WRESSAA’s annual picnic and Pet-Athalon games were held June 13,1999 at Lorry Neale’s. The weather was perfect – sunny but with a breeze so that it was not too hot. Local members present were: Wendy Bessemer, Mary Ann & Gloria Dalton, Doug & Dodie Hall, Barb Hilchie, Lynn, Anne, Richard & Hilda Dorsay and of course Lorry Neale and her family. Our furthest away member, Doug Watters, drove down from Edmonton to be with us for the day. He left home at 6 AM to get there on time – wow is that dedication or what? Some of the local members who traveled a lesser distance weren’t even on time!
The games started off with a baseball retrieve where you had to throw a tennis ball in the air, then hit it with a racket and have the dog retrieve as many balls as he/she could in 1 minute. The oldest dog in attendance, Marcy, showed her younger relative, Buddy, how it was done by getting 5 balls slightly faster than he did. Third was a tie by mother & daughter Fancy & Libby while Cally snuck into 4th just ahead of Shanoa. Minnie was lent to Doug W. for the day and he ended up having to do a little retrieving himself (as did some of the other owners).
Next up was the Egg & Spoon race. We weren’t so brave as to use eggs so went the safe, but probably harder, route of tennis balls on a spoon. Leashes and spoons had to be in the same hand to make it even more challenging. Buddy met the challenge winning the heats and finals followed by Minnie, Marcy and Shanoa. The popular game of fish from last year made a repeat appearance this year. Fancy upheld her title of “top fisher” by scooping up all of the food in record time. She was joined this year by Minnie, who got her feet in the pool and practically did a head stand reaching so far but not wanting the hind feet to get wet, and Buddy. This was a mother ,son,grand-daughter trio – hum, I wonder if this is a genetic trait that we don’t know about. Maybe, we should do some research on this possibility. Second place was earned by Libby & Marcy (relatives of 1st place) and Bing. Third was awarded to Cally and fourth to Shanoa who was a little more cautious than her mom Fancy.
Now that the dogs and handlers were cooled off, we got into a more serious game of “Simon Says”. Gloria & Lorry were really challenged to put the dogs to the test to get them to make a mistake. Usually, it was the dogs who were doing fine but the handlers who got totally confused. When it got to the top 3, the patterns were so complicated that you really had to concentrate. It was things like “ Simon says take three steps forward, do a right turn & go 5 steps & then left for 2 steps & down your dog”. Really gave the handler’s brains a work out. Lynn was successful with Cally in 1st followed by Anne & Libby. Third went to Mary Ann & Bing. That was a really challenging game!
Game number 5 was aptly named the Garbage Retrieve. The dogs had to jump a low jump and go to a pile of assorted objects, pick one up and carry it back over the jump to get as many as they could in a minute. Now, these weren’t easy or normal things – they were like pop bottles, rolled up socks, toilet paper roll without paper, a hat, glove, stuffed bear, hockey puck, rope toy etc. Since it was Mary Ann & Barb H. that brought the stuff, you’d think that their dogs might have a slight advantage – not so. Bing & Marcy each got just 2 things along with Libby. Bing started off great getting his 2 in less than 30 seconds but fell apart & thought why should I pick up these silly things? Cally was the star retriever bringing back 3 items. Fancy, Shanoa & Buddy each brought one. It was funny to note that they didn’t necessarily bring back what you’d expect like the stuffed toy or the socks. You just never know what these dogs are thinking.
There were two back up games planned if we had time and we were able to play both. The first was the ever popular “Fastest recall” and boy can those Springers move – we need to get a more accurate timing device for this one. Bing wowed them all with his speed but was followed closely by Shanoa. Minnie & Marcy tied for 3rd with Libby, Cally & Buddy holding 4th. Fancy was 5th only because she misunderstood the rules and thought that she was to do an open drop on recall so slowed down waiting for the drop.
