dog who would be happy trotting next to me on an agility course. I have had to work very hard on motivation with her, especially early in her career.”
Barbara and Rival hail from Palatine, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago, training and trialing mostly on turf. According to Barbara, Rival “has always struggled on dirt” and the two prepared by renting a dirt ring and training with a focus on having fun. Barbara notes that Rival’s outstanding weekend was “completely unexpected” and her finals run was “very surreal.” She also credits Sherry Kluever, her agility instructor, for keeping her both distracted and calm ringside before her finals run.
Years ago, Rival was a wedding present to Barbara, a Chicago Cubs fan, and her husband, a Chicago White Sox fan. The couple named her Stargate’s Crosstown Classic in honor of the annual baseball series between the two Chicago teams. Now, Rival has added the title of Preferred National Agility Champion to that registered name, and plans to defend her title in 2017.