From staff reports

NEW YORK — Kingsport resident Ben Gibbs will be one of two judges for the ninth annual Masters Agility Championship to be held at Westminster next year.

The Jan. 22 event will be held as part of the 146th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina Pro Plan.

“There is only one thing more thrilling than seeing a team run a course like it is a dance and working together to accomplishing goals … and that is when I get to run,” Gibbs said in a news release from the dog show.

He and his wife live in Kingsport with four toy poodles and two border collies. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

The iconic dog show is set to return to New York City after the 2021 event was held outdoors at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gibbs will officiate over 350 dogs in the agility competition during the daytime preliminary rounds and the evening championship finals, both to be held at Pier 36 on Manhattan’s lower east side.

This is his first Westminster judging assignment.

Gibbs picked up Deacon, a fuzzy German shepherd puppy, in 2005 and his life soon changed. During a basic obedience class, the sport of agility was introduced to Gibbs and Deacon, and a new passion was born.

Deacon was the perfect agility partner, introducing him to a whole new world of people, friendships and a shared love for an amazing sport.

In 2007, the sport of agility also introduced Gibbs to the love of his life, Rhonda, and they married in 2011. The couple are active in a local kennel club, and Deacon went on to earn a PACH or Preferred Agility Champion designation, several obedience titles and was a therapy dog.

Gibbs’ love of agility sparked an interest in judging, and he was licensed to judge in 2015.

Agility is a timed competition that tests a dog’s ability to complete an obstacle course following the commands of its handler.

Purebred and All-American (mixed breed) dogs are eligible to compete in one of five height classes and are judged on time and completion (minus faults) of the course. The Westminster Kennel Club donates $5,000 to honor the winner of the Masters Agility Championship to the AKC (American Kennel Club) training club of their choice or the AKC Humane Fund.

For 2022, Westminster Week returns to Manhattan starting with the Masters Agility Championship Saturday, Jan. 22, the Masters Obedience Championship Monday, Jan. 24 and the breed competitions on Monday (Hound and Herding), Tuesday (Toy, Non-Sporting and Terrier) and Wednesday (Sporting and Working), Jan. 24-26, all on Pier 36. The evening Group judging will be held at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 25-26.

For the schedule of events go online to https://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/2022-wkc-dog-show/2022-schedule-of-events.

For television coverage go online to https://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/2022-wkc-dog-show/tv-and-streaming-coverage.

And live streaming of daytime events and dog show results can be found online at www.westminsterkennelclub.org.

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