Doggone crazy

Alisha Morrissey
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Caring for pet pooches has become serious business for sisters

"Taking care of a puppy is a big responsibility," many parents chide their children when they clamour for a family pet.

But the Pike family's two daughters handle the responsibility of no less than eight dogs - sometimes more, depending on who's hanging out that day - with unflinching maturity.

Jacqueline Pike plays with Kayle, a yellow Labrador retriever, in her front yard. Jacqueline will show the dog in Brantford, Ont., where they will compete in the national junior dog-handling show. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

"Taking care of a puppy is a big responsibility," many parents chide their children when they clamour for a family pet.

But the Pike family's two daughters handle the responsibility of no less than eight dogs - sometimes more, depending on who's hanging out that day - with unflinching maturity.

The Pike sisters - Jacqueline, 14, and Danielle, 12 - get up each morning and feed and water the dogs as well as exercise them.

Beyond that, they train their own dogs as well as other people's pets for both obedience and for shows.

With eight dogs roaming around the house, you'd think there would be mounds of fur, muddy footprints, more than a few accidents and a fair bit of butt-sniffing, but the family manages to keep things clean and the girls do their share, their mother Linda confirms

Jacqueline says she'd rather spend time with dogs than just about anything else, and she'd like to make a career out of dog training and possibly judging.

The shy teenager crumples into a big leather couch, almost hidden under her baseball cap, and practically whispers she's been training dogs for the last six years.

She takes off the cap, using her fingers to comb through knots in her hair and lists the breeds she's trained - shepherds, Labs, malamutes, and now an adorable fuzzy beagle pup seemingly about to trip over his own ears as it sniffs circles around the Pike's family room.

"It's a lot of work," she murmurs.

"We teach them obedience. We teach them to sit and down and, like, for showing you have to train differently than you have to train them for obedience."

Jacqueline is explaining the important characteristics show dogs should have when her mother Linda comes in the front door with a barking and bounding Kayle.

The three-year-old yellow Lab jumps up on Jacqueline, licking and sniffing her.

The two have a remarkable impact on one another's personalities as Jacqueline commands the dog to sit and then lie down by her feet. She's suddenly confident and the dog is immediately obedient, despite the beagle tugging Kayle's leash around a chair.

Jacqueline and Kayle get ready to go outside and practise, while Linda explains that the pair are off to Brantford, Ont., for the weekend where they will compete in the national junior dog-handling show that will determine who goes off to the international show in England later this year.

Jacqueline explains the point of the show will be to simply confirm that Kayle is the ideal Lab, according to the standards of the breed including height, colouring, facial expression and teeth.

"(It's) based on how I make the dogs stand out. So, it's not based on if he can sit or lie down when I tell him to, it's about her confirmation and how good I make her look," Jacqueline explains.

Linda says showing dogs is becoming a bigger sport in this province since she started training dogs more than a decade ago.

Today, training dogs and providing doggy daycare is the family's primary business.

Once outside, changed into a pinstripe suit and with a fine chain collar on the dog, Jacqueline shows how Kayle is supposed to stand to show off, and then trots her around the yard, while Linda plays judge.

"We always had dogs," Linda says, explaining she wanted her children to have pets, too.

But no one could have predicted that it would become a family business.

Jacqueline has set up a blog to regularly update people at home while she's at the nationals.

In the "about me" section of her blog, Jacqueline writes that she's "the biggest dog freak on the face of the Earth and I know it (and love it)!"

To follow Jacqueline's progress visit her blog at http://juniorhandlersnewfoundland.blogspot. com/.

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Brantford, England

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Recent comments

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Too bad the effort is not put into helping homeless, abused animals. No animal should be used for 'sport' or for the amusement of humans.

  • Robert and Jen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    BEST OF LUCK Jacqueline!!!!!!!!!!! We know you will do well representing the province. Jacqueline handles our German Shepherd in shows and also has trained her for obedience. She works countless hours with the dog and because of it our dog was champion at the age of 13 months and is still doing well at the competitions. She also has started the obedience trials with Lexy ( our shepherd) and is doing well. Jacqueline and Lexy have a strong bond and love working with each other. Again BEST OF LUCK Jacqueline!!!!!!!!!!! We will be watching for updates.

  • Colin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    They dedicate their lives to teaching people about responsible dog ownership. You can stand by your opinion but what I KNOW is they keep dogs out of shelters.

    That is about as proactive as you can get.

    Dog shows may not be for everyone or every dog. If our dogs didn't enjoy it, we wouldn't put them in it. Actually, I think these girls are a big part of why they love it.

    I'll be honest, if you asked me a year ago about dog shows we wouldn't have much of an opinion at all but now the one thing I say with complete certainly is that everyone there has something in common. They love their dogs unconditionally and you will never, ever find one of them in a shelter.

    Also, our dogs are in the show ring maybe 8 days of the year. The other 357 they are playing fetch, among other activities.

  • Isabelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Heather ...if you are so concerned about the abuse of animals maybe will be reading an aritcle about you doing just that...helping in some way instead of judging. Just because it is not your cup of tea!!! By the way I own two cats and they amuse me everyday...they bring postive to my day and yes they can do tricks and are obedient. To the Pike family keep up the good work caring for your animals and others ... you have big hearts.

