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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