Mother-daughter team pawsitively awesome

Clover and Sarah Ward and dogs

Mother-daughter team pawsitively awesome



 Jan Collett

‘LIKE MOTHER, like Daughter’ is an apt description of Sarah Ward and her daughter,Clover, of Western Creek.

This quiet, unassuming duo make quite the team with their canine family in the dog agility ring.

Both have been around dogs all their lives and took home training to the next level five years ago, starting basic obedience at Tasmanian Dog Training Club in Launceston, with their two Border Collies, Banjo and River.

The dogs were quick learners and willing to please and Clover, a Year 9 student at Deloraine High School, became attracted to the fast-paced canine sport of Agility, saying, “it seemed a bit more fun.”

In Agility, a course of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels and scrambles, among others, is run in sequence, with the dog taking the obstacles under the direction of its human handler. Titles can be achieved by attaining a number of qualifying rounds.

Teamwork is imperative and this is achieved t h r o u g h training and developing a relationship of trust with your dog.

C l o v e r and her mum began agility training in earnest in 2011 and started entering trials.

Although generally competing individually with their dogs, Sarah and Clover and two dogs come together in the agility event known as Strategic Pairs. Communication between the humans in this event is important and Sarah and Clover seem to have that down pat, as they have titled both dogs as Strategic Pairs Dogs.

When asked if there is a rivalry when competing in agility, Sarah doesn’t feel she has a particularly competitive nature but suggests that Clover does. Clover admits with a smile, “maybe a little.” River and Banjo have achieved Agility Dog and Jumping Dog titles and

River has gone on to achieve his Jumping Dog Excellenttitle and Snooker Dog title.

Just to show that dogs of all sizes can excel, Chihuahua- Pomeranian cross, Chilli, has attained his Jumping Dog title, having begun training in 2012.

Sarah admits her biggest challenge is working with Chilli, saying, “I need to get consistency with Chilli in running a course; he gets distracted.”

What do the dogs get out of agility? Clover says, “River just likes…being with us.”

Sarah says, “With Chilli, when he’s doing a good run, he just goes, and I feel very connected to him when he goes.”

Sarah goes on to say Banjo loves being around them but will probably retire from agility soon. Banjo’s thing is Rally Obedience; it’s slower paced than agility, but still requires excellent teamwork.

“It’s important to know your dog and what they enjoy”, say the Mother-Daughter team in unison.

The newest arrival in the Ward family is Alaska, a Border Collie pup from good working dog lineage.

Alaska is only 10 months old and, while she cannot start jumping training until she is over 18 months old, to allow for her bones and joints to develop properly, she is already training in obedience and learning to achieve focus.

Clover also plays soccer and this makes for busy weekends as she balances the two fun sports and her school work.

In between all the activities, Clover found time to write a letter to Dogs Life magazine, which was the winning letter in their March/ April edition.

What next? “We are going to the 2016 Agility Nationals in Adelaide”, says Clover, with a grin.