The 17th AKC National Obedience Invitational and the 6th AKC Agility Invitational
A Great Experience For All
by Linda D. Bohm
Hardly visible, sitting ever so quietly, nine and a half year old Chihuahua Rosie did not dare move an inch. On the left was a Bernese Mountain Dog and on the right a Standard Schnauzer… she sat tall and confidently, hoping to win the AKC 2011 Obedience Invitational in Orlando, Florida, last month.
A hundred feet away, on the other side of the convention hall wall, 68-year-old Karen Barratt of Galveston, Texas, was negotiating her Bearded Collie Miller through the 20-inch Standard Agility course. Here, at the 6th AKC Agility Invitational, the competition was just as fierce – younger, more athletic handlers and other breeds that are typically on the winner’s podium – Miller and Karen had to pull out all the stops.
Although the enormous talent in the Obedience Venue created a difficult field, two well known Obedience Golden Retrievers – Buoy and Zoom were only a mere point or two apart during the weekend at the Orange County Convention Center to determine this year’s NOC – National Obedience Champion.
Back to Agility in the 16 inch division, the incomparable team of Ashley Deacon and Pyr Shep Luka were clearly in first place throughout the weekend, going into the Final Round of the Agility Competition Sunday night. After winning firsts at both the AKC and USDAA Nationals, plus bringing home two Gold Medals from France, this year alone, this duo seemed invincible.
By the time this report posts, most readers may already know the outcome and the stats of the winners and losers at this AKC/Eukanuba Championship Venue for the competitors in both Obedience and Agility. With social media ripping faster than the speed of light through Cyberspace at the hands of cell phones, fans watching at home knew the rings’ results before the officials could post them.
But this two day weekend not only showcased the best of the breeds in companion events, it set the stage for so many human and canine interest stories that are too numerous to report. Winning or losing was simply a small part of an action packed event that offered excitement, activity and interest for competitors and spectators alike.
Forgive the stats, but it’s amazing to boast the AKC’s draw of so many different breeds and milestones this year. There were 157 different breeds that made up the 592 entries in Agility and 55 different breeds within the 146 entries in Obedience.
The All American Dog made its debut under the national spotlight. Some 15 dogs proved their prowess in the new AKC Juniors Agility Competition and the AKC National Juniors Obedience Competition, as well as taking a first place in the Finals of the 8-inch division of the Agility Invitational.
“The addition of the new Juniors’ Competition is AKC’s pro active effort to bring new growth to both sports, “explained AKC Director of Obedience, Rally and Tracking Pamela Manton. “The announcement of this event, early in 2011, give 4H leaders and dog clubs time to submit letters of sponsorship for junior entries in both venues.” She explained that the 50 juniors ran both Standard and Jumpers with Weaves courses in either the Junior Excellent or Superior Classes, depending on whether they’ve achieved an agility title. The 47 junior obedience competitors competed in three age divisions in Beginner Novice and/or Novice classes based on their AKC obedience accomplishments.
The weekend was the beginning for the many juniors who hope to become future trainers and winners of the prestigious NAC and/or NOC titles as they grow in the sport.
But for Rosie… this was her Finale to a great Obedience career. Brought home as a birthday present from a flea market some nine years ago, this spit fire proved that any breed of dog can be trained to excellence. Amidst a sport that is dominated by Golden Retrievers and Labs, Rosie made her mark in Obedience history as the AKC’s first UDX Chihuahua in history.
“Just under six pounds, this valiant little dog loses points by healing “wide,” because she’s justified, worrying that she’ll be stepped on,” admits owner Linda Dillard of Tallahassee, Fla. Asked how it feels to compete among the nation’s top obedience competitors, Linda explains, “I am inspired by these top dogs and handlers – they are all so nice and encouraging and I just want to be a clean handler.” This year’s obedience competition was formatted quite differently from previous years – there were eight judges, eight rings and everyone advanced to the second day, including Rosie.
But the drama surrounding the winner was simply a matter of math – 2.5 points which kept last year’s 2010 NOC (National Obedience Champion) Kathleen Rasinowich-Platt ‘s Golden Retriever Buoy from winning again. Winning a very respectable second place, Kathleen graciously congratulated this year’s victor Canadian Ward Faulkner and his Golden Retriever Zoom.
