One thing I know for sure is that the performance people are not only getting it done, they're having a lot of fun along the way. I thought it would be interesting to send out a questionaire to some of this weeks performance advertisers to find out about their experiences in the various performance venues and to meet the people so dedicated to their dogs. Below you will meet many talented performance exhibitors. Find out why they love the sport, what drives them to compete and lastly how they get all those hard earned titles.
We asked the following questions:
1. How long have you competed in performance events?
2. How did you get started in performance events?
3. What are your favorite events?
4. What is the best part about competing in performance events?
Our sincere congratulations to all those that go above and beyond with their collies.
Karen Jordan, Publisher
Judy Belloumini :: Barbara Bennett :: Noreen Bennett ::
Shelley Bergstraser ::
Carol Ann Breton :: Melanie Collins ::
Rolanda Dane :: Robin Dettman, DVM :: Carol Dunton
:: Kathryn Ednie :: Mary Franden :: Meg Goldsmith :: Nancy Hehre :: Lynn Horrigan :: Carol Jacobs
:: Virgie Jones
Kristie Kovacyk :: Dorann LaPerch :: Sue Larson ::
Carol Lavierie :: Anne Lively
:: Susan Martin
:: Jolene McCuaig ::
Julia O'Rourke :: Kim Parker :: Gina Ryan :: Joan Scialdone
:: Elizabeth Smith
:: Peg Smith ::
Kris Thober :: Kathryn Weare :: Nancy Woodle
Meet Judy Belloumini
I have competed in performance events since 1982. The breeder of my first collie, Jeanne Sikora, suggested that I try obedience for the collie puppy she sold to me since it was not a conformation puppy. That collie went on to earn her UD and TD and even retired with a couple OTCH points.
My favorite thing will always be the challenge of having a good obedience dog. Herding is also a great challenge since I started this venture as a senior.
The best part of competing is the challenge of doing well, but whatever the performance venture I am doing I always get comments on how beautiful my collies are. I am very proud that people participating in the performance activities with me recognize the beauty of our breed.
My successes are due to the wonderful breeders who got me started and especially to my extended family Leslie and Don Jeszewski who understand and recognize what I want to participate in the various performance activities.
Meet Barbara Bennett
Molly and I began competing in Agility in 2003. We began in just Jumpers with Weaves as she'd fallen off the dog walk at school and would not get back on
for a while. I'm an obedience trainer, and Molly being the smart collie she
is, was trained in about three days and was bored with the routines. I was not
working at the time, so I took her everywhere with me, and we saw an agility
demo and I thought -- she'd love that! We found a local training center and
never thought we'd get out of the beginner's class.
We were training for
almost a year when we started competing -- Molly excelled in Jumpers with
Weaves, so that was our favorite event, almost guaranteed to Q -- but once
she started in Standard, the level of excitement went way up -- there are
things to fall off in Standard!
When we got Danci she wanted to do
everything her big sister was doing, so we started her in agility, and the
sibling rivalry made Molly an even better performance dog. She'd had yet
another scare with the dreaded dog walk, and it had been six months of not
competing in Standard, or competing knowing she'd refuse it, but once she
saw Danci do it fearlessly, she started doing it again. Amazing.
Rally-O training with Danci as attention training and we've started to
compete in Rally O as well.
The best part of competing in Agility and Rally-O is the camaraderie with my fellow classmates from school. We all set up
together and support each other, as well as meeting new people and being
thrilled when someone gets their MACH -- the ultimate achievement in Agility. Molly and I are shooting for our PAX, the Preferred version of the MACH, and
Danci and I are working on our Novice Title at the moment. I just have to
remember which dog I'm running -- the excellent or the novice, as I really
need to handle them differently.
When the dogs follow my lead, and I don't
forget the course -- it's such a thrill. And when we don't qualify, it's
still a thrill to be able to communicate with a member of another species,
who doesn't speak your language and somehow, it all falls into place.
Meet Noreen Bennett
I earned my first performance title at age 15 but remember going to dog
school at age 5 with my parents, who showed their collies in obedience in the 1950's. I am most comfortable in the obedience ring because
I've been doing it the longest. I find herding and tracking the most
fascinating and I am in awe watching the dogs work, however, because I am now an
agility secretary, I spend the most time doing agility.
The best part of competing in performance events is the teamwork between me and my dog. It can also be the most frustrating part.
One wrong movement can disqualify us just like that. You have to take
ownership in performance events. I love the connection I have with my dog
and how we read each other. You get to that point like an old married
couple. He knows where I'm weak and my dog is stronger in that area and I know where he is weak and therefore I'm stronger in that area.
I attended the Collie Club of America National Specialty this year in North Carolina and could not help but
notice the increased quality of performance in our breed compared to less
than 10 years ago. Some breeds have really been split between "breed dogs"
and "performance dogs." We're really getting the most out of our Collies without compromising our breed Standard.
Meet Shelley Bergstraser
I have been training and competing in performance events for over 23 years -- actually I started in
4-H as a kid (WAY more than 23 years ago) with
my beloved collie and was very successful in obedience.
