May 24-25, 2008
Dandy made his debut in USDAA Agility in Saratoga Springs, NY. I entered him in the 26" class as that's what I've prepared him for in case he measures over 21" and has to jump 26". (His first measurement came in UNDER 21", so we'll see!) Oddly, this trial had a huge 26" Starters class compared to 22"...the 26" class was 50% larger than the 22", which is extremely unusual.
He exceeded my expectations by qualifying in 5 of his 6 Starters classes. His first class was Snooker, something totally new for him, and my goal was not to earn the most points but to practice obstacles of my choice in the opening (the tunnel was worth more points than the seesaw, but I wanted to get him on that seesaw for the experience). He finished the course in plenty of time with 44 points to earn a Q and a 3rd place.
Second class was Pairs, Dandy never ran agility with another dog in the ring, but we were paired up with someone I've known for years and we put no pressure at all on one another. Dandy ran the 2nd half, and each of us had to restart weaves plus each of us had 5 faults but we still managed to qualify with less than 1/2 second to spare!
Last class of the day was Starters Standard, but because I was concentrating on the other 2 rings where I had to run Token in Masters classes, I not only missed my walk-thru for Dandy's class but almost missed my run! Someone told me they were calling me to go to the ring (I was working in another ring at the time), so I ran out to the car to get Dandy, quickly looked at one dog running the course, and went in the ring. I did not handle him well at all since I didn't really know the course, but I winged it. We were 2 paws away from an off-course, but we held on & managed to finish the course without faults, and Dandy earned his first Standard leg with a 3rd place.
Sunday, our first class was Gamblers. We earned 22 points in the opening (11 pts required to qualify), and he successfully completed the gamble for a total of 42 points, a Q and a First Place!
Second class of the day was Starters Standard, which I actually got to walk this time ;-) Dandy was awesome, finishing the course cleanly in 37.01 seconds (Standard Course Time was 60 seconds, 130 yards). He won the class easily (the 2nd place dog was 10 seconds behind him) for another Blue ribbon and his 2nd leg in Standard.
Last class of the weekend was Jumpers, and he kicked it up a gear for that one (he was flying!!!), which resulted in going off-course and knocking a bar. So no Q in Jumpers, but I'm still thrilled with everything he accomplished for his first USDAA trial.
Unfortunately, all of my focus going into Dandy, and all of the ring conflicts I had all weekend, resulted in my short-changing Token. I simply was not able to focus enough on his runs, and he really needs 100% from me. So no Q's for Token. But he still made me proud, especially when we came out of the ring after his final class of the weekend, and a spectator was taking pictures of him. She told me he really stood out from the others with his intensity and speed and enthusiasm, and she told me she could tell that he was a very special dog. That was just as good as getting a ribbon :-D