Obedience In the Spotlight

SHARON WILLIS, WILLOWBROOK AUSSIES, TALKS ABOUT HER 5 DOGS, TRAINING, AND SUCCESSES

I got my first Aussie in 1973 while I was showing my quarter horse in Western Pleasure. It was the beginning of a love affair with the breed.

My husband, Joe, bought our first show Aussie from Susan and Reggie Moorehead, Brookridge, in 1990. His name was “Bullet” – CH Brookridge Syl Ver Bull It, CDX. Susan and Reggie have been great friends and mentors to us over the years.

I started my formal obedience training with Nancy Patton, one of the great obedience trainers, in February of 1991. I was fortunate to have trained and taught for her at Dogwood Training Academy until she died in 2000. Nancy is responsible for my training philosophy, and she taught me how to show my dogs. 

Along with 2 other partners, Joe and I purchased Dogwood Training Academy and re-named it Atlanta Dogwood Obedience Group (ADOG). We have operated it for the past 15 years.

Fortunately, through the years, we have had a lot of great dogs. We always try to put both Championship and obedience titles on our dogs. Susan Moorehead believes Aussies are both smart and pretty, and we have always adopted that belief.

A lot of people ask, “How do you pick your puppies?”

I choose my puppies based on conformation first and obedience second. I start training them as soon as I pick them up. I teach Puppy Competition at ADOG, and that class has helped start our dogs off with the right foundation.

I enjoy the challenge of training each puppy and try to bring out the best in each one. Every dog has been different and has their own individual challenges. Not every dog is going to be great at obedience, but I try to help the dog reach their potential.

Since 1990, we have had eleven (11) dogs, and all but our puppy, who is major pointed, are Champions in both ASCA and AKC, and so far we have had seven (7) OTCH titles. Our first dog, Bullet got his ASCA CH title at 11 months, and he was the first Aussie AKC Champion in GA. Before he was hurt at 7 years old, he never NQ’D in Obedience, which was amazing…

Our dogs have won many titles and honors over the years, and they have always been ranked in both ASCA and AKC. Here is a list of our current and past dogs with their ASCA Titles:

CURRENT DOG (ASCA Titles):

*** “Kenji” – HOF OTCH9 CH Blue Isle Dance the Night
         Away, UDX3 DNA-VP

*** “Echo” – OTCH2 CH Willowbrook Time After Time at
         Blue Isle, UDX

*** “Reno” – CH SunFire Dancin Away at Willowbrook,
         UD (Young dog)

*** “Spiff” – CH Lyric Isle Dance at Willowbrook’s
         Rendezvous, CDX (
Young dog – 2 UD legs)

*** “Tip” – Sunfire’s Bettin on Willowbrook  (Puppy 20 months old – 1 leg 1st show in Nov B: 199)

PAST DOGS  (ASCA Titles):

*** “Bullet” – CH Bookridge Syl Ver Bull It, CDX

*** “Target’ – HOF OTCH CH Willowbrook Sankano Bull’s-eye

*** “Brinks” – OTCH CH Hardrock Willowbrook Bullet
         Proof, STDs

*** “Smoke” – OTCH CH Willowbrookridge Smokin’ Gun

*** “Bo” – OTCH CH Hamilton Willowbrook Bow N Arrow, UDX

*** “Fire” – OTCH CH Blue Isle Fire on Fayblehill, UDX

 

I consider Kenji – HOF OTCH9 CH Blue Isle Dance the Night Away, UDX3 DNA-VP my greatest dog, and one of the great dogs in our breed. (CH Blue Isle Dance with Me X CH Topgun’s Black Magic).
We got Kenji when he was 10½ weeks old from our breeder, Barbara J. Hager of Blue Isle Australian Shepherds, to do both performance & conformation. Kenji has been the most biddable Aussie that we have owned over the last 26 years. We are grateful every day to Barbara Hager for shipping us Kenji. Barbara has been instrumental in our success.

“Kenji” was trained through Novice, Open and Utility at 6 months old. When he was 2½ years old, we started showing him, and he completed Novice, Open & Utility titles in 10 months with no NQ’s, and with two perfect scores of 200.

Over the last seven (7) years Kenji has been ranked in SUPER DOG:  #3 SUPER DOG in 2016; #1 SUPER DOG for 2015; #1 for 2014; #3 for 2013; #5 2012; #1 for 2011; and #3 in 2010. Also, the first year, 2008-2009, that he showed him in obedience, he was #1 in the Novice B Finals standings with 199 average. Kenji has also obtained top honors in AKC during these years.   

“Kenji” was awarded the “HALL OF FAME SIRE” Certificate #345 on 12/12/2015.  “Kenji” is a remarkable dog and continues to amaze us…

It was a family affair at the 2015 TN ASCA National Specialty, Kenji’s two sons Reno, Spiff and brother Echo did good at the TN National Specialty:

*** “KENJI” Accomplishments at the TN ASCA Specialty:

  • #1 SUPER DOG SUPREME CHAMPION; HIGH COMBINED (HC) and HIGH SCORING CHAMPION;
  • #1 in Open B and #3 in Utility B; and,
  • Won the GENERATIONS Class. (NOTE: At the 2014 TX National Specialty, he won the STUD DOG Class).

*** “RENO” Won #1 Novice B with 198

*** “SPIFF” was #2nd Novice B with 197 ½

*** “ECHO” Accomplishments at the TN ASCA Specialty:

  • #6 in the Intact Conformation FINALs
    (NOTE: He was also #9 for the year 2013-2014 for Intact Conformation Finals)
  • #3 SUPER DOG FINALS and #1 in Utility B
      (NOTE: He also was #2 SUPER DOG FINALS for 2014 – 2015 Year, and he was also #3 SUPER DOG for
            Year 2013-2014.)

*** “TIP” was #2 in 4 to 6 Month Black Puppy Dogs.

Today, part time, we are doing the “GRANDPARENTS” happy dance… We follow Kenji’s offspring, and have been proud at what their teams have been capable of accomplishing. We didn’t get to go to the 2016 ASCA Nationals in Albany, Oregon; however, we got to follow over 14 of Kenji’s offspring compete. One of the most well-known Kenji sons is Tyce – AKC MULTI-GROUP WINNING/MULTI-PLACING BISS GCH CH/ASCA CH SPRING FEVERS WANNA DANCE Owned by Canby, Sherrie A. Scott and Katelyn Scott Peart.

I have been blessed with wonderful dogs that I got from great breeders, great mentors, and I have had a great support team of friends.  

We love Aussies and Obedience…

Sharon is a partner and full-time instructor at A DOG. Sharon and her husband Joe, who is the managing partner of ADOG, live in the Atlanta, GA area. Joe has retired from the corporate world after starting several banking software technology companies.