I can’t imagine a life without animals in it. Ever since I was little there has been dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and many other creatures around. When I was eight I discovered the beauty and joy of horses at the summer camp I attended. By the time I was fourteen I had one of my own and helped train numerous horses that came onto the boarding ranch. I competed in horse shows riding mostly western style in equitation, pleasure, showmanship, stock horse and trail.
Received numerous trophies, ribbons and twice won the high point year-end silver belt buckle. When I got older I trained horses and gave riding lessons as a business. There is nothing more satisfying than to take a horse that is untrained and see it blossom before you, learning all sorts of signals and exercises. I marvel every time I ride one of my horses down a busy street and off into the hills on a trail ride at what we accomplished together.
Around the same time that I discovered horses I took an interest in dogs and dog obedience. Not having one of my own due to an unfenced yard but instead having numerous cats, I borrowed one of my best friends dogs and we both took obedience classes in the park. My first dog as an adult was a beautiful rough coated sable and white collie named Autumn Coally. He was so sweet and a pleasure to have around as he did no wrong. Things changed three years later when we got Blue Sydney, an eight-week-old blue merle Australian Shepherd. He was so high energy and would destroy anything left in the yard. Back then there was no such thing as crate training so when I left for work I never knew what my home would look like when I returned. One day while on a walk I was training Sydney to heel and sit and I had Autumn loose walking behind us. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw Autumn perform what I was asking of Sydney. He would sit so nicely when I halted then move forward when I said heel. They were best friends and loved to go on trail rides with my horses. It was every girls dream
In the summer of ’96 I met a women. Linda Lamon, who was involved in Aussie rescue. Having just lost Sydney after 13 years I decided to be a foster person for ARPH, Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline. I knew it would be hard to have a dog for a time then have to turn them over to someone else but it would be similar to training a horse only to give them back to the owner. I had to think about the pleasure the new owner would get from my kindness and training.
I got several cute Aussies that I helped to rehabilitate and then there was Teddy Bear. He was an owner turn in to ARPH due to the fact that the husband was abusing the wife and dog and she was going into a women’s shelter. Teddy was a mess. They never took him for walks as he was dog aggressive, in the car he got carsick and he was deathly afraid of men. This poor dog would have terrible nightmares that made him jump up and lash out at nothing. Little by little I won over his heart, was able to take him for walks, car rides and even enrolled in competition obedience classes. One and a half years later we entered obedience trials earning his AKC & ASCA CDX with great scores. There was nothing Teddy wouldn’t do for me as I saved him from a horrible situation. Sadly he developed lymphoma and only lived to age six but his last years were happy and he experienced so much joy.
OJAI PACEY CASEY
CGC STDs STDd OTDd HSAs RLF1s
RLF11s HTAD1s HRD1s HRD11s
One week after his passing Linda & I got a call to remove five Aussies from a breeder in Ojai. That is where Pacey Casey came into my life. Not really wanting another dog just yet as I was still very sad, I knew this would be another turn around case. Ha, ha who was I kidding? Casey also was un-socialized, afraid of men, abused and neglected but what a gentle soul he turned out to be. That first day this handsome black bi paced around his dog run, hence the name Pacey, with a plastic water bottle in his mouth. This would either be an obsession or a great toy drive behavior. We took him to Linda’s grooming tub at her pet store and gave him a bath. He was scared but allowed us to clean him up. Upon arriving in my home I have a basket full of dog toys that he, one by one, moved to an area rug and laid down with a big grin. To this day he is usually seen with something in his mouth and loves to play fetch.
It was about a month before someone said they wanted to adopt him. I explained that owning a rescue dog is different and great care should be taken to bond with them. I informed them to keep him on leash in the house so that he was always nearby. A few days later I got a call from the new owner that Casey wouldn’t come out of the back of the one-acre yard. Being August and extremely hot they were afraid he would over heat. I asked why he wasn’t on leash in the house and this was their reply. “Well he’s going to be an outside dog so he might as well get use to it now” I immediately went over, called his name, he came bounding out of the back yard, grabbed a toy and was so joyous to see me that I vowed to never give him away again. Casey is an old soul, a joy to have around and like Autumn he never does anything wrong. Scout helped him get out of his shell and soon he would seek a pet from any passerby. Although not obedience competition material, he is the most obedient dog around and did earn his Canine Good Citizen Title. I have however enrolled him in herding lessons, which he really has a knack for and came in second in our very first herding trial!
I continued to train and trial in herding and when I retired him at 12 years old, he had obtained 9 stock titles with a half a dozen Q’s towards other stock titles. In 2008 he earned 4th place at the Aussie Nationals in Open Ducks, a very proud moment for me. Several large ranch courses we had to move up to 65 sheep and he did it, wanting to please. He was not the sharpest pencil but his gentle nature was more than enough to call a partner. Sadly on June 3, 2014, at just over 15 years, he passed away and will be missed by many. He had a wonderful life and he gave back so much love in return. Now you are running again like the good ole days with all the toys in heaven. Have a good time dear Casey, will miss ya…
Mockingbird’s Lil Scout CGC AKC/ASCA UD VER1 RAE RNX RAX REX JS-O-OP RS-E-SP JS-E-OP GV-E NCC EAC O-EJC O-OJC O-TN-E WV-O TG-N HP-O
And then there was Scout. Not long after getting Casey I got a call from the animal control officer at the Camarillo Shelter saying there was an eight-week-old Aussie puppy that was found roaming the streets of Moorpark. I grabbed a friend and went down to see what this pup looked like. Since Aussies come in many different sizes, shapes and colors I wasn’t sure what we would find.
