Dogged Competitors Chase Fame In Westminster’s Friskier Face-Off

The formal 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off Monday, although it's not like one of its perfectly poised pooch contenders would kick. The canines that are more into moving than grooming competed in Saturday's Masters Agility Championship in New York City.

That is where a black and white border collie named Fame(US) — pronounced "famous" — lived up to her name, winning the contest that tests dogs' agility and speed as they maneuver through an obstacle course.

The 7-and-a-half-year-old from Sparta, N.J., nicknamed Fame, beat more than 300 competitors for the top spot.

"It's difficult to top her athletic ability," Fame's owner and handler Jessica Ajoux, a professional agility trainer, told The Associated Press. "I'm privileged to have her as a teacher, really."

In a blur of fur, Fame navigated a course that includes a seesaw, hurdles and tunnels with a time of 29.53 seconds, reports Fame bested last year's winner, another border collie named Trick, by a bit more than three seconds.

Westminster Kennel Club will donate $10,000 in Fame's name to an American Kennel Club dog club of Ajoux's choice. The web site reports she has not yet decided on one.

A Chihuahua-terrier mix named Jefe (pronounced HEFF-ay) from Sebastopol, Calif., was awarded a separate prize for the top mixed-breed agility dog.

Jefe's handler Liza Buckner told the AP that he was among a litter of starving puppies found under a house, which has helped make him the resilient pooch he is today.

"He's just a cool little dog," Buckner said.

Some of the contenders Saturday opted to take the time to exercise their comedy chops over racing. An English springer spaniel named Mia and a Pomeranian named Kenzi elicited laughs when they paused at the top of a ramp to check out the crowd, reports the wire service.

Westminster added the agility championship in 2014 to precede its more traditional contest.

Close to 3,000 entries are competing in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show beginning Monday. Best in show is awarded Tuesday night at New York's Madison Square Garden.

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