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  • Wednesday, February 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Written by: Rhonda Schechter

    Jake, my Novice A dog and the first dog I have every owned in my entire life, had a remarkable 2016 and capped it off by getting his UDX, OM1 and VCD4 in November.    He got his UD and VCD3 in February and VST and CT in April.   Jake is only the 13th Golden Retriever to  get the AKC VCD4 - there are only  a total of 36 dogs ever to achieve the AKC VCD4.   What is means is that he has a UDX, VST, MX/MXP, MJ/MJP.     His registered name is CT Jake of Rhonels VCD4 RE JH AX OAJ WC so you can see that we also have accomplishments in other venues.  To top it off he turned 9 on July 8, 2016.

    We did not start showing in OB and UB until June, 2016  so Jake completed his  UDX and 3 legs towards his UDX2 in 5 months  with scores respectable enough to get his OM1 and points towards his OM2.     During this time he was Mr. Consistent.  He NQed  a total of 5 times (3 in UB and 2 in OB) on the way to his UDX and two times was due to handler error.   His consistency has surprised me a bit because we were in the ring 11 times before completing our UD.

    What makes our 6 year journey from having only an AKC RE to where we are today is that Jake was not bred for performance and I didn’t even know what the AKC CGC program was let alone AKC Performance Events when he came home in September, 2007.   I work full time and travel so we have limited time for training and showing.

    He easily got his JH, passing 5 out of 6 tests  with little training, passing on natural ability.   Jake passed the GRCA WC on first try.    Jake has a Dock Dogs Junior Title because he saved most of his Senior distance jumps for practice.    Additionally, between 2009 and 2010  Jake achieved the  APDT (now World Cynosport) ARCH, RL1X, RL2X and RL3X.  

    While I am very proud of all of  Jake's accomplishments I am most proud of his connection to people and other animals.   The picture that represents him the most is the one with "Minnie Mouse" at a local charitable organization's Halloween event.   He was unusually attentive that day to "Minnie", although there were streams of children there whom he loves being with.    I found out months later that she had just found out about her cancer reoccurrence and Jake just knew she needed his attention more.   I can train and show  him in every known event but it's his innate abilities that makehim special.    And Minnie is in remission again and we hope it stays that way.

    Jake is far from perfect but he has been the perfect dog to introduce me to the breed and performance events.   He has changed my life forever and for the better.    His best title is "Heart Dog Extraordinaire".

    A big thank you to our obedience trainer and mentor, Bridget Carlsen.   Thank you also to Carla Ogert (tracking),  Annette Narel (agility) and Julie Dorsey-Oskerka who started us on this incredible journey in 2009.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Sunday, January 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Written by Kaitlyn Johnson

    Hello, my name is Kaitlyn Johnson.  I am 13 years old and I love to do obedience with my dog Poirot!  Poirot is a rough collie also known as Travlers Orient Express.  He turned a year old in December.  Poirot was given to us by our friends Candy Ardizzone and Becky Tehon.  Poirot was bred by Karyn Louie Convertini and Candy Ardizzone.  He traveled all the way from California to live me in New York!  He was 4 months old when he came to live with us and I have been working with him since we got him.   I have been doing Junior conformation handling in AKC for 4 years with our smooth collies.  Poirot is my first performance dog. He has become a bigger champion every day.

    I belong to an amazing dog club in Orleans County New York called the 4H Heelers.  We practice with our dogs every Thursday for at least an hour, sometimes two. At the meetings we do obedience, rally, conformation and agility when the weather is nicer. There are 4 dog clubs in Orleans county and ours has 16 kids in it.  So our fair is very competitive!   This year at the Orleans County Fair we placed first in obedience and fourth in rally.  Poirot was only 7 months old and competing against much older dogs. I was very excited to qualify for the New York State Fair his first year competing!  We even won a Grand Champion in obedience!  So we decided to move on to bigger events…

    In November Poirot and I went to a United Kennel Club show.  There were 3 shows in 2 days and together we earned his Rally Obedience (RO1) title.  He placed 1st in two of the classes and 2nd in the third with scores of 94 and 93!! This weekend we also won 2 UKC Best Junior Handler awards and a Group 4 placing in the Open class. He also qualified for his Canine Good Citizen at this show.

