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Penny reminded me of the fact that I haven't written much about our post-Maxie life here. Yes, it is still sad not to have her. It sucks actually. A lot.  Occasionally one of the dogs lets out a bark that sounds just like hers, or their nails on the hard floor sound just like hers, and it is such a familiar sound that I expect to see her there but she's not and my brain gets confused. In the first few months after we lost her, I had dreams almost every night that she hadn't died after all. I would dream that I would come home from school and she'd be there. My mom would say "We thought we lost her, but she recovered!" It's weird, I've never had recurring dreams before that.

But I can't say that post-Maxie life has been all bad, particularly in regards to Toby. If it hasn't been clear on my blog over the years, Toby is not a huge part of my life, and I know that I've never really written much about that. There's a twofold reason for that, it is both highly embarrassing and very painful to recall. But I do feel like I'm ready to write about it, and that I need to write about it. Toby is a big factor in where I am today and I don't want to forget why that happened.

Toby came to us at around 11 months from a cock fighting farm in southern Kentucky. We don't know much about that. We know he was in a pin with several other dogs, mostly large shepherds. He is and always has been my mom's dog. I don't know if imprinting is a real actual thing in dogs, but I do know that my mom was the one who picked up him from the shelter and brought him home, and from that moment on he has been her dog through and through. When we got him, I wanted desperately to show in agility with him. After all, I couldn't do it with Maxie because I was told AKC was the only venue that offered it. I tried, and tried, and tried. His stress levels were always so high that I could never get him to do much with me outside of the back yard. As a 12 year old with very limited dog training experience, I didn't understand anything about stress and fear in dogs. My instructors just told me he was "unmotivated". I tried to "motivate" him. They told me that my mom should hide whenever I did agility with him because he would just want to run to her. Nothing worked. I had to drag him out of the car to get him to come to agility class. One day in particular is etched into my memory. I was dragging Toby out of the car and he was desperately clawing to get back in, and in the process gouged huge claw marks into my leg. I was bleeding everywhere.

Oh my gosh, I would cry. Once I discovered agility with Maxie a few years before, there was literally nothing else in the world I enjoyed more. I couldn't understand why other people had dogs that would actually do things with them but I couldn't get Toby to work with me. I cried. I got angry. Eventually I gave up and decided Toby should just be a dog. I started working only with Maxie , although I still didn't realize that USDAA existed. I decided most of all that I needed a border collie.

Cliffhanger! pt. 2 will come soon.

September 2016



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