WHWTCA Spotlight on Performance - Spring 2004
"Awhoooo, Yip, Yip, Grrrr; Awhoooo, Yip, Yip, Grrrr" echoes up to the deck where my sister and I huddle in the blankets on this cold spring night. I try to look brave but my sister knows I am as scared as she is.
"Awhoooo, Yip, Yip, Grrrr; Awhoooo, Yip, Yip, Grrrr" -- "Coyotes are trying to get over the fence and into the yard," my sister whispers as she huddles closer. "Don't worry," I say, peering out of the blankets, "I will protect you," hoping she does not notice my shivers.
"Awhoooo, Yip, Yip, Grrrr; Awhoooo, Yip, Yip, Grrrr" I hear them scratching at the fence trying to dig under and into the yard below our deck.
"Bark! Bark! Bark!" my sister sings as she bursts out the blankets and goes to the railing. She is so cool, so brave; I cannot stay huddled where I am so I jump up on the railing. "Bark! Bark! Bark!" our fierce duet will certainly run them off. But their howls grow louder as they jump higher and higher trying to scale the outer fence.
Uncle Sil comes out on the deck, quietly picks us up into his warm, safe arms and brings us inside. "What are you two little puppies doing out here so late at night when you have a warm bed inside like the rest of us? Look, your doggy door is open; you should have come inside by yourself."
He gets down on the kitchen floor with us, and we climb all over his lap and bite his toes and have the greatest time. He throws a ball so I race for it but my sister gets there first. I tackler her and we go tumbling under the kitchen table while the ball rolls off into the corner. Uncle Sil comes after us and wants to box us with his head. We bite his hair and roll around having tons of fun.
Too soon he sweeps us back up into his arms and takes us to our crates. We want to play, we want to play. But then he brings me to his face and some yummy cheese pops out of his mouth just for me. Wow, Uncle Sil is so cool.
As I settle into my crate, I whisper to my sister how cool Uncle Sil is. She agrees but reminds me not to get my heart set on Uncle Sil because his old dog does not want us little puppies around. "But Mr. Q is our sire", I protest, "and I don't know why he always growls at us". Lily says he's just a gruff old dog that is jealous of anyone stealing his Pop's affection.
From the earliest days in the whelping box, our dam told us story after story about how famous our grandma, Puppy Do, and our sire, Mr. Q are. They got to do so much fun stuff with Uncle Sil; why can't I? I fall asleep dreaming of following in their paw prints with Uncle Sil at my side.
The next day, Uncle Sil takes us on a walk in the woods. We smell deer tracks, climb under logs, and wade through puddles. It's so much fun. Sometimes Uncle Sil tricks us and we have to figure out how to get over some complicated or scary thing to catch up with him. But it is always fun. The next day, on the way back from a long hike in the woods, I stumble over a strong spot in the grass. What is this? It is kind of familiar. I know I have smelled this before. Oh no, I realize, this is a coyote print and pretty fresh. I look up to find Uncle Sil and my sister but they are no-where to be found. Uh Oh! I am lost in the woods with coyotes everywhere! What am I to do? Then I see Uncle Sil and Lily step from behind a tree and I scamper over to them. Better stay close.
So every time Uncle Sil comes near, I tell him "Me! Please Me! Please Choose Me!" I know I can do all those things my sire did and more. After a while Uncle Sil is taking me for outings all the time. Sometimes Mr. Q is around but I like it best when it is just the two of us. At these times, I call him Pops and sit in his lap and have the best time. He takes me all over and introduces me to all sorts of folks. And he starts to teach me how to earn extra yummy food. Sometimes I have to sit or stand to earn it but the best times are when I get to follow his footsteps through the grass for it. I know I am clever and he always has something pretty tricky to let me prove it.
Some evenings, Pops takes me to visit this strange woman who smells of smoke and just sits in a chair talking to my Pops. At these times Pops tries to make me sit and stand and down and stuff like that. I don't really like this smoky woman but the class has some other puppies and we get to play together for a few minutes before we go back to sits and downs and stuff like that. Not as much fun as tracking, but I certainly get a lot of string cheese on these evenings.