I have now trained my own dogs and competed in Agility through AXJ,
Obedience -- through UDX2, Herding through HSAs -- with a B course leg and Rally
and of course we compete in breed. I run a big training center here in
Colorado Springs and I teach all of the obedience classes.
My 4-H dog when I was a child set the stage for my love of obedience and
collies in general. About 20 years ago I brought a couple of collies to an
advertised herding instinct test and the dogs LOVED it. The lady running the
tests was VERY complimentary about the collies' skills and instincts and so that
day I was absolutely HOOKED on herding.
My absolute favorite is Herding, as that is what the dogs are SO wonderful
at. I love watching their natural instinct turn on. You can't MAKE a dog
herd. He/she must WANT to work stock. My second is obedience, that is what
I teach and I love the intelligence of collies especially, but I enjoy
watching my students progress with their various breeds. Agility would be third. The dogs are great at it. They ADORE running and jumping, etc., but I
tend to get confused on the courses and I don't feel as good as a handler in
agility. So while I enjoy it, it is not what I do best. It is absolutely what
some of the DOGS do best though, so we compete!
My favorite thing about this is the relationship you develop with the individual dog -- without a doubt. A
trained dog is TRULY your best pal. Once a dog starts learning they tend
to be like a sponge -- always looking to learn something new -- you've just got to
tap into their little dog brains and enthusiasm! I also love the people
at performance events. We have a great group of collie people in breed here
in Colorado too, BUT the camaraderie and TRUE cheering for one another
happens in performance. It is just you and the dog competing for a score. There really is no personal opinion -- just you and the dog showing your stuff.
I am so proud of the CCA for promoting versatility and performance through
the Versatility titles and the "Most Versatile Collie" award at the National
Specialty. This is an amazing breed of dog we've chosen to live with!
Everyone should try a dog sport with their collies, with these dogs there
truly IS something for everyone!
Meet Michele Brane
I competed in obedience for the first time in 1977 with great danes. Ugh! (That's 30 years!) When Brian and I got married, he trained his first dog,
our sheltie, to her CD, then said he wasn't interested in doing any more. I
continued showing a bit in obedience and eventually got started in herding
with the first collie that I got in 1994. I also did a bit of agility
training with her, but it wasn't something I enjoyed as much as herding and
obedience. When we got Claire (2000), I told Brian that she'd be way too
fast for me and that I'd like him to handle her in agility. He never was
interested in herding or conformation, though he always came along to shows.
However, once he got started in agility, he was "hooked" and is a bit of an
agility addict now. Our yard is full of agility equipment that he's built,
and he's been to a few seminars in the last year. He also put a CDX and a
UCD on Claire. So we compliment each other -- I like doing the herding,
obedience and rally (and conformation), and he's addicted to agility.
We both like performance events because they are objective -- if you pass the
exercises, you qualify; if not, you don't. Performance events (especially
agility and now rally) are very enjoyable. I like the bond that you develop
with your dog when you do performance events. I love to watch the dogs "turn
on" to herding, and it's fun to see them try to figure out what you want
them to do in obedience and rally. It's also fun to see the sheer joy that
our dogs exhibit when they run an agility course -- even in practice. There's
a "that's fun -- let's do it again!" look that they get after a particularly
I like performance because the dogs seem to enjoy themselves, and it makes
me happy to see them happy!
On a practical side, a lot of the performance venues require that a dog be
kept in top physical condition, which is good for the health and well-being
of the dogs.
For me, it's also important that our personal competition dogs finish their
Meet Carol Ann Breton
I was introduced to performance events back in 1974. My oldest daughter was in the 7th grade when a group of people from a local dog club came to her school to put on a demonstration. We had a white German Shepherd bitch at the time. One of the participants in the demo also had a white German Shepherd. My daughter was thrilled with the performance and got the name of the club and a phone number. I decided to take my 7 year old german shepherd bitch to a beginner obedience class. She did so well that she took 1st place at "graduation." I kept on with the training classes and within a few months entered an Obedience Trial. She won a third place trophy in Novice A. I was HOOKED! Gypsy was placed in 3 consecutive Novice A trials. She was too old to do the Open obedience but I started over with a German Shepherd puppy. Over the years, I put Novice obedience titles on 5 German Shepherds and an Open title on one of them.
In 1983 I finally bought my first Collie, Luke. He loved obedience competition. To him everything was a jolly game. He earned his CD and 2 legs on his CDX. Unfortunately, he was not a well structured dog and at that time dogs of his size were required to jump 36 inches for the high jump and 72 inches for the broad jump. As he got older he had a hard time clearing the high jump so I retired him. I aquired another collie and put a CD on her too but lost her at an early age. After Luke died, I didn't have a dog for nine years.
Then Cooter came into my life. Performance events had changed drastically since I started in 1974! The jump heights have been lowered after much lobbying by the dog clubs and training methods had gotten much more positive. There are now so many fun things to do. Cooter completed his CD and CDX, and his Rally titles. Then we tried AGILITY. Now that is where we have the most fun. He loves the excitement of being able to run and bark and see other dogs having fun too. We have a great time and its good exercise for both of us.
