An Interview with Collies Online
1. Tell us about the most spectacular day you ever had at a performance event with a collie. (Can be any collie you ever owned).
Carol Lariviere: I would have to single out the afternoon herding trial at this year's Nationals with Splash! To win High in Trial in Herding at the Collie National was something I never thought possible! It was a surprise and an honor! There were so many lovely herding collies this year. Soleil's MACH run was a very close second!!
Jeannette Poling: One of my proudest moments was when Gabi earned her Companion Dog title. She earned her CD in three consecutive shows, on three consecutive days, with three 1st place awards. I felt her consistent performances were quite spectacular. Also earning her CD qualified her for the AKC Versatility Companion Dog Level 1 title or VCD1. This title requires the dog to earn an Obedience CD, a Tracking TD, and an Agility NA and a NAJ title. That Sunday in June was spectacular because her 1st place was the culminating win in a series of excellent performances by my little sparkler. I am so very proud of her, my Gabi, now known as Chelsea Twilight Time, VCD1, CD, TD, OA, NAJ.
Linda Ward: Where or what do I pick? CH Sinkona's Calamity Jane, CDX, TD, RE, PT, AXP, AJP, VX – "CJ" – my first dog to earn excellent agility title, my first dog to earn a CDX title. Maybe this day – in June of 2012, when CJ and I went to Lincoln, Montana, entered in the Big Sky Tracking Club TD test. It was a drizzling, cool morning – weather that CJ was not particularly fond of (at almost 10 years of age she preferred it to be a bit drier and warmer). This was the fifth TD test we had entered. We had failed the others. A couple were my fault. One was so cold and wet that it took her, in a warm car, until noon to dry out – she had the first track and she is a smooth! On another sh couldn't get past the fresh animal trail that was on the first leg. She never took the scent, but couldn't get back on the track. Being me and trying to give her every chance, I had entered this test. It turned out several people from our area were there to watch (including both of the judges). Well, we went out on that track, she started fairly strong and at the second corner she heard a person "laugh" – she lost focus for a bit (and scared me), but she went back to work. On the last leg, in this big open field, there was one single pine tree and she just had to go out to that tree – she came back, got on the track and went to the glove and laid down!! As soon as I got to her and waved the glove the cheers started. Everyone had been pulling for us as it had been such a journey. One that I didn't quit on. When giving the awards, one of the judges said "most of us know this dog, most of us have certified her at one time. There was only one tree in the whole field that was just off that track and she just HAD to go and check it out." It finally was the very happy completion of a long journey.
Jeanine Blaner: That's a tough question. I've been very fortunate to have several wonderful collies who were all fun to compete with. I feel like any time the dog performs to the best of his ability and I don't make any handling errors, it's a spectacular day, whether we qualify or place or not. I compete because I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy having training goals. I like going home from events with a new list of things to work on.
Marilyn Clayton: Although I was going to say winning Most Versatile Collie at the 2010 National with Zephyr, when I really thought about it, it was earning my first UD title. Why? Because it was with Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee), who was my first performance dog and my first collie and who was afraid of “things.” This was back in the early 1980s when judges drew smiley faces on the matting to indicate where they wanted you to start the heeling pattern and they used the old black rubber matting. Well, Ceilidh was convinced smiley faces ate collies; black rubber matting was a void that swallowed you whole; and hot air registers spewed poison. So we had a lot to overcome right from the get-go of competing. Because of her fear, she would semi-panic when “things” surprised her.
At our first trial the overhead fan came on as we came to our first halt. I stayed still until she pulled herself together before taking the judges command to move forward. However, another obedience judge followed us out of the hall and proceeded to ream me out, telling me I’d never get a title on “that dog,” and that she was a fear-biter. Well, that really ticked me off because anyone who knew Ceilidh knew she was the most gentle and kind dog, who loved every person and animal she had ever met, and was very well socialized – it was just that some “things” scared her – perhaps something happened to her before eight weeks when we got her – I don’t know. Thankfully, the judge of the day praised me for my handling when giving us our first QS ribbon – she’d docked us pretty heavily, but she didn’t NQ us.
