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This page gives subscribers access to view individual articles that have been published in Front & Finish® magazine.  This section of our site is updated more frequently than is possible with our monthly journal, so additional content will also provided.  Easier articles to browse and read!  Great viewing on smaller portable devices (such as smartphones).

Access to content is available by following the links in the index below or you can scroll through the postings one-by-one.  Available content is based upon editor selection but please let us know if there's an article from the past you want published.  If you want it, others surely do as well!

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  • Monday, October 01, 2018 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    by Catherine Zinsky

    "Wait-Watchers" is NOT the same as "Weight-Watchers".  They have nothing in common.   The "Wait-watcher's" Game is an attention game I play with young dogs to teach them precisely what I mean when I say 'watch'.   It starts small and grows big--but in small increments.  Having a sound foundation is more important than rushing the learning curve!

    Teaching 'Wait-Watchers' goes like this:

    1. Have your dog on a six foot leash and sitting.

    2. Tell your dog to stay and go out to the end of the leash.

    3. Turn and face your dog.

    4. While initially talking quietly to your dog the entire time so as to keep him engaged and while still facing your dog, slowly arc to the right and then to the left, keeping your dog's attention the entire time. 

    5. Apply some light tension to the leash to a) reinforce the sit 'stay'  and b) help keep your dog's focus.

    6. Include the word 'watch' or 'look' in your discussion with your dog as you slowly move left and right.  This ultimately puts the word to the skill!

    7. Be sure to make eye contact the entire time you are talking and moving.  

    8. Keep it SHORT at first.  Don't overdue and suddenly have no dog. Train through success and build understanding and clarity through each small success.  Be patient.

    9. Release your dog TOWARDS you with a toy or treat!  Have the dog want to watch!!!  Build his anticipation and eagerness. (I often use the 1-2-3 Game [see September 2018  Front & Finish issue] to release my dog!)

    10. Once released and rewarded, engage with your dog!  Build 'want-to'.

    Obviously as my dog grasps this game, I switch to a retractable lead and progressively build distance while gradually weaning my dog from verbal stimuli. Again, this is not an overnight miracle.  It's done over period of time and distance is only gained through the successes my dog achieves along the way. 

    This is an easy, yet enjoyable way to teach your dog what 'watch' means.  




  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 11:30 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Welcome to the first F&F WebMag!

    This month we will start publishing F&F articles on our site that are optimized for small portable devices (such as smartphones).  We call this our WebMag edition and will publish it alongside our usual PDF format.  The goal of this endeavor is to give readers a chance to see if they find this design a valuable resource.

    As magazine publishers continue to experiment with different internet technologies, this type of format is starting to emerge as a preference for subscribers because it is much easier to navigate and find the material that interests them.  WebMag formats are "responsive" which means that articles "reflow" to match the screen size in which articles are viewed.  This makes reading content much easier than flipbook formats which require a lot of zooming, panning, and scrolling.

    The September issue is our first attempt at setting this kind of format.  We're working like dogs to try and learn it so we can provide our readers this additional functionality.  If the fancy likes it, we'll keep it around.  If not we'll continue to publish our traditional format.

    We hope you enjoy this attempt to provide our publication to you for a more enjoyable experience!  It's also something exhibitors can easily access while waiting their turn at a trial!  Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know how you like it!  Just click the "Add Comment" link in the bottom left hand corner of this frame.

    Bob Self
    Front & Finish
    The Dog Trainer's News

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 11:00 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)
    So many exhibitors across the country can recall a time they were in a ring with her on the back side of the clipboard. She was one of the most compassionate judges and many a team won their first qualifying score or their final score to complete a title in her ring. She was just as excited as the exhibitor was to see them succeed and complete whatever title, be it in obedience or rally. She got into agility with her Poodles and loved that sport as well.

    Diane started her life in obedience with Scotties. She put a U.D. on her first ever dog and Scottie. (Tell you just how tenacious she was.) Tykie was one of a kind and Diane brought the best out in him. Her next Scottie, Penny, wasn't as wild about Utility and so achieved her CDX and spot as family loved dog forever. Onward Diane went and got into Poodles. That's the breed we most often associate her with. She LOVED her Poodles! I am proud to have been the breeder on three of her last four Poodles. She was most proud of her CH OTCH MACH Donnchada Fancy Dancer, RE, etc. She persevered with each and every dog ... conquering difficulties with each one of them.

    She was one of the most fair competition judges this sport has known. She judged a number of the top obedience competitions across the country. I know of no one who ever thought she was leaning toward one exhibitor or another ... because she wasn't. She judged each performance singularly and objectively. 

    As one of her best friends for the past 45 years, I can tell you she was staunch in her beliefs of right or wrong. She was unmovable in her morals. She was going to tell you the truth and she was going to live by the truth no matter what. 

    Diane, Bonnie Barry, and I traveled together for many years while we all lived in the Chicago area. She took her fun as seriously as she took her judging. A great sense of humor and a great love of life ... she will always be remembered as one of the human super powers in my life.

    I don't believe the essence of a person ever dies. While her human form may be gone, her heart and soul and love will live on forever ... as long as we all remember her and continue to love her. 

    Lora Seale 

    ... the last of the Terrific Trio. Kent Delaney referred to us as the Three Musketeers. May our legacy live forever. Keep the stories and tales a'comin' folks. We were a legend in our own minds.

    Twins Judging

    Diane & Her Poodles

    Diane Awarded a MACH with Tango

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 10:30 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Thank You!

    I want to thank those individuals who support our love of dogs by contributing their expertise to F&F.  Month after month these devotees spend untold hours putting together articles to support humane training tips and advice on trialing dogs in competitive events.  While social media plays an important role in the day-to-day activities of our sport, the authors who support F&F also believe it’s important for our sport to maintain a monthly journal.  

    When reading articles one typically doesn’t take time to realize the amount of effort it takes to produce the work.  But looking at things “behind the scenes” it’s easy for us to vouch for our writers’ dedication to the sport.  

    Even when working by oneself, it is a considerable process to put together a continuing column.  Add to that the fact that we work “across the miles”, a host of other planning and communicative factors can come into play.  The individuals who allow us to publish their material never complain about the additional considerations and they are always gracious in helping us to meet deadlines.

    If it were not for the efforts of these dedicated souls, our sport would certainly be compromised.  It is an unmitigated honor for F&F to have their support in allowing us to share their material.

    Thanking our enduring authors…

    Dee Dee Anderson ~ Club Highlights, NOC & RNC Feature Articles
    John Cox ~ Random Little Tidbits
    Janice Gunn ~ A Foray
    Laurie Lo ~ Confessions of an Obedience Junkie
    Marilyn Miller ~ Doggedly Obedient
    Deborah Neufeld ~ A Common Bond
    Connie Cleveland-Nolan ~ Dogs Are Problem Solvers
    Michael Pamela ~ Tracking - A Walk Done Nicely
    Catherine Zinsky ~ Playing By The Rules

    Welcoming our new writers…

    Deb Fletcher ~ Performance Akitas
    Holly Furgason ~ Mastering Rally
    Joshua Wiggins ~ Profile 200

    Commending our ratings statistician…

    Beyond those who author articles and columns, a special thank you must be extended to Dave Pluth who tabulates our rating system reports.  It has been such a pleasure to work with Dave! His understanding of the sport has made it immensely easier to communicate our needs.  Dave has always worked efficiently and most importantly accurately.  From time to time we receive individual questions about a dog's placement, but the questions have always revolved around the interpretation of the protocols by which the results are tabulated.  To date, I do not recall a single incident where there has been an error in the calculation of any team's score, or placement of any team's ranking. Subscribers who have been around awhile may remember difficulties we once faced providing these results. Dave's efforts have eliminated every obstacle from the past.  Dave's mastery in providing these results for the fancy is only outshined by his respect for accurate results which exhibitors find so valuable.

    Condolences ~ Diane Probst

    It is with sincere regret that we have to say goodbye to Diane Probst. Diane was a highly regarded obedience judge and competitor.  She always had the best interests of the sport in mind and always demonstrated this respect.  I remember when no stewards showed up for a judging assignment I once had in Chicago. As soon as she found out my predicament, Diane jumped the gates and without hesitation pitched in setting up jumps and catering to my every need.  When someone like that tenders their help, you never forget the moment you look in their eyes and feel such comforting support.  I’ve looked up to Diane as a spectator and judge.  I’ll always miss the caliber of her integrity.


