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Originally posted by Mary Law on the email list, WorkingADT@yahoogroups.com, by Mary Law, 1/18/05

 January 15-16, 2005

We left Michigan on Tuesday and headed for Tampa. We had 32 degree weather, snow and freezing rain until we hit the Indiana border. It was thrilling to watch the temperature rise as we headed south. It was 40 degrees in Indiana, 50 in Kentucky and we hit 70 degrees somewhere around Atlanta.

Wednesday AM, we started out from Atlanta in dense fog. By the time we got to Florida, the sun was out and the temperature was close to 80. I won't bore you with how depressing it was to leave 35 degree weather in Florida the following Monday and drop to 14 degrees in Kentucky only to come home to another snow storm Tuesday evening.

The AKC National Obedience Invitational (NOI) was an awesome experience. It was held at the Tampa Bay Convention Center. A beautiful site that held all those dogs without a big problem. Agility and Conformation were held on the second floor and obedience was held on the first floor in the ballrooms. The ballrooms are carpeted, so they were covered with shrink wrap, which made small popping sounds when you walked on it.

There were six rings set up. Four together and two more separated by an aisle. The famous blue matting was in each ring and thankfully, did not slip at all when laid over the shrink wrap. The ballrooms were very large, there was plenty of crating room and lots of room to warm up your dog. Bleachers were at both ends of the room facing the outside rings for spectator seating.

Traffic is always a problem in the big cities, but parking and unloading seemed to be the biggest problem. The parking garages were about $10.00 per day.

We did use the Convention Center ramp because it was close. I am not sure what RV people did as 6' 8" was max. vehicle height for the parking ramps.

NOI Airedales plus National Agility Airedales
Airedales were well-represented at the National Obedience Invitational and the National Agility Invitational in Tampa, Florida by:
  • Kudo's I'm the Only One UDX (Tigger), owned by Alice Peterson, bred by Jeff and Karen Lapierre.
  • Ch. Seneca's Ochoco Pete, UD (Pete), owned by Yvonne Rauch, bred by Nancy Secrist.
  • Ch. Caleb Acres Aireham Spice, UDX (Spice), owned by Mary Law, bred by Judy Brown.
  • CH. MACH Westchester Traymar Hotstuff, CD (Diablo), owned by Kim Zaborniak, bred by Jan and Richard Arsenault.
  • Ch. MACH Caleb Acres Call Me Chloe, UD (Chloe) owned and bred by Judy Brown.

The unloading dock for Obedience, was built for semis to back up to. It had no ramp to wheel your dollie up, so we had to take everything off it, place it on the top of the dock and load everything back on the dollie. My husband was not a happy camper about that!

Lack of grass was also a problem, but AKC did bring in some sod near the loading docks and there was a grassy area outside one of the main floor exits. Needless to say, those areas were well used by the dogs. I am happy to say that spectators did clean up after their dogs and kept these areas nice for all to use.

Saturday's judging started at 8 AM, but check in was at 7:15. Everyone's armband number had been changed from what AKC sent us. We started in the same ring, but instead of being fourth from the end of our group, I ended up being the fourth dog in the ring. I like showing early, so it wasn't a problem for me. Dogs were grouped by jump height to keep the event flowing.

For Saturday's competition, you show in all six rings. As your group finished a ring, you moved on to the next ring in armband order until you completed all six rings. Each ring had a mix of Open and Utility exercises assigned, so everyone ends up doing the same exercises. By the time you have completed all six rings, you have done each Open and Utility exercise twice. Sits and downs are not part of the NOI exercises. The goal is to qualify on every exercise and not lose a lot of points, so you can make the cut for Sunday. You do not find out the exercise order for the rings until you arrive Saturday, AM.

Saturday is a marathon and requires a lot of mental focus and stamina for your dog and the handler. I think we finished our last ring about 3 in the afternoon. But I really enjoyed the format and would do it again in a heartbeat. I just wish the event could be more centrally located in the US.

The top thirty-two dogs qualify for Sunday's competition. Qualifiers are determined by score and by breed group. They take the top four qualifiers in each group, plus four "wild card" dogs with the highest scores that did not place in the groups. This year there were only two hound group entries, so they chose two more dogs to round it out to 32. By the way, there were 14 Terriers that competed. An Irish Terrier ended up the number four seed and a Miniature Schnauzer ended up the number 15 seed, later to finish the competition in the top four as Third Runner up.

On Sunday, two rings are eliminated and dogs compete against each other. It is head to head competition, the winner moves on and the loser gets to relax. The 32nd seeded dog faces off against the first seeded dog. 31 against 2, etc. A mixture of open and utility exercises are again used. By the time the second round is done, eight teams are left and they have completed all the open and utility exercises once.

By the time the new NOC (National Obedience Champion) is determined, the two finalists have done 52 exercises without an NQ (non-qualifying score). Pretty amazing!! I had a few goals as I headed into this tournament. First, was to enjoy the event and do my best to qualify in every exercise. Another was to keep Spice connected to me as I entered the ring and between exercises. I wanted her to feel good about the experience and gain confidence. I also wanted her to represent her breed well. I feel I accomplished my goals. There was only one ring that I felt she was not connected with me as much as I had hoped for.

NOI Airedales plus National Agility Airedales
Yvonne Rauch with Pete UD, Mary Law with Spice UDX, and Alice Peterson with Tigger UDX.

All three of the Airedale's entered in the NOI, represented the breed well. All three are from well known and respected bloodlines and nice ambassadors for the breed. Two of the three are breed champions. I am so proud of our Airedales. Spice place third in the terrier group and Tigger placed fourth, with only a half point difference in their scores!

I want to thank Barbara Mann for suggesting that all the Airedale people sit together at the banquet. It was great to get to know each other better and share the joy of having Spice and Tigger make Sunday's competition. A bonus for both Alice and me was a photo taken by Mike Godsil for our Terrier Group placements.

Sunday's competition started at 8:30 AM. This was head to head competition. I was thrilled and very nervous coming into the competition. I realized that while I really wanted to make the cut for Sunday, I had not given much thought to a plan for competing against some of the best dogs in the country. I was seeded against the number 10 dog, OTCH First String's Cubby Bear, UDX20*, a Golden Retriever owned by Kathy Platt, and later crowned the new NOC! I had seen this dog compete a few years ago in the final four of the last NOI they held in Chicago. I was way out of my league competing on Sunday, but Spice did a nice job and only made minor errors. Alice and Tigger were in the ring the same time I was, so I didn't get to see their run, but my guess is that they did a good job too...just not good enough to beat the more experienced dog.

Animal Planet did tape some of the dogs on Saturday and completely taped the final two dogs doing their open and utility runoff's on Sunday. It hopefully will be shown later with the agility tapes. I don't have cable, so keep your eye on the Discovery channel and Animal Planet incase they do run the tape. Both finalists were awesome!

One other thing, Later in the day on Sunday, the three Airedales competing in obedience and the two Airedales competing in agility met to take pictures. We drew quite a crowd that was quite impressed to see five Airedales doing a sit stay inches away from each other and handlers standing behind the camera. We also took some of our own pictures outside near the waterfront.

That's enough for now!

Mary Law
Ch. Caleb Acres Aireham Spice, UDX
Kalamazoo, MI

* UDX20 means this dog has qualified for the UDX title 20 times, 200 trials with qualifying scores in both Open and Utility!

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