Friday, February 5, 2010

MACH Jetta!

Being able to witness a few of the MACHs won in 2009 by local handlers and their canine partners was pretty heady stuff. But the one final qualifying run I wanted to see above all others came in October in Boise. Unfortunately we didn't make that trial, so I can only imagine how nicely Jetta must've run for Leslie -- who surely must've been on the verge of exploding on the inside but was just as surely as cool as the other side of the pillow on the outside.

With that run Leslie Dixwell got her first MACH and Jetta became only the third Swedish Vallhund ever to MACH in the US.

Leslie's MACH is personal for Suzie and I because Leslie was one of the first local trainers to befriend us when Suzie began doing agility with Corky, our first corgi. Prior to Jetta, Leslie had competed with corgis, mostly in obedience but also in agility. In fact, Jetta's MACH might not have been her first but for the fact that two of her corgis, Kela and Bell, had physical problems that forced them into early retirement. Bell once did place first in agility at Corgi Nationals. (And Kela earned a UD, which Leslie says is a close second to Jetta's MACH, as achievements go.)

Obviously I am biased but I believe Leslie is one of the best agility trainers we have in Utah. She's New School in that she regularly trains with Susan Garrett and Greg Derrett, and is constantly bringing new thought and exercises to training sessions. She's Old School in that she'll ride your arse hard (but always with a smile!) about lazy handling or not getting your dog sufficiently revved up to work. Although a MACH is not in the cards for me and Wyatt, the improvements in speed and drive that he and I experienced this past year are all Leslie's doing.

How They Got There & Where They're Going

Jetta is now seven and-a-half. It took two years of trialing to get to her MACH. Leslie says things only started to gel when she began stopping Jetta on contacts -- and when she became a better handler herself. "Most of it is consistency and handling," she says, adding "there comes a time when it is second nature to go around the agility course." (Wonder if Wyatt and his numnutts handler will ever have that feeling!)

If the late-January Golden Spike Obedience Club agility trial is any indication, there may just be a MACH II in their future: at the three day trial Jetta had three Double Qs. They now stand at 6 Double Qs toward a MACH II.

The Ad

Suzie ran point on getting friends and, with Donald's help, family lined up to support the purchase of a full-page ad in this month's issue of Clean Run. The ad is unique to all of those I've ever seen. Thst'd thanks to the graphic design skills of Eric Larson, another student of Leslie's, who donated his time to put the ad together.