Published January 25, 1962
She weighs approximately eighty pounds, has light-brown hair, and goes by the name of “Nassau’s Bay Swampgrass Penny.”
Penny is an avid water sports aficionade: in winter she will break the ice covering her swimming area. In summer she ahs been known to “retrieve” swimmers-the homo sapiens type.
This charming bundle of canine femininity forms part of the family circle of the Al Dunhams of College Place. And largely due to Penny, “canine obedience training” has become the avocation of Al, a second-year industrial education major, and his family.
It all began in the fall of 1958. Al Dunham, then a Navy chief warrant officer leaving Seattle for Little America, Antarctica, bought a Chesapeake Bay retriever pup for his wife.
Penny, the pup, became Penny, the dog—a large dog. And large dogs must be trained. Soon Penny graduated from obedience school with the valedictorian title of “highest in her class.”
At the American Kennel Club show in Richland she took the “highest-scoring dog in obedience” award. Holding the AKC rating of a “company dog,” Penny awaits graduation to a “companion dog excellent,” a sort of canine advanced degree.
While not a member of either Chiquita Sola or Aurora Duxes, Penny played a key supporting role in last year’s Musical Revenue, sponsored by these clubs.
The Dunhams’ other prodigy, also three years old, wears the Teutonic title of “Von Nassau’s Sabrenda.” A coal-black German Shepherd, Brenda, belongs to dogdom’s Social Register. (Daughter of an international champion, Brenda can claim direct lineage with 45 champions through the last five generations.) Luckily, she doesn’t know this—she gulps down her protoletariat class dog food without a complaint.
Brenda’s father-in-law, a prize German Shepherd, is employed by the U.S. Forest Service. As key member of the smoke jumper rescue team based at Winthrop, he is parachuted to wilderness areas to aid in ground searches. Brenda herself has achieved much: during the past year she ahs given birth to no less than 21 pups.
The Dunhams instruct a canine obedience school each week at the YMCA in Kennewick. Here dog owners run their charges through their paces.
“One-word commands should be used by the owners,” advises Dunham, “and it is important that these be used consistently.”
Although the first training session can generally be best described as a “howling good time,” the dogs become well discipled within six to eight weeks, says Dunham.
But, then, with a 20-year Navy man calling the signals, how could it be any other way?