Smartie the dog proved to be smart — and agile and obedient — at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
An 8-year-old Belgian Tervuren from south Louisiana, Smartie won the agility competition for the 24-inch tall class at the New York event and placed second in the separate obedience competition last week.
The decorated canine has already won the nation’s most prestigious agility events where dogs jump over obstacles of varying heights in a race for the top time, but Smartie is also becoming a top competitor at the obedience competition where she takes commands from trainer and owner Julie Hill, of Mandeville.
“She’s such a good dog,” Hill said. “She wants to do whatever I ask her to do. She enjoys working, but she’s not crazy, she’s not totally demanding.”
Hill, 57, has trained dogs full-time since 1995 when she left her previous career as a geophysicist to found Fido Finishing School in Mandeville. Smartie is currently her most dog, but Keen, a Belgian malinois she rescued, is also competitive.
Early in life, Smartie was a little wary of people, a common trait among her breed, which was used as a shepherd to guard and protect animals and humans. But after gradually introducing her to the noise and bustle of dog shows, Smartie began competing at 2 years old.
“You let them mature and have a lot of life experience,” Hill said. “That is key.”
Hill and Smartie competed at Westminster for the first time this year. The dog show, long known for its best of breed competitions, added the agility contest three years ago, and this year was the first for the obedience event.
The combination of events led Hill to make the long drive to New York with Smartie and Keen.
While Smartie is at the apex of her career for agility events, she is a rising start in the obedience world. Smartie tied for first place in that event and lost in a run-off to a Labrador retriever.
Smartie will begin competing in more obedience events as she ages, Hill said.
“In agility, she has accomplished everything I could ever want,” Hill said. “It’s also physically a lot more demanding. I would rather stop before she hurts herself or scares herself by falling off something.”
When Smartie retires, she will work alongside Hill to act as an example for the dogs she trains.
And she will continue the comfortable life she always has — living indoors and going on walks regularly.
In addition to her life as a competitor, Smartie is first a companion.