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World Championship Wrap Up

Posted on 09/21/09 26 Comments

I am sitting at the airport Monday morning waiting to board our plane back home. Our 2nd FCI Championship experience is over. I will post some of my runs later but unfortunately I haven’t been able to see my last run as it was accidentally not recorded with my camera. No medals to come home but many lessons and a lot of new European (and South African) friends.

Encore was fabulous all weekend. I am so proud of her and her skills. The courses were extremely challenging and I enjoyed running each of them. Team Standard was not for the faint of heart, I believe there were 59 eliminations out of 102 dogs that ran. Definitely one to set up at home for all of you out there. The challenge that got many of us (the tunnel under the A Frame) taught me something important.

I will now learn to look for blind spots for my dog. I realize my dog went into the tunnel because that is all she saw. My body blocked her vision of the correct obstacle so in hind sight, for that reason I should have used a threadle arm to take her away from that off course tunnel.

My handling of that sequence was timely and correct but the poor dog just guessed because she couldn’t see another route.

It is my thinking that dogs get in a rhythm on agility courses; one stride next obstacle, possibly two strides next obstacle. When we run a class like snookers or gamblers there is much more barking from dogs because we have lost the rhythm for them. That is my thinking anyway.

Team picture at the venue in Dornbirn
Our team picture at the beautiful venue in Dornbirn, Austria (I am wearing my new South Africa coat).

Our large dog team ended up 12th overall even with 2 E’s in the 6 rounds, so that
shows how tough the courses were. Kudos to my teammate Tiffany Salmon who for the second year in a row posted two clean runs for our Canadian big dog team. It will be a crushing blow to our team if Tiffany follows through with her thoughts of not re-applying for next year’s FCI team.

Encore and I where sitting in a good position after individual jumpers, only a couple tenths out of first place and standard, her strongest class, coming next.

To be completely honest I felt I couldn’t lose. Going to the line I wasn’t the least bit nervous, only excited with the expectancy of success. No one was more surprise than me when Encore knocked her first bar of the weekend on the 5th obstacle of my final run. My only regret of the weekend was that I let up my handling after the bar fell. I should have run out the rest of the class with intent, for Encore’s sake.

People have asked me how long it takes to “get over” a disappointment like that. To come that close at winning a world championship but then having to walk away empty handed. Honestly, I was over it as I walked off the course. It is a game I play with my dog and it ends when the run is over. I have no 5 minute rule or even a 5 second one. You can approach me right afterward. I slept like a baby last night with no second thoughts or regrets.

I have been blessed with so much in my life. I can’t see how can any single failure or success could possibly alter any of that. When I run at big events I often will write a word or the first letter of multiple words on my hand. The words I choose come to me as I sit quietly the day before the event. This  weekend the letters I wrote were “GLF.”  G for gratitude for which I always feel in abundance, L for the love I have for my dog and “F” for Geri’s Focus, which helps to keep all of this in perspective.

Today I am grateful for my amazing dog Encore, I truly am blessed.


  1. Theresa Litourneau says:
    Friday, September 25, 2009 at 3:47am

    Better late than never.
    Susan, I’ve watched your runs with Encore at the competition over and over.
    Smooth, awesome, inspiring, and as graceful and connected a dance as one could ever hope.
    Although I’ve watched it at least 20 times, it still gives me goosebumps, and a catch in my throat….
    The excitement, the heart pumping, the tuning out of the crowd so there is only you and your partner, Encore…
    Many more to you , and that full feeling of joy in your heart .


  2. Melissa says:
    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 2:35pm

    Congratulations on everything.

    Your comment about letting things go really hit home with me. I’m not an experienced dog person, but I have been an elite competitor in another sport and I think the truly great competitors in every sport share what you have described.

    (If you want to see the example of it that still blows my mind google Matt Emmons)


  3. The Person Who Didn't Record Your Standard Run says:
    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 10:13am

    I’ve decided to remain name-less! I really do apologize for my lack of videoing skills!!! There were many who did get your run however….

    Great job this weekend. You did make all the Canadian Agility supporters very proud 🙂


  4. Kim Collins says:
    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 3:51pm

    Hey Susan,

    I agree you and Encore ran brilliantly ( jumpers was amazing and I still don’t know where that guy from Spain managed to pick up the time cause on the clock Encore was fatser at most of the sequences, the very last jump was the only place I could see he was way out in front ansd maybe his dog just jumped a bit longer???? Be interested to see those two runs overlayed) …..and we were all hanging on our seats for that last standard round. I believe you when you say your were over it when you left the ring, didn’t you use your whistle over the last jump?LOL! That told me you had shaken it off and left with your relationship with your dog as the most important thing. I think if you can do that at a world championship going into the final run in second place that is an amazing thing!
    Great job all of the team members ( wow some great small dogs coming up too eh?) and it was very exciting to be able to watch via the VOD that Eric did.



  5. Devora Locke says:
    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 12:47pm

    Your comment about writing “F’ on your hand, for Focus, really touched me.


  6. Tracey says:
    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 12:27pm

    Hi Susan,

    It is Tracey from the South African team……I have just arrived back in South Africa (I am pretty sure I will have your round on video….just slightly technologically challenged to get it to you but will certainly try- watch this space).

    It was a great privilege sitting with the Canadian camp in Austria and from my perspective having an opportunity to meet and chat briefly to you and the rest of the team. Your remarks are heart warming and inspiring for all dog handlers world wide…thank you Susan. WELL DONE CANADA!


  7. Cristine says:
    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 10:29am

    Hi Susan
    Was a great pleasure to watch the runs of you and encore at the WC.
    Hope you will be there next year. In the meantime I will look at the videos posted on youtube.
    All the best


  8. Anne Stocum says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 11:33pm

    Susan: How well you said it – no single failure or success can possibly alter the proof of what you have with Encore – it came through with every run – trust, integrity and joy. Both of you gave amazing performances at this event! Kudos!


  9. Jan DeMello says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:11pm

    With not much time to sit at the pc to watch the WC, I made sure to watch Icon, Juice, Zippity, my friend and former roommate and trainer partner Paulette Swartzendruber and her awesome Sheltie Rush and you running Encore. Encore was stupendous and those little bobbles that kept you from winning the gold…well, I don’t need to tell you Susan that you already won gold by having such a wonderful partner as your girl Encore!


  10. Ami says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 9:58pm

    You rock! Safe travels!


  11. Susan Anderson says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 7:50pm

    Congratulations to you and Encore on an outstanding job and giving it your best. You are one cool lady on your out look and love of the sport and your dog.

    You inspire me to be a better person and handler.

    Thank you.


  12. Michelle says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 4:45pm

    I look forward to watching your runs, it sounds like the time of a lifetime which fortunately for you, you repeat many a time.

    Although I appreciate your positive attitude and not meaning to sound negative, however, not feeling disappointed sounds unusual. However, you do mention learning from mistakes and that sounds very normal. How else do we improve if we dont take something home and learn from it. However, I do understand to dwell on it is not healthy. But I can imagine the Olympic athletes must feel some disappointment when they dont bring home the gold, silver or bronze for that matter. To be able to say Hey Life is Good, its over, well I guess it is and I can appreciate the absolute ton of work you put into this, it just sounds a bit casual. And casual you are not. I hope I dont get kicked off reading your list and commenting 🙂 Wish the results were better and mistakes were purely honest, a bar is a bar, and a tunnel trap, well I had first hand experience this weekend with my own dogs, dare I compare!!!

    Thanks for letting me speak or write.


  13. Arlett and Arie Geenen says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 2:51pm

    Hi Susan and Encore.
    We were very happy to meat you in Austria and we thank you to sea you runnig on the world championships.
    It was great to be there, and see you next year.
    Greetings from the Netherlands.


  14. Maija from Finland says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 1:31pm

    Hi! I’ve been a fan of you’re training methods and handling skills since I saw you and Encore run in Helsinki last year. I’ve since read “Shaping Success” and your blog frequently. I wasn’t able to come to Austria this year but I followed the results and was rooting for you (and the Finnish team of course 🙂 ) Congrats on your great run at jumpers course. You’re attitude towards this sport is truly inspiring. All the best for your future!


  15. Jenny Ruth Yasi says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:40pm

    Agility is such a cool sport! The learning will be endless, fortunately!! How boring, and probably unhealthy, it would be to have everything too easy. I have always said that in the world of painful things that can happen in life, I am NOT about to cry over a dog knocking a bar or refusing a teeter, so I love knowing that agility is still a (fun) game for you, and not a drama. That’s the way life should be! I can’t wait to bring my dogs to meet you and study with you. You are probably the best trainer in the world, not just of dogs, but also of people. Congratulations on all your accomplishments. It takes a lot of wisdom to know the right way to knock a bar.


  16. Trish says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:00pm

    Wow… you gave me chills.

    Wonderful words to remember, and thanks for keep Focus in mind, it truly is a game and we need to be thankful for each day with our wonderful 4 legged friends.


  17. Beth says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:19am

    Susan you truely have embraced the “true” meaning of success and dissappointment.
    Have a safe trip home.


  18. Ida says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 9:28am

    Wow, you are truly an inspiration in so many ways!


  19. Cindy Briggs says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 8:43am

    What a great lesson for all competitors of all kinds. thank you, Susan.


  20. Trudie says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 8:24am

    “The Susan Garrett Attitude” is truly inspiring !


  21. Kelly says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 8:19am

    Susan, congratulations on a fabulous Worlds experience. I dreamed of you last night . . . perhaps at the moment you were writing this super blog entry. I applaud your attitude. Your confidence on the line, your ability to keep things in perspective, and the letters you chose to inspire you during the run are all lessons for the rest of us. Bravo to you and Missy En!


  22. denise says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 8:12am

    You have a great attitude. It’s great that you keep all this agility stuff in perspective. Safe journey home to you and Encore.


  23. Lori says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 7:15am

    Great job at worlds Susan and Encore! Your attitude is Gold.


  24. Katka says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 7:13am

    Hi Susan,

    great job done this weekend, I enjoyed all your runs (to be hones, some more than others, being second between so much clean runs, taht is truly something). Reading Shaping Succes changed my life completely three years ago and it keeps changing in order to be a better handler and owner to my dog. Dropped bars happen, I think we can do our best to help dog to manage the most of them, but not all of them, Hope you’ll find a video to help you analyze, what happen, I don’t remember any mistake in Encore’s rythm or take-off.

    My sister was reeeeally impressed by your performance in Individual Jumping, she almost couldn’t belive you were able to handle so fast dog as Encore with so much smoothness. “OK, she’s good,” she said. Doesn’t lavish with praise, does she 🙂

    Hope we will see you next year, have a great time spent with your dogs.


  25. Taryn says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 6:41am

    Hi Susan!

    Your positive outlook is truly amazing and very inspiring!


  26. Ron Watson says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 5:10am

    Congrats on a fine performance and an even better attitude!

    I’m interested in reading your thoughts regarding on course rhythm.



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