The American Kennel Club, a non-profit organization that maintains a breed registry and sanctions conformation shows and sporting events for purebreds, two years ago broke from tradition to welcome mixed breeds into the fold. Its AKC Canine Partners program is dedicated to helping “All American” dogs get started in an array of competitive and non-competitive activities.
Best known of AKC programs open to dogs of all makes and models is Canine Good Citizen, a 10-step test of dog’s basic manners and a prerequisite for many therapy-dog certifications. A new program, AKC S.T.A.R Puppy, awards medals and certificates to pups under a year old who complete a six-week training course offered in many communities around the country.
Mixed-breed dogs (they must be spayed or neutered) enrolled in Canine Partners can compete and earn titles in AKC-sanctioned companion events including agility, rally and obedience. A new Coursing Ability Test, great for dogs who love to play chase, recently was added to the roster.
Want to learn more or hook up with folks already involved in the world of canine competition? Go to the AKC events search page, select a state, choose an event from the drop-down menu and click for dates and venues. Contact the sponsoring club for recommendations on how to get started or to be briefed on spectator etiquette. You can also sniff out a mentor via the AKC’s club search page.