Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MACH 4 Billie and MACH Forrest

I have non-agility friends who visit this page. One recently asked, "so, what's a MACH?" So maybe a little background is in order for this post:

MACH stands for Master Agility Champion. It's a title awarded when a dog and handler get 20 Double Qs (2 out of 2 qualifying runs in the same day) and amass a certain number of speed points (it's formulaic and I'm not going there because I don't fully understand it myself). It's a reward for consistency and it's a big deal. Some of us (like me and the dog sprawled out on the couch as I write this) can go a whole four day trial without a double Q.

A MACH 4 is the same x 4. That's 80 Double Qs and something like a gazillion speed points. I never knew such a thing existed until I met Billie, subject of this post.

A MACH 5 is a car driven by Speed Racer. [Ed. note: Speed was such a tool. The show totally should've been about Racer X. I mean, seriously.]

Now on to our story.

Anne & Forrest

Anne Ibach is one of the handful of people who work their butts off organizing and executing local AKC agility trials. She's done this for the last decade, far longer than I've been around the sport. She's also a wicked good handler. In March Anne's leaving us for Portland, where she's landed her "Dream Job" with Oregon Public Television.

Salt Lake's loss is definitely Portland's gain.

MACH4 Billie, MXF, PDIII Retired

Anne began training with Billie in 1999 after an invitation from Coleen Hawker, Bill's owner at the time (and another local agility pioneer). She and Bill took lessons with Monica Bush and after a whole two months of training they entered their first trial. "Five years, thousands of miles and dollars, and several bottles of thyroid pills later," she says, they earned their first MACH, becoming just the fourth dog in Utah to earn the title.

They weren't finished. I didn't ask about numbers 2 and 3 but Billie got her 4th MACH last July, at age 11. She's only the second dog in Utah to do so. With that last MACH, Bill dropped out of the circuit and into retirement.

Best I can tell Bill's a pretty laid-back cat; for the above photo we said 'Bill, you lay here.' And he held... and held... and held that pose. Easy to work with. So despite the accomplishments, Bill's no diva.

MACH Red Rock Run Forrest Run MXJ, MX, MXF, JE, MAD, RN, CGC

But it was only after Forrest got his MACH in October that we talked about getting together for a photo.

Anne and Forrest found each other in 2003, when Forrest was a four month old pup -- and only, Anne jokes, because she was not smart enough to know better. "Never buy a Jack Russell on impulse," she says.

They've had to work far harder to get Forrest to where he is today; for the first year of his life, Anne's convinced he viewed her as nothing more than an annoying weight on the other end of the leash preventing Forrest from being Forrest. But Anne decided Forrest would become an agility dog. Lots and lots and lots of hard work later, he is.

I kinda get the impression that because of how hard they've had to work, Forrest's MACH may just mean more than Billie's achievements.

Way to go, Forrest!

And Anne, doggone it, we miss you already!