We all moved to the shade for the last game which was singing. Now we all know Springers can be quite vocal with all kinds of whines, barks, yodels, and howls for different reasons like owners returning home but as we found out for the second year, they are a little shy about performing in public. There were three entries and Bing was the only one to meet the test. As a matter of fact, Mary Ann had to hold his nose so he would be quiet while the others were trying to get their dogs to sing. I guess Bing really is Bing Crosby reincarnated.
Points were gathered throughout the day and the Overall Top Dog was Bing with Marcy & Buddy in second. Libby & Cally were third and 4th was Minnie, Shanoa & Fancy. There was discussion at the meeting whether to make the Pet-Athalon points count cumulatively towards an un-official title. This matter was tabled. The main thing with the game days is to have fun with the dogs and I think that we succeeded in doing that. There were lots of wagging tails on the dogs and smiles on the people’s faces. Hopefully, next year we will have a few more dogs/owners in attendance – you missed a fun day!!
We’d like to thank Doggiwood Inc. (on Kensington Road between 12 & 13 Street N.W.) in Calgary for donating 2 small Rollover for special draws during the day (won by Doug H. and Richard) and providing a box of gourmet dog cookies to the overall winner. Doggiwood also donated 2 gift packages for the raffle at this year’s Specialty. See you all next year!
|By Mary Ann Dalton|
Reprinted, with permission, from THE SPRINGER TIMES, Summer 1999
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The Saturday of the May long weekend was a fun day for owners and their dogs of WRESSAA. Friday there were heavy down pours of rain so we were very fortunate to have a sunny day. Members in attendance were: Barb Hilchie (Buddy & Marcy), Dodie Hall (Shanoa & Fancy), Ruth Hunter (Brassy), Lynn, Anne & Barb Dorsay (Libby, Cally, Minnie) and Mary Ann Dalton (Bing). It was a good turn out.
Ramona Sterling had spent a lot of time thinking up some games that we could play with the dogs. We started out the morning with a round of musical chairs except there were no chairs. We walked in a circle with the dogs and when Ramona gave the command sit or down dogs were to complete the requirement quickly. The last dog to complete the command was eliminated until there was just one dog remaining.
Next, we played a similar game but, after the first round, we all changed dogs. It was interesting to note that most of the dogs were bonded to their owners and in some cases tried to make a bee-line to them any chance that they got. The food treats definitely came in handy here as bribery to keep their attention. Bribery can be a good thing at times.
We took a break from heeling type games and moved into a game involving retrieving. Ramona put a pile of objects into a circle - shoes, clothes, tennis balls, toys, jar rings, rolls of toilet paper, flower pots etc. The dogs were to retrieve as many of the items in 1 ½ minutes as they could. Handlers were to whistle the dog back to them after an object pick-up. Now, one would think that dogs who had been trained to retrieve would have a slight advantage but not so - these were strange things that they are not necessarily used to retrieving. The dogs that did bring back anything took a long time with much coaxing and they usually chose the "safe" things like the balls or toys.
The fourth game involved heeling but with a "twist". This time you had to hold the leash in one hand and in the same hand hold a plastic spoon with a marble. If the marble fell off, you were out. Ramona threw in right and left turns, about turns and slow trying to narrow the field. There was a lot of concentration going on towards the end where people were "willing" the marble to stay put. Two dogs survived the test.
By this point, it was time to break for lunch.
After lunch, Ramona set up a small agility course with 3 low jumps, a tunnel, weave poles and a large table. The winner would be the dog that negotiated the course in the shortest time. It was obvious that the agility classes attended by some of the dogs paid off here - those dogs negotiated the course with few problems. Buddy, however, jumped off the table and over the fence. The dogs with no training managed to do well even in the weave poles with the help of the ever popular food bribe.
