Two weekends ago the boys and I headed down south to Fredericksburg, VA to the first annual USDAA Mid-Atlantic Showcase. Over the course of three days, this trial was offering all titling classes as well as all tournaments, Steeplechase, Grand Prix and Dog Agility Masters Team. Also for the first time ever they were featuring a Triathlon class, in order to be eligible for this class your dog needed to have at least one Grand Prix or Steeplechase Q in the last year. The Triathlon has 3 rounds which consist of Team Standard, Team Jumpers and then the final Triathlon round. Scores are taken from both Team Jumpers and Team Standard and the top dogs will advance to the final Triathlon round. Dasher was entered in Team, Grand Prix, Triathlon and some titling classes, Zip was entered in titling, Team and the Triathlon and Zorro was entered in titling only.
Friday classes were mainly titling classes and the Grand Prix. Dasher and Zip did great. Zip was 1st and Q in Gamblers and Jumpers and Dasher got 2nd and Q in Gamblers and a Q in Jumpers. Dasher had a great Grand Prix run but unfortunately had a bar in a 180 turn. Zorro is still getting his “sea legs” with regard to showing so I decided to scratch from Standard in case he decided to bail off the the dog walk or teeter. I don’t want him to think this is ok. Zorro did end up with a PII Jumpers and Snooker Q. He had a nice Gambler run but did not get the gamble. I was able to send him out to finish the gamble so I was very pleased overall.
On Saturday the DAM Team competition started and things got a bit more hectic. I ended up scratching Zorro from everything except Gamblers because I had too much going on in the other rings. My goal in Gamblers was to get Zorro on the dog walk and teeter and I did. Zorro was slow on the teeter and initially blew off the dog walk but when I brought him back around he did it. YAY! Baby steps for the baby dog!! Dasher and Zip had a full plate on Saturday. We started the day with Team Gamblers. Boys were superstars! There were various options available for the gamble. We decided to attempt the tougher but higher pointed gamble. This was two jumps to a far set of weaves then keeping the dogs out to a final jump. Both Dasher and Zip made it look easy!! Easy send out to the weaves and they stayed out to take the final jump. I was so proud of them!! Zip ended up 2nd and Dasher was 3rd. After Gamblers we had Team Standard. Again, both boys were superstars, Zip went clean and ended up in 1st place and Dasher got through with only one rail (5 faults). The Team Standard class was the 1st class to count toward the Triathlon finals so I was pleased that both boys did well. The next team class was Team Jumpers, this course was super fast with lots of off-course possibilities, including a straight tunnel right through the middle of the course. Both Zip and Dasher were brilliant! Dasher knocked one bar before the weave poles and Zip went clean. This was the second class to count toward the Triathlon finals so I was super excited that both boys did so well. Many dogs went off course in Team Jumpers. Saturday was a long day, with not only team classes but a few titling as well. Dasher got another Standard leg which was great. At the end of the day I went to check our team standings. Zip, Munchie and Beauty were sitting in 13th place out of 55 teams and Dasher, Surge and Beau were sitting in 14th place. WoHoo!! Not too shabby for the caliber of competitors here this weekend!! Another great surprise was that Zip was sitting in 1st place in overall individual standings for team!! WoHoo, way to go Zippy!!
On Sunday we had our final team class before relay, Team Snooker. Team Snooker is the most heavily weighted class in the team competition and it usually results in many teams getting eliminated and dropping in rank. As we looked at our options in Snooker, Jeannette and I decided to lean toward a more conservative plan, incorporating mid-range and high points as opposed to trying for all high points and possibly making major mistakes. Both Dasher and Zippy did great and got through the entire course in plenty of time, each accumulating 53 points. I think our conservative plan worked great because Zippy placed 3rd and Dasher placed 5th overall in Snooker. After Team Snooker was over, they released the current team rankings to see who made the cut for the relay finals. Unfortunately, Zip and Munchie’s team-mate did not accumulate many points in Snooker which bumped us down a bit, but luckily still well above the cut off for qualifying, which was all that mattered. As I searched for Dasher’s team I started to get worried as I didn’t see us listed. Turns out, I should have looked at the top of the list because after Snooker we were sitting in 1st place!! Dasher, Surge and Beau all had very consistant Snooker runs which carried us all the way to number one!! My other team-mates and I were floored, we were so proud of our little dog team!! It is very unusually for a small dog team to be sitting in 1st place in such a competitive show. The team relay is run in reverse order so Dasher, Surge and Beau would run last in the relay. Zip, Munchie and Beauty had an o.k. relay round, unfortunately Munchie took a jump in the wrong direction, but both Beauty and Zip went clean. Zip’s team ended up in 16th place and qualified. Dasher, Surge and Beau had a spectacular relay run, all dogs ran clean and fast. This cinched our 1st place win and the little dog team won the Gold!! All three of us could not have been prouder of our little guys, they ran their heart out all weekend, couldn’t ask for more.
By mid-morning they also had posted the dogs that had advanced to the Triathlon finals. I was pretty sure that Zip had advanced since he was sitting in 1st place in the individual standings. Zip had in fact made the cut and was sitting in 1st place so he would run last in the finals as they also run the dogs in reverse order. When I checked the 16″ division I was ecstatic over the results, Dasher made the cut into the finals!! He was in the middle of the pack but holding his own and after the Team Snooker round Dasher was in 3rd place in the individual standings!! WoHoo!! I was so proud of both Zip and Dasher!! The Triathlon finals course was fast and trappy with a threadle right in the middle of a very fast course. The 12″ dogs ran first, I was too busy warming up my dogs to notice what the other handlers were doing on course, so as I stepped up to the line with Zip, the last 12″ dog, I had no idea how fast we needed to be. Well as usual, Zip gave 110% and put in a smokin’ run. He handled the threadle like a champ and was efficient throughout the rest of the course. As he sailed over the last jump and we left the ring for cookies, another 12″ competitor came up to us and said “You smoked it by 3 seconds!” Little Zippy won the Triathlon!! What a man!! I was so proud of him! Of course all Zip cared about was getting his cookies, and he got plenty! I didn’t have much time to savor the moment however since the 16″ division was starting and Dasher was up in a few dogs. Dasher put in an amazing run, kept all the rails up even with me pushing for all he had to keep up with the bigger Shelties. Dasher’s run was good enough for 5th place! I could not have been prouder!
Needless to say Jeannette and I had lots to celebrate on our way home as well as lots to be grateful for. My guys gave me 110% all weekend, I could not have asked for anything more. I am truly grateful to have such wonderful companions who also happen to be amazing athletes.