    In December we competed at the AKC Cleveland Classic show in Ohio where he qualified for his last leg in obedience and took second in the class!  Poirot now has his Beginner Novice title and I am very proud of him for earning it in only 4 shows.

    I am so happy and thankful for how far I have gotten over the years.  I love talking to people ringside so I can pick up helpful ideas.  I also like listening to other handlers’ horror stories with their dogs in the ring! Everyone loves Poirot and is always routing us on. I can’t wait till Poirot is old enough to compete in agility!!  We have taken a few Beginner classes with Della Sliker and we have SO much fun!  We have also done a few classes at Harmony Dog Training.  We now have a dumbbell and he loves it!  Our funniest competition moment so far was when he passed his CGC test.  The distraction was a skull Halloween decoration that looked like a phone.  The eyes glowed red and it spoke with an evil voice.  Poirot just turned his head sideways and poked it with his nose.

    Poirot is not only my dog, he is my best friend!  When we're bored we sit on the trampoline in the back yard and watch the lights move across the sky from town.  When it’s time for bed he hogs my whole bed and sleeps with all four feet in the air! He is such a good dog that it’s hard to remember he is still a puppy!  That is until he plays with Kazi, his German Pincher dog friend, and they do zoomies around the hotel room.  I am so excited to see how far I can go with Poirot! 

    I would like to thank the following people for helping me along the way... 

    Jacky Gingerich for introducing us to the AKC world.  If she didn’t get us out traveling with her to the shows we wouldn’t have been brave enough to go!  I also want to thank my 4H leader Lindsey Frasier for making dog training fun!  Thank you to Karen Drumm and Esther Cassatt for fine tuning us for the competition ring. And a huge thank you to Travler Collies, Candy Ardizzone, Becky Tehon and Bree Ardizzone for sharing Poirot with me.  

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Saturday, August 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Written By Dee Dee Anderson

    The AKC held its second Rally National Championship on March 13, 2015 at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, MO.  What is the Rally National Championship and how do you qualify for it? The Rally National Championship (RNC) is held once a year and it is my understanding that it will move to various sites around the country.  It is held in conjunction with the National Obedience Championship (NOC).  The current format is that the RNC is held on a Friday and the NOC is held on Saturday and Sunday of that weekend.  The RNC offers four different classes of competition which are all held on the same day. A dog may compete only in one class and must have qualified for that class in the preceding calendar year.  If a dog has qualified in more than one class, the dog must be entered at the highest class in which it qualified.  The four classes are:   Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced (RA), Rally Excellent (RE) and Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE).  It is from the RAE class where the champion is crowned and earns the right to add “RNC” in front of the dog’s registered name.  

    To qualify in Novice, Advanced and Excellent, you must earn the confirmed title for that class with 3 scores of 90 or higher (100 is a perfect score in Rally) during the qualifying period (December 1st – November 30th).  For the RAE class, you must earn the RAE title any time before the end of the qualifying period.  In addition, you must have earned five double-qualifying scores from Rally Advanced B and Rally Excellent B, plus three scores of 95 or higher during the qualifying period.

     In Novice, Advanced and Excellent, each team was required to compete in 2 rings for a possible score of 200 from the two rings. In the RAE class, each team was required to compete in 4 rings for a possible score of 400.  The four RAE rings consisted of two “Advanced” courses and two “Excellent” courses.  All Rally runs are timed so that in the event of ties, the team with the faster time wins.

    At the RNC event, each team was assigned to a specific group and dogs and handlers stayed with that group throughout the competition as you rotated through the rings. There were start times posted for each ring and class which was very helpful – since you knew in advance when and where you needed to be so hopefully you wouldn’t miss your walk through.  For those of us who had more than one dog entered, the AKC staff did a great job in doing everything they could to avoid conflicts, but of course, there were still challenges.  I definitely want to emphasize that you do NOT want to miss your walk through, no matter what!  For me personally, I had two dogs entered -- one at the Novice level and one at the RAE level and I did end up with two conflicts when it came to either walking the course or running my dog. It is my observation that the judges at the RNC were simply terrific, and bent over backwards to accommodate requests so that everyone got the best chance to compete fairly.  

