Tell us about your dog. Where did she come from?
Penny is an eight-year-old Border Collie/Catahoula Leopard Dog mix. I adopted her from the Humane Society of Lawrence County, Indiana in 2009 when she was eight-weeks-old.
How did you end up adopting her?
I saw her picture on the Humane Society website and fell in love. She was so beautiful. I went to the shelter that day to see if she was still there so I could meet her. I looked all around the kennels trying to find her and was so disappointed when I couldn’t. I asked the receptionist before leaving if she knew if “Bethany” was still there. She was! I didn’t know they had a separate room for puppies. She was in a kennel with two other litter mates. They immediately ran to the door fighting over my attention. She was much more quiet. I got her out and fell in love. I took her home. She screamed ALL night and I was terrified, what had I done?! I thought I got the quiet puppy! I was a college student and scared that I wasn’t going to be able to handle her. She was also my first dog ever and I was on my own. I am so glad that I stuck it out. She settled in quickly and has been my best friend for eight years!
How did you get involved in agility with your dogs?
When I adopted Penny, I had two horses at the time. I always brought her to the barn with me. She loved being a farm dog and “helping” me with barn chores and training my horses. I had also started taking basic obedience classes with her at Petsmart and enjoyed training her. She turned out to be a very smart puppy! When I graduated from college I had to sell my horses, and I missed having a hobby that let me have a close bond with animals. Since I couldn’t show horses anymore, I looked into dog shows. I actually started in Rally with Penny, but quickly figured out that we both wanted something more. I had been dying to try agility with her and finally found a class. We were hooked!
Did you find that agility helped to improve any behaviors your dog had before you started? How did you feel it helped your relationship?
Doing agility definitely strengthened my relationship with Penny. She became much more focused on me and I could tell that she really enjoyed our training sessions and having a “job.” After doing some agility trials, I was finally brave enough to go back and pick up Rally again. I had been terrified to remove the leash once we finished our Rally Novice title and move up to Advanced, which was all off-leash. Her confidence and focus blew me away!
What’s something about your dog’s personality that you find unique, endearing and/or special?
Penny has matured at lot in her eight years. She was a total wild thing when she was younger, but still has spurts of craziness which just crack me up. She is the boss of my household, totally in charge and full of sass. My other dogs know better than to mess with Penny 🙂 She will even act as “fun police” when the others are playing too loudly, by barking at them and jumping in to bite the backs of their necks. She is extremely food motivated and will stare down anything she deems edible as if willing it into her mouth with her mind. She is extremely sweet with people and loves greeting customers at my part-time job at a local hardware store. She loves getting pets, giving kisses, and showing off her tricks in exchange for a treat, especially to children. She will lean her whole body against your legs as if demanding not to be ignored!
What other USDAA events have you competed in with your dog?
We have done local shows in Indiana and Ohio, and went to our first ever Regional event this year in Kansas.
What are you looking forward to at the Cynosport World Games this year?
This is our first Cynosport so I am just thrilled to have qualified an to be there running among some of the best with not only my first agility dog, but my first ever dog! I am looking forward to sharing this very special experience with Penny, our friends, and getting to watch some of the best dog/handler teams in the country!
What advice would you give to people who are considering adopting a dog who might want to do agility some day?
Follow your heart and go with your gut. If you feel something special for the dog, translating that bond to agility will be easy. And don’t ever give up! I got a late start in agility and competing with Penny, and we are still making our dreams come true, at eight years old attending our first Cynosport together. It has been a long road and the journey to get here wasn’t always easy, but looking back I am grateful for everything. Including all the NQ’s and the “bad” runs. Having a rescue dog as my very first dog has been a huge learning experience, but the end result is more satisfying than you can imagine.
Photo Credits: Great Dane Photos and Pics & Pages