Read a story of Jaakko's unforgettable journey to Crufts last year.
The journey to Great Britain
We were on cloud nine when we received the news: we were eligible to participate in Crufts 2013 International agility competition with Zen!
It was exciting but intimidating at the same time. We had visited Crufts several years ago and knew that the event would be superbly organized and that it would include some of the most talented dogs around the globe. Therefore we had high hopes to have an excellent and fun trip to Birmingham. We travelled together with Janita who made an excellent work at organizing our trip to England. Our good friend, trainee & OneMind Dogs Coach Tuulia Liuhto, who also qualified for another agility event at Crufts, accompanied us during the trip from Finland, which made the trip even more fun and entertaining.
Once upon a time in Crufts...
Yes! We did it! We are at Crufts!
Shortly after arriving at the venue, we got to meet Mr. Tony Griffin, to whom we owe a huge thanks for helping us sort out some of the problems we encountered during our trip to the UK.
The main ring where all the agility competitions are held, had a great atmosphere throughout the whole weekend. Both qualifying rounds and the finals had approximately 7000 spectators. Fortunately, I have always felt that Zen performs her best when she is in front of a big crowd. You can always tell from her reaction that she gets excited when she senses the thrill of a big competition. This time was no exception.
Bob Griffin was judging the International jumping course, which we were anxiously looking forward to participate in. Zen gave her best by winning the first qualification round with a solid performance (video). Ann-Britt Holmegaard Gravlund-Krat with DJ from Denmark took the second place. The carpet was a bit slippery for the dogs, but luckily Zen has always been excellent in making all the necessary changes to her striding, in order to be able to successfully get through the course even in the most challenging conditions.
The agility course was judged by Mr Farrar. The first place of this round was taken by Daisy Peel with Super Sun from the USA with an excellent run. However, Zen and I did a nice run, too, earning a very respectable second place on the podium and qualifying for the finals. We would be starting last of the pack as an overall leader of the qualifying runs. Not bad at all I think?
We certainly enjoyed ourselves all the way into the final agility run, which was judged by Mr Bob Griffin. It was intense but we still managed to make our third clear run in a row and were placed third on the final course. We were extremely happy that the whole day went so well!
The secret behind the triumph?
In every walk-through I concentrated on planning my handling strategies based on C-C-C (Connection between the dog and handler – Committing dog to the obstacle – Cueing, aka giving a proactive cue what to do next) and it worked great. It gave me a lot of confidence in my handling strategy and therefore, mentally, it was relatively easy to just go out there and focus on enjoying all the runs with Zen.
It was a lot of fun to meet some of my old friends from all over the world and to make some new ones. Hopefully we were able to entertain the crowd, Zen and I certainly enjoyed the event. Crufts is an event to visit if you ever get the chance. In 2013 there were over 25000 dogs at Crufts and they came from over 41 different countries!
It really was a great experience and I will never forget it!
Written by Jaakko Suoknuuti