On the way driving back home from the USDAA Nationals I can’t help but think of how much I love my dogs. No we didn’t win any championships this weekend, Encore hardly got around any runs clean as a matter of fact, poor girlie. But that doesn’t change the fact how much my dogs continue to inspire me. They are “in” no matter what I ask them to do. Waking up this morning in the RV in a parking lot in Tuscon, Az, four happy faces couldn’t wait to start their day with John and I. Yes they are stuck in crates for the most part of the day for the next four days as we drive home, but they are “in” just to be there with us. I just can’t imagine not having a dog as part of your life.
Agility is just a bonus. What a great event this past weekend. I have said it before, I will say it again, USDAA showcases the speed of agility like no other event I have ever be part of in my life. If you like agility for the speed side of things, this is the event to come and watch. Dog after dog breaking barriers that have never been broken before. AKC nationals will never get that because of their double Q rule to qualify. Those of us that don’t do much AKC (ie foreigners like myself) or anyone that has a lightning fast dog but but not necessarily got the consistent thing yet, will likely never qualify for the AKC event. And that is okay. Don’t get me wrong, the AKC Nationals also are a great event, just as our AAC event is in Canada and the IFCS and FCI World Championships. But they are all lacking the kind of all out speed, you see dog after dog, in every height class in the finals like you see at the USDAA finals.
Those events are unlikely to ever allow for a young two year old dog to showcase their speed and confidence like the USDAA Nationals do. This year 2, two year olds and 4 three year old won National Championships. The young dogs where really rockin’! Yes there are many fast dogs at the FCI world championships but in order to get there you have to qualify and be “selected”. It is unlikely a two year old would ever get there as they have to go through some sort of selection to prove themselves worthy, even if you wanted to throw your young dog into such a venue (I didn’t even apply with mine as it is a lot for a young dog to handle).
In order to win at the USDAA you have to be willing to run for your life in at least 2 rounds in both Steeplechase and Grand Prix. The days of “going safe” are gone. I almost lost a spot in the finals with Encore because I was too conservative in the Grand Prix semi-finals (I got in in 20th position out of a possible 24!). Sadly Feature had a bobble in the semis that costed us a full second in time and she ended up
11/100’s of a second out of the final spot so was unable to run in the finals.
You have to go for broke in each of the two rounds if you want to get the big win. My first USDAA National win back in 1996 I actually planned, two spins so I could be sure my dog (Stoni) didn’t knock a bar! And yes, we were fast enough to win! I remember the day not so long ago when dogs in the semifinals had 5 faults and still got into the finals! Those days are l-o-n-g gone that is for sure! The finals of this event where just pure excitement.
I think what the USDAA needs now is an ABC (Anything but a Border Collie) class. There are so many amazing non-Border Collies that are getting lost in the shuffle now and they really are inspiring to watch. It would be fun to have an additional class in the Steeplechase and Grand Prix finals where say 3 of the best non BC 22″ and 3 of the best 26″ non BC dogs compete for a championship of their own (like they do in the UK).
Don’t think I am excluding the mini dogs when I talk about the 22″ & 26″ classes. There is still lots of variety in the mini divisions. Take the Steeplechase finals for example. In the 16″ class there where 8 different breeds in the 12 final places. In the 12″ class there was 6 different breeds in the 8 placements. In the 22″ and 26″ class there were 32 dogs, only one wasn’t a Border Collie (congratulations to Rob & his amazing Terv Wings on their win!). I think it would be great just to highlight the speed and agility of those others breeds by showcasing a few of them in each of the two big the finals. If you agree leave a response and I will forward this all on to Ken Tatsch at the USDAA office.
Today I am grateful for both all of the old friends I got to see this weekend and those you that have been reading this blog and took the time to stop by and say hello.