OkcPets Magazine January 2024

16 OKC Pets • January / February 2024 Best BOY Boxer Wins Awards for Agility Skills by David Gallant O n a crisp morning in Springfield, Ohio, Heather Cline and her dynamic partner in agility, 10-and- a-half-year-old Boxer extraordinaire Serge Ibarka, stepped onto the scene of the 2023 North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) International Agility Cham- pionships. This elite event, also known as CHAMPS, gathered the finest competitors in the country, all vying for glory. As they checked in, the air buzzed with anticipation. Serge, whom Cline adoringly calls Sergie, tugged Cline eagerly toward the competition area. Something about him stood out that day — his excitement levels were off the charts, and his confident stride and trademark ear-to-ear smile set the stage. The gates closed behind them, enclosing an arena of dirt and dreams. While waiting for their turn, they surveyed the challenging course of jumps, tunnels, A-frames, and hoops that awaited them. This competition marked Cline and Serge’s fourth journey to this prestigious competition level. They hoped to secure a championship placement, a testament to their unwavering dedication. Inside the arena, Cline crouched beside Serge, entering a serene trance that blocked out the ambient noise. In that muted mo- ment, she whispered to Serge how proud she was of him and gave her “best boy” a tender hug. Serge responded with a quick lick on Cline’s cheek, a silent assurance that he had everything under control. As they geared up for their performance, Cline focused on her mental strategy, while Serge, with an eager fidget, waited for the thrill of the game. And then they were off. At the judge’s command, Cline un- leashed Serge, who transformed into a lightning bolt, conquering the first set of hoops. Cline raced to the center of the are- na, precisely signaling Serge as he maneu- vered through the course. It was a high- stakes race against time and perfection, and any misstep could cost them dearly. Cline choreographed the run with shouted commands: “Over!” “Tight!” “Right!” “Left!” “Tunnel!” A blur of athleticism, Serge completed the course in minutes, crossing the finish line flawlessly. Cline erupted in excitement, her cheers echoing through the arena. As a seasoned NADAC judge, she recognized the perfec- tion of Serge’s run. The spectators, capti- vated by the duo’s performance, exploded in cheers and applause, having witnessed Serge’s spectacular feat. This electrifying scenario repeated throughout the weekend. Serge accu- mulated more points and medals with each round, inching closer to the coveted national championship ranking. The dynamic duo left an indelible mark, a testament to the thrilling synergy between Cline and her four-legged agility maestro, Serge Ibarka. Developing Canine Camaraderie If you ask Cline about Serge, her voice overflows with emotion as she reminisces about the pup who miraculously waltzed into her life, transforming it into a riveting tale of love and devotion. “I could have never imagined the happi- ness he gave me when I brought him home as a tiny six-week-old puppy,” she says. Serge’s journey began with a puppy litter born into Red Dirt Boxer Rescue in the heart of Oklahoma City. That’s where fate intervened, and Cline agreed to foster him. Little did she know that this decision would unravel a captivating narrative of canine camaraderie and unexpected bonds. Cline shared her home with Chloe Ann, a spirited female Boxer. Initially conceived as a temporary arrangement until the next adoption event, Serge’s arrival sparked an unexpected dynamic between the two dogs. Jeff Cline, Heather Cline’s husband, holds Serge on the puppy’s first day at home. Photo by Heather Cline. Serge proudly shows off his NADAC championship ribbons. Photo by Heather Cline.