Monday, November 29, 2010

Putting it all into Perspective!

We were in Lake St. Louis, MO over the weekend for 
the annual 3 day AKC Agility Trial.  

There were 2 great judges, 6 fantastic courses, 
and lots of agility friends, both human and canine. 

Dog people are 'funny'.  If you've ever watched 
the movie, "Best In Show", you get the general idea. 
Although that movie might be a bit extreme, 
it's not all  that far off either. 

We spend more time with our dogs, 
than most people do with their children.
We adore our dogs. 

When one of our dog friends pass away, 
we all mourn them.  

Our dogs in a sense, belong to everyone. 
We might have come up through the classes together, 
stood in line together, or
participated in National Events together. 
Handlers have walked courses together, 
provided strategy ideas, both good and bad.
We have watched each other run, numerous times.
Congratulated, consoled, eaten cake, and signed 'bars'. 

So, when one of our 'kids' are lost suddenly, 
it's both shocking and sad. 
It brings us together too. 

On Saturday, 11/27/10, Craig Josling lost
his 9 year old Keeshond, MACH4 Ben XF suddenly.  
Our hearts go out to him.  What a terrible loss. 
I've heard that Hemangiosarcoma is suspected. 

If you don't know much about Hemangio, 
I would suggest you do some research. 
This silent killer has struck many of our dogs, 
many, like Ben, were competing at agility trials. 

If you're looking to make some donations 
this year, might I suggest some canine health organizations.

This one happens to be my choice, 
but there are others.

I know it's been said, many times.
We pay the entry fees, drive the hundreds of miles, 
use our vacation time, stay at hotels, 
or sleep in our vans to attend trials.

Our dogs go, because we take them. 
They would be just as happy to stay home, go for a walk, 
play with a ball, or chase a jet stream of water from the hose. 

There are going to be times when your
agility runs don't go according to plan. 
There are going to be times when you aren't
sure you're 'team' is running the same course, 
are in the same ring, or even on the same Planet!

Regardless, if you get to take your partner home, 
healthy and happy, that's all that really matters.

There are many of us that have not been that lucky.

Hug your dogs, and go get them a cookie....
Just because you can!!  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The DAM Team was on FIRE!!

Nothing could stop those "Three Sheep to the Wind" on Friday,
at the Lawrence, KS USDAA trail.  

It was the Dog Agility Master's Team event,
in which three dog teams compete for
Gold, Silver and Bronze metals.

They are also competing for a Qualifying score,
which will allow them to run in the DAM Team competition at the Nationals in the Fall 2011.

Teammates Rio (Black Dog), Shiver (Go Dog),
and Seeker (Brother Dog),
teamed up once more.
They were flawless, in Gamblers, Snooker, Jumpers,
Standard and Relay. 
(okay....almost Flawless in Relay, but they got 1st anyway!)

Overall, the "Three Sheeps" ended up:

With the GOLD!
(I don't think it's really gold)

 #1 - 26" dog overall - Seeker
  #1 - 22" dog overall - Rio
#2 - 22" dog overall - Shiver

It was a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun New Move in Lake St. Louis!

The TAC Agility Club was offering the "Time to Beat" class as practice on Saturday afternoon.   We were done early, and had no where else to go, the hotel check in wasn't until 2 PM. and since we'd been up since 1:30 AM, what the heck!  I was hoping for 2 A-Frames to practice on, apparently Seeker was hoping for 2 Teeters.  HE WON!!!

Wendie showed me this awesome move to use on this course.  You were to use the 'OLE'" or 'true collection arm' over jump #3, then a 'backie uppie', with a blind cross over #4.  Talk about SWEET!!!  Dervish and Wendi were 'SPOT ON' with their attempt.  Seeker and I weren't too far behind and we'd never attempted it before!  It was really fun!!

Here's our footage.  I wish I would have gotten footage of the other dogs and handlers so you could compare.  I also wish I had the course map!  SORRY!!  They only had 2 posted on the wall, on Sunday morning they were gone.  It was a BLAST!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Agility Community Loses an Inspiration

(From the USDAA Website)
This is truly amazing!
Feel blessed if you are still healthy enough to run your dog!!

Dennis Murphy's love of the sport helped competitors remember to enjoy it to the fullest.
By Debbie Zahler

Dennis Murphy, a well-loved agility competitor from Jacksonville, Florida, passed away on October 19, 2010 as a result of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." He and his wife, Midge, have competed in agility for the last decade, first with their three Portuguese Water Dogs and most recently with their Border Collies Bodhi and Zoom.

Over the last three years, ALS made it difficult for Dennis to move around the agility course. As he went from running full out with Bodhi as a young dog, to using a cane to aid his movement, then a walker, a Segway, and finally a motorized wheelchair, Dennis guided Bodhi through the courses. With the assistance of his instructor and friend Stuart Mah, Dennis was able to adapt his handling and communication methods with each change in his own movement to continue to run Bodhi. In March 2010, Dennis (using the motorized wheelchair) got a Grand Prix leg to finish Bodhi's ADCH, quite an accomplishment considering the challenges they faced.

Dennis' goal in doing agility was to enjoy time with his friends and his canine companion. His perseverance and courage never allowed him to give up the sport due to his lack of mobility. Dennis' last agility run with Bodhi was on October 2, 2010 at the Cool Critters trial in Palmetto, Florida. It was always inspiring to watch Dennis and Bodhi compete, and it was especially so on that day, as we all knew the number of runs Dennis and Bodhi had together were limited.

