Sunday, March 2, 2008
So after a few personal break downs and serious doubt about our decision we got to work trying to make a normal and structured life for Tali. We had lots of walks, stood, for what felt like hours, at the far side of our local park watching other dogs. We exposed her to as much as possible in a supportive and safe environment. As the summer went on we made some big and not so big break-throughs. We took off her gentle-leader, started leaving her training treats at home, and no longer ducked and ran when we saw another dog. She began playing with other dogs, she would listen to basic commands, and started to live a happy life. Not to say that she is now the perfect dog, but we can walk her without a leash, and know how she will respond in certain situations, and her basic obedience is now better than some other dogs we come across.
Because of her breed, which we now believe to be a mix of English Setter and Border Collie, Tali needs lots of exercise. We got her a Frisbee, which we doubted would draw any interest but thought it was worth a try. After a throw or two she became obsessed. Her drive to get the Frisbee, find the Frisbee, and never leave the Frisbee was almost alarming. As fall started we began to notice traits that might make her a good avalanche dog. What we saw was first and foremost a strong work ethic, a desire to please, loyalty, and a love to play. As the winter started my wife and I discussed the thought about seeing if she could make it as a working avalanche dog.
I talked to everyone in the dog program at work and they were all very encouraging and supportive about her starting the training. With that she was on her way to a potential new career.