Reas the whippet named America’s fastest dog, breaks last year’s record
The three-year-old ran a 100-meter sprint in 5.769 seconds or 35.45 miles per hour. That’s 0.5777 of a second faster than last year’s winner, Phelan, a mixed-breed rescue dog with a winning time of 6.346 seconds, or 32.3 miles per hour. This year, 250 dogs of 154 races competed – more than double the number of competitors in last year’s inaugural race. Phelan’s attempt to defend his title earned him a fifth place, clocking 6.485 seconds.
The American Kennel Club calls this competition the CAT Quick Invitation-abbreviation for running aptitude test. This is part of the annual AKC National Championship, a series of competitions that culminates with Best in Show.
For Fast CAT, each dog competes in two categories during the preliminary trials, held earlier this week. The first, the Pure Speed category, which rewards the 10 best dogs in their size category for their speed. The second, Speed of the Breed, which determines the top 10 dogs that run the fastest compared to the average for their breed.
Whippets, a breed of English greyhound, a group of breeds with lean physique, long legs and narrow heads that allow them to reach high speeds.
Descended from greyhounds, whippets are smaller but have the same elegant construction and gentle disposition.
Reas (pronounced REES) isn’t just a speedster, however.
He loves to do it all, ”says Lindsay Gluth of Michigan City, Indiana, who co-owns Reas with her fiance, Matt Manetti. She listed a few favorites: dockside diving, Frisbee and barn hunt. But Gluth and Manetti didn’t include Reas in any of these events here at the AKC, preferring to focus on Fast CAT, a move that paid off. (Read how dogs are more like us than we thought.)
The two fastest dogs of each breed competed in the final race – an average of three 100-meter trials, which took place on December 17 at the Orange County Convention Center.
The event is open to all AKC registered dogs that are at least one year of age, including mixed breeds, which the club calls All American Dogs.
ESPN, AKC’s exclusive TV partner in the United States, will broadcast the AKC Fastest Dog USA event in a two-hour show on ESPN2 at 12 p.m. on December 25.
“Any dog can try, and I think people like it,” said Brandi Hunter Munden, AKC vice president of public relations and communications.
Part of the fun of Fast CAT, says Munden, is watching so many different races take part in the event. You might see, for example, a basset hound chasing a greyhound, or a Pekingese on the heels of a great dane.
A match made in… evolution
During the competition, the dogs chase a moving decoy. Their owners often stand at the finish line cheering them on. Such a partnership has been in the making for thousands of years, Brian hare, a canine cognition researcher at Duke University, said via email.
“Dogs have a unique ability to understand our body language or cooperative communication intentions, in a way that no other species can, including our closest living relatives, the great apes,” says Hare, who wrote several books on dog evolution and behavior. (Related: Stray dogs have the natural ability to understand human gestures.)
As early as 40,000 years ago, wolves in Germany and Siberia began to hang out around human settlements, attracted to leftover food. The friendliest and least temperamental animals have formed relationships with people, helping them hunt and protecting their homes. Over time, these wolves domesticated themselves into the modern dog – and all of its various breeds – as we know it today.
This close relationship forged over centuries is why it’s easier to train a dog than, say, a cat (although America’s fastest cat is an intriguing event).
Even so, like humans, dogs have different and unique personalities and skills, and owners who want to involve their dog in an event should be prepared to try out different activities, Hare says.
“Dogs’ minds are like people’s minds,” says Hare. “Different people have different cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and being good at one thing doesn’t mean you’ll be good at everything else. “
Working dogs provide great examples of the different cognitive skills required for different tasks. (Read how dogs put their noses to work to save wildlife.)
“A dog that has to pull a wheelchair may need cognitive skills such as self-control and the ability to understand communication intentions, while a guide dog needs to know when to disobey, as if his partner wanted them to. it crosses a busy street. ” he says.
This year’s Speed of the Breed award went to Otto, a german pinscher who ran the race in 26.57 miles per hour.
German pinschers, one of the oldest dog breeds in Germany, look like small Doberman pinschers.
“I bought Otto as a companion for my dad who was terminally ill at the time,” says owner Meredith Krause of Midland, Va. After the death of his father, Otto became Krause’s dog, and “we found out that he was very talented.”
Otto’s winning race was, and rightly so, his retirement ordeal, Krause adds. His reward? A steak dinner.