Well it looks like I have some incentive to work hard this year and get myself and my dogs working at peak performance. Next year’s (2015) AAC Dog Agility Championship may be coming back to Burnaby and Swanguard Stadium.
This is big for us! Last time it was here in Burnaby in 2006, I was the Co-Chair of the event and worked so hard that I sacrificed the quality of Stevie Ray’s performance. I didn’t know at the time that she was going to be banned from two of the next three national championships because of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in Ontario where they were held. She was young and I thought we had plenty of time to compete for the Championship again.
Hard to imagine that the BC/Regional 16″ Champion was not allowed to compete in the AAC National Agility Championship, but that is the way it was following the 2006 event. It wasn’t until her last agility runs at the 2010 National Agility Championship that she got to compete in the AAC national Championship. Unfortunately, by then she was no longer at her peak, however she was still very capable and probably the best 10″/16″ gambling dog in the country at the time. We did finish 2nd in 10″ Specials and one mistake getting her ready for her second jumpers run in the heat of the day cost us first place.
A momentary lapse of thinking, well before the run, when I took her out of the trailer in the grey skies to go to the rings was my mistake. The sun came out part way to the rings and by the time she ran she was hot and she wasn’t ready. I could have been prepared, as we had run in 42 C (107.6 F) weather in Oregon in the summer of 2007 and 93 F (34 C) in Arizona in November 2007 and had everything we needed. No excuses at all for that though, just a simple mistake and proof that getting ready is just as important as what you do in the rings.
By the time she ran she was hot and I could see she wasn’t ready and I knew before we went in the ring, she wasn’t in the game like she usually was. This threw my focus off of what I needed to do and she knocked a bar in the run. I never gave up, but our fun American rival, Rock-it with Barb Davis, did awesome with 5 clean runs. He was faster than Stevie Ray and with my 5 clean runs, just beat us.
We never gave up and worked hard to win, but I needed those extra 25 points to do it. We had a great time and were very happy with our result, but I have never forgotten that costly mistake. Stevie Ray never knew, but I had a valuable lesson reinforced that day. Being ready is about being able to get through all challenges and still run at the peak of your game when you are in the ring.
Of course in 2006 there was no chance of doing well. My focus and attention were constantly on running the event. My preparation leading up to the event was not focused at all on Stevie Ray, but on pulling off the biggest agility event ever held in BC. 465 dogs running in 6 rings in the heat of summer. The event was a massive success.
The Steeplechase final runoff on the last day of competition that year still continues to be a part of the event to this day. Initially intended as a distraction to allow the scorers to finish scoring without the distraction of competitors, it has turned into a fantastically entertaining, unofficial event in many regional and national championships that have followed. Fast dogs running for cash and performing at the peak of their ability under extreme pressure in front of a focused audience. People and dogs need to be a their best to win. Pressure causes many to crash along the way, but that is the game of finishing 1st.
So now we look forward to the next championship here and a chance to make up for those early choices in 2006 and 2010. And a good thing we can start planning our goals and schedule as soon as possible. Targeting the big performances to be ready and peak at that time is important. So here’s to a lot of good luck and fun getting ready along the way.