Over the last two months Cinema and I have been taking agility lessons at Dash K-9 Sports in Geneva. What I thought would be a fun way to spend some quality time with my little girl actually turned out to be nothing short of transforming for her.
Ever since Cinema was a puppy she has been distrustful of strangers. Many hours of training went into curbing her desire to herd off strangers approaching on the streets, many more were spent working on her manners with visitors in our home. While I was able to keep her from being a menace to society, I had succumbed to the fact she would never enjoy the presence of new people.
That changed when we met Beth Watkins of Dash K-9 Sports.
Our first day of training started and ended the way I had feared it might. Cinema was overwhelmed by the new place, the new dogs she wasn’t allowed to play with, and the new person that kept getting in her space and bribing her to come closer. She could barely function she felt so stressed. It was a sad first day but I was hopeful, Beth was wonderful with her. She respected Cinema’s boundaries and worked around them, she continued to ply her with lots of treats, gave her heaps of praise, and worked hard to develop a trusting relationship with my little girl. Four sessions later Cinema was giving Beth the alien grin (the highest honor saved for those she loves most), she followed Beth around – so excited to make her proud she could hardly contain herself, and even let Beth give her love and affection.
The love and trust Cinema found with her agility trainer began spreading into her every day life. My jaw hit the floor one day when a new client came to visit and Cinema peacefully rested her chin in his lap. She has even started to approach new people at the park with a happy tail wag and allows them to pet her if she suspects there might be a treat in their pocket. Gone are the days she slinked away in fear.
I never would have imagined that enrolling Cinema in agility classes would lead to such dramatic changes in her acceptance of people but one thing is certain, Beth now has a lifelong friend in Cinema and in me.