A South Florida dog was one of five finalists, and the No. 1 dog in his height category, for the inaugural agility event hosted by the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
EZ, a tiny Papillon officially called Spinillons Seymour, was shown Saturday night at Westminster by his handler and trainer, John York, of Royal Palm Beach. His owner is Dr. Erin Leff, a veterinarian who works at Brookside Animal Hospital in Coral Springs.
"We always expect to get first but there was a lot of competition," said York, who said that 6-year-old EZ beat out 58 other dogs to win his division. A border collie named Kelso won the overall agility competition.
EZ, who has been competing for five years, drew a great reaction from the crowd as he raced through the course, his ears flapping as he ran and barking happily as he approached each new obstacle that included tunnels and a see-saw. He finished the course in 31.31 seconds without making any mistakes, said York.
"He just loves doing agility and he's very fast," said York.
This is the first time the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show has hosted an agility event. The actual show, which begins Monday and runs through Tuesday in New York City, is in its 138th year and is what is called a "confirmation show." That means purebred dogs are judged basically on looks and personality, compared with the American Kennel Club top standards for their breed.
Westminster billed the agility competition as the "opening act" for the dog show. Agility dogs run an obstacle course and are ranked by speed and "faults," such as if they knocked down a cross pole when making a jump.
There were about 225 dogs in the competition, chosen by lottery. All had to have achieved a master agility champion designation, won through their performance in earlier agility trials. Of those dogs, five were from Florida and two of those were from South Florida.
At Westminster, the dogs were grouped into five classes, based on their size. EZ was in the smallest class (the 8-inch class, which refers to the height of the bar on the jumps.) EZ advanced to the class finals after preliminary rounds and bested nine other dogs in his class.
The other South Florida competitor was a Norwich terrier named Dinah Molly, owned by Melanie Bryson, of Boca Raton. Dinah Molly also was in the 8-inch class but did not advance beyond the preliminary rounds.
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