Maggie the Wonder Dog
by Mark Cooper
(Des Moines, Iowa)
Maggie hanging out at Charlie's
Maggie was born on the 28th of February, 2009, on a farm in Ainsworth Iowa. At 9 weeks of age she came home with me to Des Moines, Iowa. She has been amazing since day one. The only time she has had an accident in our house was on the first day. That was the first thing we worked on and we did it by taking Maggie out about every hour and when she did her business outside there was more than enough praise and treats that she caught on quickly what that was about.
We worked on the basic commands of Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Heel, Off, and No. We also worked in shake which took maybe five minutes to teach as with all her learned tasks, she was a quick study.
We then worked on Frisbee skills and at just over 1 year of age we started agility training that lasted for over a year and a half.
We then started training to become a certified therapy dog. The first step in that process was to get her canine good citizen certification through the American Kennel Club. After that was accomplished we worked on the other skills to get ready to test for therapy dog certification through Therapy Dogs International based out of New York. We got that certification done in 2014 and began making visits.
Since Maggie was trained in agility and Frisbee and was just generally athletic we decided to gear our visits to folks with physical and mental challenges. Since most of the folks we were going to visit could not interact with a dog like most folks can we put on performances in agility.
Another activity Maggie participates in is a program called "real men read" which is a United Way program where men go to local grade schools and read to a class. This program is meant to show children who predominately have women teachers and come from single parent homes lead by women that in fact, men read too. After I am done reading the prescribed book then Maggie entertains the children with her tricks.
Since COVID, we have been in hiatus for the time being.
Maggie has been the best dog, fur baby, friend and overall being I have ever met. Australian Shepherds will always be the breed of choice for me and our family.