Flyer's and My Emotional Journey to the 2021 USDAA Cynosport Veterans All Around
29 Oct 2021
Due to the pandemic, it had been two years since the last USDAA Cynosport was held. Also two years ago, shortly after Cynosport, Flyer developed a slight head bob while on our daily walks. Our amazing rehab vet and agility pal Dr. Lisa Woodside at Ready to Go Veterinary Rehabilitation diagnosed him with Medial Shoulder Instability (MSI) and I decided to try rehab instead of surgery.
After about 6 months of rehab he was looking good. But, as I started gradually increasing his activity, the symptoms came back. So we got scheduled into Veterinary Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group in Sept of 2020 for surgery with Dr. Sherman Canaap. We made the trip to Maryland during covid and both shoulders needed surgery, PRP, and stem cell treatment. Dr. Lisa oversaw our recovery and rehabilitation with weekly, then bi-weekly, and finally monthly appointments.
About three months before Cynsoport, as she was increasing his exercises to include basic agility skills, I was talking with her about how Snap! was going to his first Cynosport and I asked if Flyer would be able to run in Veterans (open to prior Cynosport dogs nine years old and older and he’d jump 12”). She felt the timing would fit with his improving fitness/strength. So she developed a plan that would get him ready. The month before Cynosport we were running full courses in practice at 16” and he is looking good. We got to run a couple UKI speedstakes runs at a local trial two weeks before the big event.
BUT, the Friday before we are to leave for Cynosport, Flyer shows a slight head bobbing on his left front. 😭 I sent some panicked calls/texts/videos to Dr. Lisa. TL;DR: he has a big knot in one of his triceps. I was ready to pull him from the competition, the last thing I wanted to do was to injure him again. Thankfully, Dr. Lisa was also competing at Cynosport (and we’re teaming together in a team: “Run Fast, Don’t Die” with Snap!, her Vex, and Dana Pike with Hotsy-totsy) so we decided to take it day by day. She worked on Flyer as soon as we arrived and worked out the knot over a couple days before the start of his single dog team competition. He was given the OK to run the night before the first competition. She also went over Snap! and Flyer at the end of every day.
None of what you see in these videos would have been possible without her dedicated work and guidance over the past two years. I am blessed to know her.
On the first morning of team competition and I take Flyer into the building for the first time and he just LIGHTS UP! He knows exactly where he is and starts barking and jumping. He grabs his wubba right out of my hand as we are walking to the ring and just keeps barking! I was tearing up seeing how happy he was. His eyes were wide and glowing, he was just sooo happy! I got it together enough to run Gamblers, with a kind of screwed-up start because he was more jazzed up/faster than I anticipated! But, we finished with enough points to take 3rd place. He tugged happily with me all the way back to our stall.
After cooling Flyer down and putting him away, I went looking for Dr. Lisa to tell her how it went. I found her getting ready to run a semi final run with Vex and I started telling her how well it went. Within my first sentence I just lost it and cried tears of joy all over her shoulder telling her how happy she made Flyer and me. I didn’t realize just how much the past two years of concern had built up inside me as we went on this journey together.
Nothing like Snooker first thing in the morning! We were in the first rotation and Flyer was within the first dozen dogs. My original plan was 1-4-1-7-1-3 which was pretty flowing and put Flyer right at the tunnel for 2. (For Snooker planners, 7 had to be taken in order and as numbered). But, a team ahead of us ran the higher point/riskier 1-4-1-7-1-7 and I knew we should try to do it too. I figured I could out run Flyer and get a blind cross after 7c and turn him to the tunnel. Nothing like running a Snooker plan you never walked and at a big event… But I went for it!
That was one of my favorite runs of the weekend.
In the morning I think we were in second place overall and I knew I had to run clean and see how fast we could go to try to take first place.
The jumpers course had a few subtle angles in it, especially the approach to the broad jump and the approach/exit of 17. But, Flyer is “Mr. Comfy Shoes” and is pretty much point and go. He ran quickly and smoothly and took first place.
You’ll see in our video for Team Standard the course ended up not being built as shown on the course map. The teeter was moved to the left to point to the exit of the tunnel and the tunnel was moved to the right. The tight jump wrap after the dog walk was challenging for a lot of teams, as was the teeter to back side - a fair amount of dogs drove straight to the tunnel entrance. I realized I probably hadn’t practiced too many back side 360 wraps with Flyer so I decided to handle jump 13 as a back side slice and it worked perfectly. We ended up taking first place.
I obsessively refreshed the real time results all Saturday evening and eventually saw our efforts in Standard and Jumpers gave Flyer 1st place overall. I was so proud of him. But it didn’t see real yet.
USDAA does a nice thing for the top Veteran dogs. They have a Veterans Showcase where the top three Veterans dogs in each height run the Grand Prix Finals course, prior to the actual finals, and are cheered on by the other competitors. The run isn’t scored it’s just a chance to celebrate the teams.
We got a fancy ribbon and a gold medal and got to stand on the top step for the first time at Cynosport. The wonderful Mary Cheney shot this great photo. Flyer was so happy after his run he didn’t even think the camera was stealing his soul. 😁
It was just a wonderful experience! I’m so fortunate to have Dr. Lisa as a friend and for always taking such good care of my dogs. I’m fortunate too to have had Dana Pike training and mentoring us for many years (all of Flyer and Snap!s) - I value her “unvarnished” feedback 😉 and friendship. This year was also special because a wonderful and supportive group of friends cheered us on all along, hugged and cried with us, and stayed long into Sunday to support us. I’m so thankful!