West Highland White Terrier Club of America

WHWTCA Spotlight on Performance - Summer 2004

Sherron Corner's Brianna, Watson & Clarence

They say, "Don't expect your next dog to be like your last." What a very true statement and one you need to be well aware of. I have had three performance Westies and each one has been different in their very own unique way.

I have been owned and loved by Westies for almost 17 years. In my teens, I spent hours reading and researching about dogs, always coming back to the Westie as the ideal breed for me.

IF IT ISN'T A WESTIE &nbsp&nbsp&nbspIT'S ONLY A DOG ...

Brianna Scruffy D & E CGC UD

In 1987, I had been eyeing a female Westie for weeks at the neighborhood pet store. Every time I visited the store, I expected to see her sold. I was always pleasantly surprised to see her still sitting in her little glass compartment. At 6 months of age, they slashed the price and I knew I had to rescue her. She would soon be known as Brianna. As a child, my family had several dogs. My parents were firm believers that a dog should be obedience trained. It was my job to take our last dog, a poodle, to an obedience class, which I thoroughly enjoyed going to. When I purchased Brianna, she was going to have the same type of training. Off we went to an obedience class where we eventually graduated, winning 1st place. The trainer was very impressed with Brianna and suggested competing in obedience. Having no idea what she was talking about, the trainer took me under her wing showing me what obedience was all about. During the next several months, she prepared me for obedience competitions. At our first competition we did terrible! The judge was very nice and told me that I had a good working dog, for a terrier. She suggested watching a couple of trials to see what it was all about, getting more familiar with it. We took that suggestion, and a month later, we were back in the ring with more confidence, looking more like a team.

Brianna doing obedience

Brianna went on to be one of the ambassadors for Westies in obedience. She earned her CD and CDX as well as her UD with multiple High in Trials. She was the first Westie on the West Coast to earn a UD, also winning High in Trial that same day. She thoroughly enjoyed doing obedience and you could see it in her little bouncy gait. She was not always the most accurate but had a great time and was a crowd pleaser. That's all that counted! In her prime, she rarely earned a score below 192 and sometimes even placed in the top 4 placements. She was also one of the first Westies to compete with a group of Westies in the team obedience competitions. This consist of 4 dogs, in our case 4 Westies, doing the Novice routine all at the same time. If you have not seen this, you need to see it sometime. It's a blast! In addition, Brianna competed in one Obedience Nationals where she placed in the top 50% of her class. When it came to Earthdog, Brianna felt she was way to smart. Why crawl down a dark, dirty tunnel when all you had to do was navigate on top? It was so simple, the rats could be found next to the person with the clipboard. We started to dabble in a brand new dog sport called Agility. It was just in the trial stages and was not an official AKC sport yet. We found it to be fun and exciting. Brianna enjoyed Agility and was going to be good at it but we never had an opportunity to pursue it. Unfortunately, at the age of 9 and while earning a few legs towards her obedience UDX title, she developed a pinched nerve. After several months of acupuncture and massages, she finally recovered, no longer in pain. I felt it was more important for her to stay healthy so I choose not to pursue the UDX title. She retired from obedience only to come out every now and then for the Veterans class, which she enjoyed doing and did quite well at. CLAIM TO FAME: Pictures were taken of Brianna and used as an ad in Vogue Magazine. As I am writing this, Brianna is now 17 years old. Although arthritis has slowed her down, her eyesight is not as good and her hearing has become very selective, she is still loving life and living it to the fullest. She helped open up the world of obedience for many Westie owners, showing that it can be done and you can have fun while doing it.

Ch. Tiptop's Elementary My Dear CGC CD NA JE

My next performance dog was Watson. With the support of his breeder, Marjorie Conway, Watson earned his championship in about six shows. Next to come was the fun stuff. Watson earned his CD very quickly, in three trials. In 1995, Watson qualified for the Obedience Nationals in the Novice class. This was when they were still having competitions in all three obedience classes. He did quite well, coming in 9th place overall for the Novice class. That same year, Watson won the WHWTCA Annual Obedience Award for Novice legs earned.

Watson doing earthdog

While preparing for his CDX, I decided to take him to an Earthdog Trial. I quickly discovered that Earthdog was going to be his specialty. He lived for rats. At one of the trials, he almost knocked himself out, hitting his head on the entrance of the tunnel when he tried to get down to the rats. He could not get down there fast enough. Three months later, he had his JE title. The SE title was going to be a breeze. We started competing in Agility, my first Westie to officially compete in it. Watson quickly earned his NA title. The NAJ title was not going to be as easy since the weave poles were going to be a challenge. At this time, the weave poles were not used in the Novice Standard runs. One day, I felt a lump inside Watson's neck. One biopsy and several surgeries later, it was diagnosed as cancerous. Three months later at the age of four years, Watson made his trip over the Rainbow Bridge.