    I wasn’t the only exhibitor showing more than one dog, I did place in the top 10 with both my dogs in their classes. Tracy Hendrickson showed four dogs: two in the Advanced class and two in the Excellent class, all four placed in the top 10 of their classes!  Kelsey Corn showed three dogs in the Novice class and all three placed in the top 10! Kelsey missed out on the group picture as she was receiving her ribbons for her other two dog.

    For me, I was worn out showing two dogs.  I have no idea how handlers were able to show 3 and 4 dogs and manage the conflicts and ring choreography!  I salute them!

    At the RNC, the judges were:

    • Richard  DiMarco
    • Nancy Grimm
    • Cheryl Pratt
    • Sharon Redmer
    • Dr. Pamela Regan
    • Julie Rembrandt Seeley
    • Barb Wedekind Selton

    For 2015 RNC, 1600+ dogs qualified for the Novice level with 80 competing. 700+ dogs qualified for the Advanced level with 70 competing.  450+ dogs qualified for the Excellent level with 52 competing and 250 qualified for the RAE level with 115 competing.  The AKC awarded ten placements in each of the four classes.

    Pix’n Pages took over 30,000 photos of the RNC and NOC. Providing the group, winning and some action shots for this article. 


    Rite Of Honor Vom Kraftwerk BN RN
    Owner: Luann Vuckson

    Honor is just getting started in rally and obedience competition, earning his RN and BN titles in the fall of 2014.  I entered him in the novice class at the 2015 RNC as a learning opportunity for us both.  For me, it was my first tournament competition.  For Honor, it was a great opportunity to compete in a large venue early in his performance career.  

    Our experience at the 2015 RNC was such a thrill!  He gave me 110% focus and effort throughout both rounds of competition that day.  In the first round, he entered the ring with intense focus and maintained it throughout the entire course.  It felt awesome, and I was so excited to learn he had earned a perfect score!  Our second round was in the afternoon.  Again, he gave me excellent focus throughout the course and I felt we had another great run.  I could hardly believe it when I found out he had another perfect score!  Why was this so hard to believe?  Because prior to the RNC, he had not yet earned a perfect score in rally.  I had not even considered the possibility that Honor would win his class at this event!  I am so proud of his performances that day.  The teamwork and precision he demonstrated that day was exceptional – he far exceeded my expectations.  I am so thankful to have this amazing dog in my life, and for all he has and will continue to teach me as we continue on this journey of training and competition.          

    Complete results can be found here: http://www.akc.org/events/rally/national/past-events/

    Note: placement score/time to complete all courses

    Rally Novice Results

    1st Place - 200.0/163.8 Rite Of Honor Vom Kraftwerk BN RN (German Shepherd Dog) Owners: Luann Vuckson Handler: Luann Vuckson
    2nd Place - 199.0/177.5 Sunfire's Md Cotton Thunderbird CD BN RN (Labrador Retriever) Owners: Anita Eisthen/Robert Eisthen Handler: Anita Eisthen
    3rd Place - 198.0/142.1 Mirasol Westmarch Beeyond This Momint BN RN CGC (Golden Retriever) Owners: Paula B. Ellis/Judy Super Handler: Paula B. Ellis
    4th Place - 197.0/160.6 Roughstock Chillin' It At Checkitout CD RN (Border Collie) Owners: Kelsey Corn Handler: Kelsey Corn
    5th Place - 196.0/159.4  DD's Dancing In The Moonlight RN TDX (Golden Retriever) Owners: Dee Dee Anderson/Billy Anderson Handler: Dee Dee Anderson
    6th Place – 196.0/172.4 Checkitout Dirt Road Reckoning RN (Papillon) Owners: Kelsey A. Corn/Karyn L. Corn Handler: Kelsey A. Corn
    7th Place – Place - 196.0/186.7 OTCH PACH Himark's Gracey Chasing Abbie's Dream UDX4 OM7 BN PCD GN GO VER RN AX AXJ MXP4 MXPB MJP5 MJPS PAX NF CGC (Shetland Sheepdog) Owners: Leigh Anne Baughey Handler: Leigh Anne Baughey
    8th Place – 195.0/167.8  Polesitter's Walk This Way BN RN NA NAJ (English Springer Spaniel) Owners: Emily Falterman/Mike Bockhorn Handler: Emily Falterman
    9th Place - 195.0/184.9  CH Rockcreek Ewe Make Me Itch CDX RN (Border Collie) Owners: Kelsey Corn/Bradley Corn Handler: Kelsey Corn
    10th Place - 194.0/151.9 Goldenvintagetapestry Shamrocknroll RN CGC (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) Owners: Kathleen M. Galotti/Kimmie Galotti Handler: Kathleen M. Galotti

