The Sunday Excellent Jumpers With Weaves class came at the end of the day for the SOTC agility trials. Jump heights ran tall to small, so the 8 inch dogs were at the end, with dogs in the Preferred Division going last.
Waiting at the gate was Flash, an almost 13 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi (her birthday is in November). With her was her 19 year old handler, Kate. This was to be Flash’s retirement run. She is starting to show some weakness in the rear and Kate did not want her to go on running if things were hard for her. They had stopped doing Standard runs this year due to the A Frame.
Flash has never been a dog to do things slowly or carefully. She takes life at a full out run. She is a “take no prisoners” sort of gal as various sheep in herding trials found out the hard way. Her tracking skills are superb – she is one of the few Champion Trackers in AKC. She loved rally but hated having to go slowly on tight courses. Her weaving is amazing – very fast but if she missed an entrance and Kate had to call her back, she was quite likely to take a quick nip at Kate. Perhaps fellow exhibitors wondered why Kate always ran in jeans- even on 90 degree days!
Obedience was too much fun – leading to barking and lots of points off for the noise. Her skills as a therapy dog are amazing. She has worked with seniors in nursing homes, elementary school kids in a tutoring program and special needs teenagers. She and Kate were the first junior team ever to earn the AKC’s VCD title – Versatile Companion Dog. They even managed to pull off a few startling wins in Junior Showmanship including Best Junior at the Corgi National.
But beyond all this, she has been Kate’s beloved companion for all these years. They have struggled together and triumphed together. Flash started off Kate’s writing career and she is now a sophomore English major at Cornell with three books to her credit.
With Flash, Kate has learned patience, how to handle failure, how to laugh at the right time and how to train. So many of Kate’s skills come from Flash. She wishes of course, that she could have Flash as a puppy now to use that wisdom with her once in a lifetime buddy. But they are approaching the end of their time together.
Flash is noted as much for her agility failures as her successes. She can fly around a course taking every bar down but beating Border Collie times. She once failed on table faults for barking so hard she fell off the pause table 5 times. She caused gasps of concern when she flew up a dogwalk, across the top and then launched herself – clearing the entire down ramp without breaking stride and racing on to the next obstacle. More than once she ran up the teeter so fast that she got to the end and went off before it ever had a chance to tip.
As they approached the start line, Kate prepared to release her. No amount of training ever gave Flash a start line stay – it is basically drop and go. Weave poles were third – in a straight line. This meant the dog had to slow up to enter – not likely here. If this was a Hollywood movie, Flash would have had a beautiful clean run and won the National Championship or something. But this was real life.
Flash took off like a bullet, and missed the weave pole entrance. So no qualifying run was on the line. Most of the rest of the run was a thing of beauty – Kate quietly handling her, the team working as one on a very difficult course. Two bars came down but it didn’t matter. The time was fast – way under the standard course time as usual. And for Flash it was a wonderful ending to a long day and a long career.
Friends and admirers had gathered to cheer for her and the roar of the crowd was like that for a MACH. In her own way , Flash is an agility champion – a sound little dog who has inspired, amused and engaged so many people over the years. Here’s to you Flash!