    PICTURE CAPTION: Diane Probst Judging at the 2015 Scottish deerhound National Specialty

    Upcoming Survey

    A couple months ago we delayed the F&F Survey to give the fancy a chance to have more experience with the newest regulation changes in obedience.  At this time we are finalizing questions for this survey which will be released mid September.  The survey will be conducted online and will be announced through individual subscriber emails, on the Front & Finish Facebook Page, in the NOL Facebook Group, and on our website.  Results will be released in October.

    Your First Dog

    We'd like you to tell us a bit about your first dog.  You know... the very, very first one...  The one that probably had a lot to do with your love of dogs now...

     I have posted this question in our Facebook group (, if you'd prefer to respond there...  Optionally email me your narrative ( We'll try to get all responses published.  A picture would be great too!

    Domino was my first...

    My first dog was named Domino.  Domino was a stray that wandered by our home one day.  He was a scruffy "beagle-like" dog who was always happy to accept any handout we could offer.  He was greedy for both food and backrubs.

    In all honesty I wish I had a better recollection of Domino.  No doubt my memories were persuaded by the old black & white movies we used to watch at home every Thanksgiving holiday.  I remember that I could never beat him in a backyard race. I also recall that he wasn't very obedient, although I didn't care much about that at the time.  Everyone always got a chuckle out of watching me nail the poor mutt in his doghouse to prevent possible getaways.  I'm guessing dad had something to do with his later release.

    Domino had some competition because I'd been around tons of dogs since the day I was born.  But Domino was the first one I could call my own.  I guess it's fortunate that I don't remember the day he had to leave.  I only know of the good times and the love we shared.

    Now it's your turn...  It doesn't have to be a long essay but f few words would be appreciated so much!  We need to get back to our roots in obedience. Maybe this can help us appreciate where are interests were planted.

    Facebook Addresses

    As I understand it, just because someone "likes" a page on Facebook doesn't mean they'll be notified of all posts occurring there.  Facebook's algorithms determine what is shared.  However, members who belong to private Facebook group can receive access to all posts. Beyond other discussions we're now posting F&F updates to our Facebook group (National Obedience League for Dog Trainers).  We'd love to have you like our page ( but we'd really like you to check out our group (

    Testing A New F&F Issue Format

    Okay I save all of this till last.  Some of you could care less so all you need to know is that for the next few issues will be publishing F&F in it's standard PDF format and also a new "website" format that offers a lot of advantages to the reader.  You should check it out at  Now... feel free to stop reading!  

    Now... the details for those of you who want to know more.

    Publishers today have unique challenges that weren’t evident a few years ago.  The fact that publishers are using synonyms like flipbook, e-zine, webzine, cyberzine, hyperzine, and a host of other names to describe the same thing, exemplifies the sate of flux that the industry is in.

    F&F continues to do well in this state of instability and it is something we are very proud of.  Although we're a small niche group we're also mighty!  The continuance of F&F is one measure that suggests our sport retains the sustenance to carry on.

    Over the next few months we will be testing an additional format in which to view your F&F issues.  We'll also continue to publish F&F in its usual PDF file format as well.

    Why the additional format?

    Although the PDF format has proven successful for our readership it retains a number of negative elements that we’d like to improve upon.  

    •     While looking more like a traditional print publication, PDF files can be large in file size, which makes transmitting them difficult.

    •     Replicating magazines in digital form makes them difficult to navigate and read because they require a lot of zooming, panning, and scrolling across pages.

    •     Inserting video and other multimedia features directly in PDF files increases their size to impractical levels.  To include media features, publishers have to utilize “animated flipping page” services that we have tried in the past. Our subscribers did not care for this type of publication and other magazines are discovering this fact as well.

    We spent a great deal of time looking into the best options for our readers and it hasn't been an easy process.  The market of online publishers is like a forest of trees and we felt like a dog trying to pee on each one.  As soon as we discovered a great looking possibility another tree across the valley looked even better.  Sadly, at the end of the day we found that for peeing purposes, a tree is pretty much a tree, and for online publishing purposes, one services is about the same as another.

    The effort invested wasn't a waste of time however!  We started looking at a variety of magazines that were doing well online. What we discovered is that many of the well-known journals are passing by the "downloadable app, flipping page, technology" in favor of web-based formats.  It appears that they are coming to the realization that reading paper magazines is different than reading articles online, and there is no use trying to emulate one with the other.

    In fact, highly successful magazines such as Time, Scientific American, Harvard Business Review, and The Atlantic, are noted to be leading examples for the online publishing industry.  While the look of these publications doesn't replicate the look of the magazine they are providing for a much richer reading experience for their subscribers.  Here are some of the benefits.

    •     Website Magazines are typically published in “responsive format”.  This means that the content “reflows” to look good on any device.  This makes articles so much easier to read no matter what device subscribers are on (smartphone, tablet, computer).

    •     Readers can view Website Magazines directly in any web browser and there are much fewer compatibility issues.  Users don't need to maintain any special apps to view articles and they can access their subscriptions almost anywhere.

    •     Website Magazines offer much more interactivity with the reader.  If subscribers choose to participate, website magazine often offer opportunities to comment on articles, follow suggested resources easier, and be able to view a variety of multimedia.

    •     Website Magazines can be updated to reflect more timely info.  Depending on editorial policies, material can be added or updated after issues are released.

    •     Website Magazines make it much easier for readers to view multimedia content that is associated with articles. 

    •     Website Magazines are still organized by issue, which allows subscribers to go back and review previous issues.  Back issues are kept in an online library for readers to access.

    •     Website Magazines make it easier to locate articles of interest.  A table of contents and search features allow subscribers to locate this material.

    To see if subscribers like the new format, we will begin publishing F&F in both the PDF and Website Magazine versions.  This is a new experience for us but we hope to update the new F&F Website Magazine version with updates later in the month.  Like always we'll notify you through email, Facebook, and on our website as updates occur.  Since we hate junk mail as much as you, emailed updates will not be sent until/unless several updates have been added. 

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 10:00 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    First & Foremost #1 All-American Dog ~ 2017

    by Andy Highland

    I am thrilled that my cherished girl, Reckless (Reckless Abandon vd Rod), was rated among the top Obedience competitors in the USA by First & Foremost.

    A large community of folks deserve credit for that achievement as MANY people gave of themselves to make it happen. They shared their knowledge, ideas, training efforts, a few kicks in my butt, lots of laughter and endless encouragement. I thank each and every one who helped us. This honor goes to them!

    AKC Obedience competition was a rocky road for us. Here is our story in hopes that it provides incentive for others to get into the ring with their dog, no matter the obstacles encountered. The rewards of having fun together with your dog while working to be the best team that you can be are immeasurable.

    Reckless and I have been companion workers ever since I brought her home to my farm as a pup. At that time, my only focus was on training a reliable farm dog to help me with livestock chores. I had never trained a dog for any sort of sport off the farm and the thought never occurred to me.

    For needed socialization and exposure to the outside world, I took Reckless to a variety of fun classes. It is thanks to the many wonderful people and dogs that we met at classes for Puppy Fun, Agility, Tricks, Free-style, Scent Work, Obedience and more, that Reckless truly blossomed beyond excelling as my outstanding farm companion.

    When Reckless was about 3 yrs. old, our Obedience class instructor at Breakaway Action Dogs talked me into taking advanced classes at Catoctin Kennel Club (CKC). At that time, CKC required its Obedience students to compete. Yikes! Now I had to straighten up my act in order to do right by Reckless.

    Once we started competing, we were hooked. However, I had made so many short-sighted training mistakes early on, that we faced myriad challenges trying to correct those wrongs. Reckless was always ready and eager to try anything, so we kept working on tackling each & every problem using short, playful exercises that kept boredom away and required Reckless to stay alert and focused.

    We hit a seemingly insurmountable road-block with the out-of-sight stays. My dog had been raised to remain alert and focused on her job which included always keeping an eye on me. Reckless took that responsibility seriously and could not relax when I went out-of-sight while she was working. At one trial, during the long down stay, there was laughter from the audience while we handlers were out of sight. On our return to the ring, I could see Reckless, still in a down, almost all the way across the ring to the gate. She reportedly had crawled commando-style without ever lifting her tummy off the floor. It took us years, trying most every training idea people shared with me to fix the problem. Nothing worked until I tried setting a "jackpot" food reward behind her during practices to give her something besides me to focus on during the out-of-sight exercises. The jackpot worked with time and Reckless finally earned her CDX.

