Dogs Owned and/or Trained by Laura
After a childhood spent adoring dogs from afar, I finally realized a lifelong dream of dog ownership with Sunny, my first Sheltie. He was wonderfully biddable with a fantastic, stable temperament, and I didn’t know enough to realize how lucky I was. Sunny earned a UD, and after one failed attempt when the UDX first became available in 1994, he marched through his UDX all 10 legs in a row. His great love, however, was playing fetch and he lived for tennis balls. Therefore Flyball was a perfect activity for him. Even after he lost a rear leg to bone cancer in 1995, he continued to enjoy going to practice, and so far as I know he was the first amputee to earn flyball points. He was also one of the first three-legged dogs to earn a U-UD at the age of 11 when the UKC clarified that amputees could compete. I could not have had a better partner with which to wade into the world of dogs and dog training.
Niki was a Weimaraner that belonged to my boss and his wife. The last part of her name was inspired by her naughtiness! She was smart as a whip, but also nervous and destructive and at one point they seriously considered giving her away. But some helpful folks from the local Weimaraner club intervened with support and advice, and I offered to do some obedience training with Niki if I could then show her at trials. This proved to be a larger project than I had anticipated, but she taught me a lot about how to deal with dogs that are fearful. She never lived with me so training opportunities were limited. But after a couple of years she finally earned a CD and a U-CD. She was partly trained through Open when my boss moved away.
OTCH HC U-UD JusDandy Brite Bernice UDX20 HXAs HSBs FDCH RN
Bright came into my life after Sunny’s abrupt retirement from AKC competition due to his amputation. She was 9 months old when I first met her and I was taken with her amazing floating trot and intense desire to herd sheep. As eager as I was to get back to my favorite hobby of exhibiting in obedience trials, I could not deny her the chance to realize her outstanding ability in herding. So we pursued both, with a little flyball and tracking thrown in when she was young. Bright was even higher drive than Sunny, but she was also much more aware of every little change in her surroundings, and it took me a long time to learn how to work with that aspect of her temperament. Herding and flyball did a lot to build her confidence, and when she finally brought that confidence into her obedience work, she far exceeded my expectations. Bright went on to become the first Sheltie to earn championships in both AKC Obedience and AKC Herding. She had numerous HIT and HC awards, ranked nationally in both Shelties and all-breed of many ranking systems, and attended multiple National Obedience Invitationals, placing in the herding group at one of them. She earned a UKC 200 in Novice, and an AKC 200 in Open. She retired with 2,385 OTCH pts.
OTCH U-CDX Echo Run Two-Hearted River UDX TD
River was the Beagle who belonged to my best friend and training partner, Leslie Brandt. Les and I shared a passion for all things dog and training related, and we dearly loved to discuss and dissect training theory. River was Les’ second Beagle, and Les dreamed of making River the first Beagle in the history of the sport to earn an OTCH. Les did a fantastic job with River’s foundation training, earning her CDs plus 2 all-breed HIT awards. She also completed River’s first CDX leg at the Beagle National with an amazing 199 score. Sadly, Les passed away shortly after that from melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. My memorial to Les was to try to finish her dream of an OTCH with River. It was a long and emotional journey, with many ups and downs. River was sweet and loving, smart and agile, but she had a typical independent hound personality and always needed to know what was in it for her. She lived with us while she earned her UD, UDX, and finally with perseverance, determination, and probably some help from Les watching from above, we finally completed Les’ dream in 2002. That year River also won the Hound Group at the National Obedience Invitational. After she retired she returned home to live out her days as the beloved pet of Les’ husband, Rich.
A trainer couldn't ask for a better partner than Flare. She was a puppy prodigy and learned at an astounding rate. People told me I was just a better trainer now due to experience, but I knew that wasn't all of it. I tend to be cautious about entering my dogs to make sure they are really ready, but Flare took me on a wild ride that started with her first CD leg before she was 2 and ended less than a year later with her OTCH. In 2009 she decided that we needed another adventure, working her heart out and winning at such a rate that before I knew it we were the top dog in the nation in OTCH points. Dog of the year was beyond my wildest dreams until Flare made it a reality. While she was at it Flare earned a perfect score of 200 in Open B, 127 lifetime High In Trial awards and 154 High Combineds and 3,895 OTCH points. In hindsight I wonder if she somehow knew that she needed to get her ring work done early in her life because little more than a year after our banner year she was diagnosed with a tumor on her brain stem. But even then she wasn't done surprizing me. After undergoing a form of radition therapy that is relatively new in veterinary medicine, she lived an astounding 5 more years. During that time we finished her Rally Advanced Excellent Title and learned all of the excercises in the difficult but now defunct Advanced Teamwork class in order to keep her mind busy. One of Flare's favorite things to do was to run like the wind so she also earned her Coursing Aptitude title. She enjoyed a life of being a true companion and keeping her little brothers in our house in line until just two days before she left us.
Radiant Moonlight Dance CD RAE
Tango was almost 8 years old when he came into my life as a rescue. He suffereded from terrible allergies that affected his skin, and when I got him he weighed 20 pounds (his normal healthy weight was 12 pounds) and he could barely waddle. From the moment he first laid those beautiful blue eyes on me, his expression said "There you are, my new mom. I am safe and happy now." For the rest of his life his was content so long as he was at my side, wether that be laying by my chair in the family room, or playing the game of obedience. His devotion had an extra dimension to it, unlike my other dogs, born from his knowledge of what it was like to be lost in the world with everyone he'd ever known suddenly gone from his life. Due to his age and an old hock injury, I knew Tango wouldn't be able to do advanced Obedience classes, but we had fun training for Novice and his Rally titles. He was my first dog to earn an RAE and he did very well while earning his CD, even winning a couple of Novice B classes despite my relaxed standards regarding precision with him. We only had 5 1/2 years together, but every minute was very precious.
OTCH Starhaven's Laser Beam UDX OM3 RE CA
Laser is my current ring partner. I had told his breeder about an upcoming litter that I would be interested in a puppy if she got a small (the better to fly under a seat on airplanes to tournaments), blue (my favorite of the Sheltie colors), boy (after two girls in a row I wanted to work with a boy again). To be so specific is a pretty tall order in Shelties, but when the litter was born, there he was! So I knew he was meant for me. Laser is the first dog I have trained for the ring (besides Tango) without using any force based methods and I am truly delighted with the results. He had a great Novice career capped off with a win of the Novice division at the AKC's 2014 Classic Tournament. His final score that weekend was a perfect 200. Since then Laser earned his OTCh easily, and got invited to the NOC even though he only had 6 months in the qualifying period after he got his UD to earn points. He is a devoted and earnest little guy, and we are having a great time in the ring together. I am looking forward to many years of showing and playing with my little blue boy.
Eastbrooke's Little Ray of Sunshine
OTCH U-CDX JusDandy Solar Flare UDX23 OGM RAE CA
U-CD Nikita Von Munch-Hausen CD
U-UD Craigmour Dades Sunny Day UDX HC FDCH, 49 OTCH pts
Ray doesn't have any titles yet, unless you count Stinkerdoodle or Mountain Goat. He's the tiniest dog I have had, coming in at a whopping 7 pounds. He is full of personality and we are having a blast getting ready for his future career as an obedience dog.