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Rival’s Story

Rival  – the first Belgian Tervuren to earn the OTCH, MACH and CH

The following was written by Julie Symons, proud owner-handler of the first Tervuren to earn an Obedience Championship, an Agility Championship and a Breed Championship. Rival earned the her third championship, the OTCH, in October, 2005. We are delighted to present her story: a example of Tervuren versatility executed with excellence!

Rival and I earned our OTCH on October 30, 2005. This award makes Rival the VERY FIRST CH OTCH MACH Belgian Tervuren! As I write this – I still have a difficult time putting into words how wonderful it feels to have this honor. How could that be? Rival is my Novice A dog!! I was so lucky to be “chosen” to have one of these remarkable beautiful dogs and so fortunate to be matched with Rival. When I called up Andrea Meinhart over 10 years ago, a reference from Judy Bradley, I apparently reminded Andrea of herself when she got her first Belgian Tervuren and somebody giving an unknown a chance!

Rival and I didn’t get any of our Champion titles at a quick pace – we took time, learning the craft and taking time off now and then, and of course, retraining things like contacts or gloves and practicing A LOT of heeling, fronts and finishes!!!!! We got our breed CH in a little over 2 years. We finished our MACH in less than 5 years. We finished our OTCH in 3 years. The MACH was more frustrating as you aren’t allowed to make any mistakes! With obedience, Rival was very consistent and the points trickled in. With agility, you don’t have to “compete” against others to finish the championship – although placements help with points. With obedience, you have to be better than your competition to earn the required points and you HAVE to have 3 first places. I found them both uniquely challenging and so very different to achieve!

Throughout the journey, we had to take a few extended breaks. One time for some surgery that I needed and then a few years later, a “9 month” break during my pregnancy. We were back in the obedience ring just 3 months after I gave birth to my son Ryan. We won the Utility class for 17 points! I was not expecting that! For our MACH, we got our last 3 double Qs with all 1st places on our first 3 times out after the “9 month” break. Why was so easy after the break? Was it new priorities for me with motherhood or Rival enjoying 100% of my attention ??

Chateau DVies Hors De PairOver this past summer, we became a bit more inconsistent with obedience … I was really nervous and was finding it difficult to be away from my baby. This affected our performance. I guess that is to be expected and pretty common when close to achieving an OTCH or MACH – let alone balancing a hobby with motherhood! I entered Open B on a whim – had not shown much in Open since we got our one win from that class almost a year ago. I wasn’t nervous at all and was having a blast! We finished with a 199 in Open B for HIT!! I regained that special time in the ring with Rival instead of remembering all the nervous times 🙂 ! It was so incredibly special! We finished both our MACH and OTCH in front of the hometown crowd! 

When I look back at our obedience point record, I recall very fond memories of the points throughout the 3 years. I see shows were I placed 4th in a LARGE competitive class. I may have only gotten 1 or 2 points – but we were 4th in a very large competitive class. That is very cool! I remember something Andrea Meinhart said to me when I was working on our breed championship and frustrated about not getting majors … she said, it’s the single points that will be most significant along the journey. And she was right! They really are. They are all part of the journey and hold special memories for me. Many great memories also come from competing at the various tournaments – Puperoni and All Star. One of our most special accomplishments was winning Ultimate Dog (combined Utility and Agility scores) at the All Star tournament. We placed 1st in Utility and won the 60 weave pole contest for the 2nd year in a row!! My early years of attending these tournaments had a great impact on me. To watch the top teams work together was truly an eye opener for me and inspired me to reach the highest levels!!

This is about so many things – my relationship with Rival, the amazing skills I’ve learned … and learned to teach Rival, the people I’ve met – and such wonder people they are, my incredibly supportive husband, and the thrill of someday having another Belgian Tervuren. I look forward to applying what I have learned and to continue growing in this amazing and often unknown world of competition dog training!

Rival turns 10 on November 20th. She looks and acts younger than ever! Rival is so beautiful and graceful, intelligent and talented and so very devoted. She takes my breath away …


Ch OTCH MACH Chateau d’Vie’s Hors de Pair UDX2 HT  “Rival”
Owned and trained by Julie Symons
Sire: CH OTCH Artful Dodge of Anduin UDX TDX HT “Hamish” 
Dam: CH Chateau de Vie Great Mystique UD TD NA NAJ HIC   “Tique” 
Breeders: Andrea Meinhart and Judy Bradley