Beardies Attend the 2006 AKC National Agility Championships


Ch Oakengates Irish Cream, MX, MXJ

2006 AKC National Agility Championship
by Joanne Williamson

The AKC/Eukanuba National Agility Championships were held January 13-15 in Tampa, Florida. Entry requirements for this year's championship were the most stringent ever: a dog had to earn at least 6 2Qs (qualifying in Standard and Jumpers With Weaves on the same day 6 times) and 300 MACH points (1 MACH point = 1 full second under Standard Course Time) between November 1, 2004 and October 17, 2005.

7 teams qualified:

Of these seven teams, only Linda and Bailey competed in Florida. We should all be proud of the fantastic job Linda and Bailey did representing the Beardie agility community. Linda's commentary on the experience follows.

"Going to the AKC Nationals with my first agility dog is a memory that I will treasure forever. When Bailey and I first qualified for the Nationals, I had not planned on going, but was persuaded by our instructors and friends to attend and just have fun. I never dreamt that we could do so well! Bailey, ran clean in 4 out of 5 runs, placing 42nd out of 163 in the 20" Team Tournament, 79th out of 184 in 20" division, and 166th out of 381 in the Herding Group after three rounds of AKC Nationals competition.

Our drive to Tampa was not uneventful. Halfway there my friend's transmission broke in her van and we had to rent a replacement to finish our trip. Thursday was set up and check in. I was a bit worried that Bailey would not like all the noise and activity, but it didn't affect him at all. He loved the attention he received from friends, and, being the only Beardie, he got a lot of attention from the spectators. It was funny to watch him strut around the convention center like he owned it.

Because I had volunteered to work, the next three days we were up at 4:30 am, at the Convention Center by 6 am, and helping with course building in Ring 1. The courses were for the Team Tournament (Standard and Jumpers With Weaves), National Championships (Rounds 1, 2 and the Hybrid Standard/Jumpers, Round 3), Challenger, and Finalist Rounds. Ask if I would volunteer to work at a National Agility again? In a heart beat! I had a great time working and making new friends from around the country.

Friday was the State Team Tournament, and was good practice to get the dogs used to the flooring. ISC (International) rules were used for this competition of two rounds, one JWW and one Standard. In addition to the regular AKC jump heights, the international jump heights of 14", 18" and 26" were used. We did our best for Maryland and Q'd on both courses. The announcer commented that all the cheering for us came from people wearing Pennsylvania and Virginia shirts (most of our friends and instructors are from PA and VA). Illinois was the overall state winner in an exciting showdown in the finals with the second place team from the host state of Florida. Texas finished third, with Ohio and Michigan rounding out the top five.

Saturday had two regular qualifying classes and we qualified on both courses. What a bummer that this double Q won't count towards out MACH Title. OH WELL! I think we can still brag that we double Q'd at the Nationals. My long time Beardie mentor, Lucy Campbell-Gracie and her husband Bob Gracie, took time from grooming their dogs for conformation to come and see how Bailey and I were doing. Their support was very much appreciated.

Sunday morning was our last run. Everything was going fine until half way through the course. Anna Jonneson, the announcer, was commenting how well Bailey had run on Friday and Saturday, when all of a sudden Bailey popped out of the 10th weave pole. The spectators and the judge groaned. OH! NO!! I just know that my mouth fell open in surprise. Bailey never pops out of the weaves. We were so close, only 1 weave pole away from 5 straight clean runs. Nevertheless, I am so proud of my boy Bailey. He is an awesome teammate. Bailey knew he was here to show his best and that's what he did.

Volunteering to work did not give me a chance to see any conformation or obedience. I did manage a little shopping and a visit to the Beardie Booth at "Meet the Breeds", where I met some very nice Florida Beardie folks. With our runs over, we could relax and watch the pros in action. The Challenger round was exciting, but somewhat sad for me. Carrie Jones, one of the instructors from our training club, lost in the 24" class. For the final round, Carrie and her Border Collie, Jive, were used as the demo for Animal Planet to set up their camera equipment. Carrie had two runs on the course. Her first one was fast, but her second run was even faster. Her time was not beaten until Sterling and Gerry Brown, the very last 24" finalists, ran. Seeing Sterling and Gerry run was awesome. I have taken a number of his seminars and have run under Gerry as a judge but have never seen him in competition. What a great team to watch! Other great teams I saw included Juice and Marcus Topps, Suni and Elicia Calhoun, Quick and Kate Moureaux, Split and Annie Pyle.

For Bailey and me, going to the Agility Championship was a fantastic experience. We went and had a great time and proved to ourselves that we could do a good job and not be embarrassed. Anyone serious about agility should try to qualify or at least go to the Nationals and watch the best in the country run their dogs."

The requirements for the 2007 National Championships will remain the same as this year, 6 2Qs and 300 MACH points. The qualifying period, however, is 13.5 months long, from October 18, 2005 - November 30, 2006. Based on their consistent performances last fall, a number of Beardies are already close to qualifying and others will have additional time in 2006 to make the grade. The event, still in the planning stages, will be held March 30 - April 1, 2007 in the Columbus, Ohio area. Good luck to all!"

AKC National Agility Championships 2005

AKC National Agility Championships 2004

AKC National Agility Championships 2003

AKC National Agility Championships 2002

AKC National Agility Championships 2001

AKC National Agility Championships 2000

AKC National Agility Championships 1998

AKC National Agility Championships 1997

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