I began learning about dog training in 1986 when I got my first puppy as an adult – a golden retriever named Chelsea (Chellie). Realizing that Chellie was likely going to grow into a much larger dog, I sought out training classes to get an early start so that by the time she was a big dog she would be a good member of the household.
I began training though an obedience club that was geared toward teaching Competitive Obedience. I got hooked and proceeded to train for competition with Chelsea and with Bingo – a rescue border collie mix that had found his way into the household within a few months after Chellie.
The training was typical “correction based” style of training. Chelsea tolerated it so well that the physical and emotional damage this could cause didn’t occur to me – as it doesn’t with a lot of people. Bingo on the other hand, did not do well with it. I vividly remember the day I was practicing heeling in a private lesson and Bingo was lagging behind. My instructor told me to give him “2 or 3 good pops” on the leash (and choke chain) and that would get him to come to heel.
Not only did it not do what she said, I looked back in exasperation…and then saw the look in his eyes. He was clearly, and I mean clearly, saying to me “why are you doing this to me?”. My heart broke. I did not return to the instructor, nor the club.
Both dogs were past adolescence and pretty well behaved, so I stopped training….until a crazy Aussie named Abby came into my life. I did some half-hearted obedience training with him, not knowing any other kind of training at that time. I did not do the corrections, but did use positive reinforcement, albeit badly. After a few months it became obvious that he needed a job. He was nuts. And I mean….nuts.
That’s when I decided to give agility a try. After the first class, I was hooked. Here was training that was not only reward-based, but actually frowned upon using “corrections” – even verbal. Through the Agility club (Windy City Agility) was also where I got to know Nancy – long before For Your K9 was born.
The love of agility, as a sport and as a basis for learning and using positive reinforcement training drove the passion that eventually led me to open Wiggles-n-Wags Dog Training. WnW was in business for 9 years. When I desperately needed to make a change due to personal and financial difficulties, a series of circumstances reconnected me with Nancy. I closed WnW and started at FYK9. I am truly blessed to be a part of this business.
Susan’s current dogs are an 14 y.o. border collie named Zel, a 13.5 y.o. Aussie named Splash, and an 11 y.o. Papillion with many names, but mostly called Titch.
—- The dogs —-
Braylor’s A Titch I Gotta Scratch “Titch” – CGC, TG1, U-AGI, NA, NAJ
Sandy Acres Blazing Hot Desire “Splash” – U-AGI, U-AGII, NA, NAJ
Eastwood’s Gazella Bella “Zel” – U-AGI, U-AGII, NA, NAJ, NAF, OA, OAJ, MX, MXJ
And waiting at The Bridge, but never forgotten:
Abend Abbington of Eastwood “Abby” – U-AGI, U-AGII, U-ACH, U-ACHX, NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ – The beginning of my agility obsession.
Lady Lea of Eastwood “Lea” – U-AGI, U-AGII, U-ACH, U-ACHX, NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, AX, AXJ, MX, MXJ – the first red border collie. Love those red-heads!
Eastwood’s Chelsea on Thames “Chelsea” – CD, My first dog who taught me so much.
Bingo – CD, one of the best dog’s on the planet. Lived until almost 17 years old and was always a happy old soul.