What do I like best about it? I get to PLAY with my dog. The other nice part is that more than one dog gets a leg toward his title at every event. If they can do the job correctly, they earn a leg. The first place ribbon is just a little frosting on the cake until they get to the highest level. At that point placements in Obedience give points toward Obedience Trial Championships. In the Agility ring, it's speed that earns points toward that coveted Master Agility Championship. This makes it fun for all and no one can cry "politics." The dog either does it or doesn't do it. Everyone is rooting for everyone else...it's great to see a good performance and we don't hesitate to cheer when we see one.
Meet Melanie Collins
I have competed in a variety of performance events over the last 25 years. I have participated in obedience, agility, and hunting tests when I had Gordon Setters. At 14 I took my first dog, a tri rough collie, to obedience classes. Classes led to matches and then competition. I completed her CD as a junior handler. When I came back to collies 12 years later I again started in obedience and then discovered agility.
Agility is my event of choice at this time. It is an active sport where both of us have a lot of fun. The dog needs to take direction from the handler and be confident enough to be able to walk four feet off the ground on a narrow board or climb seven feet high over the "A" frame. Success is dependent on how well you train, with a little luck thrown in.
I enjoy creating a working relationship with my dog. The dog has a job and our bond grows as we work together. Training creates a productive outlet for the dog's energy.
In the last year my son began participating in agility as well. It is a treat to watch my 12- year-old son and my 9-year-old dog run together.
If I had more time (and access to sheep) I would like to try herding. Watching good dogs work, particularly doing the job they were bred for, is awe inspiring.
Meet Rolanda Dane
I have been competing for about 1 year. I always loved competition with horses so I decided to try it with my collie. We started with the obedience and rally and then moved to agility. I enjoy working with my collie in all three disciplines since they all vary. It is a real thrill to work with your canine companion and watch them learn, grow and enjoy themselves. It is all about having fun.
Robin Dettman, DVM
I have been competiting in performance events for about 10 years. I got
started when I acquired my first smooth collie. I took him to a puppy class and was encouraged to go on to upper level classes. Once we had placed at
our first fun match -- that was it, I was hooked. With him we went all the way
to a UD.
My favorite events are agility and obedience but I love to do
things that are not so the norm, like backpacking and herding.
The best part about competiting is learning to work as a team with your dog
and building that bond even stronger.
I love having a title on both ends of my dogs to show their true
Meet Carol Dunton
I have been competing in performance events for approximately 9 years. I took Tawny, my mixed breed puppy, who is now 14-1/2 years old, to a beginner obedience class. Tawny and I continued on with the obedience classes and then agility came onto the scene and I started to dabble in that. I never competed with her, but we played in obedience and agility. When I got my first Collie puppy, Deacon, almost 10 years ago, I started training him from the beginning for obedience and agility and dabbled in herding. I would say that I was then officially hooked on the performance events. With my current boy, Stryker, I am now fully entrenched in the performance events and have added conformation to the mix. I have found dog sports to be a wonderful way to develop a deeper bond with my canine companion as well as an incredible learning experience. I also cherish the friendships that I have developed through training and competing in the performance events as well as conformation.
Obedience is my first love. I feel that obedience helps develop that very deep bond and fine tunes the communication between the dog and handler. That said, herding is so challenging and one has to really be on their toes and in sync with the dog and the sheep. If your dog has the herding instinct, there is nothing like watching him do what he was breed to do. It is a thrill to experience. Agility is a lot of fun for both the dog and handler. It is the one sport where you can really let go and have a great time with your dog. In all honesty, I don't think I have a favorite. They all have their special places and they all add a different dimension to the relationship with my dog. Including conformation, I love them all!
The best part is not necessarily the competing, but the deep level of communication and understanding that grows between the handler and dog through training. One can learn so much about the canine mind through training. Training has helped me to more fully understand each one of my dogs as an individual. I find it so fascinating to really gain a deep understanding of how each of their minds work and what really makes them want to learn. Competing in the performance events is a nice way of showing the world what you and your dog have achieved through training.
Meet Kathryn Ednie
My husband and I started agility training as a result of a demonstration hosted by the Cape Cod Kennel Club. It was many, many years ago and there
was not much local interest so we had no place to train and traveling two to three
hours off-Cape for training was not a workable option. So, we stuck to obedience and did nothing with agility until 2000 when a local boarding
kennel started classes -- then we became hooked. Our first trial was in 2001
and we've been trialing just about every weekend since then. Between
agility training during the week, and competing on weekends, there's not
enough time to travel off-Cape to pursue something else, ie. herding.
Although I'd sure like to!
For my husband and me, the best part of agility isn't what happens in
competition but rather the time we spend training and building that special
bond with our beloved collies; and this happens way before we even get into
Meet Mary Franden
I started competing in performance with my first collie in the obedience ring in 1973. I was enrolled in an obedience class, and the instructor urged me to go on try for the AKC CD title.