    First Place Rally Advanced

    Sunchase's Simply Lightning Strikes Twice UDX RA MX MXJ NF CA CGCA
    Owner: Tracy Hendrickson & Rhoda Brouillette

    Ravynne is a multiple all breed High In Trial obedience Boxer. She is a true all around working dog with advanced agility, herding, lure coursing and rally obedience titles.  This past March, she competed in the AKC Rally Nationals and won the Advanced class.  In the 2014 RNC, competing in Novice, she earned 2 perfect scores, tied for first, but placed 3rd on time.  This year she was American Boxer Club National’s High Combined winner in Rally and Top Obedience Boxer of the Year.   As a "blood donor hero", she has saved many fellow canine’s lives, including Garth Brooks dog during an emergency surgery. She leads the pack as a 6th generation Sunchase Boxer’s team member, and has always been ranked in the top competing obedience Boxers.

    Rally Advanced Results

    1st Place - 199.0/196.7  Sunchase's Simply Lightning Strikes Twice UDX RA MX MXJ NF CA CGCA (Boxer) Owners: Tracy Hendrickson/Rhoda Brouillette Handler:
    2nd Place -  198.0/186.8 Scocars An Olympic Story RA (Rottweiler) Owners: Carmen Hurley/Scott Hurley Handler: Carmen Hurley
    3rd Place - 197.0/199.3 Emerald Wolf Ava Crowder BN RA (All American Dog) Owners: Brenda Lynn Wendt Handler: Brenda Wendt
    4th Place - 197.0/200.2 OTCH MACH Becksgold Jumping For Joy VCD2 UDX4 OM7 RA MXS MJS (Golden Retriever) Owners: Lynn K. Bauer Handler: Lynn K. Bauer
    5th Place - 196.0/181.7 Jusdandy Diamonds And Denim UD RE HSAds HIAd AX AXJ OF (Shetland Sheepdog) Owners: Janice A Miller/Michael G Miller Handler: Janice A Miller
    6th Place - 196.0/211.8 Sunchase's Simply Can Can Can Can UD RA AX AXJ NF CA CGCA (Boxer) Owners: Tracy Hendrickson/Rhoda Brouilette Handler: Tracy Hendrickson
    7th Place - 195.0/171.7 Sugarland's Pretty Little Souped Up 4wd CD RA (Border Collie) Owners: Rochelle Fugate Handler: Rochelle Fugate
    8th  Place - 194.0/220.9 Gann's Shamus RE (Border Collie) Owners: Rick Gann/Suzie Gann Handler: Suzie Gann
     9th Place - 194.0/239.2  Sundridge's Silver Bullet CD BN RA (Greyhound) Owners: Barbara Redecker Handler: Barbara Redecker
    10th Place - 192.0/189.0  Rhumbline's Count Zorro Seal The Deal CD BN RA (Labrador Retriever) 10th 189.0 Owners: Robert Fullum Handler: Robert Fullum

    First Place Rally Excellent

    Duq'wood's Brand New Start BN GO RE NJP
    Gail Brown

    Brandy came to me as a unwanted 7 mo. old Belgian Tervuren puppy through Belgian Tervuren Rescue to my house, not even having a name that she recognized much less anything that resembled socialization or training.  But there was something about her that just shouted potential and I was eager to try to find & develop it.  

    Rally is a great place to start & she took to it easily…moving quickly through the levels till she finished the RE.  Because she had multiple 100 pt. scores, a friend suggested (dared me) that I enter the 2015 Rally Nationals.  So, at the last minute, I did just that.

