WHWTCA Spotlight on Performance - Spring 2002
It has always been a joy for me to be able to work with an animal and see it respond to the training. It seems as though there is a respect exchanged whenever an understanding has been reached between me and my dog or horse.
My first dog was a black and white Cocker-whatever mix named Cindy. I think I was about 7 years old at the time. She learned to sit up with a cookie on her nose and not eat it until I told her she could. My second dog was Holly, a male Collie, given to my grandmother by her employer when he sold his business and moved. That dog was my introduction to dog shows. At the ripe old age of 10, I began entering and showing this 10-year-old prick eared Collie dog. Some judges were patient while others just excused me from the ring. Not to be deterred, I went shopping for a younger dog and found a "slick" little old lady who just happened to have a litter. I then proceeded to enter into a contract to buy one. She picked out a male for me and said I could buy it for $50.00. My mother was not too keen on the idea of my getting a dog. However, she figured, with my being only 13, I wouldn't last all Summer baby-sitting four kids for the "large" sum of $50.00 just to buy a dog. But, needless to say, I wanted that dog. Kimba was not a good Collie, but he was very trainable and, after visiting the circus when it came to town, I decided to teach him the same tricks the dogs did in the circus. He could jump over my back, jump through a circle made with my arms, limp, play dead -- you know, the typical tricks.
So, when my mother took over the care of a champion Kerry Blue Terrier that was obedience trained, I was given the opportunity to work at giving her commands. The fact that she responded to my commands gave me a feeling of accomplishment even though I had not trained her. It was a great joy to work with her. Somewhere along the way there came a Saint Bernard, which had been obedience trained. She responded to obedience commands with so much enthusiasm that I thought training a dog for obedience must be really easy. It was easy until my introduction into formal training at a training school. This was not a good experience for me. When a friend asked me to go to training classes with her and her Dobe, I took Cooly, a Smooth Collie. The old method of choke chain and discipline with an occasional, "good dog" and a pat on the head thrown in, did not go over well with this dog, and he was not at ease during training, which was due in part because I tried to do what the trainer was telling me to do rather than doing what would work well for that particular dog. So that ended that.
My real enjoyment came from creating a masterpiece for the conformation ring. Breeding and showing Collies was where it was. The excitement and satisfaction of creating a masterpiece for the show ring along with presenting it to the best of its abilities, and my own, gives a great feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment. There is a special feeling of electricity, oneness with the dog, when performing in the conformation ring. There has to be an energy transferred between dog and handler that words cannot bring describe. It is like one of those electric balls you see in the science fairs and movies where the electricity follows your hands. That is what I feel like when I am in the conformation ring and all I have to do is get the judge hooked into that electricity. What an intense moment. The judge has to be convinced this is the best dog; it is my job to do the convincing. What a high!
My introduction to the West Highland White Terrier didn't come until much later when a friend of mine (through horses - yet another story) called and asked if I knew anybody who would like a West Highland White Terrier. My reply: "Is that one of those cute little white dogs?" His reply was, "Yes." And I replied with, "Maybe, my 6 year old daughter has been wanting a small dog. We will try her out." That was Heather, a 6-year-old bitch. A couple of weeks later he called again with an additional request, there was another Westie bitch, which needed a home, and I said I would take the other one as well, Pixie, a 5-year-old bitch. Both dogs had been purchased for the sole purpose of being bred and producing puppies for the local Duffy puppy factory. I now refer to them as my rescues. Neither dog took to the daughter who wanted the small dog, but Heather took to me and Pixie took to my 10-year-old daughter. By the time Heather was 8 she had her championship and a litter of puppies. I sold one of those puppies, MacDuff of Cam-Crest, to Carol McKay who obedience trained him to his CDX July 31,1977.
Rani, my 10 year old daughter, trained Pixie to a CD title in 1976.
That was then, and now, is another story.
