Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chasing a Dream

I haven't been blogging much this year, mainly because of what I'm writing about in this post.  I've been busy.  I've been chasing a dream!  It has been a busy year of dog shows and traveling, training and grooming, packing and unloading.  In between all of that, I have four kids to raise, a house and small farm to run, and a husband that likes to have a conversation with me now and then.  This 'year' actually started back in the middle of 2012 and has involved a great about of effort, time, and money.  I have relied on the patience and support of my husband, and the assistance of my parents and in-laws to help with the care of our two youngest when I'm away and Tim is working.  I've been cheered on and helped by some of the greatest friends out there, you know who you are.  It was a team effort, but in the end it was all worth it.  In the end, I caught that dream!

I guess you could say I actually had two dreams...

  I have been showing dogs for most of my life, and showing Australian Shepherds for 13 years.  I have attended several ASCA Nationals and always love to watch Best of Breed and the conformation Finals.  I've wandered by as some of the best aussies in the country battle it out at the Agility Finals.  And just recently, they added Rally Finals. All of these are invitationals, meaning only the top ranked aussies in the country (ASCA) are invited to participate.  I wanted to be a part of it.  I wasn't sure which one was the best option, so I set out to take a run at several different Finals. I brought out my best Champion male and decided to special Ryder.  While he had had success in the spring and started out well in the new ASCA year, just over a month into it he completely dropped his coat and refused to grow it back! After a few months of battling head to head against the top special in the country (and a fluffy one at that!), I had to sit back and reevaluate my plan. Right at the halfway point of the year, I made a desperate switch.  I decided to bring out my 18 month old Indy.  She was finished and a nice girl, just not grown up yet.  I also had a 6 month late start with her.  We gave it a go and I'm happy to say that she did end up making the Finals, ranking #29. (Top 30 is invited)  In the meantime, Madie finished her altered girl Ellie.  She had had some BOB and BOS wins/points from the classes along the way, so we specialed her two weekends at the end of the year after she finished and she made the Altered Finals at #22!  My Boom ranked in the top 20 in Rally to be invited to the Rally Finals, plus Glory had qualified for the Agility Finals!  Both Madie and Emma had qualified for the Junior Finals, Madie ending the year as the #1 Junior Handler in the 8-12 age group.  And to top it all off, Echo, an altered girl that I had bred and co-own had made the Altered Finals, finishing the year ranked as the #1 Altered dog!  We had accomplished every goal to get into the Finals, sending 7 dogs or dog/junior teams to the Finals for the 2013 Nationals.   It was a thrill and an honor to step into the ring with the best of the best.  While it was amazing to just qualify, it was even better that Madie, Echo, and Boom also walked out with placements in the Finals. (Sadly Glory was unable to compete that week)  The success was a confidence boost as well as motivation to set even higher goals in the future.

My other goal was just as exciting, and certainly just as challenging!  I wanted to compete in MVA.  The Most Versatile Aussie competition is, in my opinion, the epitome of what our breed is about.  We have dogs that can do it all- agility, obedience, tracking, stock, rally, and conformation.  In this competition, we ask one dog and handler to do it all.  The dogs are evaluated in conformation, plus must qualify in a performance event and a stock event.  The more you do and the higher levels you compete in, the greater the points you earn.  It is a challenge and an honor to qualify in MVA.  To place in the top 10 or even win is a fantastic accomplishment.  I have been wanting to do this for years and finally bit the bullet and told some people I was going for it.  Once I actually said it out loud, I was committed to the challenge of getting Libby ready.  She is a nice girl, a finished CH, and is titled in agility, rally, and obedience.  I wasn't worried about the conformation evaluation or qualifying in performance.  I have never trained or competed in stock.  When the opportunity to purchase some ducks came up, I jumped on it and spent the next 6+ months stumbling my way through training a stock dog.  A couple of lessons from a pro, some research, and soaking up any information I could find, and I was on my way. I spent the spring and summer training hard, especially on stock.  I was overwhelmed and confused at times, and nearly gave up a time or two, even after sending in the entries.  I'm certainly glad that I didn't in to that frustration.  I just needed to get my foot in that door and go for it.  I had imagined what it would feel like to qualify in MVA, but was still a bit stunned when it happened.  My darling Libby stepped up and did everything I asked that week, and did it so well!  I left proudly holding my MVA rosette and spent the ride home from Colorado making plans to do more and do even better the following year.  My next goal is to get a top 10 placement!  I now have two dogs in training for MVA and Madie is hoping to compete in MVJ some year.

The new ASCA year has started. (June 1st 2013-May 31st 2014) I don't know what it holds for us, but we're off to a pretty good start.  Both Madie and Emma have qualified for the Finals again and have big goals.  (NOT going for #1 again, though!)  We're still focused on ASCA this year, rather than AKC, but I hope to not have to travel as much as last year.  No matter who makes it to a Finals competition, we're looking forward to the rest of this ASCA year, and the Nationals in Texas.  I'm sure I'll be biting my nails about my MVA entries again next summer. 

This past year's journey has been amazing.  I was chasing dreams, and before I noticed, my daughter Madie was chasing her own dream too.  Hers went right down to the wire against some top competition. (for #1 ranked 8-12 Junior Handler.)  Through it all, we were blessed with the support of friends and family.  I try never to hold back on my dreams.  I never know what is around the corner, I only know what today holds.  I set goals and refuse to wait around or delay.  I will give everything I have and go after them now.  If I catch that dream, I will cherish the moment, and then set my eyes on the next one.