Keri - An Obedience Boxer
Mary Curl - Shadowdale Boxers Perm. Reg.
Keri "Houndhaven Nymph of Shadowdale CDX" was the
recipient of the Boxer Club of Canada annual award for The top Obedience
Boxer in the Open Class and Dogs In Canada award for the second
top Obedience Boxer in Canada in 1975.
My first experience with Obedience was in the fall and winter of 1973 when I decided to take my Boxer Bitch, Keri, to classes. York Regional Dog Obedience Club was my choice, a fairly young club but with friendly, helpful people, and a common sense approach to training. As classes progressed, Keri and I both learned the basics and the goal of an Obedience degree did not seem too difficult to reach.
I was invited to join the club and after sitting in on a meeting was overjoyed to find it so pleasant and informative. I found later that this spirit of comraderie is widespread in Obedience circles in Ontario.
Keri and I continued on in classes trying to polish our performance before actually entering a trial and the more I learned about it the more I came to realize that it was not as easy as I had once thought. Not only did Keri have to do everything right, but I had a thousand ond one things to remember not to do!
By summer 1974 we felt we were as ready as we ever would be, so off to the trials we went. It is well known what can happen to people, when they are the centre of attraction and surrounded by a large crowd. I had no idea how it would affect a Boxer. I'm sure Keri thought the whole show was for her benefit - and what a show she put on. Nevertheless, she qualified in 3 out of 4 trials and completed her C.D. with an average score of 184.5.
We decided that a C.D. was just a start and that Keri might like Open work so back again to the advice and help of, by this time, fellow club members who gave me hope and patience when Open work seemed a mountain of insurmountable problems. After 10 weeks of classes and a graduation score of 194.5, we again entered trials.
In her first two trials Keri gained 2 legs toward her C.D.X and a following of spectators that would rush to the ringside to see her perform. Her bag of tricks included such things as throwing the dumbell in the air and catching it in the middle of the "retrieve on flat". Keri's trademark became a thing she never did in practice sessions but always did in Trials - her method of doing the "drop on recall". On the call "Keri come" she would race towards me as if shot from a cannon; on the command "Down" she would stop instantly, then turn 3 circles as she went down (it was always 3 circles) and would then come in like a bullet on the next command "Keri come". A big smile on her face always finished this particular exercise while those Keri now considered her subjects gave her her due, laughter and applause.
Keri became Houndhaven Nymph of Shadowdale C.D.X in August 1975 and continued to consistently clown her way through the rest of the Trials for the year. I must admit I was as proud of her as I was her sire, Ch Shadowdale's War Lord (a Jolly Roger son), when he became my first Champion seven years earlier. The nicest surprise of all came when I was presented with a Boxer Club of Canada award for the top obedience Boxer in the Open Class and a Dogs In Canada award for the second top Boxer in Obedience in Canada for 1975.
Keri by this time had become the sweetheart of our Obedience Club, not for high scores I can assure you, but because of her obvious enjoyment of being such a clown.
The scarcety of Boxers in Obedience always puzzled me. Comments at ringside and in the ring were equally strange. Here are two examples: Fellow exhibitor: "Boy, I have to give you a lot of credit". Me, somewhat puzzled:"Really? Why?" Fellow exhibitor, as he pointed at Keri: "For training one of those"... Judge in the ring, as he approaches me for the first exercise: "You have a lot of guts Lady". I beg your pardon", said I, wondering what part of my attire I had forgotten in the rush to get to the show. "Anyone who can train a Boxer in Open has to have a lot of guts", returned the judge.
With compliments like these it is difficult to know if you should thank people or take offense.
Obedience Trials in Canada are not as competitive as in the United States. It seems enough for most of us to have our dogs do as well as they can and gain legs for titles, although that elusive "High In Trial" is ever present in our minds. I feel I can always relax and enjoy myself at Trials because the people are so friendly, everyone is happy if you qualify and willing to help you if you don't. I hope that never changes.
I am starting another bitch in obedience this year - Ch Leskev's Almost Angel. I hope that she will help me to realize my goal of Conformation and Obedience Champion Boxer. I know there are long hours of training ahead and times when I will wonder if I should have named her "Angel" or not - but if I have as much fun with her as I did with Keri, it will all be worth it.
Footnote: Angel achieved her C.D. in both Canada and the U.S but maternal duties interfered with higher levels of training. I later took Keri's son - Ch Shadowdale's High Noon Can/Am C.D. on to Trials and he was an excellent worker with scores in the high 190's. Many things have changed since I wrote this article and I have not had much time to keep up in Obedience but the people haven't changed, they are still as friendly and helpful as ever.