Tribute to: MACH UKC CH Leigh-Hi’s Keepsake MXB, MJS, NF, RN, CGC, CL4-F, CL4-H, CL3-R, CL3-S, ATD
By Dawn Fleischhaker, Maple Creek Shelties
I got Nina in September of 2007 from Kristi Walker of Leigh-Hi Shelties in Michigan. I was looking for an all-around girl with good structure and a steady temperament that I could compete with in all venues. From the moment I met Nina I knew she had potential as a multi-venue sheltie but little did I know just how much my life was about to change.
Character/Qualities: Intelligent, loving, outgoing, empathetic, playful:
Nina is an intelligent, playful and outgoing dog that loves everyone and everything. She is very empathetic and tuned into how people (and other dogs) feel. When she is not chasing after titles in the ring, she can be found in someone’s lap, cuddled up next to someone on the coach or laying upside getting a belly rub. We have nicknamed her "Princess" because she knows how to use her charm and cuteness to wrap you around her paw. She is the perfect combination of beauty and brains!
Venues competes and excels in: Nina has competed in agility, conformation, rally, trick dog and has also attained her CGC as a first step to attaining certification as a therapy dog. She is also training in obedience. Her favorite venue though is agility and this is where she really excels.
Accomplishments: Nina has earned a total 32 titles in 5 different venues from 4 different organizations (AKC, UKC, CPE and a trick dog organization called, "Do More With Your Dog"). She has also competed at 2 CPE Nationals, where she has qualified a total of 12 out of 14 runs.
Although I am proud of the titles Nina has earned so far it’s her accomplishments outside of the ring that truly make her a spectacular sheltie. Nina’s gentle and empathetic nature makes her a hit with children. Whenever we bring her out for a walk, the neighborhood children run out to greet her. Even children that are a bit fearful of dogs have worked with her to help them become more confident around animals. Nina is also a hit with seniors! I will never forget when we were at a show a couple years ago and an older gentleman asked if he could see her. Nina was happy to oblige. He petted her and talked to her for over 10 minutes until he finally got teary eyed and said he had loved dogs all his life but had to move to a retirement facility and could no longer have dogs. He thanked me over and over again for letting me spend time with her. He even snapped a picture with her before leaving. I will never forget that moment. We are hoping to get her therapy dog certification soon so that she can reach out and help even more people.
Nina is also great with other dogs and we often use her for socializing puppies as well as dogs that have fear issues around other dogs.
Nina has also helped me face and overcome one of my personal challenges: losing weight. I had been overweight all my life. I tried diet after diet, exercise after exercise. As Nina became more and more confident in agility, I struggled to be able to keep up with her. One day I was competing at an agility trial with Nina and I lost some Q’s because I simply was too out of shape to support her properly. Here I had the dog of my dreams and I felt like I was holding her back from her true potential because of my weight. On that day, I made a pledge to myself and her to get in better shape. I found a new way of eating that I could follow and sustain long term and started a regular workout program. Nina would accompany me for walks and jogs and keep an eye over me when I did cardio at home on DVD. Every time things got hard and I wanted to give up, I would look at her and remember why I was doing it. Nina fed off my emotions and was there to offer emotional support in her own way (nudges, snuggles, barks, etc.) After 9 months, I lost 70 pounds and went from not being able to jog a block to completing my first 5k. Our qualifying rate in excellent went up and I found myself being able to get some front and blind crosses in that I would not have even attempted before. I honestly do not feel I would have accomplished this goal if this awesome little dog had not come into my life.
So what’s next for Nina? We will be pursuing our CPE agility championship and work on getting our obedience titles and therapy dog certification. We may even let her try a little a herding.
It’s been an amazing journey so far and I can’t wait for our next adventures together. I am truly blessed to have this spectacular sheltie in my life.