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Rescue Dog Profile: Diane Driscoll and Jack

A profile of another one of our USDAA competitors, Diane Driscoll, and her rescued dog Jack.

Tell us about your dog. Where did he come from?

ADCH ResQ's Action Jackson (Jack) is a nine-year-old male Border Collie that I adopted from East Tennessee Border Collie Rescue (ETBCR) in 2008. Jack was one of forty-plus Border Collies seized by animal control after a Good Samaritan reported them living in horrific circumstances on the property of a breeder in Tennessee. Jack's breeder was subsequently convicted of animal cruelty.

How did you end up adopting him?

After Jack was seized, he was adopted out from animal control and returned a few months later to ETBCR. He was fostered by an experienced trainer who knew I was looking for a performance prospect and thought Jack had potential. I can't meet a dog in need of a home and then turn him down, so I committed to Jack sight unseen and drove to Tennessee to get him.

How did you get involved in agility with your dogs?

When we moved with our five dogs from a subdivision in Florida to a rural property in Georgia, there was no animal control in the entire county; dogs in distress seemed to be everywhere. My husband and I adopted several more "unadoptable" dogs. Two of them actually came down my driveway (word must have gotten out!). I decided to try dog sports so I could do more with them, and fell in love with agility. I'm 100% rescue with my pets, and my agility goal was, and still is, to demonstrate the potential of rescue dogs to the public. By the time Jack arrived, I had already competed with two other rescue dogs.

Did you find that agility helped to improve any behaviors your dog had before you started? How did you feel it helped your relationship?

Agility was a huge help in creating my bond with Jack and helping him live a happy life. When I adopted Jack, he had survived unspeakable abuse and neglect, and been adopted and returned during critical formative months. Other than the time he spent in a great foster home, which helped a lot, he had missed out on so much socialization. He didn't play, was anxious and fearful, and didn't want to be touched. Agility engages him physically and mentally, which is important for any dog but especially for a Border Collie. It took time, consistency and patience to earn his trust, but we became a team and now he's happy and confident on course. Most importantly, he's a beloved family member who is well-behaved and comfortable in the world.

What's something about your dog's personality that you find special?

Jack loves water and has created his own water game. In the yard, he dunks his head in the water bucket and runs to his special spot. He drops his head so the water runs down his face, pounces like a cat on the droplets as they run off the end of his nose, and then it's back to the water bucket to reload. He also excels at herding pine trees.

What USDAA events have you competed in with your dogs?

We train at Sirius Dog Agility in Atlanta, and attend Sirius USDAA trials and other trials in the southeast. We've enjoyed competing at the Southeastern Regionals in Perry GA for years. We've also been fortunate to qualify for Cynosport in Murfreesboro in 2013 and 2015. I hope we'll be there again in 2017. Jack is running better than ever, but it's nice to know we can enter the Veteran's Showcase if that's a better fit for us by then.

What would you say to people who are considering adopting a dog who might want to do agility some day?

Rescue is not for everyone, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Let go of your expectations and meet your dog where he is; on the other hand, don't use his backstory as an excuse for not teaching him good life skills, or as a reason not to aim high in your goals. Dogs are amazingly resilient. I don't think anyone can tell now that Jack overcame a horrible start in life.

For me, there's an extra level of joy in competing with a rescue dog. No matter how the runs go, there's always a voice in my head saying, "Look at how far he's come! Isn't he amazing!" I think about it every day and it never gets old; it's a lifelong gift you receive when you rescue.


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