To say Angel the miniature schnauzer likes to perform is an understatement, says her Richland owner.
“I just mention the word ‘rally,’ and she’s ready to head outside,” MaryAnne “Annie” Williams said with a laugh as her dog barked in the background.
Angel will have plenty of opportunity to be in the limelight March 18 as she and Williams compete in the third annual American Kennel Club Rally National Championship in Tulsa, Okla. The pair will be in a class that pits them against the top dogs in the relatively new dog sport that combines elements of obedience and agility training.
Williams adopted Angel, her first ever pet, in 2008 after seeing how much joy her son and daughter-in-law got from a miniature schnauzer puppy they adopted.
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She loves being next to me. It’s teamwork.
MaryAnne “Annie” Williams
She took classes with her new dog from the beginning, focusing on obedience and agility. They competed in agility but took a break after Angel was diagnosed with a stress injury in her back in 2011.
Once in better health, Williams began training Angel in rally, which has dog and handler move through stations where they have to complete specific exercises.
“She loves being next to me,” she said. “It’s teamwork.”
Hundreds of dogs are expected to compete in the national championship, ranging from novice to advanced excellent, which is the class Williams and Angel will be competing in.
The pair have entered the competition since it was first held in 2014, placing 21st out of 105 entries in their class. That performance fell off a bit last year, Williams said, because she and Angel were focusing on an agility championship at the time, but they hope to put in a strong showing this year.
This year’s national championship is also special to Williams because it means getting to compete in front of family, as Tulsa is her hometown.
“Angel loves to strut her schnauzer stuff,” Williams said. “Whenever we travel, we have to take our stuff with us so she can put a show on in the backyard.”