Sue Phillips of Columbia and her agility dog, Rudi, reached another milestone in 2017, after about seven years of both national and international competitions.
Rudi was recently named the No. 1 schnauzer by the American Kennel Club. The accolade, Phillips said, was determined through a combination of two qualifying scores and MACH points.
Phillips explained that the qualifying scores came from running two different courses. For one course, Phillips navigated Rudi through standard obstacles. The other included “jumpers” or hurdles.
Once Rudi received her two qualifying scores, the Double Qs were multiplied by 10. The MACH points are determined by the dog’s agility and is added to the Double Qs for a final score. Rudi finished with 2,941 points to beat out the second place score by a total of 224.
“With Rudi being really fast, she gets a lot of points,” Phillips boasted. “But being a fast dog, she can go off course easily. My job is to give her the commands ahead of time so she knows where to go.”
This isn’t the first time the 8-year-old dog’s agility and training has earned her recognition. In 2016, Rudi received a gold medal while competing on the USA team at the Americas y el Caribe competition in Colombia.
“It’s a lot more challenging and more handler focused,” Phillips said of international competition. “It really challenges me as a handler. The regular courses are smooth, but in international events you have things where you may have to do a sudden turn or transition. So I have to use a lot of motion cues to keep Rudi on course.”
Rudi has also placed in the top five in the last two years she competed in the AKC Invitational. In 2016, she was named the Agility Top Terrier for the event.
The pair will travel to New York for the Westminster Agility Championship Feb. 10. In 2016, Rudi competed in this event but did not place because of a wrong course in the standard run and a bar drop in the jumpers course.
However, Rudi continues to train and gain experience, which Phillips hopes will show in upcoming competition. Their main trainer is at Dog Sports at Kim’s in Caseyville. In addition, Rudi gets training from Jennifer McDonald at Top Shelf K-9 Agility Training near Gray Summit, Mo.
“We’re very lucky in this area. We have a great training facility near us to take all sorts of classes,” she said.
Regardless, Phillips doesn’t care as much about the results as the love she shares with Rudi.
“After each run, I train her to come back to me, partly because, if she goes off course then she can be disqualified,” she said. “But it’s also like a reward to celebrate the end of the race.
“I enjoy that the most. It’s our time to have fun and embrace each other.”