Monday, November 29, 2010

Katie's Agility Career

Out of hundreds of agility runs, each dog leaves you with a couple of awesome courses you will always remember. One such run for Katie was in Savannah, Georgia in November 2003. In a Standard run, there was a sequence that looked like this:
When I looked at the sequence, I thought it would be faster to do it this way:No one else seemed to share in my enthusiasm. One guy in particular who runs very nice whippets, but always has something negative to say, went on and on and on about how hard that would be for a big dog. Others were saying that you would incur a refusal because you would likely pass the plane of the second jump. I asked the judge and he said that it was doable even though he had not planned on it being run the second way. I stuck with my original plan and Katie did it beautifully, got first place, and was the only 24" dog to qualify!
This is basically all of the video I have of Katie doing agility. It was filmed 6 - 8 years ago. Unfortunately, it does not contain the memorable run mentioned above or Katie's MACH runs, but it is all I have.
After becoming the first Master Agility Champion greyhound, Katie and I continued a busy agility trial schedule. In the spring/summer of 2004, I noticed that Katie was starting to have problems. Weave poles got slower and slower and then she began refusing them. More than just the occasional jump rail was coming down. It became evident that she was having some back pain.
At the time, Katie had already earned her Open obedience title (CDX) and we were working Utility level. I decided to retire Katie from agility and concentrate on obedience, but I wanted to compete her in one more agility trial - the AKC Agility Nationals. Katie was the only greyhound to qualify to go that year and only the 2nd ever. She also had several months to rest.

Hindsight, we should have stayed home. The 2004 AKC Agility Nationals were a huge disappointment. They were held at the Tampa Florida Convention Center in the middle of the city. Concrete was everywhere and only patches of sod for our dogs to pee on. Thank goodness Katie peed on cue ("go tee tee"). The agility was run on very thin mats.

Before our first run, I got in line to do the practice jump positioned on a small square of matting. It was ridiculous. Then suddenly I saw my number flash up on the screen before I had warmed Katie up. I raced over and found out that I had already been skipped over. I was very flustered. This was my first big event and it was not running anything like the trials back home. They throw Katie and I in next. This was my first experience with electronic timers. I should have been watching the electronic timer screen, but was looking at the timer person instead. A woman finally screams at me to go. Katie does not even do the first jump and we leave the ring. I was so embarrassed and disappointed, but I certainly understood that Katie was not 100% nor had she even warmed up. We tried again the next day with a proper warm up, but after a few obstacles, she was ready to leave the ring. We packed up our things and left early. I hate that the Nationals were our last agility trial, but it was probably a good lesson for me.