|My Fun with Lady
by Mary Schroeder
I have had a great time and learned many things from training, showing, and caring for my Shih Tzu, Lady. Lady and I have participated in 4-H obedience, agility, and showmanship over the past five years and have recently started showing in AKC agility, obedience, and rally.
Ever since I was a little kid, I had wanted a dog. My wish came true at nine years of age when my grandma gave me a Shih Tzu puppy. Unfortunately, the breeder thought that registering a dog with the AKC was a “waste of money”. We didn’t know that we would be showing Lady, so we just took her without getting AKC registration papers.
From the very beginning, I have been responsible for feeding, walking, grooming, playing with, and training Lady. I was so happy to get a dog, I loved every minute of it! Taking care of your dog isn’t a chore if you are having fun! This has been very helpful in developing our relationship because Lady was more attached to my mom than to me at first. Some advice I would offer other juniors is to take care of your dog as much as possible yourself so that he or she can bond more closely with you.
The next year, Lady and I signed up for a basic obedience class at the Key City Kennel Club. Lady made tremendous progress, especially in her confidence around new people and situations. When we first went to class, Lady was so scared that she didn’t want to leave my arms! Lady gradually learned that there was nothing to be afraid of. The trainers, Lynn Davey and Connie Timmerman, were very helpful and encouraging and taught us many new things.
After about two years of classes, Lady passed the Canine Good Citizen Test on her second try! I was very proud of the certificate she earned!
Lady and I eventually started learning about the new, fun sport of rally. Rally is a course with different signs with obedience exercises printed on them. Gladys Berlin and Sue Erickson helped us learn the signs. Lady is much more confident when I can talk to her in the ring. However, since the 4-H Dog Project didn’t offer rally, we would have to compete in an AKC show.
In 2007, Lady qualified for an ILP number from the AKC. Unfortunately, there is only one obedience/rally trial and one agility trial in our area every year, so we don’t compete in AKC events very often. However, we are able to travel to Wisconsin to compete in the Waukesha Kennel Club obedience and rally trial during the summer.
Lady’s first agility show was at the county level in 4-H. To my amazement, she got a blue ribbon and an opportunity to go to the State 4-H Dog Show in agility! I had never expected her to do that well!
Lady has won many ribbons and awards during the time I have been showing her. One of her best awards was when she and I were the Champions in showmanship at the State Dog Show. Lady won first place out of a class of 28 dogs and handlers! Lady and I received a really nice plague. I was so proud of her and of myself for getting this far. Another great thing Lady has done while showing was to earn her Rally Novice (RN) title. I had always dreamed of Lady earning an AKC title, and she finally did it this May! Lady’s scores were 99, 96, and 99 out of 100, respectively. Lady and I had our picture taken with the judge and were awarded our first AKC title certificate.
Through my dog activities, I have learned responsibility, time management, how to be a good member of the community, and the value of hard work. I have also learned many dog care, training, and showing skills that I can use later in my life.
I would like to thank Denise Larson for starting our county 4-H dog project and getting me interested in showing dogs. I would also like to thank Gala and Lindsey Beckendorf, Kathy Francis, and Lois Almendinger, who helped us prepare for the county and state 4-H dogs shows, and all the wonderful instructors and other members of the Key City Kennel Club who have helped and encouraged us along the way.
This fall, we found out that Lady is blind in her right eye. This means we have retired her from standard agility courses because her depth perception is too poor to navigate the contact obstacles, but I am continuing to show her in Jumpers classes. Lady will be in Jumpers 2 agility, Open obedience, and Senior Open showmanship in 2009, and she is currently competing in Advanced AKC Rally.
In the future, I hope to help Lady earn her CD and RA titles and to try competing in AKC Junior Showmanship with her. We are also looking into doing therapy work. I am hoping to be a veterinary technician, dog trainer, pet sitter, or a worker at a doggy daycare when I have graduated from high school.
Lady has worked very hard for me and has always tried her best to please me, even if she would rather be sleeping. Dog sports have been a lot of fun for both of us. I love Lady more than anything else in the world and am very glad to have such a great friend!