Ziggy - AG CH 600
At Warringal ODC Trial at Bulla on Saturday 6th December 2014
Sally Haynes and
“I’m thinking about a Dalmatian for obedience and agility. I thought they were stupid but my friend told me that I needed to speak with you.”
That was my first phone conversation with Neil and Jane Hurst of Yarrowfell Dalmatians back in 2004.
My 17-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Dolly, had recently been put to sleep and although we weren’t ready for a pup I was searching for my next challenge. I had competed quite successfully with Dolly in obedience and agility and won various trick contests but I wasn’t happy with the old-school training system. Dolly was a phenomenal dog despite my best training efforts but I wanted to learn how to work with a dog such that he or she was filled with joy at the idea of training and competing with me. At the same time I wanted a dog that was a bit different from the average…
After many more conversations with the Hursts and several visits to their home in Canberra, little “Sage” (named for his green collar) made the big journey to Melbourne in early January 2007. We called him Siegfried (named for the opera by Richard Wagner) or Ziggy to his friends and he quickly made himself at home. There was no doubt that our Burmese cats ruled him with a silken paw from Day 1 and his fantastic relationship with foster kittens and resident felines has continued to this day.
8 WEEK OLD ZIGGY MEETS BRONTE
During those early days of training I didn’t have access to the wonderful resources I do now but we muddled through together and started competing in obedience. As Zig rocketed towards his CCD and CD titles with multiple 1st places and high in trial awards I began looking for an agility club. When he was about two years old we joined Hastings Obedience Dog Club and so began the 2 hour round trip every Sunday. Greg Milner and Karolyn De Graw, in particular, were fantastic – taught us the basics, started us trialling and were extremely supportive. The agility community welcomed us with open arms (as a bit of an oddity perhaps?) and we had our own Spotty fan club in Gail Haley and her Dallies, Roxy and Hollie
We moved house, changed agility clubs to Croydon (15 min from home!) and started having private lessons with Geraldine Kisielnicki. As I came to understand the “Greg Derrett” agility handling system Ziggy began to have more success in the ring, including a 1st and 2nd place in Novice Agility and Open Jumping, respectively, at the 2010 Dalmatian Nationals in Sydney. Ziggy had started the day with a win in Novice Obedience and Best In Trial so it was quite a haul in the end!
DALMATIAN NATIONALS 2010
Back home and the passes and wins really started to flow but it was a big step up into Masters Jumping and Agility. In mid 2012 we had an amazing trip to the Agility Nationals in Sydney - 5th place (Q) in ADM 600 from 42 dogs entered, 9th place (Q) in JDM 600 (50 entries) and 18th place (Q) in Open Agility (ADO) (237 entries) with a tough distance challenge that he handled with ease.
AGILITY NATIONALS 2012
He nailed every contact and weave entry all week but I recall him just missing out on time on a tight JDM course and this was to become more common as the courses became harder – we were losing valuable seconds on turns!
Ziggy gained his ADM title with a win at the Dalmatian Nationals in Melbourne in November 2012 and also made a clean sweep of the JDM, ADO and JDO classes with 3 out of 4 passes and awards for Best in Agility Trial and Best in Jumping Trial. That really did make up for him mistakenly taking the dumbbell to the judge in an otherwise super Open Obedience round that morning!
DALMATIAN NATIONALS 2012
And so, with Ziggy’s JDM and ADM titles attained, every pass now counted towards an Agility Champion 600 title. To be honest I didn’t think it remotely possible.
In April 2014, Geraldine and Katie Kisielnicki announced that they were no longer going to be teaching the “Greg Derrett” agility handling system but were switching to Susan Garrett’s H360. I groaned. No way. I was only just getting a handle on the old system!!! But I loved their classes so decided to handle Zig the “old” way and start my field-bred ESS, Em, the “new” way. Before too long I realised that the benefits of this new handling system for the dog far outweighed the difficulties of retraining and so (to choruses of “I told you so!”) I decided to transition Zig as well.
TIGHTENING UP THOSE TURNS!
Within a few months Zig was consistently running well under time for both ADM and JDM courses culminating in a rush of passes and placings at Warringal ODC’s agility trial at Bulla on 6th December 2014 which gave Ziggy his Agility Champion 600 title. Ziggy is the first Dalmatian in Australia to attain an ANKC Agility Champion title and the first dog in Victoria to attain an Agility Champion 600 title under the new rules.
But as Lorie Jolly from Rosehill Retrievers puts it:
“If winning is more important than your relationship with your dog, you have already lost.”
And so I’m reminded how fortunate I am to be writing this missive with my lovely Spotted lad curled up near my feet. And how full of JOY he will be when I get up to put my dog training gear on…
AG CH 600 YARROWFELL HIGH SOCIETY CD ADM ADO JDM JDO2 ET
Owned/handled: Sally Haynes
Bred: Mr T Hurst & Lt Col N Hurst Mrs S Hurst & Ms P Hurst
ZIGGY AND DIZZY PLAYING. THE CAT STARTED IT!