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KatzNK9 06-17-2007 10:06 AM

What is an Obedience Title, Really?
I thought this was too good not to share. Permission to repost from the OP at my GR forum.

What is an Obedience Title, Really?
by Sandy Mowry

A title is not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores, a title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honor the dog, an ultimate memorial. It will remain in the record and in the memory for about as long as anything in the world can remain. And though the dog herself doesn't know or care that her achievements have been noted, a title says many things in the world of humans where such things count.

A title says your dog was intelligent, adaptable, and good-natured. It says your dog loved you enough to do the things that pleased you, however crazy they may have seemed. In addition, a title says that you loved your dog, that you loved to spend time with her because she was a good dog, and that you believed in her enough to give her yet another chance when she failed, and in the end your faith was justified.

A title proves that your dog inspired you to that special relationship, enjoyed by so few, that in a world of disposable creatures, this dog with a title was greatly loved and loved greatly in return.

And when that dear, short life is over, the title remains as a memorial of the finest kind, the best you can give to a deserving friend. Volumes of praise in one small set of initials after the name. An obedience, or herding title is nothing less than true love and respect, given and recorded permanently.

applesmom 06-17-2007 12:56 PM

Great post Katz and so true!

With your permission here's a link to an earlier article I wrote that also ties in with the subject.


When you think of getting into competitive events with your dog, what do you think of first? Endless hours of training with just you and your dog; a wall lined with ribbons and trophies and framed certificates, bragging to your friends, or even basking in the glory of a job well done?

All of the above are of course a big part of the competitive world of dogs; but when it's all over and done with--there's so much more!

Up to, and during the time all of these things are taking place; you're having the adventure of your life and building a lifetime of memories. Memories that will make you laugh, memories that will make you smile and even memories that will bring tears to your eyes.
Link to the rest of it.

KatzNK9 06-17-2007 01:43 PM

That is an awesome article! I hope all who haven't read it will read it & those who have read it will read it again!

Kaos 06-17-2007 04:18 PM

Hmm, I agree up to a point, but for balance I would like to add that a titled dog does not necessarily and in all cases denote a happy dog or a loved dog. Sometimes it indicates a driven owner who has put their own goals ahead of the dogs ultimate welfare and happiness. Walk round any dog show and observe the number of stressed, bored, unhappy looking dogs.

agilityk9trainer 06-17-2007 06:31 PM

Great post, Katz, and oh so true. And, if anyone hasn't read Applesmom's link yet, you must. I have read it before, and my eyes tear up every time I read it.

Kaos, in my area of the country, there are a FEW dogs at trials who don't want to be there. They usually don't stay in the show system long as their people learn the dogs aren't into it. These dogs always wash out. Usually you're looking at owners who are trying to learn how to communicate with their dogs the joy of performing. Sometimes these owners find the key, and the dogs learn to love it. Othertimes, the dogs wash out. I don't see the dogs you mention stick around long. And there's nothing wrong with trying.

Most performance dogs love their work...and I mean LOVE their work. And titles are a testiment to the love the people had for their dog. These dogs aren't dogs tied up in back yards where people throw them food twice a day. These are among the most loved dogs in our society.

Look below at my dog Laika's titles. She only has one title and one certification. The reason is she didn't like showing. We gave it a shot, and the stresses of her abusive past caused her to be too stressed in the show environment. If you had been at some of the shows (only about 10 total) we attended, you would have thought, "Look at that woman forcing that dog to do this. It's obvious the dog is stressing. This is what's wrong with dog shows and titles." What you wouldn't see is the wonderful training times we had together. She loves to train at home. She's awesome in class and in the backyard, and she loves agility. So we gave showing a good shot, but she just couldn't cope. After her Novice Jumpers with Weaves title, I retired her. You wouldn't have seen any of that, so your judgement would have been false.

Something I've learned after years of showing, you really can't know what's going on with the dog and handler when watching a dog perform. Judging from the sidelines is often not only futile, but in error.l

Gere;s a link to Laika's story that I posted earlier as well.

Kaos 06-17-2007 07:28 PM

Actually I think you can tell quite a lot from watching the body language of dogs and handlers at a show. Not just when they are competing but when the dog is in their crate / car / tent or whatever, or just walking around. Of course it doesn't give you background information re how the dog behaves during training or the overall relationship with the handler but it does give indications on how they are coping at that moment in time.

I see a lot of stressed dogs at shows, much higher than the 'few' you quote Agility. I am sure this is not just a product of the competition but also of the travel and waiting involved. I also see people putting their dogs under considerable pressure and making it clear in no uncertain terms to the dog when they feel it has under-performed. This is not restricted to lower level competitors. Of course not all competitors act this way, but it is not uncommon.

For some dogs I agree there is definitely pleasure in performing, but I am not so convinced there is much pleasure in the endless travel and waiting and I would question whether the dog wouldn't have been just as happy to have a short, fun training session nearer home followed by a fun and relaxing walk.

I know people who have titled dogs whose relationship with their dog I certainly don't envy. Of course the reverse is also true. Equally there are good owners who opt not to compete, or not to place an undue amount of importance in competing with their dogs - this does not mean they neglect them or chain them in the back yard.

I have competed with both horses and dogs over the years and have very mixed feelings about both spheres from an animal welfare point of view.

None of these comments are aimed personally at anybody on this board, and to an extent I am playing devils advocate, but I do not believe that the relentless pursuit of competitive success is always in the dog (or horse's) best interest or should be seen as the sole criteria for good ownership or to assess how loved an animal is.

KatzNK9 06-17-2007 08:21 PM

I was simply sharing a post that addressed the positive side of obedience competition. Kaos, I do believe there are lots of cases where dogs are competing for all the wrong reasons; however, I was sharing the niceties of the ideal world where dog & handler working together can have the most incredible bond & those memories (at least for me) last a lifetime (not just the dog's).

Kaos 06-17-2007 08:42 PM

There is definitely a positive side of competition, I compete myself and often encourage others to get involved, but I guess I am just too cynical to wholeheartedly believe that 'An obedience, or herding title is nothing less than true love and respect, given and recorded permanently'

KatzNK9 06-17-2007 08:53 PM

Duly noted & fair enough! Can't argue with your position, that's for sure. I didn't write it, I just shared it.;)

Dobercarrie 06-18-2007 12:22 AM

*sniff* That is indeed touching. And I can believe it for soooooo many dogs and owners. A title does prove it to the world that the dog did all those things and perhaps reiterates to the owner, although the owner already knows what his dog is about. And it is something to be proud of, no doubt about it.

But I think Kaos makes a good point. For me, as interested as I am in behavior and training and how much fun my dogs and I have, hiking in all kinds of neat places where I live.... and agility with my dogs is more important to me. I'm more interested in doing things just for us, although that doesn't prove anything in particular to anyone else. Just their being proves to me what and who they are.

I use to show my horses. And I guess I had my fill and just sort of lost interest in that aspect with the dogs. But we sure have fun and my dogs (not all of them) have learned a whole lot and have a good life out in the toolies where I live. I don't really have anything to prove, I guess.

I do understand though, the thrill of competetion and as long as the dogs are having fun, I think it's great.

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