Thursday, January 22, 2015

How It All Started

Thirty years ago this month, a 4 month old Australian Terrier puppy came home from Sheila Dunn's, her breeder, who I had known for 10 years. That little puppy grew up to be U-CD Hott Pursuitt on the Farm Am/Can UD, AKA Casey, my first obedience dog, as well as my first dog as an adult. Sheila knew Gail Dapogny, the instructor of the Puppy Kindergarten class at the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club, so was able to help me get Casey enrolled in Gail's class within days of Casey joining our family - in fact, we'd had her such a short time, we hadn't decided on her name yet. I loved training Casey, and diligently practiced our lessons multiple times a day.

Above all else, Casey taught me perseverence, because it took a lot of it to reach the goals I set for us. When I first started training her, I wanted to earn a Utility Dog (UD) title on her, having NO true idea what that would really entail. When we started to show in Novice for her Companion Dog (CD) title in the fall of 1986, I thought we'd just stop with that. But then I started training her in Open, and she seemed to kind of like it, so we kept going, and soon she earned her CDX (Companion Dog eXcellent). In fact, she qualified all seven times we showed in Open A, a grand accomplishment, as anyone who has shown in Open A knows is a class with lots of NQs. A 196 1st place in the class proved to be her shining moment in Open. Utility proved far more difficult, though she qualified her very first time in the ring. I look back at that now and just shake my head. It really was dumb luck that we passed that day. In her 2nd trial, she learned that she could down only part way on my down signal and nothing horrible resulted, and that became a huge problem for us. She earned her 2nd leg about six months after the first, when I was about 7 months pregnant with my first son. A full year later, in 1990, she finally passed for the 3rd time (not for lack of trying in between, believe me!), one day before her housemate Tramp earned her UD. That weekend of trials still ranks as one of my all-time best - we finished 2 UDs, Tramp earned her first High Combined, and my 2nd Australian Terrier Rio earned a 3-point major in the breed ring.

We also showed in Canada often enough to earn her CKC UD. The first time we showed in Novice B, Casey won a 56 dog Novice B class at the huge London, Ontario fall trials, earning a 199.5 and High in Trial. Casey had actually tied with my Flat-Coat Tramp, and my friend and training partner, Deb Schneider, took Tramp in for the sudden-death runoff against Casey and me. Needless to say, it took one forward-halt for Tramp to eliminate herself.

My husband Fritz and I wrote lyrics for a song about Casey and the difficulties of Utility, sung to the tune of the Canadian National Anthem:

Oh, Puppadoo*

Oh, Puppadoo, far from your native land,
Why did you sit, when I signaled a stand?
Oh, Puppadoo, what can we do to speed up your retrieve?
Oh, Puppadoo, you brought me 2 when I scented nu(hum)ber(er) 3.
Oh, Puppadoo, what can we do,
I hate the long stand just as much you,
Oh, Puppadoo, when will we ever Q?

*One of Casey's nicknames

As I sit here with dogs #9 (Sonic) and #10 (puppy Jag) nearby, I salute you, little Casey, for the wonderful path you helped me start along. You were a good little girl and it's been a great 30 years. Here's to 30 more years of dogs, dogs sports, and best of all, time spent with dog friends.


I need orange said...

Love Casey's song..... :-)

She and Tramp stayed with us two days after we got Sophie. Tramp was pretty patient with the pesty puppy, but Molly and Casey were glad they could jump on the couch and Sophie couldn't. :-)

Bob took a pic of the four of them, all nicely sitting. The three grownup dogs all were quite clear what "Sit. Stay!" meant, and the puppy did what the big dogs were doing.

The Canadian anthem tune seems to work well for dog songs.

Our daughter, in elementary school, thought the end was

O can a dog, glorious and free,
O can a doggy stand on guard for me?
O can a doggy stand on guard for me?


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