Showsight November 2022


But it is not just about classes. Not everyone has access to quality instructors, and most training occurs outside of the class, including going to differ- ent environments. I am lucky as I have older dogs that are competing, and the puppy always comes along. I showed my young girl in Conformation while I trained her Agility foundation. That taught her to love to learn and work with me, and now she just started to compete in Agility and she already knows how to handle a crazy dog show environment. It does take a team to achieve titles on both ends. It starts with the breeder, and that is one of the most important relationships during the life of the dog. Having a partnership with the breeder who under- stands and supports your goals is incredibly help- ful. You need to be honest with the breeder about what you want to achieve. That will help you select the puppy that will give you the best shot at achiev- ing your goals. Then there are the instructors, from the Puppy Foundation class, Basic Obedience class, and Agility (or whatever sport) classes. Going to an instructor who has an awesome relationship with their dogs, where you can learn the skills to develop that same type of relationship, makes for a wonderful experience for you and that dog. Then there is the handler. Entrusting someone to take your dog on the road, a dog that you have spent so much time training and developing that relation- ship, can be difficult. But if it is the right handler, they can develop the same relationship with the dog. I am incredibly fortunate in this area. We know there is not a financial reward to all of this. The expenses far outweigh any potential “prize.” The reward is the journey, and the relationship that is developed with that dog on the journey toward the titles is priceless. The bond that is developed is incred- ible. And finally, achieving that title is immensely rewarding. The feeling of accomplishment that is achieved when you finally get there is magnificent. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Stephanie O’Reilly has been “in dogs” for over 25 years. She started in Obedience with a Great Dane, and then fell in love with the Irish Water Spaniel and decided to do many other venues. Stephanie competes in Conformation, Agility, Obedience, Rally, Hunt Tests, and FastCAT. Her primary sport is Agility. She has earned 19 MACH and six PACH titles with five dogs. Stephanie’s dog, CH MACH9 PACH Cuardach Blaze The Trail CD RN JH (Clark), has earned the most MACH titles by any IWS. Currently, she has the No. 1 Sporting Dog (Sloane) in Conformation who also has multiple Performance titles and is half-way to his MACH. Stephanie has also had the top IWS in Agility for the past three years.


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