Category: Blog

“This blog contains Cheryl Cornett’s personal stories and experiences with dogs she has come to know and love. Cheryl is a dog trainer in Bradford, NH.”

My Destination Dog

is on a journey…

Many of you have read my posts with regards to Enzo and his epilepsy. It’s been a very tough week; he’s experienced three grand mal seizures in two days after not even a week’s respite since the last one. I am sad, anxious, and scared. We will be traveling two hours to see a canine neurologist on Wednesday. He is no longer responding to the medications.

We had a wonderful, successful 53-day stint back in April; I thought we’d found our Nirvana. But it was not to be. He seized. Three days later, again, just one. Seventeen days- one again. Twelve days, now two. Twelve days once again with two back-to-back; he was once more clustering. During this period of time, there were several trips to the veterinarian. Extensive blood work was performed, a full-blown physical, and two of his four medications were adjusted. He continues to seize and we cannot get past seven days.

Every once in awhile, I reminisce, thinking back to when we first started. Such high hopes. Such joy working with and training and being with this boy. We had plans! We were going places! We initially started doing field work in the hopes he would earn his NA title through NAVHDA. When I discovered he was gun-shy, we turned to tracking training. I took it for granted that he would earn his AKC Tracking Dog title and his AKC Canine Good Citizen title, I didn’t care which came first. I hadn’t a care in the world. I was clueless as to what the future actually held for us.

Now, he lays behind my chair- completely worn out from both this morning’s seizure and the post-seizure medications he’s been given on top of his regular dosages. I had a destination in mind when I got Enzo. Then I realized that we weren’t going to wind up in Italy as planned. I adjusted… perhaps Paris? (I wrote a blog about it.) Now, I’ve come to understand this is a journey. There is no destination in mind anymore. I will simply be grateful if he’s able to live each day in peace, free from seizures. I will be thankful to have him in good health. I will be happy (and so very blessed) to have him be by my side for many more years. If it’s not too much to ask, and you have a moment, please say a prayer for this wonderful dog. He means the world to me.

A Story of Peace in a World Gone Awry

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog. I haven’t felt much like writing. I haven’t updated my business’s website to add Aoife as our ‘newest employee’. So much has changed so quickly. These are strange and scary times now so it’s hard to carry on as though the world is normal. Because it’s not.

It began to shift on its axis in early March when two of my clients requested their training package be put on hold. One explained that her husband traveled internationally for work and didn’t want me exposed to anything he might have inadvertently brought back with him. I appreciated her thoughtfulness. Another explained she was nervous and wanted to see what would happen. I appreciated her honesty. But then, one of my clients texted to say she was in quarantine, awaiting her test results because her patient had tested positive for Covid-19 and was in the ICU.

And then, literally, just like that, my business world fell apart. Governor Sununu announced a “stay at home” order. I had to email all my remaining scheduled clients that we’d be in a holding pattern until further notice; however, if they wanted a refund for any remaining sessions, I understood and please let me know. Every single one of my clients opted for the hold… two of them even emailed back to say, “We’d like to prepay for our next session, in an effort to sustain you.” I was deeply touched.

Now at home, I continue to keep the same schedule I had when I was seeing clients. Early mornings I walk my crew. Next, there’s some light gardening and yard cleanup, then I head off “to work”. (Translated, this means I climb the stairs to my sewing room.) Finn is left in the kitchen, Aoife, her x-pen, per usual. But Enzo gets to come with me. He’s a low maintenance co-worker, either curling up in a ball or laying stretched out on his side, snoring softly at times, while I stitch and listen to my audiobook. Then, somewhere between 11:00 and 11:30 we “head home”– down the stairs to be greeted joyfully by the other two. Out into the backyard we go to stroll and jump and potty and sniff. Then, back inside for lunch and training.

