By Emily Beal
Since 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been an American classic, showcasing its fair share of four-legged Fidos each year. But this year, something was different.
This year, Westminster was painted P!nk.
Spectators’ eyes bounced back and forth, trying to follow the blazing ball of fur. Luckily for them, the surging energy source let out a continuous scream, making it easier for them to follow.
P!nk, a four-year-old border collie, is no stranger to Westminster. The spirited, black-and-white bundle of energy proved herself to be an all-star, seizing her third straight championship title in the 16-inch agility division. Becoming the first trainer and dog pair to win Westminster three years in a row, she inked herself in the history books.
While P!nk is no doubt a force to be reckoned with, her owner, Jennifer Crank, has also been a main factor in P!nk’s wild success.
Growing up in Licking County, Crank was thrown into the dog world. Quickly, it became second nature.
Crank’s mother, Susan Crank, began teaching canine obedience classes in the Columbus, Ohio, area. Susan then became a leading voice in the agility world as well, becoming the driving force in bringing agility to Ohio 4-H youth development, a program of Ohio State University Extension, part of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
Jennifer Crank herself was an active member of Ohio 4-H. She attributes her time in the organization to helping her attain skills and responsibility that would help her down the road, both inside and outside the ring.
“What I loved about 4-H was that it taught accountability and responsibility. If your dog made a mistake or failed, it was because you were not doing the training. In the real world, everyone is so quick to just blame their dog and not themselves,” Crank said.
Crank graduated with her bachelor’s degree in business from Ohio State in 2009. How did she pay her way through college? Teaching agility classes.
“I quickly realized that the clientele I built up during my time at Ohio State was not just something I could walk away from,” Crank said, when talking about the 60 clients she trained during her college career.
Trusting her intuition, Crank opened up her own agility center called “IncrediPAWS” in January 2010. Through her skill in business and her passion for agility, IncrediPAWS quickly blossomed, now offering weekly classes for 150 students in Pataskala, Ohio.
Crank prides herself on not just training dogs to do agility, but training people to train their dogs themselves.
“At the end of the day, we really focus on relationship-building,” Crank said, when talking about her main goal while training her students.
Crank was searching for something special when she was looking for an agility partner. Finding a good breeder in Georgia, Crank decided to take the last puppy from their border collie litter, and thank goodness she did.
“We originally named her P!nk after the singer because she is just so vocal, especially when she works. Before P!nk goes into the arena, she is continuously screaming full of excitement,” Crank said.
The pup’s show name, “Get the Party Started,” pays tribute to P!nk’s 2001 hit. However, P!nk does more than just party, she works incredibly hard, explained Crank.
“If P!nk were a person, she would put an extra 20 hours of work on top of her 40, and not ask for overtime,” Crank said.
When Crank is not busy working herself, she enjoys spending time with her husband and five-year-old son. The family recently moved to a 12-acre property where the dogs are free to run, and the family is free to enjoy nature.
“If P!nk were a person, she would put an extra 20 hours of work on top of her 40, and not ask for overtime.”Jennifer Crank, owner of P!nk
Crank hopes that one day her son will join the agility world, just like she did after her own mother. But ultimately, it will be up to him. Crank believes her son would be natural, as he is already learning the ropes without knowing it at such a young age.
While family is very important to Crank, she will not let it get in the way of a little healthy competition. Crank’s mother was sitting in first place in Westminster’s 16-inch jump height division, before Jennifer took the crown. But don’t worry, there were no hard feelings.
“It was the best feeling, coming out of the ring and having my mom right there,” Crank said when looking back on her victory.
After the adrenaline had died down, Crank was hit with even bigger news. P!nk had just been named the overall agility champion at Westminster: an enormous feat.
The overall agility champion is determined by how many yards the dog has covered per second. This levels the playing field and allows smaller dogs to compete against bigger dogs. Out of all five divisions, P!nk’s yards-per-second time was the fastest, making her the champion.
When realizing they had just won, Crank was speechless.
“I can’t believe we did what we thought we couldn’t do,” Crank said about that very special win.
To make the memory even brighter, “Get the Party Started” began playing on the loud speakers. This win proved to all that P!nk and Crank were forces to be reckoned with.
Crank and P!nk spent the next two days enjoying New York and getting to do what many dream of but few achieve: performing in Madison Square Garden.
The pair received their awards and performed their talents, right at the very spot where countless legends have performed, making it a highlight of their trip.
Crank hopes to compete with P!nk until the dog is 10 years old, or as long as P!nk still enjoys it. But, with a name like “Get the Party Started,” there is no doubt that the fun has just begun.