Spark's UKI Invitational Experience - Video

03 Apr 2024Steve Schwarz

What about Spark? 2.25 yro Spark got into the UKI Invitational via the lottery due to all the dogs in groups with qualifications getting selected (In lottery Group L jokingly called Group Local - dogs from IL-IN-WI handlers who heard lottery spots might be available and entered). He’s been to 4 trial days, has no contacts at all, but (IMHO) he has very good foundation skills and can run Masters level jumping courses in training.

So what was the plan and the result? The plan was to get him exposure to a big event and to focus on running jumping courses. It was made clear in the briefings that training in the ring was a no-no and could get you booted. So for the agility runs I decided to run as much of the original sequence as was safe/sensible w/o or bypassing contacts.

First run was Snooker (jumps, tunnels, & weaves) so I ran the same plan as Snap! and we got 29 pts before I mishandled 🤦‍♂️. I was pretty proud of the young man! I warned the handler after me in Agility that I’d be leaving the ring very early and ran a short-circuited sequence - perfect!

So that got me thinking: he’s handling this so well we should run Pentathlon jumpers tonight too!

Well… that was a bad idea. While Spark has run big long courses in our prep workshops w/Dana Pike, I think the long day and high energy environment had worn him out by the late afternoon. We got to the line and there was a scoring delay. So I pulled him back and tried doing some tricks, but he was distracted and was looking toward the exit. Got him back on the line and tried running the course. Many errors and we weren’t clicking.

Pretty much the same story on Day 2. Tried to run Biathlon jumpers and a short Agility run. The schedule and weather meant we crated out of the car most of the day and I figured that would help him relaxed more. But the afternoon jumpers run was a similar.

It is easy to underestimate the impact of the noise, music, and commotion of four rings running together on the emotional stores of a young dog.

On day 3 repeat but this time I just scratched the afternoon run and only ran Snap! Which helped me focus on his run.

I decided not to run Spark in the Challengers round and slept in for the finals w/Snap!

It definitely taxed my brain to run both dogs in the same rotation only a dozen dogs apart. Especially when Spark ran ahead of Snap! I don’t think I was as “on my game” when it came time to run Snap!

Anyway… I think it was a great experience and I learned a lot: getting both dogs to the ring, temp crate setup, how to keep Spark engaged waiting to run. He settled perfectly in the temp crate w/a cover. Also I got to test his ability on a long day in a high energy environment and learned a little about that. Also reminded myself that he is young and to put my ego (to “show off” how awesome the “little” guy is) away and do what he needs to grow.

Here’s a bar setter’s eye view (thanks Bridget!) of Spark running Snooker and I think he found some more speed running in a big space too! <3 that boy <3

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