    Once we were working on Utility, Reckless had a problem with vocalization during the Directed Jumping exercise. Her enthusiasm and exuberance in the ring were always a joy to behold. However, it was difficult for her to remain silent. At one trial, I brought a pair of hearing protectors for the judge to wear because he told me that he did not want to hear a sound from Reckless while she was in the ring. Again, it was the use of high-value training treats, used to reward silence, that finally paid off for the most part. It was never a done deal. We lost lots of points for noise in the ring over the years.

    At summer's end, 2014, we were a well-greased team on the farm and I believed Reckless was ready to get her UDX title. My family juggled schedules and we arranged farm coverage so that Reckless & I could enter trials around our state. All plans were in order, when the AKC notified me that I could not compete with Reckless. Someone had registered a complaint that my dog appeared to be a mixed-breed. Until the AKC made a determination as to whether or not she was a purebred dog, Reckless could not participate in any AKC events. Oh NO!

    Although very upset that we were being unfairly thrown out of the sport at the prime of Reckless's life, I knew that it was just a matter of us losing precious time until the AKC would reinstate Reckless's Bouvier des Flandres (BdF) registration. Despite her "genetic throw-back" appearance, Reckless meets the requirements of the BdF breed standard. The AKC had plenty of proof that Reckless is a purebred dog. The AKC's own DNA Dept. had investigated the breeding and conducted parentage, DNA analyses in 2011. Their findings had proven that Reckless is the off-spring of her BdF sire and BdF dam. The AKC also had the multi-generational BdF registration records along with related documents and they were given photos of ancestors in her lineage.

    Shockingly, a month after she turned 6 yrs., the AKC rescinded Reckless's purebred registration based upon their determination that her appearance is "unrepresentative" of her breed. Crushing news! I was ready to call it quits. Then, I looked into my dog's eyes. Her bright light glowed and reminded me of what is important. The immense love and amazing bond that we were building together with our teamwork was the prize. It is the only thing that really matters. 

    With my pleas, the AKC agreed to allow Reckless to continue the sport of Obedience with re-registration as an All American Dog.

    The entire community of folks who knew and loved Reckless stood behind her and provided us with cheers and encouragement as we stayed with the game. She made friends everywhere she went while I enjoyed the amazing teams we had the privilege of getting to watch and learn from at trials. Performance teams are the BEST!

    Despite being blocked from all of the breed-only trials, Reckless & I were able to attend enough trials over time to slowly gather the Master titles that delighted me. We kept working on the task of refining our precision and timing. I never thought much about OTCH points because my focus was on improving our teamwork and achieving Master points. When Reckless earned an OTCH during our journey, it was icing on our cake.

    In Sept. 2017, Reckless earned the Obedience Grand Master title. That made my heart sing! With that accomplishment, we retired from competition. Reckless & I left the ring feeling the joy of having made many friends and having mastered advanced performance. Most importantly, with our years of teamwork, we had built the most valuable treasure that any human and canine can share: a solid bond of love and trust.  I wish that same priceless joy for others. Get out there and play with your dog! I will be cheering for you!

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 9:00 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    By Deborah Neufeld

    The training is what excites me most about Obedience. Seeing the dog figure out what we want and work to please us is a genuine rush. It’s not just the dogs that have to figure things out, though, handlers do as well. I’ve encountered my fair share of problems related to training for Obedience or Rally, and it’s not the “easy” exercises that are most memorable. It is the hard-won challenges that are most prized. 

    My current Cavalier, Dylan, was the victim of a thoughtless handler at ringside who ignored his 5-month-old large breed puppy. The puppy on a 6-foot leash was pouncing on my Cavalier’s soft crate repeatedly with Dylan in it. By the time I got back from a bathroom trip, my little guy was defending himself from inside the crate by charging at the puppy through the crate. Little did I know how deeply this one incident would affect him. As we continued to show he became more and more upset, often trying to leave the ring. It took me some time to figure out that he was trying to get back to his crate to defend it. He progressed to such a state that he would charge at anything walking by from inside his soft crate and I had to start covering it. When I finally figured out what was going on with my little guy, I decided to remove the source of his worry – his crate. So I bring his crate to trials and he goes into it while I set up, but then I collapse it down and he has no “cave” to resource guard. A lot of Cavaliers tend to be resource guarders so I shouldn’t have been surprised by this behavior, although it is unusual for it to surface later in life with an 8-year-old dog. 

    Dylan is also thunder-phobic. The technical term is astraphobia, but he is also sensitive to fireworks and other loud noises too. Fortunately, most of our Florida thunderstorms are in the afternoon. At home I have tried various supplements and herbs intended to lessen his fear. Nothing has really had much of an impact. One thing that does help him is to sit in my recliner with me. I let him nestle in next to my left side and I rest my left hand lightly on him. I guess it’s the “I’m here for you, buddy” factor that soothes him, but whatever it is this method has shown the most success. This past weekend at a local trial the thunder started before noon when we still had one Rally class to go. As soon as I took him out to potty and heard the thunder, I knew we had a problem. We came right back inside with him trembling so intensely it looked like he was in an earthquake. A big sigh, and I resigned myself that there would be a good chance he would simply try to leave the ring and get back to his (collapsed) crate. We had a few minutes to wait when I remembered something from an old Gary Wilkes seminar. Gary said, if your dog has a hard time on the stays, give them a full meal a few minutes before you go into the ring. When it’s time for stays the dog will be busy “digesting” and less likely to want to move at all, much less get up. I figured if he was digesting a big snack maybe his mind wouldn’t be on worrying about the thunder. I had about a third of a cup of roast chicken from dinner the night before, so while I was standing at ringside I just kept feeding him the chicken one piece at a time. When it was our turn we stepped into the ring and set up, and off we went. He actually stayed close to me and worked one of his best runs ever, earning the only score of 100 in the class. My brave little guy pulled it together, and I was so proud of him. I don’t know if the chicken worked or if he just couldn’t worry and focus on work at the same time, but one way or another he’s a ROCK STAR! We have our 20 Triple Q scores in Rally and 105 points (out of the 300 needed for a RACH), but with his age and aging knees our only long-term goal is the Rally Nationals next March. Hope to see you all there. 

    Sometimes we never figure out how or why a problem develops. Solving a problem doesn’t depend on knowing how it started, but determining the origin can help work out an issue much faster. Over the years my ability to “read” my dogs has improved. It’s an important skill to develop, and it only requires observation. Being attentive to body language and even facial expressions of my dogs has helped me figure out a number of problems. When my willing little guy resisted my command to sit, I could plainly see that it wasn’t him being stubborn as some handlers might assume. His body would crouch a little, his ears would draw back and his eyes would soften. I was reading “discomfort”. A trip to the Vet confirmed that his knees have gotten looser with age (a common problem in small dogs), and a trip to the Canine Chiropractor confirmed that he was pacing because his back needed adjusting. Although my Boxer has learned to be gentle with Dylan, even a light pat with those big paws can make a big difference, and Dylan doesn’t know he’s a small dog – he thinks he’s Boxer size. So whenever he is resistant I know to not assume he’s being disobedient or blowing me off. He’s just in need of some routine maintenance. 

    I have never liked the term “blowing me off” to describe a dog’s behavior. It suggests that the dog is willfully disobedient or has some devious plan to thwart our efforts. For the most part I don’t believe dogs think that way, and I believe we often misread what is going on with them. It would have been easy for me to assume it was willful disobedience when Dylan was resistant to sit on command, but since I know that is not a common behavior for him I knew I had to start searching for other reasons for his behavior. 

    There is a lot of joy and reinforcement for us as handlers in figuring out the little challenges as well as the big ones. May your journey be smooth, but with enough challenges to be interesting and help you grow as a trainer!

    Good training, everyone!

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 8:30 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    by Marilyn Miller

    Rocko's class exercises are interesting as something new is always introduced. This week Terence introduced two CGC steps. One was  "reaction to another dog" and the other was "supervised separation." For the first, two dogs and handlers had to meet each other from across the room, shake hands and say hello while their dogs sat in heel position. The other dogs in the class were doing a sit or down stay during this exercise. The handlers did this with the other handlers and their dogs. For the supervised separation, the handlers went into a room off the training area - out of sight of their dogs and the leashes were on hooks on the wall. The dogs were not to cry, bark or show signs of stress. When we returned to the dogs they were not allowed to jump on us. We sat in our chairs and on the count of three we reached for a treat and gave it to them for their reward.  This is not a Canine Good Citizen class, but each week a couple of the ten requirements are practiced, so that when the course becomes available the exercises will not be strange to us. Earlier in the course we practiced "accepting a friendly stranger" and "to sit politely for petting".

