News and updates of my Border Collies and our canine performance events.

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December 17, 2012

Tempo MAD Dog!!!!

On December 8th, at the USDAA Agility Test hosted by Keystone Agility Club in Barto, PA, Tempo earned his Master Agility Dog title! He needed to qualify in both Master Gamblers & Master Snooker to finish is MAD, and he did both in style. He placed 4th in Gamblers, and though he only placed 5th in Snooker, he did earn the maximum of 51 points (4 other dogs also got 51 points but got across the finish line faster!) He ran great in Jumpers but I moved a hair too soon and pulled him off a jump, so no Q. But a bonus of the day was his Q in Grand Prix (5th place). He had also earned a GP Q on November 11th at High Octane’s test at Barto, with a 3rd place, so he is now qualified for Nationals in GP.

Dandy also had a great day qualifying in 3 of his 4 classes. We blew Masters Standard, but we aced Master Jumpers winning the 26” class. We ran Master Pairs with little brother Quid (Tempo’s littermate), and qualified with a clean run on both parts. And Dandy qualified in Grand Prix with a 4th place, just 0.02 seconds behind 3rd. This was a big improvement over our November 11 competition where Dandy and I had a Q-less day with just one error in every class.

At this last competition of the year, both dogs ran really well, no bars down, no contact or weave faults…just refusals. Tempo is running much better than in the beginning of the year, he is sending well and not asking as many questions. Dandy has had a few moments of being pushy, but he is still a dandy boy! We now take a little break as the holiday season is upon us, but we won’t rest for long as I’m planning on a 3-day USDAA event in January,and one or two days in February. 2014 will be bringing us more adventures, so there is lots to look forward to. Regardless of Q’s and titles, I’m grateful for every single day that I have with these awesome dogs.

Tempo MAD(1)Dandy ADCH Bronze Cert

Autumn AKC Agility

Enjoying a nice 45 minute commute, we attended a couple of local AKC Agility trials hosted by Skyline Agility Club. On October 20-21, 2012, we did not have our best weekend, but still managed a few Q’s with both boys going 3 for 6. Dandy earned one Q each in Excellent B Standard, Excellent A FAST, and Time2Beat, all Blue since he was the only 26” dog. Tempo earned one Q each in Novice FAST (his debut in FAST), Excellent A Standard and Time2Beat, all 1st place in 24”.

We had a better but colder weekend on December 1-2. Dandy double-Q’d on Saturday and Q’d in Excellent B Standard on Sunday, so he was 3 for 4, and again all Blue as the only 26” dog. Tempo was 2 for 4, qualifying in Excellent A JWW on Saturday, and in Excellent A Standard on Sunday, both 1st place in 24”.

So we end our AKC year with Tempo needing one more Q for his AX, and two more for his AXJ. Dandy needs one Q for his MX, and two for his MXJ. He has five Double Q’s and 320 MACH points; I’m not sure if we’ll really pursue a MACH as I still prefer USDAA, but if there are enough AKC trials close by, maybe someday…

October 24, 2012

Dandy, ADCH-Bronze

On Saturday, October 13, at the USDAA Test hosted by Keystone Agility Club, Dandy earned his Agility Dog Championship-Bronze title. He needed just one more Q in Master Snooker to finish the ADCH-Bronze as well as his Snooker Champion-Bronze. He qualified with a lovely run of 49 points, 2nd Place and a Super Q. We didn’t get a big title ribbon, so no special photo, but we do have video!

Dandy in Master Snooker

He also had a beautiful run in Master Jumpers, qualifying and winning the class. This was probably our best Jumpers run yet, at 6.7 yards per second. I didn’t slow him down as much as I usually do since I did three blind crosses, it was such fun!

Dandy in Master Jumpers

Tempo earned his 3rd Q in Masters Standard, but not a very good time as I had trouble getting his elbow down on the table. Still he managed a 4th place. He had great runs going in Snooker and Jumpers but one refusal in each cost us the Q’s.

Tempo in Master Standard

On October 20-21, we went to Skyline’s AKC Agility Trial in Middletown, NY. Not our best weekend, but both boys qualified in 50% of their runs. Tempo earned 3 Q’s: Novice FAST, Excellent A Standard and Time2Beat, all First Placements in 24”. Dandy also earned 3 Q’s: Excellent A FAST, Excellent B Standard and Time2Beat, all First Placements in 26”.

We plan to get three more days of USDAA in before year’s end, along with one weekend of AKC. Winter will be upon us soon when will be at the mercy of the weather but hopefully we can get to at least one event per month through the winter months.

October 17, 2012

Cynosport 2012

September 26-30, 2012 - Commerce City, CO

In September, we took a long road trip out to Colorado to compete in the USDAA “Nationals” n/k/a Cynosport World Games, held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO. Both Dandy & Tempo competed in all 3 tournaments: Grand Prix, Steeplechase and Team. Amongst the challenges were the 1800 mile drive with two friends in an RV (and a total of 7 dogs), the change in altitude at a mile high, and the intensity of a huge international event. Competitors attended from not only the US, but also Japan, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, England, Spain & Switzerland.

