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Handler and Canine to Compete Against the World's Best in France

New York, NY - Agility handlers and their dogs have been chosen for the AKC/USA World Agility Team to represent the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United States at the World Agility Championship. The team will travel to Lievin, France on Sept. 26-28, 2003, to compete against dogs from around the world.

The 2003 AKC/US World Agility Team includes:

· Elicia Calhoun & Suni (Australian Shepherd); North Brunswick, NJ
· Jennifer Pinder & Static (Border Collie); Lapeer, MI
· Nancy Gyes & Riot (Border Collie); San Jose, CA
· Barbara Davis & Shimmer (Shetland Sheepdog); Newman Lake, WA
· Jean Lavalley & Taz (Shetland Sheepdog); Murfreesboro, TN
· Nancy Kleinhans & Joni (Shetland Sheepdog); Jacksonville, FL
· Roger Coor & Moso (Papillion); Phoenix, AZ
· Kathie Leggett & Heather (Shetland Sheepdog); North Highlands, CA
· Terry Smorch & Remy (Border Collie); Lake Elmo, MN
· Joan Meyer & Dustin (Shetland Sheepdog); Lawrence, KS
· Barbara Bicksler & Sydney (Shetland Sheepdog); McLean, VA
· Karen Holik & Sizzle (Shetland Sheepdog); West Chicago, IL
· Erin Schaefer & Jag (Shetland Sheepdog); Foxboro, MA
· Sherry Kluever & Ransom (Border Collie); Romeoville, IL

The team, sponsored by The Iams Company and K9 Advantix ™, comprises 14 agility dogs and their handlers from across the country. The dogs compete in different categories - Maxi, Midi, Mini - based on their height (26", 18", and 14" respectively).

"Being chosen for the World Agility Team is a tremendous honor," said Sharon Anderson, team captain and director of agility for the AKC. "The team is the cream of the crop in the U.S., and they'll compete to be the best in the world. With record numbers of agility entries each year, the competition in this sport is becoming increasingly difficult. Dogs must not only consistently run the fastest times, but also have the fewest faults."

The 2003 World Team, which includes past team members who have won gold and silver medals in previous years, was selected via a year-long process. Dogs scoring at the highest level at AKC and Iams-sponsored events throughout the year were invited to a qualifying event in Minneapolis this summer.

As the AKC's fastest growing canine sport, agility demonstrates a dog's willingness to work with its handler in a variety of situations. This athletic event requires top conditioning, concentration, training and most importantly - teamwork. Dogs follow the cues of their owner/handler as they negotiate a tricky obstacle course. The canine athletes follow commands and weave through poles, bound over jumps, and balance on boards while racing against the clock.

In the 2002 World Agility Championship in Dortmund, Germany, honors went to the Mini Team (dogs that jump 14"), who brought home the silver medal. The victory allowed the Mini Team to hold onto the silver medal they won in Portugal in 2001. Individual gold medallist in 2002, Erin Schaefer hopes to defend her title in this year's Championship.

Members of the AKC/USA World Agility Team will go on to compete individually at the AKC National Agility Championship in Long Beach, CA from December 2-4, 2003.