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Celebrating First Performance Collies Performance Week 2020 - colliesonline.com

Since this is a year like no other, we wanted to do something very different. And so, we are pleased to be celebrating first performance Collies. To that end, we asked owners to share with us their favorite memory or story. Some of these memories go back half a century. As you might expect, for many it was this very first collie that launched a lifelong passion and love for the Collie and performance events, specifically. In this feature, we share the memories and stories of Shep, Perry, Chip, Maggie, Gus, Laddie, Molly, Roly, Snowy, Cheyne and Beulah.

Shep :: Janaugust Shades of Redman, CDX :: 1965

Jan Bayton :: Maclen Collies :: Janaugust Shades of Redman, CDX

On a Friday afternoon in April, 1965, my Mother pulled up to Cherry Creek Junior High in our aquamarine, Pontiac Catalina station wagon, with Shep in tow. I was called to the office from 7th grade biology class and off we went to the Collie Club of America show at the Denver Coliseum. This was our first ever obedience trial. Shep qualified in Novice A obedience for his first CD leg. What a good boy! What fun! What a thrill! –Jan Baynton

Perry :: Gay Acre's Poppin Perrier, Am/Can CDX :: 1980

Perry and Noreen Bennett :: Gay Acre's Poppin Perrier, Am/Can CDX

My parents always let me train and go to obedience class with one of their dogs but Perry was the first dog that was all mine. Perry was from Florence and Mel Roberts, Gay Acres Collies. In 1980, the only performance sport that I knew was obedience. We frequently went to Canada to earn Canadian obedience titles also. Those trips were always so much fun. In later years, Joan Scialdone and I realized we had been at the same trials in Canada!

A turning point for me was attending the CCA national in Chicago. I came away from that national with the goal of showing my next collie in conformation as well as in obedience. Peg Vohr, Mariner Collies, was one of the few collie breeders in my area that participated in both obedience and conformation so when I was ready for my next dog, I contacted her. And as they say, the rest is history . . . –Noreen Bennett

Maggie :: Sadie’s Surprise, CDX, TT, SchH1, TDI :: 1982

Jeannette Poling :: Sadie’s Surprise, CDX, TT, SchH1, TDI
Maggie :: Sadie’s Surprise, CDX, TT, SchH1, TDI

Our Maggie started our adventure in "performance." She loved to run, bark and perform. Scent Hurdle Relay Racing, the “mother of fly ball,” was a sport made for her. She was the “lead dog” on an All-Breed team from 1978 - 1985, until she retired at age nine. For scent hurdle relay racing, the dogs would race down four jumps and “scent” (smell out) their own dumbbell, which was color coded (she was red) so everyone knew if they were correct and then return jumping the final jump for the next dog to take off. Maggie loved this sport. She perfected barking, running and jumping! Our team raced at dog competitions (California Top Dog) charity benefits, local schools, sports events (San Diego Clippers Basketball) and the crowds were always enthralled and over-the-top enthusiastic. Often the team raced a team of four 7-, 8-, or 9-year-old children. Sometimes we let kids “run” the dogs and Maggie would have to scent out her young companion handler’s shoe from a pile at the end. Maggie never disappointed! I think Maggie’s greatest reward was the roar of the crowd. She loved to be in the spotlight. She loved the clapping and the cheering. Every summer the team did exhibitions at the Southern California State Fair. For several years after she retired people would come up and ask about “that black Collie” . . . “where is she, is she ok?” . . . Maggie brought lots of joy! –Jeannette Poling

Chip :: CH Cheviot Sollis Anwell, RI, CGC, TKN

Ruth Anne Hanson and Ross Boone :: CH Cheviot Sollis Anwell, RI, CGC, TKN

Chip, our first performance and conformation collie, is a traveler, protector, caretaker, and second breakfast swindler. We can say a village has helped us along the way to better understand the collie, positive training, nutrition, and we still continue to learn. Our first time in conformation herding group was memorable for me, but I equally enjoyed watching and cheering Ross and Chip on in the Rally Novice Ring – both experiences happening in Arizona. Chip’s traveled with us to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Wyatt Earp Days in Tombstone, tent camping the Mogollon Rim, the Shootout at the OK Corral, Dobson Point, Prescott Highland Games, and the Black Hills which highlights some of our many fun memories and Chip’s great ability to roll with whatever adventure we’re on. CH Cheviot Sollis Anwell, RI, TKN, CGC and 2017 CCA First Place Open Tri-Color Collie has filled our hearts with joy and love in a big way. In our spare time he has also practiced scent work, agility, and some herding as we learn more about the performance arena and enjoy watching the collie mind at work; he continues to train his people well. –Ruth Anne Hanson

Gus :: UUD Scotwarrior Duke Of Dennison, UD :: 1988

Gus :: UUD Scotwarrior Duke Of Dennison, UD

This sounded like such a great idea for performance week, but, I guess I was unprepared for the emotions it unleashed. First performance dog. My first collie, which convinced me I’d always have a collie in my life, who not only was my first dog I competed with, but my constant companion, who rarely left my side, my children’s babysitter, my protector, my comforter, and truly, my best friend.

