This past year we offered The Riffle Memorial Scholarship. It was to honor a young dog who trained with me several days a week for over a year, with her seriously dedicated owner. She tragically lost her life at fourteen months, and it was like someone had kicked us all in the chest. She was so loved, and just part of everything we did. I could think of no better way to honor her and her owner than to offer a scholarship in her name. The criteria was for a very dedicated dog owner who was looking to go above and beyond family pet ownership/training. Taking classes, assisting, being available for Q & A sessions, observation hours, seminars, and reading.
I was floored by the amount and quality of applications we received. All of the letters were amazing, all of them so sincere and filled with a deep sense of love and dedication for their dog.
Cora & Bentley, our inaugural recipients, are finishing their scholarship term, and sadly, we will be loosing them to Colorado in just a couple of weeks. After spending such concentrated time together I can say this Team has an amazing future together. I am grateful for our time together, the friendship, and dedication they have. So cheers to you two! ~ Nancy
“I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities this scholarship has presented me with and there is no doubt in my mind, Bentley appreciates it too! If there was one thing that this experience has taught me it is that I have a good dog. I think a lot of times I get so wrapped up in working on behaviors and doing whatever I can to help Bentley that I often forget to take a moment to breathe, appreciate him for the wonderful dog he is, and appreciate the team we have become.
Some say that our accomplishments are because of all the hard work we have done. This statement is true, but I must put my few cents worth of thought into it because it deserves more explanation.
The classes I have had the opportunity to take have given me a positive way to work with my dog, teach him, and most importantly to listen to him. The time we have put in has given Bentley the skills he needs to communicate with me and interact with the world around him in the most effective manner possible. These skills are invaluable and have created our team. Also, communication is everything. These past few months I can feel our team becoming stronger thanks to the flow of communication we have built.
Bentley seeks me out for information, comfort, permission, and for playtime, while I have become better at working efficiently with him and not against him. The more we work the stronger our communication gets. I learn how to talk to him and listen when he has something to say, and he learns how to talk to me and actively seek out information. Bentley is not just a good dog, we are a good team that has grown so much these past few months and will continue to grow.
When I first met Nancy, I was seeking someone to give me more information on how to own a dog; I was clueless since Bentley is the first dog I have ever owned. I also needed a way for Bentley to keep learning and growing as a dog. I expected to find someone who would start us with basic obedience classes and move up the ladder towards “the perfect dog.” If you know anything about Nancy you might have an idea where this story is headed. What I found was vastly different than anything I imagined. Day one, Nancy shared a philosophy about dogs with me that have stuck with me through this whole process. She said that dog owners who expect too much from their dogs will create enough stress on the dog that it will actually be detrimental to the dog. Through the process, this is how I have come to understand what she meant. Appreciate who you have as a dog, lower expectations to create reasonable goals that are not time sensitive, and listen to what your dog is telling you.
I will be the first to admit to you that I do not have the perfect dog. Bentley has his “issues,” but so do I. We are not the perfect team, but we will always work towards it and I will always appreciate Bentley for who he is just like he will for me no matter what. The skills I have learned are not a magic recipe to becoming a good team. Becoming a good team takes time, patience, and a lot of work, but it is not ever impossible. Some accomplishments take longer, some take hardly any time at all, some accomplishments are big, some are small, but all teams should appreciate any accomplishment tremendously no matter the circumstance. You get one chance with your dog, make it the best chance and enjoy the journey and everything it has to offer.
In the 9 months that Bentley has been in my life and the 8 months I have worked with Nancy these are just 10 of the most important things I have learned, in no particular order.”
~ Timing is everything, but let time escape you.
~ Always ask your dog, they will tell you.
~ Always work under your dogs threshold and yours as well.
~ Be understanding of your dog, they don’t yell at you when you mess up.
~ Create safety.
~ Appreciate everything no matter how small! Rejoice!
~ Dogs are incredible and extremely humbling animals.
~ Management is everything, especially until your team has the skills.
~ Be creative; never get stuck in one way of thinking.
~ There is always something to work on, seek out learning.