OTCH Spirit’s Zim Zam Zoom UDX6 OM4 known as “Zoom” is an eight-year-old male Golden who is no stranger to winning at a stressful competition like this two-day national event.
Because Zoom has achieved 54 perfect 200 scores and 300 High In Trial wins, Ward confesses that he doesn’t even take the ribbons home anymore. However, he obviously made an exception when he accepted ownership of a sizable crystal carving of a soaring eagle presented to him as the 2011 National Obedience Champion on Sunday. This is Zoom’s fourth time competing in the Obedience Nationals, but his first win. Asked what he attributes his success to, Ward answered, ”my dog is steady and copes well with the stress of competition, but it is my wife Joyce who is my coach and helps me improve each time we enter the ring.”
Stress was evident on both sides of the convention partition, as the top qualifiers of each breed tried to beat the clock in the Agility Finals.
All American Dog Tangle, which is a Jack Russell/Papillon mix, won the 8 inch class with professional trainer Dana Pike. Coming from Chicago, this team has won a place in the history books, as the first MACH All American Dog who has had a great year winning a second at this year’s Agility Nationals in Virginia and a first in the USDAA Steeplechase.
Comfortable as a winner, Cathi Winklers of Bloomfield Hills, Mich and her Poodle T brings home the ribbon as the 12 inch Champions. Both a breed champion the US and Canada, T is also obedience titled, explained Cathi.
Because she’s not as young as she’d like to be, Karen Barratt used rear crosses to handle her seven year old Beardie and win the 20 inch class. Training with World Team veteran Jane Simmons Moake, Karen explained she calculated what it would take to bring her breed champion to the winner’s circle. “I simply could not make the front crosses,” she admitted. But her rear crosses worked, nevertheless and she adds a new Champion Rosette to her collection. The 2009 Agility Invitational winner of the 24 inch class, Doberman Pincher Flare, took the first again.” Working on MACH 10, Flare is the highest-ranking Dobie in the country according to owner/handler Yvonne L. Mancino. Yvonne feels they won because Flare “ is all heart and drive and extremely intelligent.”
Baseball legend Yogi Berra was right when he said “it ain’t over, until it’s over. No one anticipated that Ashley Deacon’s Luka would uncharacteristically jump off the seesaw in the final round. But every world champion is entitled to an error once in awhile. And this two time Invitational Champion left the field open for Stephen Carazo’s Australian Cattle Dog Rogue to win the 16 inch class. Mistakes happen in agility – even to the Best – as Stephen explains that he fell in last year’s 2010 Invitational finals, which resulted in third place. The s 63 year old Vice President of a magazine called the California Penny Saver, admitted that he found Rogue by placing an ad in his pennysaver.
You never know where Champions will come from.
Winners for the AKC Invitational agility:
8 “ Dana Pike’s Mach Honey Come Quick “Tangle” – … all american mixed breed
12” CathiWinkles’ Ch MACH5 Ravendune Right On Target CDX RAE OF …“T” black poodle
16” Stephen and Nicole Carazo’s Mach3Carazo’s Rogue in Red NF….”Rogue “ Australian Cattle Dog
20” Karen Barratt’s CH MACH4 Colquhoun’s No Time To Relax RN MXF TQX …”Miller” Bearded Collie
26” Yvonne Mancino’s MACH8 Thornwoods Flare CD MXF TQX … ”Flare” Doberman Pinscher
The winner of obedience is Ward Faulkner’s OTCH Spirit’s Zim Zam Zoom UDX6 OM4 (Golden Retriever) “Zoom” who beat last year’s NOI Kathleen Platt by 2.5 points, putting her in second place this year.
Linda D. Bohm Photographer, writer Linda Bohm and her Pyr Shep Mach La Brise Wild Whoopee OF have been unofficial ambassadors for this recently AKC acknowledged breed. Half sister to Luka, Whoopee has appeared in many national magazines and on the cover of the AKC Gazette.
Photo Credit: Linda Bohm, Bohm Marrazzo – www.bohm-marrazzo.com