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Norton woman, dog Toby heading to national competition

11/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Toby and owner Kathy Cunningham, of Norton, are shown above in a previous competition.
Photo courtesy of Kathy Cunningham
NORTON — Kathy Cunningham and her golden retriever High Times How Do You Like Me Now (Toby) have qualified to compete in the first American Kennel Club® Obedience Classic (AOC) in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 14-15.

Toby will compete in the Utility class. According to AKC officials, the pair qualified after earning their Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) title from the Utility Class, as well as six additional qualifying scores in the Utility Class during the qualifying period of July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013.

Norton resident Cunningham said she and Toby, 5, have worked with professional trainers Linda and Mike MacDonald of High Bar Training Center since he was 12 weeks old. In addition to that, he comes from a family of dogs that have won many titles.

“It’s definitely the breeding and selecting a dog with a performance line behind him,” Cunningham said of Toby’s success in competition.

The purpose of obedience trials is to demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines. All contestants in a class are required to perform the same exercises in essentially the same way, so the relative quality of the various performances may be compared and scored. Exercises range from heeling on leash in the Novice Class to directed retrieving and scent discrimination in the Utility Classic.

Cunningham said the two are training daily to prepare for the December competition.

“We train for all the kinds of disruptions that could happen in a show,” she said. “Every once in a while, they kind of forget and you have to work them through something. It’s an ongoing process.”

Go to www.akc.org/events/obedience/classic/ for more information. Selections from the Classic will be video streamed on www.akc.org.

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