Since the age of 12, Nicole’s life can be defined by which dog was walking next to her. Her love of dogs began with a Shepherd/Hound Mix, Buck, who was the first dog she could call her own. What began as an obsession with horses and an active 4-H hobby became a fascination with dogs that would last a lifetime.
While working in a Veterinary Hospital in 1994, a furry 15 week old Husky/Aussie cross was brought in after having been hit by a car. It was love at first sight, and Zachary was here to stay. Two years and surgical bills totaling thousands of dollars later, Nicole found herself with a very willful, powerful, and energetic dog. After months of basic obedience, Nicole had become frustrated by the lack of relationship that the two of them shared and tried a new kind of class called Dog Agility.
The injury Zach had received in his accident prevented them from getting serious about the sport but at the age of 8, Zachary did compete in a few USDAA and NADAC events. Before long, the family was joined by Reis, a shy and nervous Australian Shepard rescued from an inner city pound. Reis’s health issues introduced Nicole to the world of alternative diets and an awareness of the importance of complementary healing modalities such as feeding a natural diet, massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic maintenance. Despite gastric problems, hypothyroidism, motivational issues, and severe separation anxiety, Reis went on to compete to the Masters level in USDAA, the Excellent level in AKC and Elite in NADAC. Reis was nationally ranked by the AKC in the year 2000 and was a Top 10 Performance Snooker Dog in USDAA in 2004.
In 2003, Nicole began training Shen, an explosive and very high drive Border Collie. Sogn Valley’s Spirit of Kandu (Shen) has taught her the need for consistency in a training program and how important it is to have clear body cues when running your dog. Shen’s level of drive convinced Nicole very early on that she needed to have a clear and consistent contact performance and start line in order to compete with him. Shen has been featured in several Clean Run produced DVD’s including The In Focus series, Stretching the Performance Dog, and Serpentines and Threadles by Stacy Peardot-Goudy. Shen went on to earn his ADCH and PDCH in USDAA and is currently enjoying his retirement.
In 2006 Nicole started training her first girl dog. A beautiful red Border Collie, Sogn Valley’s Spirit of Contentment (Bliss) has challenged Nicole’s training abilities in many ways. Early on Bliss was a handful with impulse control and focus issues requiring hours of additional training and lots of patience. She has been a very pressure sensitive dog, teaching Nicole how important it is to balance the competitive nature of the sport with the needs of the dog. While the larger national competitions were just too much for Bliss she has done well at local trials and has placed in several regional events. She has earned her USDAA ADCH and has retired just short of her PDCH.
In 2011, Off On a Spirited Adventure (Venture), a handsome dark red Border Collie boy came into the pack. Venture, aka Pants, is a driven and intense boy and it was a strong desire to improve her handling skills with him that brought Nicole to the One Mind Dog philosophy. While watching a video on You Tube Nicole noticed the high rate of reinforcement and praise the dogs received and she was immediately intrigued. Nicole and Venture experienced their first OMD seminar in Florida with Jaakko Suoknuuti and Janita Leinonen and Nicole started to really understand about reading the dog’s course and the dog’s experience. Her hard work and learning has paid off and she and Venture have become a energetic competitive team. After almost a year of undiagnosed lameness in 2015, Venture came back strong enough to win the Rocky Mountain Regional Steeplechase event in the competitive 22” height group. In fall 2016 he competed at the USDAA Cynosports in Arizona and helped his team earn a 7th place finish out of 150 teams. Venture is currently competing in Masters and is working on his ADCH.
In 2013, Nicole was convinced she could not live without Circle S’s Seeker of the Spirit (Seeker), a happy go lucky red Australian Shepherd Boy. Seeker was a bit of a fragile flower and really demonstrated the need for understanding and patience in a training program. Even though he was very confident in most places, Seeker initially showed a lot of hesitation on the teeter or when a mistake was made on course. With a focus on the dog always being right and an ownership that the mistakes were all hers, it was easy for Nicole to help Seeker develop a love for the game. He is now a rock solid confident dog and is currently competing in Masters and working on his ADCH.
In late 2016, the household welcomed another red dog to the pack: On Target’s Spirit that Remains (Zanshin) arrived just before the end of the year. He is excitedly learning more about the One Mind Dog foundation training and following the program from the ground up. He is a half sibling to Venture so we expect that Nicole will learn a lot running him and that he will be teaching her every step of the way. Stay tuned for more about this one!
Nicole’s desire to learn more about her 4 legged teammates has brought so many amazing teachers and mentors into her life that it is impossible to list them all here. She feels truly blessed to have had the opportunity to study with so many talented individuals but really understands that the lessons have really been taught by the dogs that she has shared this adventure with.