When I went looking for a bearded collie in early summer 2002, it seemed like everyone had just wrapped up their spring litters and there wasn't a whole lot left. Still I talked to a number of breeders and none of the puppies seemed like just the right match (of course, I was for some reason looking for a blue bitch at that point - why?). Anyway, I ended up getting referred to Beth who had no puppies but suggested I talk to Jane. Jane had a little black girl puppy that I might be interested in, but she also had a little boy who might be a better match. She emailed a picture of him on over and that was it, I knew this was my dog. The only thing was...she wanted him to be shown in conformation. I had never done anything like that but figured sure, I'd give it a try. Jane took a chance on me - a newbie who'd never had a beardie - and flew Max on down from Washington.
It's been love since Day 1.
Max and I had a bit of a rough start as it was a steep learning curve for us both. Together though, I'd say we came through it pretty well. I started showing Max and then at a year old he blew his puppy coat and went naked and we had to find something else to do with ourselves. We went to obedience classes and got his CGC (and along the way met this nice guy with a St Bernard...). We got certified through a therapy dog organization and went to visit people in a convalescent hospital. We went to agility classes - I figured it'd be fun for him and maybe we'd do the agility competition at the beardie national one of these days. I wasn't going to be one of those crazy people whe trialed all the time but we'd do it every so often for fun.
At our first trial out, Max took two 1st places with two perfect scores. He finished his Novice Jumpers title at the next trial a month later. We started trialing once or twice a month. We got better, we worked our way up and we finished more titles. Next thing I knew, Max was 3 years old and we saw Beth at a show (the day Stanley's mother Maude finished her championship) and she said he looked great and to get him back out and show him again.
So I started trying to do conformation shows and agility trials at the same time. I double-entered weekends and frantically drove 50 miles from one to the other trying to make our ring times in both. We were busy but we were having fun! Oh yes, and I took up running around this time, so I'd start off the day by running a few miles around the fairgrounds before the competition.
I had been wanting another beardie for a while but Jeff was resistant. For Valentine's Day 2006, his gift to me was a card made up with Max's puppy pictures, telling me to get a puppy already! I knew what I wanted and would end up waiting another year for Stanley to arrive.
And we plowed on in agility, trialing as many weekends as I could fit in. Routinely driving 100 miles each way for 3 days straight to trial and then relax at home. Around this point, Stanley was born and as soon as he came home to us, he was along for the trials as well. Max was gradually racking up the wins needed for his AKC agility championship (MACH). In addition, we'd done some trialing in USDAA events and wound up qualifying for the Cynosport World Games (aka USDAA Nationals) in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2007. USDAA Nationals was a fantastic experience and we were so proud to represent bearded collies (as Max was the only one there). Stanley also got to herd goats at the same event and is now very serious about his sheep.
If you've been reading this blog long enough, you know that Max got his MACH this past March at a 4-day show where I also showed Stanley in conformation and rally (phew!). We still trial in agility a bit, though not as much. Once Stanley is ready to trial seriously in another year, we'll be back out there more often. I've enjoyed the break from heavy trialing and put the time to use training for triathlon. I also showed Stanley to his championship in the US and Canada this year. I expect to have him out in the show ring, rally, obedience, agility and herding at the beardie national in October. I'd like to qualify for USDAA Nationals again for 2009 as long as it doesn't interfere with IM training - but I think it would be perfect to get to do the race course a month beforehand since the events are in the same place!
So in essence that's how one little black dog got me hooked on a whole range of dog sports!