The next game involved a trip to the "beach" and was a race against the clock. Each participant had to pack a bucket, food pail, cooler, suitcase, rain boots and a beach umbrella. The object of the game was to load your "van" (a large table) with your dog and all of the equipment without you or your dog going on to the "road" and being "killed". This meant elimination from the game. The "road" was a lane leading up to the table/van. Each dog when loaded into the "van" needed to be sporting the provided dog hat. The clock stopped when the handler sang "Beach Baby, Beach Baby …", a Beach Boys song. This game really tested the dog's co-operation and the owner's ability to organize things. It was interesting to note the variations people chose to get the job done - some left their dogs at the start and loaded the van, some took the dogs on several trips to and from the van while others put the dog in the van first and loaded up. Cally strayed onto the road and was "killed". Buddy also "died" when he decided to leap out of the van to go for a run around the parking lot.
The "clock" game was next - a dozen wooden dumbbells were placed in a large circle with a "hulla-hoop" in the center of the circle. The handler, standing inside the hoop, sent the dog to retrieve as many dumbbells as they could in 1 minute. Again, the dogs who had some Open or utility obedience had a slight advantage. However, because the dogs did not see anything being thrown they just had to have faith that indeed there was something out there when the owner said "Take It". The dogs did not necessarily believe and in the case of Bing he thought that he was doing utility "go-outs" and over shot the circle entirely. When he was taken back and shown that there were dumbbells he was game to do the job.
Everyone became enthusiastic for another round of fetch. This time there were 5 tennis balls, a baseball bat and a bucket. Each handler had to hit the ball past a line in the field, have their dog retrieve the ball, place the ball in the bucket and repeat the process. The team that completed the 5 retrieves in the shortest time won the game. This game was not as easy as it sounds because the dogs did not see the balls being thrown so were puzzled as to what to do. Some took to this one very quickly and had a great time. I think that the hardest part of this game was actually hitting the ball with the bat.
This brought a long day to a close. The dogs had a great time and were all tired out. The owners had a great day socializing and enjoying the dogs. We all had a good laugh and appreciated Ramona taking the day to help us with our fun day. Hopefully, we will get to try it again and more members will be able to attend.
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WRESSAA held their fun day and picnic at Lorry Neale's July 25. It was a super hot day so trying to stay in the shade and keep cool was the order of the day. In spite of that we managed to have several games organized by Mary Ann Dalton and Barb Hilchie. There was something for every dog and every skill level.
Did you know that ………
We hope that you'll all be able to participate again
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On the morning of September 20th the Springers started to gather at the Canyon Meadows Community rink in anticipation of learning a new sport -- FLYBALL. Fancy & Morgan brought Dodie Hall, Marcy & Buddy brought Barb Hilchie, Daisy Mae came with her date Wayne Bateman while Bing had his usual partner Mary Ann Dalton. Libby came with some of her puppies along with Cally and their owners Anne, Barb & Lynn Dorsay. The teacher was Ramona Sterling with her Border Collies Josh, Lock & Flight and her American Cocker Spaniel Tails.
We watched as Ramona showed us what a trained dog could do so that we would all know the goal. Flyball is a relay race against the clock and against other teams. There are four low jumps (practice height 8 inches) to go over before going to the box and picking up the tennis ball and racing back to the owners before the next dog starts. The starting line is 6 feet from the first jump, each jump is 10 feet apart and there is 15 feet from the last jump to the box. There are 4 dogs to a team with an extra as an alternate. When the dogs get to the box, they must hit the mat to release the spring that pops the ball at the dog. Ideally, the dog catches it on the first try so there is a fast turn around time. Boy, can those Borders move!
Ramona started by warming up the recall skills of all the dogs -- first on the flat and later adding the low jumps one at a time until they were going over the four in a row. The Springers soared over these -- it was like watching poetry in motion. Ramona also taught us to angle back over the jumps in case the dogs have a poor pick up at the box and miss the ball making themselves get off center. In flyball, the owner can direct and tell the dog as much as they want as long as they stay behind the start line.
