By Terri Greer
In addition to the all the beautiful conformation dogs at our national, there were also the beautiful performance Tzu, putting on a fine showing in obedience and rally on Wednesday and Thursday. The entries were good – 12 in obedience and 17 in rally. Not too shabby at all!
The obedience competition started bright and early on Wednesday, with a nice showing of Utility, then Open, then Novice dogs. While a few dogs succumbed to the dreaded smells on the carpet, most did really well. And it is pretty incredible watching our beloved breed do what many people think they cannot do… obedience! It just goes to show that our Shih Tzu truly are more than just pretty faces!
I had the pleasure of watching friends I have known for a long time, as well as meeting a few new ones. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the teams who were competing in obedience for the first time in Novice (either their first time, or their dog’s first time). Although there were no qualifiers in Novice A, it was a joy watching the teams turn in nice performances, full of what I like to call “PQs” (Personal Qs!). The Novice B teams had some great runs, and ended with three qualifiers and placements: 1st went to Gabe and Lori Hayes (who also took High in Trial!), 2nd went to Tashi and Linda Kauffman, and 3rd to Annie and Barb Cunningham. And while there were no qualifiers in Open and Utility, to say that these teams were amazing to watch is an understatement. There truly is no way to properly explain all the time and training which goes into this. And it all culminates in the glorious, exciting, nerve-wracking time in the ring.
I was thrilled to watch my very good friend and travel partner, Linda, go into Novice B for Tashi’s first time in the obedience ring. While I myself was not competing, I still had butterflies with the excitement of their first time. And although obedience is not new to Linda (who has shared her life with Miniature Schnauzers), a Shih Tzu IS new to her! Suffice it to say that she was hooked on our breed when she first saw my own Tara competing in rally some years back. Then she met Zaina, and the rest is history. Tashi is a wonderful working dog and a very bright light in Linda’s life, in and out of the ring! And yes, I take full credit for introducing Linda to the wonderful world of Shih Tzu!
Thursday dawned bright and early, with the rally competition. And all of you who know me know how much I LOVE rally! Rally Excellent B got things started with some beautiful runs and solid honor stays. M.G. and Burton Goldstein took 1st, Tashi and Linda took 2nd, Carissa and Judy Harding took 3rd, and Louie and Barb Cunningham took 4th. Then came Excellent A, and I was looking forward to showing off my little Zaina. However, it was not meant to be. She was most definitely stressed, and dropped her head to sniff right away, so I respectfully asked to be excused. I know my dog, and could not fathom any reason to continue when it was obvious that she was not into rally on this given day. I knew we would have more opportunities – another time, another place. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did it ruin my day? No. I knew I would still be leaving the trial with the greatest little Shih Tzu in my own world.
My friend Jan Sammons and Romy were the other team in Excellent A, and had a good run, finishing the course nicely. Advanced B reaped more qualifiers and placements with almost a repeat of Excellent B, with M.G. and Burton taking 1st, Tashi and Linda in 2nd, and Carissa and Judy in 3rd. In Advanced A there was one entry, one qualifier, and one 1st place: Beau and Jo Caywood! While there were no entries in Rally Novice B, there was a nice showing in Novice A, ending with three qualifiers: 1st went to Sydney and Tam Dunfee, 2nd to Leia and Jan, and 3rd to Nessie and Jan. And we must not ever forget the importance of Novice A. We all started there, and the new A teams are what will continue to keep our performance sports growing and thriving.
Congratulations to all who came, ran, Q’d (or “PQ’d”), but most of all had fun with their dogs, as we all enjoyed the camaraderie of hanging out together and wishing the best for each other. That, in itself, speaks volumes. And in the end, I know I am always left with a feeling that is best captured in a quote I read once, as follows: “When the dance ends, and you hear the roar of the crowd, and the adrenaline is pumping – you just hope and pray you get the chance to do it all over again!” That really sums up how I feel and think about my dogs and rally competition. And it is, no doubt, how a lot of other people feel, whatever their venue.
It was a pleasure being in Georgia, and Zaina and I look forward to coming to the national again, maybe in 2013!
Happy training to all,