Shelties Online: The Weekly Online Magazine for Lovers of the Breed

Performance Week 2010 ~ An interview with Judy Guaraldo of HiMark Shelties

An interview by
Shelties Online

Amassing a wide
array of amazing accomplishments in all performance venues, Himark Shelties is a standout in the obedience arena. The kennel boasts four generations of nationally ranked, High-In-Trial winning dogs who have succeeded in Dog World competition. Himark Shelties has had three OTCH Shelties, one of which also attained the coveted MACH title. They are OTCH WW-OTCH UKC-CDX Himark's Precious Angel, UDX 13, NA, NAJ, OTCH WW-OTCH Himark's Forever In Blue Genes, UDX 13 NA, NAJ and OTCH MACH WW- OTCH Karastar Blackjack of Himark, UDX 23. OM1

1. How long have you been participating in Obedience?

I have been showing in obedience for 18 years.

2. Are there any special challenges or advantages because of where you live and train?

The main challenge of training in Florida is it is very hot most of the year. When I train outside I do it at the crack of dawn. On the other hand we are very lucky as we have dog shows all year round that are not far to go to. Most of our shows are indoors so weather isn't a problem.

3. How did you get interested in the beginning?

I saw an obedience demonstration at a local mall. It looked like fun so I enrolled Dusty . The club I trained at never mentioned dog shows so I thought we were doing it just for fun. After about a year someone asked me why I never showed Dusty as he was so wonderful. She explained about shows. I entered him in Orlando for novice . There were over 40 dogs in his class. He got first place both days , which hooked me on the sport.

4. What do you remember most about your early days of training?

I remember the fun that my dog and I had. Training was like a game to us. We both couldn't wait to go to class or practice. The school we trained at frowned upon giving dogs treats. I remember giving my dogs treats and the instructors saying they will never work without them in the ring. How wrong they were.

5. Did you have any mentors or success models that you followed in the beginning or along the way?

I really never paid a lot of attention to how other people trained. I learned very early the more fun my dogs had ,the quicker they learned and the better they did. I did learn many things about precision from going to a lot of different training classes.

6. Who was the first Sheltie you trained?

Dusty was my first sheltie. He was a terrific dog. He learned quickly and had a lot of fun doing obedience. Unfortunately he was from a pet store and at 2 yrs of age he had severe hip dysplasia. He was retired with a UD and several OTCH points.

7. What did you see in that Sheltie that made you think you could succeed?

Dusty really loved me and was a special friend. He was very eager to please . He loved doing obedience and couldn't get enough of it.

8. When did you get your first title?

I got my first title in 1992 . I will always remember the excitement I felt.

9. What do you remember the most about that performances that led to
that first title?

Dusty had scores of 195,195 and 194 1/2 . Considering I really wasn't a precision trainer at that time I am shocked he did so well. I also remember losing one point at my first show for being out of heel position on the stand. The judge told me my dog was fabulous and would win a lot.

10. Tell us about how your understanding of training and performance
evolved from Sheltie to Sheltie beginning with your first.

My training hasn't changed much from my first sheltie. I used a lot of food back then and still do.The better the food , the better the performance of the dog. I have learned the sillier I act with my dogs in training the more attentive they are. I have realized each dog is unique and it is important to discover what motivates them to do their best.
I have learned I can't worry about my dog once I am in the ring. I have trained them well and it is their responsibility to show what they can do. I concentrate on doing my part correctly . Therefore I am not nervous but have a lot of fun while I show. If mistakes are made by either my dog or myself I have learned in the scheme of life it means nothing. My dog will still love me and I will still love my dog.

11. Are their certain traits you look for in your shelties that
determine if they will be successful in the obedience ring?

My shelties have to be very bonding to people. Being mentally balanced is the # 1 trait my shelties must have. It is important they love noise and commotion as young puppies. I love confident puppies who play with toys and enjoy exploring. My shelties must be able to turn on when they perform in the ring. At home they must be dogs that are a pleasure to live with.

12. For your top-winning Shelties, tell us about the qualities and
traits that made them successful.

The best quality they have all had is their desire to have fun and to understand what makes me happy. My dogs love playing the obedience game with me . They understand they are half of a team. If I do my part they will do theirs. Sometimes I really feel their intelligence and insights are almost human.

13. What have been some of the challenges that you encountered in pursuit of the OTCH title?

When I showed some of my dogs for the OTCH only the first and second places got points. Now four placings get points. New dogs trying for their OTCH have to compete against very seasoned dogs, many of whom are the top in the country. Winning an open class is very difficult as there are a lot of wonderful dogs in it. Utility is easier to win as more mistakes seem to be made in the class. Once you get your first open win you feel like you can get your OTCH.

14. The OTCH title requires winning 3 first placements in open and utility classes and accumulating 100 points. Describe the level of competition at the events you participate in.

When I showed Angel and Blueberry quite a few of the top OTCH dogs were showing in the same classes. It was very exciting when my dog won the class against such prestigious dogs. When I showed Jackson there were still a lot of high ranking dogs showing. He would also compete against Angel and Blueberry , who would place consistently. I remember someone saying I should not enter Angel and Blueberry as they often beat Jackson. I said " If Jackson can't win on his own merit he shouldn't be an OTCH". It didn't take Jackson long to be one of the top dogs too.

pictured above: Jackson attained his OTCH and MACH titles and is the # 22 lifetime all-breed obedience dog according to AKC.

15. You have owned and trained Shelties that have attained their OTCH titles by the time they were two- or three-years-old. To what do you attribute their youthful success?

I think it is because I never put pressure on them. When we showed I had fun and they did too. It wasn't about winning as much as having a good time. They never felt they were working in the ring. They thought they were playing a game.

16. Looking back over your accomplishments, tell us which performances and achievements mean the most to you? Why?

The most important achievement was when Jackson became the # 22 lifetime all-breed obedience dog according to AKC. It was a goal I had never thought about. My friend emailed to tell me and I was astounded especially since we had taken a year off for Jackson to get his MACH.
Another performance that meant the world to me was when Himark's Wish Upon a Star UD got a 200 score. It was my first one and something I never dreamed of getting. I felt like I was in a dream.
I felt the same excitement when Jackson got several 200 scores. They are moments you can't forget.

pictured above: Himark's Wish Upon a Star UD (Wish) doing the broad jump.

17.If you could go back in time and give your self advice with your
first dog, what would that advice be?

I am lucky. I would change nothing. My dog taught me that having fun was what this sport is all about.

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