The Tao Of The Dog

| April 1, 2011 | 0 Comments
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One Great Dog

Wrigley

Wrigley

One of the most successful dogs in Kathy’s life was Wrigley – NOC OTCH First String’s Cubby Bear UDX26, RE, AX, NAJ, CGC, Can CDX (4/14/95-5/11/10). Wrigley joined Kathy in 1995 and went on to earn 3,641 lifetime OTCH points, 84 High in Trials, 101 High Combined awards, two perfect 200’s, was invited to dfs Crufts in 2004 and was the first alternate on the 2005 AKC/USA Obedience team. Kathy and Wrigley remained somewhere in the top 10 in obedience ranking systems from 2001 to 2006. Kathy and Wrigley’s crowning achievement was to win the 2005 AKC National Obedience Championship. Wrigley was truly a dog for the ages! But Kathy would gladly trade all of those accolades away for just one more walk around her property with her soul mate, Wrigley, by her side. These moments, with no expectations beyond the joy of time spent together, are what truly made Wrigley a very special dog.

Lightning Strikes Twice

Buoy

Buoy

Kathy adopted Buoy – NOC OTCH High Times Ris’n Above the Tide UDX10, OGM, RE, CGC from breeder, author, and fellow obedience competitor Bridgett Carlson. By the time Buoy was 4 years old (2009) he had already achieved two perfect scores of 200, earned 1047 OTCH points, was the #2 Obedience dog in the US, and Buoy was 1st runner-up at the 2009 AKC National Obedience Invitational.

Not wanting to rest on his laurels, Buoy was one of the first 10 dogs to achieve the new title of Obedience Grand Master (see our “What’s in a Title” article for more information about the new AKC Grand Master title). Kathy and Buoy also earned 5 UDX titles, 4 perfect 200 scores, 90 HIT/HC awards, and was ranked #2 for all dogs competing in Obedience in the US with over 1200 OTCH points. Kathy and Buoy capped off 2010 by winning the 2010 AKC National Obedience Championship. Wow! Kathy is now a two time winner of the AKC National Obedience Championship. Can you say dynasty?

Introduction

Being involved with retrievers has afforded me the great privilege to meet some very special people and their dogs. Actually, I think it is their dogs that help make these folks special but that is for another conversation! I met Kathy Rasinowich-Platt as a result of her great performance with her Golden Retriever – NOC OTCH High Times Ris’n Above the Tide UDX10, OGM, RE, CGC “Buoy” at the 2010 AKC National Obedience Invitational where she and Buoy were crowned National Obedience Champions! When I saw the video of Kathy and Buoy working together, the teamwork they demonstrated was amazing. I just knew that we had to talk to Kathy about her dogs!

Getting To Know Kathy And Her Dogs

Kathy originally hales from Minnesota but spent some years in Illinois, Iowa, and currently resides in Papillion, Nebraska. While Papillion is not exactly a hotbed for obedience trials, Kathy is more than willing to “pound the pavement” to get both her and her dogs the level of competition required to stay at the top of the obedience game. Kathy started training dogs for obedience back in 1988 when she was just a bright-eyed high schooler. Her first dog Frannie, a black Labrador Retriever that she got from the newspaper, started her adventure. Although Kathy was a relative beginner to the dog world, she trained and handled Frannie to her Utility Dog (UD) title and Flyball championship. This was an auspicious beginning for Kathy’s new found passion. Around this time Kathy also adopted a Golden Retriever named Clint. She was the only person around that had more than one dog but living life in a pack was what she wanted.

Kathy met her husband, Gary Platt as a result of their involvement in formal and competition obedience training. Gary is a highly respected obedience trainer and competitor in his own right. He founded Innovative Dog Training in 1983 and Kathy has been working with Gary since 2000. Gary has focused his school around obedience being the foundation of responsible dog ownership; that your dog is an integral member of the family and should not live in kennels; and that formal obedience training techniques easily transfer to everyday situations. Kathy and Gary have helped many people train great pets as well as solid competitors in the obedience ring through their obedience classes.

While Kathy loves teaching her regular obedience classes she gets really excited about Innovative Dog Training’s Obedience Camps. Handlers and dogs of all shapes and sizes descend on Papillion, Nebraska, for the 4-day immersion camps that began in 2000. The focus is on problem solving and hands-on training that caters to the individual handler/dog team’s ability. Kathy does all of the cooking for the camp which she says she really enjoys. Gary and Kathy share the training duties across the 14 campers and their dogs. They have a 70% return rate and design the camp curriculum based on surveys sent our prior to the beginning of camp. If you have any desire to take your dog obedience to the next level you should consider this opportunity to train with two of the most highly respected obedience trainers around.

How Does She Do It?

So what does it take to get your dog from a wiggly little puppy to the AKC National Obedience Champion? Kathy believes that it all begins with a strong relationship with your dog. It is the bond that ties you and your pup physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a trust that cannot be broken even in the pressure filled arena of the AKC National Obedience Invitational. This takes time and more importantly an honest love for your dog.

That relationship all begins from the ground up – literally! Kathy likes to get down on the floor with her new pups and experience the world from their perspective. She thinks that this approach accelerates the bonding process and allows her to begin seeing the physical cues a dog gives us when he either understands or does not understand an exercise. Kathy uses treats to lure her young charges into correct behaviors and then uses “descriptive, precise, and consistent” praise like “good sit” to help reinforce understanding.

Kathy also believes in going very slowly in developing new skills with a dog. She tells me that when watching her teach a dog to heel, I may not even notice that she is walking with her dog. It is like Tai Chi for dogs. As trainers/owners/competitors we are all anxious to prove that our dog is smarter than the next and that rapid improvement is always a good thing. But taking things more slowly helps Kathy ensure that both she and her dog understand the exercise completely. Speed comes from precision. Precision begins with slow, deliberate steps that are linked together as the dog learns through treats and praise.

Kathy talks about always looking at herself as a trainer. Being open minded to change a training style in order to bring the best out in a dog. She believes relying too much on equipment like the leash can actually send unintended signals to the dog that will ultimately slow your training efforts. You have to be willing to let it all go and really listen for the signals your dog is giving you. Kathy appears willing to throw the book out if her dog shows her a better way to to get the job done! This is where the “baby-steps” approach really pays off.

In preparing for an event, especially one like dfs Crufts or the AKC National Obedience Invitational, Kathy takes to the road. In preparation for the 2010 AKC National Obedience Invitational, she  drove 7 hours to get into a big city obedience event so she and Buoy would be ready for the sights and sounds of the huge shows at Long Beach. Training for dfs Crufts, Kathy and Wrigley worked through exercises in the dark, rainy, and dimly lit parking lot of the local high school on the night of an school event so Wrigley would be challenged with distractions of all sorts before the big event across the pond! It is this kind of dedication that separates Kathy from the rest of the pack, but it is obvious that Kathy does this not so much for the pursuit of titles or accolades but to spend some amazing time with the dogs that she loves. The best thing about it is that Kathy is so willing to share her ideas and help us build stronger relationships with our dogs!

Category : Feature Story

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

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