BY RUTHANN MCCAULLEY
SerpenTEAM is a column featuring special dog and handler teams involved in Rally Obedience
This month I introduce the first RAE Canine Partner. Not only is this dog excelling in AKC Rally, but many other activities and venues as well.
What is your name and where do you live?
Jackie Phillips, San Leandro, California.
This is in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the East Bay, south of Oakland. I was born and raised in San Francisco.
What is your occupation?
I am self-employed with my own business called The Social Pet (www.thesocialpet.com). I help find lost pets with a variety of techniques including tracking dogs. Dino is trained to track, and he and Dot have completed over 200 searches since March 2009.
I am an author/publisher and wrote a book called “Renting with Rex: How You, Your Dog, Your Landlord and Your Neighbors Can All Thrive in Rental Housing.”
Photo By Roberts
Any other “personal” information you’d like to share, children, wife/husband, other pets etc.?
I have never been married, don’t have any children and am a proud 46 years old.
I currently have three dogs, one cat, two rabbits and two parakeets.
Name(s) and breed(s) and age(s) of your dog(s).
The dogs are Dino (five years old herding mixed breed), Dot (approximately five years old Jack Russell Terrier/Fox Terrier/Basenji mixed breed) and Rusty (one year old Norwich Terrier/Dachshund mixed breed). All dogs are adopted from various shelters.
I adopted Dino (MB-Ch Woodacre’s Court Jester AKC-RAE MB-RN CGC TT SR1) from Grateful Dogs Rescue in San Francisco in December, 2006. They pulled him from San Francisco Animal Care and Control after he had been surrendered by his owners where he lived his nine months in their backyard. The shelter considered Dino unadoptable because they thought he was out of control and untrainable, and they were going to euthanize him. Luckily, Grateful Dogs Rescue did not believe them. They had him posted on Petfinder, and I was looking for another dog.
Photo By Tim Bernard Caption: This photo is at the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America National Specialty on October 31, 2010, in Cornelius, Oregon. This is in the Novice Obedience class.
I adopted Dot (UWP Woodacre’s Polka Dot, CGC TT SR1 SR2) in October 2008 from a shelter in a tiny remote and rural town of Weaverville, California. She had been surrendered by her owners along with seven one week old puppies. I adopted her when the puppies were just weaned at six weeks. Dot is a very unique dog and is a serious work-a-holic.
Rusty (Woodacre’s LittleBigMan SR1) was just adopted in July of 2010 from a shelter in Southern Oregon when he was about eight months old. I traveled to Reno, Nevada, to attend a show with Dino, where he earned his Rally Excellent title. It was a four day event, and a woman and her husband were crated next to me with their dogs, and they had come down from Oregon to show her two dogs. She was fostering Rusty, then called Rudy, through her local humane society, and was looking to place him in a working home. Rusty has the ability to be the next obedience dog after Dino, and loves trips to the small dog dog park.
How did you become interested in Rally?
The Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America requires that either a RE or a CD is earned in order to complete the Champion title. Dino earned all the points necessary for his Championship in February 2010, so I started to look at Rally or Obedience. I was familiar with Rally since I had put an RE through the Mixed Breed Dog Club on another dog, Scout (Woodacre’s Rocket Fire, RE CGC TT) in 2005, when she was eleven years old. To get a title through the Mixed Breed Dog Club, the dog must compete in either workshops/fun matches or shows put on by the Club. There is a California chapter that I was a member of at that time, and I attended a couple of their shows for legs for Scout.
A restriction that the Mixed Breed Club puts on all dogs with all their Championship points without an RE or CD is that they are ineligible to show again in Conformation, and I wanted to take Dino and my other two mixed breeds to the National Specialty in Oregon in October. This put a lot of pressure on me to get the RE by then.
I looked at UKC, ASCA and Mixed Breed Club to get the RE through. After looking thoroughly at the show schedules, I discovered that shows in California were very rare in those venues, and I knew that getting a minimum of nine shows to complete the RE by October would be impossible. Besides, ASCA was not starting their Rally program until that summer and UKC had just started their program early 2010. Mixed Breed Club had been allowing Rally titles for several years.
