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2016 Obedience and Rally

Owned by Diane Sparks

Stats: Average 397.2 out of 400

Thank-you for recognizing Ziggy and me as the ESSFTA Obedience team of the year.

2016 was a year of discovery, fun, and accomplishment for team Ziggy. We earned our CD in our first three attempts, earning one High in Trial award in the process. We stayed in Novice for another two months and then tried our hand at Open. Our first two open appearances were in rings that showed the open exercises in reverse order – including a dreaded down stay prior to an out of sight sit stay. Ziggy did well, a sure boost to this handler’s confidence. We finished in three showings, also with one HIT, and moved up immediately to utility. This transition was a bit trickier for us and we struggled out of the gate. We stayed close to home and earned that glorious UD in August, a week shy of the Zigster’s third birthday. Ziggy earned two HIT’s in this process and a High Combined award as well. He finished his UDX and Obedience Master 1 titles in December. Through 2016, Ziggy earned 16 High in Trial awards with 10 High Combined honors garnered during the short period from August to December.

Ziggy is a one-of-a-kind sort of partner. He loves to work, loves to play, but hates pressure of any sort - a bit challenging in a competitive environment. As we entered this, our first year of competitive obedience together, much of this was unknown, but that first year is always a journey of discovery. Ziggy excels in trials near or at home. He travels well, but we seem to flag a bit together following a long trip together. The National Obedience Championship in GA was an eye-opener in this regard. All part of the discovery process. He is still a baby at just 3 ½ years old, so I am sure the best is yet to come as we work together to unravel this mystery that is our working relationship.

I do not believe anyone has previously won all four ESSFTA top obedience honors in one year, so I think we may be the first. I would like to dedicate this most coveted set of awards to Mrs. Donna Thompson, who honored me by entrusting this beautiful boy to me. Donna, I can only continue to hope, pray, and work to justify your confidence and trust.

Owned by Diane Sparks

Stats: Average: 198.83 out of 200

Thank-you for recognizing Ziggy and me as the ESSFTA Utility Obedience team of the year.

2016 was a busy year for Team Ziggy. After making our Novice debut in February and finishing our Open title in just 3 trials at the end of May, Utility loomed ahead of us. Utility is a different animal than the first two obedience classes. Dogs are asked to work independently, away from the handler, and are asked to make decisions in the ring. All of this was one tall order for the then only two and one half year old Ziggy. We did finally earn that UD in August 2016 with scores of 198 ½, 195 ½, and 199. Now the fun begins. But with increased ring time, the door also opens to break down as well. Continued proofing is a must, and we have certainly upped the ante with Ziggy. 2016 saw Ziggy earn 4 High in Trial honors out of Utility (sometimes shared with Open as his Utility and Open scores were identical) and 2 scores of 199 or better in the class. His first leg was earned outside on grass. The attached photo is from Ziggy’s UD Title weekend.

An integral part of any continued success in the ring is keeping training new and fresh and innovative for the dog. Springers are clever little beasts and need to be challenged. This award is dedicated to a pair of premier trainers of trainers who have helped me to pursue the ideals of innovation and motivation in training with Ziggy. Indeed, they opened my eyes to the very concept of motivational training back in the days when coercion reigned. Their Volhard Motivational Method precedes most clicker work done with dogs. So in addition to thanking the ESSFTA for this award, I must also thank Wendy and Jack Volhard, my mentors and friends, for inspiring me and taking me under their collective wings. Jack is no longer with us, but his legacy of respectful, motivational training will most certainly be mentioned and regaled through the coming generations of trainers. I still train with Wendy, and I would be nowhere without her patient guidance and instruction.

Owned by Diane Sparks

Stats: Average: 199.50 out of 200

Thank-you for recognizing Ziggy and me as the ESSFTA Open Obedience team of the year.

Ziggy, my partner in crime, is a relatively green or inexperienced obedience dog, having only begun his obedience career a year ago. Unlike many training teams, we waited until Ziggy was two and one half years old before trialing in Obedience, wanting him to mature to the point where he could feel confident and happy in the ring. That being said, Open has been a joy with him. He is focused, attentive, and excited to work every time we enter a ring. His out of sight stays have been relaxed and easy, owing to the time we spent developing trust in our relationship prior to showing. I learned this lesson the hard way, having shown my previous Springer a bit too early and then developing stay issues along the way. That dog, my beloved Noodle, was ESSFTA Springer of the Year for 2004, 2005, and 2006. He was a rescue I found in an SPCA and we ultimately earned an OTCh together during our brief years as a team. I lost Noodle last March at the ripe old age of 18 years plus, and this award is dedicated to that old heart dog of mine. I made more mistakes training and showing him than I could ever number, but he was a soulmate of sorts, forgiving me and moving on with me in our partnership. The lessons we learned together are instrumental to my being the trainer I am today. He is ever in my heart.

