Where it Began…

I started training when I was ten years old and got my first dog. Meesha was the perfect first dog. She was a sheltie/shepherd mix – brilliant, biddable, and a very good temperament. She was 3 months old when we adopted her from the sheltie in October.
In November, I joined a 4-H dog club. We met on the playground of the local elementary school.
The winters in East Portland can be cold. The wind pushes down the Columbia River Gorge dropping the temperature miserably. So that December, the leader of my dog training group quit. That wasn’t a bad thing, since my only vivid memory of her training techniques is of her hanging her black Labrador to make him sit.
Not having a 4-H group to go to anymore, I trained Meesha by myself, in my yard and at the nearby junior high for distractions. My only references were the small printed 4-H dog training manuals.
In August, I entered the 4-H dog program at the county fair. Training by myself I didn’t know what showmanship was. But, I taught my dog to stand, she was clean, and I was neat and respectful, so I earned a red ribbon. So did half the class. But, in my mind, it was still second place.
Obedience was different. I entered the ring with a borrowed choke chain because I didn’t know the multiple tags jingling on my dogs collar were not appropriate. I entered novice because I didn’t know that first year 4-H’ers were supposed to enter pre-novice.
Meesha and I earned a blue ribbon – one of two in the class. But, we had the highest score. Not just in the class, but the entire 4-H dog competition. I earned the Grand Champion ribbon.
I was hooked. My friends and I formed a neighborhood dogtraining club. We trained our own dogs in both obedience and tricks. We also trained the neighbors’ dogs that wandered loose in the neighborhood and then showed off our skills by putting on our own dog shows.
My training techniques have changed and improved, thank goodness. My enthusiasm has grown. After all these years, I’m the only one from my neighborhood group who is still involved in dogs. I teach dog training classes. I compete in agility, rally, obedience and anything else that lays in my path. My dogs have earned High In Trial multiple times and Baebea, my heart dog, owns the record for earning more AKC titles than any other Doberman in U.S. history. When I’m not at trials with my dogs, I’m judging AKC agility trials. If I ever grow up, I will still be working with dogs. When you’re hooked, you’re hooked!

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