First Mutt MACH
By Brenna Fender, photos by Raymond Dutton Photography
Prince Doggie, handled by Tacarra Andrade, became the first All-American to earn the American Kennel Club (AKC) Master Agility Champion (MACH) title on February 20, 2011 at the Canine Combustion Dog Agility Club trial in Dexter, Michigan. Mixed breeds have only been allowed to compete in AKC agility since April of last year, so Novi, Michigan resident Andrade, who co-owns Prince Doggie with Michael Marshall, has been qualifying at an impressive rate with her five-year-old canine partner.
Although Prince Doggie, who is a Bichon Frise/Toy Poodle mix, is the first dog Andrade has ever owned, he has earned 36 agility titles across four different venues (AKC, United States Dog Agility Association, Canine Performance Events, and Teacup Dog Agility Association). And the two haven’t even been involved in the sport very long. “We began taking agility classes in 2007, but started more serious training a year later and began competing in USDAA in July 2008,” says Andrade. But the road wasn’t smooth: “Unfortunately, in May 2009 Prince Doggie was injured and required surgery to repair the left patella that was luxating due to the injury. The surgery resulted in four pins surrounding his knee. I thought I would have to retire him, but apparently Prince had other ideas. After three months of intense physical therapy and conditioning, Prince was ready to return to competition and play agility once again.” Post-recovery, Prince finished his CPE agility championship (C-ATCH) and went on to earn many more titles. “Needless to say, Prince’s recovery has been a mini-miracle for us and I feel so very blessed to have such a dedicated teammate to play this sport I love and respect so much,” says Andrade.
When AKC began allowing mixed breeds to compete in April, 2010, Andrade didn’t have big goals. “I knew I wanted to use Prince to combat mixed breed resistance and prove to others that mixed breed dogs can be just as intelligent, athletic, and talented as their purebred competition,” she says. After competing in AKC trials one weekend a month at first, Prince had made it to the Excellent B classes in September. “After we started picking up some QQs and MACH points rather quickly, we kicked into high gear and began trialing two-to-three weekends a month between November and February. I always knew I wanted to finish Prince’s MACH within a year of our AKC start date (by April 2011), but it wasn’t until early December 2010 that I had my eyes set on the being the first Mixed Breed MACH team,” says Andrade. With that in mind, Andrade adjusted her plans and decided she could finish the MACH in February.
While her friends thought that goal was too big of a challenge, Andrade knew what Prince was capable of and the two are enjoying their accomplishment right on schedule. She says, “Now that Prince has made AKC history as the first ever mixed breed MACH, we just feel so honored to have accomplished it on behalf of mixed breeds everywhere and will hopefully inspire other dog parents to get their mixed breeds involved with our sport. Thanks to AKC for finally allowing mixed breeds to compete in its companion events. Prince Doggie and I are having a blast!”