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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crufts 2011 Part 3 Championship

Well here I am sitting at home on another beautiful day. I am grateful that this flu seems to have past the worst and I am on the mend. As much as I would have loved to do the UKA show today, I am playing it safe and staying home to keep recovering. I think I would have been OK running (well maybe sauntering or ambling) around the ring but not sure I would have had the energy to drive the 2 hours back and forth to Newbury.

It would have a been a good show to do as it had a Masters Class and I could use the ring practice right now with Zaz. Also they were going to have the rubber contact equipment and I need to get practice that with Zaz. But there are worse things than missing an agility show; so I stayed home and tortured the shelties with baths and grooming.

So now I will finish writing about my Crufts 2011!

Saturday was our day off and I had thought I might go back to the NEC to watch the International agility. I thought about it but decided to stay back at the B&B, have a full breakfast and take the dog for a long walk instead. I really didn't need to watch any more agility.

I love having a full English breakfast at the B&B yet most of the time we have to leave so early we miss breakfast. So it was a treat to get up late and have a leisurely full breakfast. Afterwards I took Zaz and Zen for a long walk and we all cleared our heads and stretched our legs.

I have always known that Zaz is so similar to Zen but it really hit me this weekend: Zaz is definitely Zen's mini-me! This photo was taken with my mobile while sitting and reading on my bed in the room. I just happened to look down and see these two lying identically at my feet. They even turned their heads the same way when I spoke to them. How cute are they?

Sunday was the Championship day. I am not being melodramatic when I say this; it is actually what I believe. This will probably be Zen's last championship at Crufts. This year I am hoping to have one last litter from Zen and so it is unlikely we will do any championships classes with her. The following year she will be getting up there in age and I will be busy focusing on the pups; Zen will slowly be retiring. (sob) Yet strangely I do not feel bad about this. Zen has done so much in her career and I enjoyed every minute with her.

I was looking forward to some challenging Crufts Championship courses.....but unfortunately the courses we ran were not "Zen" courses. Zen is a little sheltie girl running against much bigger faster border collies; so we need courses that are difficult in order to get anywhere. The courses were fun to run, no doubt Zen enjoyed herself! But a challenging course is what we needed in order to place any higher in the class. These courses had no opportunity for the other dogs to go wrong or for Zen to shave off anytime on turns. They were all straight fast lines. As usual, different courses suit different dogs and handlers and these were not the courses for us.

Even so Zen looked good and still made the Final in the evening. She ran her little socks off and came 5th in the final.And gosh-darn they only showed the top 4 (AND the handlers with mistakes!) on TV that night. Booo-hiss!

Crufts Champ Jumping.

Crufts Champ Agility

Championship Final

So another Crufts over for Zen. Zen-star did pretty good; she was 7/7 clear runs, Winner of the British Open and made it to the finals in both team and champ. Not too shabby for the two old girls! LOL

Our focus now for the next 2 months is the WAO. I have lots of plans for the summer but it will all depend on Zen's timings. AND I may have another new addition to our doggie family; watch this space!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Crufts Part 2: ESSC Sheltie team

The Friday of Crufts was our Medium Team day. It was nice being able to run team at Crufts; twice before we have qualified and not been able to go for one reason or another.

We were running for the English Shetland Sheepdog Club. There is nothing better than a team of shelties and I think it was quite an achievement for our team to qualify. Thanks to Lian for organizing the shirts for the team even though ,sadly, we had to pay for the shirts ourselves. I do think it would have been nice for the club to sponsor us considering we were representing them. Most teams had club sponsored shirts and some even had jackets for their dogs.

Lian gave us all lovely gifts! A fantastic coffee mug with photos of all the team members.

And a bag of chocolates with the dog's photos on the wrappers! I hated to have to eat the chocolates but I made the sacrifice! I did save a few until I got home but sadly they are eaten now also....LOL

There is one "semi final" team run in the morning. Out of the 8 teams that compete only 4 make it through to the "final" in the afternoon. What a let down it would have been to make it to Crufts and potentially have only one run! Luckily in teams anything can happen! We all had good runs and no one got eliminated which in teams is usually the goal! LOL We made it through to the afternoon final!

It was a tough team course with a straight tunnel at the beginning and the end. Well done girls for some great runs.

Then came the "final".

I think we looked really good as a team. Lian had some issues with Saturn but it can happen to anyone. Probably in hindsight we should not have had Lian run last as it is alot of pressure. It is difficult in a team of 4 with a baton change to get the order right. I was especially impressed with Lisa and Tyler for putting in two fantastic clear rounds at their first Crufts! They looked like pros. Thanks to Eleanor, Lian and Lisa for being good team-mates.

This is a photo of the entire team including the 2 reserves. I think Becky with Ellie were very glad they didn't have to run and just got to enjoy being a team supporter! I can see now that choosing the reserves can be just as important as choosing the team; it is not easy putting together a team when everyone is so spread out geographically.

