Influence of Purebred Dogs: Past, Present and Future
During my childhood, there was never a time when I did not have a faithful canine companion. My parents had a Labrador Retriever when I was born, and as a very young child I can be seen in pictures walking and playing with this dog. From the start, I have had such a passion for dogs.
Through the years, dogs have become a bigger and bigger part of my life. When this exceptional Lab died of old age, my family acquired a beautiful eight week old Golden Retriever puppy, in 1994, from a highly respected breeder. Several years later our Golden was bred to one of the breeder’s champion dogs. My family had the privilege of delivering and raising her twelve puppies. The experience was irreplaceable and will always remain a highpoint in my childhood memories. It was through this dog, that I first learned the importance of maintenance and care of our canine companions. Although now at ten years of age and acquiring gray around the muzzle, this wonderful dog continues to fill us with joy each and every day.
During early childhood, my sister and I developed a small business of pet sitting. We have had the privilege of caring for many purebred dogs throughout our neighborhood. When we originally started taking care of these pets, it was our intent to just offer a service to our friends in our neighborhood, and to earn a little money on the side. The business, however, has blossomed into a prosperous venture and has given both my sister and I the wonderful opportunity of learning and caring for many different breeds of dogs.
The sport of dog agility caught my sister’s attention one day while watching Animal Planet. After searching through phonebooks and surfing the internet, she was able to get in touch with a local beginner trainer. My sister began taking agility lessons with our Golden Retriever. While sitting on the sidelines watching my sister, I desperately wished that I too, could somehow get involved with this fascinating dog sport.
Before I had the opportunity to have my own dog, I started training and competing with friends’ dogs that were looking for a handler. One of these dogs was a Miniature Schnauzer and the other was a Miniature Poodle. These dogs helped me get my feet wet before I actually acquired my own agility dog. I also began training several dogs in the neighborhood for whom my sister and I regularly cared for. One of these dogs, a Keeshond, was starting to make great strides in agility and obedience, however unfortunately it was not long before the neighbor moved.
When the time came for me to get my own pup, I chose to purchase, with my own money, another adorable Golden Retriever. At eight weeks of age, I started the bonding process along with all basic foundation training necessary to pursue obedience/agility in the years ahead with this pup. Shortly after this time, my sister and I had the opportunity to start working with a new and highly respected trainer located approximately an hour and half away from our home. Unfortunately, later in 2001,1 unexpectedly lost my Golden with whom I was training so diligently. It was devastating as I worked so very hard with this dog, and was looking forward to a bright and successful future ahead with him.
Seeing my disappointment, my agility trainer asked if I would like to work with her experienced seven year old Blue Merle Australian Shepherd. To say I was thrilled was an understatement! What an opportunity. I was able to take this talented agility dog home for the summer so we could get to know each other better. Over the summer, I worked very diligently with this Aussie creating a bond between the two of us. We did a few local AKC trials together during this time. In September 2001, we competed in the USDAA Grand Prix of Dog Agility in Del Mar, CA. The hard work of training and competing in preparation for this National event paid off. My first National experience was a success with winning first place in Gamblers, third place in Time Gamble, winning three gold medals in Juniors and qualifying for the Veteran Finals. The most exciting part of this event was winning second place in the Veteran Grand Prix Finals and being one of five juniors chosen to run the Junior Handler Spotlight. What an absolute thrill! As previously planned, the Aussie went back to our trainer after the Grand Prix. This series of events reinforced my desire to pursue my passion of working and competing with dogs.
It was at this time that my trainer/breeder had a ten month old male Border Collie puppy who she thought would fit perfectly into our lifestyle and household. The breeder asked if I would like to take this dog home for a few days to see how we would ‘click’ with each other. From the moment we first met, it was love at first sight — it was obvious that we would be a perfect match.
At eighteen months of age, and with just over eight months of agility training, we began competing in AKC agility trials. Now, this dog and I are regularly competing competitively in Excellent B classes. We have recently completed our MX title and are making progress toward earning our MACH title. I have begun running in a few ISC classes, and have placed in many of them. In October we came home with first place in the 26” ISC class! It is exciting for someone my age to be competing with very experienced and well-known agility handlers. Working together with my canine companion has taught me so much, not only in handling, timing and running with a fast dog, but I have learned a lot about how to build a lasting relationship. What a joy it has been to run, train, and compete with my best friend. Together we look forward to a bright future, advancing in the sport of dog agility.
My goal for 2005, is to qualify for the AKC Nationals and qualify once again for the USDAA Grand Prix. I am currently in the process of finishing my second year at our local community college, thus completing two years of general education. Attending community college for my first two years has enabled me to live at home and continually work diligently with my dogs to fulfill my goals in agility. I am presently awaiting acceptance to Loma Linda University for Fall 2005 to continue my education in the field of Radiation Sciences.
The pet business has continued to grow tremendously since my sister and I started in 1996. This childhood venture has covered the costs of buying my dog, paying for training, entry fees to trials and any other extra expenses I need to provide for my dogs. I am responsible for paying all of my dog’s expenses. Without the business, none of this would be possible. Not only have I learned about caring for other people’s different breeds of dogs, but I have also learned the importance of earning money and using it wisely.
Additionally, for the last year and a half, I have been teaching agility at the newly constructed pet resort in our area. Several of my students are junior handlers who are thrilled to be getting into the sport of dog agility and who are making great strides with their canine companions. It is exciting to see these young juniors starting out just as I did. The experience of teaching and helping both adults and juniors in agility has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge while working and teaching others about the fascinating sport of dog agility.
The wonderful world of purebred dogs has taught me so much about
the different personalities and learning abilities in each breed.
No two, even within the same breed, are completely alike. Each one
is a unique individual. I look forward to many more wonderful years
ahead training and competing with my dogs as well as continuing to
learn and gain more knowledge in the sports of purebred dogs.