Deanna started to train Cookie with us mid 2014 and started trialling either late 2014 or early 2015 (I never remember dates very well!) That is pretty quick progress, especially when you consider that Deanna only gets to training once a month and the occasional workshop. She does most of her training by herself out Mudgee way -country NSW and hikes down to Sydney once a month with the help of her husband Vern. Pretty amazing to do so well so quickly, especially when you consider that Deanna is in a wheel chair and Cookie is her Assistance Dog. Maybe that is an advantage. Assistance dogs know how to learn to do something new, so agility is pretty easy compared to some of the amazing things they do.
Deanna has been a bit of a challenge – not through any issue with her. But we have had to devise a new balance of cues to help her communicate with Cookie, while she is also concentrating on driving her wheelchair. We go back to the principals we use – movement, hands, feet, eyes, voice etc to guide our dogs. It is just that we have to use our cues a little differently. And Deanna has joined in the big experiment, given our suggestions a try and we are developing a very successful handling system for her to use.
This is what we love about agility. It is truly for everyone’s participation. Even Vern joins in now, with their new dog. I am also hoping that Deanna will make a contribution by telling us about her journey, so far.
We also love Deanna’s attitude to the sport. She will not accept the possibility that she cannot do any particular skill, even if we have to develop her own special techniques. And she is willing to take on all challenges, including competition at the Australian National Agility Trial in South Australia 2016. Nothing holds her back.