Meet Jeannine Kerr
Jeannine Kerr launched her obedience-training career for the simplest of reasons: “I had an out-of-control dog,” she says – a Dalmatian named Black Pebbles Pride.
Jeannine had had dogs before; in fact, she’d been around all kinds of animals since she was little. Jeannine was allowed to ride horses from Rocky Ridge Ranch who were staying at her grandparents’ country home for rest or rehabilitation. She also mingled freely with the dogs who were assigned to guard the resident chickens from predators.
“I learned a lot about dog behavior” in those days, Jeannine notes. She watched the dogs interact with each other and with chickens, coyotes, and “little critters.” That experience and insight were laying the groundwork for her career, though of course she didn’t know it at the time.
The first time Jeannine came face to face with a problem dog, though, was when Black Pebbles Pride arrived. Pebbles came along at a time when Jeannine could least afford to have an unruly canine, when she had started a family and had two young children. Pebbles had learned “kid tricks” – sit up, lie down, roll over, bow, and jump through a hula hoop – and would perform all these tricks for a treat. But in the process, she would jump on the children and knock them down.
To solve this family problem, Jeannine signed up for an obedience class, and by the end of the twelve-week course, Pebbles was the top dog in the class. Pebbles went on to earn her CD, CDX, and UD titles in short order – becoming Black Pebbles Pride UD – and for ten years was a terrific family companion as well.
New dogs, new directions
Though Jeannine never intended to pursue a career training dogs, events conspired to push her in that direction. As Pebbles neared the end, having lived a long, full life, Jeannine started thinking about getting another Dalmatian. That next dog turned out to be Spec (CH Centurion Special Edition UD TT), who would serve as the foundation bitch for Jeannine’s successful Dalmatian breeding program.
Jeannine’s Pug, Willow, placed fourth in the Toy group at the highly competitive 2015 AKC National Obedience Championship. A year later, at the 2016 NOC, her sister Tease finished fifth in the Non-Sporting group.
By this time, Jeannine was long past taking classes and instead was teaching them herself. She started as an instructor at North St. Louis County Obedience Training Club and later at Kennelwood. In time, she added evening classes at Ritenour High School, signed on as a trainer at Judy Strickland’s dog training school in Kirkwood, and began offering classes through the Dalmatian Club. Jeannine began teaching at Dog Sports at Kim’s almost immediately after the facility opened in 2006.
Jeannine’s Pug, Willow (OTCH MACH3 PACH4 Austins Willow of Watersedge UDX11 OM7 RA MXG MJC MXP10 MXPC MJP11 MJPC PAX4), is only the second Pug in AKC history to earn the OTCH title. In fact, Jeannine has trained three of her dogs to an OTCH, despite owning breeds – Dalmatians, Pugs, and a Chinese Shar-Pei – that are often described as difficult.
Though Jeannine had never been involved in AKC agility as either a trainer or a participant, when Willow finished her OTCH in January 2009, Jeannine realized they needed a new challenge. At Kim’s urging, Jeannine and Willow started training in agility, where Willow again turned out to be a natural. Willow blazed past the lower titles like a low-slung whirlwind, then started piling up the MACHs and PACHs with her smooth, efficient performance.
Jeannine’s seven-year-old Dalmatian, Tease (Woodwynd’s High Tea at Crossroads), also excels in both obedience and agility. Tease finished fifth among Non-Sporting dogs at the highly competitive 2016 AKC National Obedience Championship. Tease continues to rack up points toward her OTCH and is rapidly closing in on her first MACH.
When physical challenges finally forced Jeannine off the agility course, her friend Carolyn Johnson ably stepped in to pilot Willow and Tease in agility competitions. Carolyn’s excellent agility handling of both dogs rests on the strong bond she’s forged with them. Willow and Tease love Carolyn and are grateful to her, as without her they wouldn’t be running agility today.
Rounding out the group is Babe (CH Woodwynd Hot Six at Crossroads), a young Dalmatian who’s slated to start competing in obedience in spring 2017.
Although Jeannine didn’t plan a career in dogs, the career that found her has been fulfilling. “It’s very gratifying to see my students do well in the ring,” Jeannine says. “I’m always proud of my students.”
Jeannine’s canine crew
CH OTCH Crossroads Wandering Star UDX3
CH Centurion Special Edition UD TT
CH Crossroads Corker CDX
Crossroads Knock 'M Out Cindy UD
CH Crossroads Major Motion CD
OTCH Gaelic Crossroads of Mt. Bryton UDX3 RA
Wedgewood Ligier CDX RA
Chan Yu’s Magic Crossroads UDX2
OTCH MACH3 PACH4 Austins Willow of Watersedge UDX11 OM7 RA MXG MJC MXP10 MXPC MJP11 MJPC PAX4
Woodwynd’s High Tea at Crossroads UDX3 OM4 MX MXB MXJ MJB
CH Woodwynd Hot Six at Crossroads