Story by Candy Wisnieski
Photos by Nancy McDonald
Sunnybank came alive a day early this Gathering Weekend with Tuff Quest Day, a Friday seminar in the park followed by an evening Gala. Managed by event chair, Leigh Cohen and dramatized by Seminar Leader John Buddie, the Seminar and Gala reflected the true spirit of Sunnybank and the high standard of excellence set by the many Gatherings before them. The spirits of “The Place” must have been pleased, for they smiled on us for the rest of a magical Gathering weekend.
The day was introduced by Marjorie Tuff with a brief history of Tuff Quest and its mission to provide scholarships for juniors who handle collies in any field that they chose to pursue in college.
The atmosphere for the seminar was reminiscent of the old days of benched shows such as Morris and Essex where there was a lot of time in the benching area to observe and discuss the dogs in a relaxed way mixed with a kind of sitting-around-the-kitchen-table chat. John began the seminar by discussing the parts of the breed standards for the Collie and other breeds represented that refer specifically to the character of the breed and the inner spirit of the dog. He then talked at length about the various stages of raising a puppy in an environment that allows the character and spirit to emerge, starting with neo-natal stimulation in the first few days of life and progressing through challenging puppies to explore and find fun in new places, objects and people though the following weeks and months.
After a splendid lunch arranged by Leigh, a large check was presented to Marjorie Tuff on behalf of the seminar, and it was time to bring the dogs into the ring to practice the principles of the morning session. John's training mantra is Play-Train-Play, and the training tool of the seminar was the clicker. This was hands-on fun set to music and it ended with a couple of rounds of fairly riotous musical chairs. We all laughed a lot; the dogs had a great time; and the adults were only slightly embarrassed to step into the ring with such accomplished junior handlers.
There was a quick break to return to the hotel, change and X-dogs and a bus arrived to ferry everybody to the gala at the Cohen house. There was a gorgeous dinner, accompanied by great fellowship and followed by auctions--a Chinese auction included in the gala ticket which offered things like a tack box and a dog dryer and a live auction which included things like an original Pati Merrill painting, a lead ad on Colliesonline , a Collies Expressions cover, a set of CCA DVD's, and a magnificent kangaroo leather beaded show lead. The friends of Tuff Quest are indeed generous.
Tuff Quest Day at Sunnybank was a spectacular success and with its sister event for the Collie Rescue Foundation in 2007, the Gathering Friday has become an inspiring beginning to the weekend.