Petersen - Ekko - West Hills, CA

The continuing saga of Ekko, a beloved rescued Berner.

2012 was a recovery year for 7 year old senior (yeah!) Ekko-buddy. After two knee surgeries in 2011, he’s in the best shape of his life. An irrepressible Berner spirit and sense of humor have seen him flying through recovery into new adventures. After each surgery, he planted the wounded leg and never looked back. We’ve learned lots of rehab techniques that probably should have been there from day 1: underwater treadmill, massages, stretching, balance discs, FitPAWS peanut, squats, cavalettis, swimming, … Ekko and I spent the year re-learning foundation skills in agility, obedience, rally, and venturing into drafting – no bad thing for a novice pair and it’s also paid off for Tink our puppy-turned-2-year-old Berner.

Drafting is not easy! Neither Berner liked the cart at first. We spent months feeding meals around the cart. Once they stopped reacting to the shafts banging, we started the slow process of harnessing and walking near the cart, then between the shafts, then with a trace across their back, then finally hooking up. Ekko’s still not in love with his cart, but he’s game for the food and doing it for me. Never underestimate Berner food/working drive!

Ekko’s never-give-up attitude has us back in agility trials and showing no lingering jumping weakness (still a bar knocker). By January 2013 Ekko earned his open preferred agility and jumpers titles.

Ekko’s boundless enthusiasm for living to the fullest has made obedience and rally training fun, but harder to keep his attention for the required precision. With the recovery break, we’ve had to retrain focus almost from scratch. I’ve learned from some really great trainers how to make focus fun, but it has taken real effort to get here. Give a Berner a little room and they take the world (can’t help but admire Berner spirit). Our two Rally Advanced Q’s were not stellar after the 2011 National Specialty two perfect scores triumph. Berner intelligence demands a lot of work on the handler’s part to keep up their end of the partnership. Ekko’s not a natural retriever and has no toy drive, so we’re slowly building each Open Obedience skill. We hope to be ready for the 2013 National Specialty.

Ekko’s saga and interactions with Tink (who we’ve raised from 9 weeks old) have highlighted the challenges that rescued dogs face. Ekko is a very sweet forgiving dog who has risen out of an austere puppyhood, but there are lingering personality quirks that I attribute to his lack of socialization as a puppy and probable abusive/rough handling. Occasional unpredictable reactions, personal-space issues, and slowness to trust are all legacies of poor early environment. Obvious poor conformation shows a wide gulf to naturally athletic Tink. Love and Berner spirit/joy have triumphed over bad breeding and bad early rearing.

We love you Mr. SnortWiggle, buddy, Ekko-bunny, Wilbur, goofball.
How could we not?!?

Karen Petersen & Ekko CD RN OAP OJP CGC
Berner-Garde #74062, ILP157846, DNA #V610969
West Hills, CA

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