    I knew that Brandy knew her job and my biggest fear was that I might let her down by making a "stupid" handler error.  The hardest thing for me on the day of the competition, was not letting her realize that I was really a nervous wreck.  I must have hidden it well enough since we ended up winning the Excellent class with 199 pts out of 200 pts.  Although everyone kept telling me that I had won, I didn't really believe it until my name was actually called during the presentation...THEN it was real.   What a thrill.

    Rally Excellent Results

    1st Place - 199.0/187.8  Duq'wood's Brand New Start BN GO RE NJP (Belgian Tervuren) Owners: Gail Brown Handler: Gail Brown
    2nd Place  - 198.0/200.2 CH Overo Chamber Of Secrets CDX BN RE PT MX AXJ AXP AJP XF (Pembroke Welsh Crgi) Owners: Laura Gummelt/Jaime Bragg Handler: Laura Gummelt
    3rd Place - 197.0/165.3 CH Docmar Watch For Fowl Weather CDX RE JH (Golden Retriever) Owners: Marsha Fuzia/Jane Docter Handler: Marsha Fuzia
    4th Place - 197.0/177.8  Mcmatt's I Spy 4u @ Graffiti CD RE HSAds OA AXJ NF (Australian Shepherd) Owners: Diane L Bettis/Mark H Bettis Handler: Diane L Bettis
    5th Place - 197.0/186.3  Sunchases Running The Red UD BN RE AX AXJ NF CA CGCA (Boxer) Owners: Tracy Hendrickson/Rhoda Goselin-Brouillette Handler: Tracy Hendrickson
    6th Place - 195.0/199.5  Sunchases Little Pink Ribbon CDX BN RE AX AXJ NF CA CGCA (Boxer) Owners: Tracy Hendrickson/Rhoda Goselin-Brouillette Handler: Tracy Hendrickson
    7th Place - 195.0/200.4  Sparky's Hot Dogs & Bean BN PCD RE AX AXJ (Dalmatian) Owners: Diane Sparks Handler: Diane Sparks
    8th Place - 194.0/181.7  Renejade Velocity Vendetta RE MX MXJ XF (Doberman Pinscher) Owners: Mary Swindell/James Swindell Handler: Mary Swindell
    9th Place - 192.0/186.8  RINGEAUX AROUND THE BAYOU RE CGCA (English Springer Spaniel) Owners: Robert M. Carver Handler: Robert M. Carver
    10th Place - 191.0/194.8  Treesong's Moonlit Serenade RE (Australian Shepherd) Owners: Cathy Haverdink Handler: Cathy Haverdink

    Rally Advanced Excellent Results

    1st  Place -  400.0/323.7 OTCH DD's Slice Of Pie VCD3 UDX2 OM5 RAE TDX JH AJP NFP (Golden Retriever) Owners: Dee Dee Anderson/Billy Anderson Handler: Dee Dee Anderson
    2nd Place -  398.0/366.8  CH Brackenhill Priori Incantatem UDX2 OM3 GN RAE PT AX AXJ XF (Border Collie) Owners: Linda S Brennan Handler: Linda S Brennan
    3rd Place  - 398.0/368.8 Gaylan's Earth, Wind And Fire UD GN RAE SH (Golden Retriever) Owners: Laura Higdon Handler: Laura Higdon
    4th Place - 398.0/402.3 Blue Heavens Moonlight Ramble UD RAE MX MXB MXJ MJB (Shetland Sheepdog) Owners: Carolyn S Blasingame/Nancy A Curtis Handler: Nancy A Curtis
    5th Place -  397.0/342.7 OTCH Clitheroe R Commander N Chief UDX5 OM7 VER RAE16 (Golden Retriever) Owners: Charles P. MacMillan/Joan M MacMillan Handler: Charles P. MacMillan
     6th Place - 397.0/373.8  Medendorps Hoodoo By Barribeau CD RAE NA OAJ NF CAA (All American Dog) Owners: Billie Medendorp Handler: Billie Medendorp
    7th Place - 397.0/394.7  RNC Hamilton's Mystic Lord Of The Dance CD BN GN PCDX RAE4 AX AXJ NAP MXF CGCA (Border Collie) Owners: Lucy McCloskey Handler: Lucy McCloskey
    8th Place - 396.0/378.6 Sly Z Eurosportu CD BN PCDX RAE3 AX AXJ OF (German Shepherd Dog) Owners: Kimberly Thomas Handler: Kimberly Thomas
    9th Place - 396.0/383.7 Cosada's Gambling Man CDX BN GN GO RAE (Border Collie) Owners: Darrell Cormier/Sandy Cormier Handler: Darrell Cormier
    10th Place - 395.0/338.9 GCH CH OTCH Holther's Racin' Bye Ewe OM1 BN RAE PT OA OAJ (Border Collie) Owners: Lara Avery Handler: Lara Avery