    A lot of this week's class covered handling skills and positional exercises. We sat in a chair with  our dog sitting in heel position to our left. We guided them in front of us and around our chair to return to heel position using the word "around". We did this several times. The last two times instead of having the dog return to heel position we would guide the dog under our legs and do a down - stay while we stood up and counted to three before sitting down. Three  small cones were placed in front of each handler in a triangle pattern. With the dog sitting to our left we guided them to the right around the cones using the word around. Next we guided them around the cones and back behind us around the chair and returning to heel position. We also tried this starting with the dog sitting on our right and going around in the other direction and back around the chair all to the left. This was very hard for me as having the dog sit on my right is completely foreign to me. Again we used the word "around". These exercises are used to get the dog to watch our arm and get used to some signals. The word "around" is one of the most commonly used words in obedience (with finishes) and Rally. 

     Judge Elizabeth Chase told us at a seminar I attended recently that the word "around" is the most important word she teaches her Corgis.

    We have worked on left and right hand signals and did several of each Tuesday night. Rocko is ahead of that game, as I have taught those at home, both doing them verbally and with a hand signal. We are also working on the hand signals for sits and downs. He is stronger when I say them verbally so we do the hand signals first, then the verbal commands. It is best to do the weakest first.

    Terence placed 3 cones down the middle of the training room. We called our dog to come to us and at the middle cone we would put our hand out in front of us and say "WAIT". The dog was to stop at that command. This is very similar to the Drop on Recall. I doubt if I will do Open again, but Rocko is learning this exercise. I use the word "Down" instead of Wait, just in case. In the past I found this exercise the most difficult to teach in Open. He knows it to the point of almost anticipating the command Down.

    We have thrown a treat 2' away from us while the dog sits in heel position. He must stay in that position. When Rocko makes eye contact with me I allow him to get the treat.

    One week we had the dog weave between our legs. At first Rocko  was afraid to go between my legs. He is over that fear now. He does the weave nicely. However, walking and having him weave between my legs is completely out of my realm. This class is fun for both dog and handler. It is not the same boring repetition of the same exercises week after week.

    Blaze earned her Beginner Novice title on July 15th. She placed Third with a score of 188 and a half. We are very proud of Blaze. I have her signed up for the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club Shows on Sept. 1st and 2ed at American K9 Country in Amherst, NH. Our trainer does not think we are ready for Novice B, but Blaze and I are working hard and we will give it a try. We won't know where we stand unless we do.

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 8:00 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    By Dee Dee Anderson

    Another National Obedience Championship (NOC) and Rally National Championship (RNC) have come and gone for 2018.  For me personally, each year as the events roll out, I find many wonderful memories flooding back:  the joy of qualifying, getting ready – training to keep on top of the exercises, the travel to new places, attending, placing and, of course, winning.   But most of all, I treasure the new friendships made and visiting with other competitors you have not seen in a long time.  I hope to be able to attend one or both of these events again in the near future.   At least now, even if you can’t go, you can watch the event on AKC TV Online. The live streaming has significantly improved and live commentary has been added.  Thanks to the AKC for investing in the technology to make this happen.   

    The 24th NOC was held in Wilmington, OH, at the Roberts Centre on June 30th and July 1st.  144 teams came to compete for the NOC title.  All teams competed in 8 rings on Saturday and were judged on two to three exercises from Open and Utility in each of the rings.  Saturday afternoon, awards were given to the top 4 in each groupas well as the top 50 all-breed overall.  The top 50 teams then moved on to Sunday morning to compete again in 8 rings – with a similar structure to Saturday’s event -- being judged on two to three exercises per ring.  The top 20 teams from Sunday morning moved on to compete in 4 rings in the afternoon, being judged on two exercises by two judges in each ring. Awards were then given out to the top 10 and the National Obedience Champion was crowned.  For all the details for this event go to:

    At the time of this writing, the video could be seen on  the AKC TV website:

    A Judge’s Perspective

    I asked Rick Garvin, one of the judges at the NOC, to give us some insight on judging the NOC.

    Rick Garvin

    I was privileged and honored to be asked to judge this year’s National Obedience Championship (NOC). Although the format of the tournament has changed significantly in the past 20 plus years, it remains a grueling 2-day event with the eventual champion crowned on Sunday afternoon.  

    This year’s location for the event was located about 60 miles from Cincinnati.  The judges were asked to fly into Cincinnati and if possible to car pool to Wilmington.  My car pool was comprised of three judges and we headed for Wilmington around 1:00PM, arriving around 3:00PM -- including a quick stop for lunch.  After arriving at the motel, we wandered down to the show site and watched the last portion of the RNC competition.  The hotel is connected to the show site making for an easy walk to and from the rings.  The AKC sponsors a judges’ dinner (RNC and NOC judges plus AKC staff) on Friday night, and then it was time to hit the sack for a good night’s sleep.  Both Saturday and Sunday dinners for the judges were “on your own” and made for a relaxing time to talk obedience, laugh a lot and just relax after a long day of judging.  Monday was the “return to home” day, so early in the AM, judges headed to the airport (hopefully) for on-time flights!

    From my perspective, this tournament is first class and is second to none.  The dogs invited to compete have earned at least one OTCH point and thus are the cream of the crop from an obedience perspective.  This year there were 48 breeds represented with exhibitors coming from 32 states (plus 1 from Canada).  The AKC staff go out of their way to welcome exhibitors, stewards, workers and judges. The venue, as always, is a fantastic place to exhibit a dog.  The hotel complex had plenty of grass to exercise a dog with several areas completely fenced making for a secure area to run a dog.  The only negative I can think of for this location is the lack of other motels in close proximity to the show site.  The actual show venue was very spacious allowing for plenty of room for the 8 rings and plenty of crating space.

    My assignments for the weekend included the following exercises

    1. Saturday:Retrieve on Flat and Directed Jumping,
    2. Sunday AM:Retrieve over High Jump, Retrieve on Flat, and Drop on Recall,
    3. Sunday PM:Drop on Recall and Broad Jump.

    Although these combinations made for a long day, they were far from boring.  The dogs are all well trained, the teams executed the exercises with class and -- pass or fail -- the sportsmanship demonstrated by the exhibitors was outstanding.  It was fun and exciting to evaluate teams (many of whom I had not previously judged) from different parts of the country using different styles and methods to handle his/her dog both between and during an exercise.  Since I had been assigned three exercises requiring a “dumbbell throw,” I witnessed a lot of funny bounces, both inside and outside the ring, due to the carpeting which required a good sense of humor -- both from the exhibitors as well as myself.  As one would expect with a tournament of this caliber, my stewards were excellent and kept me moving the entire day.

    Although future locations for the RNC/NOC tournament (after Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2019) have not been announced, I would be surprised if the Wilmington location is not high on AKC’s list.  The hotel staff was very supportive, and it certainly is a “dog friendly” hotel.

    To conclude, if you are invited to exhibit or judge at future NOC events, JUMP at the chance and say “YES.”  You will not be disappointed.  The tournament is always in need of volunteers, so please think seriously about volunteering as you will have a front row seat watching more than 100 of the best teams in the country.

    My wife and I will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 15-17, 2019.  Come and be part of this fantastic event; you won’t be disappointed!!!!!!!

    Winner’s Perspective

    1st Place: Score 493

    NOC OTCH High Times Hit The Ground Run’N UDX2 OM4 SH (Streak), a Golden Retriever handled by Bridget Carlsen of Yorkville, IL.

    First, it is always a humbling experience to compete at the NOC. The hours of work that the AKC and their Sponsors invest to put on such a prestigious event are outstanding. Also, the effort and contribution of the judges and volunteers is amazing. Hats off to all!!!

    Secondly, it is always an honor to compete with such wonderful teams from all over the country. I am so grateful to be able to watch my students, along with dogs that my parents have bred, compete year after year at this extraordinaire event.   That being said, without a great dog it is hard to reach for the sky. I have always had the honor of having an amazing animal at my side, and this is all possible because of my parents, John and Nancy Miner.  I am FOREVER and EVER THANKFUL!

    I have been blessed to have won the NOC three times now. Once with NOC OTCH Saucy MH QAA (who is the only NOC OTCH MH QAA Golden) and twice with NOC2 OTCH Streak SH.  The dam of both these dogs is OTCH Soupy MH QAA.  Again, this is so humbling.   Where would I be without Soupy?  

    Appreciating, respecting and admiring the dog beside you is a joy and victory in itself. 

