Some of you may remember our earlier story about Australian OneMind Dogs pack member Cornelia Kluck and her service dog and agility partner, Panda. Panda is a bone fracture support dog recruited by Aussie Angels and aside from helping Cornelia with everyday tasks such as groceries and medications, the pair are a successful and well know agility team, who have gained their Agility Dog Association of Australia (ADAA) Agility Champion title since our last interview with Cornelia.
Panda’s amazing achievements were recognized this year at the Sydney Royal Easter show where he received the Canine Hero award in the AAR Companion Dog Award category. This award was open to any dog in private ownership that “through a single act or over a period of time has displayed in an exceptional way, the human-animal bond”. Judges from The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW selected finalists and the ultimate winners, Cornelia and Panda, were invited to attend the Sydney Royal Dog Show on 17 April 2017 to receive their award.
Cornelia is one of the most dedicated OneMind Dogs pack members in the world, she says “OneMind Dogs is great because it is so comprehensive! I can study and watch videos at home! I can use small set-ups to practice Next Level skills and challenges. When living off the beaten track with little access to training facilities that means everything. The guidance is fantastic and with a bit of imagination it is not impossible to train agility on our local sports oval.”
Cornelia takes around 4 hours for a training session, she loads up her small car with home-made equipment, drives down to the local oval where she sets up the course, trains, packs it all up again and drives home to unload the car. Panda helps a lot by carrying the bars, uprights, home-made wings and 16 water bottles to act as tunnel weights. He then follows Cornelia around with the hammer in his mouth until everything has been pegged down and secured. Cornelia says “Panda is my soulmate, since I live on my own and he works so closely with me, I depend on him for independent living skills”.
A few times a year, Cornelia and Panda travel to OneMind Dogs Coach Niki Drage in Orange, NSW for some one-on-one training. This trip takes them 7 hours one way, as Cornelia can’t drive long distances so they travel by Ferry and Train. Cornelia stays at a local bed and breakfast and has several lessons with Niki over 2-3 days and then travels back home. During these lessons Niki will usually identify some homework for Cornelia which she will then train at home using the OneMind Dogs website as guidance. Niki says “Connie has to be the most dedicated student I’ve ever known, her attention to detail and diligence in study is amazing, she is a pleasure to teach”.