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'Devil Puppy' wins gold
By Guy Clifton
Great Outdoor Games staff

RENO, Nev. — She might have started out life as a "devil puppy," but Taz, a 7-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, is now a double-gold medalist at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games.

Taz
Taz, the 'Devil Puppy,' tore up the Super Weave and won her second Games gold.
Taz and her handler, Jean LaValley of Murfreesboro, Tenn., captured the small-dog gold medal in the Super Weave Friday at Reno's Rancho San Rafael Park. The pair had previously won gold in the small dog Agility at the 2001 Games.

"She's a really good dog," LaValley said. "She just keeps giving me more."

The two will compete Saturday in the Agility competition to try to add a third gold medal to their Great Outdoor Games collection.

On Friday, Taz faced Shimmer and her handler Barbara Davis in the Super Weave finals, taking the lead right from the start and running a near flawless trip through the course. It was the fourth consecutive year of winning the silver for Davis, of Newman Lake, Wash.

"It just wasn't my time," Davis said. "Finishing second here is no disgrace. There are a lot of very talented dogs here."

It was, indeed, time for Taz, who earned her name as a pup.

"She was a devil puppy," LaValley said with a laugh. "She was the wildest puppy I ever had. It took about six months to settle down, but ever since then she's been great."

LaValley said a solid entry into the first weave was key to Taz's victory over Shimmer.

"I tried to get as good a start as I could with the buzzers and yet not rush. I had to go real slow through the first four obstacles. But then, once she got through the first weave, I knew from then on the course was pretty simple."

Sizzle, handled by Karen Holik of West Chicago, Ill., took the bronze, defeating Kimie and her handler, Christine Frank of Chesterfield, Mich., in the consolation finals.

Final Results — Small Dog Superweave

1. Taz/Jean LaValley Murfreesboro, Tenn.
2. Shimmer/Barbara Davis Newman Lake, Wash.
3. Sizzle/Karen Holik West Chicago, Ill.
4. Kimie/Christine Frank Chesterfield, Mich.
5. DeCaff/Susan Garrett Alberton, Ontario, Canada
6. Turbo/Barbara Lombard Simi Valley, Calif.
7. Hamlet/Renee King Richmond, Texas
8. Puff/Pam Richcreek Sparks, Nev.