The Daily Whippet

April 18, 2015

National Kicks off with AKC Lure Coursing, Simon Best of Breed from Open

by Erin Rose McNeill

Photo by Marc Stumbo, Axis Imaging

The field at the Racine Kennel Club was a deep, welcoming green, a sure sign of spring. The day dawned clear, but a high wind started early and woke us up to begin our early day at the AKC Lure Coursing Event preceding the AWC National. For such a large trial, everyone pulled together well and the day ran smoothly and efficiently.

The Best of Breed winner for the day was out of the Open class. Simon, Burch’s I Aim to Misbehave SC, took the top spot. Simon is a laid back red brindle who his owner, Michael Burch, described as something of a dark horse to win. Susan Fife, who also owns Simon in her heart if not on paper, described him as the laid back companion to their other whippet, Wiley, also competing today in the Open classes. Fife said that Simon often holds back on the field and defers to the other dogs, particularly when jockeying for position in a corner. Instead of holding his ground when a competitor edges closer, Simon tends to check his speed and yield instead. Last weekend, Fife and Burch added a few singles runs to Simon’s training regimen to prepare for the National. They hoped the singles runs would build Simon’s confidence and drive for the bunny. It is clear that they both know Simon well and knew exactly what to do to bring out his best. The singles runs paid off today as Simon stayed at the head of the pack.

Simon’s name is likely inspired by the science fiction television series Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, and the movie Serenity that takes place in the same universe. Simon the whippet does not just “aim to misbehave,” which is the motto of the lead character, a spaceship captain, but shares the qualities of the character that inspired Simon’s call name. Simon’s namesake character is the devoted brother to his gifted but troubled sister. Fife described Simon the whippet as the steady, quiet companion to their gifted but higher energy whippet Wiley. Simon seems to be a perfect parallel for Simon the character’s role on the television show.

Burch and Fife agreed that Simon is quiet and sweet around the house. Of course, you can’t name a dog “I Aim to Misbehave” and not expect a little mischief. Simon’s favorite trick is to sneak into Wiley’s crate and steal something to chew up, including Wiley’s dog bed on one memorable occasion. (Let’s hope it is only one occasion, anyway!) Simon’s laid back style let him cruise to the win today. Despite sneaky Simon occasionally flying under the radar to smuggle a few goodies away from Wiley, it is wonderful to see two people who know and connect with their dog so well. It can be hard to figure out how to bring out the best in our whippets, but Fife and Burch are clearly in tune with Simon and took the right steps to get him on course.

It is enough to remind anyone of the final lyrics to the Firefly theme song: “There’s no place I can be/Since I found Serenity./And you can’t take the sky from me.” A great start to the National for serene Simon!