How Did Verb Win the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster 2021?

Close observers of the agility contest may have noticed that Verb’s agility run was completed in 31.3 seconds, while a dog named Pre finished in 30.41 seconds. However, Verb was declared the winner. How did that happen?

I asked Gail Miller Bisher, Director of Communications for the Westminster Kennel Club. Her response: “The winner is determined by the number of yards per second based on height so the dog with the lowest time doesn’t always win overall.”

I still didn’t understand so I had to go to the rule book. Turns out that when the judge sets up the course, s/he measures it according to the dog’s expected path. Apparently, large dogs don’t corner on a dime the way small dogs do, so there can be differences in the path they take even on the same course. Using the measurement, the judge sets a Standard Course Time for each height group.

In addition to the faults we’re all familiar with, such as knocking a pole off of a jump, not touching the contact points on the seesaw, and running the obstacles in the wrong order, there are also time faults. For every full second over the Standard Course Time, a point is deducted from the dog’s score. Therefore, the time we were shown on TV is not the same as the score the dog is given for the run.

Hopefully this answers the question you may have had. If you want to investigate further, follow this link to the rule books (there are three of them for agility).

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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