…but you always get the dog that you need.  This is a philosophy in which I firmly believe.  I really think each dog we have is sent here to teach us something, and if we don’t get the lesson the first time, another dog will be sent to teach us the same lesson until we finally understand.  Kelso is my 7 year old border collie.  I bought him as a performance prospect, I wanted to compete in Agility and Obedience, and I wanted a border collie because they are so well suited to these sports (I also had a dalmatian-BC cross, whose BC parts were his very best parts…).  I had met and seen several border collies within the sport of Agility, and I knew that one of these intense yet loveable dogs had to be mine.  Enter Kelso.  At age 10 weeks he attacked his first dog.  It was a boxer puppy in puppy kindergarten class.  The next was a standard poodle puppy.  Then a corgi…the list goes on, and to make a long story short, Kelso’s aggression toward his fellow canines escalated under the well-intentioned but very poorly-informed advice I received from the dog trainers at the dog training school in Denver I was currently attending.  I now train dogs professionally, and it is hard for me to believe that I was so lost with Kelso just 7 short years ago, since dog-dog aggression is now one of my areas of special interest.  The things I was told to do to help “train” Kelso out of his problem are dispicably off-balance, and I never want another harried dog owner in the shoes I once filled.  Besides his behavioral issues, Kelso was also a lackluster performance dog.  He moved around the agility course like a slug, and the obedience ring wasn’t much better.  I now realize most of this was due to the high-stress my little friend was under in trial and training situations, because of all the “scary” dogs.  Lowering his stress by working on his aggression in a positive and constructive way did wonders for his scores, as did bending over backwards to teach him motivational games like tug, and going to the ends of the earth to find a treat he liked.  Now, Kelso’s 8th birthday is in just a few weeks, and we are closing in on his MACH title in Agility, and he has a UD in Obedience–two titles it’s pretty tough to get on a dog that doesn’t much care for the game.  He is a very competitive Obedience dog (we’ve beaten some of the top handlers in the state, and even the nation), and he is finally fast enough in Agility to get the points necessary for the MACH I once thought would never come to us.  The journey I have been on with this dog has been worth the sweat, blood, and tears it has costed.  Kelso was certainly not the dog I thought I wanted when I sought out a border collie performance prospect, but he has taught me so much more than I ever thought possible, and he is the dog I needed.  One of my Obedience instructors who has stood by Kelso and I since he was a young, unmotivated, sometimes downright nasty dog, said to my mother while watching us run a course at a recent trial, “You know, 7 years ago I wouldn’t have given you two cents for that dog, and look at him now.”  She is not the only one who thought Kelso would amount to nothing but heartache for me, and there has been heartache, but dogs are only what we make of them.  Each dog we have is here to teach us, and we must strive to learn the lessons they bring.

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