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Greenfield veterinarian takes dog to obedience show

  • Dr. Sheila Morrissey competes in Rally Obedience competitions with her dog Shiya. June 25, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Dr. Sheila Morrissey competes in Rally Obedience competitions with her dog Shiya. June 25, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Dr. Sheila Morrissey competes in Rally Obedience competitions with her dog Shiya. June 25, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

NORTHFIELD — Shiya isn’t looking to be just a good dog. She’s looking to be the best.

Local veterinarian Dr. Sheila Morrissey and her 7-year-old Siberian Husky Shiya are looking to be crowned the next national champion of the American Kennel Club’s Rally Competition in Wilmington, Ohio on June 29. The competition, which started in 2005, tests the bonds between owners and their dogs as they navigate a course while completing acts of obedience and agility.

Shiya will be competing against 80 other dogs and their owners in the advanced level, which is one of five categories. The levels, in order of difficulty, are novice, intermediate, advanced, excellent and masters, according to Morrissey.

The competition includes between 10 and 20 commands that dogs must follow, which are marked with signs. The owner and dog will walk through the course, completing the tasks, which Morrissey said include traditional commands like “sit” or “stay” and more complex ones like 360-degree turns and rotations around owners.

Scores are based off a 100-point system. As tasks are completed, points may be deducted but are not added, Morrissey said. The event is timed, though this is used only as a tiebreaker.

In order to qualify, Shiya had to score 93 or more in at least three competitions in a qualifying period of Nov.1, 2016 and Dec. 1, 2017. The competitions can be any American Kennel Club Rally event, such as the annual Pioneer Valley Kennel Club Show held in Franklin County.

Morrissey said no cash prize is given for her competition, only “bragging rights.”

Morrissey said this is Shiya’s fourth year competing and that Rally is in the dog’s blood. Morrissey has competed previously with Shiya’s grandmother. She has competed with other Siberian huskies, of which she currently has nine — seven adults and two puppies — several of which also compete.

According to Morrissey, Shiya knows about 30 commands. She said her dogs typically take about two years of training before they are ready for competition.

But the breed isn’t a common one in the competition, she said, due to the dog’s history as a sled dog.

“Because they’re bred to run, if you let them off-leash they will run,” she said.

You can reach Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257