    Continued ~ Please See The Road to the Rally National Championship ~ Sliver’s Story

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Saturday, August 01, 2015 12:00 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Written by Dee Dee Anderson

    RNC OTCH DD's Slice Of Pie 

    Owners: Dee Dee & Billy Anderson

    As Sliver’s proud owner and partner I never thought this would have ever been possible for this little Golden to win the title of RNC.  To say I have been on an adventure with my little Sliver – a singleton pup that was not supposed to live, let alone walk -- is an understatement.  But with the nurturing of her dam Dream – and the care and attention from many other people -- she would not only live and walk, but she would thrive and eventually enter the exciting world of competition Obedience & Rally.  

    Sliver’s story – and life challenge -- began during delivery.  When she was born, her right rear leg was black and swollen to twice the size of her left leg. She had no use of the injured leg and when she tried to crawl, it put such a strain on her left leg that she suffered ligament damage to that leg. By the time she was two weeks old, Sliver had no use of either hind leg.  Otherwise, she was a happy and curious puppy trying to investigate the world.  She would drag herself around using just her front legs. This only lasted a few days as Sliver developed swimmers pup syndrome because she couldn’t move around normally. Sliver’s rib cage had collapsed to the thinness of my hand. It was interesting that in the days before Sliver stopped moving around, Dream kept rolling Sliver over onto her back. Sliver would lay there kicking her front legs in the air. I would roll her back onto her stomach because I felt sorry that she could not roll over by herself. Much later I would learn that Dream had been doing the right thing – trying to keep Sliver’s weight off her chest. Here I was, with a two-week-old puppy that couldn’t move.  Many well-meaning vets said I should put her down, and I considered it every day in the first four weeks. But to take Dream’s only puppy away would be very hard for me to do.

    Before I gave up, I took Sliver to see another vet – but this time we headed to an orthopedic vet (Dr. Brown).  I can still see Dr. Brown holding this two-week-old puppy in the air.  Sliver was so young, her eyes were just opening. He explained how you could not do an x-ray on such a young pup and that it would be a waiting game to see if Sliver could survive and walk. But his exact words to me were “I would not give up on her yet.” 

    Since we had to wait for Sliver to get a little older before she could be x-rayed and treated, Dr. Brown gave me some physical therapy exercises to do with Sliver.  The exercises he recommended were to help Sliver overcome the swimmers pup syndrome and to keep blood flowing to her rear legs. Dr. Brown encouraged me to do the exercises with her throughout the day for a total of two hours – but if I could do more, so much the better.  This was Dream’s only puppy and all my focus was to help Sliver as much as possible. So I did the exercises with Sliver for six hours a day, every day for two weeks. Dream had naturally been doing the right thing by rolling Sliver onto her back from the very beginning. Dr. Brown said Sliver needed to lie only on her sides or back and I should not to let her lay on her stomach. Sliver spent a lot of time on my chest while I lay on the floor and did her therapy exercises. Dream smothered Sliver with love, and with her help, we taught Sliver how to walk. 

    Sliver would take her first step at four weeks old and at that time, it became apparent her damaged leg was growing crooked.  We went back to Dr. Brown and while I was worried about her crooked leg, Dr. Brown was beaming when he saw her.  He said, “You did it! You taught her how to walk!” 

    He carried Sliver around the office, stopping to show everyone how well she could walk. He then told me there was nothing else he could do until her growth plates stopped growing, which happens at about 8 months old. Until then, Sliver would only be allowed to walk on a leash or swim or track. It was so painful to watch her walk; it looked like her leg would break at any moment. When Sliver was 6-months old, I couldn’t stand it anymore and took her back to Dr. Brown to see if we could accelerate a treatment plan for her.  He took x-rays and said the good news was that she had stopped growing.  The bad news was that her right leg was so crooked, it was ¾” shorter than her left leg. He recommended surgery right away. He hoped he could straighten her leg at the point of the growth plate damage, and after recovery, that both her legs would be the same length. He was a bit concerned that such a young pup might not be able to tolerate the surgery and rehabilitation. 

