So this is my buddy, my perfect dog…well not quite. Miles is nearly 3yrs old. We got him February of ’06 from a breeder here in NC. He was 6wks old when he came home to live with us…that was our first mistake. Heck the breeder was pushing us to take him even earlier than that! Oh the things you learn. Anyway, I digress, Miles has been the most wonderful dog to own. He’s never once gotten into trouble. The only things he ever chewed were a wooden toggle to the blinds and my husband’s buckle on his backpack. Even still, neither were destroyed. He’s just one of those dogs who *knows* right from wrong. He’s extremely biddable and was consistently the top student in all of his early classes. Miles is the dog that got me “into dogs”.
Mind you I’ve ALWAYS loved dogs and I’ve always had dogs. My parents had a rescue mutt named Whiskey when I was born–she was a trip. That dog destroyed more things than you can count. Notably, she consistently chewed through seatbelts if left in the car, she destroyed a door/rug/threshold when she was accidentally shut into the mudroom, and she ate my dad’s pockets out of his pants as well as his tie. Mostly though she HATED the mailman and would do anything to try to eat him. That dog dug out of more fences….
Back to Miles though. So we tried to do everything right. I read multiple books on puppy raising and we took him everywhere with us. We tried to socialize him to anything and everything. Because he was taken from his litter waaaaaay too young, we got him into a doggie daycare with other puppies and dogs so that he could learn proper canine social skills. We also started him immediately into puppy classes. As I said before, Miles was a star in class. He was and is a joy to train. He truly loves to work and wants to please. He learns very quickly too. We went from Puppy K to Senior Puppy and on to Focus/Intermediate Obedience. At 8 months Miles passed his CGC test on his first try. I knew we wanted to keep him in classes through his adolescence so I enrolled him an beginner agility class. Oh what FUN!!! After finishing that set of classes, we were hooked.
This is now where Miles’ life takes a downhill turn. Unfortunately, our second set of agility classes were not so good. The teeter obstacle (a seesaw) was introduced to us at full-height and we were told to physically help our dogs across the obstacle. Well this frightened Miles a good bit. Not only did the unexpected movement surprise him, but the loud bang it made when it hit the ground. Me being a green handler, I trusted my instructor and continued to force Miles over this obstacle repeatedly until he shut down and tried to run out of the training area. My poor boy. I still feel terrible for this and completely ashamed. I lost a good deal of his trust through that ordeal. By the time I finally figured out that I needed to make some adjustments, my pup’s nerves were shot. Any time he heard the teeter bang, he flinched. The class was chaotic with dogs everywhere, some not so friendly, doing obstacles in random order and banging that darn teeter. Over and over and over again. Somehow we got through it, but I was determined to help him over this fear and I knew it was not going to happen at this training facility. At the last night of class I asked my instructor what she would suggest we do to help Miles. Her answer was litterally “well, I don’t know…let me think about that and I’ll get back to you next session”. Ha! Whatever. I found a wonderful place, PBH in Chapel HIll.
This is Miles’ first AKC trial which took place on Oct 5th of this year at PBH. He’s competing in Novice Preferred Jumpers with Weaves. It’s slower than I’d like it to be at 4.36 yards per second, but we got a Q and a 1st place!
We’ve come a long way, Miles and I. The teeter continues to plague us, but we’re getting better every day. We still battle anxiety/fear/confidence issues, but he has taught me a lot. It’s a work in progress and I’m sure to enjoy the journey.