In 1982, Michael and I had just purchased our first home…a tiny two bedroom bungalow that was perfect for us! We loved our neighborhood…older bungalows all lined up in neat rows with mature trees and lots of birds, squirrels and bunnies in our neighborhood. We knew it would be too small for us at some point, but for our first home, it was really perfect! Our little Crackerbox Palace!
The only thing missing in our home was a dog! My childhood dream had been to someday train and show dogs, and I was ready to embark on that journey! Michael had never had a dog, and while he didn’t dislike them by any means, he wasn’t as gung-ho as I was for sure! But he knew how much I wanted a dog, so one year for Christmas, there was a handmade gift certificate for a puppy of my choice under the tree for me. I was over the moon with excitement, and started some research into the breed that would be a good fit for us as a couple and then again as we started a family.
We finally settled on Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and I started doing some research into finding a good quality breeder. I located a breeder who was about five and a half hours from us, and we went for a visit. I liked what I saw and heard, and many of her dogs had finished their championships easily and were very sound in temperament as well as being beautiful and healthy, which was very important to me. I had planned to show in AKC Obedience, so I didn’t need a show quality dog, but I needed a dog who was sound physically and temperamentally. I waited for my litter.
At the end of February 1983, Schatsi came to live with us, and I was head over heels in love with him! He was everything I wanted in my first Corgi and then some! One thing I discovered early on, was that this puppy had a very strong will! He wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with me even at a very young age! Being a really tender hearted person, it was very difficult for me to be tough with him, and obedience training methods in those days were very tough indeed!
Schatsi loved to work and excelled in his training! Before he had earned his Companion Dog (CD) title, I had already trained him through his Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) and Utility Dog (UD) work! He was very smart, but got bored with repetition, so I kept training new things to keep his interest and to make training fun for him. He loved our training sessions, and he was my Thursday night date at our local training facility. He was popular with all of the other dogs and owners, and we both looked forward to Thursday nights at 7:00.
When he was about eighteen months old, I felt as if he was ready to show, so I started to enter shows that were close enough that I could drive back and forth in a weekend. Schatsi had been easily working in the 190’s when we had done practice runs at my training classes. A perfect score is 200. My trainers felt sure that he would easily earn the three “legs”….or qualifying scores of 175 or more that were needed to be able to earn his CD title.
I quickly found out that my little Corgi had a mind of his own in the show ring, as he soon figured out that dog shows were different than practice. At a dog show, I wouldn’t correct him, so he started to “stretch” his performance of given commands. My favorite….or most embarrassing thing that he did was sniffing down the mats when we were “Heeling” together. Often, the smells were so good, that he completely forgot to pay attention, and would keep going long after I had stopped walking…forgetting that he should have quickly offered a straight sit at my side when I stopped. Eventually, he ran out of leash, and when he got to his limit, he would sit and look over his shoulder at me as if to ask, “Now what?” At the PWCCA National Specialty that year, my judge said, “That’s quite a little Hoover you have there,” comparing Schatsi to a vacuum cleaner with his nose to the ground….busily sniffing away! He finally did achieve his CD, but clearly, it was going to be very difficult to achieve an Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) as my little dog had a mind of his own!
During this process of showing him, it became clear to me that he really didn’t enjoy obedience trials, so I had to really have a heart to heart with myself. On one hand, there was my dream of training and showing my dog and having bragging rights to say I owned an Obedience Trial Champion. On the other hand, there was my sweet dog, who clearly didn’t like obedience trials. The trainers I had been working with kept suggesting harsher and harsher methods, suggesting that I was too soft with my dog, and that’s why he wouldn’t work for me in the show ring when the points mattered.
Over time, those harsh training methods became more than I was willing to accept, so I parted ways with my trainers, and joined our local kennel club and thought maybe I would try my hand at conformation shows. Conformation training was a breeze after so many months of obedience training, so it didn’t take long at all for Schatsi to be ready to show. The best news of all for him was that food was involved, which had been absolutely forbidden in obedience training. Schatsi, like most Corgis I know….was very strongly food motivated, so he really loved to show in conformation.
He had never been purchased as a show quality dog, and he was definitely not show quality! He earned some single points along the way, but it was clear that he would only be a champion in my heart, so he was retired from the show circuit. Instead, I focused on something new in our area called “Pet Therapy” and Schatsi made hospital visits and helped stroke victims recover.
He loved this work, because it often involved snacks and belly rubs, so Schatsi was all in!! We were able to use many of the behavior skills he had learned over the years and he was a really great therapy dog! Everyone loved to see him coming their way, and he loved the attention!
At home, Schatsi was really a delightful dog. He’s absolutely the reason I fell in love with Corgis. I had given him a job of bringing in our morning newspaper, and he was an absolute hoot with this! Even though he was fully proof-trained and very reliable off leash, I had to send him out for the paper on a long line, and here’s why! In our neighborhood, everyone’s home had a driveway on either side of their home, and a sidewalk that led from the street up to their house. The newspaper carrier threw everyone’s newspaper on their sidewalk. So when Schatsi went out to fetch our paper, as he turned, he saw one newspaper after another up and down our street. Being the herder that he was, and loving to please me….he felt compelled to fetch every paper that he could see, which meant that I had to quickly return everyone’s newspapers before they realized Schatsi had “borrowed” them!
To honor his memory, I have his retrieving dumbbell on my desk as a paperweight. I never washed it after he died, so it’s still spit and dirt covered…little teeth marks in the wood from our hours and hours of training together. He started it all, and left big paws to fill for the dogs who came after him.
Schatsi was the obedience dog that really taught me the nuts and bolts about training a dog. He was trained under two completely different training styles, and I learned that dogs could train with food and produce good, consistent results! He taught me the value of being absolutely consistent no matter how I “felt” at the moment, and the payoff on that lesson was HUGE!! He was a tough dog for me to cut my teeth on, and he never achieved the goals that I had hoped he would, but he will always be the champion of my heart.