Ziggy and I are still working on our relationship and partnership. Most of our Open outings have been great fun. Sometimes the puppy inside Ziggy creeps out while we are in the ring and we still have great fun, we are just not as successful as one might hope. He earned his CDX in three attempts, earning High in Trial honors with his title run in late May of last year. We continue to refine our skills, and have earned 7 scores of 199 or better during the last half of 2016 as well as 9 High in Trial awards out of the Open class during that same period. We are hoping the best is yet to come. Thank you again.

Owned by Diane Sparks

Stats: Average: 199.17 out of 200

Wow, what can I say? Thank-you for this honor. I have a really neat working partner and we are having a lot of fun. The accolades, ribbons, and awards are a bonus!

Ziggy, named for David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust) is my 3 year old boy. He is only my second Springer, a gift from my longtime friend, Donna Thompson, after two of my beloved golden retrievers passed suddenly. And such a gift! Ziggy is a clown and a goof ball, and yet also a serious and hardworking athlete. He is a snuggle bunny extraordinaire who never tires of training. And did I mention that he is beautiful? All in one petite package! Such a blessing! This award is dedicated to the awesome breeders who helped make my boy who he is, a beautiful, tireless comedian, loving companion, and stellar athlete. In particular, I would like to recognize Bernie Thompson and Julie Hogan, who are no longer with us, for their tireless and uncompromising commitment both to the breed and to upholding a super high standard of excellence in all things concerning the breed. Pride’n Joy is only what it is as a kennel due to you and you are both missed.

Ziggy’s performance career actually began in agility. He is a Wildman on the turf and he makes me laugh! And RUN!!! He has earned his Master Jumpers title and is one qualifying run from his Master Standard Agility title. Rally and Obedience started soon after.. Ziggy’s first obedience appearance saw him earn a perfect 200 out of a Beginners Novice class. I guess he was more prepared for the Big Ring than I initially believed, so on to Novice! Beginning in February of 2016, Ziggy showed 8 times in Novice B earning 4 scores of 199 or better and garnering 5 High In Trial awards along the way. As you all know, Novice is only the beginning and we are hoping and ready for a long and successful obedience career to come! Thank-you again for acknowledging our achievement this past year!

Owned by Kim Bolster, Alice Rendall, and Cheryl DeMarkis

Stats: Average: 184.83 out of 200

It is with great pride and pleasure that I accept the 2016 Novice A Springer of the Year on behalf of “Tally”. I wish to thank Cheryl DeMarkis (Shogun) and Alice Rendall (Renaissance) for thinking of me as the home for this very special girl.

I also wish to thank so many friends at the Richmond (VA) Dog Obedience Club who answered my many questions, showed me the exercises, coached me, and shared my joys, learnings, and excitement through the many trials. I had competed with several of my past Springers in agility, but had never entered the obedience or rally ring. I had always been intrigued with Rally and Obedience - the right time in my life and right dog seemed to be Tally. Tally and I took on the challenge and found that we loved the learning and training! Tally can be shy at times so we started confidence building exercises and sports - found she excelled at NoseWork and hope to certify in Tracking later this year. We started with Rally, then worked in Beginner Novice, then finally Novice. We are currently working on Open exercises and hope to start trialing in late fall.

Best of all, Tally is a wonderful companion and all a Springer should be. She has befriended foster dogs helping them in their transition to new homes, has multiple “fans” in the neighborhood, and is always ready for a swim or hike. She brings great joy. Thank you so much for recognizing Tally as the 2016 Novice A Springer of the Year.

Owned by Shannon Shepherd

Stats: Average 199.80 out of 200

If only because I hate to leave things unfinished, Gunner went back into the Rally ring in 2016 to finish his RAE title. He enjoys doodling and, if nothing else, it gives us a chance to work on our obedience skills in the ring.

By the end of 2016, Gunner had earned seven RAE legs, never earning below a 199 combined score, with four perfect 200’s.

Six years after first stepping into a formal competition ring, Gunner still loves to train and show. While he still has an occasional naughty streak, he more than makes up for it with his flair and overall presence in the ring.

Thank you to Yvonne Stickelman (Birchrose Kennels) and Rob Satoloe (Birchwood Kennels) for breeding such a wonderful little dog and supporting me throughout Gunner’s competition career. And thank you to the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association for recognizing the hard work of all the performance teams.