Kristen Wheeler, 33, is a theatre costume designer/director from Tucson, AZ, who will be competing at Cynosport® with her two rescue dogs, Ash and Indie.
Kristen adopted Ash, an 10-year-old chow mix, from the Humane Society of Southern Tucson. Ash was an exuberant puppy, and that boundless energy is what got them started in the sport. “When he was young I would take him to the dog park, and he would run crazy zoomy laps. People would tell me ‘He’s so fast! You should do a sport like agility with him, he would win!’ I thought that might be fun, so I looked up classes online.”
Being new to the sport had its challenges, but Kristen persevered. “I found that having a dog that loves to run zoomy laps around the park doesn’t necessarily make for a winning agility team,” she said. “Training was very difficult for several years, but Ash loved going to class, so we kept trying.”
When Kristen and Ash began to compete, it didn’t go well at first. “We did so badly at our first couple of trials that I decided not to do agility anymore,” she said. But after taking time off, Kristen began missing agility, and Ash seemed bored. The team decided to give the sport another try, and soon Kristen and Ash began to click. Ash, now about to turn 11, is still happily running agility and just earned his Performance Dog ChampionSM title.
As Kristen’s skills improved, she decided to begin training a second dog for agility. She adopted Indie, a spitz mix stray found by LA County Animal Control. “Indie was also difficult to train because all he could think about was playing with the other dogs in his class,” she said.
Time and patience paid off yet again, and Indie’s training has led to success on the agility field, as well as on the stage. Indie recently starred as Sandy in a theater production of “Annie” Kristen was working on.
Kristen and her dogs competed at Cynosport® in 2016, and she is looking forward to returning to the event. She is excited to run the Cynosport® courses, visit the vendors/extra activities, and her favorite part— watching the incredible dogs and handlers in the tournament finals.
In addition to her work as a costume designer and director, Kristen’s company, Arizona Mutt Co., sells handmade dog leashes, collars, and toys as well as t-shirts for dog lovers.