Orlando FloridaReas, a male white and blonde whippet, shot ahead of the competition to win the second annual Fastest Dog USA competition.
The three-year-old ran a 100-yard run in 5.769 seconds, or 35.45 mph. That’s 0.5777 seconds faster than last year’s winner, Phelan, a mixed breed rescue dog, whose winning time was 6.346 seconds or 32.3 mph. This year 250 dogs out of 154 Races competed – more than twice as many competitors as in the first race last year. Phelan’s attempt to defend his title resulted in fifth place with a time of 6.485 seconds.
The American Kennel Club calls this competition the Fast CAT Invitational – short for Coursing Skill Test. It’s part of the AKC’s annual National Championship, a series of competitions that culminate in Best in Show.
For Fast CAT, each dog competes in two categories in preliminary tests held earlier this week. The first, the Pure Speed ââcategory, which recognizes the top 10 dogs in their size class for their speed. The second, Speed ââof the Breed, determines the top 10 dogs that run the fastest above the average for their breed.
Whippets, a breed of English greyhound, a group of breeds with slender physiques, long legs, and narrow heads that allow them to reach high speeds.
Greyhound-derived whippets are smaller, but share the same lean physique and gentle demeanor.
Reas (pronounced REES) isn’t just a runabout, however.
He likes to do all of that, âsays Lindsay Gluth of Michigan City, Indiana, who Reas owns with her fiancÃ© Matt Manetti. She listed a few favorites: dock diving, frisbee, and barn hunting. But Gluth and Manetti didn’t invite Reas to these events here at AKC, instead they focused on Fast CAT – a decision that paid off. (Read How Dogs Are More Like Us Than We thought.)
The two fastest dogs of each breed entered the final race – an average of three 100-yard trials held on December 17th at the Orange County Convention Center.
The event is open to all AKC-registered dogs that are at least one year old, including mixed breeds, which the club refers to as “all American Dogs.”
ESPN, the exclusive television partner of the AKC in the USA, will broadcast the AKC Fastest Dog USA event in a two-hour program on ESPN2 on December 25th at 12 noon.
“Any dog ââcan try, and I think people like that,” said Brandi Hunter Munden, vice president of public relations and communications at AKC.
Part of the fun of Fast CAT, says Munden, is watching as many different races as they take part in the event. For example, you might see a Basset hound chasing after a greyhound or a Pekingese chasing after a Great Dane.
A match made inâ¦ evolution
During the competition, dogs chase after moving bait. Their owners often stand at the finish line cheering them on. Such a partnership lasts thousands of years, says Brian Hare, a canine cognitive researcher at Duke University, via email.
“Dogs have a unique ability to understand our body language or our cooperative communicative intentions in ways that no other species can – including our closest living relatives, the great apes,” says Hare, who has written several books on the evolution of dogs and Behavior. (Related: Stray dogs have a natural ability to understand human gestures.)
Already 40,000 years ago wolves in Germany or Siberia began to roam around human settlements, attracted by leftover food. The friendliest and least shy animals made relationships with people, helped them hunt, and protected their homes. Over time, these wolves have domesticated themselves into the modern day dog ââ- and all of its various breeds – that we know today.
This close relationship, forged over the centuries, is why it is easier to raise a dog than, say, a cat (although America’s fastest cat would be a fascinating event).
Even so, like humans, dogs have different and unique personalities and skills, and owners who want to use their dog at an event should be willing to try different activities, says Hare.
“Dogs’ minds are just like people’s minds,” claims Hare. “Different people have different cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and being good at one thing doesn’t mean you will be good at everything else.”
Working dogs provide great examples of the different cognitive skills required for different tasks. (Read how dogs use their noses to save wildlife.)
âA wheelchair towing dog may need cognitive skills such as self-control and the ability to understand communicative intentions, while a guide dog needs to understand when to disobey, such as when his partner wants him to cross a busy street. ” he says.
This year’s Speed ââof the Breed award went to Otto, a German pinscher who ran the race at 42.57 mph.
German pinschers, one of the oldest dog breeds in Germany, look like little Doberman pinschers.
“I bought Otto as a companion for my father, who was terminally ill at the time,” says owner Meredith Krause from Midland, Virginia. After the death of her father, Otto became Krause’s dog, and “we found out that he has many talents”.
Otto’s winning race was fittingly his retirement event, adds Krause. His reward? A steak dinner.