Dog Days

Dog Days at Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue

01 January 2012

Life Changing Dogs: Brit Miller

How did Brit change my life?   It could take volumes to tell you about Brit's life with us.  She came to me at just the right time in my life.  I had started agility training with Duncan in 1998 and we struggled with it.  Duncan loved agility, but I was such a new handler, slow in my commands, not patient or consistent enough in my training and not really understanding truly how to work with a dog's strengths and weakness.   

Then Brit came along.  At first she was a real challenge.  I knew that she came with some issues and that she had been at Sarah's for quite some time. She came into the house with a strong dominant personality ready to be in charge.  She chased anything that moved. On walks, she would lunge at cars, motorcycles and bicycles and at her beginning agility classes, she was obsessed with the other dogs in class.  But along with these issues, came a dog that just needed to be loved and given guidance to be the great dog that she became.  I learned to be consistent in my training. She took to training like a sponge absorbing just about anything I  threw at her, and giving me much more confidence in my abilities as a trainer.

 When I started agility with Duncan, I had been anxious at the start line, and my anxiety had shown through in my handling in the ring.  Brit, on the other hand, understood her job, and her joy to be working with me was contagious.  she taught me that there are no bad dogs, only dogs that need to be shown the way to greatness.   She also taught me that training is more about relationship building than drilling skills. Teaching a dog confidence in themselves and in their handler is so much more important than teaching drills and once I understood that, Brit and I became a wonderful team.  Over her agility career, Brit earned more than 80 agility titles and Championships in four different venues.  But Brit was so much more than those titles.  She was a true friend and companion.  She lived every day of her life with gusto and with joy, and that joy was infectious.   When I worked in the yard, she was always by my side.  She became almost a part of me and we traveled everywhere together, visiting family, entering distant agility trials,  and accompanying us on family vacations.  I truly could not imagine leaving her behind when we traveled and she reveled in each new experience.

When Brit became ill in 2009, she taught me to be strong in the face of adversity and to live in the moment.  Brit came through her cancer surgery with the same strength that she had exhibited in her training.  She bounced back so quickly from surgery that she amazed her vets.  She lived her life to the fullest, often making me forget that she was, in fact, living on borrowed time.  She was a love sponge, becoming a favorite at the vets office when she went in for her routine checkups and blood work.  No matter that they stuck her with needles regularly, she loved them all and was so patient through all of her illness.  With her illness, she taught me that each moment is a precious gift that must be cherished before it is gone.  As each day goes by, I miss her more and more.  But her legacy has lived on as I have used so much of what she taught me with our current dogs.    She will always be alive in my heart.


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