The view at our house today, somehow snow on Halloween is just...not right...
Hopefully it won't last!
The lone qualifier, a super working German Shepherd, new UTD!
My instructor and her Sheltie, with the backdrop of Lake Ontario. It was very, very windy off the lake on this hill. Very tough.
A super working German Shepherd at the UDTX level who was oh-so-close to qualifying. The judge and the tracklayer follow behind.
The same dog as above, nearing an article. Three articles are to be found on a UTDX track.
I was impressed!!
O.T. Ch. Grayfield MacDuff, Can. U.D., Am. C.D.X., Bda. C.D. - "Duffy" - when we first got him.
Me at 13 years old with Duffy - we got him in October so this was his Halloween costume! He was dressed as: a baby of course! Sorry buddy.....
Duffy graduating from "Canine College" Basic Obedience class. The instructor was Hazel Slaughter of Meridian Shelties.
Duffy went everywhere with us. Here he is on a family vacation before he was a year old.
Growing up through your teenage years into your twenties with a dog that you train through to a Utility Dog title creates a bond that really, is difficult to duplicate, although I've had a few very, very special ones. (They're all special but...some are just a little extra special).
Duffy and me at the cottage, a place that he loved. He was a really energetic dog, and this place was one that could tire him out.
My sister Sandra and Duffy floating along at the cottage. He learned to swim by falling off the motorboat and never looked back. He was a great swimmer, especially for a Sheltie, and would even dive underwater to retrieve stuff. We couldn't go out on the water in a boat if he was out, because he would follow on the shore and try to swim out no matter how far away we were. He swam with us all the time.
Dad throwing a ball for Duffy, and our second Sheltie Robbie, our first conformation dog, who joined the family about a year and a half after Duffy (two kids who want to train their dog for competition can't have just one dog!). By this point we were interested in conformation too and wanted a dog that could finish his Championship, as well as doing obedience. (Robbie became Ch. & O.T. Ch. Summit's Laird Of Heath, Can. U.D., Am. C.D.X., Bda. C.D.).
Robbie and Duffy on the sailboat. These two had quite the life. They weren't left out of anything.
This picture was of three Shelties all from the same Obedience Club taking 1st - 3rd in a competitive Open "B" class. First was Beryl Cassidy with her unbeatable Robyndale's Free To Be (many titles!) who rarely scored under 198 and very often was 199-200. He had many perfect scores and was Top Obedience Dog All Breeds in Canada. Second was me with Duffy and third was Sue Danziger with Ch. & O.T. Ch. Grayfield Pepper And Salt U.D. We all trained together.
Duffy was a very game and fun loving dog. Here he's playing tug with my friend's Cairn Terrier. He played tug with the best of them, you could lift him off the ground with a tug toy, and of course, we did!
Our very first Utility trial, pictured with two others from our Club who earned legs that day as well. We not only passed but placed first! Wow, I guess we were hot stuff! Not so fast! My dog was just putting me through the gears as he usually did. He failed the next 11 Utility trials he was entered in! That was SO Duffy. Then after I was good and humbled, he passed three in a row to finish with an extra leg. He could be an awesome worker, but he could also just do exactly what he wanted. As I was just about to enter the ring I would try to get him to look me in the eye, if he would, we were good....if not.... When earning his C.D.X., the first trial he failed everything except Heeling and the Drop on Recall. Everything! Even both the Long Sit and Down. The very next day, he tied for High In Trial. That was Duffy in a nutshell.
In 1979 a friend and I headed to Bermuda with our dogs, I took both Duffy and Robbie. Robbie, usually the more consistent of the two, did pass and earn his C.D., but was really bothered by the sudden warm weather and didn't work nearly as well as he usually did. Duffy, on the other hand, brought his "A" game, looked me straight in the eye, and did fantastic. With super stiff top competition from the U.S. and Canada, he took a High In Trial, First places, had super high scores and won the Visitors trophy for the Highest Combined score of all the visiting competing dogs (pretty much all were visitors). Of course I had to take a picture of him with all his loot. It was an awesome trip. I was so lucky to be invited to judge the same trials in Bermuda 15 years later.
Duffy on the dock drinking water from the lake. This was in 1980, he was 10 years old.
