MANY PEOPLE may have the mistaken belief that an obedience-trained dog is a programmed robot. There is nothing further from the truth.
Most dog owners begin obedience training because they want to control a disobedient dog. Often, however, the training bug bites and dog and owner enjoy every minute of it.
An obedient dog is more fun, happier and more content. There is no sweeter sight at an obedience trial than the well cared for dog who is having a day of fun close to the one person in the world he most wants to be with.
Last Sunday, from early morning to late afternoon, 274 dogs, 142 of them from Maryland, spent the day sitting and working with their owners at the 54th Obedience Trials of the Dog Owners' Training Club of Maryland at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium.
A Shetland sheep dog obtained the highest score at the trials. Obedience tracking champion Skoof Blue Sky After the Storm, owned by Charles Chmura and Linda Lundgren of Clifton, Va., scored 199 out of a possible 200, the highest score available in obedience work.
Obedience work begins with classes in Novice A and B. A dog must qualify three times -- it's called "getting a leg" -- under three different judges in three different shows to pass a class. To qualify and obtain a leg, a dog must score at least 170 points in each class.
After qualifying in Novice B, a dog becomes a CD, Companion Dog.
Next is Open A and B, which offer a CDX, Companion Dog Excellent. The utmost obedience title is Utility A and B, which gives the dog a UDX, Utility Dog Excellent, the highest obedience degree available.
In every class, a dog begins with a potential 200 score. The judge deducts points as the dog works for that class.
Veterinarian Nancy Kelso, from Columbia, with her smooth collie, Champion Pickwick Christmas Morning, called Banana, took a score of 188 1/2 in Novice Class B for her CD. Banana received the highest score for a smooth collie for the day. Kelso also entered her rough collie, Rebel Hills Night Song. Both collies are herding champions.
At age 29, Kelso has been a veterinarian for four years, having studied veterinary medicine at Ohio State. She has practiced at the Pasadena Animal Hospital for two years.
One of the funniest dogs at the trials was Ryder, a laid-back solid black Newfoundland named Spillway's Night Ryder, whose owner, Dru Kappe, didn't forget it was St. Paddy's Day. Two-year-old Ryder was resting in his green hat after he obtained his CD with a 185 in Novice B.
Kappe, from Woodbine, trains with the Dog Obedience Training Club, which holds classes in all levels of obedience every Wednesday evening from 7 to 10 p.m. at Seton Keough High School at Benson and Caton avenues. For details about the club, call Katharine or Hope Buswell at 467-8315.
The largest dog in the show, a tremendous black great Dane, Champion Ventures Wandering Buck, CD, called Bucky, came from Washington with owner John Redford, who is training his first dog. Bucky scored 189 in Open A, giving him one more leg toward a CDX.
New and familiar faces to obedience trials filled the area on Sunday. Donald J. Pallus from Greenspring Valley entered his standard white poodle, Champion Whisperwind Mariner of D'Estes, called Alex, who is a CDX but didn't qualify Sunday in his bid for UD. His score was 145 1/2 in Utility A. Alex was bred in the same kennels as Peter the Poodle, winner of this year's Westminster Kennel Club show in New York.
Top Drawers Tag-A-Long, a darling Norwich terrier called Tag owned by Karen Dwyer of Landover Hills, qualified in Novice B with a score of 186 for his first leg toward a CD.