This is a story about two wonderful Pekingese dogs. A story of hard work, patience, courage and endurance. It is about teamwork between human and animal. It is a story of love.
My husband Andy and I have always had a Pekingese or two running around our home. From the day Duke showed up at our door 25 years ago, sat up on his haunches and waved his paws at us, we were hooked on the breed. A few years after we had Duke, we purchased a little girl named Dannie. She was very special to me, and became my soul mate.
Life was good until Dannie, at 17, was diagnosed with kidney failure. I became very depressed and my life drifted into a fog of good days and bad days. Dannie stopped eating, and I had to syringe-feed her every hour.
Andy and our daughter, Corrina, decided I needed a new puppy, so having spotted ‘Pekingese for sale’ in our local newspaper, drove me to a house in the country where I made my choice.
I love to play with the other puppies, but I’m so shy that whenever people come to look at us I hide in the corner. No-one ever notices me so I don’t know why I was chosen. I hate leaving my pen and the car ride is scary. I don’t like that sick old Peke, Dannie, either.
I named my new puppy Della Rae. She wasn’t as shy as I thought. She started jumping on Dannie, and tortured my best friend during the last months of her life.
I hate it here, I wish I’d never come. No-one likes me and no-one will play with me. But I get attention when I’m naughty . . .
I had so many problems with Della Rae I needed help. I took her to the vet, who recommended a professional trainer. The trainer said, ‘Della Rae needs a job—we’ll start her in agility.’ I didn’t know what agility was, let alone that the trainer was a renowned agility judge! We started classes that night.
Now what does she want? Look at that long dark tunnel—sure I’ll run through it for a cookie! Hey, I can jump over that jump. Wow, this is fun and even my Mom is smiling. Weeeeeee! Everyone is clapping. Oh no, it’s time to go. . .
Della Rae started to change. She wasn’t misbehaving as much. She was always excited when we got ready for class, and we trained hard every day. I joined a Pekingese list on the Internet, and imagine my surprise when we were invited to provide the entertainment by doing an agility demonstration at the Tacoma Pekingese Nationals in 2001! It was a night I will always remember; I met Pekingese-lovers from all over the world and made many new friends.
Then I bought another Pekingese, black with a little white on his chest. I named him Oreo. I wanted him as a show dog, and was prepared to wait and see how he turned out.
I can’t believe she bought another dog! I thought I was making her happy. I think he’s ugly and I’m going to beat him up.
We kept training, and in no time Della Rae became the star of her class with everyone calling her ‘SuperStar’. As her second birthday approached I decided it was time to enter our first agility trial. We stood on the start line for the first time, and I was so nervous.
I like to show off in front of a crowd, and do things to embarrass my Mom. At the top of that A-frame I’m going to stop and flirt with the audience—hehe!
Della Rae quickly rose through the ranks although she was always clowning around. If she didn’t want to run I would be the first to know, and wouldn’t even be able to drag her on her lead.
‘Just take me home, OK?’
In January 2003 she was the first Pekingese in the history of the American Kennel Club to earn the title ‘Excellent Jumper with Weaves’. We were presented with a handmade trophy and a beautiful picture of Della jumping.
She was now running with the big boys in the top jumpers’ class, and to earn the next title would have to make ten perfect runs. Meantime, Oreo was not turning out to be the show dog I’d hoped to have, and my trainer suggested Andy start training him. So Andy and Oreo became a new team.
Oreo, Oreo, Oreo. I am so sick and tired of that dog. He thinks he’s so beautiful with that coat. Now he wants to cash in on all the fun.
Andy and Oreo entered their first trail, and qualified! We had such a celebration! Then Della Rae started to struggle with the ‘Excellent Standard’ and started running out of the ring. Oreo followed suit, and Andy and I almost gave up. However, we just continued to train daily, and slowly it paid off.
I do love to run and jump fast; I guess that Oreo isn’t so bad after all—but he’s not as good as me!
In January 2004 Della Rae jumped into AKC history once more by earning a ‘Master Jumper with Weaves’ title. She is now the first Pekingese ever to earn the position as Top Dog in Agility for Pekingese. Meantime Oreo has won three first places. He is still competing in the Novice class, but will soon move into Open where the courses are much harder.
We also compete in the North American Dog Agility Council, where Della Rae just earned an Outstanding Performance Title in Novice Jumpers Class. These trials are very hard, and I was very surprised we won this new title.
Both Della Rae and Oreo are young, so we can expect to compete for years to come. It is said most dogs reach their peak in agility at five to six years of age, so we have a long time to try for those new titles!
Well, that is the end of our story—or maybe it’s
only the beginning . . . I even quite like that ugly Oreo now. Did Mom tell you she took in a rescue Pekingese, Tuggy, and bought a Papillion? Well, I don’t care, I’m a royal princess and a rarity in this world of agility. I will run when I want to, and run out when I want to. It’s in my genes. It’s called stubbornness. I hope you have enjoyed our story. Bye from Della Rae SuperStar AX NXJ NAC OJC NGC TNN.
Yes, I hope you enjoyed our story. It is a story of
courage and hard work, but most of all, love and teamwork.
Jenne and Andy Ford
Bonney Lake, WA