When our daughter took her dog Maggie to live with her, the house felt a little more empty. I wasn’t committed to getting another dog. I was just considering. I came across a Facebook post from a wonderful woman who regularly takes in dogs that are dumped on her land. She had a litter of eight four-week-old puppies that had been dumped on the side of the road. She was looking for homes for the four that were healthy and eating, so she could focus helping the four that weren’t.

As a child I had a red and white Bassett. The puppies were clearly a Bassett mix. Three were tri-colored with long floppy ears, droopy brown eyes, and big paws. Then there was Copper. He was red and white with shorter ears and green eyes.

He was so small and so sweet. My husband carried him around on his chest for the first few weeks. Unfortunately, he was the worst puppy! So much so that I swore I would never adopt another puppy!

I’ve house trained my share of puppies. Most have a few accidents here and there, but they quickly learn to use the puppy pads, so there’s never been much to clean up. Copper would shred the puppy pads and pee on the floor or in his crate. We were religious with his schedule, but he still managed to pee and poop in the house on a regular basis.

I’m used to having to keep a close eye on young dogs, but for Copper that phase lasted until he was almost three. He couldn’t be trusted with anything from trash cans to shoes to books and pens.

In addition, he started showing signs of serious anxiety very early. Despite my best efforts at socialization, he was afraid of everything. He was a little over a year old before he could be trusted enough to go to a group beginner obedience class, and he was sweating through his paws the entire class.

We spent six months going to private training to work on his issues before attempting our intermediate obedience and getting his Canine Good Citizen. After that, his behavior improved by leaps and bounds. Don’t get me wrong… He is still afraid of everything. But his fear response is usually flipping into heel position and looking to me for direction. I can live with that, even if it means I sometimes don’t get the Front I asked for! 😀

I was already working with my dog Tank to get his Rally Novice title virtually, since we were at the height of Covid restrictions. I have back ties in the backyard use them regularly when training all the dogs. When it was Copper’s turn to train, Bear and Tank would wait patiently in their sit or down, but Copper couldn’t stand watching Tank and I work on Rally together. Copper would produce the most pathetic little whine you’ve ever heard.

So… I decided to give him a try at a course Tank and I were working on. Copper was amazing! Perfect! Clearly, we had found his sport.

Last year, he earned his CGC, RN, and RI. This year, he’s earned his RA, and we’re working on his CGCA and RE. Trials within driving distance are still few and far between, but we’re getting to as many as we can. His obedience is amazing, but we still need to work on getting him used to the level of distraction at a trial.

He was the toughest puppy I’ve ever had, but at three years old, he is an absolute rock star!

Tanya Garrett

Tanya is an avid supporter of dog rescues. She has had adopted dogs her entire adult life and can think of nothing more fulfilling than helping a rescue dog become a good citizen. She competes in AKC Rally Obedience and IWPA Weight Pull with two of her All American Dogs (registered with the AKC Canine Partners Program). She hopes to add AKC Scent Work and Tracking to that list too!

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