Posted by: Adrienne | October 28, 2010


Every so often something makes me pause, and take stock of just how far my little dog and I have come.

Her first night home.

When Emma arrived home with me, she was an unconfident, freakishly reactive, unsocialized sweetheart.  She didn’t know how to walk on a leash.  She didn’t know how to come, sit, wait, be quiet, not kill another dog (or sound like she wanted to).  Our first foray into formal training was in classes designed for those who wished to compete in Obedience.  Heck, I just wanted a normal dog.

I started her in agility training to give her something to do, because it looked cooler than anything else I had ever seen and because this dog liked to run.  I had a vague idea that it would help with her confidence but it wasn’t my biggest motivation.  And in all honesty, I have no idea why the instructor didn’t chuck us out the door the first month.   My little nightmare loved to learn with me, but any other dog working by her either caused her to stress out and shut down — this translated to sniffing and more sniffing — or throw a fit, often zooming towards the other dog and barking her fool head off in a panic.

My two dogs growing up were a Miniature Poodle and later a Standard Poodle.  Both energetic but essentially laid-back dogs.  I never learned how to “train” them.  But I taught both of them basic life skills without thinking too much about it.

With Emma I had inherited a firecracker with a lit fuse.  And I was totally unprepared.  A terrier-Sheltie cross.  Complete with all the drives of each breed, and no groundwork at all had been done with her.  She was a year and a half when I got her.  Quite the combination of green handler with crazy dog.  But oh did I love her!  Still do…

She is now five or six.  She still has a few issues but is much closer to being a well-rounded dog than I ever dreamed in that first month I had her.  We compete in agility successfully.  My biggest worry nowadays is keeping her running well and happy at shows.  And making sure all my directions to her are clear.  So unlike the days when just having her run in a public place with other dogs around, and do it happily, was a huge, huge milestone, to heck with the obstacles!

It’s amazing to think how much I learned because of this dog.  Each challenge she threw at me prompted me to look further and further for answers.  And it led me into a whole ‘nother world.  Without having gotten Emma, I never would have learned so much about dogs.  I never would have questioned how I learn things and learned how to evaluate who I’m learning them from.  I never would have met the wonderful people of the dog community here in Minnesota.

My life would have been so much different, possibly so much more barren.  Certainly less interesting!  All because of this little dog.  My spaz, my sweetpea, my Emma.


  1. Emma, you are just so pretty!

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