|ABC Dog School|
|Copyright 2005 Carole J Sulser|
When I was growing up, there was always a dog or two at our home. I, however, was obsessed with horses, and spent 28 years owning, riding, training, and showing them. My first exposure with dog training was when my little brother won a drawing at the Crawford County Fair, for a free obedience class. He took his little Beagle mix, Freckle, completed the course, and impressed us all. I was in High School at the time.
Dog obedience next crossed my path when I attended a dog show at the Wood County Fairgrounds in Bowling Green, Ohio, if memory serves correctly. I was amazed at what I saw, and thought that some day I'd like to try that. In 1981, I happened across a training book at a pet store going out of business in Marion, Indiana. The price was right, and we had three pups running amok, so I figured it would come in handy.
The book I purchased that day was written by William Koehler (pronounced Kaylor,) who was, for many years, chief trainer for Walt Disney Studios, and training director for the world's largest dog club, Orange Empire of California. Now deceased, Mr. Koehler trained war dogs, competitive obedience dogs, tracking, police, and guard dogs, hunting, and field trial dogs. His training method has been responsible for the rehabilitation of hundreds of problem dogs that would have otherwise been disposed of.
The first dog I trained was my Dalmatian, Spanner. I was so impressed with the results that I convinced my daughter to give up horse 4-H and train her dog. Although she joined the 4-H dog club, she used the Koehler method. You could say that she was my first student. That summer, we competed in our first fun match and both won trophies. Her dog, Buffy, then won her class at the local fair, and placed second at the Indiana State Fair, losing a run-off for first place in a class of 82 dogs.
The following year, Spanner earned his AKC Companion Dog title and qualified for the World Series Dog Obedience Tournament in Detroit, where he competed in 1984. Buffy earned her 4-H CD, winning all of her classes, including a state level show, where she also won High-In-Trial. In addition, she earned an All-American CD title, which is an obedience title for mixed breed dogs.
The second dog I trained was one of those bad dogs that most people dispose of. I enrolled him in an obedience class, but used the Koehler method to train him. He was so noisy and aggressive that the instructor threatened to use a cattle prod on him! On graduation night, doing on- and off-leash exercises (Novice,) Dutch Boy won first place. I cannot speak highly enough of this training method!
If you attended the Newcomerstown High School presentation of "The Wizard of Oz" in 1987, (which you likely didn't unless you live around here,) you would have seen one of my dogs playing the part of Toto. Rocky had not completed basic training when he performed this amazing feat, which required an off-leash sit-stay, and taking commands from a stranger who had no experience with dogs. After working with Rocky, she said, "This is the closest I've ever come to liking a dog."
Success is a good motivator. My daughter and I enjoy competition. At one fun match we went to, all three of our dogs won their classes, and that was quite a thrill. But, more important than winning trophies and ribbons, is the way our dogs conduct themselves everywhere they go. They have visited nursing homes and schools, marched in parades, stayed in motels, enjoyed festivals and other events, including the Gaines Eastern Regional dog obedience tournament. They've seen Niagra Falls and the Ohio River, waded in Lake Michigan, hiked state lands, posed for professional photographers, and crossed the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. They have never been evicted for bad behavior.
In 1985, I returned to Ohio, and began teaching dog obedience classes in 1987. That was the birth of ABC Dog School. I joined a local kennel club and was active in showing my mixed breed dogs at fun matches, where they earned titles from the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registration (A.M.B.O.R.) and The New England Obedience News (All American.) In 1991, I became involved with the Coshocton County 4-H dog program, and have been a key leader up to the present, minus a three-year break.
Although my involvement in obedience competition waned as I took in more dogs who needed homes, my interest in dogs and their welfare has not abated. My plans for the future include writing books, expanding my websites, maybe becoming a 4-H judge, a Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and looking into an exciting new sport called Canine Freestyle Dancing. I love to dance! Might as well do it with my dog!
Obedient dogs really do have more fun! And so do their owners! Email, or give me a call, and we'll get started on yours! Have a great day!