A Story of Hope and Healing with Dog Agility

For those that are able and willing, a dog saved from a shelter can be one of the most rewarding relationships no matter the breed.  That isn’t to say that these dogs don’t have baggage they need help putting down, but I have heard story after story about how these dogs know they were chosen.  How they form an inseparable bond with the one who rescues them from the shelter or rescue and I am one who can testify to it as well.  But today we are going to hear from one of our readers, Carlotta Trevino, as she shares a touching story of her adopted Shetland Sheepdog, Buddy and how she gained his trust and built his confidence with dog agility.

Buddy adopted from rescue
Buddy now healthy and happy!

“I LOVE THIS WEB SITE!  I have a little Sheltie who is a rescue, he came from a urine soaked dark room and was very skinny. He was going to be put to sleep simply because the people did not want him. I always wanted a Sheltie and felt that he was a gift sent to me. I decided to help him learn agility feeling that it would help him regain his lost puppy-hood and confidence!! He is so eager to please and learn. We love him so much and want to give him every opportunity to be all he can be!! When asked by the vet what his name was, I said I don’t know but he is my little buddy, thus his name BUDDY!!

After a few groceries he began to gain strength and a little weight and his coat began to fill in. He was frightened of sudden noises and men. So in order to help him overcome these first issues I would play music (rather loud) all day long, or leave the television on just for the noise. Also when he was exposed to men I would ask that they not pet him or look him directly in the eye and I would talk to Buddy in a soft tone to reassure him that no harm would come to him. It was very important that I gained his trust first.  We then began to go for walks, taking him to places where I knew there were people and lots of different noises, before I felt that his comfort zone was crumbling and his fear escalated I would touch him and praise him for being a good boy! After we conquered the main issues it was time to try agility training!!!!

At first Buddy was fearful of all these things called agility.  He would look at me as if to say, “you want me to do what?” We began very slow. I would let him sniff, touch and just amble around the agility equipment until he was familiar. I would only ask him to try one thing at a time. When he would successfully complete what was asked of him I would give him a small piece of his favorite treat. WELL after that first successful attempt we were off and running!!  He began to associate with completed task and treat.  I would not repeat the process over and over because I did not want him to lose interest. Instead as a different reward we would play throw and catch with his favorite ball. I now give fewer treat rewards and praise him with lots of love.  Whenever I have just a few minutes during the day we will go out into the back yard and do a run through, just to keep him familiar with what he must try to do. Also we take time off from training maybe a day or two and then right back at it. You must be very patient with your dog as dogs are like people…..everybody has their own way of doing things and at their own pace.

Because of agility Buddy is now so very proud of himself and what he can do. We are going to attempt our first competition this summer!! Buddy will do what he feels is his best and that is all I can ask of him. Agility has brought Buddy back to what is rightfully his place in the doggy world!!! Agility works to bring out the best in your dog!!!!”

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8 Comments on “A Story of Hope and Healing with Dog Agility

  1. What a wonderful story. I too have a rescue, her name is Emma. We started agility nine years ago to form a bond (I was the impediment on the other end of the leash that kept her from running and having fun) and learn obedience. In class I could not get farther than maybe a foot away from her. Now, she is in Level 4 and 5 in CPE, and went to Nationals this year. Her start line stay is simply amazing. She is a MUCH different dog than she was when we started. She is confident and friendly to almost everyone at the trials, rather than fearful and very noisy. Rescue dogs DO know that you are special for having taken them in and are definitely worth the work, as they will give you their undying gratitude and love.

    • What a great story, Mary Jo! Thank you so much for sharing, we love to hear the success stories of our readers as so our other readers. Thank you for giving your dog a second lease on life!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I have a male chihuahua mix breed dog that I rescued. He is protective. I took him to agility practice session recently and he barked all the way while doing a few jumps and the a frame. I have a small dog low a frame at home and he loves it. A dog behaviorist told me he lacks self confidence and so I will try a small dog agility group class with him. This story really inspired me to make the best use of agility so he can gain self confidence and too lower his protective personality .

    • Good for you Corne! Do continue with building your dog’s confidence, a small dog group is a super idea until he becomes more confident in himself. Your flexibility will pay big rewards!

  3. Agility has brought out the best in my rescue dog. Chico has gone from fearful and aggressive to cooperative and cheerful. I’m not a whole lot more coordinated or athletic than I was when we started, but they say I’m coming along too.