Copper is MAD!
On Saturday, June 4 at the BRAG
USDAA trial in Columbus, Ohio, Copper earned the last Standard
leg required for the Master Agility Dog (MAD) title. This was
an especially exciting title for me to earn. We do very little
USDAA, but I love the fact that it requires a variety of skills
(for both dog & handler). I can remember going to my first
USDAA trial back in 1992 and just marveling at the Master’s
level dogs. At the time I never thought I’d have a dog that
could perform in that way.
If you know us, or if you’ve
read the IN FOCUS book, you know that Copper is not the fastest,
most driven dog. I have worked extremely hard to build up his
enthusiasm and enjoyment of the agility game. He does best when
all conditions are perfect. We often trial indoors, on field turf,
in climate controlled soccer arenas. However, most USDAA trials
are outdoors or on dirt. The BRAG trial was outdoors and the weather
was extremely hot & humid (low 90s with about 90% humidity).
The ground was also very uneven, which makes it difficult for
me to run my best.
I only entered the Standard class
that day. Even though I enjoy Gamblers, I wanted Copper to save
every bit of energy he had for the run that counted for me. In
the past he had two other clean Standard runs that were just barely
over time (once by .11 seconds). Because USDAA times are much
tighter than AKC ones, I knew we had to be at our very best, which
meant Copper needed to be fresh. I walked him earlier in the morning
while it was still cool, then put the shade tarps on the car (there
was a nice breeze) and left him in there to relax while we ran
the other dogs in other classes. It helps if he sees me working
with other dogs. That little bit of jealousy makes him a bit more
frantic to be the one working with me.
I had pretty much convinced myself
that we didn’t have a chance that day, between the weather
and the ground conditions. During the run it felt like I was trying
to run through water, the air was so thick and heavy. We almost
missed the weave entry as I was pushing him out slightly for a
better approach, and I pushed just a bit too much. But then I
held my ground and he basically swiveled his little head to make
the entry without getting a refusal. I was a bit worried as that
bobble could have cost us enough to NQ on time even though the
run was clean.
When I checked we had run
a 55 second course in 54.57 seconds! Someone asked me later if
I could have possibly cut it any closer! I was so proud of my
little boy for doing his best in less than optimal conditions.
I don’t ask that of him very often, but he stepped up and
did his best when I needed him to. In many ways, I was prouder
of him for that run than I was for his MACH. I know he only did
it because I asked him, not because he really enjoyed himself.
But all my work on FOCUS paid off in that one run.
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