It was indeed a long drive but staying in a fab RV was a fantastic way to do it, so I’m lucky to have been invited to join Jeannie & Kathleen on this RV journey. We were able to stay “on site” at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, which was a real luxury to me, no travelling back and forth to motels and having the convenience of “home away from home” right there 24/7.

This was my first time “out west”…seeing the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop every day was magnificent, I just love mountains. A bonus is that I didn’t have to take any allergy meds the whole time I was out there! As soon as we drove back into Pennsylvania on the way home, it was back to antihistamines and decongestants.

Dick’s SGP is a huge outdoor complex with a stadium and a plethora of soccer fields. One section was dedicated to our event, and there were 3 rings on grass as well as 3 rings on an artificial turf that was fabulous for both handlers and dogs to run on. The main ring was on turf with bleachers on two sides. One of the 3 grass rings was deemed unusable for the entire event as we had two nights of rain that was more than Commerce City had seen all year. In order to not turn the one grass ring into mud, it was abandoned. The organizers did a great job of reassigning all the classes scheduled for that ring, so the event went on with just 5 rings without much difficulty. Even though we had two nights filled with rain, the weather during the days of the event were pleasant and mostly sunny.

In addition to agility, the event also hosted Flyball racing, Lure Coursing, and Splash Dogs.

Overall, I was happy with my dogs’ performances. Some runs could have been better, of course, but it was a great experience regardless of results.

TEAM EVENT: Tempo ran in the 4 classes for the Team event, and though he E’d in Jumpers (off course in wrong end of tunnel) and had a terrible Snooker class (8 points!), he hung on in Standard to get a score, and had a very good run in Gamblers. Dandy did well in his team classes, his worst being Snooker with 31 points. He ran clean in both Standard & Jumpers, and had a terrific run in Gamblers to place 10th in the 26” class (though they only gave placements up to 9th place!).

STEEPLECHASE: Both Dandy & Tempo made it to Semi-finals but did not advance into the Finals. We ran Quarterfinals around 9:00 at night on Wednesday, and hoping to finish before a big storm moved in. (We got back to the RV in the nick of time!) I was surprised to do as well as we did under the circumstances. Tempo did well in Semi-Finals but knocked a bar…he needed to be clean in order to advance in that competition. I really wanted Dandy to make it to Semi’s as he’s a great Steeplechase dog…but I made a huge mental error. On his approach to Jump #3, my mind went to the wrong place…I thought about how well he could do if someone else were handling him…and at that very moment, he crashed the jump AND the wing, which is something he has never done. We had a disconnect after that for an off-course. So I blew it. But it was a very valuable lesson: I need to focus on me and my dog and nothing else, and run him to the best of my ability. I need to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses. I was disappointed but not devastated, and I will be better prepared mentally in the future.

GRAND PRIX: Tempo went off-course at the Aframe/Tunnel discrimination in quarter-finals, so no advancement. It was unfortunate that GP Quarterfinals as well as Steeplechase Quarterfinals were held on Wednesday, the first day of competition, we were not at our best after spending the previous 5 days/nights in the RV, on the road with no opportunity to train. Thankfully, Dandy had earned a Bye into Semi-Finals, and the Semi’s were held on Saturday. He ran clean but did not make the cut for Finals. They only took the 16 fastest dogs, and I needed to be much more aggressive than I was to be competitive. But I survived my first time in Semi-Finals and am very proud of Dandy. This was an important experience for me as I tend to get very nervous in the ring, but getting through the run without choking or losing focus was a “win” for me. I realized that I will have to be more ambitious in the future if I ever hope to advance. Changing my habit of “just trying to run clean” into “run clean AND fast” will take some work, I’ve been running conservatively for nearly 20 years! But it’s time to try to step out of my comfort zone. I have an amazing dog who is capable of so much, and even though I’m not young & athletic, I can push more by handling more strategically and making the most of my dog’s skills. While I have no aspirations to actually WIN, I really do have to set my goals a little bit higher than “just run clean”.

I have so much to be proud of with both of my dogs. I was confident in knowing my dogs would stay at the start line, I was confident in their contact performances being spot-on, and even though they don’t always keep the bars up, they are talented jumpers. It was a pleasure to enter the ring with them and know they had great training behind them as well as athletic ability and drive and desire, even if my handling sometimes let them down.
They have very good weave skills as well, but the 22” spacing on the weaves at Cynosport really threw Tempo off. We see nothing but 24” weaves at trials, and he had a hard time finding his rhythm with the 22”. I know he CAN do them, he did them fine when we encountered them in Texas in May. But the Cynosport environment made him very high, and even being outdoors was something he has not habituated to since almost every trial we did this year was indoors. Dandy is more seasoned and was able to adapt to the weaves with no issue, but it was harder for Tempo.