Open brought more challenges. In those days a 22.5” bitch had to jump a 34” high jump and a 68” Broad jump (1.5 X height to the closest 2” with a max height of 36”). Ceilidh would stutter-step before throwing herself over the jump. I was told she must have hip dysplasia (X-rays showed she didn’t); that her eyes were bad because “all collies have bad eyes” (she didn’t – she had very mild CEA). It turned out she was simply not properly conditioned. She was exercised miles daily, but on leash, at a walk. After slowly building her up on the bike, she flew over the jumps.
But it was also the days of the ear pinch and she wasn’t a natural retriever. I could not do that to my dog, but thankfully we had the opportunity to attend an obedience seminar by the late tracking guru, Glenn Johnson, who introduced the use of food in training – 20 minutes after working with him, I had a dog that would retrieve!
Ceilidh completed her CDX with a High In Class under, wait for it . . . the judge who told me she would never get a title, and, as she handed me the rosette, she said under her breath, “You weren’t supposed to get this.” Ha! But we did, I thought to myself as I smiled, took the rosette and insisted on a show photo with the judge.
Utility is always challenging . . . and Ceilidh’s challenge was that she loved to share … so she’d bring the glove to me; take the first article to the judge (or visa versa); the second article to me, etc. We lost many nice scores to “sharing,” but she finally pulled it off with a High In Class. And THAT, because of all we went through, has to be my most spectacular win! Ceilidh was only 5-years-old when she became Can.OTCh Glencoe Ceildh’s Candy, Am.CD. Because of all we went through together, I learned so much, including patience, which I believe made me a much better mother.
The 2012 CCA National Specialty.
As I was preparing to go with my dogs that were still showing, I realized I would need to take my veteran (age 12) with me also, out of necessity. I figured if I was going to have to take him with me, I would enter him in different events. I began to take him with me when I practiced the other dogs. He went herding with us and he had the chore of putting the ducks away or holding the sheep off the gate. He went to obedience run-throughs and we practiced rally and a bit of heeling. And, we did some agility run-throughs at some matches.
Maestro competed in Herding, Rally Excellent, Veterans obedience, Agility exhibition for Veterans and Conformation in the 11+ class. It was an extra bonus that he qualified in herding both days, which earned him his Herding Started title, and, therefore, his Versatility Excellent award from CCA. But the real joy was having him with me and stepping into the ring again with a dog that I have competed with for so many years. It was a spectacular day, week and event. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I lost Maestro in May of this year, just shy of his 14th birthday but I can still see the smile on his face in all of those events . . . I guess the smile was on both of our faces.
Hilary Culp: It's hard for me to say what the most spectacular day I've had in performance with one of my Collies. Together we've won numerous High in Class awards, in both Obedience and Rally and several run offs for High in Trial. I have also won several Obedience Junior Handler Invitationals with my collies. Each was very special.
If I had to pick one, it would be the day my first Collie, "Blaster," earned his HIC, CGC, a Carting title and his Pet Therapy Certification all in the same day, at an event put on by the (now folded) Ontario Working Collie Association. I was 12 years old at the time. I had taken him with the intent to only run him through the Obedience Match and the Herding Instinct Test, but with most of the day between those events, I entered him just for fun in the others. It was a thrill as Blaster passed each one with flying colors!
Another special day that comes up in my mind, was with my second Collie, "Cole."He was 9-1/2 and had been retired from the ring for a few years when the Canadian Kennel Club introduced Rally. He always loved to go to shows/trials and when the CKC's Charity Event (The Purina National), was being held nearby, I decided to enter him in Rally, just to see what would happen and to let him have some fun. My father decided he would do the same with his retired Beagle. This was special because it was the first time we had been competing in the same class with each other. The dogs, with minimal warm up training, almost quite literally; couch to ring, didn't miss a step. They both scored in the high 90s.