As the summer progresses, the tracks get trickier and trickier. My tracks quickly surpass Grandma Puppy Do tracks as she seems to have some trouble focusing on the track. But I can handle whatever track Pops lays for me. I can follow him anywhere. So one day we go to out to this silage field and meet a strange woman smelling of Dachshunds and antiseptic. She lays a track for me. She is easy to follow and I run along until the track disappears. I search and search and find it again. Off down the track to the glove and a big play with Pops. While we are playing, I realize there weren't any hotdogs on the track and ask him for some treats. He seems pretty happy and races me back to the car where we enjoy the hotdogs he had forgotten. When we get home, he brags to my mom how I got certified and we all have another party because now I get to go tracking at the national.
So in a few weeks, Pops and I head off to Maryland and the National. Puppy Do comes with us and we both have our tracks. I am first and my track is really easy. But there is a bunch of people following Pops and I am not sure what they are doing there. We always track by ourselves and it's scary having all these clamoring folks in my field. Pops keeps asking me to go back to the track but they keep following us. After a while, I figure out they are not going to attack, so I finish the track and race back to the car where the hot dog party is waiting.
Later that week I launch my conformation career directly from the tracking field by winning all my puppy classes at Hatboro, sweepstakes, and the MCKC specialty.
In a few months, Mom Sandy and Auntie Anne are taking my sister Lily and me to shows again and I am winning 3, 4, and 5 point majors in two consecutive weekends including winning the Indiana Sweepstakes. Lily wins BOS in Sweeps to me and the two of us get to play together just like our puppy days together on the deck. I finish my Championship in June with a fourth major.
But I digress from tracking. As soon as we got home from MCKC that first fall, Pops and I start doing even more tracking. He says it will take at least a whole year to learn everything I need for a TDX. Most of the time, I hear him leave the house without me and sometimes I can see him walking around the field outside the house. "Me! Please Me! Please Take Me!", I call to him but he just comes back and ignores me. It is so frustrating. But later in the day, he finally relents and takes me out to the track. There are so many cool scents to smell. And there are lots of frolicsome parties at the articles. He sometimes takes me a long ways in the car and we get to track. Some of the places are very hard but Pops helps me when the track disappears completely. But he does not have to help a clever guy like me very often.
Sometimes Lily comes back to visit and I get to track with her. She loves to track and she bragged the last time I saw her that she was certified. I wished her well and I am sure she will earn her TD once she gets into a test.
But tracking is not the only thing I do with Pops. I start to learn to jump and weave and race across wooden planks.
We go to lots of classes and I learn to run fast and weave like the wind. And by the following May, when I was only 15 months old, I am winning Agility classes as well as conformation classes. By August I have titles in three areas and Pops says I am the youngest Versatile Westie. This is cool and so long as I make Pops happy like this, I get tons of treats and I get to go everywhere with him; What a life! Before you know it, we head off to the National again and I get another track. This is like the tricky tracks we've been practicing. There is one very difficult place where horses had messed up the area, but I work it out and have an easy time the rest of the way to my glove. I have been very clever and earn my TDX on my first try. We race back to the car where Duck à l'Orange is waiting for me.
The next few days are Agility and I win some huge classes in Novice Preferred. Since preferred is a new set of classes, some really experienced dogs are in my class, but I run like the wind and earn the top ribbon.
This year, since I am a Champion, I am a special at MCKC. There is a ton of dogs in the ring but my handsomeness stands out and my Mom is very proud of me. As the afternoon wears on, most of the other dogs have to leave the ring and I stand out in a group of only five others (all who have been Top Westies while I have been having fun in the tracking field). We don't make BOB but Mom is happy that Mrs. Clark thought so highly of me.
After all that, Pops takes Puppy Do and me into the Brace Class. It is cool to strut beside the great Puppy Do and show everyone how handsome I am. We win the class and place in the Group. Tons of fun!
