Well, it's here at last. After much discussion, and some decisions that could have been better, the AKC has at last officially announced their program to allow mixed breed dogs and their owners to compete in agility, obedience and rally.
Unfortunately, the competitions have to be stand-alone events. . . that is, not connected to a dog show. That's okay for agility, as there are plenty of agility stand-alone competitions, but not so much for obedience and certainly not for rally. I don't know where I'll ever find a stand-alone rally event within a three-state radius of my home.
But it's a step in the right direction. And the benefits of joining aren't too shabby. For becoming a Canine Partner (and paying the $35 enrollment fee) you not only get a number that will allow you to compete, but a lifetime enrollment in the AKC CAR Pet Recovery Service, the collar tag to let everyone know your dog is a CAR dog, a yearlong subscription to Family Dog magazine, a certificate and a decal.
CAR is a good program that has always been open to mixed breeds as well as purebreds, so it was a nice touch to include it in the benefits package.
My last three dogs have belonged to the UKC simply because I wanted to support their acceptance of mixed breeds, not because we really wanted to compete. My current dog did compete in agility, but had to retire due to bad hips. So I can't take him in to AKC agility, with its higher jump heights. We would compete in Rally, but as I said, chances of finding an appropriate rally trial within driving distance are slim to none.
Still, I will probably sign him up, again just to support the concept. I hope that this new program percolates out into the public conscientious and encourages more mixed breed owners to get into dog sports with their dogs.