UUD Scotwarrior Duke of Dennison, UD, a.k.a. “Gus,” captured my heart in June of 1988. I had no intention of getting a collie, although Lassie was my favorite TV show growing up. I was of the generation of having dogs that were the product of two neighborhood dogs meeting up and the resulting puppies given away for free. I did acquire a Borzoi in 1983, and one day while showing him in breed at a dog show, a stunning blue merle collie caught my eye. I spoke with the breeder and took his card. Years after this, I lost my 14-year-old mixed breed, and in my grief, must have reached out to the breeder and given contact information. When they called four months later to tell me they had a little blue boy that I might be interested in. I refused. I had my Borzoi and was also pregnant with my second child. I didn’t even remember making that phone call to them. They told me to just come to see him. I went, picked up the little ball of fur, and never put him down. He came home with us that day and lived happily in our family for 13 years.

I didn’t really train Gus. I would show him something once and he would understand. Although I had years of experience training pet obedience through my business, it was different with the precision needed for performance. I learned to be patient and clear with instruction and saw how eager Gus was to please. I never had to use any harsh words or corrections. He genuinely seemed to crave my attention and praise. For Gus, the world revolved around me. Every candid photo that someone took showed him staring straight up at me regardless of what I was doing, whether talking to someone or watching the show. His eyes seldom left my face. We “talked” through our hearts and minds.

I’m proud that I was able to obtain two utility titles, in two different registries, with my first performance collie. I was proud when he was chosen over many other dogs to play the role of Sandy in "Annie" three times in children’s theater productions. He may not have been a tan, hairy mixed breed, but because he played the part so much better than the other candidates, he was chosen. From running across the stage to jump in the clothes bin and hide, to bringing Annie a rose when the actors gave their final bow, to howling along with her when she sang Tomorrow, he just excelled. But I’m more proud of the extreme loyalty and love Gus showed to our family. He adored my three children. He never showed aggression toward another living thing. Gus was truly my four-footed, furry soul mate. It was an honor to be owned and loved by Gus.

When he passed, he ran off with my heart strings still attached. For one year, I shed at least a tear a day over him. I read somewhere this saying . . . ”Everything you love will probably be lost, but in the end, love will return in another way.” Yes, it has. In the form of five other collies that came after him. Lenore Vizzone

Laddie :: Highland laddie :: 1978

Highland Laddie :: Joan Scialdone

As far as a favorite story, placing second out of 44 dogs was probably my BEST memory – Laddie wasn’t shown after his CD title – I started training him for his CDX – he had the dumbbell retrieve down, loved to work, but wasn’t able to jump the full 36” height which was the requirement at the time. So, I retired him. But, it was heartwarming to take a dog who had multiple health issues (malnourished, heartworm positive, plus every intestinal parasite on the planet) and turn his behavior around into a positive, resulting in a well-trained, obedient dog who responded to good care and treatment and was a delight to live with.

Another special memory was how excited Laddie got when it was training night. He knew what time we left for class and would run between the front door and where his leash was hung. As soon as I picked up the leash, he almost flipped cartwheels out the door – he loved going to class and loved to work. –Joan Scialdone

Molly :: Heatherri Molly Y D Long Face, MJP2, MXP, RL1, HIC, CGC, TDIA

BiBi Bennett :: Heatherri Molly Y D Long Face, MJP2, MXP, RL1, HIC, CGC, TDIA

Molly was my first collie. Through the American Kennel Club, I discovered a whole new world of dog sports and fun, besides obedience. We started our AKC Agility training in 2002. I didn't want her to overextend herself, so I entered her in the Preferred 16" class. We started competing on 11/9/2003. Molly achieved her first MJP title on 12/3/2006, her MJP2 on 5/30/2009 and then her MXP on Easter Sunday, 4/3/2010. She was often in the Top Ten Collies per the Hawkins rankings in agility. She was ranked #1 collie in the nation in Excellent B Preferred JWW in 2006. She was my true partner. We ran each course together as one. She was an excellent herder of sheep, a Therapy Dog extraordinaire achieving her TDIA title. She loved lure coursing, agility, rally obedience and visiting children and retired folks and everyone in between. Molly was a true collie – a noisy, pushy, extremely funny little girl with a zest for life. She was truly my willing and complacent partner in everything we did and made her breeder, her dad, and all who knew her, proud. She still sends me feathers and heart-shaped rocks, clouds, etc. on a daily basis. My heart dog, I thank you for opening the world of collies and dog sports for me – Always in my heart and soul, Good Job, baby girl! We will love you forever.