I don't think I will be doing a sheltie team again but I enjoyed it this year. I think everyone knows that I am PASSIONATE about shelties so it is a tough think for me to start pulling away from a "sheltie" club. But, let's be honest, I have never felt that the ESSC has been supportive of my dogs (in fact quite the opposite with the whole American vs English sheltie debates) so it actually feels strange running "for" them. So I think I will skip teams this year unless I find a nice team of small dogs that wants one of my shelties! I could offer myself to the highest bidder? Anyone who will actually give me a shirt? I am really pretty easily bought. LOL

I would like to do Mini/Mixi this year instead if I can organize some of these OBay handlers to join in! The trouble is finding shows with qualifiers that everyone is going to.

I will end this post with a fuzzy photo that makes me laugh. How could I resist? Zaz had her Crufts debut.....she was fantastic with the entire atmosphere and I am looking forward to qualfiying her for Crufts 2012. I know she will love the atmosphere in the main ring.(I am sure this photo is considered sacrilege to the breed people but I think she is the BEST!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crufts 2011 Part 1

I was going to put together a long three part post-Crufts blog post detailing the three days we competed.....but that was before I was hit with the super Crufts Danish flu. Damn this flu has knocked me for a loop. The worst part of it is the constant headache and lack of energy for anything including doing things on the computer.

So it will have to be a condensed post-Crufts play by play. Zen did well. The end. LOL

Zen competed 3 of the 4 days at Crufts. I can honestly say it was too long for the both of us. I am glad we had the Saturday off and we stayed back at the B&B to relax and just get out in the sunshine. Crufts is amazing and it is a privilege to have qualified to compete. Unfortunately is just too crowded and the lack of air and light gets to me after the second day. I also have had just about enough of some of the "breed" people who seem to have a lack of common cleanliness (can't pick up after their dogs and let their dogs pee everywhere) and common courtesy (run over other people's dogs with their damn trolleys).

I took this photo of a fellow competitor because I thought it was funny and cute. But this is how I felt after 2 days at Crufts and wish I could have lay down on the floor but not sure I would have been able to get up again!

Thursday was the British Open at Crufts. Zen qualified for this event back in August at the KC International Festival. I was very proud of her for qualifying at the Festival. To qualify she needed to be in the top 15 of nearly 125 medium dogs after 2 rounds to make the final. Once in the final it was a clean slate and the top British dog qualified for the British Open at Crufts. As Zen was competing against most of the top dogs that day; I had no expectations. Luckily, in our favor, it was a tough international type course and dog after dog had faults. At the end of the final Zen was only beaten by the French dog and so she was top British dog and came 2nd overall. On that weekend in August the French dog and handler were amazingly fast so, again, I had no expectations for Crufts.

Yet again Zen surprised me and won the British Open Jumping, Agility and Overall! This is her second year in a row winning the British Open at Crufts. She ran really well and although I felt her slipping on the first run after that she seemed to get her feet under her for the rest of the weekend. The French dog and handler did not seem to be able to do this and surprisingly they struggled in their runs.

These videos make me laugh as they are taken from the Crufts TV and so you can hear the commentary that I didn't hear on the day. I love the Crufts internet live streaming TV as I was getting messages from people congratulating me even before I was out of the ring! How cool was that.

Oh and even better Zen made the "real" TV that night! Her entire run was broadcast during the Crufts show on More 4. Woo-hoo! The small things that make us happy! LOL

Here is her British Open Jumping.

And her British Open Agility.

Here is Zen with her ribbons. I know there must be good photos out there somewhere of her with her trophies but for the second year in a row Dennis stayed home. So no good photos! Dennis has to come next year when Zaz and Itz get to Crufts for the first time as I need better photos!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Zaz and Itz do good!

Zaz and Itz have started the 2011 agility season off well.

First I found out that Itzy won a trophy for the English Shetland Sheepdog club Working section. She won the trophy for the best Novice dog of 2010! Not bad considering she only competed for 4 months last year.

Itzy is now recovering from her spay; so no agility for Itz for awhile. She doesn't think she should slow down at all but I think 6 weeks off training will be good for her. I will concentrate on her fitness and I know she will come back even stronger.

Then we had our first competition for 2011. Mid-Downs is the show where we all get there and start walking courses thinking...."damn I haven't done this in months!" Everyone is rusty and I know my legs felt like lead after my first run.

I was really pleased with Zaz's win in this class. I remember Zen winning the same class during her first season of competition in 2005. (That was when Zen was running as a mini). This win qualifies her for the Pro-plan stakes final in September!

I am hoping to get Crufts videos and photos up this weekend. We had a great Crufts. As usual it was exhausting and exhilerating at the same time. Unfortunately I am suffering from what I call the "Crufts Danish Flu". So my energy levels are not great and just when I think I am feeling better it comes back again...Yuck I hate being sick! Thank to the Crazy Danes for leaving their flu behind yet again!