The Chronicle Interview
Q & A with Wendy Hutchison, Owner/Handler of the ICCF Working Dog of the Year (2000),CastleGuard's Arkaine of Valor
Interview by ICCF Working Committee
Q (ICCF Working Cane Corso Committee): What got you interested in training for obedience competitions?
A (Wendy Hutchison): I have in the past obedience-trained my dogs on my own. But since this was my first Corso, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. So, I set out to find a trainer and I was very fortunate that I was able to find a great trainer in my area, Tammy Waynick, of Advanced K9 Academy, in Jackson, Michigan. I had several talks with her, sat in on a few lessons and discovered that her philosophy mirrored my own: we expect our dogs to do what we ask. Tammy's `high level' training style allowed us to participate in competition obedience without much practice or additional training. We did need to learn the "stand for exam" and so we started 2 weeks before the trial. Of course, I also have to give my dog some of the credit. His loyalty, intelligence, and desire to please me allowed him to learn quickly and made his training fun and easy. But in the end it was my friends who encouraged me to enter our first obedience competition. I have never trained for obedience competition at the first level, however, I will be gearing up toward higher levels in obedience and in other areas of training as well.
Q (ICCF WCCC): What got you interested in training for protection?
A (WH): I have always loved dogs, and have always been interested in this type of work. I feel that a dog of this caliber, one capable of doing harm to people, should be well trained and be kept under control at all times. I liked the added benefit of knowing the dog would protect me and I appreciate having the ability to control the degree of protection needed. This was just another aspect of my personal philosophy in how I want my dog to behave. I'm not advocating that this is the right or wrong thing to do. And it's certainly not the right thing for everyone or every dog. I believe that this training has made Kaine a better dog and me a better handler.
Q (ICCF WCCC): What do you enjoy most about competing and/or training for these events?
A (WH): What I enjoy most is working with my dog above all. Whether we win or lose it's just the best thing in the world to be out there with him. I also like the camaraderie that I have been able to share with friends and other people who enjoy dogs and the competition too. I've met a ton of people who I have learned a great deal from and have really enjoyed their friendship.
Q (ICCF WCCC): Doesn't it scare you that your dog knows how to bite people?
A (WH): On the contrary, the fact that my dog knows how to bite is something I am not afraid of at all. Because the key words here are "knows how to bite". Yes, he knows how to bite, but even more important, he knows how NOT to bite. Some people have the conception that doing protection training is all about teaching a dog to bite. However, a great deal of time is invested in teaching the dog when it's not appropriate to bite. I know that I can call him off from an attempted bite or during a full bite at any time. I do know that I must be vigilant of people and events around me because I have the added responsibility to protect my dog and the public. I've commented before that I am not afraid of what my dog can do; it's what the people will do that scares me.
Q (ICCF WCCC): Did you select your dog(s) with competition or protection in mind?
A (WH): No, I originally got Kaine as a family dog. He has developed into quite a good working dog and has always been willing to do what ever I have asked of him.
Q (ICCF WCCC): If you were to get another dog would you select it specifically for competition and or protection?
A (WH): Yes, I have already begun my search for the next dog. I intend to train for work in Schutzhund or NAPD style competition. I will also continue to compete with these dogs in obedience competitions and other events as well.
Q (ICCF WCCC): Do you like obedience competition?
A (WH): Yes, and I would encourage anyone to give it a try. It can be fun; the judges have always been helpful and friendly. Don't be discouraged if you don't get it on the first try either. The judges will tell you what you need to work on and you go from there. It is well worth the try when you don't always win - you will have definitely earned it when you do.
Q (ICCF WCCC): What dog sport do you like best?
A (WH): That's a hard question. I like them all for their own merits. I enjoy the obedience but I have to admit I get a thrill out of the protection competitions. I like both the structure of the SchH trials and the unpredictability of the NAPD events. Each sport offers different challenges to the dog and handler. There is also tracking which we have taken an interest in and are doing well in.
Q (ICCF WCCC): What are your goals for future titles/work?
A (WH): I have several goals; one goal is to pursue a protection title. Another goal is to earn a title in tracking. I want to earn a higher CD title CDX or UD as well.
Q (ICCF WCCC): Do you have advice for others working their Corsos?
A (WH): Find a trainer who shares your philosophies and is willing to work with you to obtain your goals. Don't allow yourself to be swayed by people who don't know your dog or the breed to prevent you from trying things. Don't be afraid to get out there and try to compete. Do as much research on your goal as you can and visit events. Find out what the rules are and what the judges are looking for. Practice, practice, and then practice some more!! Be consistent and fair and your dog will go to the moon for you. Above all enjoy your dog!!
Additional comments from Wendy Hutchison:
I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to the people who have helped me to get this far. My husband Scott and daughter Jennifer who have tolerated my many absences while I was off with the dog! My best friend Laura, who's always been there and supported me all the way! Tammy and her partner Brenda at the Academy. The ICCF for being willing to support the Working Committee. Special thanks to the committee for the beautiful award!!! I have to stop and thank the guys who make Protection sport work happen; guys like Tony Omo. He is the Decoy for the Academy. Lord knows this guy has taken some abuse from my dog. But he keeps coming back and I appreciate his dedication. If not for the decoys, this work wouldn't be possible and I don't think the decoys get enough thanks for what they do. I have since met a wealth of new people like Max and Ron and Daryll who also decoy for me, Paul, Doc Fuller and Sweet Nick, Alex, Irina, Allen and the rest of the Red Star crew, Cheryl Carlson and to many others too many mention. Thanks to all these people for the patience and guidance you've provided to me!
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