    Lastly, I am lost for words when trying to express my gratitude for the support I receive from my family and friends/students.  Truly – it is one big family united in the same dream!!  The dream of doing what we love and loving what we do!! 

    1st Runner-Up:  Score 492.5

    Kramie’s Ever So Clever UDX OM1 GO MX MXJ (Eddie), a Pomeranian handled by Peggy McGrath of Shelbyville, KY.

    In 2013, I was searching for my third Pomeranian and found my wonderful dog Eddie.  He was 3 months old and his picture was posted on an all-breed rescue site in Michigan.  When my application for Eddie was accepted, I traveled from Kentucky to pick up my new rescue puppy.  On returning home, our obedience training began immediately with short sessions 3 to 4 times a day.  When he first arrived, he was half the size of my shoe!

    I learned much of my foundational obedience training skills from my long-time mentor and friend, Linda Koutsky.  These motivational methods are what Eddie and I have worked on for the last 4 years in preparation for earning obedience titles.  Ed was a quick learner and due to great foundational skills, we encountered only a few bumps in the road on our journey to the utility title.  Thus, our titles came cheap with few non-qualifying scores!  Eddie is a very consistent, compliant, and happy worker and a true partner.  

    Because Eddie loves the obedience game and is a reliable and willing worker, I thought we could take on the challenge of a tournament such as the National Obedience Championship (NOC).   Thus, we sent in our entry, not with high expectations of placing, but for the opportunity to showcase a willing working dog that knows his job and loves to do obedience.  

    The atmosphere at the NOC was welcoming and exciting.  Eddie was confident during the competition and just got better and better with each round of competition.  Most importantly, all the spectators and competitors were very supportive of Eddie and me.  Eddie made a ton of new friends who were all nice enough to let him sit on their laps - one of his very favorite things to do at dog shows.  

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the AKC for this memorable event.  I also want to thank everyone who has helped me with training and friendship along this journey.  Our successes would not be possible without your help and support.  

    2nd Runner-Up:  Score 491

    OTCH Gad’s Mysterious Marigold UDX OM2 GN (Goldie), a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever handled by Kathleen Keller of Flemington, NJ.

    This was not Goldie’s first NOC.  We competed in 2017 in Perry, Georgia.  She did not have fun showing there and consequently we did not make the Top 50.  On the long ride home, I made the decision to retire her from Obedience.  She, like all my retired Obedience dogs before her, became my husband’s sidekick.

    In January, 2018, I heard that the location for the NOC was being moved to Ohio (closer to our home state of New Jersey) and the date was being moved out to the end of June.  Since Goldie had qualified, I decided to “dust” her off and put her back into training.  She seemed happy to be working again so I went ahead and sent in our entry.  This would be her grand finale.  

    This year, all the stars seemed to align for Goldie.  She was on a road trip without her “brothers” and “sister”, she got to room with her “boyfriend” and “Mom” brought her favorite reward (Combos) which never seem to lose their magical power.  She had a blast!  

    For me, the road to the podium took 25 years and was paved with many supportive friends, very talented trainers -- Kathleen Walker and Martha McCluskey --a great husband and an extra special dog.  I want to thank everyone, especially Goldie.  I really enjoyed the ride!

    3rd Runner-Up:  Score 490

    OTCH Goldenloch Makin’ A Statement UDX28 OGM (Bubba), a Golden Retriever handled by Gary J. Platt of Papillion, NE.

    It was a thrill to place yet once again at the NOC with Bubba. Bubba is now 10 years old, and for a Golden simply to be able to compete at age 10 is a blessing, and to do well is especially gratifying. Bubba is not a flashy performer, yet he is consistent and accurate. 

    The format for the NOC has changed several times throughout the years, and this is first time in the current format that started in 2016 that we cracked into the top four.  Since 2016, the NOC’s invited teams compete Saturday with only the Top 50 continuing to compete on Sunday – as a separate competition. Then on Sunday afternoon, the Top 20 compete with scores reset once again, and the final Top 10 placements are recognized.

    Besides being a good competition dog, Bubba is a wonderful companion. Bubba wants to please and worries if I am not smiling in the ring. My job is to keep him emotionally comfortable and happy. This means doing what we have practiced and giving verbal cues and gestures that have been associated with having a good time and may signal a food or play reward. When I do my part well, Bubba gives a solid effort. 

    Thank you, Deborah Porth Blackwell, for breeding this wonderful boy. Kathy and I will never forget your warm hospitality and willingness to allow us to play with the litter for two days before selecting Bubba. Thank you also for the incredible amount of time you spend with and expose your litters to so many useful experiences prior to their placements. 

    Kathy, thank you for your sharp eye that catches handling or performance glitches as well as your overall support with training and beyond. Thanks also to our many friends in the sport and students of past and present for your encouragement and support. 

    Bubba will still be age 10 in March of 2019. Should we once again be invited and blessed to be physically able, Bubba and I will compete at the NOC in Tulsa. Look for the whitest-faced golden with a rope tug toy in his mouth.

    5th place: Score 489.0  
    OTCH Companion's He Reigns In Victory UDX18 OGM TKA (Border Collie - Reign) Victory Hulett/Renea Windley / Deland , FL.

    6th place:  Score 485.5
    GCH CH OTCH Callista Eye Candy Sportingfield UDX3 OM4 HSAs HSBs (Border Collie - Maverick) Mitzi Tinaglia / Roanoke, VA.

    th place:  Score 485.5
    OTCH Faerie Master Craftsman UDX21 OGM GN GO RAE8 PT (Shetland Sheepdog - Deacon) Charles J Chmura/Linda G Lundgren / Cypress, TX.

    th place:  Score 485.0
    OTCH Renegade's Blackeyedpea UD AX AXJ (Labrador Retriever - Ruby) Jane K Jackson / Walworth, NY.

    9th  place:  Score 484.5
    OTCH Rhumbline's Once In A Blue Moon UDX6 OGM BN GN VER RE JH ACT1 (Labrador Retriever - Heart) Linda S Brennan / Columbia, NJ.
    10th  place:  Score 484.0
    OTCH Tanbark's Autumn Spice Girl Kayla UDX6 OGM BN GN GO VER RAE CA DS (Golden Retriever - Kayla) Jacqueline M Sperlbaum/Raymond Sperlbaum Jr / Powder Springs, GA.

    Sporting Group Winner

    OTCH Goldenloch Lay Down Your Bets UDX33 OGM RN (Golden Retriever - Layla) Peggy McConnell 

    Layla started out this year with a bang, earning two 200 scores in our first weekend in January. She currently has twenty-six 200 scores and a grand total of 5,661 OTCH points, which puts us in the number 6 position for Lifetime Points Earned for all AKC recognized breeds. In 2015, she was the Top Obedience Dog of The Year. I might add that Layla is my first Golden. Boy, did I get lucky! In answer to your question about our journey to the 2018 NOC, let me say that the best Layla had done at the NOC is fourth (last year) and our goal was to improve on that.  In previous years, I conditioned Layla by throwing bumpers. However, that tactic provided two different injuries and I was not about to repeat that mistake. As she is getting older and is not a high-drive dog, I decided to do controlled conditioning. Therefore, I purchased a doggie treadmill around the first of the year and began to condition Layla. I first had to train her on the machine. Once that was done, I started a 2-minute walk with a 2-minute cool down period. I started her out with a 5-minute trot and built her up to a 12-minute trot prior to the NOC. I think that conditioning really helped this year and she did not seem to tire as quickly as in years past. My plan is to continue that conditioning and build her up to a 15-minute workout. 

    I determined that Layla works better and more reliably when she stays in competition instead of taking weekends off.  Unfortunately, there were no local shows the weekend prior to the NOC. Therefore, I decided to take her to the St. Louis Regional show which was the weekend prior to NOC -- with the goal of getting ready for the NOC and not caring how we did at the Regional.  Further, because the new exercises seemed to be messing with Layla's confidence, I opted not to do those exercises at the Regional. Mary Higman (AKC Rep at the Regional) told me I could just tell the judge when I did not want to do an exercise and we would skip it and go on to the next exercise.  However, we did not "train" in the ring. I gave no extra commands.  My goal was to boost confidence in my dog and I think it worked very well. My recommendation to trainers attending the NOC is to be relaxed and try to have high confidence in the dog.  I was very happy to win the Sporting Group (which we had never done!) but more importantly, I feel Layla showed what a wonderful dog she really is. She was happy, willing and accurate. We had a blast and really enjoyed sharing the event with local trainers, Sheryl Archer, JoAnne Weaver, Terry Thornton, Peggy Garic and Jamime Asido. Many thanks to Sheryl Archer who found a training facility where she, JoAnne Weaver, Terry Thornton and myself trained for a couple of days prior to the NOC. It was great fun to help and visit with each other.

