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Friday, April 9, 2010

The Rosie Road, part 1

Today we start a trip back in time with the story of Rosie, or "how puppy-lust brought me to raising Leader Dog puppies."

It's Christmas morning, 2007.  Andy comes down from upstairs and drops two soft, round doggie beds onto our living room rug.  "Merry Christmas," he kisses me.  Thanks, now Gypsy can have a soft spot under my desk and another next to our bed.  She already had a nice bed on the main floor of our townhouse.  "You misunderstand.  They're not for Gypsy."

He smiled.

Andy caught me more than once perusing PetFinder or the pet category on craigslist.  He knew I struggled with "puppy-lust" since working for Invisible Fence (IF).  We figured it's possible I trained up to 1000 dogs a year on the fence; now I was doing one-on-one, in-home obedience for IF as well.

It had been seven years since I raised Gypsy, rescued at seven weeks old.  I knew more about dog training and was eager to apply what I'd learned.

Aside from my "puppy-lust," I rationalized the need for a puppy as beneficial for Gypsy.  She was obedient and well behaved, but a bit shy and jittery around other dogs.  Taking her with me to work gave her confidence.  She had a blast chasing balls and otherwise tempting ready-to-be-off-leash dogs new to Invisible Fence.  Her good behavior garnered me plenty of obedience work with my IF customers; I swear she was worth 50% of my sales!

Confirmation of my idea that getting a puppy could help Gypsy surfaced during a week of obedience training for IF trainers.  My co-worker and trainer-friend, Katie (a graduate of National K9 School), developed IF's "train-the-trainer" program.  I was her "left-hand" (I'm left-handed, sorry for the pun!) assistant. 

Trainers brought their personal dogs to class and we had several other dogs available for extensive hands-on practice.  I was amazed to witness this group of "balanced" dogs interact with no issues, both when focused during class-time and when romping in play at break-time.  (The picture at right is of some of these dogs "holding sit" with outside distractions!)  Even Gypsy felt comfortable, taking particular interest in cavorting with a young female Westie.

You mean...I can get a new puppy?  Andy aswered, "Yep!"

The search was on.  In earnest.

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