It is time to reveal my dream come true. I finally have a dedicated dog training building in my back yard.
When I was a very young, impressionable child living in Scarborough, Maine I jealously watched high level horse shows at a nearby training facility. I wistfully watched the beautiful flowing blue ribbons that were handed out to the impeccably trained horses. In grade school Mom bought me a wild, out of control Lab/Collie mix puppy which I showed in 4-H back in the 60’s. But after college I realized my first big dream of buying and riding my own horse, a Palomino, which turned into a very expensive hobby; thus the transition to showing dogs. Over the years I have owned Alaskan Malamutes, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Labs and Border Collies.
My first competitive dog was a Golden Retriever, Trevor, who introduced me to wins in the United States and Canada. I was encouraged to enter him in national competitions in Fresno, CA and Denver, CO. Unbeknownst to me I was competing with well-known trainers who would change the way we interact and train our dogs today.
My trainer at the time I worked Trevor, Dave Elizares of Boring, Oregon, told all of his students that anyone can win the coveted highest dog in trial award. You just have to work hard and train every day. Thus the problem: my decades long search for someplace to train. Over the years I’ve worked my dogs in barns, fields, church parking lots, my tiny back yard, friend’s back yards, in rain, cold, heat and snow, sometimes even paying for training time in heated buildings. It was depressing to make progress training through a difficult exercise only to run out of safe places to work my dogs.
Then there was always The Job which got in the way of my hobby, taking precious time from my dream of winning blue ribbons and attaining higher obedience titles. I’ve traveled hundreds of miles to attend seminars with well-known trainers and spent way too much money, but it always came down to not being able to consistently train my dogs day after day.
In the last 45 days since the final building permit was signed, I’ve been able to train my Border Collies every day and have made progress in leaps and bounds. I’m able to keep logs of our progression, try different ideas and read notes again that I’ve kept from those seminars I attended decades ago. Most of all this building allows my dogs and I to have fun. We play, we train, we listen to music and then I pinch myself. No, I’m not sleeping and this isn’t a dream. This is the real thing. I’m blessed and happy and enjoying every moment of this time I have with my dogs. It used to matter that I had to be the perfect trainer, with perfect timing and attaining perfect scores in the ring. But I’ve reached the age that I realize I only need to please myself, be the best trainer I can be, make sure the dogs are clean, well fed, happy and understand what I ask from them. If we pick up more ribbons in the process then that is great. It’s the journey, not the destination. It’s about being at peace with where I am in my life right now, surrounded by good friends and good dogs, in a warm, safe building.