Enzo with quilt

This has worked out exceedingly well. I have finished a quilt I started, then put aside in order to make a baby quilt, when I learned my daughter was pregnant. I intend to keep going with this plan and finish the few *cough* okay, several kits I’ve ordered over the past few years. It feels good to be productive. It’s also satisfying to complete a project. But. Yes, there’s that but…

But it still feels surreal. It’s still feels different. Something is off. A friend said, “There’s nothing to look forward to…” and at first I didn’t understand what she meant. Now, I do. I was looking forward to Aoife’s first ORT (odor recognition trial) in May with the National Association of Canine Scent Work. It was cancelled. I was looking forward to Aoife’s first trials in AKC Scent Work, Novice Interiors and Novice Containers in June. It’s been rescheduled tentatively for late fall. I was looking forward to Tracking with Enzo and all our friends at the Tracking Club of Massachusetts. I had high hopes of getting him certified this summer, maybe even entering a trial in the fall. But, as with everything else, all practices been put on hold- and there’s no definitive end in sight. That’s unsettling.

And I miss my clients. I miss the dogs. I miss the laughter, the joy, and the camaraderie that goes hand-in-hand with teaching, training, and working towards a goal. But most of all, I miss the stories. The stories I told at night at the dinner table– the funny ones that made us laugh because a client became the squirrel and her dog went running back to her. The happy stories that split our faces with grins from ear-to-ear because there was a break-through in training and Tonka pranced happily over that bridge that had terrified her. I even miss the sad stories because they made us pause, think, and reflect.

Stories can help us to be kinder, more thoughtful people. They aid learning and give depth to our lives, teaching us what it means to be human, humane, and alive. These are strange and scary times, but if we share our stories with one another, I think… no, I believe that we will make it through this to the other side. Our stories will help us to frame the journey and give meaning to the experience. I hope and pray Dear Friends there’s a happy ending to your story.

Over a Decade of Finn

I write about Aoife because she is as cute as a button and as entertaining as the Cirque du Soleil. I write about Enzo because he is epileptic and sharing my sorrow has helped to ease the burden of his affliction. I rarely write about Finn. Why is that? Because Finn is a mountain, solid and dependable. He is so easy… and due to that, I have sometimes taken him for granted.

Continue reading “Over a Decade of Finn”

On Being Humble

My last blog post about Aoife’s first handling class generated unintentional consequences- I hurt kind, good people and I’m utterly dismayed. My goal in writing was to convey that showing a dog is far more complicated than it looks, and that I had overwhelmed my puppy. I learned something important from both experiences.

My intent was not to bash the instructor. Was she brusque? Yes, at times. But I have worked with curt people before and learned not to take it personally. By remaining kind, calm, and patient, I’m always better off. Which brings me to my next mantra: “Assume good intentions.” With that in mind, let’s revisit. If I assume good intentions, her shouting “NO treats!” was most likely because I was quickly moving away from her in a large place and she wanted to make sure I heard her. It’s also feasible that she did not see Aoife trotting politely beside me when I marked “YES!” Perhaps she only saw her launching for the treat. Aoife is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to marking behavior while at the same time rewarding in position. She’s lightening quick and HIGHLY food motivated. It’s a struggle at times for me to get the reward to her while she’s still in position.

Then, instead of ignoring the instructor’s comments, I could have should have questioned what I didn’t understand or agree with– I know full well had I been training with either Helen or Dee, I wouldn’t have hesitated to ask questions. Because I trust my colleagues I automatically assume good intentions; there’s never any hesitation on my part to ask for clarification. How come I was unable to grant this instructor the same consideration? I could have easily said something along the lines of, “I use food to reward my puppy, do you not allow this in your ring?” a common courtesy that I neglected.

Next, and this was one of the hardest learnings for me… but important: when she began berating me for my ill-behaved puppy, I should not have taken it personally. Instead, I should have calmly replied, “Yes, she can be a pistol. *attempt grin here* I have a great deal of work ahead of me, but we’ll get there. She’s young, clever, and I adore her.” (My youngest daughter calls this dropping the rope.) Then, I should have thanked the instructor and sat with my friends, to learn more by watching the others.

In closing, I would like to thank Amy and Phil Jaspers of Notorious Bull Terriers for their support, kindness, laughter and love, Annie Glaser and Jane Messineo Lindquist of Madcap Tilaboo Bull Terriers for the same, as well as entrusting me with Aoife Rupee; she is everything I had hoped for and well worth the wait. And lastly, a shout-out to all the breeders, handlers, trainers, and dog aficionados who willingly share your love of what you do with those of who want to learn more. I am humbled by the absolute joy that radiates as you share your knowledge, years of experience, and expertise. I thank you.

bull terrier in jacket

With love, Cheryl and Aoife.