The Story of Ally

Last year, in May, I drove from Idaho to Nebraska to pick up the cutest little tri colored Border Collie puppy I had ever seen. I was beyond excited for her as she is Try’s niece and I wanted another dog with the same lines as Try.

I had a name all ready for her, Allons-y (Ally for short) after my favorite phrase of the 10th 959046_10201277005465923_819266207_oDoctor in Doctor Who.  I had toys, treats, chew things, and of course puppy snuggle blankets.

I picked her up and started toward Colorado where I had seminars and trials lined up. She was a good little girl in the car, loved to run around at rest stops, and was pretty sure Try and Nargles were the neatest dogs she had ever met.

Once she settled in, I noticed she wasn’t the snuggly little puppy I had been dreaming about ever since I knew the litter was going to happen. Even at 12-15 weeks she had a very strong “work” drive and wasn’t really into the whole “puppy cuddles” routine.

This was beyond hard for me, anyone who knows me, knows I am all about cuddling andIMG_20140710_192929540_HDR snuggling and I love dogs who just want to be pet and lay on my lap all day.

This is not Ally.

Ally wanted to work. Ally wanted a job and in her mind Border Collies are meant for working, not hugs, kisses, and cuddle time.

Not to long after I got Ally, my life changed dramatically and I ended up moving to Oregon. With everything happening I barely had time to think, let alone do what training needed to be done with a baby Border Collie.

She did not get the foundation and the attention she needed as a baby and because of this the relationship between her and I became strained. I wanted a cuddly puppy and she wanted me to train her for a job. Life between Ally and I was very hard. I had a hard time working with her because I wanted to pet and cuddle her and she did not. I was frustrated, she was frustrated; I felt like I failed her and I didn’t know how to fix what I had done. Ally and I did not have a relationship because I didn’t work on it enough. I felt like I had failed her as her trainer and as her friend.

IMG_20140803_194619593After long talks with friends and so many ideas on what to do, i decided to go back and treat her as though she was an 8 week old puppy. Not as a one year old dog I had failed, but as a puppy who needed to learn about relationships and starting a foundation.

In the last three months Ally has become a completely different dog. Her and I have a very strong relationship that improved ten fold once we both started working together. She now loves to be petted after a job well done. I love how hard she tries and how she has started working for me and not just for herself or treats.1623798_10203166022970180_1571313801_o

Ally and I still have a long way to go. We are working on our foundation and training obstacles for agility is still a long way out. Without the strong relationship and foundation between us, teaching her obstacles would set us back. So we are learning to work together as a team, away from the agility field. She loves her TEAM training games and I have been teaching her Treibball which, strangely enough, has helped immensely.

10312435_10202389505764404_3771689340126124457_nShe is my success story. She is the story of a dog who brought me back and made me a better trainer. She is the story of the dog I thought I failed and she showed me otherwise.





Published by Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is well known for her distance handling skills, and she has been traveling the country and teaching seminars for 20+ years. She has traveled around the world to Australia, Japan, Netherlands, England, Switzerland and the Philippines teaching all levels of agility, with nearly all dog breeds. Amanda focuses on teaching teamwork as well as how to create a strong connection between dog and handler. She works with all styles of handling, from running with your dog to distance handling. Amanda tailors each training session, large or small, to the dog and handler to help bring out the best in the team. Her training techniques consist of a large amounts of targeting, food rewards, and toy rewards. Creating a fun learning environment for the dog encourages a fast, fun, and motivated dog in the agility ring. Amanda uses a combination of Upper Body Cues, Lower Body Cues, and Verbal Cues. This system was derived from the natural cues that most dogs read and pick up quickly. Handlers are taught how to use all of these cues, together, to create a customized handling system that can be tailored to their unique dog. All of these techniques have resulted in Amanda earning numerous titles with her dogs including the MOD SQUAD award, Purple Achievement Cup, and over 40 NADAC Championship titles. She has won the NADAC Championships multiple times, including winning the Super Stakes and Starter Stakes division. She has also been Top Bonus Dog, Top Purple Dog, and Top Dog of the Year several times in NADAC.

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