Advantages and disadvantages
Having now run in various teams over the last 14 years, Dawn Williams sometimes wonders why we put ourselves through it. Do we do it for the pleasure(!), an extra run at a Show or to qualify for yet another Final?
Firstly, it might help to get on with all your team mates because, as sure as ‘eggs are eggs,’ you will at some point pick up faults or even be eliminated - unless, of course, one of your team members is a certain Lee Gibson and Rory! A good relationship with your team members is a definite requirement as they must understand that however hard you and your dog try, occasional mishaps will happen.
Also you do need to have a dog which can work under pressure. It is one thing going it alone in a singles class but to have added pressure of an extra three pairs of eyes watching your every move can be quite unnerving. I always insist on going first. Then I can get my run over and done with and the rest is up to the three remaining members.
major team events
The Pedigree Team Relay Final is held outdoors and so the dogs can work to the best of their ability, but it does have a baton change. This baton changeover can be the test as to the fastest team. A smooth changeover between each member can - and does - save seconds and, incorporated with four fast, consistent dogs, can be a winner over and over again.
Although a team of four, the Crufts Team Final is really based and calculated on four individual wins. This event can almost be run on an individual basis as there is no worry about a baton changeover. Luckily the Kennel Club have now introduced a better surface for our dogs, and as we saw this last year, the dogs were running much better. Hopefully this will encourage those people who were not so keen to qualify for Crufts to become more eager to participate and make it more competitive.
St. David's is fortunate (or maybe unfortunate!) enough to have a pool of dogs where any permutation of available dogs going to the show would make a strong team challenge. It really is luck on the day, for as we can see watching the teams events nowadays, some of the other teams out there are very strong indeed.
I must admit to it being painful to watch the handlers doing this but, if that is what it takes and they want to qualify, then that is what is needed. They would not be able to do this when they reached the Crufts Final because of the fact that in the Final is run where all the teams first dog runs, followed by all the teams' second dog etc. I have never found it particularly easy to run a steady round especially with my older WSD, Flo, who enjoyed the speed over the contacts. Our team knew if she was barking when going over the contacts, then she would get the touch points. In that respect, I always enjoyed the flowing team courses!
Luckily for each team that comes first, second and third in the vast majority of team events, there are trophies for each of the four members, and should you be lucky enough to be part of the winning team of a Team Final there is, of course, the crystal for each person to display with pride around their home.
It is a good feeling being part of a team that works well and gets on together knowing that, if you all get it right, you have a good chance of competing at that longed for Team Final.
Finally we have yet another Team Event to go for, the Natures Team Challenge which unusually is a jumping event, and sounds as if it could be an interesting one to take part in and watch.
About the author...
She started competing in March 1988, and her first Agility Show was at Yarkhill. Some of you may even remember the venue!
Dawn now lives in Oswestry with Don and their 11 dogs which still includes her first dog, Gem. She regularly competes around the country with her two competing dogs, Flo and Billie. They have successfully bred two litters of dogs from Flo (Moonlight Don’t Stop me Now )and Daley (Rudyard Daley). Most of the pups have won into Senior/Advanced status.
Both Dawn and Don now take their own training classes at the Showground and are affiliated to St. Davids DTC.