I took a look at AKC. I knew that they were just allowing mixed breeds to show in April of 2010, which was about two months away from when I had decided to show in Rally. I started to attend classes and learn all the signs and requirements. I held off on registering with AKC at that point.
I did get Dino registered first with UKC because I was able to attend the first UKC Rally show in California at a Rat Terrier Specialty in March 2010. It was there that we earned our first two Rally legs and two United Weight Pull legs. Based on that success, I decided to register Dino with AKC and start showing him in Rally.
In California, AKC shows are very plentiful. I was able to map out a minimum of nine shows through August where I planned to show him. The only time I had to go out of California was to attend a show in Utah, which was in June.
You have a very accomplished mixed breed who is now making AKC history in the Canine Partners program. Please tell us more about your dog. Was he a rescue?
I adopted Dino on December 23th, 2006, from Grateful Dogs Rescue in San Francisco. I found him while searching on Petfinder for another dog after the death of my longtime companion, Rowdy (Woodacre’s Rowdy Boy MB-CDX CGC TT OAC NAC NJC) previously that year at the age of 16. I filled out that adoption application online and got an email from the foster parent that next day. Strangely, the foster parent was former member of the California chapter of the Mixed Breed Dog Club, and she remembered me and Rowdy. I drove into San Francisco and met Georgette and Dino (then called Sparky) at Fort Funston, a very large off leash dog park on the beach. The first time I saw Dino, he was running around the area trying to get various dogs to play with him. He would try various tricks until they played with him. I brought my dog, Scout, with me and let her out. Dino immediately ran up to her and enticed her to play, and they ran off running and jumping and playing. Both Georgette and I were smiling and laughing. We continued to walk around the large parking talking about Dino and catching up about the Mixed Breed Club. By the time we got back to the car, I told Georgette I definitely was interested in Dino, and she arranged a time to come by my apartment in Hayward, across the bay.
The story I got from Georgette about how Dino ended up at the San Francisco Animal Control was that he was surrendered by his owners at the age of nine months. His name was Spooky. I have copies of his surrender paperwork, and the photo the staff took of him in the lobby showed a terrified dog tied to a very long rope, hung in multiple loops from the man’s hand. The paperwork said that the shelter deemed him unadoptable because he was “wild in the kennel, barking and acting hysterical.” They called the previous owner to see if they were interested in redeeming him, and they declined. The San Francisco SPCA next door, a private shelter, also declined from adopting Dino. As a last resort to euthanasia, the shelter asked Grateful Dogs Rescue (www.gratefuldogsrescue.org) if they were interested in adopting him. From their website: “Grateful Dogs Rescue, a non-profit organization, has a mission to rescue San Francisco ACC shelter dogs not made available for adoption. Rather than letting these dogs be euthanized, Grateful Dogs Rescue saves as many as possible by fostering them until a loving home is found.” Georgette did agree that Dino was very, very excited in his kennel when she went inside to visit him, but she didn’t feel he was uncontrollable. She felt he was trying to get her attention and prevent her from leaving. She felt that with some time outside the kennel in a loving home, he would be a great dog. She was right, and they have continued to this day to provide safety and security to many at risk dogs from that overcrowded shelter. Grateful Dogs had him for three months in foster homes until I found him on Petfinder.
That same year, 2007, we started in Mixed Breed Conformation, and by the end of the year he had earned most of the championship points needed, and several Best Mixed Breeds. He also passed his Temperament Test, through the American Temperament Test Society, to earn his TT.
Photo By Warren Cook Caption: This is in Placerville, California, at the Hangtown Kennel Club. The date is May 30, 2010. Award is First Place in class. Judge is Carolyn Wray
What got you interested in competing with your dog? How long have you been training and competing? Is this your first competition dog? Do you take classes?
My first competition dog was Chessie (Woodacre’s Cheshire Smile CD), an ILP American Staffordshire Terrier.
I had been taking obedience classes from Patricia Cook in Oakland in approximately 1984 with a pit bull that was having dog aggression problems. I was eventually forced to put the dog to sleep because the problem was deemed to be too far along, and was a liability. After that, Pat helped me find another dog, and referred me to a person she knew who recently had a litter of pit bull puppies in San Francisco. I went there and found Chessie, the only puppy in the litter, running around and wreaking havoc. I gave her the registered name of Woodacre’s because that was the street my parents were living on in San Francisco, and Cheshire Smile because she always had a huge grin.
