Dog and handler go to nationals

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They say a dog is a man's best friend.

In Courtney Grandbouche's case, it couldn't be more true. Woman's best friend that is.

The 12-year-old Craig resident has built a special bond with her dog, Indy, that has allowed her to take a bite out of the dog agility world.

Agility competition is dog obedience at 100 miles per hour. Dogs blur through an obstacle course filled with jumps, tunnels and weave poles in attempts to get the fastest time with the fewest faults.

In her first competition, Grandbouche went against adults and beat them all.

The rookie scored four firsts and three qualifiers, flawless runs, at the competition held in Blackforest.

Thanks to outstanding performances like that this year, Grandbouche has qualified for the United States Dog Association national competition in San Diego on Sept. 6-11.

"Me and Indy are a great team," Grandbouche said. "We've been doing good so far, and I hope to continue to do well with her."

Although this is Grandbouche's first year competing, it is not her first year handling dogs.

Five years ago, Grandbouche got an Australian Shephard puppy. She took it to obedience classes and then to make obedience more fun, tried agility.

An agility club had recently formed in Craig at the time which helped her build the skills necessary for competition.

By training with adults, she has accumulated the talent to beat them.

The club was Grandbouche's training wheels. Older, and with the training wheels off, she is cruising.

"By doing the courses we set up from day one, she got a lot better," said Glenna Grandbouche, Courtney's mom. "We have a former judge in the club who has really worked with her to get her ready."

Grandbouche liked her first dog, but for agility it wasn't challenging enough. She needed dog that was faster, more responsive and ready to win some ribbons.

Indy, a Pinbroke Welsh Corgi was the perfect match.

The dog runs like the racing car that she is named aftervery fast.

When Indy runs the course outside Grandbouche's backyard, she appears to be a dog possessed.

Indy flies through tires. Scampers through the tunnels. And weaves through a set of poles in a flash. Her handler and teammate, Grandbouche, knows exactly how to harness this unbounded energy.

Grandbouche yells out a command, and her dog immediately follows. If Indy is getting too excited, which could likely result in a fault, Grandbouche extends her hand, palm flat down which both calms and directs the dog.

"She spends a long time with animals," said Glenna. "She enjoys working with them. It takes that kind of bond to make a good team."

When asked why she likes dogs so much, Grandbouche just shrugs, but it is obvious that she and Indy have a special bond.

Every time Indy does something right, Grandbouche rewards her with a treat, a rub and a "good girl." The dog is appreciative.

Grandbouche and Indy really do look like friends. Best of friends.

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