Sandy, who was 72 years old at the time wanted to come and watch one of my puppy classes with a friend. She just got a new Maltese puppy and was looking for a class.
They showed up early, they seemed nice enough, sat down and watched a class of 14 week old puppies romping and roaring, scampering around and learning to work with their owners.
Every time I looked over at them their eyes were as big as pancakes, I had a feeling the environment was a bit too overwhelming for them, may not be the right fit.
After class they had some questions, actually a lot, and a ton of concerns for their small puppies. No matter how much reassurance I offered, they still seemed concerned. So I just told them to go to PetsMart and take a basic training class, have fun, and have a nice evening.
Sandy, who I didn’t know at the time, was so blown away that I turned them away, and maybe even a bit pissed off, accepted the challenge and signed up for classes with her friend.
On the first night of class, Sandy and her little Sophie were surrounded by twenty somethings and their large breed puppies. Her class mates dismissed ‘Grandma and her tiny white dog’, but I didn’t. I knew there was some grit to this woman, and I’m sure she picked a dog that could keep up. I watched them closely and I was excited, as I knew how this was going to play out. Watch out all you young hot guns, here comes an awesome lesson!
As always, the large Newf mix puppy fell for little Sophie. He was so love struck, and Sophie could care less. She was sassy, saucy, high energy, playful, and flirty. But above all, clever, as in super smart and liked to solve concepts. Even at the tender age of thirteen weeks.
When we met again the following week, all of the twenty somethings stood back and took note, they were about to be schooled by Grandma. Sandy and Sophie in just a week, blew all of them out of the water, all of them. She not only did the homework, she did some of the extra fun tricks, and just for good measure worked on some self control work too, like capturing settle.
Sophie loved working with Sandy, and when they were engaged, no other distraction in the room mattered, not even Sophie’s giant boyfriend. After our second class, there was an amazing amount of respect gained for Sandy and Sophie. It turned out to be a class where everyone enjoyed each other, cheered each other on, and got together outside of class for play dates.
Sophie won the hearts of people who didn’t give much credit to small dogs. I think we all fell in love with her more than we thought possible. I particularly fell hard. I referred to her as our ‘border collie in the witness protection program’. Sandy knew that if she ever had second thoughts about Sophie I would take her in a heart beat.
Sandy and Sophie went on to take an adolescent class, freestyle & tricks, and attend some of our Sweet Petites play groups.
They are now a working Therapy Team with ITA here in Bozeman. Sandy makes sure to play fetch, have wild play times, and work on tricks daily. Sophie, a little fire cracker, thrives on the BIG fun!
We have become friends outside of training, which I love. We go for walks, have tea, and play with our dogs. We’ve even had a holiday vodka tonic together because Sandy said she needed to use up a lime or two! That’s Sandy, and I love her for it!
So here is to a team that I find so inspiring. Sandy is now seventy six years old and Sophie four. They still blow most of our young clientele away with their skills, and they still make me smile every time!