I am a relative newcomer to Competition Obedience. I have always been intrigued with the sport but didn’t own a breed that did well in the sport (I had bull terriers).
Twelve years ago, I bought my first Bearded Collie Spunk. While my sons were still in school, I did competition agility with Spunk. He was pretty good, but rather hard to handle. I needed another Beardie to make my life more interesting. So, I bought Zeal (Spunk’s nephew).
Zeal ended up being a bigger challenge than Spunk because he was incredibly shy and a huge worrier. He was such a “wreck” most of the time that I needed to help him become a more confident dog. I needed to TRAIN him in obedience basics. It is because of Zeal that I ended up becoming an Obedience Junkie.
When my sons graduated from high school, my husband and I moved to the country. We started up a sheep farm despite the fact that we knew NOTHING about sheep. I learned a little bit about herding and a whole lot about animal husbandry. All the while I kept training Zeal. He earned his UD in 2013 after 17 painful ring experiences.
In June 2015, Zeal was diagnosed with Fibrosarcoma. This was just after he competed at the NOI. I was devastated but decided to have Zeal’s cancer treated aggressively. Zeal had a rostral maxillectomy followed by 18 days of radiation therapy. As of this writing (March 2016), Zeal is alive and well. But I have retired him from competition obedience. We tried rally, but Zeal didn’t enjoy it. Now we are learning about tracking and brushing up on our competition duck herding skills.
I truly love the Competition Obedience world and my journeys with Zeal, and now Smokes and Vim (all Bearded Collies). Zeal’s brush with cancer has altered my perspective on the sport. I do it because it is fun, because it is a challenge and because it brings me intellectually and emotionally closer to my dogs. Go figure.