January 21, 2022
Some say my red scooter was the sign that I was in a midlife crisis. They equated it with a 40 something man and his red sports car. I think it was the beginning of a new direction to my life, but it wasn’t the scooter that made the change. It was the dog that came before it.
Actually, the dog started a change in my life. One no one expected. I was a happy stay-at-home, overly volunteered mom. The kids were doing well. They were busy with swimming, soccer, basketball, baseball, fencing, horseback riding, singing, confirmation, Sunday school, homework and picking on each other. We had to put down our old husky. Ulysses was a great dog for our kids, but his manners were awful. When he passed, after a month or so, we started talking about getting a new husky. This time I was going to train it and it would have much better manners. This is where my new life began.
November 2001 we brought home our new ten week old puppy Abbey. A purebred, by a responsible breeder and friend, Siberian Husky. She was fun, dramatic and a little naughty. Snails were her main fun and she hunted them to extinction in our backyard. After all her shots we enrolled her in positive reinforcement training classes at our local shelter. But our breeder ran 6 dog mid distance sled races. I thought this sounded fun, so I totally intended to train Abbey to pull. We would head out on walks and we learned what gee and haw meant, (actually her haw command was “gee, I mean haw). Abbey taught me. She was confident, sweet, and determined. Running was her thing. I was so much slower than she. We would walk along then I’d say “let’s go” and she’d go into a trot, then I’d say “GO” and she would take off at a full out run, then we would work back down to the trot. Needless to say, this made loose leash walking harder to train. We worked our way through the classes, repeating them all once or twice. She was smart…I got better.
At nine months we took Abbey to meet her litter mates at a pull clinic in Oregon. She loved it. She mastered it so much faster than I. She loved the agility equipment and loved sitting on the highest table. So, we came home with the red scooter. A month later we brought home another puppy from our breeder. That meant we needed a cart! I was hooked! I wanted six huskies and a sled….I was dreaming. Bodie, our new little puppy, went to all the same classes Abbey did, as many times. I tell you, he was smart…I needed the practice.
With two puppies, 2 classes for them a week, driving the kids all over town, doing homework and all the other stuff, the pulling and sledding dream fell to the wayside. What came from all this was a new place to volunteer and new knowledge of how this positive training actuallyworked. I was lucky to meet and volunteer for a trainer in my town and she offered to train me to train others. I was amazed. It was fun. I got it …finally.
My kids all grew and up went to college. To feed them, I started a dog walking business. We did great. Eventually, my two youngest kids walked dogs with me. I was able to be a trainer at a nearby rescue and helped many dogs start off right in their forever homes. This gave me more confidence to train more. I have been training full time for the last four years.
All three huskies are gone now, and we have an adorable, smart Austrian Shepherd puppy. I still look to my Abbey as the start of all this dog stuff. I believe that Koda will teach me new things and take me in more new directions. Raising three wonderful kids to adulthood is what I’m most proud of, but this dog journey had been a ton of fun.