Three-legged dog could make American Kennel Club history
Rascal, a young Norwich Terrier who lost a hind leg to cancer, in December may be the first “tripod” dog to compete in an American Kennel Club agility competition, now that his owner of Long Island has persuaded the club to advance its decision by as much as two years, a club spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.
“As long as your dog is capable, and we are sure your dog is capable, we are happy to welcome the dog,” AKC spokesperson Brandi Hunter Munden told Newsday.
Rascal owner Lark Shlimbaum, 72, of Bay Shore, whose dogs have been competing for about 15 years, said: “I am just delighted.”
Shlimbaum says she has spoken to hundreds of people about the AKC’s now-lifted ban – and that she also ran a Facebook campaign seen by thousands. This time at least, staying positive has paid off.
“Lark has contributed a lot to a great social media campaign,” Munden said.
The AKC also relented after Newsday asked questions on Wednesday.
Rascal excels in this sport, first on all fours and now on three legs.
Before his right hind leg was amputated in June, he qualified as the nation’s fastest Norwich Terrier in the 100 meters after a lure in the AKC 2020 Quick Running Aptitude Test, have declared its owners.
In September, as a tripod, taking on four-legged dogs, he put in a perfect performance on a level 5 jumper course – the most difficult.
Rascal may well match his owners’ emotions when he returns to AKC competitions. “He’s dying to do this,” Shlimbaum said, later adding, “Now he’s going to compete in December; I’m so happy to cry.”
Shlimbaum practiced law for decades with her husband, Don. And while he might not be circling the ring with them, her husband was the one who brought that request for Rascal’s first AKC tryout in the mailbox as soon as the club reversed course.
With the company increasingly recognizing the rights of people with disabilities, Carrie DeYoung, AKC director of agility, emailed the move “natural growth.” She added, “As safety is our number one concern, it took a lot of deliberation and research to make sure we include all dogs.”
Famous for its annual Westminster Midtown Manhattan show, the nonprofit AKC has come under increasing pressure from its advocates to focus on confirmation, for example, and allow local clubs to decide whether ‘they must follow Europe’s example by banning ear cutting and tail docking. .
Rascal returns to the ring during the AKC competitions on December 4 and 5 at Bay Shore’s training center, Doggie U K9 Academy, where he trained, pretty much every Monday night, with his 11-year-old compatriot, Norwich, Wiley, who tends to favor a slower pace.
The young person is the one who can hardly contain his enthusiasm; he often barks in the car on the way – and throughout the competition, his owner said. “It’s really a team sport between the handler and the dog,” DeYoung said. “They often communicate quietly about their dance throughout the course.”
To avoid abusing his only back leg, Shlimbaum now enters Rascal in a four-inch high jump class, half the height he previously measured.
It was in December 2020 that a stage 2 soft tissue sarcoma germinated on Rascal’s leg. Surgery and radiation therapy seemed to stop the cancer, but in June it came back. Amputation has become the only treatment option – and tests show the cancer has not spread.
AKC’s advisory committee that assesses policy developments was not scheduled to meet until 2023; the club acted so quickly, Munden explained, in part because the committee was already considering opening their trials to dogs who have shown they can handle the rigors, even as novices.
Tripods were initially rejected because dogs need to be “functionally healthy,” she said. However, the AKC is now ready to rely on the owners’ judgment, she said, although judges will stay the trial of any dog if they appear reluctant or ill.
Referring again to Shlimbaum, Munden said, “It’s partly her and partly because we… compete, we have to make sure we’re inclusive. “
“This dog,” said Donna Bielawski, a professional photographer who captured Rascal’s winning jumps and whose Miniature Australian Shepherd is in the competition as well, “been through so much, it’s really awesome.”