    Dr. Brown’s plan was to cut the bone, straighten the leg, and insert a plate to hold the leg straight while it healed. He thought he might have to take bone from her hip if the leg was not long enough.  Lucky for Sliver – he didn’t have to do that. I just wanted Sliver to be able to run and play like a normal puppy.  But Dr. Brown said, “No, you don’t; you want her to be perfect. I will do my best to make her perfect so you can do any sport you want with her. But you will need to do a lot of work with her afterwards.”

    That meant eight weeks of restricting her movement -- not letting her walk, swim or track – and that was so hard on my 6-month-old puppy who wanted to be up and about. But Sliver and I would learn many tricks that you can play on the ground without a lot of movement.  The bad news is she learned that the best place to be was on top of me, biting my feet!  Sliver’s cast covered her whole leg, and it had to be changed twice a week because it kept shifting and turning and causing irritation to her foot.  We did so well following the instructions to keep her off her leg that at 6 weeks after surgery, Dr. Brown said we could take the cast off.  I was a nervous wreck and wanted to keep it on longer. But Dr. Brown assured me that her leg was healed and it was time for months of physical therapy. 

    After all the months of attention and playtime restricted to whatever I could do in a small area -- often in my lap – it was clear Sliver was, and is today, very attached to me, and I admit that she does have some separation anxiety when we are apart.  But what did I expect?  She was not supposed to live – and as a singleton pup, I became her littermate! Well, at least I believe that is what she thinks. As my husband says, “Dream loved you, but Sliver cannot live without you!” 

    I never expected I would be able to show Sliver in any event, but Dr. Brown said she would be able to run and play like a normal dog. To watch my 10-month old pup run for the first time was priceless!  Sliver had the time of her life when she was allowed out on the grass and free to play. Tracking would be physical therapy for her body and mind -- and for my mind too.  It didn’t take long for Sliver to earn her TD & TDX which seemed to come naturally and easily for her.  For obedience, we took our time as her leg needed to gain strength and of course, it is the right rear leg. That leg sticks out because of her surgery, and when Sliver sits, it makes her look like she’s sitting crooked. Sliver loves to work and some days she’s more excited than others. If it’s one of those days when she’s excited, she will tend to lean out when sitting on a halt -- and when she does that, her right leg sticks out noticeably. I love the way she works and hate to calm her excitement down, so we end up paying a price of ½ point off from some judges every time Sliver sits in heel position. 

    While I was still showing Sliver in Novice, I had one judge tell me that Sliver would never sit straight and I should not be showing her as she would never be the dog I wanted.  This judge knew nothing about my little Sliver, and certainly nothing about what Sliver had been through. It hurt a lot to think that a person would even say something like that to me or anyone else. That judge will never have the privilege of judging my Sliver again. As a judge myself, I am now even more aware of being careful of what to say to an exhibitor. I would never want to discourage a person from showing. Many judges have asked me what is wrong with Sliver and many have been very kind and encouraging. I would not be showing her if I thought I was hurting her in any way. For those who have seen Sliver and know her, they know how much Sliver enjoys working with me in any sport. She just loves to be with me!

    Competing with Sliver was never that important to me, but giving her a job to do and something to work on that she enjoyed doing was.  And she loves Obedience, as well as all the other sports she’s been able to participate in.  Sliver would earn her OTCH title, but because of her repaired leg sticking out, some judges took off a half point off every time she sat.  That was hard to take – knowing every time you went in the ring you would be down a ½ point or more on every exercise and there was nothing you could do about it – because a judge would see every sit as a ½ point off. This has been hard to accept over the years, particularly because I knew there was no way Sliver would be able to be competitive at a NOC, let alone qualify for one by OTCH points.  It was a big job just to get the 100 points for her OTCH. You can watch Sliver in a Utility ring: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=470447339676688&l=5100829317783102982