I compete with my collies in herding, agility, obedience, rally and carting, and have titled multiple collies in those events. I think I like herding and agility the best; but carting is a lot of fun, too. I view rally and (novice-level) obedience as fundamentals for any young performance dog.
I think the best thing about performance events is the bond that you create with your collie along the way.
Meet Nancy Hehre
I started competing with my first collie Max UD NA NAJ NJC(Otch ptd) in 1992, so 15 years. In November of 1991 I took an obedience class, discovered I had a dog with some talent and it snowballed from there. Max earned his CD the following March, his CDX the October after that, went on to a UD and qualifed for and attended the National Obedience Championship in St. Louis in 2000. That was a big accomplishment for my Novice A dog! I started in agility in 1998, and herding in 2000.
My favorite performance events are obedience and rally obedience. I also enjoy agility and we do a little herding.
Nothing beats developing that great one on one working relationship with your dog. I've also met some really great friends all over the country.
Meet Meg Goldsmith
My start in performance events was due to my first collie, Honi. I got her when I was 14 (after begging for a collie since I was 10), but she was SO destructive that my mother told me either I trained her or she was going to a new home. I entered her in a community education dog training program and we practiced religiously -- in the morning before I went to school and after school. We both loved it. At the time, I didn't know you could do more than this. Once out of graduate school, I joined a dog training club with my second collie, Austin. The initial class was a "pet" class but from there you could advance to a class for people who wanted to compete. I put a CD on him and wanted to do more but was unwilling to subject him to an ear pinch to teach retrieving. When Austin died, I contacted the local collie club for referrals to breeders and lucked into my current boy, Casey. His litter was bred with working ability in mind as all of the smooth collies were earmarked for a training program as canine assistance dogs. I knew a puppy from his litter had a strong likelihood of success in competitive obedience, which has been a goal of mine ever since I first trained Honi.
Casey and I have been training for competitive obedience and I was lucky in finding someone with multiple OTCH's (goldens and shelties) to train with. She uses positive training methods and is a protégé of Sylvia Bishop, who uses play to introduce a lot of the steps. It takes longer to get to the point where you're ready to go in the ring but I feel confident that as long as Casey's health is good we'll get that UD I want. (Our trainer wants us to aim for a UDX!)
I enjoyed our experience in the Rally ring because I was looking at it as a building block to where we want to end up. We knew the parts (ie: about turns, sits, downs, straight line heeling, etc.) and are only now putting everything together for the Novice ring. Rally offered a chance for some ring experience while we're preparing for our ultimate goal plus you can talk to the dog and encourage the dog.
The real plus to any performance event is that it is a TEAM effort. You build quite a bond with your dog and you pick up on subtle things that the average pet owner wouldn't. For instance, we were practicing our heel work one evening and I noticed Casey's gait was "off" a tad. Others couldn't see it but I took him to someone who deals with soft tissue injuries and she diagnosed a muscle strain, probably caused by my conformation puppy who likes to body slam into Casey when they're romping in the backyard.
The other really nice part about performance events is that it gives anyone a chance to do something with their dog. If you have a mixed breed, you can still compete in obedience in UKC or St. Hubert's Companion Sports Dog program and an even larger variety of agility venues are open for competition. I like the fact that you see all ages of competitors and lots of different breeds. Plus, unlike conformation, you're really only competing against yourself since everyone has the possibility of qualifying on any given day. Thus, people tend to root for each other and support each other.
I really have only been competing in performance events since starting
in agility with Christa. Before that, I had only put CD's on two of my
German Shepherds (probably fifteen years before). After getting Christa, who
loves to work and to please, I got hooked and wanted to do agility with her. I decided to try obedience as well and then rally and herding. She can
do it all. Poor girl, though, as most everything was new to me too. We
both learned a lot together.
We competed in novice obedience for the first
time at the 2004 National in Springfield and at that point in time, we were
just starting our career in Excellent in agility. We started herding after
she got her MACH last year and she has her HIC and HT and hopefully will be adding more titles soon. When we get bored, we go tracking. This is
another sport she loves.
Through the Working Collie Club of America, she
has earned her BPDX (backpacking dog excellent) title. We climb the white
mountains. She is always right there ready and willing and able to go to
the top of any mountain we chose. She is so capable climbing and always
watchful of her people. A dog like this is truly a treasure and a pleasure
to live with, play with, work with and just plain be with.
I think herding
is our favorite event, but because there is so much time spent traveling to
the sheep in order to herd, it is the hardest one to find the time to do.
Meet Carol Jacobs
Darcy and I started taking agility classes when he was nearly a year old -- almost two years ago --
after completing several obedience classes. He is my first agility dog. We started competing last fall
when he was almost two. I waited to compete until he was a completely grown since he is a very large
collie and I didn't want to stress his joints.
My sister, Andrea, is very active in agility in the Seattle area with her three Australian Shepherds. She
encouraged me to try it with Darcy since he is such an active and fun loving dog.
We both just LOVE the Jumpers runs - AKC, NADAC and USDAA all have them. When you get into the
course, the flow from one jump to another is so much fun. It really is like a team dance without any
contacts to break up flow.
