The Westminster Kennel Club’s 6th Annual Masters Agility Championship came and went, declaring a winner in each of the 5 height divisions, along with the overall Masters Agility Champion and highest-scoring All-American Dog.
Jennifer Crank, the Masters Agility Winner in the 16-inch division, chatted with 1TDC™ about her experience at this year’s event. Plus, she provided a look at how she prepares for competitions with her Border Collie, P!nk.
Question: Was this your first time competing in the Westminster?
Jennifer’s answer: No, it was my third time and P!nk’s second time.
Question: What has the journey been like leading up to you and your dog finally getting to compete at Westminster? Did you change anything about your training to prepare for this specific event?
Jennifer’s answer: This year Westminster was a lot more exciting, as we were the defending champions. People were watching her a little more closely and had higher expectations.
The only thing we had to do differently to prepare was adjust her training height. She normally competes at 20”, but at Westminster she competes at 16”. Four weeks prior to the event, I adjusted her training height to get her prepared. Basically, she is not spending as much time in the air, so I need to be a bit more timely with my cues to adjust with her speed. She is also little bit lazy, as it is an easier jump.
Question: Were the courses more difficult than other events you’ve competed at?
Jennifer’s answer: I think the courses were different from the average AKC course. The rings are more rectangular versus a setup in more square rings we are used to.
Question: What was it like to show up to the event and get ready to compete?
Jennifer’s answer: Westminster is always a unique event due to the crowds and the need to compete hard to win a spot for the finals. Competitors are very supportive of each other, so the camaraderie is the same, but the interaction with the crowds is what makes it different.
Question: Did you have a place to warm up with your dog in advance? How did you warm up? Do you have any tips for warming up and prepping your dog when you are on deck and about to hit the course?
Jennifer’s answer: The only warm-up area provided is a 10 x 10 with a jump. It’s not ideal compared to what I’m used to. I like to be able to run the dog outside to warm them up—to stretch and run before they compete. There was a little less warm-up time this year than usual, as P!nk was early in the running order. I tried to get her out 10-15 minutes before a run, with a practice jump and warm-up. But, first thing in the morning I exercised her to take the edge off. This year it was by walking her from the hotel to the pier.
As for getting ready prior to hitting the course, your dog should be prepped and ready to run with loose muscles. Just make sure your dog is ready and focused on you. Do tricks or whatever gets your dog focused.
Question: Did you give your dog any 1TDC™ before the event? What benefit do you see from the supplement as it relates to your dog competing in agility?
Jennifer’s answer: Yes, she has been on 1TDC™ for quite a while, as I believe in preventive care. I normally give it to her after breakfast. P!nk is an athlete, and I want to keep her in the best condition. In addition to a good warm-up and cooldown, 1TDC™ is one of the most important elements for recovery while she is competing.
Question: What were you feeling when you knew it was about to be your turn?
Jennifer’s answer: Definitely a lot of pressure—wanting to do well and defend our title from last year. I had more pressure qualifying for the finals. There were 2 qualifying runs: standards and jumpers.
Question: Did you give your dog a pep talk before you hit the course?
Jennifer’s answer: I wouldn’t say I give her a pep talk. We have a routine consisting of a series of exercises to get her focused. She likes to watch other dogs running courses. She would continue watching versus running herself until I get her focused.
Question: How did you feel your run went? Did you know that you were going to be a Masters Agility Winner in your division?
Jennifer’s answer: Her finals run was spot on. I could not have been happier. In the moment it felt perfect. Watching the video, I noticed that her dog walk performance was average…but otherwise she performed and delivered.
There were some very top-qualified dogs in the finals. Chip and Trudi did very well setting up the standard, and John with Boss took the lead, really putting the pressure on us. P!nk delivered, and we took the lead…but it was by no means a given. There was some very healthy competition.
Question: How did you celebrate becoming a Masters Agility Winner? How did you reward your dog?
Jennifer’s answer: The next weekend we had a big party at IncrediPAWS with cheesecake, chocolate mousse, and homemade pastries.
The night we won, P!nk got lots of chicken! She stayed in NYC that night and came home the next day.
Question: You’re a Masters Agility Winner—what’s next? What goals do you have for yourself and P!nk in agility moving forward?
Jennifer’s answer: We have AKC Nationals coming up. Our goal is to enter for a third time, and we’ll attend the Incredible Dog Challenge to help us further improve.
P!nk had an incredible 2018. She took me everywhere and opened so many doors. It will be hard to top! Hopefully we can deliver with even more skills while she is still at a young age.
Question: What advice/tips/steps can you share with other agility trainers/competitors in order to be on the path to competing at Westminster and ultimately becoming a Masters Agility Winner?
Jennifer’s answer: The biggest goal is to make sure you and your dog are enjoying yourselves. Win or lose, you need to ensure your dog is having fun. That’s one of the key elements I teach in my in-person classes and online courses.
The 1TDC™ team wishes the best of luck to Masters Agility Winner Jennifer Crank and her dog, P!nk! We can’t wait to see what they do next!