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Running With The Big Dogs

on December 28, 2017 - 9:37am
LAHS graduate Jennifer Necker with her dog Pippa flashing through weave poles earlier this month at the AKC National Agility Invitational in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Carl Necker

Jennifer Necker of Los Alamos and her dog Pippa race across the final jump at the AKC National Agility Invitational in Orlando. Photo by Carl Necker


Imagine directing your dog as quickly as possible through a series of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and various elevated obstacles in a 40 second sprint. That’s the sport of dog agility.

The best teams representing 166 AKC recognized breeds and All American dogs competed at the AKC National Agility Invitational in Orlando earlier in December.

Jennifer Necker, a 2017 graduate of Los Alamos High School and now freshman at Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Fla., ran her 6-year-old English Setter, Pippa, in both the Junior Agility Challenge and Agility Invitational. Of the 716 dogs that competed in the Invitational, Pippa was one of five English Setters and one of only 40 breed Grand Champions to compete.

Necker and Pippa have been running together for several years, working toward their MACH, Master Agility Championship. They have trained at the Los Alamos Dog Obedience Club and the Dog Training Club of St. Petersburg. This team’s agility accomplishments over the last two years have garnered them invitations to both the 2016 and 2017 AKC National Agility Invitational. The top five dogs in each breed receive an invitation, based on the number of qualifying runs they score each year in AKC agility trials.

Necker and Pippa started their weekend with a third place finish in the 20-inch jump height class in the Junior Agility Challenge. The placement was based on their cumulative score for two runs, one on a Jumpers course (mostly jumps and one set of weave poles) and the second on a Standard course (jumps, tunnels, weaves, elevated obstacles). The Junior Agility Challenge allows handlers 18 years old and younger to compete against one another. Their placement was particularly special since Pippa was running against more traditional agility dogs like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Golden Retrievers.

The intensity of the competition and course challenges ramped up for the Invitational with four runs over two days. Necker was one of only a handful of juniors competing in the Invitational. She and Pippa had four very good runs resulting in two fast, clean runs placing them 65th in class. Only 28 of the 120 teams in the 20 inch class had four clean runs.

Necker will continue to train and compete with Pippa hoping to receive another invite next year.