Friday, December 18 was the start of the 2021 AKC Agility Invitational. This has always been one of my favorite events as it is a celebration of agility as a sport for all breeds. The Top 5 dogs of each breed in the regular classes are invited, as well as the top preferred dog of each breed. In the past, if the top dogs didn’t enter, the next dogs in line were given the chance to attend. This year, second round invitations were only issued if the owner of the top dogs opted out. As a result, fewer dogs had the opportunity to attend. Gromit and Spice both attended to represent PBGVs.
Friday is a Time 2 Beat run. It doesn’t count towards Invitational scoring, but is the only run of the weekend that counts toward titles. Both dogs qualified and had a good time running after hanging out in the RV all week.
Over the next 2 days, the dogs did the 4 rounds of the Invitational itself. The courses were challenging and the environment is always it’s own challenge, but the hounds had a good weekend. Neither was perfect and cumulative scoring means that you pretty much need perfection to make finals, but they had some great runs.
I was going to do a voiceover of the videos from the dogs’ runs, but decided to leave the soundtrack unedited, as I think that gives you a clear idea of the noise level in the building. Masks were required at all times, including while running. I use Susan Garrett’s Handling 360 system (www.dogsthat.com) for handling, which is highly dependent on verbal cues. Between the mask and the noise I felt like I was yelling, but I was glad to hear my verbal cues on the video because that means I was loud enough for the dogs to hear me too. There was even one point in Round 3 where I botched a blind cross on a backside jump, but Spice listened to my words and did the right thing anyway.
My other reason for leaving original sound was to share the bios that I had written for the announcer to read. The Invitational is a very public (and live streamed) event and I thought it was important to use this platform to share a message about breed preservation. Unfortunately in recent years, PBGV registration numbers have declined dramatically while designer dogs like Beagle-doodles and Basset-poos have increased in popularity and are being misrepresented as PBGVs. If our breed is going to have a future it’s important to speak up about what a real PBGV is and for the people and organizations who should and do know the difference to take a stand. Everyone has the right to have whatever kind of dog they want and to choose whether to get a rescue or a purpose bred dog, but lying is never ok.
Here are the videos of our runs from the Invitational: