Local dog and handler hitting national stage


A local dog and handler will be making their way to Georgia at the beginning of April to compete in a Purina challenge as a part of a St. Louis team.

Columbia resident Sue Phillips and her 4-year-old schnauzer Rudi will travel more than 550 miles to participate in Purina Pro Plan’s Incredible Dog Challenge, where Rudi will be part of the small dog agility category and 60 weave pole challenge events.

Phillips has been training Rudi since she was a puppy, and they have been working at Dog Sports at Kim’s in Caseyville doing obedience classes and agility training.

“Rudi is very fast and has international competition possibilities,” Phillips said.

The pair have been moving through classes of competition since Rudi was first allowed to compete and have worked up to the status of master agility champion.

“She continues to add more titles to the end of her name,” Phillips said. “It’s been really fun.”

The pair travels to dog shows on the weekends and have been to places such as Reno and Minneapolis.

Phillips said Rudi travels well because she can fit in a carrier under the seat and is allowed to ride in the cabin on an airplane.

“It’s pretty handy,” Phillips said with a laugh.

This weekend, they travel to the American Kennel Club’s National Agility Championships in Harrisburg, Penn. and have plans to travel to Minneapolis, Minn. to try out for the AKC World Team in May.

Phillips said she saw the Incredible Dog Challenge on TV and thought how fun it would be. She said the challenge is more lighthearted and mainly for fun, unlike some of the competitions Rudi has been a part of in the past. It features dogs competing in agility, disc, racing and diving events.

Dogs are selected based on recommendation, so Phillips mentioned it to some people out at Purina in Gray Summit,  Mo., where she and Rudi are also involved.

“We got our official invitation at the beginning of March and we’re very excited about getting to go,” she said.

The course is outside at Centennial Olympic Park, and they will have a chance to practice on the course Friday night before Saturday’s challenge.

The challenge itself will be live-streamed at 10 a.m. EST April 5 on www.facebook.com/proplan and www.carsonevents.com, along with two 60-minute TV shows that will be shown some time in May or June.

Phillips said she’s very excited about the challenge because she loves working with Rudi and thinks this will be fun for her.

“You are a team; this is a team sport,” she said. “Your dog watches every single move you make, so as a handler, you have to be ready to give the correct signals.”

Rudi has overcome the amputation of a toe at the end of 2013, and Phillips said it doesn’t seem like she’s slowed down a bit.

“I really don’t think it’s phased her a bit,” Phillips said. “She started back running in February.”

Rudi was out of competitions and training from October until the first of February.

“It healed really quick,” Phillips said. “She’s just a dynamite little dog and was very spoiled while she healed.”

Despite her injury, Rudi is back and ready to tackle the Incredible Dog Challenge with Phillips.

After the IDC and the world team tryouts, Phillips and Rudi plan to continue competing in American Kennel Club events and the United States Dog Agility Association.

“Rudi’s like my little shadow,” Phillips said. “She’ll go wherever I go.”

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