    Hound Group Winner

    TC Wheatridge Soloist O'Kahlu UDX5 OM8 SC CGC (Rhodesian Ridgeback - Cello) Pat Brunstetter/Thomas H Shar 

    Cello is the 6th dog I've taken to the NOC, the 5th Ridgeback and the 4th time I have won the Hound Group with a RR (I also took a Golden before).  This was a special year for me -- as the breeder, owner, and trainer of Cello -- who finished her Triple Championship (Field, Breed, OTCH) -- always “owner-handled) in every venue.  I was thrilled to be able to showcase how talented, beautiful, and hard-working Ridgebacks can be.  Cello was a singleton, but is a whole litter wrapped into one super girl. To my knowledge, she is the first Hound to achieve all three of these Championships. 

    Cello is home schooled, always fun to train, super enthusiastic, and a joy to live with. She only knows how to give 100%. She is the 3rd OTCH RR -- her mom (OTCH Wheatridge Condelezza O'Kahlu UDX6 OM6) was the first OTCH RR, and her aunt, GCH OTCH Wheatridge's Pecan Sandie UDX8 OGM was the second OTCH RR -- all bred, shown, and trained by me. Cello has also given me a beautiful daughter who is showing great things in obedience. 

    I would like to thank the AKC, the Obedience Department, and Eukanuba for putting on such a lovely event. 

    Working Group Winner

    Lyndobe's Lexus V Lynmar UDX2 OM3 BN GO (Doberman Pinscher - Lexus) Carolyn Sorg 

    I purchased my Doberman Pinscher Lexus in January of 2010.  I have trained a lot of different breeds over the years, but Lexus was eager to learn from the beginning.   Lexus got her CD on March 16, 2013, her CDX on April 27, 2014 and her U-CDX on July 26, 2014.   She completed her GO on April 26, 2015 and her UD on July 18, 2015.  The then completed her Obedience Master 1 on April 30, 2016, followed by her UDX on May 7, 2016.  Next were Obedience Master 2, completed on Nov.6, 2016, Obedience Master 3 on May 7, 2017, UDX2 on May 7, 2017, and Obedience Master 4 on April 28, 2018.  

    We took some time off to do barn hunt and she got her RATN on Dec. 3, 2016.  She earned her Working Aptitude Certificate when she was 18 months old from the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.  She has had a few HITs and two HCs.  She also competed in the Doberman Top Twenty in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  Lexus has 28 OTCH points, but I have never made it a goal of to earn an OTCH.  

    This is the first year we’ve gone to the NOC and all I wanted to do was just pass.  I didn’t set my goal very high, as I thought we wouldn't get past the first day of competition.  To my surprise, Lexus made the top 50, and she won 1st place in the Working Group.   I had no game plan for the second day, so I again decided to just do our best to pass every exercise.  Again, Lexus surprised me by passing all the exercises and finally ending up in 24th place overall.  Talk about a super high, of being able to compete with all those wonderful handlers and their dogs.  Lexus was such a trooper and I think she kind of liked only doing three exercises at a time.  Lexus is now 8½ years old and I hope to keep showing her as long as she is healthy and able to jump.  It's been a journey I didn't think I was capable of achieving, and I have enjoyed every minute.

    Terrier Group Winner

    Southcross Double Feature UDX2 OM3 BN GN VER RE MX MXB MXJ MJB SE RATO CGC TKA (Miniature Schnauzer - Violet) Christine Carter

    What an amazing feeling it was to win the Terrier Group at the 2018 National Obedience Championship. I was honored to be invited to compete at such a prestigious event with some of the best teams in the country. Violet is my Novice A dog.  I had hoped to put a UD on her. We had a rough start to our obedience career. We barely made it through Novice.  Vi fouled the ring a couple times and our scores were not great. We earned our CD with a 170. 

    She was young and immature with moments of brilliance. I decided to give her some time to settle while working on Open and Utility. In that time, we participated in Agility, Earthdog, Barn Hunt, and Nosework to mix things up with Vi’s obedience regimen. While training obedience, I started to think that maybe we could go further than a UD. She was doing well and really seemed to enjoy it. I had great instructors who were very helpful and encouraging. We started showing in Open, earning our CDX quickly with nice scores. She had come a long way since Novice. I had a completely different dog. 

    Utility was more challenging. We had some beginner’s luck. The first time we stepped into the Utility ring, we qualified!  Then at the Miniature Schnauzer National, we earned our second leg with High In Trial from Utility A. That was followed by months of not qualifying.  I was frustrated. I made some adjustments to my training.  After just a few weeks post adjustment, we completed our UD.  It had finally clicked and things started to take off. I decided to try for a UDX. We got our second UDX leg with a second-place finish in Open with a score of 198, our highest score yet!  We also earned our first OTCH points!  I never thought we would earn OTCH points, especially living in St. Louis with such wonderful teams. The OTCH points wrote our ticket to the NOC.

     Prior to the NOC, Violet and I warmed up at the Rally National. We earned a perfect 100 on our first run.  Vi’s performance in our second Rally ring was substandard. I worried that this would carry over into her performance at the NOC.  On the first day of the NOC, we were able to pull it together, completing all 8 rings and 22 exercises clean!!  We won the Terrier Group and made it into the Top 50! On Sunday we enjoyed every minute competing with the Top 50 dogs. What an awesome first NOC experience to have and always remember.  Vi is a remarkable little dog. She continues to surprise me all the time. I could not ask for a better partner on this journey.  Thank you to Dog Sports at Kim’s and the North St. Louise County Obedience Training Club. 


    Toy Group Winner

    Kramie's Ever So Clever UDX OM1 GO MX MXJ (Pomeranian - Eddie) Peggy McGrath  (see 1st runner up)

    Non-Sporting Group Winner

    1st CH MACH Petit Ami's Noble-Art VCD3 UDX3 OM3 MXB MJB TKN (Bichon Frise - Tate) Barbara Chaffin/Paula Hendricks 

    Tate (or “Tater Tot” to some of his human friends) was imported from Norway at four months of age.  His training in obedience, agility and tracking began immediately.  Bichons are not known for their great work ethic, so I am very pleased that Tate has been able to accomplish so much.  His favorite activity is being a lap dog and he works as a therapy dog in a READ program with special education children.  I will be the first to admit that winning the Non-Sporting Group at the 2018 NOC was a complete and quite unexpected surprise.  Friends that I train with gave me great advice about how to train for the event and told me to forget about details and just have fun so that’s what we did.  Tate did have fun at the NOC and qualified Saturday on all the exercises, which was the key to his success.

    Herding Group Winner

    OTCH Companion's He Reigns In Victory UDX18 OGM TKA (Border Collie - Reign) Victory Hulett/Renea Windley 

    What an amazing and challenging year it has been getting to the 2018 NOC.  We began by winning the 4-Paws Regional Qualifier in Georgia.  Reign continued showing at a few local Florida trials and we successfully added to our career perfect score total of 57.

    About midway through the year we were informed that my husband had cancer which then curtailed our show schedule.   Everything became a true struggle, and it didn’t look promising for us to continue to show, much less find practice time. 

    It was a great unexpected joy and honor when I was able to walk into the ring to complete with my beloved Reign for the 2018 NOC.   He showed with grace and skill that thrilled my heart.  Reign’s ability to step up when I need him is truly astonishing.   I would like to congratulate each team that was able to compete in this very special event. 

    Misc/FSS Group Winner

    OTCH Lola Sugar And Spice UDX3 PCDX OM6 BN GN GO RE CAA CGCA CGCU (All American Dog - Lola) Kathryn Harvey 

    This was the first NOC for Lola and me together as a team. The Roberts Centre was a beautiful venue and the event was so well run and organized. Thank you to the AKC staff and all the volunteers for their many hours of work.

    Lola is a great partner -- she is smart and feisty.  She loves doing obedience, which makes it fun and easy to train her.  However, she tends to be environmentally- and people-sensitive, so showing her can be challenging. We have worked hard this past year; I’ve tried to expose her to many different venues and many new judges.  I am so proud of how well she handled the pressure of the NOC. We had many smaller goals we wanted to meet, but to pass all the exercises, progress though each level of competition, and ultimately finish 13th overall was exciting for our first time. 

    I appreciate all the wonderful compliments we received; it makes all the challenges and hard work worthwhile.  Congratulations to all the participants and winners. We can’t wait until next year!

