HINESVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) — On Saturday, a mixed breed 5-year old dog named Brio won the Top All-American Dog award at the 9th Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster presented by Purina Pro Plan. Brio was handled by his owner, Master Sergeant Ali Park who is stationed at Fort Stewart.
Brio, officially known as MACH Frost of the Pumpkin MXS MJS PJD MXF T2B CA DCAT, was best out of a field of 17 All-American (mixed breed) dogs, Agility competitors over two rounds of competition under judges Ms. Ronda Bermke and Mr. Ben Gibbs. Brio posted the fastest clean round of 33.69 seconds to become the 2022 Top All-American Dog.
Speaking about Brio’s demeanor during the event, Park said, “Some dogs just stress out a little bit in these environments because of all the people and the dogs. They could sense the energy in the air, but I’m so glad that Brio just took everything in stride. In fact, I feel like it kind of fed into his energy a little bit more, which kind of made me concerned about his start line because it’s very helpful at the beginning of the run to have your dog be able to sit and stay at the start line while you walk out a little bit.
She continued, “At these big events he tends to not listen very well and wants to just take off, even when I’m telling him to wait at the start line. Thankfully the courses didn’t really necessitate for me to have a big lead out so I was able to keep him waiting for just a few seconds before I released him. So, it worked out very well.”
Park, herself, was also thrilled about the event and and said, “This was my third time at the event, so I found it really exciting. I wasn’t really nervous. Maybe right before going into the final run it was a little nerve wracking but it was more exciting. I’ve done some national events before through the American Kennel Club (AKC), and so for me it wasn’t really a new experience but definitely there’s nervous excitement involved.”
Brio is Park’s second dog to compete at Westminster. Her first dog, Joelle, also a mixed breed, competed at the same event last year and made the final round.
“It was going to be her retirement run because she was aging out and she had knee surgery and I decided this would be her last final event before I retired her. I was shocked because she ended up making the final and so that was really exciting.”
With Joelle’s career being cut short and Park having been bitten by the agility bug, she knew she wanted another dog to do the sport with. Since she loved Joelle so much, she decided to get another dog just like her, which turned out to be Brio, who she found online and adopted 4 and a 1/2 years ago.
“I think most people in this sport would never just adopt a dog from the pound. But I took a good chance and I did want to get a dog that had a lot of energy and high drive. I just took a big chance because they did describe him to be ‘enthusiastic about life’ and I just thought okay, they’re trying to say that he’s full of energy and he sounds like the perfect dog for me to try this sport with. So, I took a really big chance and he turned out to be great.” she said.
Concerning Brio’s best efforts during this years Masters Agility Championship at Westminster, Park said,
“I’ve been really working on skills with him and I consider him to be a pretty seasoned dog. For a couple of years I considered him to be my baby dog when we started competing because he had a lot of issues that we still needed to work through and I would say our biggest weakness is him not wanting to sit and stay at the start line.”
She continued, “But thankfully, it wasn’t a major issue during the event just because of how the courses were laid out. I didn’t need to really get out too far at the start of these courses. But at the same time, I do feel like he has improved from knowing him from past events, he has improved in that he did sit for me a little bit longer than he used to in the past before self releasing. He’s definitely matured a lot.”
For all of his hard work Park rewarded Brio was rewarded with one of his favorite things, even more than belly rubs, food.
“He is extremely food driven. That’s his entire motivation for doing agility and that’s how I was able to train him so well and that’s why I believe he does so well. I was able to use food as a high value reward from him. So, we transfer that value right down to agility and that’s why he loves agility because of the payout. So yes, I had a can of really good dog food waiting for him at the end. I don’t normally feed him that any other time, except at the end of some of his agility runs.”
When it comes to her future with Park she said she is excited that they have come such a long way and he doesn’t have to prove anything to her anymore.
“I feel like we worked really hard. This was a big accomplishment, I’m so proud of him. He doesn’t have to repeat it again. I’m just so proud of what he’s done that we’re going to try again. We’ll keep doing it until he retires eventually, but there’s no pressure.”
She also shared something else that she is looking forward to. “I would love to be able to do dog training and dog sports full time. That’s one thing I’m definitely looking forward to once I leave the military.
The Westminster Kennel Club, is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of dogs. It hosts the all-breed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the second-longest, continuously held sporting event in the U.S.. It’s also the longest nationally televised live dog show since 1948. The annual dog show—a conformation competition for purebred dogs—and the Masters Agility Championship and Masters Obedience Championship—where dogs from all backgrounds are eligible to compete—make Westminster Week with its nearly 3,000 dogs from the U.S. and around the world a pinnacle experience for any dog lover. For more information visit Homepage (westminsterkennelclub.org).