BITSY - The small dog with the big title

Trainer Mary Baker has accomplished what no one has done in MANY, MANY years by earning an OTCH Title in the obedience ring with her Shih Tzu, Itsy Bitsy Cookie Monster. OTCH stands for Obedience Trial Champion. Mary and Bitsy's story gives inspiration to us all.

Mary, who is currently living in Texas, became involved in obedience training in 1962. She has trained a multitude of breeds and put various titles from a CD to a UD on various dogs: Weimaraner, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Saluki, Bull Terrier, Golden Retriever, and a Greyhound

Bitsy came to Mary as 4-5 year old rescue dog in 1993. Although Mary has trained many dogs, she has found Bitsy to be the most intelligent dog she has ever trained. Though Bitsy can be both confident and cocky she has lost more than her share of "cute" points. However, in 2000 Bitsy racked up 30 UDX legs and 5 High Combined awards:

September 2, 2000
187 points
196.5 points
September 3, 2000
198 points
194 points
September 16, 2000
196.5 points
193 points
October 7, 2000
195 points
192 points
November 25, 2000
198.5 points
193 points

Bitsy finished her OTCH Title in Lubbock, Texas on February 24, 2001 with intense competition including a runoff for High in Trial with a Border Collie. Excited friends threw paper streamers into the ring, which Mary gathered up and draped over herself and Bitsy for their picture.

Mary and Bitsy's ride to the top has not been without difficulty, as Mary suffered a compressed disk in her back which left her with nerve damage in her right leg. She was forced to use a cane, go into physical therapy, and was told to do no lifting, bending or running. The timing could not be worse! With Bitsy as her motivation she worked hard at her physical therapy and was eventually able to enter the ring at the end of 1999 to earn her last UDX leg. Bitsy struggles with her own health issues, suffering from an advanced cataract in one eye and an occasional hitch in her rear. Because of these problems, Mary will not take Bitsy to the AKC Obedience Invitational. She does have hopes of taking her to the Shih Tzu National so that we all can see the pair work. This will be Bitsy's last show. Bitsy is now 12-13 years old and Mary is 68 years old, and their retirement is well earned.

One tip Mary passes on about training is to be consistently firm in all things- at home as well as in training. Mary feels that if Shih Tzu think they have an option they will certainly take advantage of it. It took much longer to get everything together with Bitsy because of her unusually small size. But once she was able to work through everything, she became VERY reliable. This is a good "bit(sy)" of information for all of us to remember as we train and interact with our dogs, even at home. For additional information on Bitsy and Mary see the third quarter 2000 Bulletin, "A Little Rescue Dog's Route to the AKC Obedience Invitational," pages 53-55.