We went on to earn the CD and one CDX leg. The CDX leg was earned at the Golden Gate Kennel Club dog show at the Cow Palace in January in approximately 1986. We won first place in Open. We were the only dog who qualified out of the large class.
In 1992, Chessie was stolen out of my fully fenced yard in the middle of the night while I slept inside. She was tattooed and had a collar with all tags. She had also had recent cruciate repair surgery, so she was unable to walk or stand for long. This was before microchips. I never saw her again, even though I searched all over the Bay Area for months.
In 1993, several months after Chessie was stolen, I found Rowdy (then named Smokey) in a large government shelter in Sonoma County, where I was living. I adopted him the next day. He went on to become Woodacre’s Rowdy Boy, MB-CDX CGC TT NADAC-OAC NAC NJC.
Rowdy was my first competitive mixed breed and how I found out about the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America. We trained all the way through Utility, but had to stop short of the title because I took a job that required me to work weekends after losing my longtime administrative support job when the company was sold.
Before that happened, I had already adopted Scout (Woodacre’s Rocket Fire RE CGC TT), a pit bull/herding dog mix, from another shelter in Sonoma County, at the age of six months.
In December 2006, I adopted Dino from Grateful Dogs Rescue.
Do you take classes?
I do. I attend regular training from Denise Fenzi in Woodside, about 45 minutes from my home. She is absolutely wonderful and has really shown me how to remain positive, keep all training fun and focused and to be creative in training. I also attend drop in classes sporadically at Fremont Dog Training, Mt. Diablo Dog Training, County-Wide Dog Training and San Lorenzo Dog Training. All this is to get Dino acclimated to a variety of environments and people, which is needed in showing.
What rally venues do you participate in? (AKC, APDT etc.)
Dino has two UKC Rally Novice legs, earned last March 2010, at a Rat Terrier Specialty in Modesto, California. He also has one ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) Rally Novice leg earned in September 2010 in Cayucos, CA, through Coast Australian Shepherd Club. He also has his Mixed Breed Rally Novice title and one Advanced leg. Those were earned in September and October of 2010, at the California Mixed Breed Specialty in Milpitas and at the National Mixed Breed Specialty in Cornelius, Oregon. There is a local group who sponsors APDT training and trials, and many mixed breed people compete there. For me, there has always been scheduling conflicts with other events, so I have not been able to attend training or shows.
My plan is to continue to participate in Rally in the future. First, I want to finish Dino’s UD and work on his UDX and OTCH at this point. I find that, for me, a certain amount of formality is needed in Obedience, that is not in Rally, and I am afraid of creating confusion in Dino’s distracted mind.
My immediate goal is to complete the UD and earn as many OTCH points as possible by the end of June to qualify for the Obedience Invitational in December in Florida. (Note: Dino, finished his UD this past Saturday, May 14, in Nampa, Idaho.)
Please share any other information about training problems you’ve overcome, etc. Do you think these problems are because of your chosen breed (or mix of breeds) or “generic” training issues.
I think the only problems I have encountered while showing in Rally is that I did not train for full Obedience attention from the beginning, mainly because my goal in the beginning was not Obedience, but just Rally. As we moved along in the process, Dino figured out that there was no food in the ring, so he tended to drift in attention, even though I did my best to remain interesting. He would visit the judge while in the ring and visit the Honor Dog in Excellent. As we progressed in Obedience training, I was able to change that and train in more focused attention. However, Dino is a super friendly and outgoing dog, so visiting others is a natural tendency of his. I think it will be ongoing in Obedience, at least in between exercises, so I have continued to work on full attention while in the ring and before going in. He is much better, but it obviously remains a struggle on his part to not say hello to everybody.
I don’t think these are breed specific problems, but a Dino and training challenge. However, I would prefer to have a happy, outgoing dog rather than a scared and freaky dog. A happy dog is much easier to work with.
Do you plan to continue in Rally?
Yes, I do. Once I finish his UD, I plan to work on the OTCH, though I know that is a very long road. During that time, I would like to finish the UKC, ASCA and Mixed Breed titles. I hate leaving things unfinished and hanging! I would also like to finish his UKC weight pull title. He has two legs from the same weekend where he got his UKC Rally Novice legs.
