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Monday, April 02, 2012

Crufts 2012: Zaz's 1st Crufts and other updates

I believe in Zaz; she is an amazing girl. We have both put the training in and I felt positive and calm. I also know that luck plays a small part for everyone whenever we step into the competition ring. This Crufts, for whatever reason, God smiled down and the the stars aligned for us. That is a tremendous feeling and one I wish for everyone to feel at some point in this game of agility that we play with our dogs.

We went into Crufts competing in three events: The Small Agility Challenge, Crufts Singles and Championship. We had both the Small Challenge and Singles on Friday. So four runs on the day. It doesn't seem like much but with the atmosphere and the energy it is a long tiring day. Saturday would be day off and the Championship (3 runs if you made it to the final) was on Sunday. I stayed at a local B&B which was only a 1/2 mile away from the NEC; you could even walk to the NEC from there! This was great for Zaz; less time in the car and more time to chill out. On Saturday I was able to keep her at the B&B and take her for a nice long walk. I think this really helped her for Sunday.

We received so many nice good luck cards and gifts; it really makes you feel special!

Each day I displayed them all at our benching spot. On sunday we benched next to Zeki so it required a photo. We had three other OBay shelties at Crufts this year. Zeki was in Medium Championship at her first Crufts and came 3rd in the Champ final! Todd was in the medium team event and put in 2 lovely clears. Oz was competing in the international freestyle and did a great routine with a handler he never met before that week! You can see Ozzie in his routine at around 35:00 minutes into the video.

The Crufts main arena was shown live on You tube which was fantastic as Dennis could watch from home and work! And I could go back (after some time to be brave enough to watch!) and see how we did.

This is the final of the small Agility Challenge. We ran around 21:00 min into the video. If you watch the end it is so funny as the commentator kept saying that we did not win. Luckily we did!

Here is the final round of the Crufts Singles all heights. We ran around 5 min. into the video clip.

So at the end of Friday we had run 4 clears and won both events.

Sunday we first had the jumping and agility qualifiers to try get us into the final on Sunday night before Best in Show. You need to run both qualifiers with no eliminations and be in the top 20% of your height class in order to get into the finals. Here is a video of the winners of the agility qualifier runs in each height. Poor Zaz I told her left after the wall when I should have said right. Bless her she corrected herself after I screamed her name a few times and she still won the class.

Zaz won the agility round and placed 4th in the jumping round. This gave her the most points for the final where the dogs ran in reverse order. So we would be running last in our height category. What a great place to be running in; we would know exactly what we needed to do in order to win! I watched a few dogs run just to see how the course flowed and then I concentrated on Zaz. I did see Greg and Scout run so fast and thought to myself well that is it; shit or bust! I love that feeling; knowing we couldn't just coast through but had to pull out whatever we could and still stay focused. "Bring it on" was all I could think of as a motto to get me through the run. Zaz did just that, she ran like a dream and put on the speed that she had been holding back on all weekend. What a little star.

Here is her final run to win the Championship. If you see my face at the end looking puzzled it was because I didn't know if we had done it because I can't always hear the announcer and I am so busy playing with Zaz that I don't look at the scoreboard. I kept asking people "Had we done it?" and still didn't know/believe for sure until we were called in at the end for prize giving.

Zaz has given me so much this year. An Agility Champion in her first full year of competition, an individual medal at the World Championships and now winning three events at her first Crufts.....

When Joy arrived into my hands 20 years ago in 1992 I knew she was special and I thought she was my dog in a million. Then she gave me Pax and I never thought I would have another dog that would be my soul mate. Then Zen was born into my hands I never though I could have a sheltie as great as her with so much heart for the game....then I was blessed with Hex and never imagined there could be another sheltie that would make my heart sing as she did....now I have Zaz and just feel amazed to have her. I just want my dogs to freeze in time and stay as they all are right now. All perfect, all healthy and happy.

So what about this coming year? I am hoping God has a better idea in mind as all my puppy plans are not going very well! I think I am 0 for 10 at this point with no girl puppies for me either in my own breedings or from other special litters I have been interested in. So it looks like a quiet year in that respect. I won't say I am not extremely disappointed; it is hard to keep up a breeding program with only one girl. Agility will take a smaller part this year. I need a break from the constant shows and want to sit back and enjoy our house and our life. I will not be chasing qualifiers or travelling all over the world.

I miss running Zen and hope to have her back running this year to do some Medium ABC classes (Anything But (border)Collie). Itzy is enjoying agility and I love her enthusiasm; she will get more training this year. I will run Zaz this year just focusing on keeping us as a team rather than chasing qualifiers. I will not run her at Olympia this year and am already qualified for Crufts 2013. She will not be trying out for the EO and I am unsure about the World Champs. I am looking forward to the WAO (World Agility Open) in Belgium. Giz-mo is finally getting trained and he will be the challenge that I think boys can be! Small but mighty will be his motto; I look forward to our journey together.

If you read this far I will let you know that this blog will stop for a few months. Not only do I need a break from agility; I need a break from the internet. I will still enjoy catching up on my favorite blogs and hopefully you won't all forget about me! Talk soon.....