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As a rescue volunteer, I was notified about a little red dog in a rural, high kill shelter, on the euthanize list in two days! The dog in the shelter photo looked scared, but I was immediately drawn to him. I named him Duke and set out to find him a great home.

I quickly realized he already knew quite a bit: sit, down, stay, spin, high five, etc. Wow, someone had spent some time with this dog and boy is he smart! I have always dreamed of having an agility dog, so I decided to sign up for obedience class at an agility training center close by.We learned how to capture and shape behavior using clicker training. Quickly Duke figured out the game of “click and treat” and we accomplished most of the objectives of the class.

By the end of our second class our basic obedience skills were honed with better focus and connection. The last night of that class we actually got to take our dogs on the agility dog walk. The first time Duke and I were both hesitant….Oh My we are actually doing this! After a couple times carefully walking across the dog walk, Duke got his confidence and was sprinting over it! I was out of shape and could barely breathe running to the other end to meet him. This was my Ah-Ha moment, a life changer for both of us. I decided then and there to officially adopt Duke as my own and vowed to get in better physical shape to keep up with this smart little dog with the big heart.

Duke is now able to do all the agility obstacles with confidence and I have greatly improved my physical stamina. We have become a TEAM of a little shelter mutt, just hours from the end, now trained as an agility dog, and an out of shape grandmother, loving a physical sport for the first time in my life! Two weeks ago we competed in our first agility trial!

I am having the time of my life!

Debbie Barnes
Lee's Summit, MO

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