Thanks to Roo!'s historic victory in the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last February, Stacey and Roo! have proven that mixed breed dogs, a.k.a mutts, and shelter dogs can compete with the best of them! Stacey and Roo! are from our neck of the woods, San Francisco, CA. Stacey is a longtime friend to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and SFSPCA. Stacey is a professional dog trainer and owner of Go Fetch Dog Training. Ocean Blue is a proud graduate of six of Stacey's classes. We are ecstatic to bring you this interview with Stacey and Roo! and talk to them about the awesome victory celebrated by rescue dogs and their advocates around the world.
Questions for Stacey (interviewed by Marie)
Marie: First off, congrats on this historic win. I know you have won other prestigious titles, but did you know that this one was going to gain so much national attention?
Stacey: I had absolutely no idea. We were just going to New York to enjoy being a part of this historic event and of course, enjoy the city.
Marie: Can you tell us more about your competitive career? How long have you and Roo! been participating in national title competitions? what are some of the other titles you are most proud of?
Stacey: We have been competing nationally for two years. In 2012, we made it the finals at AKC Nationals and placed 5th. At the end of year, Roo! won AKC Invitationals and a few months later, she won AKC Nationals 2013.
Marie: You are also a fairly accomplished trainer and instructor of agility and obedience. Aside from your own private training through your own business, Go Fetch Dog Training, you teach at the SFSPCA. Do you have a relationship or history with them?
Stacey: Yes, I have been a long time supporter of the SF SPCA. I started out as a volunteer working with dogs and cats. Later on, I attended the Jean Donaldson Dog Training Academy in 2006 and then interned at the SF SPCA Behavior and Training Department. I then got hired to work there in 2007. During that time, I met Roo!.
Marie: In addition to the SFSPCA, you also volunteered for years for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. Can you tell us more about that?
Stacey: While working at the SF SPCA, I met [Muttville founder] Sherri Franklin. I have a real love for senior animals and loved the work that her rescue was doing. I helped get its Volunteer program running because they were growing so fast.
Marie: Your involvement in the rescue community seems an important part of your life and career, tell us more.
Stacey: I always been a huge supporter of rescue organizations. There are so many wonderful and talented animals that need homes.
Marie: Its so interesting to see the nicknames and monikers used in the press and media that describe a mixed breed dog - from mutt to "All American", the newly coined phrase used by Westminster Kennel Club. What does it mean to you to have a mutt?
Stacey: I really don't put too much thought in what kind of dog Roo! is ... she's just Roo!
Marie: Also what does it mean to you that the rescue community has declared Roo! to be the hero and role model for mutts and rescue dogs?
Stacey: I am honored. Roo! and I have worked hard over the years. I certainly hope we represent the community well.
Marie: What is your personal opinion on how Roo!'s accomplishment has impacted what people think about shelter dogs?
Stacey: I hope this encourages people to check out shelters or rescue groups for a companion. I also hope that people really think about what kind of dog is a good fit for their lifestyle. Roo! was returned twice because she was not a good fit for the adopter's home.
Marie: What is next in line in your competitive career?
Stacey: We are headed to AKC Agility Nationals today!
Marie: Although we aren't interviewing the other mutt love of your life, Penny (pictured with Roo! in photo above), can you tell us about the great work you have done with her? I recall she was a former laboratory dog?
Stacey: Penny is the other love of my life. She is my 16.5-year-old Beagle mix. She was rescued from a research lab and I adopted her when she was 6. She was an extremely fearful, under socialized dog when I adopted her. It has been amazing to watch her just become a dog these past 10 years.
Questions for Roo! (interviewed by Ocean Blue)
Ocean Blue: Roo!, what an honor it is to interview you! I must say, you were always modest in group classes when my instructor/your mom Stacey was teaching us and you were always the demo dog. Tell me what your life is like today post-Westminster and your fancy press coverages, like Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams?
Roo!: I'm still Roo! I still love to chase squirrels and roll in whatever is on the ground. I even like to remind my mom that I still can misbehave in the car. I have to maintain some level of naughtiness. :-)
Ocean Blue: So you were lost at McLaren Park in San Francisco when you were just a pup? What did you think of your human Stacey when you first met her?
Roo! Too many rules! And she took my freedom away. Although, she did play and give me lots of cookies... so she must not be too bad.
Ocean Blue: I keep hearing in the news that you were returned twice because of your "high energy" personality? How would you describe yourself?
Roo!: I would consider myself a fun loving gal. I like to keep myself busy.
Ocean Blue: When you and Stacey first started to learn agility stuff together, what was that like for you?
Roo! When I first started agility, I was a fearful dog because I had been attacked a few times at the park. My mom and I were just doing it as something fun to do together and to get my confidence back. I love to run, jump and eat cookies so it seemed like a perfect fit for me.
Ocean Blue: I am sure you plan to use your new found celebrity for good. Do you have any plans or ideas about how you can be a role model for shelter and rescue dogs?
Roo!: We (dogs) like to do stuff so I hope this encourages people to get more involved with their own dogs.
Ocean Blue: Last but not least.... what is your all-time favorite trick? Do you think you can teach it to me?
Roo!: I have so many but probably the one that I do the most is jumping in the air to give my mom a smooch. I like to jump and she likes the smooch so it is a win/win for us both. Of course, I can teach you!