Grand Prix Finals were held on Sunday, and since we were not running, I accepted an invitation extended to Dandy to join a Colorado Flyball Team who was racing at the event. (Dandy’s half-brother Jake was on the team so at least we knew one dog there.) Dandy took a moment, wondering what we were doing – he had not even seen a flyball box since April - but then quickly switched gears from Agility to Flyball. Racing for the first time outside on grass presented an entirely new picture to him. He took the position of start dog, we had great starts and he averaged 4.0-4.1, helping the Agents of Chaos secure 1st Place in Regular Division 1. We were awarded a gorgeous Cynosport 2012 medallion for winning and it’s a beautiful memento of our Wild West Week!

Besides enjoying a wonderful event with dogs, friends, nice weather and lovely scenery, I came away from it all with much to be happy about and also much to think about for next year. Beyond the training and mental management that are key points, there is one more thing that I need to consider…I need to be better prepared next year by getting to more trials. 2012 was a unique and fantastic year for me that included two very big trips, which is out of my comfort zone, but I loved every moment and I would not change a thing. The World Agility Championship in Texas in May was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has been the highlight of Dandy’s career, and it was worth any sacrifices made to get there so that Dandy could compete with Team Australia. And when I made the commitment to go to WAC, I had no intentions of going to Colorado. What I have to do differently in the future is to simply try to budget my time and money more effectively. In 2012, my competition days totaled about 10, not counting the two Regionals I went to. By the time Cynosport arrived, I felt I had not competed enough to be prepared, I felt “out of practice”. I need to plan for Cynosport in 2013 in Tennessee, to insure that my head is in the game and the dogs are well-rehearsed but not burned out.

When all is said and done, my heartfelt gratitude goes to Dandy and Tempo for bringing so much adventure and joy and love to my life!

IMG_6514_sun and moon
Indiana Sunset from I-80 West

Tempo & Dandy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado

Cynosport panoramic





October 8, 2012

AKC in September

Our second AKC trial for this year was September 8-9, hosted by Skyline Agility Club in their new facility at Victoria Farms in Middletown, NY. One ring trial in a barn, on packed dirt/rubber. The shape of the barn resulted in the ring being rectangular instead of square, and obstacles were often placed very close to the walls. I think the walls and the footing presented some differences that my dogs need to get accustomed to, but I’m sure they will as we plan to do a number of trials there. One thing I was not wild about was the jumps they used, they were very lightweight pvc, mostly wingless, not much visibility and not very compelling for the dog.

Dandy had a very “off” weekend, knocking a bar in 3 of his 6 classes. This is very unusual for him so I had to wonder if the walls and/or footing felt odd to him. When he knocked the first couple of bars, I don’t think he even realized it due to the lightweight pvc. The first time, I believe he brushed the upright, rather than hitting the bar itself. Second bar was jumping into a wall. The 3rd bar, he knew he hit it and I saw him react for the first time, he really needed the feedback that he knocked a bar.

So, Dandy was only 3 for 6. He qualified in Time2Beat with a 1st place both days, and he qualified in Sunday’s Excellent B Standard, 1st place. Not that NQs are unusual for me, but it IS unusual for Dandy for the only error to be knocked bars. More homework!

Tempo had a very good weekend, he was 3 for 3 on Saturday, and 1 for 3 on Sunday, with dropped bars his only fault. On Saturday, he qualified in Open JWW to finish is OAJ title. He also earned his second leg in Open Standard, and his first Q in Time2Beat, taking 2nd place behind Dandy in 26”. On Sunday, he earned his 3rd leg in Open Standard to finish his OA title. He had a bar down in Time2Beat, and a bar down in his debut in Excellent A JWW. But overall a great weekend for the youngster.

AKC in August

August brought us just one event, an AKC Agility trial hosted by Monticello NY Kennel Club, held at New Hope Farms in Port Jervis, NY. This is my favorite site since it’s only 25 minutes from home!

Dandy went 4 out of 5 for the weekend. On Saturday, he qualified in Excellent B JWW (2nd place) and Time2Beat (1st place). On Sunday, he double-Q’d with a 2nd place in Excellent B JWW and 1st place in Excellent B Standard.

Tempo had good runs, qualifying 2 out of 5. He earned his 2nd leg in Open JWW and his 1st leg in Open Standard. Dropped rails were the downfall in other classes but his contacts & weaves were great! Doing our first AKC trial of the year, I found a hole in our training program…while we work on lots of tight turns and technical things, we have not done much lately involving long sequencing of jumps on straight lines or soft curves. Time to work speed circles!

Great “home” trial with lots of friends!