    Last year I decided to give Sliver a chance at Rally.  Sliver immediately took a liking to Rally and seemed to enjoy it so much.  In fact, the faster I moved through the exercises in the ring, the better she performed.  Her leg sticking out was never going to cost us a point off in Rally, and also, only whole points (no ½ point mistakes) are counted. When it was clear Sliver had qualified for the Rally National, the big decision was whether or not to go.   A four-day drive from California to Missouri was not something I really wanted to do.  But first I had to enter and see if I got in because the entries are limited.  With just days before the entries closed, I called a friend to see if she wanted to go too and we both entered.  We found out quickly that we had both gotten in, and now we felt we had to go!  I also entered Glimmer (Sliver’s 18-month old daughter) in Rally Novice at the championship. So we loaded up the minivan with three dogs and two people and headed east. 

    We had no idea what the competition was going to be like or how it would be run. The RAE entries were divided into four groups. Sliver was assigned to group 4 and we started in Ring 4 which was an Advanced course.  We then moved to Ring 3 (another Advanced course), then Ring 2 and finally Ring 1 (both those rings were Excellent courses).  Sliver went into each ring with lots of energy and earned a perfect score of 100 in the first 3 rings. I thought for sure there would be many perfect scores – and there were – and I expected there to be a number of dogs earning 100 in all four rings.  If that happened, the only thing to set them apart would be time.  Going into the fourth (and final) ring, we encountered two of our most difficult exercises -- the Figure 8 for me and the “back up 3 steps” for Sliver. For the Figure 8, you can only go through the middle 3 times.  If you do it more than that, it is considered an IP (incorrectly performed) and it costs you 10 points off.  And wouldn’t you know it?  There were two Figure 8’s in that ring!  The reason this is a difficult exercise for me is that once I get going, I tend to lose count!  For the “back up 3 steps”, Sliver either does it perfectly or not, it is just hard for Sliver to back up – and this was the very last exercise in the whole competition for us.  I got through the Figure 8’s OK and now it was up to Sliver.  I did my part and we backed up together -- one step at a time.  She did it as perfectly as she ever had and I wanted to reach down and hug her.  But before we could leave the ring, I had to leave her on a sit-stay (which is hard for Sliver) while I went to get her leash and return to heel position without her getting up. Sliver held her stay and we earned our 4th perfect score.

    At the Rally National competition, scores are posted on a score board outside the ring within minutes of each dog completing the course.  So at least you have an idea of where you rank within the group being scored.  But when you move to the next ring, the score boards are replaced and scores for the next group are posted.  That makes it nearly impossible to figure out where you rank in terms of the other groups.  

    At the trial secretary’s desk, a large projector screen had been set up and as the scores were brought in to be logged, they were displayed on the screen for all to see.  Unfortunately, the format of the display only showed about 40 dogs with their scores at a time.  The display would stay up for about 10 seconds, and then the next group of 40 would roll up.  It was a revolving display and a bit hard to read, and since the scores were being shown in the order of the groups, you might have to wait several minutes for all the group/class entries to be displayed before it started over again.  

    Since Novice finished earlier than RAE, I saw those results and was able to figure out that Glimmer was in the top 10 in Novice, but I didn’t know her exact placement because she was tied in points with two other dogs.  In the end, Glimmer won the 3-way tie because she was faster than the other two dogs.  But I didn’t find this out until the winners were announced.  

    In Sliver’s case, three of the RAE groups were showing up on the display, but not the one Sliver was in. I kept going back to check for what seemed like hours.  The last time I went back to look, I heard two women asking if anyone knew who had won.  Some other person in the crowd said there was only one dog with a perfect 400 score.  I knew that Sliver and I had gotten a perfect score in all 4 rings, but I couldn’t believe that there was only one dog. When I got up to the screen to look for myself – there it was.  Only one dog with a 400 – my little Sliver.  She had won the Rally National Championship.  While she wasn’t able to follow in her dam’s footsteps (when” Dream” NOC OTCH DD’s  Dreams Do Come True UDX26 OGM RE TDX JH VCD1 won the NOC in 2007), Sliver would win her own National competition and hold a special title too. You can see Sliver’s winning runs on YouTube below.

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