It doesn’t always take a purebred dog and a professional handler to win at a dog show. This was shown recently by Tampa, a former stray dog, and his owner, Arlene Hitchens, a grandmother from Delaware.
Tampa, a mixed breed Golden Retriever and Rottweiler, captured first place in three events at a United Kennel Club show in Harrisburg, Pa. Then they were named the highest scoring obedience team by the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registration. In August they competed against more than 250 purebreds at the All Star Dog Trials in York, Pa, capturing ninth place.
Hitchens found the dog living on the streets when she was vacationing in Tampa, Fla in 2002. He was the thinnest dog she’d ever seen and after hearing he was on his way to the pound she decided to give him one last meal. “That was all it took,” she said.
Tampa joined Hitchen’s other dogs, Casey and Mary Jane, and began going to obedience classes. He was so eager to please that he quickly learned the commands. He has also gotten into agility training. This is where the dog and handler go through an obstacle course racing against the clock. It is considered to be the fastest growing dog sport in the country today.
Hitchens believes that the activities create a special bond between the handler and the dog.
In October they will compete for the title of “companion dog excellent” at a dog show in Maryland.
Hitchens is pleased that her ten year old granddaughter, Katie is interested in following her into the competition ring.