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Friday, December 14, 2007

An Unforgettable Student: Betty Pace

It was 1993 at Summitview Elementary School in Yakima. I'd just had my first hip replacement and was still on crutches as I started my first "big" group obedience class sponsored by Yakima Parks and Recreation.

What I knew about dogs was limited to a few years of experience with my own, plus what I'd read from the manual that MY teacher had used when my first Rottweiler and I went through HER obedience class.

There were a couple miniature Schnauzers in the class. Although I knew Schnauzers were very bright, these two were handfuls for the two ladies who brought them. One of the ladies was Betty Pace. Her puppy's name was Roscoe. He was cute...but stubborn.

I guess they muddled through the eight-week class like everyone else and received diplomas. That was the first obedience class Betty had ever taken. Whether or not Roscoe got much from it, at least Betty seemed to have enjoyed it.

Flash forward a couple years.....Betty called me to request a consult. Roscoe was acting up. She'd been taking him to work at Instant Press, and Roscoe was now on probation for growling and threatening to bite the staff. The stubbornness that had shown itself in the first class had escalated into dangerous behavior from this little tyrant.

I met with Betty and Roscoe after-hours at Instant Press for a non-nonsense counseling session. Betty would have called it a "Come to Jesus moment" for Roscoe. It did the trick. Primarily, it put BETTY back in the leadership position, which is all that was needed. But something more than good behavior from Roscoe came out of the session. Betty got inspired to do MORE with Roscoe. She enjoyed the sense of satisfaction and pride in being back in control of this otherwise cute little guy. She already knew he was smart, and she wanted to see what else she could accomplish with him. Plus, she knew that ONGOING training would be necessary to keep Roscoe out of future trouble.

Betty started taking classes with me again. She and Roscoe went into the "intermediate" obedience class and began learning more advanced obedience exercises. One day she announced she'd like to earn a CD (Companion Dog) obedience title on Roscoe. And within a year or so, she'd done it.

To follow that, she decided to train him for the next level, CDX (Companion Dog Excellent). Meanwhile she'd also begun training her other Schnauzer, Penny, for a CD. Penny was a totally different personality from Roscoe, plus she was up in years. The experience of working with a second dog was great for Betty! Plus, she'd learned from observing so many other dogs (and handlers)in the classes she was taking. Betty got the CD on Penny in short order, and continued to concentrate on Roscoe's CDX. That took a few years--longer than expected, for sure--but the big day came at last.

Betty's next dog was Toby, a rescued mini-Schnauzer who was just as EASY to train as Roscoe had been DIFFICULT. Toby breezed through his CD and his CDX. Betty found herself in the position of training two dogs for the highest level of obedience: the UD (Utility Dog) title.

Roscoe came close but didn't quite make it. He passed away at the ripe old age of 13, I believe, but not before he'd garnered more titles in AGILITY and RALLY, under Betty's tutelage at Manning Dog Training. Roscoe's picture now hangs proudly in the Manning Dog Training "Hall of Fame."

Betty and her husband, Rich, had rescued another miniature Schnauzer, Tilly, before Penny passed away. Tilly came with baggage--health and emotional. Betty worked patiently with Tilly and taught her the basics of good behavior, but was astute enough to realize that Tilly didn't have what it took to have success in obedience competition. The stress would have been too great for her. But when Tilly succumbed to age and health problems, Betty got Montie, a show-quality Schnauzer puppy. Next, they got Montie's sister from another litter. More recently, they adopted two more. I think they now have five Schnauzers in their pack!

But the real news is Betty. She has become the primary competitive obedience instructor at Manning Dog Training and has really introduced the new obedience sport of RALLY into the hearts dozens and dozens of dog owners. Her students love her and are so proud to tell people at shows that they train under Betty Pace in Yakima!

From a first-time obedience student to one of the most productive instructors of competitive obedience in the state...Betty Pace's story just shows how a stubborn little Schnauzer can change the entire course of one's life!

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