Next, we moved on to the ball machine. The last time most of these dogs had encountered one of these contraptions they either wanted to see how it worked of were a little afraid of it. I guess that they had either figured it out or had overcome their fears because they were a little more eager to accept taking the ball. Ramona did have the machine braced so that the balls would not fly out and scare them. The dogs had to do a jump, go up take the ball and turn to take another jump back to their owners. Lots of food and praise were the secret. Buddy & Marcy had been practicing so they showed us all how easy it could be. Yeah right! Bing would go up to get a ball but had to stop and give Ramona a kiss before continuing. Daisy Mae was initially unsure but a tennis ball laced with food quickly got her over it. Good thing Springers are food hounds, you can get them to do almost anything. Lynn was showing us the clicker method of praise with Cally as she took the balls and came back over the jumps -- Interesting concept. Libby was showing off for her puppies. Even the puppies got into the act -- they were taking tiny jumps in their stride and were not the least bit afraid of the ball machine marching bravely up to it.
Though the dogs are far from ready to enter a trial, this day gave them an enjoyable experience. Ramona was pleased with how the dogs progressed in the day. She was most encouraging to us all. WRESSAA presented Ramona with a glass mug with the logo filled with dog cookies as a thank-you for her efforts. Do you suppose that this is the start of a WRESSAA flyball team??
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|CALGARY SANTA CLAUS PARADE:
WRESSAA participated in the annual Santa Claus Parade in downtown Calgary on Dec.6, l997. The theme was “A look to the past -- a celebration of our Heritage”. Dodie Hall suggested that we dress the dogs as old fashioned carolers and that the owners could also dress up if they wished. We decided to go with that idea.
The Dorsays brought Libby & Cally in their green velvet coats. Minnie made her parade debut and handled it in style -- loving all the attention from the crowd. Ron Chapman came with his young B/W bitch Casca who sported a shawl and a lovely pink bonnet stuffed with newspaper to give her a better head shape for wearing a hat. Somehow Springers’ heads (or all dogs’ heads for that matter) just don't seem to work well with hats. Wendy Bessemer was there with her puppy Sassy and her nieces Maia & Robin. Sassy wore a bright red cape that tried to swallow the whole dog. In it's other life, the cape was for Dracula & Halloween. Mary Ann Dalton had Bing in a green coat trimmed in white with a red scarf. He also had a song book attached to his chest as if he was reading the carols. It might be noted here that 3 of the 5 dogs were B/W and 4 of the 5 were bitches. I think our theme next year could be Bing and his harem girls. Some of the people got into the spirit and dressed in old fashioned coats to add to the theme.
This year the parade committee was encouraging groups not to use motorized vehicles going for an old fashioned look of antique cars and horse drawn vehicles. So, for the first time in recent memory, WRESSAA did not have a vehicle in the parade. The Dorsays had a wonderful replacement though -- a dog kennel on wheels decorated to look like a Christmas present with a sign saying “Canine Carolers” It was complete with a baby boom box playing music. This was an excellent idea since it allowed the crowds to know what we were.
The parade committee estimated the crowds in attendance to be 20,000 with many more watching the TV coverage on the A Channel. The camera crew seemed to take quite a liking to Casca in her bonnet with Bing in the background. Unfortunately, all the dogs did not get their seconds of fame on TV but many more saw and enjoyed them in person. The dogs quite willingly went up to the kids and adults to say hello and to give out kisses. The people viewing on the street really enjoyed seeing the dogs and that is what counts.
We hope to participate again this year and we hope to see a few more dogs out with their owners having a great time getting into the spirit of the season.
All of the Club participants (dogs and owners/handlers) had a great time in the Calgary Santa Claus Parade December 6, 1997. Below is a picture of some of the participants posing on the parade route.
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Copyright ©1997-2009 Lynn,
Anne & Barb Dorsay, Bondir English
Springer Spaniels for Wild
Rose English Springer Spaniel Association of Alberta.
All rights Reserved.
Last revised: August 08, 2009.