This center is a dream come true and has a very long history, so let's take a short trip into how it all began...
I don't remember how it all began... My parents report that I was very quick learning to speak. Of course, as I had something important to say: I want a dog! My parents were shocked. Third child and first strange wish like that: why on earth would one want to go into trouble of owning a dog??? None in my widest possible family never had a dog, it was not all that common at that time (huh, I'm getting old!), dogs were mostly guardians of farms and lived in very bad conditions. But I REALLY wanted that dog! I learned to read very quickly too as my parents got bored of reading me the only book about dogs that was translated to slovenian at that time: a dog breeds encyclopedia... On one of the first pages, there was a Samoyed puppy picture and I decided I absolutely need a Samoyed. I became a passionate reader, reading everything that mentioned a dog at any point, dreaming about moving to Alaska and working with sleddogs.
Meantime, I was inventing 1001st way to get your parents get you a dog. No luck. My first pet were fish that I caught in a river nearby. I also got some frog eggs and raised some lovely little frogs that eventually started to jump out of their terrarium so my mother made me take them back and got me a parrot instead. I also had a hamster, turtle... I took good care of them, but none of those animals ever took my mind off having a dog. My parents also tried with signing me in sports, musical and culture activities, but nothing really got my attention. It was all just a very, very long training in patience and persistence.
My wish to have a dog and all the creative ways I was coming up with to make my parents see I absolutely need one is what I most remember from my childhood. I have no idea where the wish came from, it was just there from as long as I can remember. The same way with agility: I read about it in 1989, just a short presentation of the sport and knew immediately that's my Thing. I realized that's even easier as moving to Alaska to do sleddog thing - if only I had a dog!
I got Aiken when I was 11. He was a Samoyed, but thought he is a Husky, I never met another Samoyed with that much will to run and that passionate about hunting. I wish I knew more about dog training then, he could be great if only I knew how to redirect all that drive into something more useful as chasing birds and cats and mice and rabbits for hours. He was very passionate and unstoppable about it, I always had to rescue him from holes he jumped in while chasing cats or gardens he jumped in but couldn't get out etc., life with him was sure full of adventures.
I know he should be kept on leash, but leash never fit into my picture about having a dog. But I sure did want to go into dog school with him, but my parents were not ready to pay for my dog's education. So, in order to make some money, I started to publish a magazine. Dog magazine, of course. I put together a magazine with stories and articles on different topics every month (for about 5 years!), copied it and sent it to 50 or so addresses of my subscribers! I sent some samples to some dog products companies too with a request for sponsorships and actually got a sponsor! I didn't get rich, but I did gather enough money for dog school!
We were like 20 in a class, 40+ year old men with German Shepherds and Rottweilers and me, a little girl with a Samoyed who hated long stays (yes, the story of my life, all my dogs hate long stays, I wonder why:). Instructor thought the problem is I'm not strong enough to correct him and hanged him on a choke collar himself. Bzzz.... Wrong move. Didn't fit into my picture of owning a dog either!
I decided for a different approach, my own version of clicker training, passed an exam with flying colours and by that got a green light for agility classes! Yes! My parents were (again) not excited about driving me there twice a week, so I often went by bus. Had to change two busses and did quite some walking for getting there, but hey, I could do agility! - Well, not in so many words... Aiken thought it's lots of fun for first two lessons too, but then had somewhat different plans. It was very, very frustrating, but I don't give up just as easily. If I can spend 10 years asking for a dog, I can spend few years, getting a message to my dream dog that we go chase mice to the next field if only he can do some jumps first. It made a great difference when he realized it's actually all about running. He thought it's about obstacles first and those got boring after two lessons (yes, of course we did all the obstacles on a first lesson already, it was year 1992 afterall!), that's why I always emphasis that the dog should know it's about running. As soon as Aiken realized it, he actually started to love the sport and never left me in a ring alone anymore. What a victory! My sweetest and most important win ever!
Yeap, that's how it all started. It was a tough start, but hey, it only makes everything else look easy. Like getting Lo without ever seeing a PyrShep before, learning French to get La, raising autistic Bu etc. You have to love those tough starts!