By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Crackers, a Jack Russell terrier, stole the show at the 2012 World Agility Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, May 18-20. The Buckman pooch competed against dogs from other parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Hungary and Puerto Rico. He took three gold medals, three silver medals and one fourth place.
The World Agility Games is run by the International Federation of Cynological Sports.
Crackers owner, Andy Mueller, drives for Land O’Lakes/Purina Foods. He first adopted Crackers to be a companion while he traveled. Mueller started agility training when Crackers was 1 1/2 years old. They started competing 2 1/2 years ago.
“He was doing so well, I took him to local trials in Little Falls, St. Cloud, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago,” said Mueller. “Then we went to the North Central regionals in Chicago and Detroit and the Nationals in Louisville, Ky.”
To get to the world championships, Crackers had to accumulate points based on his placement in the regionals and the nationals.
Mueller’s wife Loretta has made a career working with dogs. She teaches agility, obedience and sheep herding classes from their home. She has also been competing with her dogs for several years and has several who have placed in agility competition.
Agility competitions consist of jumping, weaving around poles, tunnels, climbing up one side of an A-frame, then down the other, a teeter-totter and a dog walk which is a ramp, a level walk then another ramp.
Crackers’ competitions in Fort Worth began with Mueller walking each course for eight minutes alone. There was no advanced warning on what type of course it would be, nor could Crackers see it before the competition.
Mueller then warmed up with Crackers and they were off, running the course in the time alloted.
“Right, left, get out, stay, sit, down,” Mueller said to Crackers as the dog ran through each of the courses, not missing a beat with each of the commands. “He knows the obstacles by name and all the commands.”
Mueller said there are certain faults during the course. If a dog knocks down a bar, there’s a five-second fault. If the dog does not complete an obstacle, it’s another five-second fault. If the dog goes off course, he or she is disqualified.
While in Fort Worth, Mueller and Crackers were part of the United States team. Each country’s team consisting of 12 dogs. As a result of the championships, the United States received 36 medals, Canada received 24 and Japan received eight.
“Crackers won a gold medal for individual all-around competition, determined by his point total,” said Mueller. “He came in first and now qualifies for another competition with the World Agility Open Championships in Oviedo, Spain, in May 2013. That event is run by the United Kennel International.
“To make a world team with one’s first dog is pretty rare, but to make a world team with such a young dog who has only competed for two years is amazing,” he said.
Mueller said that Loretta will be trying out for the European competitions next year. He hopes they both will be competing with the United States team in 2014.
For information on dog training, contact the Muellers at (320) 468-0369 or from their Web site at www.fulltiltbc.com