Jean Lavalley and Sheltie Spec Rise to Top of 8” Preferred Championship

Cheer
Cheer
No stranger to running in the finals, Jean Lavalley and 10-year-old sheltie Spec won the 8” Preferred National Agility Championship for the American Kennel Club last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Last year, Jean also made the finals at AKC nationals with two shelties in the 16” regular class, placing second with Cheer and fourth with Sprint. In 2006, she ran at the Agility World Championship with her sheltie Taz. She has competed in finals for USDAA and UKI national events, and will be representing team USA at the World Agility Open Championships next month with both Cheer and Sprint.

Spec came along for the ride from Nashville, Tennessee with the other shelties since Jean was making the trip to Tulsa by car. “She rarely has four runs without bars, so the likelihood of her winning seemed small. As a matter of fact, she had two bars in the ISC run,” says Lavalley. Spec moved from 12” regular to 8” preferred after she injured her back jumping in January 2015. The lower height “was so much more fun for her, and her confidence returned. I just couldn’t make myself move her back to 12 inches.”

DogAgilityNOW’s preview of the 8” preferred division described the class as “chock full of seasoned veterans” and the experienced teams did not disappoint. Spec and Jean, along with Trip (Brittany Schaezler), Kaboo (Jennifer Crank), and Tag (Jeri Prekop) all had great runs during the weekend. After Saturday’s two rounds, these four teams separated themselves from the rest of the pack, capturing all of the placements. Spec was at the top, winning both jumpers and standard. Spec placed fifth in Sunday’s hybrid, securing her spot in the finals as the second seed behind Kaboo and Karen Marquardt’s Zapper. Trip also made the finals, and a fault in Hybrid put Tag into the challengers round, where she ultimately won her way into the all-sheltie finals.

In the reverse-seeded finals, Spec ran after the first three dogs, with only Kaboo following her. While the first dog to run, Zapper, faulted, both Tag and Trip posted clean runs. As Spec went to the line, the time to beat—set by Tag—was 40.096. With a 39.743, Spec’s clean run narrowly edged out Tag. Kaboo followed and ultimately incurred a fault, and Spec was crowned the 8” PNAC.

Reflecting on her dogs’ performances in Tulsa, Lavalley notes that a dropped bar from Sprint and a handling error with Cheer kept her two 16” dogs out of finals. “After last year those both making finals and [placing], it was a bit disappointing to not get either of them into finals,” Jean says. “Spec decided to save the Lavalley day with her win.” Look for Spec to defend her title in 2017.

Tamar Fuhrer

Tamar Fuhrer

Tamar began training in agility in 2012 with her all-American, Murray who went on to earn his MACH and PDCH. Today, she runs Murray in the 8" class and a young lowchen named Riff in the 12" class.