I'd get confused on a track and want to chase the field mice. But my friends have all told me how much fun it is to run into the tunnel and get the nasty vermin. It sounds exiting. We do well in Intro and so Pops enters me in Junior but I don't quite pass due to some minor technicality.
By the end of November I have earned my open agility title and the coveted VDX award. Pops says I am the youngest Westie to earn the VDX but I say "No problem-o, just keep taking me along and feeding me the treats!"
As Pops and I commute to work that fall, he holds long soliloquies on what we should do next. I am content to nap in the back while he does the long range career planning. We go to lots of agility classes several nights a week. Otherwise, we find parks and playgrounds to practice stuff in.
I earn my AXP and AJP before I am two years old and so Pops takes me back to the regular classes where I had already earned Novice titles and we add on Open titles and some Excellent legs.
In May, we finally get to go back to Earthdog. In one weekend I earn my Junior Earthdog title and then pick up a senior leg shortly thereafter. So Pops takes us on a nice vacation to California in August where I pass both days and earn my SE title.
The next week on our commutes, I hear Pops muttering something about when I earn my Master Earthdog title I'd become a Master of Versatility. That sort of two-for-one special sounds cool but why should we take our time about it? So I earn one ME leg in September and just miss another at the National where I was first introduced to Earthdog the year before. While back at the nationals, I was again very handsome in the breed ring where I got another award of merit on Friday and made several cuts on Sunday. Then on Monday at Earthdog, I got to meet my four daughters – they were quite cute and I understand they are all doing well in their own chosen careers.
I earned my second ME leg on the trip back to Washington and the third the next weekend back at the same site where I earned my first Junior leg in the Spring. Just one leg to go but there are no more tests until spring. My Pops figures out how a trip of Denver is just the sort of relaxing vacation the two of us have been needing for some time. We jump on a plane and I earn my fourth leg in the Rocky Mountains with snow on the ground and more vermin holes than Earthdog Dens in the field.
So at only 2 years 8 months and 5 days, I earn the Master of Versatility which is the highest performance level honored by the WHWTCA. I am the only the fifth to earn it and by far the youngest dog to earn this award. So cool!
QT is owned and loved by Sil Sanders and Sandy Campbell. Sandy is his breeder and she shows him in conformation.
From a trainer's perspective, QT is a very different dog than my previous performance dog Mr. Q who was the first MV; to learn about Mr. Q, see http://www.westieclubamerica.com/performance/spotlight/mrq/. Both are motivated by food and toys although QT's toy drive is not as strong as Mr. Q's drive. The big difference is that QT actively tries to figure out how to please me where Mr. Q only wanted to please himself. But along with QT's willingness to please is a reluctance to accept challenge which makes many of the training techniques I used with Mr. Q completely useless with QT. Also Mr. Q was unusual in that he could be trained for long periods of time; QT is more normal and best trained for short periods.
As trackers, QT and Mr. Q share a lot in common. In agility, QT has a lot more potential because he came to the sport as a youngster while Mr. Q was 9 years old before he got to start running in agility. QT still has lots of agility skills to learn, but is more comfortable working away from me than Mr. Q was after the years of doing obedience with me made him a Velcro dog. And in Earthdog, QT has it all over Mr. Q – Mr. Q was so convinced that he could wait for the rats and chomp them that he took years to earn his JE and a couple of SE legs where QT figured out what I wanted and does an excellent job of it. Since I delayed QT's obedience training in favor of tracking/agility/earthdog and since I am only using positive methods with him, it remains to be seen how much obedience QT will accomplish compared to his sire's UDX.
QT is also quite different than his grand-dam Puppy Do who was the fourth Westie to earn the Master of Versatility Award from the WHWTCA; see http://www.westieclubamerica.com/performance/spotlight/campbell/. Puppy Do always has her own agenda and has a lot of trouble realizing it is to her benefit to do what I want her to do. QT is much more focused on what I want and how he can make me vend the treats. But he also knows his own mind and is willing to take a stand about certain issues like getting to go to work with me.
Sil Sanders, Stanwood, WA. 360-629-6434. Sil@westiesnw.com
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