Meet Joanne Bockhorn
Like so many others, Joanne Bockhorn came to dogs via the horse world. When she was a teenager, she worked at a stable that decided they had “too many dogs.” One of the pooches they marked for death was Spooky, an older Puli. Joanne talked her mother into letting her bring Spooky home.
“She was a good dog,” Joanne recalls. “She had some fear of loud noises,” but Spooky was a great companion. Joanne took her to obedience class, and a spark was lit.
It took a while before that spark grew into a serious interest in obedience. Joanne had a German Shepherd Dog whom she trained to a CD title, and she taught obedience in the park when she and her husband Jeff lived in Grinnell, Iowa. But they were moving frequently for work, and they never seemed to find themselves in a place with an obedience community.
That changed when they moved to Edwardsville and Joanne and Jeff opened a scuba shop. The family was without a dog at that point, and Joanne wanted a pooch who could hang out at the shop, interact with customers, and generally be an ambassador for the business.
That sounded to Joanne like a Golden Retriever. And so, quite by accident, Joanne, who had longed to get serious about obedience but never had the opportunity, fell into the perfect obedience breed. She acquired Skipper, who was exactly what Joanne wanted – “a big, friendly dog” for the dive shop.
“I like sharing the knowledge I have, and I love helping people find success with their dogs.”
After Skipper came Nike (Nike Always on the Move UDX3 OM4 VER OA OAJ). Now actively searching for a trainer, Joanne was referred to Jeannine Kerr and Dog Sports at Kim’s. Joanne and Nike began obedience training with Jeannine, then eventually started working with Kim Berkley in both obedience and agility.
Tragically, Nike’s career was cut short by cancer, but he left behind a rich legacy. When Joanne felt ready to try again with a new Golden, she looked for a breeder with a strong track record in dog sports. That’s how Vega (OTCH MACH2 Highroller Summer Triangle UDX7 OGM VER RE MH MXS MJS THD TKP SCN) came into her life.
Vega has truly been an all-star. After he earned his OTCH (Obedience Trial Championship) and his first MACH (Master Agility Championship), Joanne turned their focus toward hunting, a highly rigorous pursuit. Vega succeeded in earning his Master Hunter title, where the pass rate is below 50 percent. It’s the most challenging of all dog endeavors, Joanne believes.
Vega’s accomplishments are particularly impressive for such a
young dog. He competed in his first AKC Agility National last year, and has qualified twice for AKC's National Obedience Championship by placing in the top 10 percent of all Goldens nationwide. He's also been invited to all three Westminster Master Obedience competitions. Joanne, Jeff, and Vega journeyed to New York City in 2015 for the inaugural Westminster obedience competition, where Vega just missed making the cut for the finals.
At Westminster, Vega thrilled the audience with his obedience work in the ring, then charmed them afterward with his impressive array of tricks.
The aptitude Vega showed for tricks, and his perfect delight in performing them, led Joanne and Vega seamlessly to his next field of endeavor. AKC announced a series of tricks titles, and Joanne believed Vega was born to help teach these skills to other dogs. DSK soon began offering its first-ever tricks classes, and the response was more than gratifying. Joanne and her friend Patty Schneiderjohn now teach three separate tricks classes.
Vega has won numerous High in Trial and High Combined honors in obedience. He’s excelled at everything he’s tried, and the bond he and Joanne share is unbreakable. He combines the very best of both things Joanne always wanted – a big, lovable dog and an obedience partner extraordinaire.