Terri & Pups Aug2012 (2)

Family Reunion! Pictured is Terri Florentino (Shebaa Border Collies) with 5 of her puppies:

Quid & Tempo (Meg/Token 2009), Dandy (Meg/Token 2006), Roy (Wyn/Mick) & Wiley (Echo/Chip)

July 18, 2012

New Titles & Clearances

June and July….getting back to running my dogs in Agility and having some health checks done. In June, I took both Dandy & Tempo to an eye clinic at Sheepy Hollow, and both were normal on all counts and have been re-certified by CERF. I also had Tempo’s hips radiographed and submitted to OFA, and his hips have been certified as EXCELLENT! (Dandy is also OFA Excellent.) All good news!

In June, I only did two days of USDAA trials in Barto. On June 10th (Lehigh Valley Dream Weavers), Dandy qualified in Master Jumpers, 1st Place. Tempo qualified in Grand Prix, 4th place, for his 2nd GP Q to fully qualify him for 2012 Nationals. Tempo ran Advanced Pairs with his littermate Quid, they took 1st place and this leg finished Tempo’s Advanced Agility Dog title (AAD)!

On June 16th (Keystone Agility Club), Dandy qualified in Master Snooker, 1st place & Super Q, and he qualified in Steeplechase to finish his Tournament Master-Gold title (TM-Gold). Tempo earned his first leg in Masters Standard with a 2nd place, and he qualified in Grand Prix with a 1st place, earning him a Bye into the GP Finals of the New England Regional in July.

We attended 2 days of the 3-day New England USDAA Regional in Greenfield, MA, July 14-15. The weather was horribly hot & humid, and the ground was dry, hard & slick as the lack of rain dried out the grass. I could not sleep Friday night after driving up to MA after work and I was beyond tired on Saturday…not fully functional at all! Unfortunately, I was simple not there for my dogs when we went in the ring, and we performed poorly. Sunday was a bit better after I finally got some sleep but the heat is not my friend. I’m glad I didn’t enter both dogs in all the classes.This was our first outdoor trial of the year, and Tempo struggled with the surface, very different than what he’s used to. He knocked a number of bars, and slipped several times. He did not qualify in any classes, but his run in the Grand Prix finals was respectable. He had one bar down and one refusal, but still managed to finish in 5th place. Dandy adapted to the footing much better as he’s more experienced, and he saved the weekend for me--- he qualified in Master Snooker with a 1st place/Super Q, and qualified both days in Gamblers (2nd pl & 3rd pl) to finish his Gambler Champion-Bronze title (GCH-Bronze).

In between, we have spent much time swimming and dock-diving at the lake. With the extreme heat we’ve been having, the lake is a blessing. Tripper loves to join his ‘cousins’ at the lake. I took advantage of Gail being here for her summer visit…I was able to get some cool shots by going out in Gail’s kayak to shoot from a different point of view while she and mom threw the toys out for the dogs to retrieve. Sometimes it takes a village to get good pictures Smile

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May 29, 2012

The Time of My Life!

