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Dog, owner compete in national contest


Janice Elvidge and her Sheltie, Crystal, pose for a photo after winning a Puget Sound Preferred Agility Championship in April in flanked by judges with ribbons.

Self confidence, even in dogs, has a lot to do with how well they perform.

Take the case of "Crystal," an 11-year-old Sheltie, owned by Janice Elvidge of Elmer City.

Elvidge had given up on Crystal after the registered Sheltie injured nerves in her shoulder during a training exercise.

That had made Crystal afraid of certain obstacles in her agility training routine, Elvidge explained.

Then something happened, the dog started to shake loose its mental block and it wasn't long until Elvidge had it back performing in shows in the Northwest area.

This developed into a run for the ribbon in the AKC National Agility Championship in Reno, Nevada in March.

Elvidge notes that it takes years to prepare a dog for top competition, and she was pleased that Crystal placed eighth in the sweepstakes run and in the money, and ninth in the regular runs in the Reno competition.

"I didn't realize we were as competitive as we were," Elvidge said. It clearly shows how Crystal shook off her mental block and got back into competition.

Crystal earned the right to compete in the national agility show by amassing 500 points and 20 qualifying runs.

A special level of competition is established for dogs that have had some things happen to them. For one thing, the jumps in competition are scaled down so they are 4 inches lower than for regular competition, moving down from 12 inches high to 8 inches.

After Crystal had her shoulder injury, "she had sort of a mental block," Elvidge said. Overcoming that wasn't easy. In fact, Elvidge hired a trainer from Texas, whom she met at a Seattle dog seminar.

Crystal clears an agility course jump in national trials. - Matt Kochel photo

"She would help Crystal and I by phone," Elvidge said. "It went well, enough so that Crystal got back into competition."

Elvidge got her first Sheltie in 1976, and has six dogs. One of them named "Hope" and maybe named for future competition.

The Sheltie originated in Scotland and was accepted as a breed in 1909. It is primarily a herd dog, highly intelligent, and usually one of three colors - sable, tri-color and blue merle.

Elvidge has a small training course set up in her back yard, where her Shelties can run certain obstacles.

Elvidge is an education specialist for the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, and several times a year puts on programs on the stars in the night time sky.

"We are both tired," Elvidge said. Now it's time for a break for both trainer and dog, until it's showtime again."

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