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Saugus dog to compete at first Masters Agility Championship at Westminster

Posted by Kristi Palma  January 27, 2014 07:35 AM

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Becca, an American Eskimo from Saugus, is heading to New York City to compete in the first annual Masters Agility Championship during Westminster weekend on Feb. 8. And her owner and handler Chris La Voie couldn't be more proud.

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Boston.com Pets
caught up with La Voie to learn more about Becca, to find out how the dog is preparing for the big event (hint: no curlers involved), and get the purebred owner's reaction to Westminster's decision to let mixed breed dogs compete in agility.

Boston.com Pets: How do you feel about Becca competing in the first Masters Agility Championship at Westminster?
La Voie: I feel thrilled and very fortunate.

Boston.com Pets: How do you think Becca feels?
La Voie: Um, well I don’t think she knows yet. But I think she’ll be elated when we get there (laughs).

(Photo: Chris La Voie and Becca after Becca achieved her first Masters Agility Championship, courtesy Chris La Voie)

Boston.com Pets: Tell us about how Becca got into agility.
I started training her as a puppy when she was 9 months old and we just started competing. She really enjoys the sport. She loves doing agility, it’s one of her favorite things. So she’s 7 years old now so we’ve been working together as a team since then. And I feel like it’s really recently in the past year or so come together for us as a team.

Boston.com Pets: And how did Becca come to compete next month at Westminster?
La Voie: I reached out to them. It’s a random draw entry but they have entries from all over the country so we really are quite fortunate to be going. I know a lot of people who sent entries who did not get accepted (Editor's note: 653 dogs vied for 225 slots). There's only excellent and masters agility dogs allowed in this competition so you have to be in the higher levels to even enter.

Boston.com Pets: Becca is a purebred. What do you think of the show allowing mixed breed dogs to compete in an event – this event -- for the first time?
La Voie: I think it’s wonderful. It’s a big step in the right direction.

Boston.com Pets: The finals of the agility trial will be televised live on Feb. 8. How do you think Becca will do on live TV?

La Voie: Um, well it’s not Becca I’m worried about (laughs). Becca will do fine on live TV. It’s her handler that will have the problem (laughs). No, we’ll do fine. When you are out there competing, it’s all you are really thinking about, the dog and the course. That’s your focus. You have to connect with the dog and there’s not a lot of room for any other thought.

Boston.com Pets: Tell us three things about Becca.
La Voie: She’s very fun-loving. She loves agility. And I love her very much. She’s my pet before she’s my agility dog.

Boston.com Pets: How will you prepare Becca for the event?
La Voie: At this point she’s pretty well trained so we do very little training. But I did rent a facility because I did want to brush up on a couple of things before we go.

Boston.com Pets: Does she compete locally?
La Voie: All over New England, really.

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Boston.com Pets: What exactly will Becca be doing when she competes?
She will be doing the see saw, she’ll be going through tunnels, jumps, tires, A-frames, dog walks, weave-poles. There’s what we call spread jumps where they have to jump a little bit further, it’s a jump that’s spread out over a distance. Not only do you have to run the correct course but you have to perform each obstacle correctly. Time is a factor. You want to do this as fast as possible and still correctly.

(Photo: Becca competing in an agility event, Karen Hocker Photography)

Boston.com Pets: That sounds hard!

La Voie: It is not easy. But it’s a lot of fun trying!

Boston.com Pets: What's Becca's best agility event?

La Voie: I can’t say she’s better at one or the other.

Boston.com Pets: Does Becca get dolled up at all?
La Voie: (laughs) She’s dolly all on her own. I don’t have to doll her up. She’s pretty cute.

Boston.com Pets: So no curlers?
(Laughs) No curlers.

Boston.com Pets: What's next for Becca after Westminster?
La Voie: She is signed up to go to the AKC National Agility Championship in March in Pennsylvania. That’s going to be a huge event this year.

Boston.com Pets: What is your profession?
La Voie: I have my own dog walking and pet sitting business in Saugus. It’s called A Walk in the Park.

Boston.com Pets: How fitting for a dog lover like yourself.
La Voie: I know, my life has gone to the dogs!

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Watch what Becca will be doing during the Masters Agility Championship by checking out these photos of dogs testing their agility. A papillon named Carly, left, soars over a bar.

The Masters Agility Championship will air Saturday, Feb. 8 on FOX Sports 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will air Monday, Feb. 10 on CNBC from 8 to 11 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 11 on USA Network from 8 to 11 p.m.





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