The 2012 IFCS World Agility Championship was held May 11-13 in Fort Worth, Texas, hosted by the United States Dog Agility Association. This elite international competition takes place every two years, since 2002, and has been held in Russia, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. This year was the first time it has been held in the USA. Each country who participates may send a team of up to 12 dogs/handlers, with a maximum of 3 in each of the four height divisions (Toy, Mini, Midi & Maxi). Teams from Australia and New Zealand are eligible to compete in this event but the quarantine regulations in their countries make in impractical for their dogs to travel outside of their home countries. In the spirit of sportsmanship, the IFCS allows teams from these two countries to compete by  borrowing dogs from the host country.
In February 2012, USDAA put out a call to the US agility community, asking for “Loaner Dogs” to be volunteered. Now, I have never had “World Team” aspirations, the selection process alone is high-pressure and I am not of that caliber as a handler. However, I have always thought that Dandy possibly had “world team” potential. So I offered Dandy as a possible Loaner Dog for the 26” height class (Maxi), and he was put on a list of candidates that was sent to the Australian Team Manager. Also being offered were dogs belonging to two fellow competitors from the northeast, Jeannie Bonsignore & Melanie Behrens. We hoped that all 3 of our dogs might be chosen so we could make the big road trip to Texas together. We were asked to submit videos of our dogs in competition, and to complete a questionnaire regarding our dogs’ training, temperament, experience, if they enjoyed running with other handlers, and so on. At the end of March, all three of us were notified that our dogs were selected for Team Australia! The planning for the road trip began! Two weeks off from work, first time travelling in an RV, never been west of the Mississippi…and that’s just the beginning of the adventure…
On May 2, we packed up Jeannie’s RV and headed for Texas, arriving there on Friday afternoon, May 4. A few days prior, we had received emails from the Team Coach advising us of the handler that was being preliminarily matched to each of our dogs, so we were looking forward to our first meeting and training session on Saturday May 5. The handler chosen for Dandy was Natalie Kirkwood, a fantastic trainer and handler with over 20 years experience in agility, having started as a teenager. I had “met” Natalie on Facebook shortly after Dandy was selected for the team, so I felt like I already knew her. And upon our first meeting, I felt 100% comfortable with her as Dandy’s handler, and I knew we’d also become fast friends.
Australia sent a full team of 12 handlers, and they arranged practice sessions for every day…Saturday through Tuesday…at a few different local training facilities in the Fort Worth area. Saturday, Sunday & Monday were very hot & humid days, and our dogs from the northeast were not acclimated to heat yet, so we had to keep sessions short. Tuesday gave us a bit of a break in the heat, thankfully. There was a significant learning curve for the Aussie handlers as most of them use a different handling system than our dogs are trained for. They decided it was easier to revise their own handling than to try to change what our dogs already knew. It was not easy, modifying handling while getting to know their loaner dogs, all in the span of 5 days, but they did it with enthusiasm and sportsmanship and smiles! Team Australia really rose to the occasion!
While Dandy was officially running for Team Australia, Tempo also got to join in the fun. He was a Reserve Dog (Maxi) for Team Australia, so he got to do some training with all three of the Maxi dog handlers in the training sessions. He was surprisingly happy to work for *anyone* and didn’t look for me at all! I guess that shows how confident he is and how much he loves the game…although looking for me just once in a while would not have been THAT bad. <g>
Wednesday was the official team practice at the Watt Arena at the Will Rodgers Equestrian facility in Fort Worth. The excitement was really beginning! The “loaner dog” owners had been given beautiful team shirts in Aussie green & gold, sporting our names and our dogs’ names. Each dog was given an official team collar/leash, in green & gold; the collar portion was embroidered with the dog’s name, and the Team Australia logo was printed on the leash portion. We were all dressed for success! Each country had 45 minutes to practice in the actual ring where the competition would be held, giving them all a chance to get accustomed to the footing and equipment. The team practice was a bit frantic but it was good for the dogs to have a chance to show their wild side!
On Thursday, there was a local qualifier for USDAA Grand Prix and Steeplechase. Dandy ran both of these classes with Natalie, their very first time in a competition together, with me being far away in the stands. I had really hoped that Dandy would be confident enough at this point to be able to work with Nat without me anywhere in sight. I did not want to be a distraction, and wanted to let this be about the two of them. I was relieved to watch their first run as a true team, with Dandy giving Nat his full attention. They qualified in both Grand Prix and Steeplechase, finishing 5th in Steeplechase Finals, while Nat continued to practice new handling skills with Dandy.
I ran Tempo myself in Thursday’s classes, although I felt very unprepared. I had not worked with him at all since we arrived in Texas, and I had gotten into “spectator mode”…I was not exactly ‘in the zone’. We had one refusal in Grand Prix and one bar down in Steeplechase, so we did not qualify in either. Afterwards, he was run in both classes FEO as was permitted for handlers running “borrowed” dogs. Tony Redwood ran him in Grand Prix and although they E’d, Tempo had a grand time. Natalie ran him in Steeplechase, 1 bar down, but he again had a blast.
The Opening Ceremonies were held later that day, introducing all the countries who came to compete: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and the USA.
I could write an entire book on this whole journey. But in brief, what transpired over the 3 day event was nothing short of amazing. Nat & Dandy ran like they had been running together for years. They did not quite make it to the podium but were hot on the heels of all the big winners. Out of 9 WAC classes, they E’d in just one class, Biathlon Jumping. In Team Triathlon, they were 2nd in Jumping, 4th in Agility (Standard) and clean in Relay. In Individual All Around classes, they were 6th in Snooker, 9th in Gamblers, 4th in Agility (Std) and 5th in Jumping, where the top 5 dogs were within 0.3 seconds of each other (Dandy & Nat were just 0.13 seconds from a Bronze medal in Jumpers.) Their final result in the Individual All Around was 4th place….less than 1.5 points from a Bronze medal. They competed against very strong teams in the Maxi division from the USA, Canada and Hungary, teams who have been training & competing with their own dogs for years. Medal or not, Natalie did her country proud, and brought Dandy to a whole new place, proving that he truly is “world team” quality. I could not have been any prouder.
On the final day of competition, our handlers presented each “loaner dog” owner with a green and gold Team Australia training bag, embroidered with dog’s name and filled with little gifts from Australia. And a Thank You card that made me cry…but that was nothing unusual, I never cried so many tears of pride and joy in my entire life! But there were also tears of sadness, in saying Good Bye to our wonderful new friends from Down Under. We will be forever friends, and I will never forget this incredible experience. I am eternally grateful to Natalie Kirkwood for bringing Dandy to new heights, exposing his true potential…and for inspiring me to push myself a a handler…to trust my dog and trust my training, to run with more ambition instead of always running “just to get through the course”, and to allow him to really shine.
We left Fort Worth on Sunday night, and managed to get back home late Tuesday night. All three of us were so proud of our dogs, happy with our experience and new friendships, yet a bit sad to say goodbye and to realize it was over. Yes, the event is now in the past, but it will always be a huge part of my life, and the wonderful memories will be with us forever.
Dandy, Elf & Zeke for Team Australia
And it can never be said too much…Dandy amazed me way beyond my expectations. I am truly blessed to have him as well as Tempo in my life. Thank you, Token & Meg, for these precious gifts. And Token, I know you were in Texas with us, you are always with me.
All of Dandy’s runs are uploaded to my youtube channel, here is the link to the playlist of all nine WAC classes:
Playlist for WAC videos of Dandy & Natalie Kirkwood
But to sum it all up, Nat and I both made compilation videos…I will never get tired of watching them.
Natalie’s video of her WAC journey with Dandy
My video of Dandy’s WAC Experience
Tempo's WAC Adventure
Photo of Natalie Kirkwood & Dandy by Heather Gahres
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Natalie Kirkwood & Dandy

