While going through old computer archives this week in search of some good Rally-Obedience pictures (how on earth did I compete in Rally for 5+ years and not post a single picture on Facebook?), we uncovered some gems from the past that are a good representation of how much dogs have been a part of my life.
First, we have Coronado ("Cory"), the shelter dog I convinced my parents we needed; they acquiesced on one condition: "She's your responsibility, including training, walking, bathing, etc." No argument from me, and from the very first training class, I was hooked. After the basic training classes, I joined a 4-H Dog Club, which, admittedly, was way more involved than I or my parents were expecting when I first signed up. But looking back, the experiences with Fancy's Friends 4-H Dog Club were a critical part of my development - both with dogs and with other life skills like hard work, respect, community service, and more. Cory and I competed together in Rally, Obedience, Agility, and Junior Showmanship, and won awards at the county and state 4-H levels.
As I started to do more with dogs, I really wanted to compete in AKC events (this was before mixed breeds were permitted in performance events), and one of my 4-H leaders offered me co-ownership of her Australian Shepherd, Jasmine.
I started working with Jasmine when she was 7 years old, and together we competed in AKC Junior Showmanship, titled in Rally, and Obedience. She was so much fun, and I learned a lot through working with her.
After I advanced to Open Showmanship with Jasmine, I started using Jasmine's house-mate, Gracie, for showmanship competitions. I learned a lot while showing Gracie; with Cory and Jasmine, it only took a sliver of bait or a squeaky toy to get their attention, but with independent Gracie I was taught to be more creative, more compassionate, and more convincing then I had needed to previously.
At some point, I told my parents that I really, really, really wanted a puppy. With my previous project dogs being older when we started working together, I hadn't enjoyed the "fresh start" training with a puppy yet. Again, my parents agreed on one condition, this time that: "You raise the money to buy the puppy and you can get one." My dad jokes now that if he had known it would only take me two months to gather the funds, he might not have agreed so quickly :).
Enter Roo, a red-tri Australian Shepherd from Equinox Aussies.
Since the first day that I brought this little guy home, almost 8 years ago now, Roo has been my constant companion and adventure buddy.
We have competed and titled in rally, obedience, conformation, agility, and, most recently, dog parkour. We even got an AKC group placement when Roo was 8 months old!
But as awesome and exciting as all of those achievements were, I think my favorite adventures with Roo are the outdoor experiences that we are both love so much. Since moving to Colorado in August 2015, these adventures have been in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
These fresh air adventures are not just fun and healthy; they are also bonding experiences that solidify our friendship and continue to build our relationship together. This bond that grows when we are together is what I love most about having my dog involved in so many aspects of my life.
That's the line up of fantastic dogs that have put up with me over the years. Cory, Jasmine, and Gracie are romping together over Rainbow Bridge now, but the things they taught me are part of their legacy. Roo is still putting up with me, and I am excited about all the future adventures we still have together.