  • H
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I have two dogs of my own, one who is an 11 month old lab mix. I think the wolrd of them but my pup has had to have training. I do not have the patience for it all of the time so therefore I had to pay $200 because he just refused to listen. These lessons helped him IMMENSELY and he is still a very happy and hyper pup but he knows some manners when it comes to biting your fingers and running away. This SAVED my dog from ending up in a shelter as I'm sure he would have ran away. I think these girls are AMAZING and to be so young and hold so much responsibility to just incredible. Not to mention that they have so many dogs, therefore saving them from shelters. To those critics, if you were to research the dog breeds, especially labs, it is always said that a dog needs a purpose. Even if it is to only help you across the street, they need to know that they have a purpose in life and that they aren't some wild animal. The work that this girl does with these dogs gives them a purpose and makes them feel like they have a reason for a routine, just like us humans need!! Keep it up!

  • stephen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Take a prozac lady{heather}.I have 2 dogs from the pound,they are definately not show dogs but people who own show dogs certianly care for them.Some people would find negativity in solving world hunger! I ,like thousands of people ,support all types of animal charities.
    Its not always about exploitation.
    Grow up.

  • Keepin' It Real
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Way to go Heather! You're so right!

    Way to take an example of someone doing something positive for animals and putting a negative slant on it because it's not your kind of positive.

  • Telling it like
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Heather,

    I'm sorry but you're attempt to discredit a young girl is pathetic and shameless.

    This girl has found a loving hobby to help animals. Yet you, can't help yourself and cut her down??

    Okay, this girl is helping animals which come from loving homes.

    That makes her no efforts NO LESS NOBLE than as if she was helping disadvantaged animals.

    If you're so high and mighty, I think I hear a cat stuck a tree somewhere.

  • B
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Heather, this young lady has worked hard to get where she is! These dogs are loved and cared for and most show dogs enjoy it or they would not perform.
    This family trains dogs which in turn helps the dog become more social and therefore able to go more places with their owner. They also operate a doggy day care allowing dogs to be looked after during the day instead of being locked up while their owners are out. I believe they are providing a great service.
    You should not diminish the hard work, love and devotion that a dog and handler have because it does not suite your point of view. Look at the picture... does the dog look unhappy?... Does the young lady?

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I stand by my opinion that there is nothing positive in prancing a dog around a ring, and the $ put into these shows would be far better spent if it were invested into animal shelters. I'm sure any dog would prefer to run around a meadow or play fetch than to be ordered to trot around an arena.

  • Jacqueline
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    hi guys, thanks for the comments. I appreciate it.tha nationals was a great experience for me, I made new friends and learned a lot.

    Heather- I do support local shelters, I always give any food, treats and toys that we win at the shows to beagle paws, we also attend ALL the fundraisers, such as the pet expo, halloween dog partys, Walks and any other activities available! I would never show a dog that was not happy in the ring. As puppies I let them bounce run and have FUN!! when they are older they can still play around in the ring, as long as when they are asked to calm they do!! this summer, in PEI We had a show in the morning and then later in the afternoon, in between, we took the dogs to the beach!!! when we got back to the show they were covered in sand... But they were happy and tthey had fun!!!! I NEVER train a dog all the time... in fact I barely ever train with them every time the come I just play, throw a toy, give them treats. When I train for the shows I play with them, move their feet and throw the toy, look at their teath and throw a toy, I make it so that when they are in the ring, it's no big deal. I am ALL for supporting animal shelters and I do agree thats some show dog never have a chance to be dogs, but thats my goal is to change that, and encourage people to Have fun, let their dogs have a life!!!!!

    Thanks again to everyone for the luck and I hope to represent our province again next year!

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    What a wonderful story, good luck in your upcoming show. I too have a yellow lab and they are a wonderful breed.....typical lab in that picture, laid back and loving life. Congrats once again.

  • Jill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Good Luck Jacqueline! And thanks to the whole Pike clan for everything! If you can keep our two little malamute monsters in line you really can do anything! Win or lose you're the best!

  • mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Good Luck Jacqueline. It's wonderful to have young people so experienced and capable in the sport of dog showing. Win or lose it's still quite an accomplishment to go to the nationals.

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Too bad the effort is not put into helping homeless, abused animals. No animal should be used for 'sport' or for the amusement of humans.

  • Robert and Jen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    BEST OF LUCK Jacqueline!!!!!!!!!!! We know you will do well representing the province. Jacqueline handles our German Shepherd in shows and also has trained her for obedience. She works countless hours with the dog and because of it our dog was champion at the age of 13 months and is still doing well at the competitions. She also has started the obedience trials with Lexy ( our shepherd) and is doing well. Jacqueline and Lexy have a strong bond and love working with each other. Again BEST OF LUCK Jacqueline!!!!!!!!!!! We will be watching for updates.

  • Colin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    They dedicate their lives to teaching people about responsible dog ownership. You can stand by your opinion but what I KNOW is they keep dogs out of shelters.