April 25, 2012

Everything’s Shiny!

April is coming to an end, and it has been a whirlwind month! April 14-15, the dogs and I headed to York, PA, for Clean Break’s huge 2-ring Flyball tournament. Dandy and Tempo raced together on the same Open team which was made up of a very special line-up of dogs. Elizabeth came all the way from Wyoming with two of the Token/Blur kids, Jake & Nikki, so the 4 Token kids could race together. We were joined by Lisa from Colorado and her cool little Sheltie as a height dog so we could have 8” jumps. We raced under the banner of Elizabeth’s San Diego club Fast Fourward, and our team name was “Everything’s Shiny” as we are fans of the old TV series “Firefly”. Of course, racing my two dogs on the same team did have its complications…I had to find someone else to run Tempo. Dandy was start dog, Jake was 2nd, and with our height dogs running last, Tempo ran 3rd. Enter this awesome kid from Two-Lane Highway, another club that was graciously loaning us their box and boxloading for us. Braydon is just 10 years old, but he did an awesome job running Tempo. He even got Tempo his new ‘best time’ running ‘in the pack’ with a 4.30! Tempo did a great job running even while I was calling Dandy to me and tugging with him. He did look for me as he came back with his ball, so Braydon would run back to where I was with Dandy. I do think Dandy was a bit put-off sharing the spotlight with Tempo, but he managed to deal with it <G>. My personal “best” of the weekend was getting a 0.000 start with him! I had gotten that once with Token, this was my first time with Dandy.
Another thing making this event special was the debut of Nikki. She took over as height dog for several heats (12” jumps) and did awesome, earning her FD & FDX!!! I was so thrilled for her and Elizabeth, it was a very special occasion! Still working on getting video processed. But we did get a picture of the four Token kids together. L-R: Nikki, Jake, Dandy & Tempo

The following weekend was a 3-day USDAA Regional Championship in Palmyra, PA, the Mid-Atlantic Agility Showcase held at In The Net, a fabulous indoor sports arena with a terrific turf that is great for running dogs. This was a huge 3-ring event, with high caliber competition.
Tempo did really well with oh-so-close runs. He ended up on a last-minute pick-up team for the Dog Agility Masters Team event, along with another 26” jumping BC and a 12” Papillon. Out of 63 teams, we qualified and ended up in 12th place! Tempo had just one refusal each in Team Standard & Jumpers, I was very proud of his runs. He also ran in Round 1 of the Regional Grand Prix, and had just one refusal. In Round 1 of Steeplechase, he had one bar down putting us out of the running for Round 2. But for a young dog without much trial experience, he did great!
Tempo in Team Jumpers

Dandy’s team of 3 Border Collies also qualified and were 14th out of 63 teams. Dandy was clean in both Jumpers & Standard, qualifying in both, 14th & 8th place respectively. This also qualified him to run in Round 3 of the Triathlon, a hybrid course with weaves and seesaw. He ran clean but not the fastest, we ended up in 9th place which I was quite pleased with. We had some hiccups in Round 1 of Steeplechase, but made it to Finals. I made a handling error (due to momentary indecision) that caused Dandy to knock a bar, so we did not place. Had he not hit the bar he would have earned a bye into Semi-Finals at Nationals. Dandy had a bye to run in the Grand Prix finals at this Regional, but I ran him in Round 1 anyway. He ran clean and was 10th place. In the Grand Prix Finals, I didn’t run it exactly as I walked it (which was the theme for the whole weekend with me!) but he ran clean and again was 10th place, earning him the coveted “Bye” into Semi-finals at Nationals. I was not planning to go to Nationals this year as it’s in Colorado in September, and I may not have enough vacation time left. But now that he has a Bye, I am trying to see if it’s possible.
Dandy in Team Jumpers
Dandy in Triathlon Hybrid Round

Over the 3 day event, Dandy never missed a contact or a weave entry, and only knocked one bar which was totally my fault. Team Gamblers & Snooker could have been better, had I handled better….but Dandy ran clean in Team Jumpers, Standard & Relay, Round 1 of Steeplechase and both rounds of Grand Prix. I could not be any prouder of him!

