I have the honor and the pleasure of working with a sweet Rottweiler named Julep. Although there have been a wide variety of different breeds that I have worked with and that are in my classes, those who know me from the current dog show competitions have not seen me run with any other breed than a Sheltie.
Imagine the many surprised faces when Julep showed up!
When I first met Julep, she liked me well enough as she likes anyone she meets; but she loves her Mom, Cathy. You can instantly tell there is a wonderful relationship and strong bond between them, and Julep was understandably concerned as I took the leash, walked her away and began to work with her. As you may know from my website I am dedicated to exclusively using reward based training…to Julep, treats and toys are awesome to work for, but she would not let Mom out of her sight!
From my time spent as a handler at the breed competitions (which is what you see on TV at Westminster), I studied the breeds in the herding group of course…but I also spent considerable time studying breeds from the working, sporting, hound, terrier, non-sporting and toy groups. Yes, it was 12 years ago and things do change, but most things stay the same.
Working with Julep came naturally to me as I have continued to work with large breed dogs over the years, and she loves to work. She has a wonderful intensity and a drive to work which makes training with her a joy. She has her favorite food treats, which are homemade meatballs by Cathy. She has made many doggy friends at the show by sharing with others! Julep’s favorite toy is a small stuffed elephant. Playing with her and rewarding her generously for a job well done helped her feel more comfortable leaving her mom for the short time we asked her to work with me. Running with her in agility took some time to get used to … but every dog is unique regardless of breed or size, so I was prepared.
I was not prepared for the intensity of her first few shows, however! She works at a good, moderate speed in practice, but when we got to the agility competition, she was not the same… seeing or hearing the other dogs run increased her speed dramatically and I held on for a wild ride!
When we went to the start line, her eyes grew so wide that the wrinkles over them became quite pronounced. She has a very good sit – stay, so I could leave her with confidence; but she would always be looking for her mom, and when I released her from the stay, there were times she wanted to leave the ring to find her. I gently insisted that it was good to continue to work with me and that she would get to go back to Mom as soon as we were done; she understood quickly enough, and there, her trust in me grew.
I love the rush of adrenaline in running agility, but it is really wild seeing a sizeable Rottweiler charging full speed at me as I released her from the start line!
I recently got the most wonderful compliments. In one of the rare moments I was found sitting in a chair at the show, Cathy let Julep out of her crate and before she went out for her walk, she surprised me by getting up on my lap and giving me a hug and a kiss. It was so nice that she showed me how totally relaxed and safe she felt. The second was when she had her first chiropractic adjustment, which is a good idea for dogs who are so active in a sport. She walked off with me to a total stranger and munched on one of Moms delicious homemade meatballs from my hands as the Veterinarian adjusted her, literally from head to every toe.
Some may think this is just normal, everyday stuff that is expected of any trained dog … but I never take the trust of a dog for granted, and as her trainer and handler, it is up to me to earn that trust every day.
Blog Post And Images (c) 2017 by Mikamar.net
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