My favorite thing is watching the shear joy in Darcy's face when he's out there with a whole course all to himself. He is a
big show off and he seems to know that people are watching him -- there are rarely other collies at our
local agility events. After a good run he is so excited and pleased with himself -- he just glows!
I highly encourage all collie owners to play agility with their dogs. It is such a wonderful bonding
experience and I treasure the one on one time with Darcy. The only caution is to ALWAYS keep it a
positive experience, no matter what the dog does on the course -- and they can do some nutty things.
Collies are so sensitive and I have seen several just shut down and become totally non-responsive due
to their handlers' criticism. As one judge said during a pre-run briefing, "Agility is a team sport, but
only one of you signed up to be here, so keep the experience fun for both of you."
Meet Virgie Jones
Brooke is my first performance dog and we competed in our first agility trial in the fall of 2002. I got her as a 12-week-old puppy from Donna Mackert for obedience. After taking Brooke to some obedience classes, someone suggested agility. I was hooked after the first class.
We compete and train in multiple performance events -- agility, obedience, rally, herding and tracking. Agility is my favorite event and we compete in several different agility venues.
When training a performance dog you create an unbelievable bond with this partner. The best part would be competing and training the different events with your best friend. Brooke and I have recently made great strides in working at a distance and when she goes out and gets a gamble from 15 – 20 feet from the line I have to stay behind it's an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
I have found many new friends and we enjoy sharing and learning from each other. I am always amazed at the versatility of collies, and would like to see more collies with titles at both ends of their names.
Meet Kristie Kovacyk
I have been competing in performance events for four years. I started in obedience with my very shy rescue collie. I also tried agility to
help her gain confidence and was hooked. The best thing about performance is spending time with my dogs and working as a team.
Meet Dorann LaPerch
I am very new to showing. "Honey" is my Novice A dog, and we attended our first performance event in October of 2005.
I had been taking my puppy to handling class, to get her ready for conformation. There were no shows in our immediate future, so I decided that I would enroll Honey in an Obedience Class. I had no idea on our first night what the class was going to entail. I came home from class that first night with our handout that detailed our nine week course. I was totally blown away to find that "Graduation" was going to entail us performing the AKC Novice Obedience Test. I thought there was no way in that short a time we could do that. Well at week ten we not only did it, but Honey WON graduation. A few weeks later I got a premium for an All Obedience show literally a mile from my home. I asked my instructor if she thought we were ready and she answered an emphatic "YES." We made our debut in a Rally Novice class with a second place in a huge class, and then the following week we competed in Novice A in Obedience. I came home with a First and Second Place that weekend and I was completely hooked.
My favorite event is traditional Obedience. Rally is a lot of fun and it is nice to have another competitive venue to participate in while I am working on moving my dog up to the next level of Traditional Obedience. I am really looking forward to competing in Herding events with her. She has her HIC, and we will return to our herding lessons in the fall when the weather is cooler.
The best part about performance events is developing teamwork with your dog. I love having a goal to work towards. The other wonderful thing about competing in performance events is the camaraderie you have with your fellow competitors, everyone is really rooting for each other. On those occasions when the "Obedience Gremlins" decide to show up and mess with your dog, you know that everyone else out there has been in your shoes, and everyone is very supportive and sympathetic to you.
I am having the time of my life with my Collie. I saw my one and only dog show when I was twelve years old in 1974, and from that point on in the back of my head I had a fantasy of having a show dog. I had rescue dogs all my adult life until 2005 when I decided that I wanted to get a purebred Collie puppy. This was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Not only did I get an amazing dog, I made an incredible friend with her breeder, and I have met wonderful people. When I suffered a personal tragedy in December of 2006 with the loss of both my own home and my mother's home (two houses), and everything we owned in a California wildfire, so many of my new "dog friends" where there to lend help and support. Getting involved with dog shows and the people has definitely been a blessing.
Meet Sue Larson
I've been in performance events for 40 years, starting in obedience and adding in tracking, herding, agility, and rally as the sports became available. My first collie was a bit of a handful as an adolescent and someone
suggested I take him to obedience classes. I did and I was hooked!
My favorite events are tracking and agility. In California they don't overlap too much as
we can track only in the winter and there aren't too many agility
trials in the winter, so it works out just great.
I love the training, watching the dogs learn new skills, and
eventually competing with a nice working dog. I love "playing" with
my dogs and performance sports are a great way to do that.
I'm new to the performance side of collies. I've been competing regularly in agility for about 6 months and started herding lessons within the last month.
I purchased a bitch about 4 1/2 years ago who was pretty high drive and fearless. I decided to see if agility was something we would both like and have been addicted ever since. I was unable to compete her much due to stress issues caused by an inexperienced handler-me. My second bitch is my competition girl. She's been so much fun to run in agility and loves it as much as I do. I took this same bitch to a herding instinct certification test this spring which she passed. . Since I had won a herding lesson at one of the agility trials I decided to try it and have taken a few more lessons. I don't know yet how far I'll pursue herding.
Jumpers with weaves is my favorite event. There's no stopping for contacts or the table which enable the dogs and handlers to really fly.
