2017-02-09 / Front Page

Northport pooch to prance stuff at Westminster show

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


LADDIE, A SHELTIE, has a been a fool for obstacle courses since he was just a few weeks old and began leaping over the living room couch. LADDIE, A SHELTIE, has a been a fool for obstacle courses since he was just a few weeks old and began leaping over the living room couch. A local dog is headed for the big time.

Laddie, a Shetland sheepdog, and his owners, Mike and Pat Germain of Leelanau Township, are leaving today for New York City, where Laddie has qualified for a spot in the Masters Agility Championship being held Saturday as part of the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

If Laddie makes the top 10 cut, he’ll be in the televised finals being held Sunday night on Fox Sports 1.

“There is no guarantee that Laddie and I will make the finals at Westminster, so we may not end up on your TVs,” said Mike Germain, who runs Laddie through his competition paces. “But I’m suspecting no dog from Northport has ever competed there.”

The 5-year-old sheltie superstar was bred by Bryan Borchardt, owner of Solstice Shelties in Glen Arbor. He holds masters titles in both the JWW (jumper with weaves) and STD (standard) agility categories.


LADDIE AND OWNER Mike Germain, part-time Leelanau Township residents, are headed to New York City, where Laddie will compete in the Masters Agility Championship being held as part of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. LADDIE AND OWNER Mike Germain, part-time Leelanau Township residents, are headed to New York City, where Laddie will compete in the Masters Agility Championship being held as part of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Laddie also holds Masters of Agility titles with the American Kennel Club (AKC), which has also qualified him for the 2017 AKC National Agility Championship being held in March in Georgia.

Laddie has competed in more than 200 agility trials, Germain said. He can cover the average JWW course, which is 150-yards-long and has 18 to 20 weaves and jumps, in about 30 seconds or less.

He covers a standard course, which is about 170-yards-long with obstacles that include a 9-foot-tall A-frame structure, a teeter totter and several jumps, in about 40 seconds.

While Laddie and Germain spend a lot of time on obstacle courses, there is no rehearsing, as every course is different, Germain said.

Neither Germain nor Laddie have seen the course at Westminster.

“So I have no idea what that will be like until that morning.”

Laddie will have about eight minutes to get familiar with the course beforehand and work out a strategy.

Dogs and their human partners are judged on speed, teamwork and their ability to negotiate the obstacle course, with points subtracted for rods that are knocked off their posts and the inability to correctly weave in and out of the course.

Laddie started training for the sport when he was 6 months old, competing in his first meet at 15 months — the youngest age at which a dog can compete.

The Germains thought they might have a special dog on their hands when Laddie was just a few weeks old.

“He would come running down an entryway and leap over the couch into the living room,” Germain said. “My wife said, ‘You better find something for that dog to do.’ So that’s how we started the agility.”

On Saturday, Laddie will be competing against several mixed breed dogs, who started competing in the exclusive dog show four years ago, when the Westminster agility championship was created.

And if not for the agility trials, Laddie would not have made it to Westminster, as he is just a little too tall to be a show dog.

Laddie fits right into dog-loving Northport, Germain says — home of a summer dog parade — and is a regular attendee of the Music in the Park event held on Fridays in summer.

His favorite store is Dog Ears Books, where Germain suspects he has a crush on Sarah, the owner’s pooch.

And it goes without saying that he is a regular in the very popular parade for pooches.

While Laddie may be a shoe-in for Omena mayor, he’s not a full-time resident. The Germains live near the other end of the township in Cherry Home Shores from May through November. They live in Shelby Township the rest of the year.

Germain thinks Laddy has a pretty good chance to be in the top 10 on Saturday.

If he then wins the top spot on Sunday, the pair will have lots of bragging rights, Germain said.

The winning dogs also become pretty popular when it comes to breeding, though Laddie won’t enjoy those honors as he’s been fixed.

But that’s not why people get involved in agility trials, Germain said.

“Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people that are in this sport are in it simply for the fun ... And my wife gets to go to New York City over Valentines Day.”

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