So I lied. I said I would be blogging ever month, but let’s make that twelve times a year an just not tell anyone. 🙂 My schedule has been nuts lately between agility, school, CRC and other student involvement and trying to have a social life. I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you’re probably quite aware that I compete in and instruct dog agility, so we’ll get back to that. For anyone interested, here’s an updated and abbreviated anecdote on my recent life that isn’t agility, if not, scroll down for some post-Westminster musings.
I’m currently a Resource Economics major with a focus in Managerial Economics, although I think that may shift a little bit. I was considering accounting as a major, so I’m taking the introductory class, but I may be withdrawing from that class and switching tracks from managerial to environmental and resource conservation. Accounting is most definitely not for me.
I’m treasurer of the UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition. We’re currently planning the 23rd annual Extravaganja pro-cannabis political rally, so that is incredibly time consuming. For more information on the UMass CRC and Extravaganja, like us on Facebook or click here. I also participate in Divest UMass, which is a political organization on campus focused on getting the administration to take their large endowment out of fossil fuels and move it into sustainable industries. Again: Facebook and website for all of the amazing work that Divest does!
I also try to maintain a less-than-recluse level of social interaction with peers *gasp*. This usually involves going to shows and parties or sitting around pretending it isn’t single digits in March…Well, there is my life in a few paragraphs. Now for the relevant content [read: dog stuff].
On February 8, 2014 my mom and I competed in the Westminster Kennel Club Inaugural Master Agility Competition. I have to say, it was one of the most well run dog agility events in which I have ever participated. The staff was friendly and helpful, the show moved along at an incredible pace (I even missed one of my walkthroughs), the footing was good, the spectators and competitors were polite and it was all-around very fun.
The biggest adjustments I had to make were definitely the crowds and the publicity. First off, the crowds were about six people deep all day and packed curing finals. Now, the crowd didn’t make me more nervous, but it definitely added an element we don’t even see in national finals. I noticed this earlier in the day and reinforced my dogs for being ring side with crowd noise. Jonesy could’ve cared less, but Kelso gets a little nervous with a big roar. This is certainly a consideration to make if you’re planning your first big event. Crowd size at local trials is just not going to mimic the energy level and noise of a national final, let alone a nationally televised and publicized event.
This leads into my second main adjustment: publicity. While most of this came after the event, there were still reporters during the event that were really aggressive and right on you after a run. I had to work really hard to focus on my dogs while trying to answer questions 30 seconds out of the ring. This would probably be my only complaint, but it was irritating, especially when Jonesy wanted to growl at most of them. 😉
The agility itself was amazing. I really liked the surface, but some had a hard time with it, including Zep. There was a lot of slipping, but my dogs ran well. It’s very similar to what is used at Tryouts if that gives a nice reference point. Overall all five dogs ran really well. Zep had no Q’s with a fault in each. Pyro, a student’s Golden Retriever, ran with me amazingly but had a bar in JWW and a refusal in Standard keeping him out of finals. BAM! at a month shy of 12 took 10th in 20″ Championship JWW!
Jonesy was his usual steady self. He was 2nd in Standard, 5th in JWW, 3rd 12″ cumulatively after three rounds and won 1st Place in 12″ Finals. Both of his RDWs were smokin‘ and he had startlines in all three runs. He is still not the fastest dog on course, but his consistency is what constantly puts him in the top finishers in a national event.
Finally, Kelso took 2nd in JWW, 5th in Standard, 3rd 20″ cumulatively after two rounds, won the 20″ Finals and took the Overall Masters Agility Championship title. He ran really well. Kelso has always run better on turf than any other surface (which shows based on how he hadn’t QQ’d between grass, dirt and rubber in 7 months). He has finally settled back into his lower jump height and has stopped falling on his head and jumping on his front trying to run a 20″ course like it’s 26″.
I do have to say, finals under the lights and on TV was amazing. I really went to Westminster to try and be on TV and represent dog agility while picking up some Q’s for nationals, but I’m incredibly fortunate that my dogs were able to carry me so far. Going for some QQ’s and walking away with three national titles and multiple press contacts was, and is still, an incredibly surreal experience.
The press hasn’t stopped since the second I finished Jonesy’s Standard run mid-day. The Associated Press, Portland Press Herald and the Today Show were among the many who have contacted me about the win. I was honored and happy to represent the agility community to the general public. I’m still hoping I didn’t sound too stupid in my post-run interviews trying to not yell into the mic, keep Jonesy from biting the very petite reporter whom he thought was a child, both while putting on my live TV filter which prevents my regular exclamations of “This is fuckin awesome!” and “Holy shit, we won!”
While the media attention and the praise from the agility community is welcome and much appreciated. I really owe it all to my dogs. They really ran that trial like they would run a local show on turf. They were unfazed by cameras, crowds, city habits and the overflow of Yankees hats.
Like I’ve said in most of my interviews, my dogs could care less whether or not we’re at a show competing or in my backyard training. They simply do agility when and where I ask them to do it. They’re so amazing and I can’t wait for two weeks of agility leading up to the AKC National agility Championships the last weekend in March. Jonesy is the only one going, but it should be an awesome event. I’ve been consistently impressed with the way the AKC runs their national events. They do a very good job keeping them as efficient as possible while still remaining hospitable and friendly. That is what will keep me coming back to AKC events. The draw of FCI was what started my journey to national level AKC competitions, but the ease of event coordination will keep me coming back. There is just so much time, money and effort put into qualifying and attending these national events that the treatment and appreciation of the competitors is becoming more important in my decision making process.
Well, that’s my little commentary on Westminster. Incredibly run, incredible results, incredible dogs. I hope to attend next year, but if they keep doing a random draw, everyone who can should enter because it’s a lot of fun. Here’s an iMovie project with all of the pictures and runs. Thanks to everyone involved in the WKC Show and everyone who has been so supportive!