In my May 11 post I described, in as much detail as was possible, our ideas for the end of our “training center” phase and the beginning of our “social club” phase.
It’s interesting to look back over my life and divide it by phases.
In 1998 my married-lady-working-40-hours-a-week phase ended with a bang. My 15-year relationship with my husband gave up the ghost without a whimper. I never knew anyone could care so little about a marriage as my ex.
Regardless, life marched on and I met a man who shared my interest in positive reinforcement dog training in general, and dog agility in particular.
We have fun together, have the same sick sense of humor, can vent to each other without worrying, and understand each other.
So the dog-training-center-facilitator phase of my life began April 1999. At Dogwood Training Center we averaged 120 students, with another 200 campers who visited for a week at a time.
In 2007 we considered semi-retirement, and my parents needed more attention from me, so we sold Dogwood and moved to Watertown, Ohio.
Our plan was to do a few camps each year, do a lot of writing and travel with our dogs, and slow down a little. We began our family-first-with-lots-of-writing phase.
Dog agility exhibitors in our area asked us to open our building for classes. We’ve averaged between 10 and 15 students since then, requiring a bit of work but nowhere near the effort required by our central Ohio site.
We have one more weeknight group class. Then we enter our TDAA-management-and-training-our-puppies phase.
Here’s how I see it working for us.
Every Monday or Tuesday Bud will set equipment in the training building and establish 3-4 training sequences which he’ll print out and post in the building.
On Tuesday evenings Phoenix and I will go to the building to do some “2-minute-dog-training” — working on obstacle performance and the specific skills a fast little dog with a slow old handler needs. If anyone wants to join us an play along, that’s okay.
On Wednesday evenings Kory and Phoenix will go to the building to do some sequence work — honing the more complex skills needed as Kory (AX AXJ) approaches his USDAA Masters titles. Phoenix and I will join them on little bits of sequences.
The rest of the week people will come and go, playing with their dogs on sequences designed by Bud, or of their own creation.
Here’s how I see it working for our local students.
Students who choose to become Board Members get access to the building and grounds, plus either or both nights of training at no additional charge. We hope they’ll help us maintain the public areas of the property.
Students who choose to be regular Members get access to the building and grounds, plus kick in a few bucks if they want instruction.
We’ll continue offering a few private camps each year. We have lots of fun with our friends from around the country. And our cottages provide sleeping quarters for folks traveling a distance and wanting private lessons.
We’ll be answering lots of questions, obviously. My basic response is “we no longer have a dog training center.” Everything else will work itself out.
Phoenix approaches age 6 months.
Phoenix has been with us 3 months. He’s been a clever little boy, interested in offering all sorts of favorite behaviors for food, for toys, for attention.
His mealtime training includes 2-on-2-off contact performance, distance sends through a series of hoops to a jump, and some sequences requiring that he follow my movement.
Every afternoon I try to break away from paperwork to play with him. We’re working on his formal retrieve and he’s currently chasing the dumbbell and bringing it back to dump it in my right hand. We’re also going to the training building occasionally to work on the more advanced equipment. He’s developed independent performance of the full-size a-frame, the skinnier dogwalk (not the full-size one yet), and the full-size teeter.
I’ve noticed he indicates lack of confidence by simply avoiding an obstacle, but he can be encouraged to be brave with food, toys, or attention.
He’s a typical border collie. He loves his baby pool, his big brothers, and stretching out on the couch.
I’m so lucky to have found him, though we have no idea of his heritage.
I love him intensely.