May 2008         USDAA World Team Report

It was very exciting, challenging for the handler, and JIB ran full throttle as always!  I am extremely proud of him, and many people that had never met the silver mini, have joined the fan club.  Representing the USA was an experience Michael and I will never forget.

The trip to Belgium was managed with a non stop Air France flight to Paris from the Caribbean island of St Martin, where we left the boat.

All the worries about health certificates and a new micro chip were all as usual of no matter, as not once was anything checked.  Michael planned a vacation trip around our competition, starting in Belgium and then spending time in the French countryside.

When we arrived in Kortrick, Belgium the first day was a practice arranged at a local dog club.  The drive through agricultural landscape and buildings hundreds of years older than what we are used to in the USA, was fabulous.  The dog club people were very interested in our dogs and practice, and gave us a demonstration of their obedience competition, plus a round of Belgium beer after!  Now, that's our kind of dog club.  JIB did very well in practice, nailing his contacts and working tightly on the jumps.  Unfortunately both SONIC and HEMI were lame.  SONIC came around in time for competition, but HEMI was dealing with a more serious condition.  All of us were just heartsick for Elizabeth, who worked so hard to make the team.  She was a good sport, taking pictures and helping us during the finals.

JIB stepped up quickly, but as usual I was the limiting factor.  Friday started with Power and Speed, a game we had never played.  The idea is to do contacts and tough moves in the opening, and only get to move on to the fast jumps and tunnels section if you run clean.  My timing was off, and I did not work the tough weave entry, so we were out.  Suzanne had a similar problem.  Of course SONIC and JIB play the game with such similarity it is laughable.  It took me awhile to get back into "working every obstacle".  The standard run was better, with all the hard bits done before I lost my head and was out of position for an NQ.  Finally, we hit our stride in Jumpers with a clean run in 31:11, which was behind SONIC.

Saturday was the games, and we started with a tough Gamblers class.  The gamble ate the big dogs alive!  I had a plan using the "joker" for extra points during the opening, and that would give us 66 if we got the gamble.  Our team coaches noted that few dogs were making the joker, and suggested we not waste time trying that.  I followed instructions giving up a possible 6 points, but JIB earned 60, and got the gamble!  I was thrilled, but a bit disappointed too, as we came fourth, missing a chance for the podium.

Standard looked clean to me and I was very pleased until hearing the dogwalk had been called.  SONIC had his called too, but video proved he made it, and his run was scored clean!  JIB was very early in the Snooker round so I had to make a daring game plan, and was in over my head.  Both boys were schnookered.  I rounded out the day with a jumpers run.  My timing was getting better, but not perfect, and I missed a que into a tunnel by a heartbeat.  These boys are so fast!  At least I could blow off steam by pushing JIB the rest of that run.  It felt so very good.

After the final round Saturday the teams for Sunday were announced.  Of the twelve member USA team, only six dogs went to the team final on Sunday.  Both JIB and SONIC made the finals!!  Talk about thrilling!
Sunday morning our team of Ann Andrle and Border Collie SKI, plus the poodles were USA team 2.  Standard was challenging, but JIB and I managed a clean run!  SONIC had an error, but not an E, so our team was looking good.  Jumpers was next, and both poodles ran clean, with JIB even beating his little brother, a rare moment indeed!  SKI had a fault, but again no E.  Our team went into the finals relay in SECOND place in the world!  No pressure, right?   We had a good plan, but the wheels came off when SONIC took an off course jump in the opening for an E.  SKI ran clean, and JIB was the anchor dog.  Apparently JIB's Aframe was called, but the video showed him well in with both back feet as usual.  The coaches decided to request video review only if we managed to be in the top three, which we were not.

Suzanne was very disappointed, but I reminded her of her individual medals, and the fact that we were after all in Belgium!  Not too shabby.  There were some wonderful other mini and toy poodles competing very successfully.  Japan, Great Britain and the Russian Federation had great little poodle members too.  It makes us even more excited about IRENA, the European silver mini bitch puppy we bought while in Belgium!