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With another year of agility drawing to a close, and the excitement of all things Christmassy slowly infusing our senses, Discover Dogs was to be a practice run for Olympia for a few handlers and their dogs. For others it was their first chance to compete in the public arena. Mandy Wallington was watching the action at the new, larger Earls Court I.

Each agility partnership had two runs - one in the morning and one in the afternoon - with the overall placing reflecting results from both runs. As ever, crowd around the main display area buzzed with excitement, whipped up by the fabulous displays of heelwork to music and the frenetic flyball teams.

Judging the competitors, some familiar faces and some new, were Dave Harvey and John Gilbert.

In the Small category was Mandy-Sue Sarti and four year old Patterdale Izzy whose over-enthusiasm for the dog walk cost them a place at the top. Den Keeler with Beano the Border Terrier just missed the top three, Amanda Rogers with her rapidly progressing Sheltie Kodak who picked up faults on their second run. Angela Roger's table-napping Chinese Crested Harry picked up faults on both runs but won over the crowd with his cheeky nature.

Jeanette Tandy with Collie x JRT Betsy came 3rd with just 10 faults overall, and Amy Lawson with Sheltie Fudge gained second place after two clear rounds. Miranda Frankham's 8 year old miniature Sheltie was all set to be placed, but was eliminated after just touching the see-saw with a paw, leaving housemate Dodger to bark his way round to victory in just 30.96 seconds.

In the Medium category, a challenging course saw several victims falling for a tricky seesaw/A-frame positioning including Karen Cole's Sheltie Todd, Bernadette Bay's Sheltie Zen and Amanda Hamson's Toller Minx.

Claire Arends's working Cocker Maisie had a great first round, but was unfortunately eliminated at the weaves on the second. Rosie Ison's Poodle/Collie cross Disney showed off his acting skills, but unfortunately picked up several faults whilst playing to the crowd.

Despite Lorna Goodban and 'rasta' Poodle Cadbury getting two fast clear rounds, they were just out of the top three. Amanda Hampson's Toller Rogue yodelled his way into 3rd place, with Ashley Butler and Pudsey, who was an 11th birthday present, coming 2nd.

But in 1st place, and an average 3-4 seconds faster and a final time of 28.47, was Natasha Wise with blue merle Collie Dizzy, whose quick and accurate contacts proved hard to beat.

The ABC category always has some strong characters, and this year was no exception. Diane Griffin's BSD Groenendaal had a brilliant first run at his Discover Dogs debut, but was unfortunately eliminated in the second round. Ray Ellerton's lurcher Bella flew round, but picked up faults, as did Nikianna Nicholas's graceful Vizsla Quinn and Gill Raddings's BSD Terveuren Check.

Daniel Slinkert's stunning Doberman X Schnauzer Pudding ran an apparently effortless second run to go clear, but unfortunately could not beat Joanne Apostolou's 10 year old BSD Malinois Zellick.

Just missing the top three places was Karen Young, whose Bearded Collie Dee yodelled around into 4th place. In contrast, Anna Brayley's Kelpie Revel ran silent as the wind to claim third place. Dave Wright's red merle Australian Shepherd Betsy was eliminated in the first round, but came back with a storming second run into second place.

Winning the ABC category was Jane Anderson with Kelpie Bindi, who just pipped Dave by 10 tenths of a second in 29.68 seconds.

If the performances at Discover Dogs are anything to go by, Olympia will prove to be an amazing competition with dogs and handlers at the top of their field.

About the author...
Dogs have always been a big part of Mandy Wallington's life, and she has always sought to give her dogs jobs that will keep them active and happy. She first got the agility bug with a blue merle collie about 10 years ago, but didn't really start competing till she rescued a crazy Welsh collie whose enthusiasm for the sport has been his saving grace.

Along with her two teenage daughters, her permanent canine family consists of the very noisy Welsh collie, a laidback Lurcher, a wriggly springador and a 7 month old crossbreed who appears to be part kangaroo!

Mandy also fosters dogs for Enfield Dog Rescue and the Cinnamon Trust, and currently has two elderly residents having much Christmas love and attention!

Photos: The Kennel Club

First published 22/12/09



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