As you probably have figured out by now, I was not into performance - conformation was my bag. Then Sil Sanders came into my life. Sil Sanders is the husband of my friend and partner in Real Estate as well as in dogs, Anne Sanders. Since they have come into my life titles have taken on a new meaning, and I now have visions of TDs, CDs, AJXs, JWs, and MXs, as well as CHs, dancing in my head.
The question was put to me by myself, "Shouldn't a dog be able to do the things it was originally bred to do?" hence Earthdog. Then of course, "Gee, that agility stuff looks like fun". And living with the most titled Westie in the Universe did create within me a bit of envy and, of course, a challenge. So what could I do that might be a challenge to that coveted title? Well, maybe Puppy Do, Ch. Camcrest Andsurely Trouble ME TD, an All-Breed Best in Show winner, a three-time WHWTCA Best of Breed winner (at the Montgomery County All Terrier Show in Pennsylvania in 1993 from the Bred By Exhibitor Class, then again in 1996 from the Specials Class, (where her son, Ch. Camcrest Niles McNaughty, was awarded Best of Opposite Sex to her), and then again in the year 2000 from the Veterans Class, also being a top-ranked Westie from 1993 to 2000, and rated in the Top 10 Terriers for a couple of those years, and I could present that challenge. Perhaps there could be a challenge for all Westie breeders for years to come? What about, earning a title in all events offered to Westies along with being a top rated dog? It is the Camcrest and Rime motto that Westies are not just, "cute little white dogs", but performers too.
During Montgomery Week 2000 Puppy Do ran agility on Thursday, went BOB from the Veterans Class on Sunday, and then earned her ME (Master Earthdog) title on Monday while being photographed along with Lou Herczeg's "Nancy" by none other than Animal Planet. Puppy Do and Nancy became real life celebrities at that moment in time.
Then, at the tender young age of 8, Puppy Do earned the Most Versatile Westie in Specialty award at the 2001 West Highland White Terrier Club of America week of events by entering anything and everything. She passed the first tracking test she entered, thanks to her expert trainer, Sil Sanders, author of Enthusiastic Tracking. (Sil and Mr. Q were featured in the first issue of Spotlight on Performance highlighting the most titled Westie in the Universe, Ch. Rime's Quonquering Hero UDX, TDX, MX, AXJ, JE.) She ran agility and earned her first leg in Novice Standard on Wednesday, won the Veteran Sweeps, and participated in obedience where she passed everything but the long down (another story - you know, the fish that got away) on Saturday, and was shown in the Veterans Class, Brood Bitch class (with 2 of her Champion sons), and Brace on Sunday. As a side note, her grandson, Camcrest-Rime Q'd Up For Trouble, earned his TD at the same test Montgomery week at the ripe old age of 7 months and also won his Puppy Sweeps class.
Puppy Do is now spayed and is being trained in agility by her current best friend, Sil. She is also well on her way to earning ten ME and ten SE passes which will raise her to Level D in the Earthdog category for the Versatile Westie awards. This year she will be awarded Versatile Dog Excellent Award and her Brood Bitch award at the WHWTCA Annual banquet. Who knows what else she will accomplish before this years' end?
While Puppy Do is not the easiest dog to train since she has a true Westie personality, she is truly a remarkable Westie and one that might be considered a role model. She gets along well with others, is willing to please, (provided there is something in it for her - Sil used shrimp as a jackpot during tracking) and she is endowed with exceptionally good looks. I, on the other hand, could use more training and, thanks to Sil, I have learned some training skills. Is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks? Maybe, if it is indeed a dog as Puppy Do has proven. However, if I am the old dog, you'll have to ask those who are trying to train me.
I still get great enjoyment from having a dog respond happily to training and to go into an Obedience ring, an Agility run, or an Earthdog test to show off what they love to do for the sake of doing it and not because they have to or they will be reprimanded if they don't. Even if they are exhibiting the exceptional performance for a cookie, rather than, because they want to please me, they are still happy and having fun. After all, they are Westies.
Pictured here is my grandson, Travis Campbell, who has been bitten by the dog show bug. He is very serious showing his dog, Bambi, and hopefully he will find joy in the other aspects of the sport of dogs.
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