Crafty Canines Strut Their Stuff Olympics of Obedience Pits 82 Dogs, 40 Breeds

By Joan McKenna Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 15, 1995 | Go to article overview

Crafty Canines Strut Their Stuff Olympics of Obedience Pits 82 Dogs, 40 Breeds


Joan McKenna Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


LIKE all models, Star wants to prove she's more than a pretty face.

Sure, it's been glamorous posing for Anheuser-Busch ads and being the official mascot for the Spirale Shop at the St. Louis Galleria.

But does anyone respect her for her intelligence or athletic ability?

The 7-year-old Dalmatian is hoping to lose her lightweight image this weekend when she competes in the American Kennel Club's first National Invitational Obedience Championship in St. Louis.

It's the Olympics of obedience - 82 dogs representing 40 breeds will go head to head in everything from jumping obstacles to sniffing out scented objects.

The golden retrievers, border collies and Shetland sheepdogs are favored to win; they always clean up.

But the AKC wants all dog types to take part, so each breed's top obedience scorers in 1994 were invited, rather than the all-breed high-point winners.

Consequently, the field includes everything from Australian shepherds and Chinese Shar-Peis to Norwegian elkhounds and Hungarian Vizslas.

Star's not about to let anyone call her an underdog. She's beaten the odds before.

Born in a barn in Sullivan, she was plucked from the litter out of pity by St. Ann resident Jeannine Kerr, who owned the litter's father. Star was so hyperactive, Kerr said she figured the puppy would be put down if she didn't take her.

House training required six months - not exactly an auspicious start.

But to watch Star's intense spotted face hang on Kerr's every move and to see her sit, lie down or jump bars at a moment's notice is to know that this pooch has pushed herself to greatness.

Now, she's Champion Crossroads Wandering Star, with too many dog titles after her name to explain.

Kerr's own rise to trainer/handler at this level is a similar story. She bought a Dalmatian 27 years ago for her 3-year-old son and a few months later thought the puppy needed to learn some manners.

"All I wanted was a dog that would walk with us," she said recently at the Judy Strickland Dog Training Club in Kirkwood, where she now teaches 25 classes a week.

Kerr has the distinction of having two dogs qualify for the obedience championship. Her husband's pet Shar-Pei, Magic, 7, also is entered, although she's been limping and may not be able to compete.

The event is Saturday and Sunday at the Kennedy Recreation Complex, 6050 Wells Road, in South County.

St. Louis was chosen as the site for several reasons, according to Nancy Matlock, the AKC's local spokeswoman and training director at Kennelwood Village in Chesterfield. …

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