Sue Larson: I’ve definitely had more than one “most spectacular day” in my nearly 50 years in collies, but the one that immediately came to mind was Donner’s (Trailwind’s High Country, CDX, TDX, MX, MXJ, HS) TDX test. The test was in the hills above Livermore, California, a site I had never been to and, so, had no idea what to expect of the track. When I got there, there was a woman (who should have known better!) wandering all over the parking lot with a bitch in season. Since Donner was already on edge because I had left a bitch in season at home, my intact boy was soon higher than a kite. I managed him for awhile but eventually went to the judges, and they sent her out of there immediately.
We drew Track #1 and as we hiked up the hill to the start, I said to Donner, “please, just don’t embarrass me.” To say he didn’t would be an understatement as my very good tracking dog became AMAZING as he transferred all the hype from the bitch down onto the track. And for the next 13 minutes and 870 yards we ran up and down hills, past cross-tracks, down a 3-foot drop-off (which I took at a run) onto a gravel road, into some woods, across a creek and back again and onto an unvegetated cowpath. I knew we had to be getting to the end when he turned left off that path and started up what looked to me like a nearly vertical hill! As I started up that hill, I fed out my line a little at a time, figuring if I got to the end of my 40 feet, that he’d just have to pull me! Luckily, after about 70 yards, he literally slapped his foot down on the final article and turned back to me with a panting, happy look on his face. As I sunk to the ground I said, “Oh thank God, would you bring me that please” and he picked it up and bounded back to me. “Picture perfect tracking” is what the judges called it, and it left me with a “high” that still lasts to this day.
Mary Davis: I've had lots of great days with my three collies. One of my most memorable ones was the day my "rescue girl," "Beyla," got her third CDX leg and High in Trial at the Collie Club of Minnesota Specialty. My friend and co-owner, collie breeder Amy Ross of Oak Knoll Collies, reclaimed Beyla from the people she'd been sold to when she was four months old. We will never know all of the details of what Beyla went through during the two months she was away from us. We do know that today, at eleven years young, Beyla is still dealing with some of the repercussions.
Joany White: I would say that every day is the most spectacular day I ever had at a performance event with a collie! Since we are earning our titles for the first time, I find myself being amazed that we can actually do these things! But here I would like to tell the story of our HSAs title earned last month. I hope it will encourage anyone who might be encountering performance challenges that seem insurmountable!
What made this day stand out was that, when we first started herding a few years ago, a well-known clinician tried to help me by telling me that I should give up herding and hire a professional handler. The next day, my first herding teacher told me he couldn't fit me into his lesson schedule all summer. I considered quitting but eventually went to a Herding Fun Day taught by Tenley Dexter at Beth Adams' farm here in New Hampshire. When they saw how "Beulah" worked the sheep, they said they really liked her, so I signed up for lessons. After a few sessions, Beth told me that she wouldn't give up on me! I hadn't even told her about the others who had given up on me.
When this summer rolled around, I hadn't even planned to sign up for a herding trial because I wasn't sure if we were ready. Since I had been traveling for a busy family wedding and funeral time in May and June, I missed signing up for agility on the 4th of July. Looking at the AKC events calendar, I saw that there was a herding trial in Virginia on that weekend, in Berryville where the CCA Eastern Regionals are being held this year! Figuring you can't Q if you don't trial, I signed up and went down early for a very encouraging lesson with Susan, the great gal who runs Touchstone Farm. But the day before the trial, I got a horrible tummy bug and asked Susan if she would run Beulah. When she said Yes, I was on cloud nine! No stress, no tummy bug convulsions while the sheep ran wildly around the course . . . I could just sit back and watch my dog get her first Q(s)! So I got a great night's sleep and had a stress-free morning, imagining the fun I would have watching my dog work with Susan! But Beulah wouldn't even go to the post without me, so I kicked off my flip flops and went barefoot into the field, asking the judge to please not take off any points (as they would for the dog) if I upchucked. Beulah was amazing with her calm, steady way with the sheep. And we Qd! And placed! I'm sure I made fewer handler errors because I didn't have time to get nervous. I thank God for my tummy bug, my great collie and my herding teacher who won't give up on me!