“ESKIES ARE USED TO BEING A JACK OF ALL TRADES AND ARE TAKING TO HERDING AS EAGERLY AS THEY EMBRACED AGILITY.”
class managed to leap over every sin- gle contact, up and down, of every single contact obstacle (including the seesaw). She didn’t touch the yellow once during the entire course. Surpris- ingly, she did manage to achieve her Novice title in a relatively short time. She even managed to qualify her first time in the Open Standard class at least 15 seconds under time even though she did the dog walk twice. At least she had figured out what the yellow paint on the contact obstacles was for— most of the time, anyway. Eskies, as do most dogs, respond very well to positive reinforcement. They are food and toy motivated, but also can be caught performing just for the sheer love of the game. Every time I start a new dog my classmates all think it’s a particularly talented individual. I don’t seem to be able to convince them that my dogs are typical of the breed in general. Eskies are just really good at agility. They don’t seem to be afraid of heights or moving seesaws. Yes, they can be a little creative if you don’t get your commands out fast enough or tell your canine partner where to go next, but they are only trying to help you save time by anticipating where they think you want them to go. Despite their ten- dency to anticipate your commands, Eskies can be amazingly consistent in
qualifying while still maintaining their speed. They also aren’t easily distracted by other dogs and other people and usu- ally remain focused on their owner and the task at hand the whole time they are working. While the agility titles earned by American Eskimo Dogs each year are almost too numerous to count, some Eskies find time to earn a few titles in obedience and rally as evidenced by last year’s statistics as reported in the AED- CA Review . In addition to the seven new obedience titles and 12 new rally titles, the number of CGCs and CGCAs doubled from the previous year. And each year one or two therapy dog titles (THDs) are earned. Compared to other, more prominent breeds, those titles may not seem like a lot but Eskies are still on the low entry list and, inexplicably, not as popular as some of the other breeds. There may not be a lot of Eskies partici- pating in every venue but when they do participate, they are formidable! Eskies also show a lot promise in the herding department. Although they aren’t currently recognized by AKC as a Herding breed, their ancestors were originally used for guarding the prop- erty, herding the livestock and as com- panions for the property owner. Eskies are used to being a jack of all trades and are taking to herding as eagerly as they
embraced agility. The parent club is very encouraging and had an AHBA Herding Capability Test at the 2014 National Spe- cialty. There were 29 participants with 27 passes—once again Eskies proved to be talented in that sphere also. The judges, Terrasita Cuffie and Jim New, were very complimentary. Mr. New said that his test at the Eskie National was the first test he had ever given “in which all the entered dogs passed their first level herding instinct test.” And he had “tested over 600 dogs in a 20-year period!” Ms. Cuffie stated in her comments in the AEDCA Review , “As a breed, I can certainly see the herd- ing instincts typical of the historical European farm dogs. I can draw several parallels between the Eskies and my Corgis that also share Spitz heritage.” Mr. New classified Eskies with other loose-eyed herding breeds that were farm dogs with a variety of jobs to do, of which herding—either sheep, goats or cows—was one of those jobs. Ms. Cuffie complimented the breed when she said, “I saw several future herding dogs and a couple that could occupy a crate in my van.” Once again, as with all of the tasks Eskies set out to do, size of the dog is of no consequence. My 7-pound Eskie reg- ularly pens my goats and sheep for me. The sheep and goats still haven’t figured out how much bigger they are than she is—and hopefully they never will! Eskies were destined to be masters of agility. Even though the American Eskimo Dog breed standard was writ- ten before the AKC agility program was implemented, its description of a dog that “presents a picture of strength and agility, alertness and beauty” that “learns new tasks quickly and is eager to please” is a description of the quint- essential agility dog. But what places the Eskie even higher on the list of most desirable partners in canine sports is its temperament and character. Described in the first sentence of the standard as “a loving companion dog,” you would be hard pressed to find a more devoted or loyal agility partner than an American Eskimo Dog!
300 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2019
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