Overcoming “My Dog Has Issues” …. A Brief Story About Alex


Nearly eleven years ago Cathy had returned two days in a row to the local shelter where she saw this fragile, very sad, very scared 1-2 year old BC, Australian Shepard, Sheltie merle mix trying to hide under her 4″ high PVC bed. That was to Alex the only means of protection from the rest of the world. Only Cathy could have seen the wonder beneath all those layers.

Somewhere in there separate from the mats and patches of hair falling out from shear nerves was a little beauty. Beyond all that fear of people, sounds and change was the strength of a Champion. Who else could have known that sad, tail down, ears down and frail thing would ever have a “real life” after her apparently sad start in this world?

Next thing I know she’s in our home and to stay. Period! Cathy feared no one would want Alex… this little frightened shadow of a dog. I remember the patience Cathy had with her. For the first year Alex would not come near me or any male friends. She likely had been abused, perhaps kicked in her side. She was so soft and sensitive. Alex’s only security seemed to be Cathy’s calm supportive voice and her older brother Luke. He was her dog mentor. While Cathy slowly taught Alex confidence, Luke was just showing her how to be a dog. He was her dog hero. Cathy soon became her human one.

Did I mention Alex did not even know how to play at first? She was quite confused about running and toys and well…everything but food.

Alex entered the agility world in 2003. By leaps and bounds Alex started growing.

The bond between she and Cathy grew too…. And the increase in her confidence was immeasurable. We tried other venues but her favorite was NADAC. She learned the feeling of running and extending. She grew in confidence much I believe due to Cathy’s patience and the safe “logical paths” of the courses. That was a big year. She also learned to love toys & particularly gutting them to get to the squeaky prizes inside. I started to wake up in the morning and Alex would be sleeping next to Cathy, Luke and me.

Years went by and while she still had her spooky moments Cathy decide it is time to enter her in Champs. To appreciate her nerves, you have to know that Cathy used to feel like she was going to heave when she first started running Agility. But she knew this would be a great place to show off her girl and more than that have fun running agility with her amazing partner. They finished 9th in their group that year. Who would have guessed?

But that wasn’t the end of the story. In 2011, Alex finished 5th in her class at the NADAC Championships, and shortly thereafter she earned her 5,000 Lifetime Points Award. She also recently earned her NATCH 7!!!!!!!

People who see Alex now who saw her way back then can hardly believe she is the same dog. Her head is up, her coat is full, her tail up and fluffy, running with her brothers… She even sasses Cathy sometimes on the courses, a welcomed change from hiding under her bed years ago. And interestingly enough, along the way, while Alex grew…. so did Cathy.

As we look forward to running them in Champs this year, I can’t help but wonder… If Cathy was as patient with me as she was with Alex she might have had me better trained by now???

There is no timetable for each dog, but I tend to believe that more of your dogs are ready to run or learn and probably few with as many issues.

Come Run As One!   And grow… And you may not heave either :)





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