Tekla’s legacy: OneMind Dogs method
Tekla - the deaf dog who taught us to listen
The OneMind Dogs training method was created by our leading coach Janita Leinonen when her Border Collie Tekla suddenly lost her hearing in 2003.
Tekla was the first Border Collie in Finland to win champion titles in four different dog disciplines: agility, obedience, working trials - message and show. Tekla had also competed in ten different dog sports, and she especially loved agility and water rescue. Janita had bred Tekla herself, from her first litter with kennelname Decathlete's.
Tekla was known as the sweetest dog with the calmest nature. She inspired many people in Finland to own a Border Collie, and people would take their puppies to meet her to learn to socialize with the perfect role model. She warmly but firmly welcomed all the new puppies to the pack and was always the "top dog" for all the other pack members.
When Tekla was six years old, Janita noticed that something was wrong. Tekla stopped running to greet her when she arrived home. She even seemed to be ignoring Janita’s commands. Janita knew that this wasn’t like Tekla and took her to the vet. Her worst fears were confirmed – Tekla was totally deaf.
Janita had always relied on verbal commands when working with Tekla. Now, she faced a terrible choice. If she were forced to stop her regular training with her dear friend and partner, Tekla would no doubt get depressed and bored and her quality of life would certainly diminish. There was only one option: to come up with another way to communicate.
Janita was ready to put all her previous knowledge to the test and try everything to get Tekla back to the agility course. Janita’s study and experiments with subtle body language and physical signs took her into a whole new world of understanding and communicating with her beloved Border Collie. She learned to understand agility training from her dog`s perspective, and quickly realized that non-verbal commands were a powerful and underexplored communication tool.
Nobody noticed that Tekla was deaf
Janita used Tekla as a demo dog in puppy classes. After the first hour, she always asked if anyone noticed anything unusual about Tekla. But her students never once noticed during the lesson that Tekla was deaf! She constantly stayed in perfect connection with Janita and flawlessly mastered and obeyed all the signals that she was given. She came to side, demoed heeling, and stayed perfectly while Janita gave her students one to one attention. It was always a huge surprise for new students how well they communicated with each other and they just couldn't believe that she really didn't hear a word…
Power of silence
Whenever Janita and Tekla competed in agility contests, the whole arena would fall eerily silent. People stopped talking and dogs even stopped barking as Janita and Tekla performed in silence. It was pure magic. Everybody noticed it – and it happened spontaneously every time they competed.
Thanks to Tekla, Janita learned to listen. Their determination and love for each other meant they did not give up –and their efforts evolved into the OneMind Dogs method. The results spoke for themselves; after Tekla became deaf, her achievements not only continued but even increased. She won several agility triumphs and had a higher percentage of clear rounds than when she could hear! Amongst her greatest achievements were a silver medal in the Finnish Championships, and a gold medal in an agility competition against 70 other dogs, when she was a ten year old deaf grandmother.
Tekla never had bad days. She was full of love and energy throughout her 15 years of life, and she leaves behind the legacy of OneMind Dogs.