The Parson Russell Terrier, Glencymreig Degu OW, owned by Louise Healey of Grantham, Lincolnshire, recently made history in more ways than one when he was awarded the Dog Obedience Certificate at two championship obedience shows held a week apart.
When ‘Stanley’ won the Certificate at Winchester City Dog Training Club championship obedience show, competing in the Championship C Dog class by Peter Lubbi, he became the first of his breed to win such an award in the UK, as well as the first small breed to do so for 32 years.
However, Stanley was clearly not satisfied to have one mention in the history books, as, just one week later, he was awarded his second Dog Obedience Certificate, at the championship obedience show of the Oxhey branch of the British Association for German Shepherd Dogs (BAGSD), once again competing in the Championship C Dog class, this time judged by Heidi Lawrence.
Louise has been training and competing in Obedience for more than 20 years. She started with Collies, a breed she still loves, but her sister Jane Rawlinson (Halshimoor Parson Russell Terriers) one Christmas asked the question: “Why not train a Parson – they are clever little dogs!”
“So with the gauntlet thrown down, Yoda from Jane’s next litter joined our household”, said Louise. “Yoda was indeed a clever little dog and taught me so much about training and motivating terriers. Stanley is a nephew of Yoda, from my sister's lines but bred by Lyn Farrow. Stanley and I have built on all we learnt from Yoda!”
Although small breeds such as Shetland Sheepdogs, Pembroke Corgis and Miniature Poodles have won Obedience Certificates and even Obedience Champion titles in the past, the success of such breeds is still relatively rare in a discipline dominated by Border Collies, Working Sheepdogs and larger working breeds. In fact, it is believed that the last small breed to win an Obedience Certificate was a Shetland Sheepdog bitch who was victorious in 1989.
Louise said: “It is still only just sinking in that my little mate Stanley has won not just one but two tickets. Although we have worked really hard to win our ‘passport’ to Crufts Obedience Championships, and it's been such an enjoyable journey – it's still difficult to believe we've actually done it.
“Fellow competitors have been fabulous. Throughout Stanley's obedience career people have been so supportive and pleased when we have been successful. We have received so many messages of congratulations, cards, presents and – in Stanley's view the most important – dog treats! I'm rather overcome and just a little bit humbled by it all.
“Many, many people seem so pleased to see ‘another breed’ being successful at the top level of Obedience. I hope that Stanley encourages people with terriers, small breeds and indeed any breed to enter Obedience. If my scruffy little terrier can do it, so can anyone!”
The secretary of the show, Sue Garner, who is a Director of The Kennel Club and chairs its Activities Committee, said: “Many congratulations to Louise and Stanley on their super victories at Winchester and BAGSD Oxhey shows, as well as to all the other winners. Border Collies, Working Sheepdogs and larger working breeds are more commonly seen in Obedience, and of course are brilliant at it, but to even a get a smaller dog to qualify for the championship class is an achievement in itself. Let’s hope Stanley’s recent successes inspire other owners of small breeds to try their hand at Obedience, which is a very satisfying and rewarding activity which dogs and their owners can do together while socialising with like-minded people.”