I love that agility is a very objective test. If you run the course in the correct order, hit all your contacts and leave all the bars up you qualify. It's not based on a judge's interpretation which I believe puts everyone on a level playing field. And the other thing is that although only one person can win the class, it is possible (although not very likely) for everyone to get a qualifying run.
Although the training involved to compete successfully in a performance event is intensive, it's a wonderul opportunity to spend some real quality time with your dog.
Meet Anne Lively
I started in obedience about 20 years ago with Gloaming Wood Scotia, CD. I love conformation, but get all fumbley in the breed ring. Somebody else does that for me! But I love dog shows. There are a million stories at a dog show! And I love doing things with my dogs and I like competing, so the things we do in performance fit the bill.
I'm drawn to useful skills. The most challenging event we've competed in was for Zuzu's (Southland Christmas Carols, Am./Can. CD, RE, NDD, BPDX, HIC, VCX) draft dog title. Because it was such a challenge, it was also the most rewarding. There were so many obstacles and tight squeezes on the course – one tight lead or one bump and we'd have been out. We were one of the few non-Bernese Mountain Dogs there. Only 8 of the 19 dogs entered qualified and I was proud as anything that my Collie was one of them. The carting has translated well to our everyday lives. The dogs help by hauling firewood from the wood pile in the winter and the cart is useful for garden chores. It was an easy step from carting to dog sledding, which is a blast. My sister says that with the high cost of gas, having a draft dog may come in handy!
The American Working Collie Association's backpacking program is fun because it involves doing something I like to do with the dogs anyway – hiking. The miles hiked with the dog carrying a backpack count toward a title. The dogs like having a job.
Currently, I'm doing tracking with Zuzu and have just started Flute (Ch. Lisara Gloaming Wood Flute). Maybe THAT'S my favorite thing. It's awesome (and that's not a word I normally use, but
well . . . that's what it IS!) to put your dog on a scent and then put yourself in the hands of your dog. It's a mysterious world that only they know. Only the dog knows how to follow a scent. You must trust.
There's a wonderful camaraderie among performance people. Then there's the special closeness you develop with your dogs while training and working together. I consider dog class night our “girls night out.”
Meet Susan Martin
For me, it all depends on the character of the individual dog. Until Woody came along three years ago, I had trained and trialed
with at least
three of my collies but they didn't have the drive or the capacity to "give" that Woody does. I'm the kind of person who keeps puppies for
entire lives whether they turn out for conformation, obedience or as
a family friend. From the beginning, Woody was eager to learn, most
of all to play with me.
He stimulated my going to more classes, reading the literature on dog
training, especially the new ideas and philosophies about canine
intelligence. His "Want To" made me focus on him and on learning more and more. At
each stage of the game he outpaced my own expectations, he did more
and did it more willingly than any of my previous collies.
It is his
smile, his rear bumping against my side, the gleam in his eye when I
get out the leash and collar that keeps me going. It is our special
play time together. It isn't really work, it is pure joy of being together, learning and
bonding on a daily basis.
We truly LOVE RALLY. It is the great meeting ground between
obedience and agility. It is the place where a beginner can have the
experience of succeeding,
winning that elusive green ribbon that says, "You Qualified!" Rally
teaches quickness, flexibility of mind and body and builds the team.
I recommend Rally
to everyone who wants to try to work with their dogs for fun, for
ribbons, for future venues such as formal obedience, agility, herding
or walking in the park together. It is an artful creation of people who understand that dog training
is more than tense discipline. It is play, free flowing and fun.
The best part of competing in performance events is the spirit of
mutual support and encouragement that you find at an obedience trial,
a Rally-O trial
and agility events. Everyone can qualify if only the magic happens
between you and your dog. We all rejoice when someone does a great run. Isn't that nice? It surely makes me feel great when I drive home
from a performance event whether we qualified or not. Just taking
part is a big win for all of us. We have a dog trained enough, loved enough, and devoted enough to try.
I have taken numerous obedience classes. Ben was my first and I got him when I was 15 years old. He had an American and Canadian CD and two CDX legs. Drake was my second Collie. He had his American and Canadian CD as well and was a conformation champion. Tate is my third Collie. I started with him in agility four years ago when he was 10 months old. He is my star, having his AGI and his TD. We started tracking two years ago and he has his TT (temperment tested). He has his rally novice and we just started rally this year!! I just put a HIC on him. This gave him his VC with the AWCA. Funny, the only thing I haven't done is the obedience. I find it too restricting. I like to talk to my dog!
I'm not sure how I started, I think I just wanted to find something fun and different to do with Tate and keep his mind alert. I don't like my dogs to feel bored. My favorite by far is tracking. The dog is in control, not you. It is extremely rewarding and the people that track are like no other performance people. We are all so bonded with each other and truly root for the other person. We know how very hard it is to get a tracking title. Agility would be my second favorite, but, the sport is getting way too competitive for my liking -- people wanting faster dogs, etc.The fun is sometimes not there anymore when you see how disappointed some people get when they don't Q. Rally is growing on me slowly. I LOVE that you can encourage your dog in the ring, it's tons of fun! I'm not so sure about herding -- don't like the sheep poop!
