Welcome to The OBay Shelties blog! Our blog is an honest diary of our life with our dogs along with news from Obay shelties around the world.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crufts 2013: Agility Championships

We were up early and at Crufts almost before anyone else. Luckily Dennis came again to take care of the driving and we had Sonia joining us as a special good luck charm. Today Zaz was with us and I was thrilled to have mother and daughter at Crufts! This was the first time I have had two dogs competing together in Crufts Championship and for it to be mother Zen and daughter Zaz was very special.

Our first run (jumping) was very early; there was hardly anyone in the stands as they were still making their way into the venue. In Championship agility there are two qualifying rounds: one jumping and one agility. In order to get into the final you need to be in the top 50% based on placings in the two qualifying rounds. Any elimination in the qualifiers prevents you from going into the final. So often tactics take place in running championship. You need to decide if you just need two steady clears or if you have to go all out for a high placing in order to get through to the final. Of course, no matter what, you don't want to get eliminated in the qualifiers. This year it seemed that you couldn't play in safe; dogs with good double clears still didn't make it through. Often this is determined by the difficulty of a course. The more difficult the course the more eliminations and therefore a greater chance of getting through even with steadier clears. Sometimes courses are hard to read; they may seem difficult on walking yet they run quite easily. We had 16 dogs in medium champ and 14 dogs in small champ. Qualifying for the champ at Crufts can be very difficult as there are only 20 or so champ shows throughout country all year. So every  Championship ticket awarded is very special.

So I was feeling slightly emotional running Zen but still needed to concentrate on Zaz. I think this helped keep me focused. I had two songs in my head: Diamonds by Rihanna and Magic by Olivia Newton-John. Two very different songs from different eras! I know it is a little sappy but I do find that certain songs motivate me and help me focus. Sometimes I go for upbeat songs to charge me up and get me excited. Other times, like this Crufts, the songs have more sentimental feelings reminding me to relax and enjoy my dog.   I am always careful in big events to not have the "just enjoy" yourself mentality. I DO enjoy myself but I want more than that: I want to win and I want to have that amazing run that shows off my dog and my training.

For Zaz "Magic":

Through every turn I'll be near you
I'll come anytime you call
I'll catch you when you fall
I'll be guiding you

You have to believe we are magic
Nothin' can stand in our way
You have to believe we are magic
Don't let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive
I'll bring all your dreams alive
For you

For Zen: "Diamonds":
I knew that we’d become one right away
Oh, right away
At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays
I saw the life inside your eyes
So shine bright, tonight you and I
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky
Eye to eye, so alive
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Zen was up first in Champ Jumping and then I had 7 dogs before Zaz ran. This put me into a slight  panic wondering if I would be able to catch my breath and get my legs back between dogs. We have to run in strict order in Champ and they will not delay.  Luckily someone said to me just the right words while I was talking about how worried I was. They didn't just say "Oh you will be fine" but  instead they gave me something positive to focus on. They said (paraphrasing) "it is good that you won't have time in between to let the adrenalin fade away. You will be warmed up and ready to run again."  I do not even remember who said it but it was just the right thing to say to me at the time.  Isn't it amazing how a positive comment can really make you feel so much better?

Next up was Zaz. Now many people know that  Zaz's registered name is often announced incorrectly. She has been called Itz Got Pizza so often that I just expect it now! This year at Crufts all the announcers got her name perfect but the TV screen read something else.........

Knowing how much I adore this dog; god is not a big leap!  It was  certainly God that brought her to me when I needed her most.

Here is Zaz's jumping round.

We didn't have long to wait until the Champ agility round.  I had longer between dogs for this run but I don't remember who ran first. The course was subtle again; no real traps but the angle of the  jump after the see saw was of concern and caught a few dogs out.

Zaz's agility round.

Zen's agility round. Zen got creative before the see-saw but she had her reasons.

After the two qualifying rounds we waited with anticipation to hear who made it into the finals. I knew Zaz would be in the finals as she had won both rounds but I didn't know if  Zen had done enough to get through. It turns out that  Zen actually ended up 3rd overall by getting 6th in jumping and 4th in agility! She was in the finals and that is where I wanted her to run her last run. Zen would finish her agility career running in the Championship Finals in the main ring at Crufts! The only sad part of the day was that Zen's son Zev did not make it into the finals due to having faults in his agility round. Zev will certainly be back here another year!

I love running in the finals at Crufts. The crowds are great yet not overwhelming and loud.  The ring crew is supportive and efficient and you have time to  breathe and enjoy the moment.

I loved running Zaz at Crufts again and winning the Champ two years is a row is amazing! Last year we won by a  whisker and this year it was close again with under 1/2 second to play with. Gosh we have some fab small dogs in  UK agility! I have to use the video direct from Crufts as the commentary is such fun. Every time I hear Peter Purvis say that our run is not quick enough my heart skips and I wonder if  we actually won!  Thank goodness we did! It was a fun course.

And Zen's Champ final run.

I guess it would have been nice to say Zen finished with a clear round but actually that was never my goal. This was not about a fairy tale ending but about celebrating my amazing dog. Zen was allowed to miss contacts and obstacles and generally just enjoy herself! I love this photo. Our new Samsung Camera has this feature where you can take a photo while videoing and Dennis got this shot just as Zen came over the finish. I love my Zen!

Beautiful mother and daughter.

The 2013 Crufts Champions: Large, Medium and Small.

So that was Crufts 2013.  I am not promising to blog regularly but with Giz-mo just about ready to compete and my new sable ball of fluff beginning her training I may start blogging again. Puppies are planned for the end of 2013 so that always gets me blogging! 2013 looks to be a great year!  xxxooo


Alett said...

You really always inspire me with your amazing attitude and amazing dogs! You are one of the big reasons I own my little Sheltie today. Sheltie Power! Well done on an amazing Crufts!

Margit S. said...

Congratulation Bernadette!
Happy Retirement Zen!
Thanks for all such great runs we were pblessed to see!



Vonnie said...

Your dogs did you proud! They ran brilliantly and so did their handler. What a nice way to end your agility career. Good luck for the up and coming season.

Lorna Goodban said...

You and the girls did great, may Zen have a long and happy retirement x

Ami said...

Wow, congrats to you and your shelties! I believe I'm your biggest fan around here in Europe and I kept my fingers crossed through Crufts Livestream! You did an excellent job, as always. Greetings from Austria, Ami.