A Year in Review 2020: When Life Gives You Lemons Edition
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Everyone knows that 2020 has been a disaster of a year. There have been some bright spots: yay Biden! And some personal difficulties: the van we bought had a whole lot of issues the seller hid from us. Leaving my old training center was extremely hard. And, of course, the perpetual difficulty that is COVID. I'd taken January and February off to focus on raising Amalu, and then in March everything shutdown, so timing was bad. The dogs were plenty happy to hike 20-30 miles a week on deserted trails during the heart of quarantine however.
I had a whole lot of goals for this year. For Anubi and Amidi my big goal was to debut them in flyball and LGRA straight racing. For Anu, I also wanted to put an agility title on him, finish his Scentwork Novice (and Novice Exterior) title, and go for his Rally Excellent and Rally Master titles. For Ami I also wanted to debut her in agility, get her Rally Intermediate, get her Senior Courser, and finish her Scentwork Container Novice title. For Amalu I ideally wanted to earn her SPOT (the UKC version of the Canine Good Citizen test) and get her qualified to course in ASFA and race in LGRA if I could. For Ash I wanted to debut him in LGRA and get his Senior Courser title.
At the end of the year my dogs ended up earning the following:
Argos - Trick Dog Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced, and flyball foundations, a new home where his absolutely thriving.
Ash - Senior Courser, Trick Dog Novice(!), Junior Straight Racer, Best in Field, Virtual Home Manners, first AKC point, first LGRA point, and two-thirds of the way to his ASFA FCh, and #7 ASFA Saluki!
Anubi- UKC Championship, Junior Straight Racer, Senior Straight Racer, Gazehound Racing Champion, Agility Course Test 1, Agility Course Test 2 videos submitted, Trick Dog Performer, Virtual Home Manners, legs toward his Master Courser, one Q away from Regular and Jumpers Novice NADAC titles, points toward his AKC FC, halfway to his ASFA FCh, #1 UKC and LGRA Azawakh, #3 ASFA & AKC LC Azawakh.
Amidi- inches away from finishing her UKC CH, Junior Straight Racer, Senior Courser, Agility Course Test 1, Rally Intermediate videos submitted, Trick Dog Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Performer, Virtual Home Manners, Best in Field, points toward her AKC FC, points toward her LGRA GRC, halfway to her ASFA FCh, #1 AKC LC Azawakh, #2 ASFA & LGRA Azawakh, #3 UKC, ASFA Azawakh, finished her health testing
Amalu- UKC CH as of this evening!, Junior Straight Racer, SPOT, Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced Trick Dog, ASFA coursing certification. #2 UKC Azawakh, #3 LGRA Azawakh, #5 ASFA Azawakh, started her health testing, AKC registration!
Wow, in some departments we've blown my goals out of the water and in others we never even made it to a trial. With COVID, the number of events that could be safely held was limited in scope. This meant sighthound running sports such as lure coursing and racing where you had very limited close contact were primarily the events we attended this year.
So, not only was I able to debut my dogs in LGRA this year. Anubi actually earned his Gazehound Racing Championship, the first Azawkah to do so in over a decade, and all three of the other dogs earned points toward their GRC. We only made it to three AKC lure coursing weekends this year, substantially fewer than normal, but we got to help finish up Ami's half-sister's Field Championship for AKC, which was pretty special and both Anu and Ami picked up points toward their FC.
What was not really planned at all was the number of times that we coursed in ASFA (American Sighthound Field Association) this year. Last year there were very few ASFA trials in the region and I was looking at traveling out of region to get Amalu certified in September. However, with the dearth of dog events, there were actually substantial number of ASFA trials hosted in the region this year and my dogs made huge progress toward their ASFA FCh and Ash and Ami even earned Best in Fields!
One of the absolute highlights of the year was meeting up with a friend to try Open Field Coursing for the first time. To my knowledge, we're the first Azawakh to try Open Field Coursing in over a decade and our dogs loved it and took to it with instinct honed for thousands of years. The wide opening terrain of the West. Falling in a badger hole (which get HUGE by the way). Walking 23 miles in two days (yes, my Fitbit did break after that). Seeing my dogs get to run in that beautiful terrain and test themselves in a far more natural way than lure coursing was spine tingling. We will most definitely be back next year.
No Scentwork unfortunately. There were a few trials, but nothing we could make it too, so we'll be finishing up those titles next year instead. We took full advantage of the virtual title submissions that were available this year, which is the only way Ami was able to earn her Rally Intermediate title. And Anu and Ami even managed to get the Agility Course Test titles, which I had never been planning on because those are never options offered in my area at trials.
The biggest surprise for the year was our successes in the UKC show ring. Azawakh are a difficult breed to show. I try to be very up front about that and I was absolutely struggling with my confidence and enjoying being in the show ring. The Pure Dog Talk retreat (which I can't recommend enough) helped my confidence immensely and since then I've really enjoyed hopping in the the ring with my dogs. We didn't show AKC this year, with no huge shows to showcase the breed and no majors to be had, there didn't seem much point. However, we showed UKC three different weekends and finished Anubi's UKC Championship and as of yesterday, and thanks to a wonderful friend taking her in the ring while I was out of town, Amalu finished her CH as well! Amidi is only needs a competition win and then she'll be finished as well, hopefully this weekend! It's been a really incredible year in that regard.
I've have truly lucked out and gotten some of the most spectacular pictures taken of my dogs this year. I have to give individual thank yous to Carly Page, Tain Rose, Pavlina Sanborn Photography, Lisa Foxworthy Stine, OlyHillary Photography, Lens Moments Photography, and CreekWalker Photography. I will absolutely cherish the photos that you given me and it has been an absolute highlight of my year.
For me personally, there have been some huge changes. I left the high volume, busy training center I was at because of the management. This happened to coincide with COVID so me and the three other trainers who quit where jobless at the start of the pandemic. It was really all for the best because I went into dog training on my own. Figuring out online training was tricky but rewarding and then starting socially distanced in person private lessons was a complete delight. I've gotten to try my hand at board and trains, which has also be very rewarding, but frankly, it is a bit scary not having co-workers to bounce ideas off of. It's been a really tough, but rewarding change in my career path.
Rehoming Argos to live with my sister was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, but I see him a couple times a month and he is absolutely thriving. Sometimes a dog will do better in a home where they can be the sole focus and Argos is such an awesome little dog that he absolutely deserves that undivided attention.
It was a tough year. No doubt about it. But honestly, I had a whole lot of fun. Made some incredible memories. Met and befriended so many knowledgeable sighthound people. Honed my eye for Azawakh and did some in depth pedigree research. Managed some dog sports and titles with social distancing precautions. Tried a few new sports (my dogs would be happy to go Open Field Coursing or Racing every weekend). Tested my dog's stamina (they did fantastic doing running sports four weekends in a row). And ultimately, we just did our best to make the best of a bad situation.