'We treat him like an athlete': Bonney Lake duo train for fourth national AKC championship

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. - Sarah Baker has been training dogs for two decades and mastering agility for the last 10.

She’s an award-winning professional, as is her teammate, a 6-year-old border collie named Hops. Together they’ve earned three national championships and are training for a fourth. Winning is in Hop's blood, literally.

“He has both a father and grandfather that are national champions so he was kind of bred for the sport. And I know his breeder, who’s one of my first trainers, so I was lucky to get a dog that was naturally talented,” explains Baker.

The similarities in Hops’ training to that of a human athlete is uncanny.

Baker is adamant that her athlete gets proper warm-ups and cool-downs before and after exercise.

Hops also cross conditions, which includes swimming, hiking and balance work.

“He does an underwater treadmill once a week. He has a massage therapist so he has everything. So we really do treat him like an athlete," Baker says.

Baker and Hops stay hard at work in their Bonney Lake home preparing for their fourth title, which they’ll compete for early next year. When not working with Hops, Baker teaches weekly classes in person at It’s A Dog’s World in Sumner and offers an online course for puppies and young dogs.

You can find more info on Baker's classes, Hops, and their adventures on her website.