Interview with AKC 12” Champion Kory Kaye

Kaemon and Keyme photo credit: Bonnie Opal
Kaemon and Keyme
photo credit: Bonnie Opal
Kory Kaye won the 12” division at this year’s AKC National Agility Championship with her sheltie, Kaemon. Kory also took third in the same finals with Kaemon’s mother, Keyme.

Tamar Fuhrer (TF): When and how did you get involved in agility?
Kory Kaye (KK): My first dog started agility around 1993. Shamus was quite shy and I was told that agility built confidence. I wasn’t able to go to the class and my mother really liked this dog, so I sent my mother to train him. Later, our club was about to have a trial—the second AKC agility trial in the nation, as I recall, just a few weeks after the inaugural AKC trial in Houston in 1994. While preparing and painting the equipment for our upcoming trial, my other dog Shawn basically taught himself the equipment during those two work nights. The club had a ‘run and done’ about two weeks prior to the trial, so I entered the match as a club supporting entry. The dog with no training got an 82! Didn’t qualify but darn close, so I tossed in a club supporting entry for the trial right at the match. I was able to get two agility classes in before the trial and then ran my first agility trial. So I ran my obedience dog that had a total of two agility classes at our club’s agility trial and I actually qualified both days with a second and third place! Remember, back in those days, there were no weave poles in novice. There weren’t many trials back then, so it was four months before I trialed again but we finished our Novice Standard title (there was no jumpers with weaves back in those days). In 1996, AKC was going to hold a national agility trial in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and we were all chasing legs to see if we could go. When I found out that Shawn and I had the needed qualifications, I bought new tires for my little sedan and headed to Guthrie. It was a really fun trial. Back in those days, we had an opening ceremony like in the Olympics. The states paraded in like Olympic teams. Minnesota arrived with our state flag and a whole team of people marching with snow shovels. We had a lot of fun and no one took themselves too seriously back in those days. I actually have video from that trial—let’s just say agility has come a long way since then!

TF: Kaemon entered the finals as the second seed while Keyme was seeded fifth. How did having two dogs in the same finals affect your plan?
KK: This is only the second time in my life going to AKC finals with any dog, so it is really an honor! I have never been to finals with two dogs before. No real change in preparation—just walk your course and run your course. Since there would not be much time between, I had to do some of Kaemon’s warm up before Keyme ran. On this particular course, I chose the same handling options with both. Sometimes I will run different plans but not this time.

TF: Finals are reverse-seeded, but Keyme was moved up in the run order to give you more time between runs. Who made this decision to move him up in the run order? Did you find this to be advantageous or disadvantageous?
KK: Gail Storm was the AKC representative at ringside. I asked her if they wanted to wait for me to get Kaemon or if they wanted to split my dogs further apart. She preferred that they be split, so we moved Keyme forward in the run order. I believe the split gave me about ten dogs between Keyme and Kaemon. I don’t think it made a difference where I was in the run order. When you are running multiple dogs in a class, you are always warming up or cooling down a dog so you never really get to see anyone else run anyway. There wasn’t much time to prepare or make any changes between runs. Thankfully, Gail did allow me enough space that I could adequately warm Kaemon up before his run.

TF: Your clean run with Keyme put you in the hot seat, but right before your run with Kaemon, Patti and Radiance beat Keyme’s time by about a second. Stepping to the line with Kaemon, were you aware that you no longer had the time to beat?
KK: Yes, but at that point I knew at least one of my dogs would make the top four, so I was really proud of that. I really didn’t have any thoughts that I would actually win this class, but placing sounded really good at that point! I don’t think I really had enough time to make any major changes to the plan while Kaemon was warming up. I was just hoping to have a better connection with Kaemon in the #18 jump following the teeter. That was a near disaster with Keyme. Honestly, I normally have an excellent single jump serp and push through threadle, not that anyone would have known that based on my performances of that skill in ISC and finals during the weekend.

TF: Dino was the only dog to run after Kaemon and immediately dropped the #4 bar. With that fault, it was clear to the spectators that you had won NAC with Kaemon. At what point did you realize that Kaemon won?
KK: When Gail Storm came over and told me I had won, because I hadn’t see Dino take the bar down, I was pretty much in disbelief. Remember, I have been coming to this competition since 1996 and this was only my second finals. I was pretty excited just to have the opportunity to sweat in the shirt. I never dreamed of a win. When Gail asked if I wanted a victory lap, I said “heck, yes!”

TF: What’s next for you, Kaemon and Keyme?
KK: These guys have already done more than I ever dreamed possible and let me tell you, no one was more surprised than I about the results this year. I will go to France with Kaemon [for the European Open] and enjoy the moment.

TF: When you aren’t doing agility, what are you doing?
KK: Probably wasting way too much time on the computer or Facebook. I love dinner with friends. And, of course, I still work.

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.