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Monday, December 20, 2010

Montana Sept. 2009 Part 3

Melanie had worked hard all summer and passed her exams to become a certified personal trainer. This was something she had been wanting to do for seven years. In addition, she still had to take care of the horses and dogs and compete in Endurance riding events. Everything had fallen into place like it had been planned by a higher being. She worked at a place in Helena, had a few personal clients on the side and was leasing space with the option of going into partnership with another trainer who was also a drug and alcohol counselor, named Steve. She and Steve had found a place where they could begin their own clinics and both of them were interested in helping troubled youth. The clock in their bathroom said it best, “God’s timing is perfect.” I knew exactly what she meant. I felt the same way about my training. This was a God thing.


Tuesday was a busy day. I got up in the middle of the night and read and wrote in my journal. After breakfast, it was off to the dog yard for some serious scooping poop. As I was finishing, Doug appeared with the ATV, towline and harnesses. We were going to harness five of the puppies and run them for their very first time. Doug said that this and the actual race were the hardest parts of dog handling.  The harnesses went on easily, but Doug said next time would be harder because they would know what was coming. I was supposed to walk ahead of the two leaders, who were seasoned veterans, used to being in the lead, and keep the line out to keep the puppies from getting all balled up. Doug had some basic rules. Never put two females beside each other. Always leave one open spot in case you have to isolate a dog that is misbehaving. Cinch the harnesses tight enough, with the neck line and back line, that they could not get tangled. Make it pleasurable for the puppies. Stop and pet them often. Let them work out their problems like leg over unless it is too dangerous. Watch them to see who digs in and wants to go; who is not distracted and might make a good leader. Watch their body language, ears perked up, tails, feet. Be able to identify them and their differences in and out of harness. We would not run them for the first few trips and not go more than a mile or two. We would not make them pull unless they wanted to and we would keep the towline taut. If a dog kept picking fights with the dog next to it, we would isolate that dog or put it next to a bigger dog that could take care of itself. Once they straightened out, I could get on the ATV and let puppies continue pulling behind the leaders.

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