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Spotlight On Obedience With Cindy And Walker

Performance Interview:  Spotlight on Obedience

Featuring Cindy Burgess and Walker, OTCH2 CH Temora Keeping Stride, UDX11, OGM, GO, GN, BN, RAE

Heather Rife (HR) How did you get started in Australian Terriers? Did you have a mentor?

Cindy Burgess (CB) I grew up with the breed. My Mom and Dad showed them in the 60’s and 70’s. I have always loved them! My parents and first trainers, Louise Dewey and Jeanette Everette were my first mentors.

(HR) Then you contacted Julie Seaton. And how did you come across Julie?

(CB) After I realized I wanted an Aussie again, it took me several months to find a breeder that understood what I wanted. I wanted correct structure, a good drive and desire, as well as a correct temperament. Julie seemed to understand what I was looking for.

(HR) How did you get started in obedience?  

(CB) I’ve always wanted to do obedience. I started obedience when I joined 4-H at the age of 7.

(HR) I have heard that repeatedly. What a testament to 4-H!

(HR) What are your criteria when looking for an obedience puppy?

(CB) I observe the litter.  The puppy that sits back and doesn’t engage is not the   puppy for me. I kinda want them to be a little naughty (laughs). I want one      that    wants to do things with you. I know Julie looked at Walker when he was 4 weeks old and told him” you’re going to be a performance dog”. He woofed at her in response.

(HR) So Julie picked him for you.

(CB) Well he was the only male in the litter, and I wanted a male. I think that males are more willing to please you…females are a little more independent. I knew that if this puppy did not meet my criteria, I was willing to wait for the next litter.

(HR) When did you know this puppy was really going to excel in obedience?

(CB) Well, when I first started him, I knew I wanted an OTCH title (Obedience Trial Champion) on him, so my training was geared toward that. By the time he was a year old, I thought, “He’s got this”. At that age, he was trained through the utility exercises.  

(HR) Walker is the second Aussie with an OTCH?

(CB) No, he is the third OTCH Aussie, but he is the first to achieve an OTCH2. He is also the first with an OGM title.

(HR) How do you keep and motivate him when training and trialing?

(CB) Personally, I find this breed to always be up for an activity. They love it. More often, I must reel their enthusiasm in a bit. Walker is a very serious dog. Tripp is a little more of a clown, which is fine with me. He’s taken a little longer to settle in. The primary objective for me is patience. Once this breed learns something, they ask for more, more, and more.

(HR) Do you ever find they get stressed while trialing?

(CB) Tripp does get nervous on occasion. He may begin panting and looking around, trying to anticipate what we are going to do. We’re working on that.

(HR) What was the most difficult obstacle you’ve encountered and how did you overcome it?

(CB) Wow that’s a hard one. Nothing comes to mind. Everything has its ups and downs. Most people would say articles, or scent discrimination in utility. But I   always expect one step forward and two steps back, so I don’t find it difficult. I expect it.

When they get to know something, they figure, ehh, that’s good enough. Walker had a period where he would only go out about 13 feet, instead of all the way to the end of the ring. (dogs are required to leave the owner and run 20 feet away and sit). He figured he could jump just as easily from 13 feet as from 20 feet.

(HR) How did you overcome that?

(CB) I just had to do more play go outs. I would rent two rings and make him go out the length of two rings, until he understood he needed to go out to the end of the ring.

(HR) What was one of the funniest things that has happened to you and your dog?

(CB) Well, just the other weekend I showed both my Flat Coat Retriever (Dice) and Tripp. I had just finished with Dice, and ran to the next ring with Tripp. First up was the broad jump. I looked at Tripp and said “Dice, over”! Fortunately, he did the jump, but he looked at me like “You know that’s not my name, right? “The look on his face was priceless. The judge said to me “you know that’s not his name.” We laughed but every time I entered the ring that weekend I repeated to myself…” This is Tripp”. Sometimes I proof with both dogs, leaving them both on a sit stay and I recall one dog by name. The other dog should not come until I call their name. I guess Tripp figured he was the only one in the ring, so he had better jump!  

(HR) How are you received by competitors or judges who are not familiar with our breed?

(CB) When I first started with Walker, I’d get a lot of judges who would say ”That was wonderful” and I’d get my score and think, yeah they must think it was wonderful for a terrier. I’d take it with a grain of salt. Most judges now are better.  They embrace people coming in with rare breeds. Even people with the “common obedience breeds” are mostly welcoming. You do get a few that get mad when they are beaten by a terrier.

(HR) Have you influenced others to think about an Australian Terrier as their next performance breed?

(CB) Oh, yes, absolutely.  Dana Nelson had a different breed before. She had always enjoyed watching me and Walker. When Julie called me with another available performance puppy, I wasn’t ready for a puppy at that time. I called Dana and said, “you need to take this puppy”. She took Chip and is happy every day she did. Terry Ward has an Aussie now, too. I believe his name is Flint.

(HR) Describe the most exciting win for you.

(CB) Definitely the OTCH. You never know how many points you will earn at a show. It depends on your placement and the number of dogs you’ve beaten. I knew if I got second place, Walker would earn his OTCH title. When the judge called my number with second place, I just stood there. I didn’t come out right away. The judge looked at me and I said, “that’s his OTCH” and we all started crying.

(HR) Any words of wisdom for owners just starting out, or working in obedience?

(CB) You must be consistent in what you do and how you do it. You need to use the same words.

(HR) Like using the correct name? (laughter)

(CB) Yes, like that!  You cannot drill this breed. When I do things in repetition, I will quickly move onto other commands, especially with a puppy. They don’t have the attention span required for repetitive drilling.

(HR) Are you willing to mentor others in obedience?

(CB) Absolutely! I can be reached at cindy.burgess4@gmail

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