PERFORMANCE INTERVIEW: SPOTLIGHT ON RALLY
FEATURING KREG HILL AND GCHB CH RACH2 Christhill First Lady Marie Geneva UDX2, OM2, PCDX, BN, GN, RN9, RAE7, CGC, TKN, FDC aka Mamie
How and when did you get started in Aussies?
(KH) I got my first Aussie in the early 90s. I had started with a silky terrier and my obedience instructor was Kiku Kennedy, one of the founding members of the ATCA. Kiku had Qantas Kennels. I expressed an interest in getting an Aussie puppy but Kiku, at that time, did not have any puppies. She referred me to Doris Robbins who had the Azul Kennels, so I brought home my first Aussie puppy, Phoebe. Willy Baldwin, worked with Kiku and she helped me quite a bit. She was my mentor. Kiku wanted me to show the puppy and Willy was very helpful with that as well as whelping, and breeding.
(HR) What led you to pick this performance activity? What criteria do you use to pick a puppy?
(KH) Well, obedience was the only thing I knew about (laughs). I soon became interested in Rally. As for picking a puppy, I believe when you breed a dog you breed to the standard. If you breed this way you will automatically have a dog that is put well together, and they will also exhibit the correct temperament to become a good performance dog. I don’t believe in breeding for performance and not for conformation. Look at the Golden Retrievers. They almost have two separate breeds now.
(HR) When did you know Mamie would really excel in Rally?
(KH) I don’t keep many dogs, so she was the one that I had to work with.
(HR) Do you start immediately with obedience, or do you wait to finish the conformation titles before teaching obedience?
(KH) Well, Mamie was a GCHB CH and she gave me some lovely puppies. I do believe they need to be spayed because they always seem to come in heat at the worst times!
(HR) So you don’t feel the hormones, the estrogen make a better obedience dog?
(KH) No I didn’t start obedience until she was 3-4 years old. Of course, people don’t realize that the conformation ring is a lot like obedience, too.
(HR) How do you keep and motivate your dogs in training and in trialing?
(KH) I have a really good obedience instructor, Catherine Zinsky. She is one of the top trainers in the United States. She really tuned me in to motivating Mamie to succeed. She had never trained a terrier before, but Catherine keeps me motivated, too.
(HR) Do you ever get to trials and Mamie just not into it?
(KH) Yes, last weekend! I think it was the asphalt and gravel surface that she didn’t like. But sometimes she’s just not into it, and sometimes I feel the same way. The previous weekend she was right on and qualified all three days.
(HR) What was the most difficult obstacle you’ve encountered and how did you work around it?
(KH) Teaching go outs. It’s really hard to send a dog away from you. We tried many ways to teach it to her. I am using a prescription bottle caps with a treat on top to send her out. That seemed to work for her. I also used cottage cheese lids and placed them in a semi-circle and would send her to a particular lid. It teaches them to mark using your hand.
(HR) What was one of the funniest things that’s happened to you and Mamie?
(KH) It had to do with articles. She went to get her utility article and she returned by jumping over the high jump. She was so proud of herself! You could tell she was so happy about it!
(HR) How are you received by competitors or judges who are not used to seeing our breed?
(KH) At this point, I know most of the judges and they know I work really hard with my dogs. They know I’m serious about competing. I think I get a lot of respect from them because I have a non-traditional breed. I started rally because the ATCA came out with the versatility award, and I needed a third performance activity. Rally was brand new, and I’d never had a rally lesson in my life. But I attended the first Rally trial, and we did well.
(HR) Do you think dogs prefer Rally to obedience, since you can talk to them in the rally ring?
(KH) Well, everything you do in Rally is also found in the obedience ring.
(HR) please explain what constitutes is a RACH.
(KH) It stands for Rally Championship. To get a RACH you have to pass RAE 20 times and you have to have 150 points in Masters and 150 points in Advanced or Excellent. You get points based on your scores. You must pass all three classes (Advanced, Excellent and Masters) on the same day twenty times. So you can get your 20 legs but then you need 150 points in Masters and 150 points in Advanced or Excellent.
(HR) Do you think you and your dogs have influenced others to think about an Aussie as a performance dog?
(KH) I think so. I do an all-terrier obedience/rally trial. And that has brought attention to our Aussies.
(HR) Describe the most exciting win for you.
(KH) Well being invited to the National Rally Championship is really exciting. Last year I was the number 5 terrier, which is quite an honor.
(KH) You look at all the breeds doing rally. It’s a real cross section of dog breeds. You get all breeds as well as mixed breeds. It teaches you to work with your dogs.
(HR) Any words of wisdom to those just starting out in Rally?
(KH) You can’t do it quickly. Its practice, practice, practice.
(HR) What other activities do you do with your Aussies?
(KH) Well, we walk around the golf course every morning. I’m very fortunate that I have a grassed obedience ring with lights at our second home up on the mountainside. (I can train in the evening with the summer heat.) I enjoy working with my dogs just by myself. It’s fun.
(HR) Are you willing to mentor Aussie owners that are interested in Rally?
(KH) Yes I’d love to, but there aren’t many Aussies in the area. I’d be happy to chat with anyone who has questions.