Gifted was a singleton puppy who loves men more than women. I strongly believe that had there been more than one puppy in his litter I would have picked a sibling and Michael would have picked Gifted. Gifted’s training progressed easily as a puppy, he was quick to learn and never seemed to do anything wrong as a puppy – he was easy!!! However when I started to compete with him his drive for agility didn’t kick in. He was very accurate but ran without passion. He continued to LOVE Michael, he would scream at the door when Michael came home, but was luke warm in his reaction to me. Yep it was sad, but I realized he really didn’t like me much. He was a super jumper, had great contacts and was more accurate than any dog I had ever had before and I had to find ways to change our relationship.
I pulled him out of competition and started to work on tricks and his attitude to work. He was quite distracted/uneasy in the company of unneutered male dogs and he needed to learn how to focus on me and work in this environment. Also he needed to enjoy working with me. It is very obvious if he likes a person or not and I would ask people he appeared to love to run him on simple drills including the obstacles he didn’t like much – tunnels and weave poles. I used other people help build his enthusiasm for agility with the hope that this would improve his enthusiasm for working for me. I continue to work on his drive and our relationship and things are constantly moving in the right direction.
In 2013 he was a finalist at the AKC nationals and the USDAA Grand Prix finals where he flew off the teeter and off course into the tunnel – It was great. In 2014 I felt he was good enough to attend the AKC International Team Tryouts and we were selected for the 2014 European Open Team. In Hungary he ran clean in his 2 team runs and then had 2 off courses into his least favorite obstacle – the tunnel…..I guess I can decrease the amount of rewards I give him for this obstacle now. When I feel Gifted’s speed/drive is at a plateau I come up with a new idea to move things along again. Gifted’s agility career is still being written and I look forward to seeing how far we can go together.