My first introduction to Obedience,
that lead to my ultimate love of the sport, came with a Doberman named Hahns. Hahns was a property and personal protection dog assigned with watching over the small Arabian horse barn I managed and all it's inhabitants. With this assignment came the responsibility to familarize myself with his training and continue his lessons on a daily basis. He was my first teacher and over time we developed a great admiration and deep love for one another, I knew Hahns would lay down his life for me without question. It was my great honor to be with him during his last minutes on this earth as he lost his battle with heart disease.
With my new found love of all things dogs....
I landed a job as a kennel worker/apprentice at a small hobby breeder of Doberman's. DuBose Dobes was home to 13 retired and actively showing Dobes as well as a Border Collie and one Cairn Terrier. At the helm of this kennel was Rosemary Simpson, a pint-sized fire ball that over the next 15 years taught me everything I know about dogs. Rosemary was also owner of Pets-N-Partners, a pet sitting service she ran from her home. It was not uncommon to have up to twenty or thirty dogs in her home at one time during the holidays. Along with exercising and caring for her personal dogs I also learned how to manage a large number of dogs safely in a kennel situation. I bounced in and out of DuBose Dobes for the next fifteen years, I would take jobs at other places but I always managed to come back to help Rosemary when I could. I owe her a lot, she taught me so much. Sadly, Rosemary passed away in 2005.
Over the next few years...
I had a few jobs, all in the pet industry. The most influential place I worked was the Central Florida Canine Center, I was lucky enough to train under and follow two of the best trainers in all of Florida. Working here I was able to observe many other peoples methods of training and develop my own style. In 1991 I got my first show dog, an Australian Shepherd named Casey. Casey quickly became a star pupil at the Canine Center and we began showing in Obedience when he was less than a year old. By the time Casey was three years old he was ranked as the number four Obedience dog in the national ASCA standing. Our show career ended with UD titles in WWKC and ASCA, a CDX title in AKC, a few agility titles and two High In Trial honors. Casey was retired at eight years old due to a back injury and we unfortunately fell one leg short of earning our AKC UD title. Casey won fans no matter where we went, he had a gift for knowing exactly what people needed. He excelled at therapy dog work often visiting senior homes and children in hospitals. He was a gift, a wonderful soul, a 'person in a dog suit' as many people described him, he was a dog of a lifetime and he was my greatest teacher. I was lucky enough to share in his life for nearly 16 years.
I held many more jobs revolving around dogs...
for the next several years. Every job added it's own information and piece of the puzzle to what I know about dogs today. I also spent time as a professional handler and was fortunate enough to finish thirteen dogs all on my own, every thing from Bichon Frise's to Portuguese Water Dogs. I also had an extensive stay, about fifteen years total, at a Veterinary clinic/retail store. Here I helped people find the right nutrition for their pets, gave advice on training, helped people find the right choices for treatments of their ailing animals and many times was a shoulder to cry on when customers had to say goodbye to their beloved pets.
Currently I share my life with three dogs and five cats.
All of my animals are rescues off the street or I have adopted them from shelters. "Shameless Kid Cody" or Cody for short, is a hound mix about 11 years old and "Shameless Poc-Ket of Petunia's" or Zuri is a Rat Terrier Italian Greyhoud mixture. Cody and I have been competing in Agility since 2010 and to date have earned thirty titles in both AKC and NADAC registries. In AKC we have earned our Masters titles and are working on our MACH. In NADAC we are well on our way to earning our NATCH title. Earlier this year Cody also earned his Canine Good Citizen Advanced title, a RATO title in the sport of Barn Hunt and he has competed in two AKC Rally National competitions. Cody and I are also members of the "SuperDogs" team and perform with this Canadian based team at the Eukanuba National Championship.
Little Zuri has proven herself to be a true all arounder! She has a special talent for Nose Work in which she will begin competing in October 2017. She has earned titles in Agility, Rally, Lure Coursing, Trick Training and her favorite Barn Hunt! What ever she sets her mind to she is sure to be a star. I adopted Zuri from the South Lake Animal League shelter, she won me over with all her antics. Although she has been a challenge and has had to overcome many insecurities she has managed to earn over 25 titles, most of which came with top honors!
Dixon, a Chihuahua mix is the newest member of my pack. Although he is only 6 pounds, he is all heart! At only 1 year old he is already excelling at Agility and has earned his RATN title in Barn Hunt and his Trick Dog Novice and Intermediate titles with AKC. Look for this tiny mite in the Rally ring this year also!