At first glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Cheyenne is the oldest dog competing at the 2021 AKC Rally National Championship. Lively and energetic, the Australian Shepherd defies her age — 15 years old.
More impressive, this is the senior dog’s first AKC Nationals event. But Cheyenne is not at all new to success.
Cindy Franks and her Aussie are one of only 38 dog/handler pairs in Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) history to earn a Supreme Performance Championship (SPCH). More impressive? They are the only team to win the SuperDog Obedience Championship twice — both in 2014 and 2017.
“The SPCH involved our WTCH, UD, Elite Regular agility, Elite Gamblers agility, and Elite Regular agility,” Cindy says. “The SuperDog Obedience Championship involved one run in UB, one run in OB, and two runs in a combined routine of Utility and Open, all done in four rings in less than six hours, including lunch.”
Bringing Home Cheyenne
After a rescue Australian Shepherd (Callie) and a second Aussie from a breeder (Captain,) Cindy was hooked. “I love the Working Aussie! It is truly my breed of choice,” she says.
When she was ready for Aussie no. 3, she reached out to Jamie Burns at Cut’n Loose Australian Shepherds for a blue merle bitch. At the time, she had Captain, a blue merle male.
But, it turned out, all the merles were spoken for. The only puppy left was one nobody wanted — a bi-black female.
Cindy and Jamie didn’t know each other yet, but Cindy knew Jamie bred carefully and had a line of dogs that worked stock, did rescue, agility, and were healthy dogs. So after talking with Jamie, Cindy decided the little bi-black puppy, Cheyenne, was meant to be hers.
“When I took Cheyenne from Jamie, held her in my arms, looked into those brown eyes, and got a kiss on my nose, I was in love!”
Cindy’s first two Aussies were active and titled. Each trained and titled in stock, obedience, agility, and Rally. Both dogs showed well into their double-digits.
Still Competing at 15
Cindy credits dog sports with keeping both Cheyenne and herself moving. “I have never been happy with just letting a dog hang out in a crate,” she says.
It’s no surprise that most people are shocked when they learn Cheyenne’s age. A 15-year-old Australian Shepherd still competing at the national level?
“I am very fortunate that Cheyenne is from working lines and so she still wants to do something,” Cindy says. “I saw a number of friends put their senior dogs to the side and get a new younger dog; their sporting goals hadn’t changed as their dogs aged. Dog sports activate the mind as well as the body.”
Cindy’s 11-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Rider, will also be competing at the AKC Rally National Championship.
While Cheyenne continues to have fun competing in Rally and other dog sports, she is retired from her other favorite activity — working cattle. When she’s not competing, Cheyenne loves spending time with Cindy and Rider and eating her favorite snack — baby carrots.