There in the kennel was this tiny black tri pup, which at the sight of any person would wiggle her butt so fast. She was a keeper. I named her after my favorite book and movie, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Mockingbird’s Lil Scout and she is true to her namesake. Scout has the best personality of any dog I have ever been around. She loves people so much, still wiggles for any stranger but especially for her best human friends. She is so smart, too smart at times, can almost speak English but has a mischievous side to her that I admire. I compete in agility, obedience and rally with her and have excelled in all of them. To date she has earned 70 titles in the 3 venues, RAE, AKC and ASCA UD’s, AKC MACH, numerous perfect scores, High in Trials and 1st place wins. At 13½ I retired her from agility and was thrilled that she could still compete for that length of time. She is my best friend and we have so much fun together.
My love for animals extends beyond dogs, horses and cats. In 2000 I was able to travel to east Africa to Kenya for a photo safari with a small group of six people. It was amazing being out on the African plains amongst lions, cheetahs, zebras, hippos, and the like. I took over 800 photos, stayed in 5 star hotels as well as tents on a camel safari and up in a tree top hotel.
Our guide was a man who changed the way wild animals were trained for film using gentle persuasion. He lived in Africa as well as in California so we were able to receive special treatment when plans had to be changed due to ill weather. This was a trip I will never forget and hope to return to Africa one day.
In 2005 I needed a new vocation and decided to take over the C & G dog training equipment business from George Giswein and also become a professional dog trainer. One of the clubs I am a member of, Valley Hills Obedience Club in the San Fernando Valley, was in need of a replacement trainer for their Tuesday night beginning pet obedience class. I recruited another member, Walt Hanlon, to join me and we have built up a great reputation for a fun informative class.
I also started teaching rally classes on two nights for VHOC with another member, Sarah Sykes. Rally is a new AKC titling sport and so much fun to perform and teach. In April of 2006 I decided to hold monthly rally and obedience run thru matches at a local park. Each month more and more people join in and it is a great success. I have expanded my classes to Ventura, Calif. offering two rally and two attention & distraction classes. The dog training equipment business is growing and growing and I now have several people working for me. I am on the board for VHOC along with The Australian Shepherd Club of Southern California as Obedience Trial Chairperson. Have held these jobs since 1999 along with numerous other duties and club positions. I am the club representative for the S. Calif. Dog Obedience Council and a member of the APDT, Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Like I said at the start I can’t imagine life without animals and nature in general. My home is surrounded by wildlife of all kinds, hawks, owls, raccoons, coyotes, skunks and opossums. I enjoy sitting out on my patio observing the sights and sounds of nature.
I find peace amongst animals, watching the sunset or counting the stars in the sky. Because of this respect of nature I feel I have a special gift and relationships with them. I have a calmness that comforts animals and they tent to gravitate towards my presence. Hopefully I will be able to continue a career with these special creatures of nature. ~ It beats a 9 to 5 job any day! ~
P.S. It took me 2 years to research a breeder to get the potential MVA, Most Versatile Aussie puppy I desired. The first kennel I looked at became the one I chose after 12 possible litters because of their caring for an Aussie who can do performance in stock, agility, obedience and rally as well as good conformation. StarN Australian Shepherds with Stephanie Shope-McDaniels gave me a wonderful little girl, StarN Ewe Meant To Intervene, aka Scusi, born on Feb 24, 2012 and came by plane on April 26 from New Mexico. Another black tri who is as smart as Miss Scoutie and just as much fun. She is bold, independent but wants to be with people and other dogs, cuddles in bed, learns quickly and a good house guest. Well except for raiding the trash cans for paper and plastic. I have great things planned for her and we are having fun in the process. She already knows all the obedience exercises from novice to utility, see YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq6jXdFALN4, is taking herding lessons, shows a natural talent there and started agility class, which she loves as well. Right now our training is very light and playful but as she matures will ask for more precision. She is also learning various tricks like her big sister Scout knows. At 2 years old it was time to try her in trials. We entered a few stock trials and achieved her AKC Herding Test title HT, her Pre Trial title PT and her AHBA Junior Herding Dog title JHD, all with grand comments from the judges. Entered AKC and ASCA Rally trials and have achieved the Novice, Advanced and Excellent X titles with 6 perfect scores and most others not under 99/198. Entered in NADAC and ASCA agility and so far achieved 9 titles with great runs and high placements, almost finishing all the novice classes offered. In November we went to the ASCA Nationals and tried our hand in the MVA, Most Versatile Aussie competition. Here she competed in Started Sheep Herding and got a Q, 1st leg, Novice B Obedience 1st place, 1st leg, 6 Novice Agility classes with 3-1st places and 1-2nd place, Rally Excellent 1st place and her REX title, and a Conformation Evaluation with above average scores. All these achievements, Q’s in 8 out of the 10 classes, made it possible to qualify for MVA, which is a grueling task but fun to attempt. It is so much fun to have a dog that can do it all. Then at the end of the year she achieved the AKC Beginning Novice Obedience class title with a 199, 199 & 197. She is off to a wonderful start with 23 titles so far, and hope it continues throughout her career. Stay tuned to her next accomplishments, the Open levels in all venues… I love this puppy! Check out my YouTube account for all her activities at YouTube laurieburnam.