Never had I ever...

..thought that I could love another dog the way I loved my childhood dog, Maisy. A cocker spaniel who was incredibly smart and couldn't hurt a fly (except when she would catch and eat flies)... haha.  She got me through middle school, high school, and all of the "struggles" of growing up. She was the type of dog that never needed a leash because she wouldn't leave your side for anything.  As a professional dog trainer, I hate to admit that she didn't really need any training at all. She was just that perfect.

When I found out she had cancer, I adopted my new project dog, a border collie mix named Tucker. Little did I know that this next dog would make me into the trainer that I am today. I adopted Tucker with the intention for him to hopefully fill Maisy's shoes. I quickly found out that it wouldn't be that simple. He was fearfully reactive to just about anything. I had to learn how to manage his fears and teach him that the world wasn't such a scary place. Because of his issues, I learned how to work with reactive, fearful, and aggressive dogs. I had to (and still have to) find new ways to occupy his active, busy mind. Tucker and I started to explore the trick-dog training world and he helped me find my passion for tricks and service dog training. I've learned more from owning Tucker than any dog training book I've ever read. He's still a handful but such a great challenge.  Despite his flaws, I love him to pieces. Never had I ever thought that I could love another dog the way that I loved Tucker. 

Then along came Oakley. I wasn't looking for a dog and wasn't in a place to get another dog, but somehow I knew I needed to have this big red mutt. Even though he had been through 3 homes already, I knew that they hadn't seen the potential that I could see in him. He was energetic, goofy, and unexperienced in all areas of life. When I first adopted Oakley, I thought that he might become "second" to Tucker. It didn't occur to me that I had an entire piece of my heart waiting for Oakley to fill. He's the "perfect" dog who is now my service dog. He makes me laugh constantly and helps me get through each day. He's always there for me and I can't imagine my life without him. 

Maisy was the dog that helped me grow, Tucker is the dog that helped me learn, and Oakley is the dog who helps me live worry-free.