The month of May will bring us a whole new adventure as we head to Texas for the IFCS World Agility Championships. This is an international event, with each country allowed 3 dogs in each of the 4 jump heights (12”, 16”, 22” & 26”). The USA team will be a force to be reckoned with and it will be fun to cheer them on. However I will also be cheering for Team Australia. Australia & New Zealand are eligible to compete at this event but quarantine regulations make it impractical for them to travel abroad with their dogs. In the spirit of sportsmanship, they are invited to compete with dogs loaned to them by the host country. Back in February, USDAA put out a call to ask for volunteers with solid Masters level dogs who are willing to run for other handlers. Two friends and I decided to offer our dogs as “Loaner Dogs”. After submitting videos and questionnaires, the 3 of us were thrilled to learn that our dogs were chosen to be part of Team Australia. Dandy will be running in the “Maxi” division, jumping 26”, with one of the 12 Australian handlers. Tempo is “2nd Reserve” for the Maxi division, so it’s highly unlikely he will compete but he will be on hand in case of a last-minute emergency. The event takes place May 11-13 at the Will Rodgers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, TX. We will meet with the Team Coach, Manager and handlers on May 5, and will have training sessions every day leading up to the event. This will surely be a very unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Being part of a world team is certainly not part of my own reality, but Dandy is talented enough to be there, so I’m looking forward to this event, and hoping that his Australian handler has a great ride with Dandy!

2012 IFCS World Agility Championship

March Flyball and a bit of Agility

I am trying to catch up on my posts, life has been pretty hectic lately! I spent much of the month of March going to the chiropractor myself as I was in much pain from a muscle strain in my upper back. I’ve been taking the dogs to the chiropractor for years but never went myself. It really helped me heal but I was not able to do too much with the dogs during this time. But I managed to squeeze in some fun for the dogs.

March 10-11, we went back to Massachusetts for another Flyball tournament hosted by Weston Whirlwinds. Dandy raced on an Open team under the club name of Grab & Go, which was my very first flyball club where Token got started. That club went on hiatus when a couple of members left the area and dogs retired. It was a bit nostalgic to have Dandy racing as Start Dog on G & G, just like his dad Token had done back in 2005. Tempo raced as Start Dog on Fast Attack’s Open team, and also shared a spot on their Regular team. The tournament turned into an old-fashioned type of tournament as the electronic timing system was totally not working. All timing had to be done manually, early starts & passes called manually, and the judge had to manually start every race with a lowering of arms. It was a bit like racing blind as we had no idea how our starts were, or what our individual dogs’ times were. But it was still fun, and we got points, and our teams got 2nd place in their divisions.

On March 24, we went to one day of On Target’s USDAA trial in Barto, PA, in the lovely new building. I only had Dandy entered in 2 classes, Masters Standard & Gamblers. He qualified in Gamblers with a 2nd place, a Q I really wanted as Gamblers is not my best class. I asked Barry, a fellow competitor, to run him in Standard for me. Dandy did everything he was supposed to do, but they had an off-course at the Aframe/Tunnel discrimination as Barry’s cue for that is very different than my own. I ran Tempo in Advanced Gamblers (no Q, bar down in Gamble), his first Masters Standard (no Q, 2 refusals & bar down), and in Grand Prix. His Grand Prix run was lovely, he qualified with a 2nd place, enabling him to run at the Regionals! That was the Q I wanted most with Tempo, so it was a good day!

Tempo in Grand Prix

Both boys will now be running in the Mid-Atlantic Showcase, USDAA Regional in April!

March 4, 2012

New Titles for Tempo in February

Tempo earned his FDCH-Gold title at the Weston Whirlwinds Mardi Gras Madness Flyball Tournament in Westborough, MA, on February 11-12, 2012. It was especially fun as he raced on an Open team with his littermate Maze! Their team took 1st place in Open 3 Division.

Dandy also raced on an open team that was all friends with dogs that also do agility, so it was very cool! Their team took 2nd place in Open 1 Division.

The following weekend we went to one day of a USDAA Agility Trial in Barto, PA, hosted by Keystone Agility Club. Tempo didn’t Q in Advanced Gamblers, but we did get the Q that we wanted most, his 3rd Advanced Standard leg to finish his ASA title (Advanced Standard Agility) with a 1st place. Running past a jump and stopping on contacts, he ran the 155 yard course in 38.8 seconds, so he has potential!

Tempo in Advanced Standard

He also ran super in Grand Prix…no Q but he was awesome. He ran past a jump for one refusal, then I was out of position for the next jump & we got another refusal. But the rest was fantastic, I was so proud of him! I was super pleased with his jumping & contacts & weaves but I was most impressed with how he handled the first 3 obstacles, his collection at the #2 Jump was lovely!

