Einstein's Progress in Agility
by Tekla Stolberg
(Esko, MN, U.S.)
Einstein and I at a campfire ( he is really white, but the fire makes him look gold)
Can't do tricks? It's okay, he's cute enough for a treat. :)
My dog Einstein and I have been trying to do dog agility; unfortunately, my A-frame broke and my new one hasn't been completed yet. Even so I have still tried training him in the hurdles and tunnel. The tunnel he got right away, but he seems to have an illogical fear of the hurdles. Even so he is making some progress and I am proud of him. When I see him zipping between trees and jumping over logs in the woods, I know he would have fun in agility.
This past September I went to the 4th annual Mutt Strutt and was impressed by how far Einstein has come with the tunnel. He did it with no problem and we had only just started practicing. He also won 1st place at the obstacle course again. So proud. :)
This past November we went to the annual Beastie Bash at Black Bear casino. I entered him in the talent contest and he jumped over hurdles and went through his tunnel. I kept him on his leash because I didn't know how he would react to having so many distractions in one place. As I worried, Einstein stopped in the middle of the course and walked over to the newspaper lady and gave her a kiss. Here I was worried he would jump off the stage and make a break for it.
I love Einstein and want to spend all my time with him. I don't want the day to come where he passes away and I am left wishing I could spend another special moment with him.
Ever since my cat Mr. Buttans passed away I have spent almost every day wishing I could spend one more day with him pawing my back like a soothing massage and rubbing his whiskers over my ear, or one more night of having his hair nearly suffocate me in my sleep as we fight for control of my pillow at night....................... so I decided to create an Einstein diary so I can remember all the special moments.
Tekla, thank you for sharing more about Einstein and Mr. Buttans (sorry you lost your cat). Love your idea of creating a diary to remember the special moments! Jo
UPDATE - December:
Thank you for allowing me to tell people about my wonderful shelter dog. I have realized that although he is good at agility it is hard for him to learn the commands and he does not seem to enjoy every aspect of it. That being said, I think I am going to try to train him in other activities and see if there is anything he enjoys better and/or is better at. Tekie and Einstein
Tekie, you sound like you are wonderfully attuned to Einstein. Here's a YouTube video that you may want to check out that shows shaping via clicker training for a dog that is having a hard time or resistant to learning commands... Jo
Persistence does pay off in the end
by Tekla Stolberg
(Esko, MN, U.S)
Einstein emerging from the tunnel - photo by reporter from the Pine Journal, Cloquet, MN
Einstein is my three year old Bichon mix. We got him from the shelter when he was one. Einstein had originally been taken out of the shelter before to be trained to be a service dog, but he failed due to lack of an ability to focus. He was then put back into the shelter at the age of one and was going to be put down because he was labeled untrainable.
One day I went to the shelter looking for my missing cat and my brother decided to go look at the dogs. While he was there he found a dog that looked a lot like a dog my mom used to have (Winnie the Poodle). So we decided to get him. The poor thing was all matted up and miserable.
I may not have found my cat, but I made a new best friend. Now Einstein is going on four years old and in the three years that I have had him I have trained him to sit, stay, and come ( even though he doesn't always listen). Currently I am attempting to train him in dog agility. It wouldn't be fair to judge how he is doing at it since we just started, but I believe we can do it. Last year at the third annual mutt strut, they had a miniature agility course set up and Einstein and I astounded all the people at the shelter by completing the course the fastest. That is when I got the idea to do agility with him. Due to the winter and lack of agility equipment ( because my last set was wiped out with last year's flood) I have been unable to really start any training. Now we have just started the a-frame and I can't wait to see how it goes. I personally couldn't have asked for a better dog.
One morning I woke up and saw Einstein laying on his back with his head on the pillow next to me. He was just looking at me and smiling. This morning was particularly special to me because he never did it again. I am not going to say that dogs from the shelter are perfect, but I think everyone should try adopting. It will be a wonderful journey.
Tekla, what a heartwarming story! As your title says, persistence is key to training a dog - especially one that has been labeled "untrainable." As you said, "dogs from the shelter are not perfect" - but very few dogs, no matter their origin, are perfect. Shelter dogs are generally there because of some issue with their behavior. As long as you are realistic and patient, you can do a tremendous amount.
(We were told in an obedience training class that Comet would never be able to be off leash around other dogs or anywhere except an enclosed yard and that proved to be totally false - although he could be challenging, he was very good at lifting our spirits on a daily basis and the most loyal dog we ever had.)
Sorry to hear your agility equipment got wiped out by flooding. Good for you for not giving up. Re training for agility - I have been reading more and more about clicker training and what amazing things can be done with this positive, hands off program.
All the best to you - and please let us know how you and Einstein are doing - we can add it to your page!