All and all it's about the bonding with your dog, the more we do together the closer the bond becomes and that's what it's all about!
Meet Julia O'Rourke
I started competing in August of 2000. I went to our local dog training club to pratice conformation training and
signed up for an obedience class. There I noticed an agility class was
going to start and I stayed to watch. The instructor said you have to start
first in a begining class. Of course it stared before I got off work so I
started to beg to let me give it a try as I knew my smooth collie was quite
fearless and willing to do anything I asked her. The instructor said no one has ever been able to catch up with the other handlers. I said let us
just try and that was our foot in the door. She did just fine
and I have been competing ever since.
The best part of competing in performance events is that it is you and
the dog -- your friend who will do must anything for you if you give them the
proper guidance and love. You become a team for ever. Also you are outside
for the most part and you don't have to dress up -- no one cares and the
dogs don't care. Everyone cheers you on for the most part and we all try and
help with doing the different jobs that need to be done to keep the shows
I have my so many friends and learned so much from talking to a variety of
people at the different performance events which have helped me to be a
better partner with my dogs. If you like working and playing with your dogs
this is the way to go.
Meet Kim Parker
I have competed in performance events for 9 years. I started by going to a regular obedience class with my sheltie puppy and rescue Collie, Merlin. He didn't need the class since he was the best behaved dog ever, but Pat Edwards of Candle Haven suggested I take him to obedience so he would bond with me more. That started me on the road to more and more classes. When I finished the basic ones I then tried obedience and also agility. Then friends told me it was fun to compete. I never intended to compete, but, I went to see a trial in Springfield, Mass. and said to myself, we can do that -- and the rest is history.
My favorite events are all the agility venues, although I am now starting to train in tracking and have done some herding. The best part of any of these events is spending a wonderful day with my dogs and seeing friends.
Some of my best runs have not even been qualifying ones. When you just feel this connection and synergy with your dog -- it is like a waltz -- coming off a run like that is the best for me. The dogs always have fun no matter what they do in a run but it is that feeling that keeps it special for me.
Meet Gina Ryan
I started in obedience back in 1980 with my very first tri rough collie, Bo Rich's Sweet & Sassy CDX. I trained and showed her up to her first leg in utility. With many High In
Trials at both specilties and all-breed trials, she was an outstanding working collie.
I had come from a competitive horse show backround so it was only natural
that I wanted to compete with my collie
when i purchased "Sassy." I was guided by her breeder and became
involved in my local obedience club.
I LOVE agility! My dogs show such enthusiasm for the sport in all aspects
of their training. My young dogs go out and take to equipment that they have never seen
before with tons of drive. It literally "turns them on"!
It is so rewarding to be involved in something with them that they truly love.
I have also dabbled in herding, flyball, and lure coursing (for cross training) --
all of which set the stage for the dogs natural drive to kick into gear.
The best part about competing in performance events is seeing a dog express itself through
it's attitude, athletiscism and natural drive. All of these are based on temperment, soundness and instinct, which
are all important parts of a dogs genetic make up. I seriously consider them
when planning my future pedigrees for the breed and performance rings.
Performance training and events encourage a foundation for building a great trust and
bond between owner and dog. It is not about my dog doing what I forced it to do, but rather about me doing my part to teach and guide the dog to perform
at his optimum capacity and him responding to that training in an eager way. When he excels in the sport we are both rewarded. There is nothing like being a part of a team with an animal that you love and respect.
Collies love to work and love to please. They are a great breed for performance and
performance work will accentuate a dogs energy level, attitude and fitness level. I encourage anyone who is just doing breed ring competition to get involved
in some performance events. You and your dog will be rewarded in many ways.
Meet Joan Scialdone
I have competed in performance events since 1978. That was when obedience was just about the only choice. I got started with my rescue Collie, Laddie, who came to me at 3 years of age with numerous parasites, heartworm and severe malnutrition--once his problems were treated, his bad habits began to surface; obedience turned that behavior around and made such a difference, I
became hooked on the sport and felt it was great training for any dog--especially a large breed--to learn basic manners and become a good canine citizen.
My favorite performance event is Agility. Second would be Rally--third Obedience and fourth Herding Instinct Testing. Agility is fast, fun and exciting--Rally is a great way to bond with your dog--start a puppy off or give a veteran dog a new activity--it's a fun event that allows you to talk to your dog and encourage them through a set of obstacles. Obedience is the building blocks to a well behaved dog who is a delight to live with and take places. Herding instinct is amazing to watch--you have a dog who has never seen stock in its life; yet, when you introduce them to sheep or ducks, a light goes on--and the herding instinct from their past ancestors comes alive and they begin to move stock around like they've done it all their lives! Incredible. All performance activities are great team builders for a dog and handler.
The best part about working in performance is how it strengthens the bond with your dog. You learn how to read each other's body language and complement each other; you have to work as a team to get over an obstacle course under time and with minimal faults, or through a Rally course, or
finding that glove at the end of a track. It's spending quality time together--and is great fun for both of you--if you have a dog with a high energy level--it channels that energy in a positive direction--and, oh, did I say how much FUN it is???!!!
