First off I want to thank all my friends, family and sponsors for your unbelievable support to get Zip and I to the World Agility Open Championships. We truly could not have made it this far without everyone’s support. Throughout my days at WAO I thought of everyone at home and it was a wonderful feeling to know each time we stepped to the line we had such an amazing group of loved ones at home cheering for us. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!
Well Zip and I are back from our most amazing adventure yet!! On May 9, we traveled across the pond to compete on Team USA at the World Agility Open Championships. It was a spectacular trip from start to finish. We arrived in London on the morning of May 10 and spent most of the day unpacking, meeting the other team members and waiting for all the dogs to clear customs. The next day we had our first live glimpse of the venue and team practice. The footing was perfect, dogs seemed to love it and I thought it was great to run on, lots of spring! The equipment was a bit different than the states, the dogwalk had steeper ramps and the tire was unlike anything we had seen before. Luckily Zippy did not give any of the equipment a second glance, he had recovered well from the flight and was raring to go at practice!! Thursday we had another much shorter, more intense practice, this was to prep us for the energy and adrenaline that would follow in the next few days. I must admit, being in the indoor ring for the first time was a bit overwhelming, but I kept my focus on my job and one look at Zip and I knew we were ready for the days ahead.
Stepping on to the line at our first international competition I definitely had a strong case of butterflies in the stomach, but after releasing Zip off the start line it all seemed to fade away and I had one thought in my head, JUST RUN!! I know you have heard me say countless times that my dogs always give me 110% on each and every run. Well I think Zip surpassed this and gave me 210% at WAO. Throughout the weekend I could not believe how lucky I was to have such an amazing friend and competitor in Zip. He put in one spectacular run after another. We were entered in 3 different events, the Team Pentathlon, Individual Pentathlon, and Games. By the end of the weekend we earned, 2 first places, 2 second places and 2 silver medals!! Just phenomenal!! I had made a few mistakes in the Individual Pentathlon classes causing 3 refusals over the course of 5 classes. This dropped us down to 5th place overall. We put in some very solid runs in the team classes which helped Team USA bring home the silver medal. In the Games division, we had one round of Snooker and one round of Gamblers. We ran Snooker on Friday. Initially completing all 3 sevens seemed like a reach since the closing sequence was tricky and long. Luckily I was almost last to run and was able to watch the big dogs get through completing all 3 sevens. I realized then that we were “in it to win it” so I had to go for the sevens. Of course this meant executing a course I had not walked!! But I was no stranger to changing my Snooker plan without having a chance to walk it so I had confidence that this was like any other trial and we were up for the task. Zip had a stellar run, we had one bobble at the 2nd seven which cost us a second or two, but we completed all the sevens and made it through the close by the skin of our teeth!! No other 12″ dog completed all 3 sevens so Zip and I took home 1st place!! The next day was the Gamblers round. Zip got a bit distracted at one end of the ring where a barn cat had been lurking about. This cost us time which was not the end of the world, but unfortunately I stepped over the gamble line in an otherwise flawless gamble performed by Zip so that cost us 2nd place and the gold medal in Games. Considering all that went wrong in our Gamblers run I was more than happy to bring home the silver medal!! Jeannette won both Snooker and Gamblers so she took home the gold!! Here we are showing off our bling!! Sunday we had Team Relay finals and Individual Pentathlon Speedstakes. In Speedstakes, we had a refusal at the tunnel of all things. Not sure how Zip missed it as it was directly in front of us, but I am thinking maybe I was driving too hard and he just didn’t see it or maybe he just didn’t see it period, one of those goofy things that just happens sometimes I guess! The refusal in Speedstakes left us in 5th place overall, still not too shabby considering the company we were in. Relay was our last class at WAO. Zip and I were the second team to run in a FOUR dog relay! We put in an awesome run! It was very tricky and tight, typical of all European courses and there were some parts that made me cringe just a bit as I was walking the course. I put my faith and confidence in my little superstar and he rocked it!! Overall the entire experience was spectacular. I really enjoyed all the camaraderie with my teammates. Everyone was incredibly supportive of one another, cheering you on for every run and there after your run for hugs and high fives. Our team support crew of Tracy (coach) and Greg (asst coach) were unbelievable as well. Keeping all the team relaxed and focused by having all our classes, running orders and most importantly, our scores, straight. Kelly and Ria were on hand, treating the dogs medically and though massage and laser treatments to keep them feeling and running their best. George was there as well, taping every single run for team USA. I owe them the world!! It is an experience I will never forgot for sure. Huge congrats to all my teammates!! You all are rock stars and I feel honored and privileged to be on the team with you!!