Tempo in Grand Prix

Dandy was only entered in Master Gamblers and Standard. I asked my friend Judy to run him for me as an experiment to see if he would run for someone else. They had a couple of miscommunications so no Q’s but he did really well with her. He looked for me at the start line but once he was off and running, he was there for her! It was fun to watch him run from a new perspective.

More flyball & agility coming up in March. I’ve been battling some back pain, so I hope that gets under control quickly.


Littermates Maze & Tempo racing together in Flyball!

January 18, 2012

Flyball Chaos!

Thanks to Facebook---- Dandy, Tempo and I made an unplanned trip to a Flyball tournament in Exton, PA, on Sunday, January 15, to fill in for team that was short a dog at the last minute. A team from New Jersey had 2 Border Collies and a Cavalier KC Spaniel as the height dog, but they needed a 4th dog to be able to race. They were entered in Regular Division 2 but were running as “Performance” (due to picking up non-club members to round out the team this weekend) meaning the team was not eligible for any placement, but could earn points for the dogs who raced. I thought it would be a good diversion for me, having just hit the one-year anniversary of Token’s passing. I could drive down to Exton in the morning, in less than 3 hours, so I volunteered to fill in for them.

I planned to alternate Dandy & Tempo throughout the day, with 8 races on the schedule. We had challenges from the start, with a runback of only 35’. And the box was a little bit different that what my dogs are used to. And the only tennis balls they had were soft “squishy” tennis balls, which were very different from what my dogs are used to. In the first race, I ran Dandy as start dog. He bobbled the ball a couple of times, he doesn’t really like squishy balls and had to learn to adjust. But we did OK.

I thought I’d run Tempo in our next race, so I took them both out to potty in between. Good thing…

When we were on deck, the owner of the Cavalier (our only  height dog) told us his dog was injured and could not run…so we had to run a team of four Border Collies, jumping the maximum allowed height of 14” rather than the 7” we had planned on. My dogs have never done 14” in flyball….sure, they jump 26” in agility, but with only 10’ between flyball hurdles, where a flat trajectory is desirable, 14” totally changed the way they had to jump. AND we had NO time to warm up to even let the dogs know they were now jumping 14”, we were scrambling to figure out a plan, quickly! Adding more complications, this also meant that Tempo and Dandy had to BOTH run in all the races. On the way into the ring, a friend was standing by, she volunteered to help so I handed her Tempo’s leash and away we went. (Thank you, Heather!!) Dandy was the start dog, and Tempo ran anchor. He did fantastic, especially considering that no one but me has ever handled him. Both dogs dealt with all the craziness like true professionals. Our team won every race, but were not eligible for any placements due to our team having dogs from different clubs at the last minute. But we earned lots of points towards our titles, and had lots of fun!

One very ironic thing is that one of the dogs we raced with was a Border Collie named Kelli. Token had a wicked crush on Kelli. Whenever we raced in Region 15 (PA/NJ/etc) and raced against Garden State Barkway, I had to be on my toes because Token would always make attempts to run over and visit Kelli. He was so naughty, but fortunately Kelli’s owner was understanding, and found it amusing. How bizaare…on the weekend that marked one year since Token has been gone, BOTH of his sons, Tempo & Dandy, raced alongside this girl that he was so infatuated with. Fortunately Dandy & Tempo kept their brains engaged in flyball instead of Kelli…but I have to believe that Token was there with us, enjoying the odd reunion.

This tournament was hosted by Chaos Unleashed…and that was quite fitting!

I even have a few pictures to commemorate the occasion, thanks to Erica who stopped by with her family to see what flyball was all about.

This picture shows Heather with Tempo, me with Dandy, and behind us Kim with Kelli, Token’s heartthrob. How cool is that? Smile


January 14, 2012

It’s Been One Year….

…since that painful day that I lost Token. Such a knife to the heart. A punch in the gut. Dogs_010111_3

Getting through the first year is a milestone for me…I’ve gotten past most of the ‘firsts’…First time back at flyball, first agility trial running just one dog, first birthday without him… I trust it gets a bit easier now. Missing him is normal, and is bad enough. The unfairness of losing him way before his time makes me both angry and sad. But on we go… Dandy & Tempo continue to make it all bearable. My little pieces of Token, still with me. I know his spirit is always close by. But I still miss him every day. Sure, it’s nice that the bath towels are no longer pulled off the rack. The stuffed toys in the house last longer than five minutes. He wasn’t perfect, he had his naughty streak. But he was one of the best nevertheless…I miss his nuzzling, his hugs & kisses, his joy for life. His larger-than-life personality. He was special, not for agility or flyball, but for his connection to people. He had an aura about him that was something very special. I’m so lucky that he shared his life, as shortened as it was, with me.

I love you, Token, and miss you every day. Wait for me at the Bridge the way you waited for me to get home one year ago today, so I could be with you at the end. Until then, I hope to see you again in my dreams.