    That is about as proactive as you can get.

    Dog shows may not be for everyone or every dog. If our dogs didn't enjoy it, we wouldn't put them in it. Actually, I think these girls are a big part of why they love it.

    I'll be honest, if you asked me a year ago about dog shows we wouldn't have much of an opinion at all but now the one thing I say with complete certainly is that everyone there has something in common. They love their dogs unconditionally and you will never, ever find one of them in a shelter.

    Also, our dogs are in the show ring maybe 8 days of the year. The other 357 they are playing fetch, among other activities.

  • Isabelle
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Heather ...if you are so concerned about the abuse of animals maybe will be reading an aritcle about you doing just that...helping in some way instead of judging. Just because it is not your cup of tea!!! By the way I own two cats and they amuse me everyday...they bring postive to my day and yes they can do tricks and are obedient. To the Pike family keep up the good work caring for your animals and others ... you have big hearts.

  • H
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    I have two dogs of my own, one who is an 11 month old lab mix. I think the wolrd of them but my pup has had to have training. I do not have the patience for it all of the time so therefore I had to pay $200 because he just refused to listen. These lessons helped him IMMENSELY and he is still a very happy and hyper pup but he knows some manners when it comes to biting your fingers and running away. This SAVED my dog from ending up in a shelter as I'm sure he would have ran away. I think these girls are AMAZING and to be so young and hold so much responsibility to just incredible. Not to mention that they have so many dogs, therefore saving them from shelters. To those critics, if you were to research the dog breeds, especially labs, it is always said that a dog needs a purpose. Even if it is to only help you across the street, they need to know that they have a purpose in life and that they aren't some wild animal. The work that this girl does with these dogs gives them a purpose and makes them feel like they have a reason for a routine, just like us humans need!! Keep it up!

  • stephen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Take a prozac lady{heather}.I have 2 dogs from the pound,they are definately not show dogs but people who own show dogs certianly care for them.Some people would find negativity in solving world hunger! I ,like thousands of people ,support all types of animal charities.
    Its not always about exploitation.
    Grow up.

  • Keepin' It Real
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Way to go Heather! You're so right!

    Way to take an example of someone doing something positive for animals and putting a negative slant on it because it's not your kind of positive.

  • Telling it like
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Heather,

    I'm sorry but you're attempt to discredit a young girl is pathetic and shameless.

    This girl has found a loving hobby to help animals. Yet you, can't help yourself and cut her down??

    Okay, this girl is helping animals which come from loving homes.

    That makes her no efforts NO LESS NOBLE than as if she was helping disadvantaged animals.

    If you're so high and mighty, I think I hear a cat stuck a tree somewhere.

  • B
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Heather, this young lady has worked hard to get where she is! These dogs are loved and cared for and most show dogs enjoy it or they would not perform.
    This family trains dogs which in turn helps the dog become more social and therefore able to go more places with their owner. They also operate a doggy day care allowing dogs to be looked after during the day instead of being locked up while their owners are out. I believe they are providing a great service.
    You should not diminish the hard work, love and devotion that a dog and handler have because it does not suite your point of view. Look at the picture... does the dog look unhappy?... Does the young lady?

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    I stand by my opinion that there is nothing positive in prancing a dog around a ring, and the $ put into these shows would be far better spent if it were invested into animal shelters. I'm sure any dog would prefer to run around a meadow or play fetch than to be ordered to trot around an arena.

  • Jacqueline
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    hi guys, thanks for the comments. I appreciate it.tha nationals was a great experience for me, I made new friends and learned a lot.

    Heather- I do support local shelters, I always give any food, treats and toys that we win at the shows to beagle paws, we also attend ALL the fundraisers, such as the pet expo, halloween dog partys, Walks and any other activities available! I would never show a dog that was not happy in the ring. As puppies I let them bounce run and have FUN!! when they are older they can still play around in the ring, as long as when they are asked to calm they do!! this summer, in PEI We had a show in the morning and then later in the afternoon, in between, we took the dogs to the beach!!! when we got back to the show they were covered in sand... But they were happy and tthey had fun!!!! I NEVER train a dog all the time... in fact I barely ever train with them every time the come I just play, throw a toy, give them treats. When I train for the shows I play with them, move their feet and throw the toy, look at their teath and throw a toy, I make it so that when they are in the ring, it's no big deal. I am ALL for supporting animal shelters and I do agree thats some show dog never have a chance to be dogs, but thats my goal is to change that, and encourage people to Have fun, let their dogs have a life!!!!!

    Thanks again to everyone for the luck and I hope to represent our province again next year!

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    What a wonderful story, good luck in your upcoming show. I too have a yellow lab and they are a wonderful breed.....typical lab in that picture, laid back and loving life. Congrats once again.

  • Jill
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Good Luck Jacqueline! And thanks to the whole Pike clan for everything! If you can keep our two little malamute monsters in line you really can do anything! Win or lose you're the best!

  • mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Good Luck Jacqueline. It's wonderful to have young people so experienced and capable in the sport of dog showing. Win or lose it's still quite an accomplishment to go to the nationals.