Ch. Tiptop's Itsa Wonderful Life CGC CDX MX MXJ AXP AJP

Devastated, it took me 6 months to decide I was ready for another Westie. In my looking around, I asked Watson's breeder if she happened to have a puppy. She did not have a puppy but did have an 18-month-old male. He had a few points towards his championship but I would have to earn the rest. Several weeks later, Clarence came home to stay. The moment he stepped out of his crate, there was an instant bond. A type of bond that is hard to explain. Something a person can't understand unless they have experienced it themselves. I call Clarence my little bud. People in my Agility class call him the little gentleman and that he is! Clarence came with some issues: sound sensitivity and a lack of confidence. I spent a year working on these issues. I decided an Obedience class as well as a few Agility classes would be good for him. He took an instant liking to Agility and I later discovered that agility was going to be his sport. It was just going to be a matter of convincing his instructors. He had no concept what the word run meant. Running for him was that lovely little gait you used in the breed ring. I can remember seeing my Agility Instructors, shaking their heads and stating, "This dog will never do agility!" We were determined to prove them wrong! I spent months playing chase games, teaching him how to run. One night in class, a light bulb came on and he has never looked back since. In 1998 and after months of trying to learn how to properly groom and show a Westie, we ventured into the breed ring. Eventually, Clarence earned his championship, owner-handled the entire way. I continued to show Clarence in breed where he continued to win multiple Best of Breed, ranking in the top 20 for the first half of 2000 in Westies until I stopped showing him to pursue other adventures.

Clarence doing agility

In December 1999, we started to compete in AKC Agility. Clarence moved up very quickly and by the end of 2000, he was competing at the excellent level. In 2001, he earned his MX and MXJ titles, making him the second Westie to earn both titles. He also won an Award of Merit from AKC for high scoring Westie in Agility. In 2002, he qualified for the Agility Nationals, one of 2 Westies that qualified, but we opted not to attend. Once again Clarence earned an Award of Merit with AKC in Agility. He again qualified for the Agility Nationals in 2003, the only Westie to do so. Being held only 45 minutes away, I could not refuse to go. After 3 days of competitions and only 1 knocked bar, Clarence ended up in the top 50% of all the dogs that competed at his jump height. For the 3rd time, Clarence won the prestigious Award of Merit from AKC for high scoring Westie in Agility.

Clarence at the AKC Agility Nationals
Photo by Tien Tran

In June 2002, we stepped into the obedience ring at Great Western, Long Beach, CA, at the all Terrier Trial. Clarence earned his first novice leg with a score of 198 and High in Trial. The following day, his second leg with a score of 197 and again High in Trial. Several months later, he earned his third leg and title with a score of 196. This gave us the prestigious Well Judy Award, an award you can only earn if all three legs towards your title are scores of 195 or better, with no disqualifications in between legs. This title also gave Clarence a Versatile Dog award thru the WHWTCA Club. That same year, he also won top Westie in Novice Obedience, top Westie in Obedience, overall scores earned, and top Westie in Agility with the WHWTCA Club in 2002. In 2003, Clarence completed his Open (CDX) title with very nice scores. He won top Westie with most points earned towards an Open title, according to the First and Foremost rating system, and was published in Front and Finish, the obedience magazine. Clarence just recently competed in the Annual WIOC Competitions and made it to the finals. This is a West Coast only competition where all the obedience clubs of Southern California have their top 2 dogs in each of the obedience classes (novice, open and utility) compete against each other. This year there were a total of 19 clubs competing in Southern California. Since we made the finals, we will be venturing up to Washington State. There we will be competing against the top dogs of Northern California, Washington and several other states. We are now preparing to compete in Rally Obedience when it becomes an offical sport in 2005. We have dabbled in Earthdog for the last couple years and are getting closer to achieving a title. Agility continues to be our top priority as we try for all the preferred titles. We will continue to compete in obedience, hopefully earning an UD title in 2005.

Accomplishments

Championship Title - 08/15/99
Agility NA Title - 02/05/00
Agility NAJ Title - 05/27/00
Agility OA Title - 10/14/00
Agility OAJ Title - 10/01/00
Agility AX Title - 12/31/00
Agility AXJ Title - 03/03/01
Agility MX Title - 07/07/01
Agility MXJ Title - 11/25/01
Second Westie to earn both the MX and MXJ titles
Earned the Well Judy Award
#1 Westie in AKC Agility for 2002 (AKC Award of Merit) Obedience CDX Title - 10/26/03
Agility NAP Title - 07/06/03
Agility NJP Title - 07/06/03
#1 Westie in AKC Agility for 2003 (AKC Award of Merit)
#1 Westie-First & Foremost points system for Novice Obedience
Agility OJP Title - 05/31/04
2004 WIOC Obedience finalist

CLAIM TO FAME: Clarence has been in the Browntrout Calendars for the past 3 years. He can be seen in several of the 2005 calendars, soon to be released. Agility pictures of Clarence have been used in several magazine publications. He is scheduled for more photo shoots to be used for future calendars and magazine publications.

Having Westies in performance has enriched my life immensely. It has given me many rewards as well as many friendships and acquaintances. I have learned as much from them as they have from me. I get such a thrill when I step out of the ring, whatever/wherever it may be, and have people chase me down, wanting to know how I can get my Westies to do what they do.

Yes, a Westie is the breed for me and will forever be.

Recipe for a performance Westie

1 lb of praise
2 lbs of treats 1 cup of persistence
2 cups of patience
2 tbsp of humble
Add a dash of perseverance

Briskly stir all ingredients and add a little fun to taste. Gently sprinkle with hugs and kisses.