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Monday, April 30, 2007

Poor Gracie!

Some of you may know my sister Gracie. She is such a sweet gal. Back in 2006 she was taken from a hoarder who had 70 dogs. The adult dogs were in ill health and had to be euthanized. A nice vet in the area took in the 20 puppies. But they were so unprepared to take care of them and put four pups to a cage and fed them all the food they could eat so they wouldn't fight. Six weeks later we found her on Petfinder.com and took her home with us.

In those situations, Gracie kind of grew up wild - not a lot of human interaction and absolutely no rules, except of the dog world kind.

When she came to live with us, she had some 'issues' as dog people call them. We found as we began socializing her and taking her to training and other places that she was afraid of men, and moving cars or other vehicles, and of course sleeping in the crate at night. After a few weeks, Mom and I got her over those things. She loves her crate to sleep in now and loves all people from ages 3 to 93.

We sometimes wonder how she got to be so NICE!!!! We are so grateful for that - but not learning 'rules' early in life has made her agility training kind of difficult. And other issues may be coming to the forefront.

The past three weekends she has experienced her first agility trials. In new environments, she tends to run off, but had been doing VERY well in training and hadn't run off in many weeks. So Mom entered her in some trials that I was competing in - to get her some experience.

The first trial, we thought she did great - real proud. She ran off a bit, but came back to Mom and finished her courses. Good girl!

The second trial, on the first day she did great again. Even got her first Q and ribbon - WAY TO GO GRACIE!!! But then something happened on the second day and she ran off and wouldn't come back to Mom. She enjoyed smelling the ground and kissing the bar setters.

So this past weekend - she was entered in more runs at the USDAA trial. The trail location was close to a road - but they had the high orange snow fencing in place to keep the dogs safe. So we felt pretty confident she would be safe.

Her first run - she ran off, then the second, and the third; not once really coming back to Mom. Then she ran in another ring that didn't have a fence and she was slow to start from sniffing, but went on and did a great job!!! Finishing the entire course. We were real proud.

Then it was back to the fenced in ring - and she ran off again - this time, trying to get under it and out near the road (where another competitor dog had gone just in the run before her).

So on Sunday Mom scratched her from several runs, for her safety - we didn't want to lose our Goofy Gracie Girl!!! But Mom decided to try one more time on Sunday. Gracie took one jump and was off again - but this time something with her seemed different. Very manic, panicky, frantic and worrisome. Mom got her back with help from friends - but she felt so bad for Gracie. Poor Gracie.

Maybe it was the fence, maybe too much stimulation from the environment, maybe Mom's stress. So, we're not sure where to go with Gracie in agility just yet - but Mom and Trainer J have some ideas that they are going to work on with her. She'll still train with agility, but she may get other forms of training too, like sheep herding and obedience in a larger class.

Mom thinks Gracie was stressed to the max, and by Sunday had become fearful and panicky. Mom and Cosmo's Mom took her around the agility fields on Sunday and walked around with her and let her meet some folks and pups. It seemed to calm her down a bit. But for now - Gracie is off the competition roster until she can feel much more confident in that type of environment - 'cause we love Gracie and want her to be happy and safe!!!

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