Australian Shepherd ‘Holster’ Wins Agility At Westminster

Westminster Kennel Club hosted its 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on Saturday, February 13. Held on a day of bone-chilling cold at New York’s Pier 94, the event precedes Westminster’s 140th Annual All Breed Dog Show on the following Monday and Tuesday. Entry is limited to dogs that have attained Master titles (MX and MXJ, or MXP and MJP) in agility. Entries were comprised of 330 dogs representing 28 states, most coming from New Jersey (81), New York (75), and Connecticut (31).

Westminster welcomes both purebred dogs and mixed breeds in agility competition. The Westminster website explains that includes purebred dogs, mixed breeds registered in the AKC’s Canine Partners program, Miscellaneous breeds not yet eligible for conformation competition, Foundation Stock Service recorded breeds, and Purebred Alternative Listing dogs (purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered). Among the most exciting of dog-related spectator sports, the agility competition consists of an obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, a teeter, an A-frame and more. Dogs run off leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler is not allowed to touch the dog. Speed is everything, as the dog has to accomplish all maneuvers within one minute’s time.

Agility is a sport where the border collie is the undisputed king. Indeed, the first two years at this Westminster event were both won by border collies.

Holster, a 6-year-old Australian shepherd owned by Wendy Cerilli of Greenwich, New York, approached the course with a time to beat of 42.45. Holster, a blue merle, sported the expression of one completely stoked to do the job — no doubt intensified by the fact that both his eyes are blue. Cerilli gave the signal by clapping her hands, and Holster shot past her like he was fired from a cannon. With the characteristic Aussie stiff-legged bounce, he fired over two jumps and then scrambled up the dog walk. He blasted through the tunnel and coming out, had to be redirected vocally, but he made the turn and fired through the chute and then another tunnel. The weave poles were a breeze, and then he ran up the teeter, which is always a challenge because it requires the dogs to make contact with their feet as the teeter hits the ground, not simply leap off. He cleared more jumps, and then on the downside of the A-frame, the crowd started cheering.

Holster was crowned the winner with a run of 35.10 seconds.

Officially recognized by the AKC in 1991, the Australian shepherd is a member of the Herding Dog Group. The breed standard reads that the Australian Shepherd is “an intelligent working dog of strong herding and guarding instincts. He is a loyal companion and has the stamina to work all day. He is well balanced, slightly longer than tall, of medium size and bone, with coloring that offers variety and individuality. He is attentive and animated, lithe and agile, solid and muscular without cloddiness. He has a coat of moderate length and coarseness. He has a docked or natural bobbed tail.”

AKC says that the temperament of the Aussie is “exuberant, smart and work-oriented.”

It’s obvious that Holster fits all these personality traits.

Cerilli was glowing.

“He’s a very loyal and hardworking dog,”

Fox Sports reported the list of winners in other classes.

  • Hailey, winner of the All-American Dog division. This is a class for dogs who are not AKC registered.
Westminster Hailey
  • 24-inch division: Belgian Tervuren named Smartie, handled by Julie Hill of Mandeville, Louisiana
Westminster Smartie
  • 16-inch division: Cruzer, a Shetland sheepdog handled by Diane Patterson of Middletown, Connecticut
Westminster Cruzer Agility2
  • 12-inch division: Keebler, a Pembroke Welsh corgi handled by Roger O’Sullivan of Giahanna, Ohio — the only dog defending back-to-back wins.
Westminster Keebler
  • 8-inch division: Wren, a Papillion handled by Betsey Lynch of Delaware, Ohio
westminster Wren

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show airs Monday, February 16, on CNBC Live 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET and Tuesday, February 17, on USA Network Live 8-11 p.m. ET.

See more about Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on the Inquisitr in articles like the following.

[Photo via Jack Grassa/Westminster Kennel Club. Used with permission.]