What other performance events do you participate in? (if any – obedience, agility etc.) You have a long list of titles from various venues. Please explain what each is, I am not familiar with some of them.
MB-Ch: Mixed Breed Champion – This is earned through the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America (www.mbdca.org). It is Conformation title, just like in any of Conformation. The dog earns points by beating out other dogs and fitting the standard. Many people ask how can there be a standard for a mixed breed. And, yes, it won’t be a specific as a purebred standard, but there are many other things that are standard. Here is the point breakdown as per the written standard:
SCALE OF POINTS:
General Appearance and Condition 20
Gait and Movement 20
Head and Body 10
Coat and Color 10
Total Points 100
The full standard can be seen at: http://mbdca.tripod.com/pdf/Conf_Standard.pdf MB-RN: Mixed Breed Rally Novice – That is the Rally Novice title through the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America (www.mbdca.org).
CGG: Canine Good Citizen – AKC.
TT: Temperament Test – American Temperament Test Society (www.atts.org)
SR1: Straight Racing One – Through All Breed Lure Sports Association (www.ablsa.org). This is a brand new group that patterns straight/sprint racing, lure coursing and oval track racing for all breeds after sight hound racing.
I must ask. Have you run into any resistance when competing in AKC events? It seems everyone I know welcomes the mixed breeds and Canine Partner program, but this may not be the case everywhere.
I am glad you asked that question. I don’t think I could use the word “welcoming” to describe my experience for the last year in showing Dino, and I have received the same feedback from other people who show mixed breeds. I have friends who show in the Washington/Oregon/Idaho state area, and they have received some very negative feedback while attending shows.
Remember, mixed breeds are only allowed in Obedience, Rally and Agility. They are barred from tracking, conformation and all other events. I hardly find that welcoming to start. And, clubs are still given the option of allowing mixed breeds, and I found in the last year, and scheduling the next six months, half of the shows I look at are allowing mixed breeds and half are not, at least in California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona, where I receive premiums in the mail.
Also remember that UKC, ASCA, NADAC, USDAA and Mixed Breed Club have allowed mixed breeds for many, many years, and showing of purebreds has not been hampered by mixed breeds being on the same grounds. If anything, it would have been improved. I have heard of some people who had both purebreds and mixed breeds and showed in agility. They would not attend AKC shows with their purebreds because they didn’t want to leave their mixed breeds at home. Now, they don’t have to.
In my experience, where mixed breeds have been allowed and there are also Conformation rings, I receive the most awkward questions and comments. People literally stop me and ask what kind of dog Dino is. When I say, “mixed breed” I get some very confusing looks, comments and questions. I guess many people never received the notice that mixed breeds are now allowed by AKC on their grounds.
I can say that have received the most support from AKC at the Canine Partners program, headed by Penny Leigh. She is fabulous and had been very supportive.
I know there are many diehard purebred enthusiasts that don’t want mixed breeds on their grounds, period, and nothing I do or say will change their mind. And just like prejudice in general, they won’t state in public their opinions, but in private they will talk amongst themselves and confirm each other’s beliefs. I am sure everybody knows them. I want to focus on the people and clubs who are accepting and allowing me and Dino.
What is the most memorable thing that has happened to you and your dog(s)?
OK. That is easy. While we were working on the RAE, we attended a local double trial weekend. This was one of those indications that full focus was a problem. We were working our way through the Excellent course, and approaching the Honor Dog, a small and very cute Yorkie, sitting on Dino’s left side just as we approached a “U” turn. Well, we never made it to the “U” turn. Dino made a beeline to the Yorkie to play with him. Luckily, the Yorkie was not afraid of him and stayed still. I tried to call him back, but he wouldn’t come. The judge dismissed us, and then Dino went to visit the judge and jumped on her. We did qualify in the Advanced run later that day, which made up for it. However, the next day, as we were running the Excellent run, there was a figure 8 with distractions. After completing the second obstacle of a jump, Dino made a beeline to the figure 8 to check out the bowls. I said thank you to the judge and pulled him out.
As proof that things got better, on our final Advanced run, they had a figure 8 with distraction bowls, and Dino never wavered an eyelash away from me and walked right through it.