Greg Milner & Crash Achieve AG CH Status
At Bairnsdale on Saturday 5th November 2011
Greg Milner and
The day the planets aligned for the elusive JDM First place, Saturday 5 Nov 2011, Bairnsdale.
I was in the doldrums a little. Some stunning Crash runs at Warrnambool the week prior had still seen us come Second twice by the barest of margins, 7 times now we had placed Second since requiring a final JDM First after the Scottish trial. The trials were slipping by fast with only 14 more JDM runs in the season before the deadline, and considering the previous 9 Firsts were accumulated over a 2 year period, the statistics were getting very slim and the faith was fading. I had a very bad back from doing something foolish on Thursday and could not bend or move well. Bairnsdale was an impressive bright sunny 30 degrees, not a breath of wind, perfect for a low tide surf, also perfect to turn Crash’s thick wavy coat into a lead blanket.
The track was running with Clive in control, nice and flowing, but precision engineered by Clive’s evil mind as a mix of tight needing steady control, and fast. Add a tricky serp zone after a fast section designed to put the handlers way behind their dog when getting to this control area. Amongst the early runs the speed freaks Zoe and Merlot go clear, these two guns of the sport are generally about 2 seconds faster than Crash all things being equal. Wow, have I let the pressure build on me now!
Agility is an Extreme Sport (to me), adrenaline kicks in, who cares about a bad back, it’s our turn to run! I press Crash around to the max, of course he responds that’s what Crash does the best. I power to a serp position eliminating some crosses, Crash is on top of me now, I am a little late, he rescues my handling as usual, then throw in some mandatory front crosses. Crash plings some bars, but there is no kerplunk, he keeps hunting me down. Think I ran the 5 jump run home at warp 7 without breathing, Crash beats me to the last, then turns to greet me with the usual smile and drool- he’s thinking “That was grouse fun, where is my treat?”. Clive signals clear round, I know we ran well.
The remaining dogs run, some with luck, some without, I am watching from afar, not wanting to know times, delaying what is probably another close disappointment. Jenni is with the scribe as the last dogs run, eying off the times - speedster Robbie goes clear. I can tell Jenni is now crying by her body language and a hug from someone nearby - I know she cries for a win.
The Road to AG CH
From 2003 Axel (the Rottie) and I found fun in Agility, the fish hook struck deep - the dog was pretty good, his handicap was me in my Blunestones and my aeroplane arms. I became awestruck by the Masters Dogs, Dash in particular, Axel was retiring- I wanted a dog like Dash. Not that I knew anything about a Border or working dog, they were just fast and looked good. Ros foolishly let Jenni & I have a puppy in 2006, the quiet heffalump of the litter, Crash, son of Dash and Gemma was mine!
Crash and I played, we trained, we played and trained more - what an amazing bond we established. Crash is such a friendly, laid back goofball, but when its about doing stuff with Greg a strong work ethic and the deep bond is very clear. Like a kid with a new toy I did lots of things including obedience and sheep herding, but Agility is the passion.
Becoming part of the Yeoville family was tremendous, as time went by I wised up to the Derrett handling system that Ros & Peter employ and became a half rate disciple. The Yeoville brand runs deep in Crash, and is one of the keys to our many successes.
Learning our craft we developed, at the 2008 Nationals we win GDX out of 100 dogs, gain JDX title, make the AD final, and earn Best Victorian Novice Agility Dog- I never knew what a Nationals was till this event landed on my doorstep.
At K9 in Feb 2009 we finally score a JDM pass, my first ever Master pass in anything- I still remember every step of Roger’s track. Then a few months later at Geelong two days of glory transpire, 5 Masters clear rounds, our first Firsts in both JDM and ADM, and JDM title. The ADM win is by the smallest margin over Dash on JB’s track- I don’t let the fact that Peter holds Dash on disciplined colours compared to our “lucky to touch them” run get in the way of my pride in pipping Dash. I cannot believe we have won some Masters, only the God’s of the sport do that- we have taken our first steps down The Road.
2009 sees Dash become Ag Ch, he is still my idol, I don’t perceive Crash and I as ever being that good or attaining the heights Dash has, but the bar is set.
In 2010 Crash makes the grade for the 2 Top Dog finals- this has been My Dream since first seeing this event in 2003, my Agility aims are all satisfied before we even run. Struth! we go clear in Jumping and are Second- I am gobsmacked.
Crash has taken me to many good places physically and emotionally, in 2010 he takes me to Perth as a State Representative!
2011 we qualify for the Top Dog’s again, and again a credible Second in Jumping with a clear round.
In 2011 I now have another big aim, the Ag Ch title. It is now an obsession, it is so close, Crash is good enough to get it, but the rule change deadline is a locomotive coming in the opposite direction. Alas we seem doomed to an endless world of Second places, until a very unlikely hot day in Bairnsdale.
The Honour and Credit is all Crash’s, he ain’t the fastest dog out there, but oozes fun and personality, and has a magic that makes things happen. I might be biased, but he is a real credit to what Dog Sport is all about- having fun, making friends, and performing strongly.
The many thanks go to our inspiration from Dash, the guidance and friendship from Ros, Peter and our many training Buddy's, and the incredible support behind us from Jenni.
PS, I would be a rich man if I had a penny for all the people who said “You cannot call an Agility dog Crash, that dooms him from the start”. I say, “That is exactly what I should call my Accidental Hero!”
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