Molly's agility career started in November 2003 after almost a year of training. Unfortunately, it ended because of a bad landing, resulting in a shoulder injury, from a jump on May 15, 2010. At the time, she had one leg in RN, one leg towards her MXP2, two legs towards her MJP3 and four Double Q's towards her PAX. –BiBi Bennett and Rich Hand

Roly :: Snowy :: Cheyne :: Beulah

(L-R) Cheyne, Snowy and Beulah of Mountainside Collies

I didn't have one first performance collie; I had four. Back 20 years ago, my human family shared a wonderful life with our collie family without one thought of getting performance titles. Deeply devoted, loving and so much fun, our collies lived fulfilled lives as they took care of our little human flock and helped with chores around our little farm. Although we did teach them to come, I figured they'd lie down, etc., when they needed to.

When my children were eventually grown and gone, my collies got started with performance activities after I read "A Celebration of the Working Collie," an inspiring book by Cindy Dorsten, founder of the American Working Collie Association (AWCA). When we got started, all four collies bore the brunt of goal-oriented Joany's new idea of fun! And I was excited to develop their versatility, the foundation of which is their deep devotion to us, then topped with our wonderful breed's gene pool full of a variety of talents.

The four collies we had when we started were three generations: Coach Roly (not pictured) (As an amputee, he was our Coach because he was the first with three legs) and his littermate, Granny Snowy, age 10, Snowy's 8-year-old daughter, Cheyne, and her 2-year-old daughter, Beulah.

"Our" goal was to focus on activities that got AWCA versatility points as we did activities focused on what the two "oldies" could do: rally, backpacking, temperament testing, PR/ads for our B&B, health checks and nursing home visits. Eventually we added agility, carting, FastCat, herding, obedience, tracking and tricks.

Of all of the activities we've done, our nursing home visits are what have had true value. I love sharing my "Toolbox Full of Collie Love," and I am so grateful for how my wonderful collies show people God's great love to us! Here are some of memories from visiting the nursing home. Roly was the absolute best at figuring out which person at the nursing home needed a visit (usually an upset family member), and Veterans adored him. He was so amazingly intuitive that I would let him lead me to whomever he could sense needed the most comforting. Once it was a scary (to me) teenage boy; Roly surely reached him in a way that I never could have!

Snowy, the snuggling queen, was always the greatest and gentlest in every circumstance, and she wore a halo for her tender attention to my visiting Mom, when she became frail.

Deeply devoted to me but not affectionate at all, Cheyne did nursing home visits only because I asked her to. But during one visit, she walked up to a worried man and distracted him from his concerns with her calm demeanor. As he engaged with her, she very very slowly licked his hands (Is this my dog?), then lay down and rested her head on his feet (Where is my dog, and what have you done with her?!). He took some deep breaths and said that she kept him from having a panic attack.

Young, rascally Beulah was perfect when client "Sally" wanted to pat her. Because Sally had problems with muscle control, she could "pat" the dog only by lifting her hand high above her head and dropping her hand down hard. So I took Beulah home to see if I could train my butt-rub-loving queen to enjoy a rougher version, like what Sally would do. When the day came, Beulah backed up to Sally's wheelchair and showed utter delight when Sally dropped her hand from on high. Both of those gals had the biggest ever smiles on their faces, and I was so happy for Sally that she could express her affection, and that Beulah understood and enjoyed Sally's intentions. Another Beulah memory that I just have to share comes from a visit with one our favorite gals whose adult grandchildren were visiting with their two little children, both of whom were sitting together on a chair looking terrified. The kids looked relieved, then happy as they asked if they could pat Beulah. Soon we had a kissing party in full swing, at which point they asked if they could lead her around. I was concerned that young, rambunctious Beulah might jump on them and scare them, but she was perfect. The parents asked if Beulah could come back during their next visit! Most wonderful to me was that the two little ones would have happy memories of visiting their Great Granny, instead of having predominantly scary memories.

Eventually, the three girls became Versatility Champions with the AWCA, and Cheyne and Beulah also earned versatility titles offered by the CCA. Going on to earn the AKC VCD1 versatility title, Beulah is the first Collie to earn the versatility Triple Crown, having earned versatility titles with all three organizations. She is also the most versatile Collie Grand Champion, with titles and accomplishments in agility, back packing, carting, conformation, health, herding, Merit, obedience, rally, service, temperament, tricks and versatility. But most of all, she and all five generations of our collie family are beautiful, loving, devoted, talented and fun members of our family!

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Cover Photo Shep courtesy Jan Baynton