Dogs have been her lifelong hobby.
Diane Schultz, of Ormond Beach, opened an old photo album and pointed to a photo of a puppy.
“How could you not fall in love with that face?” she asked.
The Belgian Tervuren puppy in 1991 had a big effect on her life. She had been showing German shepherd dogs at dog shows since the 1970s, but with the new pup, she went on a journey that included a conformation championship, an obedience trial championship and advanced titles in tracking and herding.
Her passion for dogs and competition, as well as an affinity for “dog people” led to a lifelong hobby of dog training and dog shows which will soon attain new heights.
“Dogs don’t speak your language but you learn to communicate.”
DIANE SCHULTZ, dog trainer
Schultz will be the judge for the Masters Obedience Championship on Feb. 11, held in conjunction with the 143rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, February 11-12, in New York. Schultz will officiate over the top obedience dogs in the country during two rounds of daytime competition.
It was an unruly German shepherd that led Schultz into her hobby in the 1970s, when she took him for obedience training in Orlando. This is how most dog show people get started she said, when they decide to train their dogs to not jump on people, for example. She became more interested when she saw the more advanced work in obedience.
She started to attend dog shows and met a lot of like-minded people and started showing German shepherd dogs.
She travelled to shows as much as twice a month. One of the things she has enjoyed most is the camaraderie and friendships with other “dog people.”
Since her first Belgian Tervuren, she has owned six, including the current one, named Mollie.
JUDGING THE JUDGES
In 2005, she went to work for the American Kennel Club as a field rep for obedience, working about three weekends a month. She just got back from California, and she’s heading next to Hawaii.
“You judge the judges and make sure the clubs are following the policies,” she said.
She said people who watch the conformation trials on TV don’t realize how well-trained the dogs are, even though they are just running in a circle.
“Untrained dogs would be all over the place, especially with the other dogs,” she said.
Conformation involves how well the dogs conform to their breed, while obedience, not normally shown on TV, involves heeling, retrieving, sitting, etc. The obedience trial is a performance, and not just going through the commands, she said.
A PERMISSIVE SOCIETY?
In the 1980s, Schultz started the Obedience Club of Daytona, where she still trains.
Schultz said people should realize that training a dog is enjoyable for both the owner and the dog. They learn to communicate and develop a bond. Training was more popular when she started in the 1970s, she said, but society seems more permissive today and dogs are not asked to behave.
“Dogs don’t speak your language but you learn to communicate,” she said. “The dogs want boundaries and order. They need to know the pecking order. They love when people are clear in what they want.”
Obedience training should come first, she said. People try agility but don’t succeed because the dogs don’t obey the commands.