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Antinol® Recognizes Donna Tippy

Antinol® is proud to recognize Donna Tippy.


Donna Tippy and pup - Photo by Brian Tippy hps

What is your rally background, and when and how did you get involved in the sport? 

Donna Tippy:  After raising our kids with a wonderful Golden Retriever, we chose not to have a dog while the kids were in college, and we got to travel. That “while” went for 20 years until our son, Brian, convinced us a dog would be good for us and he would take care of it if we traveled.  

In October of 2013, baby girl Summer came into our lives. She was supposed to be a hiking companion and family pet. I knew from Brian how important it was to go to puppy class, which we did faithfully for many months, going through all the family dog courses at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in New Jersey. Summer was a bright, eager-to-learn puppy, and our instructors suggested we try a rally class afterward to continue her training. I had no intention of competing; I didn’t even know what rally was. We just went to class, had fun, and learned all the “tricks” of rally.

When I first went to a local rally trial and saw what it was all about, I said, “Wow, we can do that!” So I built up my courage to enter our first trial in January 2015 when Summer was 1 year 5 months old and I was 65. She rocked Level 1, and I’m still not sure who had more fun, Summer or me! A simple sit-down or weave through cones was so exciting for me. I found it remarkably satisfying.  

As I wound down into retirement, I had this wonderful sport I could do with an amazing puppy. She was still my hiking buddy and family pet, but how enriched our relationship was through training and competing! Brian, who had pushed me and taught me to train SummeDonna Tippy and Summer - photo by BrianTippy500r properly, was so proud I had taken it to another level and gone on to compete with her in a sport we didn’t even know about.  

Summer and I were quite successful. Over the next 3½ years, we traveled from Maryland to Maine, happily earning her ARCHMX12, RL3X15, RL2X16, RL1X17. She ranked 3rd overall in the U.S. her first year competing and stayed in the top 10 for two more years until she got sick with Cushing’s Syndrome. We met many people and dogs who will be lifelong friends, despite Summer’s career ending all too soon at age 6.  

I was fortunate to have several instructors who not only showed me how to train, but explained the “why” of the method. Understanding the dog’s brain and having good timing made for a successful combination—so successful that I was able to take Brian’s dog, Comet, into the ring. Brian had trained sit/down/stay skills so well that despite seeing him a few times a year, I was able to get Comet his Level 1 title and Veterans title. 

Summer’s “little brother,” River, came into our lives five years ago and has continued in her path. He started rally at six months old and is currently working on his ARCHEX. Now, we also have little Journey, who has two legs in Intro and two legs in Level 1. Maybe we don’t compete as often, but I’m 73 with two dogs training and competing in rally and still get that “Wow, he/she did it” feeling at EVERY sign!  

Where do you live, and what do you do for a living? 

I live in Bridgton, Maine, and I have been retired for five years. I also make fancy cakes as a hobby and made a few rally cakes just for fun!  

What is the secret to your success in the sport?  

My biggest secret is learning that positive training is the best way to train. The bond developed between trainer and dog is so full of love and trust that anything is possible. 

Also, understanding that each dog is a bit different and learns in different ways. I love watching how friends with other breeds use many positive ways to train their dogs. I was lucky and picked Golden Retrievers, who make training easy, being so eager to learn and food driven.  

But the biggest thing to remember is that your dog is there because you chose this. Be kind and appreciate each little success. If you let the stress of needing a big score get in the way, neither you nor your dog will be happy. And why do any sport if you AND your dog aren’t happy? 

What advice do you have for someone just getting involved in rally? 

I believe rally is meant to be a fun game you can do with your dog to increase the bond you have. Work hard, train hard, strive for success, but don’t let perfection or desire for fancy ribbons get in the way. Enjoy each run—the good ones and the not so good ones. You learn from every run. It’s all good time spend with your dog developing a relationship.  

Brian, Donna and Glenn Tippy with their dogs - Photo by Brian Tippy 500

 

 

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