The boys and I have been pretty busy since the northeast regionals in August. The new 2011 qualifying period for USDAA Nationals began at the end of September and we have been to two trials so far. We have also been busy preparing for this year’s finals. Considering we have only been to two shows, we have been extremely successful. Dasher has gotten a Grand Prix Q, and bye as well as his 2 needed Steeplechase Q’s for 2011. Zip also has a Grand Prix Q and 2 Steeplechase Q’s. Little Zorro has been holding his own as well. He has a Grand Prix Q, and a Steeplechase Q. Zorro also has earned 2 more Super Q’s toward his Performance ADCh!! He has all 3 of Super Q’s he needs for his ADCh!! Way to go little man!! He seems to be really coming into his own, much more confident in the ring which is leading to faster times. So proud of him!!
On October 10, we loaded up the van and headed west, this time only a one day drive to Kentucky as opposed to the four days out to Arizona, much improvement!! The venue was new to everyone and there were some hiccups but nothing too upsetting. The worst aspect of the site was the footing. The venue was inside the Kentucky Expo and they hauled in dirt for the rings. The dirt became extremely dusty after the first day, so much so that many competitors were wearing surgical masks to help them breathe. By the third day they managed to get the dust somewhat under control but then the ground became hard as a rock in places and loose in others which caused lots of slipping. The footing was my main compliant. Hopefully they will get this sorted out for next year.
Other than that, we had a spectacular time at Nationals!! Both Dasher and Zip were superstars as usual. They gave 110% on each and every run. How did I get so lucky? Not only do I have wonderful companions, but awesome competitors as well. So much to be thankful for!! Dasher had some fabulous runs but unfortunately we had a rail in the Steeplechase Quarterfinals which took us out of the running. Grand Prix quarters was not so great. We had rails and an off course. Looking back at the video I can see where my body was not where it should have been and that is what caused the off courses. The 16″ class was tough, I am not sure even if Dasher had been clean if he would have made it back. Dasher held his own in the team classes, unfortunately one teammate had an E in Standard so that pretty much took us out of the running. Here is one of our better runs of the week, team Jumpers:
Dasher also celebrated his 6th birthday while in Kentucky. Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday that we were making our debut in the show ring. I decided I would enter Dasher in the Performance program for next year’s Nationals. He will be 7 years old by then and I feel he has earned the right to take it a bit easier. This means we now have to start all over again with the qualifying tournament Q’s. Well the good news is that Dasher will get to jump 12″, should make things a bit easier, hopefully.
Zip was beyond superstar status this week!! On the first day of competition we had European Standard. He put in a stellar run and ended up winning the class!! What a way to start the week!! He had byes into the semi finals of both the Steeplechase and Grand Prix. The competition was tough and there were some wicked fast dogs putting in amazing runs. This week you not only needed to run clean but you also needed to run fast. Zippy did both, he made it into both the Steeplechase finals and the Grand Prix finals!! WoHoo!! Words cannot describe the pride I felt for Zippy. I kept asking myself “how did I get so lucky? How did this amazing dog come into my life?” We ran Steeplechase finals on Saturday night. Zip put in a great run, I was late turning him before the 1st weave pole entry so that cost us time, but we ended up 6th and I could not have been prouder. Here is our Steeplechase finals run:
Sunday afternoon we had Team Relay Finals and Grand Prix Finals. Unfortunately Zip’s teammate also had an E in Standard so we did not make it to relay finals. The Grand Prix course was tough, the course had lots of traps and off course possibilities. Zip was the 3rd 12″ dog to run. I did not watch the complete runs of the teams ahead of us, but I did hear and see both dogs going off course. As I stepped to the line I knew in my heart that if I trusted my dog he wold not let me down. Zip gave me his whole heart on this run. I could not have asked him to be more perfect. As we started on the last 3 jumps of the course I could hear our friends in the stands cheering us on, Zip and I were the first team to go clean! What a spectacular feeling, still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Zip and I were truly a team, what a wonderful soul mate I have in this dog. I was so busy rewarding and playing with Zip it took my a while to realize that the teams after me were having a tough time getting through the course. After all the 12″ dogs had run little Zippy ended up in 3rd place, we made it to the podium!! What a star!! Here is our Grand Prix finals run:
Needless to say I was floating all the way back to Maryland. I am so grateful for all the wonderful memories that agility has allowed me to experience. What a wonderful year I have shared with my amazing canine companions. I can only hold my breath for the next year holds for us.