Friday morning we were up at 3:30 am and on the road by 4 for the 2.5 hour drive up to the Birmingham NEC. Friday is all about Zen: Crufts 2013 is to be Zen's final agility show as I couldn't think of a better way for her to retire. One day I should sit down and write down all that Zen has accomplished in her agility career; I just have never been one to focus on those details. This weekend was to be all about enjoying every run with her.
Zen will be 10 next month. She is running well and has no injuries but I feel responsible to try and keep her that way. She loves agility with a passion but she also loves walking, chasing a tennis ball and chasing the other shelties. I could continue running her for another 2 years but why? She has given me so much and I know I would be inconsolable the first time I saw her feel stiff after an agility run. I know how I feel after a long weekend of agility and Zen is now older than me.....I don't judge anyone who continues to run their older dogs; this is strictly a personal decision for Zen and I.
The shelties and I did very little agility during 2012. My heart was not into competing and I was focused on the building work at our house and the addition of a little sable fluffball. (more about that another time!) The only agility goal I was focused on was trying qualify Zen for the new competition called Medium ABC. This new class gave me a fitting way to retire Zen on a high; she deserved to end her career at the top.
Qualifying for the Medium ABC at Crufts was not easy! First we needed to go to the shows that held the qualifying classes and try to guess how many points would be needed to get us through to the semi-final in November. We went through a bit of a roller coaster while trying to get the points. We only had one qualifying show in June and had entered 3 more qualifier shows for the rest of the year. I hoped that 4 qualifiers would give me enough points. Then the "summer of 2012" came and it was a VERY wet summer. I had to wrestle with my conscience and pull Zen out of some shows because I worried about her getting hurt. Some shows were even cancelled. Due to this I was convinced that we would never make the points to get to the semi. We had our 2nd qualifying show in September and I was doubtful we would get through to the semifinal with points from only two shows.
I was amazed when I read that we had squeaked through on points to get to the semi-final at Discover Dogs 2012. Only two of each breed qualify to get into the semi and there were 5 shelties with points in the top 20. Zen qualified as the 2nd highest placing sheltie only one point ahead of her daughter and tied with another sheltie. We only got in due to the rule that to break a tie they take the results of the first competition and Zen had one more point at that show! How close was that? In my opinion the "two of each breed" rule is definitely not necessary and a little sad and I hope the Kennel club looks into this. The ABC (Anything But a (border)Collie) class has it's place in UK agility but limiting it further is not something that promotes better ABC dogs. Let the top ABC dogs shine; the final would have had a huge variety of breeds even without the extra restrictions.
The next hurdle was the semi-final in November at Discover Dogs. 20 dogs in the semi and the top 10 go through to Crufts. Zen placed 3rd overall to qualify for Crufts 2013: our 2012 goal accomplished!
So here we are competing against the best 10 medium ABC dogs in the country at Crufts. Half of the dogs competing were already agility champions or ticket winners so it was set to be a great competition. I was so excited to have Zen by my side again at Crufts. Two runs: jumping and agility and the combined scores produce the winners. Zen was amazing: coming 2nd in jumping and 4th in agility to come 2nd overall. Runner Up Medium ABC Crufts Champion! Coming 2nd behind one of the fastest dogs in the country is not bad at all!
Here is her jumping run videoed with our new Samsung camera!
Here is her agility run.
The first ever Crufts Medium ABC!
My only disappointment of the day is that 2nd place did not get a trophy... Instead only a rosette. For a sponsored class that required so many shows to be entered plus a semi final I think that was a little disappointing for all the Medium ABC dogs that placed 1st through 3rd. Now I have to try to make something special out of our ribbon so I am up in the attic trying to find all of Zen's old Crufts rosettes from 2006 through 2013. Did I mention I tend to not keep my rosettes....uh oh.
So Zen had a busy Crufts 2013. Medium ABC was my only goal for Zen but our Zen had other ideas and also qualified for Crufts Singles AND Championship! More later.