by Jason Loper
I think it is important to learn of people’s “First Times” at an agility trial or where they start, a match! With that said I am going to tell you about my “First Time” with my boy Silver Hollow’s Cosmic “Quazar”!
Windy, also knows as Silver Hollow’s M&M’s Windy was my first agility Samoyed. It was in 1988 when a friend named Jill Crawford introduced me to the sport of dog agility. Little did I know I would be hooked for life! Windy and I tried our hand in USDAA agility first with the guidance of Jill. We just gave her the money and she entered the classes for us (unknown to us she entered us in every class). As the year continued I started to build my own equipment at home and confiscate old tires for a tire jump, fence stakes for weave polls and soon enough I had almost a full course I could set up. I even had a dogwalk of sorts that went between two huge dirt hills.
One Saturday on a rain stormy Fourth of July weekend in 1992, I entered my parents dog Windy in her first NADAC agility match, dragging her kids Kandi and Quazar along for the socialization with other dogs. Although this was Windy’s debut in NADAC agility my mom suggested I try Quazar, Windy’s Son. I had “played” agility with Quazar since he was about 10 weeks old. Not at the age of 2 he loved agility and at times it seems like we were playmates. I didn’t see why he couldn’t have a go at the Match too! The enjoyment that comes from working with Quazar, at times, takes my breath away. I thought I could settle for playing until that Saturday.
As I watched other dog and handler teams run their course, Quazar, Windy and I made ourselves quite at home (the best we could in the pouring down rain sneaking in and out of the car for shelter). After all, I had been handling Windy for over a year, and Quazar always came along for the socialization! So it was time for us to head for the practice area. I stretched him out, sat him in front of a jump, and set the bar to 24 inches. Without a thought I took off his collar and leash, sent him over the jump and into the practice weaves. We practiced calmly for a few moments longer, me and my boy were just having a good time working together. Out of the corner of my eye I could see someone was waiting to practice, so I quickly scurried to get Quazar’s collar back on and move out of the woman’s way. “That woman’s actually competing I thought!, and here I am playing with my pup and getting in her way”. That’s when it hit me WE WEREN’T just playing, we were OFFICIAL! Gulp!
It was down hill from there. My knees grew weak, my stomach started to churn and in my mind the old “What If…” game. I was numb all over. I started to pace. My breathing became short. The gate steward called dog after dog, and soon it would be our turn. Windy had gone long before her son, but this was different and there was no backing out now. We headed for the ring gate. “The next dog is Quazar, and he is making his debut,” the gate steward seemed to scream for the entire world to hear. I was petrified as I asked Quazar to sit at the start line. Thankfully, with nerves of steel, he gladly obliged and looked up at me as if to say, “You mean I get a chance to play?”
With ice cold hands I turned and walked out to begin our course. I took a deep breath, looked back at Q-man (he was still on a sit-stay) and signaled the first jump! With all the enthusiasm and sincerity that makes him so dear to me, my boy and I began to dance. The whole world stood still as we ran, smooth as silk, even more connected than before. I was so overwhelmed as he took the last 2 jumps out ahead of me, I wasn’t sure I’d make it across the finish line. The roar of the crowd brought me back down to earth. Our debut was over. We had done it. No ribbons…no legs…just a Show and Go..A moment in the spotlight that will shine in my heart for a very long time! Quazar and I standing in the pouring rain, soaking wet had just “played”.
Quazar is now 9 years old and is unofficially retired! He is my buddy and the reason behind my kennel name Cosmic Samoyeds. He, to this day, still loves to do agility and sometimes reminds me of that energizer bunny, he keeps going and going and going! I know the trials get harder and harder but remember it is important in this day and age of agility to just play and go in with a positive attitude. It makes you a better partner and your Sammy a better companion.
IF YOU GO OUT AND OVER THE NEXT JUMP, THROUGH THE TUNNEL WE TOO SHALL MEET ON THE DOGWALK! BUT FOR NOW RUN FAST AND JUMP HIGH FOR MANY SUCCESSFUL LEGS.
Jason Loper is the Owner/Handler/Trainer of Cosmic Samoyeds & Agility Training in Yelm, WA. He lives on 10 acres with his parents Steve and Cheryl Loper. All together they have 11 Samoyeds, 2 of which are Jason’s (Quazar & Hogan). The rest of the Sams Jason trains are from his parents kennel Silver Hollow Samoyeds. All 11 are trained in agility and Jason is currently competing with Beamer in the Open Levels of NADAC and AKC Agility Organizations. Jason marks this as his 12th year competing wand participating in Agility. He has had many firsts while in agility. When not doing agility Jason is in college working toward a degree in Sign Language Interpreting for the deaf. His future goals in agility would be to become a NADAC or USDAA approved judge for Junior Handling. Also to get the last acquired AX legs on his boy Quazar so he can go for his regular Agility License in AKC agility.