Agility is a journey. I wanted to continue to share more of my agility journey to inspire you to keep learning. Be sure to read Agility: It’s Your Journey! (part 1) and Agility: It’s Your Journey! (part 2)
Lessons from my dogs:
Tag was my first puppy Border Collie. At eight weeks old, he had been rescued along with the rest of his litter from a puppy farm in Wales. A very good friend paid the rescue fee and presented Tag to me as my 40th birthday present. What a gift he promised to be! Tag was a super little dog! A blue merle before blue merle became popular. He was very quick and eager to learn. Loving, playful and as agile as you could ever wish for. I was taking lessons with Greg Derrett at the time and had high hopes of an exciting future ahead.
Until, one fateful day at an agility trial in England, before he was old enough to compete, Tag was attacked by two loose German Shepherd dogs that appeared from out of no-where in the exercise field where we were walking and playing together.
Physically unharmed, it seemed that we had been lucky. Later, however, it seemed as though Tag had associated the whole incident with being alone with me.
From that moment on, whenever we were alone, Tag was afraid and on constant look out for attack.
After much soul-searching and a lot of rehabilitation work which resulted in us being able to play a little together again, Tag went to live with my sister, where I knew he would be loved without any competition expectations.
Lessons from Tag
Sometimes your home isn’t the best home for a dog.
With a lot of patience, you can help a dog to regain confidence.
With enough time, even the impossible can become possible.
Tag went on to win many, many AKC and USDAA classes with my niece before I came to live in America.
Once here, I was reunited with him and together we went on to qualify for both Grand Prix and Steeplechase USDAA quarterfinals at Nationals.
Tag lived happily to the grand old age of 16 years and I feel fortunate to have been part of his journey.
Chess was the second beautiful Border Collie that I owned from a puppy. I chose him at 8 weeks old and we were inseparable. We enjoyed 9 wonderful years together. However, fate was to step in again. There were more harsh lessons to be learned. At around 8 years of age, Chess began to mis-judge getting onto contacts and had difficulty judging jumps when coming out of tunnels. On one occasion, he knocked me completely over and one of my most vivid memories is of the cheer we got on getting up and resuming the round! Some of my friends thought I’d got my MACH! Sadly, it was one of the early symptoms of what we soon discovered to be a detached retina. Chess’ agility career was over, but we were just happy to have him and give him a great life anyway. Approximately a year later, Chess was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer and he was also gone too soon at the age of nine.
Lessons from Chess
Some dogs just don’t like flying insects!
Check for physical problems first!
Each one takes a little piece more of your heart.
Taco is another of our great little Cavaliers. He is picture perfect beautiful as the photo of him on the front of Volume 38 of the America’s Favorite Dog Series magazine obviously proves. Yes, that was actually our Taco! We did start training Taco for agility, but he quickly reminded us that Cavaliers really are bred to keep laps warm. This agility thing really did not fit into his vision of life. So, to this day, Taco is still the most adorable and charming little lap dog that he could be. And we love him dearly.
Lessons from Taco
“Don’t wanna, don’t have ta!” to coin a phrase from one of my agility idols.
Sometimes, just being the best cuddle dog in the world is the most important job in the world.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are just the cutest…….
Sorry, I know I’m biased!
Wow! Wow! Wow!
What a tiny little powerhouse she is!
At 11 lbs. fully grown now and four years old (at time of writing), Ty really is the definition of a very big personality in a very tiny package.
Bought with the hopes of us becoming a team to watch in the 8” AKC agility class, Ty began her agility career with 12 straight wins – getting to Excellent level within a few short trials.
Unfortunately, she then began to display physical problems, which would finally be diagnosed as a badly slipping patella.
Our agility career had come to an abrupt end.
Lessons from Tynamite
Yes, it can be very disappointing but life does go on!
You can become a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and pass with flying colors if you have a partner as talented as Tynamite!
Thanks Ty! Love you loads!
Fluke is another little rescue dog. This little man was totally irresistible from the first time I laid eyes on him. The fact that I was on vacation in England and he was in NW North Carolina with foster parents at the time didn’t seem to matter one bit!
Cutting a very long story short, we did return from our vacation and Fluke came to live in Statesville N.C with the rest of the family.
A handful at first, Fluke (best described as maybe a Sheltie /Papillion cross with a really lovely Belgian Tervueren colored coat – OK so you can see why I fell!) Fluke came with a permanent leaping up and down button and a strong propensity to bite any hand that came close to petting him! And I’m the sister who doesn’t like projects!
Lessons from Fluke
Even I am not immune to Internet love affairs!
Classically conditioning a desired response is not difficult if it’s important to you and you are consistent!
Capturing and putting an undesirable behavior on cue works brilliantly to control that behavior.
Watching this baby learn to relax and enjoy his new family over time – priceless!
How do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels end up as rescues? Well, to be fair, this little man was not a rescue in the true sense of the word, but a very well loved family pet who just proved a little too much for his family. (Sound familiar?)
Described to us as one who never tired and would not sit on a lap to be petted, we soon discovered that, given a good walk and just a little bit of something to think about led to the cuddliest little Cavalier lap dog you can imagine.
At first, agility was to be in his future and we still play at some of the skills from time to time, so who knows? But truly, I think Copper just loves to play, go for walks, tug and fetch when the mood strikes and then settle down for a well-earned snuggle at the end of the day.
Happily, we are in a position to provide all of these.
Lessons from Copper
That 5 dogs was enough!
But that we’d never swap you in a million years!
Our hearts are big enough for all of you!
What can I say? Turbo was and still is one of the greats! But then – aren’t they all. When Pete was able to think about another dog, after the tragic and much too early loss of his precious World Team Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Nicson, we approached friends in England who we knew had a litter of puppies expected. The sire was an Agility Champion (Forby For Turbo Diesel) and we were pretty certain we were not going to be lucky enough to get a pup. Thankfully we were wrong and, not more than a few months later, I found myself flying across the globe to collect our handsome and very talented young Border Collie puppy!
Turbo was to be Pete’s dog, but shortly after he arrived here in the USA, Pete had to return to England for a knee operation that proved unsuccessful. He was left unable to run agility again. The rest, as they say, is history!
Lessons from Turbo
That many of my friends would own a Border Collie “if he could be like Turbo.”
That some Border Collies are just special!
That I wish I’d never heard of an Illiopsoas muscle!
That, with proper rehabilitation and advice from a special expert, an agility career can continue.
To be much more pro-active about physical conditioning for our sport.
That 13 years is not so old.
That we’ll always love you Mr. T.