By Brenna Fender
The spring agility season brings with it several opportunities for handlers to compete with the cream of the crop as agility organizations in various countries work to best each other in international competition. First up was Crufts, located in Birmingham, England on March 8-11. Crufts is considered the largest dog show in the world, and in addition to conformation, it offers obedience, agility, flyball, and more. The American Kennel Club chooses one agility competitor each year to represent the United States at this event. This year’s representative was Tori Self and her Border Collie, NAC MACH Sagehill’s Change the World OF (also known as Rev). The pair represented the US quite well, coming in second in Large Dog Jumping, third in Large Dog Agility, and fifth in the Finals. A missed dogwalk contact in the Finals was the only flaw in all three runs. What an impressive performance! Self says, “Crufts was really just absolutely amazing. The size alone was impressive, with five different halls of vendors and different events taking place, plus the main arena. I was honored to compete on the famous green carpet with my girl, Rev. Another great piece to see was the camaraderie between the agility competitors ‘back stage.’ Everyone was very supportive of everyone else; a great representation of the sport. Truly the weekend was an experience of a life time that I will cherish forever.”
The next opportunity for US competitors to test themselves against overseas handlers is May 11-13 at the International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) World Agility Championships (WAC), held for the first time in the US at Fort Worth, Texas. USDAA Vice President Andy Hartman says, “It is an honor for USDAA to host the IFCS World Agility Championships for the first time in the United States. We are looking forward to welcoming our foreign friends and cheering on Team USA in Fort Worth, Texas!” The WAC has taken place every two years since its inception in 2002. The United States will be represented by Dana Pike Chamberlain and Tangle, Daneen Fox and Masher, Andy Mueller and Crackers, Kevin Brown and Hunter, Maureen Waldron and Mickle, Jean Lavalley and Cheer, Stuart Mah and Ares, Jeannette Hutchison and Rumble, Dudley Fontaine and Sweet and Maverick, Mia Grant and Vic, and Terry Smorch and Presto.
The team is being coached by Rachel Sanders, who says, “This year’s event is very special for the team as for the first time they will be competing in the US. They have been working hard preparing for this event and they are all looking forward to competing for Gold in front of friends and family and the wonderfully enthusiastic Texans that will be travelling to watch the event.” The event is open to spectators, who will also enjoy many on-site vendors and an exciting environment. It will also be webcast on www.cynosport.tv. If you will be in town for the event and want to volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Hartman says, “This event would not be possible without the help of all our volunteers. We can’t thank them enough!”
Completing the spring international agility trio is the World Agility Open (WAO), which takes place on May 18-20 in Belgium. For the WAO, “Each country is responsible for selection of its own team. The selection process is coordinated by a ‘country manager.’ The manager may be an agility organization in that country, a committee, or an individual,” according to the official WAO website. Tracy Sklenar heads up the US team, which is made up of Daneen Fox and Masher, Mike Padgett and Kona, Monique Plinque and Tiki, Sandra Rogers and Quill, Ivette White and Zip, Jenn Crank and Blaster, Jenn Crank and Salsa, Karen Holik and Sizzle, Anne Kajava and Manja, Nancy Kleinhans and Jimmy Dean, Mary Ellen Barry and Maizy, Rosanne Demascio and Kiba, Dudley Fontaine and Sweet, Jeannette Hutchison and Rumble, Moe Strenfel and Kindle, Dudley Fontaine and Maverick, Stacy Goudy and Maze, Linda Mecklenburg and Wonder, Lori Michaels and Solei, Daisy Peel and Solar, and Terry Smorch and Presto.
This event is also open to spectators, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/worldagilityopen. Sklenar says, “Team USA has been preparing since December to compete at the World Agility Open. Most of the winter prep has been done online, but now that the weather has improved we will have several team practices in different parts of the country. The team has also put together a fundraising E-Bbook to help defray travel expenses; this E-Book will give agility enthusiasts tons of valuable training information as well as a look at the drills the team uses to prepare. Team USA is looking forward to an exciting time in May at the World Agility Open!”
Good luck to all dog and handler teams representing the US here and abroad this spring!