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Copyright Laurie Mann

Music: Stay (Jackson Browne)
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We are sad to report that Amy (Normandy's Amelia E, CDX, CD (Am), CGC) passed away on January 6, 2007,
On April 24, 2007 Amy was joined at the Rainbow Bridge by her friend and companion Bichon, Mandy (Ch.Normandy's VIP of Crystalpines, CDX (Can/Am), CGC. Both girls were just short of their 15th birthdays and accomplished so very much in their lifetimes and for the Bichon Frise breed!

Click here for our Tribute to Amy and Mandy

Paw Bar

Featuring DARYL NOVAK and his Bichons
Ch. Normandy's VIP of Crystalpines, CDX (Can/Am), CGC
Normandy's Amelia E, CDX, CD (Am), CGC

Copyright Daryl Novak
Daryl and Mandy

Bichons and Obedience

by Daryl Novak
March 2006

Many small breed owners look for pets or to participate in Conformation activities.  Generally, it is less usual to see small breeds participating in obedience work... but it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be that way.

First, let me make a distinction.  There is what I would refer to as Informal Basic Obedience, which essentially helps any owner have a well behaved pet.  Secondly there is Formal Obedience in which the dog and owner learn prescribed and detailed exercises which must be performed in front of judges in order to earn titles. (In this case the owner is referred to as the handler and together the dog and handler are referred to as a team.)

Many small dog owners don’t feel the need to work even on Informal Basic Obedience.  What does it matter if your dog pulls when he is walked, if you are strong enough to hold him back?  And what if he growls at every dog he meets, you can always pick him up before he gets hurt.  Too bad though, that he never learned the “drop” or “stay” command when your head was turned and you saw him dart out of the park and head for the busy roadway.

The goal of Informal Basic Obedience is to help you have a well behaved, well mannered pet that you can trust in all situations.  This means that you and your pet can go more places together, without fear or embarrassment.  An experienced handler can train on his or her own, but even the most experienced will often join  local obedience classes (look in the Yellow Pages or the Dogs in Canada magazine).  The main reason is that for so much of obedience to be successful, you and your dog need to work with other dogs in close proximity.  A dog who will come when called in your basement, but not when interested in another dog in the park is not really an obedient dog.  Whichever way you do it, besides having a dog you can trust to be well mannered and well behaved, you will be amazed at how much working together enhances the bond between you and your best friend.

There are a whole host of organized activities that you and your Bichon can participate in.  While not every breed will excel or even be capable of every sport, most can participate in most activities.  For example, trying a Bichon at sheep herding is a guarantee for disappointment, and lure coursing probably won’t work, but Bichons have been known to excel at pulling carts.  More popular sports include fly-ball and agility, the latter of which is well described by Karen Moore in another section of this web site.

Mandy and I, then later Amy, and I chose Formal Obedience.  The exercises, rules, titles, etc. are set by the Canadian Kennel Club in Canada, the American Kennel Club in the United States, and so on.  So far, only registered purebred dogs can compete, and dogs can be registered in more than one country (as all our Conformation readers know).  So it is not unusual for a dog to have competed and earned titles in Canada, the US, Bermuda, and sometimes through the United Kennel Club, another award granting organization in the US.

Dr. Stanley Coren, in his book "The Intelligence of Dogs" rates Bichons about in the middle, with Border Collies having the greatest ability and willingness to learn, and  Afghan Hounds at the other end of the spectrum.  So, when we started formal obedience work, it was with a bit of trepidation, being surrounded by Border Collies, Shelties, Labs, Poodles and the like, mostly very bright and considerably larger breeds.  The key really was love, positive reinforcement, and lots of patience.

Mandy was able to earn the first two of what was then three levels of titles (rules and levels have changed somewhat over the last few years) in Canada and again in the U.S.  When Amy arrived on the scene at almost five years of age, I was determined to prove that Mandy and her abilities was not a fluke.  Amy went on to earn the first two levels in Canada, and the first level in the U.S.  Both also earned their Canine Good Citizen awards, completing a series of less formal and exacting tests than in Formal Obedience.

Each August the Canadian Kennel Club publishes a list of the top five obedience dogs in each breed.  Amy and Mandy were not alone in this list.  There have been other Bichons over the years who have done extremely well, and I have met some amazing handlers who have worked harder with their Bichons and achieved more than we have.  But sadly, these people and dogs are exceptions (besides being exceptional).  Often there are fewer than five Bichons listed in Dogs in Canada, sometimes none.

So, remember, Any Bichon Can, and think about giving Obedience a try.  Your dog will thank you for it, and you will have a great time and learn amazing things!

Written for Bichons Across Canada by Daryl Novak. Copyright 2006 Daryl Novak, All Rights Reserved


What They Accomplished:

Ch. Normandy's VIP of Crystalpines, CDX (Can/Am), CGC
(CDX=Companion Dog Excellent, CGC=Canine Good Citizen)
Mandy was Top Obedience Bichon Frise in Canada for 4 years in a row 
from 1996 to 1999 inclusive

Normandy's Amelia E, CDX, CD (Am), CGC
(CDX=Companion Dog Excellent, CD=Companion Dog, CGC=Canine Good Citizen)


Above: Mandy (left) and Amy (right)
Below: Amy & Mandy with Santa (HO! HO! HO!)

Amy and Mandy with Santa - HO! HO! HO!



Paw Bar

Have a look at the following link:

 Obedience Trials Rules and Regulations

Phaedo's Misty Dreams, CDX - photo submitted by Carole Mineault - Click here to visit Carole's page

Phaedo's Misty Dreams,CDX (above) (Velvet's Jolly Goodfella x Cdn.Ch.Kishu of Fantasia)
was the first female Bichon in Canada to earn a CDX
"Misty" was bred by Janet DeVevenne, of Rothesay, N.B.
and owned by Carole Mineault.
(photo courtesy of Carole Mineault)

one half of the puzzle

The above photo of Amy and Mandy is only one half of a photograph.
The other half is on this website.  Can you fnd it?



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