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Monday, January 03, 2011

Olympia Agility Finals 2010 Part 2: ZAZ-Star!

We were all worried about the snow but luckily it held off and we got to London with no problems. Rock on Olympia 2010 Small Dog Final!

I felt so confident about running Zaz; no expectations other than going out and showing everyone how special she was. I have never been a fan of the "I am just going to enjoy myself" mantra. I feel like I enjoy every run with my dog and I think I used to say this to give an excuse just in case things went wrong. So you will never hear those words come out of my mouth! But be assured.. I do enjoy it and enjoy it more when the runs go well. LOL Yet please remember that having the best run is not dependent on winning; it is dependent on knowing that my dog and I did the best run that we were capable of on that day.

Olympia is special to most UK agility people. The Christmas atmosphere, the shopping, the crowds and the energy all add to the excitement. I was happy to be going again with a dog that I knew would enjoy the atmosphere. The last time I was that thrilled to be at Olympia was in 2007 when Hex went for her first and only time. Now I can say that 2010 was the last time I was thrilled to be at Olympia and hopefully I will be able to say that again in 2011, 2012 and on until I decide that agility no longer gives me that feeling of excitement.

We arrived at Olympia early (no big surprise as I am early to everything!) and walked Zaz around. She came upon this bronze statue of a boar (why it was there I have no idea!) She had a slight hissy fit and decided that this boar was very scary and woo woo woo-d at it. I had a talk with the boar and told Zaz that it was a friendly bronze boar after which she was happy to pose next to it. Later that night she went past a bronze cheetah and decided it was not as nice as the boar and it seems as if we need to find a Bronze Animal zoo in order to desensitize her to bronze animal statues.

Please note that Zaz had on both her special borrowed Christmas collar AND her special "ZAZ" harness. That girl does dress to impress!

The marketing geniuses at Olympia thought of a way to get us all to buy Olympia shirts. They made special shirts for the Dog Agility finals! How adorable they were with a special Olympia dog logo and all the dogs names on the back. I was tempted so so so very tempted....but you will all be shocked to know that I resisted and did not buy one for myself. I cannot tell you how many dog agility polo shirts I have and never ever wear. So instead I bought one for Johanna as a christmas present! She should be proud anyway as all three Obay shelties competing at Olympia that week were sired by either Monty or Tazz so it was as if she was there with us all anyway!

So Olympia involves alot of waiting around for short bursts of intense excitement. The first up was our pairs run. It is the "warm-up" round and the only time the dogs will have access to the arena, the crowds and the equipment before the final which will then be 6 hours later. Yes it is all a bit insane and everytime I wonder "is this worth it?" only to be saying "Wow" after we leave the arena.

Amazingly Zaz and I ended up being paired with Nicky (Miss Cool) and Indy (the pocket rocket). Two OBay shelties as a pair! yay! Now I needed to have a chat with Miss Cool before we ran and I TOLD her to pull herself together and take this seriously! I expected a double clear and wouldn't be happy otherwise. hahaha

Nicky pulled herself together and put in a cracking run. I was so busy watching it I almost forgot to go the the line to get ready. Seriously! The guy getting us to the line started looking around and calling for me because I looked too relaxed and he didn't think I was the next to run. LOL It is a strange pairs run as we don't hand off a baton; we just need to watch the other dog clear the finish jump and try and go as quickly as possible without leaving too early. This may seem as a strange way to do pairs but there is a reason. Most of the dogs competing do not know each other and having two strange dogs hyped up for agility in a small area while passing off a baton is just a recipe for dog fight.

So Zaz and I took off and I was just so happy she ran so well. She hesitated on the see saw but otherwise ran really well. It was a good omen for the evening final. Although Zaz and Indy were the fastest double clear they still ended up in 2nd place. This was because they used a different scoring method for the pairs runs. They did time plus faults which put us in 2nd behind a faster team who had 5 faults.

Here are the two cuties. (Indy and Zaz)

So now the long wait for the final. Hanging out in the "competitors lounge" which is basically a bar with some tables and chairs right next to the door and the horse stables...all very glamorous. (not) I was glad that Nicky, Mark and Marc came with us for a walk to the local park followed by some pizza to kill some time. We walked the dogs down to the park but I got worried by all the salt on the sidewalks due to the snow. So after the walk I made Nicky and Mark wash Indy and Mr. Bigs feet. No one can say that I was out to nobble the competition!

BTW here is Mr Big. Isn't he the cutest? Mr (not-so) Big also just started competing this year along with Zaz and Itzy and he has done so well already!

So now the finals are almost happening. I was almost too relaxed and finally went out of the glamorous competitors lounge and put my earphones in to listen to some inspiration. I played Zaz's special song "Soul Sisters" over and over until I felt excited again!

I was happy with Zaz's position in the running order. She was running 4th as she had qualified in 7th place. No pressure on us; we just needed to put in our best round on the day. I need to DO my best; not TRY my best and Zaz just needed to run her little legs off!

I let Zaz do something I don't normally do. I let her watch the dog before her run and get over the top excited. I figured what the hell! There was no control needed on this course; just speed so let's rev her up. LOL Zaz did her normal scooting forward on the startline. I started giggling to myself when I heard the crowd laughing. I knew the camera man had focused on Zaz and she was now plastered on the big overhead screen scooting forward like she was on rollerskates. That's my girl!

The collapsed tunnel to an extended flat pinwheel after the dog walk was my nightmare sequence. I knew that Zaz would start to pull in after the collapsed tunnel as I would be getting further and further behind. Until you are out there on that huge Olympia course it is hard to understand just how FAR those distances are! Bloody hell it was not a course made for old women over 40! Ha! When she picked up that jump I just so excited! So excited I threw in a blind cross after the weaves just to have fun. LOL

Zaz ended up in 2nd place and I couldn't have been more thrilled. She ran her little legs off and I ran without falling down! Result!

So sorry for the delay in finishing our Olympia posts but Christmas got in the way! Here are some photos from the champagne reception after the finals. Don't tell anyone but I borrowed the Champagne glass as a memento of Zaz's day. It will stand next the the glass that I borrowed after Zen won Olympia in 2005. Hopefully one day I can add to my "borrowed" collection and add another one for Zaz or Itz.

Zaz and her Olympia 2010 runner up trophy.

Me and my girl.

All 10 Olympia 2010 small finalists.

Top 3 places.