Three letters you ask? Why yes because the three letters that mean love to me are D-O-G! I have always loved animals and growing up on a farm made that part of my being. We raised Champion Arabians horses and also had chickens, cats and lots of dogs, a Newfoundland, German Shepard, Bloody Hound, Labs, Old English Sheepdog and more. I owe a lot of my upbringing to these animals as they taught me compassion, patience and understanding. It wasn't until I moved to NJ and got my first dog that was mine and only mine did I really under unconditional love. Her name is Dakota and I met her at the mall near my home. She was this beautiful brindle boxer puppy and I had never felt a connection so big as when we took her into the cubicle to see her and she licked my leg. That was it, she chose me.
She was MY first dog, MY first boxer and from there on out boxers became my favorite breed. A few months after I brought her home, I quit my corporate job in NYC and was now an entrepreneur starting my own Marketing and PR firm. Always in the back of my mind I thought, I would love to open a dog store and call it the Dakota Dog Company. Several years went by and I didn't start it. Then when Kota was 6 1/2 she contracted Thrombocyclopenia (an auto immune disease where her immune system kills off her white blood cells). We got her over the first attack but 3 weeks later she had a terrible infection in her back lymph node that she couldn't fight because we were suppressing her immune system. She went septic and was in critical care for 8 days, every day was a challenge, I had never seen an animal so sick. She fought for 4 days until the doctors were able to grow the bacteria culture and saw that the antibiotics they were giving her were not working. So she fought all by herself to live. for those four long days. They gave her a different antibiotic and it worked! She would have one more relapse, that counted as the third time I almost lost her. It was then that Kota taught me one of my biggest lessons, don't put off what you can do today because tomorrow is not guaranteed. The Dakota Dog Company was born.
My beloved Dakota has taught me patience, unconditional love, ambition and to live for each day. My other girls Montana and Sedona continue to echo these things and give me a reason to wake up every day. My girls are my everything, my best friends and I love them more than I can describe.
D-O-G is a three letter word, L-O-V-E is a three letter word.
So many people have asked us about the taping on Sedona's ears. Being a first time boxer mom with Dakota I had not idea that you could tape their ears to give them a natural set or fall. So she has flying ears. With Montana her ears automatically set perfectly and again I had no idea about taping. With Sedona she has the flying nun ears, meaning they are back and out instead of forward and close to her head with a crease in the middle. You can set a puppy's ears up until the teething has stopped. To remedy this you have to tape the ears. there are a couple of different way:
The first is shown by the breeder Lina Anderson of Boxers of Palo Mesa (Copy and Paste this link into your browser) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAD4cdj71vk
The second is what we did with Sedona as her ears were more stubborn and it worked really well. Be sure to watch the video a few times to get it right, I did not use the lighter fluid, I just used medical tape.
By Vondenpegenbogenkriegern (Copy and Paste this link into your browser) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5PBHQtMylc
Things you will need: Patience, medical tape and taping skills, lol. Watch each video a few times before you attempt to tape your puppy's ears because they all don't have a lot of patience.
Here you can see the difference from the before to the after.
Growing up raising Arabian horses and competing in the show ring, I have always been interested in doing something athletic with my girls and along comes agility. Dakota never really showed any interest in jumping up on things or exploring her agility talents. Montana on the other hand has from a puppy wanted to explore, jump on walls, and just be in the athletic state of mind. So I decided let's see if she would enjoy taking some agility classes. I was lucky enough to find an awesome teacher at a great training faculty here in Northern New Jersey.
Montana also had to overcome a couple of fears. As a puppy I used to take her to a local dog daycare for puppy socialization events and one was the Puppy Olympics. Not nothing a thing about agility, I let Montana walk up the teether aka see saw and because it was poorly made on pvc pipe which could not hold her weight (she was 9 months and already 50+ lbs) and no one on the other end to lower the teether to the ground, it broke as she was going down and then she went flying off. She was petrified! I was so upset! The responsible thing to do was to have an agility instructor there to help the puppies use the equipment properly, sadly which was not the case.
The second thing we have had to overcome is, at the same daycare they have a metal gate to enter the play field, I didn't realize all the dogs rushed up to the gate and barked at new dogs entering. So the staff would slightly open the gate so the dogs could enter the field. I was puzzled when Montana stopped wanting to go to the play area when she once pulled to go, she was afraid. I then put two and two together, she had been slammed in the gate who knows how many times going into the field because I noticed she was then afraid of things that moved in the house and especially the wooden gate I have to keep the girls away from things they shouldn't be near. Great! Now we have multiple things to work on.
Agility is not something you or your pup will learn overnight, it takes lots of time and patience. At the end of the day you are training an elite athlete to compete, much like an NFL player training to be better on the field, weight training, dieting, getting themselves ready for the big game in their mind. All these things go into to building a dog that can compete in agility. We have had other obstacles due to Montana's fears but through several private classes she is putting those to bed.
There are so many elements to agility, you must have a great recall so your pup will respond to you on the course and check in with you so you can direct them to the next obstacle or course of action. Your pup must trust you, the bond handling your dog through groundwork and obstacles is awesome! Basic obedience is a must, trust is a must and having a dog that is excited about agility is a must. Some love it and other just aren't cut out for it. You as your pup's guide must also be able to run around, a lot! Agility is a physical sport and yes it is a sport. So we both are training to be the best we can be so each run on the course, each obstacle we learn, we are learning and performing at our very best.
We also do homework, we work on recalls, groundwork and training. Montana's diet is high protein with low fat treats and lots of extra exercise. I have purchased small equipment such as jumps and short tunnels to practice and most recently weave poles that just barely fit in my living room. But I need to build Montana's confidence in things that move and also work on her muscle memory, again like an athlete. We have a Bosu ball to work on balance and an upside grain bucket to work on footwork.
We are in this together, it is a team sport, but your aren't competing against other dogs per say, you are competing against yourself to out do you last obstacle or run. Eventually we would like to trial when we are ready. We even hope to open an agility training center somewhere here in Northern New Jersey to continue to build the sport.
Agility is going to be our 'thing', the Mommy & Me thing. Sedona is also joining in on the fun as Dakota will be our cheerleader from the sidelines. It's a fun and very rewarding experience to have your pup go through a tunnel or over a jump for the first time! If we had space we would have a course in our backyard, trust me! So if you want to have some fun and get some exercise, or simply just bond with your pup, join in agility, you will thank us later.