Performance events can give a dog activities and options to keep them from getting bored or sedentary. From Agility, to Backpacking, to Flyball, to Freestyle, to Herding, to Obedience, to Pet Therapy, to Tracking, to anything you can imagine--the possibilities are endless . . .
Meet Elizabeth Smith
I have competed in performance events since 1985. My first CD was with Jil Cris Copper Legend. We started doing match shows around 1983. I got started with obedience classes, watching obedience at match shows, and stewarding obedience at match shows.
I always look for activities to train my dog(s) to do and participate.
I like to give my dogs a well-rounded education in obedience, rally, agility, and carting. Each dog will tell you what he likes best. Each dog is tested for herding instinct. All my dogs have made numerous visits to nursing homes and have participated in many public relation events doing demonstrations where various performance activities are shown to the public, library reading programs, and parades. I like a very versatile dog.
The best part is spending the day with your dog and seeing him perform and what parts of the performance need to be worked on. Also it's nice spending time training the dogs, meeting people and showing them the many activities that can be done with our four footed friends.
Meet Peg Smith
I've been competing in performance events for about five years. I
got started when a friend invited me to a breed show and as I watched, I
thought about the wonderful dogs I had at home and that I should do
something with them that would get them out where the rest of the world
could appreciate them. One visit to an agility class was all it took.
favorite events are agility and rally. They were especially fun at the
National Specialty where all the "stars" were Collies. The best part about
competing is the bond you develop with your dog in the process of training
and competing. The next best part is all the wonderful friends you meet and
share the sport with. I've learned more in the last five years about my
dogs and about training than I knew was possible. I've also had the good
fortune to train with some extremely talented teachers. It's been
heartwarming to have the breeders take an interest in their dog's
performance ability and that's been a good relationship as well.
Meet Kris Thober
I have competed in performance events since 1987. I started with obedience competition, and still remember my
very first Novice A class. I didn't breathe from the minute I entered the ring until I left, I think!!
I trained horses for other people all through high school and college,
and loved to work with animals. We always had a dog growing up, and my
father always insisted on attending a basic obedience class with them as
a puppy. "A good dog is a good family member!" he would say. After
college, I remember driving by a dog show one day and I stopped in to
watch. I spent a few hours just sitting on the grass watching the
obedience ring, fascinated by the various performances. I knew I wanted
my own puppy, and now I knew what I wanted to do with him. I've been
hooked ever since. Now I teach classes in obedience and agility as well,
and I love to see how other people get bitten by the bug.
I love to heel with my dog. There's energy going back and forth as he
follows your every move and change of pace, almost like a dance. I am
always impressed by a nice heeling dog, for it shows a dog's willingness
to work and be with his/her owner.
My other favorite event is the jumper's course in agility. It can be
exhilarating to navigate an intricate course at full speed, and my dog
really loves to jump. I enjoy the mental challenges that agility can
throw at you -- frustrating at times but so rewarding when we're successful.
The best part is the relationship that is built with my dog as we spend
time learning the various exercises and practice. I should also mention
the relationships and friendships that are built with other people who
enjoy the same sports as I -- they are worth their weight in gold. For
the most part, everyone is truly cheering you on. We compete with the
clock in agility or our own best performance in obedience, as opposed to
each other. It's a wonderful environment, and as they say -- even a bad
day at a dog show beats a good day at work anytime!! And a good day at a
dog show is absolutely the best feeling.
I wish there were more days in a week so I could have the time to try
other performance events! There are so many more things I wish I could
try. I have done some herding, been run over by six sheep with an
over-zealous dog pushing them towards me! I've tried tracking, which is
lots of fun. Flyball looks like a hoot, too! But with a full-time job, a
husband, and teaching classes -- if I want to do something well I've had
to concentrate on just a few things. Bummer!
Meet Kathryn Weare
We have been competing in performance events since 1978. Peg Vohr of Mariner Collies talked to us about this . . .
and we belonged to the Piscataquis Obedience Club for many years
and took classes in Kittery, Maine. We now take agility classes at Its a Dog's
World in York.
The same facility also offers breed handling with Sue Burrell and we've done
Agility is my favorite sport. My first bitch in the sport was Louise,
who tied for 5th place about five years ago in Novice Standard.
The best part about competing in these events is the camaraderie among fellow competitors and non-political judging.
All forms of performance events are excellent means to build confidence in your dog and create a special relationship with your dog and their human.
Breed and performance are by no means exclusive venues and I have always
enjoyed doing both. Eve's mother Ch Deep River Rotten to the Core also does
agility and will be out to participate in the fall.
Meet Nancy Woodle
I have been competing for a little over a year. We all noticed that Marlow was a natural born
athlete,with great structure and lots of drive. Someone suggested Agility and
the rest is history.
I really don't have a favorite event, but, the best part is the excitement of the dogs and the people, and most of all, how much
Marlow loves performing. People and dogs really work hard for this sport because of the
enjoyment it gives them.