Samantha Jackson
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Fast-Paced Paws

A Story About a Girl's Best Friend

Running a Course With My Dog in 2012

Hi, my name is Samantha Jackson, I am 19-years-old, and my dog is my best friend. I know that saying my dog is my best friend is probably the most basic thing to say, but it's true. This will tell you why he's the most amazing friend in my life.

I have had two other dogs in my lifetime, and they were named Roxie and Jackson. They were two yellow labs that had been with me since I came home from the hospital when I was a baby. My mom had trained them before I was born, so they could "sit," "speak," "stay," "come," "heel," etc., once I came along. As I grew up, I did almost everything with them. A few fond memories include sitting underneath the dinner table between my two dogs as I ate, and putting pillow stuffing all over my dog Roxie to mimic giving her a "bubble bath." Those two dogs were my world.

But, of course, as time passed on, so did they. Roxie died at age 7, and Jackson died at age 14. Sure, they happened years apart, but once there was no one to play fetch with, I was distraught. Since my family had dogs since the day I was brought home, it was odd not have a furry friend. 

When Jackson died, it was November, and my mom told me that one weekend we were going to travel around the state visiting foster dogs; we were going to choose our next companion. However, that isn't how that weekend unfolded.

When I had come home after school on a Friday afternoon, I waltzed into my house like every day after Jackson's passing. As I put my backpack down, I heard a whine and puppy-like bark. I ran into the living room to find a dog kennel with a note on it that said, "Merry Christmas, I love you so much!" from my mother. Inside that kennel was the blondest Labrador Retriever I'd ever seen. My eyes immediately filled with tears and I rushed to open the kennel and meet my new friend. I looked over to my mom excitedly, and she told me he was my dog, that I had to train him, feed him, walk him, and do everything else a dog owner was meant to do. I'd never been so happy.

I named him Wilson, after the volleyball in Cast Away, with the intention of yelling "Wilson!" to him dramatically like Tom Hanks had in the film. I loved him like I'd never loved. We were inseparable.

Though, I didn't understand that dogs didn't come "pre-trained" back then. It was really frustrating for me to learn that I needed to train him on my own and be consistent. But my mom signed Wilson and I up for puppy kindergarten, and thus, our journey began.

Through our classes together, we grew close. I learned so much about my dog's personality. While I was in these training classes, I learned about something called "dog agility" and learned that it was basically an obstacle course for canines, and I was fascinated. I told my mom all about it, and did all I could to learn about it. I read books from the library, I talked to other dog trainers, and I read articles online. I was obsessed.

After a year with Wilson, he could do basic tricks and commands, but I wanted more. I talked with my mom, and she signed us up for agility classes. I was determined to train Wilson to do anything and everything he was capable of. Before we knew it, we were off to our very first agility trial.

I was so nervous, but we had a great time together. But, at the final trial of the day, Wilson had defecated on the course. I was so embarrassed that I hid away and cried. I suppose my luck turned, though. Wilson and I won second place in the agility games. My faith in training Wilson was restored.

Going forward, we trained harder and longer, and we competed more often. I never thought we would love it as much we did. Ever since we placed second in the agility games at our first trial, we have done nothing but gotten better together. As of September 2018, we have 53 ribbons in our possession, a medal (first place), and a trophy (also first). 

Wilson and I are a team, and we always will be. Whether it's jumping hurdles or watching movies together, I'm really glad we bonded over his fast-paced paws.

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