My favourite picture of my best boy and I. We lost him on October 21, 1981, at only just over 11 years old to a very aggressive cancer. It's difficult to even try to describe what he meant to me or how much it hurt to lose him. No wonder I couldn't get enough of this breed, with a start like this.
In the right light, their feather colours are beautiful.
Can you tell which are the boys and which are the girls? Why yes, you can!
The above picture I took this afternoon, three really big boys in the yard. Run guys!
All kinds of things can happen too, there was a farm dog that came out and barked at one dog doing it's track, but stayed far enough away and it didn't seem to bother the dog tracking. I saw a few birds fly out of the grass, which might distract some dogs too. A farmer drove a tractor through the field during a couple of tests. A kid twice rode by on a super noisy tractor-toy on the road where the dogs were entering into the field to do their track, but it didn't disturb the dogs that were there at those particular times. So the conditions are never the same for each dog and that's part of the challenge and the fun of it, and is the nature of tracking.
I loved the atmosphere of the test, everyone so friendly and really pulling for each other. The host club was very welcoming to all, and had a nice hot lunch for everyone after the tests, which was so perfect after being outside all morning. It was interesting that there were three people there (two competing, one watching) that have been extremely successful in conformation as breeders/exhibitors (BIS, BISS, etc., one also judges conformation) but are no longer so involved in that arena, although they are still out there doing other things with their dogs. One commented to me that the atmosphere of the test was like showing was when she first started but is no more. I had to agree with that. So when we wonder where all the dogs and people have gone, some are definitely still there but doing other things.
The tracking judge had an apprentice judge working with her from the Maritimes, that was interesting to me as I didn't realize tracking judges had to go through that requirement (as do obedience judges). It must be difficult and expensive for them to fulfill the apprenticeship requirement as they have to apprentice at three separate tests per level with a minimum number of dogs required, with three different judges, and tracking tests are few and far between. They have to plot some of the tracks themselves under the supervision of the licensed judge. They don't have the oral examination requirement that obedience judges have but otherwise it is very much the same process. I have often wondered why conformation judges would not have some sort of apprenticeship step to complete, and why no oral examination either (the hardest part of all, in my opinion. This step will prove whether you can think quickly and decisively or not, and is very telling as to your level of knowledge as well). Conformation goes from written to permit with no steps in between. And the written exam is only done once, for the first permit. While obedience and tracking judges, etc. have to have titled dogs to the level they are applying for, conformation judges don't have to have ever bred one litter or finished one champion (from the requirements: an applicant other than a breeder must have a minimum of 15 years documented experience in the sport of purebred dogs (showing, club membership, official position, etc.). Doesn't that seem a little too simple? Never bred a single litter, maybe never finished a single Champion, a written test only and then go right to permit, you never have to open your mouth to explain anything to anyone about your thought processes or what you know or don't know? Wow. But I digress.
My instructor was there too, not competing, so it was great to stick close to her as she would comment on things she observed, things to do and not do, which gave me some really good tips. I learned a lot - hopefully I can remember what I need to remember when I need it!
All in all, it helped to get me motivated again (I think the all-weather part is taking some getting used to for me!). Terry has offered to lay tracks for us, so I'm off to show him how to do that and to get my dog ready for next year!
My new ride! You are sitting very upright in the front, can see the whole front end and feel high up. The perfect short person's vehicle, although tons of headroom too. Drives like a car.
The widest between the wheel wells of all that we saw, even bigger vehicles. Easily fits two Deluxe Vari Kennels side by side in the back, with the back seat still up. There are several locations of tie-down rings for bungee cords. I love the way the back door opens to the side, instead of lifting a heavy door up. Also, so much lower to the ground so you aren't lifting heavy equipment up high and then in, another plus for the short folks!
Interior space with the back seats down. There are two handles in the back, one on each side at arm level, you grasp those and thunk, the back seats drop down flat. I didn't see another that does that. You could fit four crates in it with the seats down. They are split back seats so you can have one up and one down too. The vinyl part in the back is carpeted on the other side, which is how it came, just flip it over and you have the vinyl side, so the carpet stays clean. Because the spare is on the back of the car, there are two separate empty storage compartments under the vinyl flooring, one very large (like a hidden trunk) and one smaller one.
I'm not a Toyota salesperson, nor do I play one on TV, I'm just completely in love with this car!!