Long the province of the purebred, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is opening a doggie door this year to mixed-breed competitors. While Labradoodles, puggles, and who-knows-whats won't be able to vie for the prestigious Best in Show award, they'll be included in its new agility trial. It's a notable embrace for the nation's premier canine event, which also is adding three breeds at next month's show: the Chinook, the Portuguese podengo pequeno, and the rat terrier.
No mixed-breed dogs have appeared anywhere at Westminster since the 138-year-old event's early days, organizers say. But this year, Alfie the apparently-part-poodle, part-terrier will be among the dogs weaving around poles, walking up a plank, and springing over jumps on the agility course. His background isn't rarefied: His owner spotted him in a mall pet store, marked down to $99. She wasn't planning to get a dog, but she felt for the curly-haired, black-and-white puppy and took him home, where agility training proved to be an outlet for his boundless energy.