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Tag: armless

Lack of arms doesn’t deter dog trainer

You might think former Marylander Donna Rock would be at a disadvantage when it comes to dog obedience competitions — given as the dogs are required to follow non-verbal signals, and given Donna has no arms.

Yet Donna and her 8-year-old Doberman Pinscher, Annie, have won numerous obedience and agility titles, including the prestigious Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) and the crown jewel in agility, the Master Agility Championship (MACH).

Donna, who now lives in Lacombe, Louisiana, was born without arms. She originally purchased Annie to be her companion and to train for obedience competition, but the two developed such a bond that Annie became her service dog, assisting her with everyday activities.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Donna lost her home, belongings, and even her job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When she was temporarily reassigned to work in Washington, Annie went with her helping her in the subways, and on escalators.

Annie was a 2008 winner of an American Kennel Club Award for Canine Excellence (ACE), winning the exemplary companion dog category. The awards commemorate loyal, hard-working dogs that have made significant contributions to their community.

Annie is only the second Doberman pinscher in the nation to be named an American Kennel Club champion in both agility and obedience training.

Donna, over nine years of training the dog, created her own method of non-verbal signals, using her feet and legs, shoulder and head to communicate. While she can accomplish most things with her feet, from turning on faucets to feeding the dog, Annie helps her with the few things can’t do for herself.

Donna is shown working with Annie in the video above, from about five years ago. To see a newer video, check out this report from WWL-TV in Lousiana.

Annie is now retired from competition, and Donna is training a year and half old border collie named Roller, running him through the agility course, teaching him the same foot and leg commands, and showing him what his job will be.

“He’s got some awful big paws to fill,” Donna said.

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