SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Raquel Burke of South Plainfield and her dog Chance, a 5-year-old Rottweiler, are headed to the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster this weekend.

“We have been training since he was a puppy and he has been amazing,” said Burke. “This is a dream come true.”

The 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster is sponsored by the Westminster Kennel Club, FOX Sports 1 and Purina Pro Plan and will feature dogs and their handlers in a race against the clock as they excitedly attacking an obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and more. The trial will be held at New York's Pier 94 on Saturday, Feb. 13 and precedes Westminster's 140th Annual All Breed Dog Show set for Feb. 15-16.

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Agility training consists of three types of agility classes –Standard, Jumpers with Weaves, and Fast – and all classes offer increasing levels of difficulty to earn Novice, Open, Excellent and Master titles. Entry into the Championship is limited to dogs – both purebred and registered mixed breed – that have attained Master titles at the time of entry. Additionally, admittance is limited to the first 330 qualifying entries.

“These talented teams have trained tirelessly to achieve these titles and are proud to showcase their effort,” according to http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org.

The 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster is divided into five height classes - 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24 inches, which refer to the height of the jumps in that class. Chance, who is in the 20-inch height class, will compete in two qualifying rounds - a Standard Agility course and a Jumpers with Weaves course with scoring for eligibility to the championship round consisting of combined actual running time of both runs, plus any faults (refusal/run-out, wrong course, table fault, failure) and course time faults.

Dogs will place in order of the lowest combined score within their true AKC jump height. The 10 dogs from each height class with the lowest combined scores will move on to the televised championship round Saturday night creating a field of 50 finalists competing for the coveted title of Westminster Kennel Club Masters Agility Champion.

“This is so exciting,” said Burke. “Agility is fun and exciting. The courses are always changing and there’s always a different challenge.”

Burke, who has resided in South Plainfield for 13 years, first began training just for fun with her Chesapeake Bay Retriever Reign. “I didn't plan on competing but she was pretty good and my trainer and friends encouraged me to enter. She made it through novice and open and I was bit by the agility bug,” Burke said.

While the Rottweiler tends to get a bad rap, Burke specifically sought the breed and said she searched awhile before acquiring Chance when he was just 8-weeks old from Valerie McGraw of Eis Haus Rottweilers. She began training him at 6 months old and the two started competing together when he turned two.

In addition to qualifying for the agility championship, Chance is also a breed champion having won Winners Dog and Best of Winners in May 2014 at the Chester Valley Kennel Club dog show. “This is good publicity for the breed, especially when people see  what they can do,” Burke said.

For more information on the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster, visit http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/2016/show/meetandcompete.html and to catch the 50 finalists competing for the title of Westminster Kennel Club Masters Agility Champion, turn in to FOX Sports 1 on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 8 to 10 p.m. You can also check out Burke and Chance during an October 2015 competition by visiting ttps://www.facebook.com/raquel.brke/videos/10153146918356657/.

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