Born: 16th May 2002 to 9th April 2013
Brenilly Diamond Dog
ADM10 ADO7 JDM 10 JDO9 SDM GDM SPDM
SIRE: TOPNOTCH COMIC COURT RRD
(S: Brenilly Rodriguez x D: Boldpoints Mercury)
DAM: BRENILLY ZIGGY STARDUST
(Ch Edelho Silas (imp UK in dam) x Brenilly Unique)
How do you describe Sparkle? She was a character. But where do you start to explain?
I guess we should start when I picked her out of her litter. There were 3 black and white puppies to choose from. But Sparkle was undoubtedly the best looking. She just stood out from the others – her beautiful gait, her striking markings and her gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer head. But that is not why I chose her. I spent a whole weekend with the pups considering their temperament. But one incident made me choose her.
I had thrown a squeaky toy on the ground and she pounced on it. It squeaked and scared the bejeezers out of her. She bolted behind a cupboard. Her breeders looked at me – disappointed because they assumed I would not want a puppy that seemed so fearful but I just stood back and watched how she recovered. Five seconds later she stuck her nose out from behind that cupboard and looked at the toy. She then carefully walked back up to it and carefully put her foot on the toy (too softly to make it squeak this time). She then investigated it more closely and after another 2 minutes we were having a wonderful little game with it. I just loved her resiliency. It is fine for something to startle a pup, but what I loved was how it did not actually frighten her. It just made her investigate a little more carefully. I loved her curiosity.
Even as a puppy she was a very social dog. That is when she earned the name of “Social butterfly”. At eight weeks of age she made friends with all dogs, including dogs that were “sworn puppy haters”. She thought it her duty to be every dog’s friend, and if a big dog gave her the cold shoulder, or growled at her she would turn her head away, and continue to sidle up to them until she was sitting beside them. Her doggy body language was beautiful. I cannot remember how many people said to me “I don’t believe that, my dog always bites puppies!” We were careful, of course. We watched closely but did not have to rescue her. She weedled her way into everyone’s heart – canine and human.
She was an escape artist and a thief! If food was involved she was there. As a 9 month old she was found on top of our very tall refrigerator because we had some treats up there. A while later she ended up in hospital on a drip because somehow she had managed to steal a bottle of Nurofen from a cupboard no ordinary dog would have been able to get into. She was ingenious and motivated . . . by food.
She was not a speedster in agility, but she was quick enough, and oh so reliable. There are so many people who would have fond memories of Spark. She was a faithless hound – one piece of cheese and she was anybody’s. She proved that so many times by going clear on an agility course for so many different handlers: experienced, novice and especially for the kids. At one Canberra Royal where they hold a child handlers class, Sparkle was handled by a kid who had never even seen agility before. He won! Just stayed with him (“He might give me some cheese”) and jumped any jumps he vaguely pointed at. I guess he had an unfair advantage over the other competitors, because he had Sparky.
I was reminded of one particular run with Sparkle. Keith and I had travelled up to compete at the Darwin Royal show, and were hoping to really impress the locals. Sparkle did a beautiful agility run . . . with one refusal. She had taken a detour to check out a Dagwood Dog being consumed by a child beside the ring. She nearly got it too!
As I said, Sparky was no speedster but she was just quick enough. She gained her agility championship when you still needed 1st placings to achieve this. And she represented NSW in two National teams events. We won the team challenge both times. It seems fitting that her last ever agility run was to keep NSW in the lead to win the National Team Challenge last year. It was the jumping run; we were the last dog to run and we needed to pretty much go clear. The other team had just 5 faults and some pretty quick times. She ran beautifully – I guess I had some adrenalin running. It was so much fun to compete in that indoor horse arena. Although it was not a lightening quick run, she felt like she was on a piece of cobweb. One of those runs you felt that mental telepathy exists. But it was a very quick time set and true to form, Spark did what was required with minimal effort – we had about 4.5 time faults – she did what was required with just half a second to spare. No more effort than was actually needed, but just quick enough. Her second last run, was that morning on National television – I confessed to the nation that she worked for her “sometimes treat”, you guessed it – cheese.
Sparkle has given a lot of people a lot of pleasure. Many have run her on the agility field and gained clear rounds with her. But also her pups have gone on to give a lot of people pleasure.
At home Sparkle was very tolerant of her kids. Mind you, they also tolerated their mother’s attention, cleaning their faces after dinner. No mother ever kept her adult kids so clean. But we often miscounted the dogs of an evening, when we were checking they were all inside before we closed the back door. Sporty, her solid black son, would be curled up in the black leather armchair. But when you looked closely, there were two noses. He had plonked himself down right over his mother and she put up with it!
Some of the people reading this do not understand the bond between a human and their family pet. But consider this. As agility trainers we have not just had these dogs around us as pets. We have spent hours every week educating them, spending time with them, communicating with them, and competing with them. In competition, in one of those magic runs when time seems to stop, we feel as though we are communicating with our dogs by mental telepathy. I don’t have kids so I cannot compare, but the bond I have with my agility dogs is as close as I have had with any humans.
11th April was a god-awful day. We had reported Sparkle as missing, she had disappeared 2 days before. We had seen her and some of our other dogs swimming after a duck on the dam. I had called a couple of the dogs away and put them back in the home yard, knowing that Sparkle would be too fixated on that duck to hear me call her. Terri was also up there and too excited to listen. I finished loading my wheelbarrow then went back to the dam to find just Terri, still swimming around, but no duck and no Sparkle. I assumed that Spark had jumped the fence in pursuit of the duck (as only she can) and started calling her. She usually came back after an hour, after she had eaten her fill of horse feed or scraps for the chickens she found when she visited the neighbours. But somehow this was different from the other times. I was worried.
We spent two days searching, walking the streets, dropping flyers in letter boxes, and just calling her. But no Sparkle. We also searched in the small area of scrub in the back of our place, and I do not know how many times I scanned the dam. We must now sadly report that we found her body on the morning of 11th April, having floated to the surface of the dam on our property. We don’t know exactly what happened. Perhaps a snake bit her before she went in swimming (she was a known snake killer); she may have been caught in some weed, or perhaps Terri landed on top of her with one of her flying leaps into the water, forcing Spark under. We just do not know. What I do know is that writing about her helps my grieving process, so I glad I have been able to tell you what a wonderful dog she was.
Farewell my beautiful Sparkle. Many will remember her, and her incredible jumping style with an ability to clear spread jumps from ridiculous angles and early take-offs. I will probably best remember her cuddling style – sitting on my lap with her shoulder pushing on my nose and face, so I had to pay attention to her, rather than being able to watch the TV. I may not miss her barking, her ability to escape from any yard or crate, and her ability to find the smallest crumb of food to steal, but I miss her genuine sense of fun and everything else about her. Actually, I think I miss those naughty habits of hers too.