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  • Saturday, September 01, 2018 7:30 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    By Dee Dee Anderson 

    The AKC Rally National Championship was held in Wilmington, Ohio, at the Roberts Centre on June 29th.  149 dogs competed in the RAE class, 79 dogs competed in the Excellent class, 80 dogs competed in the Advanced class, and 80 dogs competed in the Novice class.  Dog breeds that were represented included 50 Golden Retrievers, 34 All Americans, 34 Border Collies, 27 Labrador Retrievers, 21 Shetland Sheepdogs, and 75 other breeds from 36 states and Canada, making up a total of 388 dogs competing at the event this year.   

    Next year’s Rally National Championship will add two more classes -- the Intermediate and the Master Class. The Rally Advanced/Excellent class will be called the Championship Class. Qualifying period for the event is December 1, 2017 to November 30, 2018.  For more information about next year’s event, check the following 2019 AKC Rally ® National Championship "Class Criteria".

    For a list of all the winners and performances, including the catalog, check here --->

    Before we get to the winners, I thought it would be nice to get a judge’s view on the Rally National Championship. We hear from Exhibitors all the time, but what does a judge go through to be invited to judge the National? 

    Judge Debbie Addicoat’s Story about Her Journey to the RNC

    I was honored to be a part of the judging panel for the AKC Rally Nationals held in Wilmington Ohio June 29, 2018. My role was to judge the Excellent segment of the RAE (Rally Advanced Excellent) class.  The teams in this division ran a total of 4 courses:  2 Advanced and 2 Excellent. 

    That is the basic description of what I did, but wow, what an amazing adventure it was. I live in the Pacific Northwest, not too far from Seattle. Flights to the Cincinnati airport were not what you would call “user friendly”.  There was one non-stop red-eye leaving at 10:30pm Wednesday night. I took it! 

    Wilmington is about an hour from the airport and since I arrived at 6:00 Thursday morning (3:00 AM my time), I rented a car and made the drive. No traffic, no problem. I made it to the show site and checked into my room. I had been riding in the plane all night with no sleep, but I really was not tired. After relaxing for a couple of hours I walked to the site. Since everything was in one location, it was so nice to walk to the show site from the hotel without ever going outside. When I arrived at the show area, all I can say is “It was huge”! There were rings set up as far as you could see. I quickly realized what a giant undertaking this truly was. 

    I found my ring and wanted to set up my course, since walkthroughs started at 6:40am Friday morning, or, in my world, the middle of the night. The competitors received all the course maps during Thursday check in and the show area would be locked Thursday evening. After some discussion, I got the green light to set my course. It afforded me time to relax as I set up and to make sure everything was perfect.  I greatly appreciated not being rushed early Friday morning.

    Friday morning, the National Anthem was played before what seemed to be a sea of competitors.  The competitors for the RAE event were divided into four groups. Each group of 35 competitors walked the course for 10 minutes then rotated to walk the next of their four courses. I was slated to judge 149 runs. That, my friends, is a lot of Rally! Once the walk throughs were done, the competition started.  There would be no more walking and everyone had to remember all four courses. 

    At the end of the day, I have memories of some very nice performances, wonderful stewards, lots of pictures, and a true appreciation of what it takes to put on an event of this magnitude.

    I had never been to an AKC National event before. Since I only judged on Friday, I took the opportunity to stay and observe the National Obedience Championship competition. After the blur of Friday, it was nice to relax and watch some incredible, beautiful performances. Hand in hand, I also saw some great sportsmanship between the competitors that made me proud to be part of this wonderful sport.

    Rally Advanced/Excellent Class

    1st Place
    Gaylan’s P’Nut Butter Cup Sundae UD VER RAE TD MH TKI – Owner: Sharon M. Albright from Cary, NC., (Golden Retriever).  Score:  a perfect 400

    2nd Place
    Gold’N’Pointzzz Revel in her Merits CDX RM RAE OAP NJP XFP CCA CGC - Owner: Emille Bullard  (Golden Retriever).  Score: 398

    3rd Place
    Flowers' Princesa Holly Blossom RM RAE CGC TKA  - Owner: Daniela Flores (Australian Shepherd).  Score:  398

    4th Place
    Sunchases Running The Red UD BN RAE2 MX MXS MXJ MJS OF CA CGCA – Owner: Tracy Hendrickson/Rhoda Goselin-Brouillette (Boxer).  Score:  398

    Introducing the Winner & Newly Crowned Rally Champion!

    RNC Gaylan’s P’Nut Butter Cup Sundae UD VER RAE TD MH TKI and Owner, Sharon M Albright (Reese) 

    I have attended and stewarded at rally/obedience nationals before, but 2018 was my first year competing. The 2018 rally championship class consisted of 4 rally performances – two excellent courses and two advanced courses. Each course contained some challenging signs but had nice flow. From check-in to the awards ceremony, the 2018 Rally National Championship was a well-run event with an abundance of stewards to keep things moving. Thank you to all of the volunteers and AKC staff that made this event representative of the hard work and relationships we build with our dogs.

    Reese and I were successful at the RNC because of our relationship. Over the past 10 years she has taught me to be clear in my commands and consistent with my expectations – traits I will always strive to improve. She taught me that I must be a better partner if I want the same out of her. She also taught me that not everyone shows love in the same way. Even though Reese prefers work to snuggling, I now appreciate how she shows affection and respect. It’s been a long journey and a lot of work, but so worth the effort!

    Competitive obedience is my passion, followed closely by retriever training. After earning her Utility Dog and Master Hunter titles, showing with Reese in Rally is pure fun and a chance to celebrate the teamwork we have built throughout all of our training. I want to thank Betsy Scapicchio, owner of Top Dog Obedience School, for her outstanding training program and coaching skills. Thanks also to Gayle Watkins, Marcy Burke, Chex and Rooster for providing me with an amazing partner – a dog with drive, intelligence, and stamina. At 10 years of age, Reese became the Rally National Champion. I can’t wait to see what’s next with my princess!

    2nd Place

    Gold’N’Pointzzz Revel in her Merits CDX RM RAE OAP NJP XFP CCA CGC and Owner, Emille Bullard (Revel)

    On June 27, I left my home at the early hour of 4AM  to embark on my first ever trip to a canine national competition.  I had so much fun with Revel even just preparing for the event.  Revel is only a moderate energy dog, but I love an enthusiastic worker and have always tried to train her in a way that brought out her happy, prancy heeling, quick responsiveness, and focused attention.  She almost always gives me her best with alacrity, but we’ve maintained that attitude partly by showing very infrequently and doing a lot of fun matches on the side, where I build her up with treats, toys, and praise.  While Revel shows brilliantly on a schedule with infrequent trialing, I personally knew I could benefit from more experience.  Most of the points we lose as a rally team are attributed to me – Revel may lose two or three occasionally for a crooked sit or leg bump, but I will lose them ten at a time for handler errors.  So I realized early on that we were going to need to show more than usual to prepare for this event.  I also needed Revel to have both the mental and physical stamina to show four times in one day, as that is the schedule for the Rally Advanced-Excellent (RAE) Division at the RNC. It was a fun project to strategize and work on building her stamina and getting more experience, all while keeping her fresh and enthusiastic.

    One of my most helpful training partners and show buddies was Kindi Weis, an informally adopted daughter of mine.  Kindi and I met more than ten years ago when she became one of my first students in the 4-H dog training club I organized. I still instruct this club weekly, and Kindi has grown from a beginner with good instincts and timing to an accomplished trainer who co-led the club with me before going to college, and still comes back to help us with fun matches and fair.  We frequently take our dogs to trials together, and I was thrilled when she expressed interest in traveling with me to Ohio for the sole purpose of supporting Revel and me on our trip.  Coming from Oregon, the journey was long – but doable, especially with two people.  I was very uncomfortable about transporting my dog in the baggage hold, but felt I could minimize risks by using a direct flight, and was able to find a 4.5 hour nonstop flight between Seattle and Indianapolis.  So, two days before the RNC, Kindi and I left at 4 a.m. to drive the three hours to Seattle, then fly to Indianapolis, then drive another two and a half hours to Wilmington.  There were a few surprises along the way – such as the incredibly busy Seattle airport and the anxious wait in its slow service lines. When we finally checked Revel in, we asked if we had enough time to get her on the plane and the assistant said, “She’ll get there, but I don’t know if you will!” Then there was  the agonizing wait to get Revel off the plane in Indianapolis; and finally the trip via shuttle car to pick up our rental, only to find it had been cancelled due to being late to pick it up because of delays at the airport.  But I had Kindi to be my assistant and mule at every turn, and we eventually found another rental and arrived at our destination, with a full day ahead of us to rest and prepare.

