SPOTLIGHT ON . . .
Angel (Midnight Angel of the Hill)
Angel and her first rosette achieved in May 2011
When I first got Angel she was a frightened little Labrador with a very traumatic history. She didn’t trust anyone or anything. She stuck to me like glue from the day we picked her up and it took nearly six months for her to realise that my boyfriend wasn’t a bad man. Every time you picked something up she would run away with her tail between her legs, shaking. This young Labrador had obviously not had a good start in life. It used to break my heart when she would curl up next to me for some fuss, full of love and wanting to be loved, and I would wonder what she had gone through to make her so frightened. I didn’t want her to ever go through anything like that again, but I knew I couldn’t help Angel on my own.
I decided I needed some help in brining this little Angel out of her shell and I needed some advice on how to share my home with a rescue dog. I was a complete novice and didn’t really know where to go. A friend of mine suggested I try obedience or agility training as a lot of people she knew with rescue dogs had had great success with it. So on the Internet I went and found a site called BaDDogz. “Hmm, quirky little name.” I thought, so I had a look and liked what I saw. I gave Trudy Swann a ring and she told me I was welcome to come along with Angel and have a look at what they do in a class.
So along I went one evening, with Angel and within five minutes of sitting there, watching the dogs and their owners running around both Angel and me were hooked. I’d never seen Angel so focused. She was watching everything, ears up and tail wagging. That was it, mind made up. We were going to do Agility!!!
After she had become a little more settled in her new home, Angel started carrying extra weight and it started to affect her physically. I don’t quite know when it happened, but it did. I remember feeling so guilty that I had let my dog become overweight. It wasn’t just that she looked overweight; it was the obvious effect it was having on her health. She was becoming tired more easily on walks and was refusing to jump at agility (something she would normally love).
I worried about the long-term effects it would have also, as Labradors are prone to problems with their hips (as well as all the other problems that could occur). I remember the day I decided to do something about it, the day that gave me the slap in the face I needed to realise what I was putting my friend through. We were at a Dog Fun Day and a gentleman came up to us and said, “Well there’s a well fed Labrador". At first I was angry with him for suggesting my dog was overweight, but then I was mortified to realise he was right. That was it, Angel was on a diet.
I got advice from the vet and started straight away. I remember worrying about what everyone at BaDDogz would think of my neglect (that is how I saw it anyway) but everyone was so supportive and helpful, offering advice and handy tips for helping to slim Angel down slowly. She weighed 28.9kg when we started to slim in August 2011 and she is now a healthy 24.8kg, which the vet said is ideal.
"Angel is my friend and part of my family . . . I aim to give her the same unquestionable love, loyalty and joy she gives me"
She loves her agility even more so now and it definitely helped towards her weight loss. Her whole attitude towards things is different. She just seems happier in herself, you can’t stop her running around like a loon when we’re out and she never seems to get tired. She even comes jogging with me.
We started going to some agility shows in 2011 and actually managed to get a few clear round rosettes, which I was so chuffed with. Angel had a fantastic time and loved being in the ring. I was so proud of her, even when she didn’t get a clear round. A few times she ran off to see the judge or one of the helpers in the ring, but I just called her back (with a big smile and a laugh at the grin on her face,) and we carried on.
I’ve never been so proud of Angel. It never matters how we do at an agility show, it only ever matters that we try and we have loads of fun. When we do win a rosette it’s a massive bonus. With Agility training Angel has become a different dog and I’ve become a better owner. Agility is not just about teaching your dog tricks and how to get around a course it’s about building a better, more rewarding and happier relationship with your dog. Its about learning more about yourself and how your dog sees things that will help both of you understand each other a lot better.
Angel is so much more confident and happy. She still has her issues but we’re getting there. She doesn’t pee and run away to hide when a man comes near her anymore and she isn’t as aggressive towards other big dogs anymore. She plays, which she never knew how to do when I first got her. Going to BaDDogz has helped me understand my dog, anticipate how she might react to something and more importantly how to deal with situations that arise. That understanding has made my relationship with Angel more enjoyable and rewarding. I work with Angel on her issues, because one thing BaDDogz has taught me is that having a dog is a team effort.
Me and Angel taking part with the BaDDogz girls in Race for Life 2011 (front row 2nd from left)
It’s not just that Angel and me have a massive smile on our faces when we finish an Agility class, it’s the people you meet when your there. Everyone is so friendly and always willing to help or offer advice on anything I might be having trouble with, in regard to Angel. They are a fantastic group of people…no sorry...friends and I can honestly say that without them and Trudy Swann, I would have been lost and dread to think how Angel may have turned out with such an inexperienced owner as myself. Weather you’re an experienced owner or not, BaDDogz and agility have so much to offer you and your dog. My dog is not my pet, she is my friend and part of my family and as part of that family I aim to give her the same unquestionable love, loyalty and joy she gives me. More than anything BaDDogz makes Angel smile and that is the best reward I can ever have.
My dog is Angel. She is fit, healthy and she is happy. She’s a BaDDogz Dog :)
Beverley Boyd - January 2012
"Bev and Angel are made for each other, that is clear for anyone to see. When I first met them both, Angel was very shy, anxious and severely lacking confidence. The difference in her since taking part in agility is incredible. Anyone who watches Angel fly around the ring with a big grin on her face, would never believe the journey that Bev has helped Angel to take over the past 12 months or so. I honestly dont think Angel would be the dog she is today without the love, encouragement and patience that Bev has given her every step of the way. I got into agility years ago because my sheltie Jed was incredibly nervous and it is nice to see that years later, anxious dogs are still getting the special benefits that agility can bring. I cant wait to see how well Angel does this year in competitions. I think every rosette achieved will take Bev by surprise . . . but it will be no surprise to myself and everyone at BaDDogz who know what an incredible partnership they make"