A number of Dennis' friends attended the 2010 Cynosport World Games last month. Knowing that Dennis was going to be watching on the live streaming feed, we wore hats that said "Running for Dennis" to let him know that he would be with us in spirit. After Dennis' passing, these same hats are now being sold to local competitors with proceeds going to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in memory of Dennis.

One of the last things Dennis was able to do before his death was to watch Stuart and Ares run in Grand Prix finals on Sunday afternoon via the live feed. When telling of his death two days later, Midge said that being able to watch them had brought Dennis great happiness in his final hours.

During the last few years, Dennis taught all of us who knew him great lessons in humility, perseverance, courage, and grace. His experiences put things back in perspective. Next time you step on the agility field, I challenge you all to leave the field with a smile on your face. Walk away and play with your dog, regardless of how your run went. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to participate in this great sport of dog agility... Dennis was.

See an interview with Dennis at

Debbie Zahler lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her two dogs, nine-year-old terrier mix ADCH Skitch and three-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie Mookie. Debbie has been competing in agility for eight years and is currently Club Secretary for Pals & Paws Agility in Jacksonville. Debbie can be contacted at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

National Agility Events – AKC and USDAA - compared..

Bill and I attended both the AKC Nationals in Tulsa, OK, as well as the USDAA World Games (AKA – Nationals) in Louisville, KY this year.  I’ve had a couple people ask me which I preferred.  In reality, it’s like comparing Border Collies to Portuguese Water Dogs, I love them both, but they are different. 

AKC Nationals moves every year.  This gives those in different parts of the country a chance attend a National.  Not everyone is willing to travel a great distance, or fly their dogs. Our preference would be to stay within a 13 hour driving range.  That being said, Marsha/Tessie, Krista/Lily, and Molly/myself, did do a ‘girls’ trip to Houston, TX.

As for USDAA World Games, they seem to stay in one location for an extended period of time.  I should probably give a disclaimer here, as I’m not totally sure it will be in Louisville, KY again next year.  That’s probably just wishful thinking, as it’s a pleasant 8-9 hour drive for us!  They were in Scottsdale, AZ for a few years in a row however.  So, I’m banking on that being the case here.  I could be wrong! 

As for the length, AKC Nationals run from Friday – Sunday (3.5 days).  Generally you arrive on Thursday to get checked in, pick up the ‘goodies bag’ and get crates unloaded and set up.  

Friday is the “State” competition, and you can run twice.  This consists of one International Standard course (no table), and one JWW course.  It’s not a required entry, and most people use them as ‘practice’.  Time well spent getting your dogs, as well as yourself use to the surface and equipment.  Normal AKC Scoring rules applied and you get ribbons for clean runs.

On Saturday you run two courses again, Standard (no table), and JWW.  On Sunday you will run once, unless you've made the finals or challenger round.  If you run in the challenger round and win, you move to the finals.  So overall for the 3 days you could run as from 5-7 times.  Normal AKC Scoring rules applied and you get ribbons for clean runs.  These clean runs do not count toward title legs however.  

For AKC Nationals, plan on long days!  Arriving at the facility by 6:30 am, and leaving around 9 pm.  Normally the 20” class is the largest, around 300 dogs, the 12” class, normally isn’t far behind.

The Championship round is based on a Standard Course (without a table), and is run on Sunday Evening.  

 AKC Nationals - Tulsa, OK

USDAA World Games - Louisville, KY

At the USDAA World Games this year, it ran from Tuesday – Sunday (6 days).  I’d heard it was one day longer this year, but I don’t know if that was true.  Tuesday was the ‘arrival’ day; you received a ‘goodies bag’, found your crating space, and in the late afternoon ran the European Standard course.  This class wasn’t part of the National competition, but gave you a chance to get on the dirt and equipment before competition began the next day.

There are multiple variables at this event that determines the number of times you run.  If you qualified in all 3 Events, DAM Team, Grand Prix, and Steeplechase, you ran more often than if you only qualified for one or two events. 

If you qualified in all three events, you were guaranteed 4 runs in DAM Team (Gamblers, Standard, Snooker, Jumpers), and one run in Grand Prix, one run in Steeplechase.  There were also optional classes; European Standard and Renooks (aka-snooker backwards).  So, a minimum of 8 runs over 6 days.  If you did well, starting in the Quarter Finals, you could run as many as 13 times over the 6 days. 

Scoring for USDAA is slightly different than AKC as bars down, and refusals will result in a fault, and added to your ‘score’, while an off course is elimination.  There are not ribbons for clean runs, but there are for placements. 

The largest class is the 22”, which consists of dogs under 21” tall.  There were approximately 335 dogs competing at this height. 

There were more days involved in this event, but the days were shorter.  Arriving around 6:30 and ending by 4:30.  Times could vary slightly, depending on your walk through times and running time. 

The Steeplechase finals are run on Saturday Evening.  The Grand Prix finals, and DAM Team finals are run on Sunday afternoon. 

Regardless, National Events are always exciting to attend!  You get to see some amazing dogs and handlers! With AKC’s event in the Spring, and USDAA’s in the Fall, it gives you a nice respite between the two.   If you have a chance to attend one or both, I say "DO IT!"