    The Rally National Championship itself was everything I could have hoped for.  It was well run, beautifully decorated, and filled with a fun and friendly atmosphere.  There were crowds of spectators, including whole families and children who were all enjoying watching the event.  The exhibitors all seemed to enjoy themselves and each other.  In particular, it was delightful to meet other competitors and Golden Retriever lovers that I had only had contact with on Facebook.

    The placement, fanfare, photos and congratulations were a gratifying topper to the overall satisfaction and tremendous pleasure it is to have a partner who enjoys doing this sport as much as I do.  I feel so lucky to have Revel, so many supportive friends, and the opportunity to compete at a National Competition and experience the thrill of a top placement.  Here’s to next year!

    3rd Place

    Flowers' Princesa Holly Blossom RM RAE CGC TKA  and Owner, Daniela Flores (Holly)

    I am 27 years old and originally from Blaine, MN, but currently live in Ames, IA. I am a PhD Candidate in Genetics and Genomics at Iowa State University.  Holly is an 8 year old double merle Australian Shepherd who is completely deaf and has congenital deformities in her right eye (microphthalmia, colobomas) causing vision impairment. 

    I was a freshman in college when I found Holly on Petfinder and I decided that nobody would want this impaired little puppy, no matter how cute and fluffy she was. I had experience training dogs in 4H but had never trained a deaf dog before, so we learned hand signals together on the living room floor. We were introduced to Rally in my last year of 4H and first year training Holly. We fell in love with the sport as it allowed us to communicate freely and it felt like a literal walk in the park with my best friend. 

    I joined the Cyclone Country Kennel Club in 2014 after I moved to Iowa for grad school where Holly and I continued training. AKC amended the Rally rules to allow deaf dogs in 2015 and Holly finally had her chance to show how capable she was. We attended the 2017 RNC and placed 4th in the Excellent class. It was such an overwhelmingly positive experience and I was so excited to come back to try for the big title. 

    We spent the next summer trialing to finish Holly’s RAE to qualify for the 2018 RNC. We completed her RAE with 7 High Combined awards (9 of 10 trials offered). To prepare for RNC, we practiced at our kennel club about once per week running courses and participating in classes. The rest of the week we practiced at home heeling up and down the hallway in my apartment. 

    We started our Rally Master title in the spring. We completed the RM and began our RACH journey at the United States Australian Shepherd Association National specialty with two High Triple Qualifier and High Combined awards. 

    As a biologist, I am doing my dissertation research on the molecular implications of environmental change on turtles with temperature-dependent sex determination. As part of my research, I spend May and June living in a tent in the backwaters of the Mississippi River in Illinois, monitoring turtle nesting activity and population demographics. 

    Unfortunately I cannot bring Holly with me to my field site, so I left her with my parents immediately after the Aussie Specialty and didn’t see her again until the Saturday before the RNC, a total of 8 weeks apart. I spent a lot of my free time in the field practicing my footwork and hand signals, walking courses as if Holly was by my side and quizzing myself using the Rally All Around app on my phone. While our accuracy and speed were a little off, Holly didn’t forget a thing while I was gone. We arrived in Wilmington just happy to be together again. I was so proud of her performances and I could not have asked for a better reunion with my heart dog.

    4th Place
    Sunchases Running The Red UD BN RAE2 MX MXS MXJ MJS OF CA CGCA  and owner Tracy Hendrickson/Rhoda Goselin-Brouillette (Jyllie)

    Jyllie is an 8 year Boxer. She has competed in the ALL of the RNCs since its inception in 2013 (in our home town of Tulsa) where she placed 3rd in the Novice class. Next year she won the Advanced class with 2 perfect scores. Her career continued with a 5th place in Excellent in 2015, and a 9th overall placement in 2017.  Jyllie enjoys competing in agility, lure coursing and is also a regular blood donor hero.  "Train your dog as if it the last day you will ever spend with him."

    Winner of the Rally Excellent Class
    (note the first 4 placements received perfect 200 scores)
    Kup Clicked On A Cyber Hit UDX OM2 BN GN RE NAP NJP (Coach) Owner: Cherie Kupish from Decatur, IL (Golden Retriever)

    Due to the passing of my husband, I had been out of the obedience world for 11 years, so my daughter Jennifer thought it was time for me to get a puppy.  In 2011, after doing a little web searching , Jennifer found Coach (Kup Clicked On A Cyber Hit).   He started his obedience with beginner novice and he now has a UDX,  with all of his wins and several points toward his OTCH!  I decided that Rally would be a fun venue for the two of us.  I wasn't really sure you could teach an old dog (me) new tricks, being that you actually have to read the signs then perform them. With a lot of help from my daughter,  I actually got the hang of it.  Thank you, Jennifer, for all your help and support!  And thank you Coach for being such a awesome companion.  Coach also competed at the 2017 UKC  premier and won 1st place in the All Star Rally.    

    Winner of the Rally Advanced Class
    (note the 10 placements received perfect 200 scores)

    Super Cooper Trooper CDX BN RA (Cooper) Owner, Joshua Wiggins from Spring, TX (All American)

    Photo Credit: David De Gendt of Tiltshift Studio

    Cooper is a 7 year-old Lab mix and the dog Josh never intended to have. Initially adopted by friend's of Josh's from an accidental litter on their street, the couple quickly decided Cooper wasn’t going to be a good fit as he grew in both size and energy. So at 5 months old, Cooper came to live with Josh. 

    Josh and Cooper's formal training journey began when Cooper was two years old in an effort to help Cooper's extremely reactive behavior towards both strangers and other dogs. Cooper was unpleasant to live with and could not be taken anywhere in public. They needed help unwinding the mess Josh had made of his first dog!

    When Josh started obedience training with Cooper, he did not know that competitive Obedience or Rally existed. Like most, his understanding of dog shows was Conformation and Agility, but in one year Josh and Cooper were competing and placing in both Beginner Novice and Rally Novice. Fast forward a few years and Cooper has earned a 200 in Novice A with two High in Trials over that weekend, a CDX, and titled in Rally through the Excellent class. Most recently, Josh and Cooper traveled to Ohio to compete in the 2018 AKC Rally National Championship where Cooper won the Advanced Class.

    Though Obedience is Josh's main sport and focus with Cooper, they compete in Rally because Josh teaches Rally and Obedience classes in Houston. Josh feels it is important to stay in the ring and current, especially with all of the rule changes. Cooper's success and speed in the Rally ring can be attributed to Josh's focus on traditional Obedience precision, lack of reliance on double commanding and luring, and not training for even half point deductions. This very topic will be the subject of an upcoming column in Front & Finish

    Since the 2018 RNC, Cooper earned his Dock Master title through North American Diving Dogs. Looking forward, the team’s focus is shifted back to Obedience and the Utility ring, hoping to compete and title this fall and a possible OTCH run in 2019. 

    Winner of the Rally Novice
    (note the first 6 placements received perfect 200 scores)

    Half Moon Unanswered Prayer CD PCD BN RA TD TKA (Stevie) Owner Cheryl Tisdale from Milton, TN

    Garth Brooks sings that some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers, and that certainly fits Stevie and me.  I was waiting for a puppy from a perfect litter to be my performance puppy.  It was devastating and heartbreaking when the litter was lost just before it was born.  Kathryn Willis of Half Moon Golden Retrievers had recently gotten a  one –year-old dog returned to her after the owner suffered an accident and was unable to keep her, and Kathryn though it would be a good fit for me.  Wow, was she ever right! Stevie is that once in a lifetime dog I had always dreamed of.  She tackles every sport we try with enthusiasm, and absolutely loves training obedience, often racing into the ring and impatiently waiting for me to hurry up and get started. Obedience only comes in second to swimming in the pool.

    I’ve never been able to attend a national event with my other rally obedience dogs, so the Wilmington, Ohio, Rally National Championship was a first in many ways.  It was exciting just to be part of the event, and I went just to see how Stevie would handle a large venue - and all I can say is WOW!    

    It was the thrill of a lifetime when they called number 544 as the winner of the Rally Nationals at the novice level.  I know Stevie is a special dog, but she walked into those rally rings with focus and joy as if she showed in huge 8-ring national venues all the time!  I’m so proud to be her partner in this journey! Huge thanks to her breeder, Kathryn Willis, for breeding this amazing girl!

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