Love conquers all
most people in competition circles, Samantha Carter's Jack (Ajax Jester) will seem like just
another spoilt pet dog that gets too much attention and fuss, while to others in pet dog circle
he will seem like a competition dog that doesnít get enough. The truth is he is neither of
these. He is a very special dog. His journey to where he is now has been long and difficult,
but it is not yet over and I donít think it ever will be. This is Jack's story.
few months will forever remain a mystery to me - or, at least, until he learns to talk in our
language - but this is what I know. Jack was born on a farm out of a pedigree working collie
bitch and a successful trialling dog. When he was eight weeks old, he was taken away from his
mum, as most puppies are, and taken to another farm that was to be his home for the next seven
or eight months. He lived in a barn, on the end of a chain and every day was taken out to be
trained. He had a strong eye and the people werenít experienced with dogs of his ability and
'eye' so slowly he got trained less and less and spent more and more time in his corner of the
spent his day watching cars passing and practiced using his eye on them. He found out the
wonders of football as he was tortured by the ball being kicked against the barn wall, but he
could never get at it. Slowly he was thought of as useless and thoughts turned to getting rid
of him. So he was sold to a lady, a nice lady who trained for Obedience and Sheepdog Trials.
She also did a dog-training group and this was how I was to meet him, but Iím getting ahead of
Love at first sight
Jacquie, the lady who did dog training, was late one day and when she arrived she told
us it was because she had been to pick up a new dog, Jack. I saw this dog, dirty, scrawny and
thin covered in sheep muck and only able to stare around at the dogs in the class as he was
left doing a down stay in the corner. I couldnít take my eyes off him all night. He was filthy
and obviously hadnít been groomed for ages, but he had something about him, something in those
big brown eyes that caught my heart - and I fell in love.
two months I didnít see or here about him and just as he was beginning to slip out of my mind,
my mother got a mysterious phone call. She wouldnít tell me what it was about but I knew it had
to do with dogs as I knew it was Jacquie. Eventually I
got it out of my mum what was happening. Jacquie had rung my mum and told her that she was
selling Jack. She knew that I wanted to get a collie when I had finished my GCSEs (the next
June) and had thought of me, as she knew he would probably be destroyed if sold to a farm. He
had developed a number of problems in his short life and many people thought it would be better
to have had him put to sleep.
Mum and I went to see him just before Christmas 1999. We sat with Jacquie and spoke about Jack.
Then he was let in. He was still pretty dirty and smelly, with sheep muck in his coat and snow
all over him (he had been playing outside) but I fell in love all over again. He came in and
his big brown eyes looked at me, and I knew that yes we would have problems but, if we worked
hard enough and trusted each other, we would be fine.
We took him
home that night and introduced him to our Terrier, an old, stubborn but lovely lady who ruled
the roost. She took one look at him and from then on completely ignored him, almost as if she
knew that he would never challenge her so he would be fine.
problems come to light
He was a wreck scared of everything including men, sticks and loud
noises. In short, he was frightened of anything he didnít know or anything he thought would
hurt him. He also chased cars, busses, lorries - in fact, anything that moved. Slowly we worked
on these problems, but I was the only one he worked for. Neither my mum or my sister could
control him when outside and that had to change, too.
after weeks of training, hours spent standing at roadsides while cars and busses drove passed
training him to sit still, teaching him that it wasnít his job to bring them back, inching
closer to the road day by day, he improved. We trained for Obedience in the cold dark nights
after school, practising heelwork recalls and retrieves in the front room or in snowy fields.
All the work
paid off and he got better. He can walk along a road now and ignore those dreaded cars even
with my mum. He no longer tries to kill every dog before it kills him nor does he run away from
every man who comes near - or tries to attack through fear. I can even carry a jump pole, and
heíll walk to heel knowing heís safe and that Iím not about to beat him.
In comparison, agility training was relatively easy as he was so keen to please. Jumps were no
trouble he soon got the hang of them and was soon flying over full height hurdles. The tyre was
more difficult, but again he was soon leaping through it at the strangest angles. The most
difficult obstacle to train must have been the dogwalk. As heís a big dog, he was afraid to
fall off but with me holding him he soon felt comfortable and was trotting happily over them.
training doesnít stop there. He no longer goes to that dog club. The instructors way of
controlling his nervous aggression was to grab him by his ruff shake him and yell at him, so we
left. So we trained alone, getting help from friends, from the YKC and from books, but mostly
we learnt the difficult way.
is a special dog
We may never win out of Novice in Agility or Obedience. Weíll never get anywhere in the
show ring nor be fast enough to compete in Flyball or concentrated enough to get CDX in Working
Trials, but as we drive away from another show empty handed, I look back at him and remember
all those people who told me to have him destroyed as he was too far gone to ever be any good.
'Sell him, they would say, 'to someone more experienced so you can get a dog you can learn
with.' No never. I know I wouldnít swap him for all the Ob/Ag/Sh or WT Champions in the world.
times when I see my friends winning with their pedigree dogs that they got as puppies and have
hardly had any trouble with and I wish I could be that successful. Then I remember if I didnít
have him where would my big man be - in a barn on a chain, in a back yard alone. Yes, he might
have got the perfect home but chances are he would have been sent to Rainbow Bridge only
without ever knowing true love.
About the author
Samantha (Sam) Carter was 18 on Wednesday, 28 August 2002! She
was born in South Africa but has lived in the UK for six years now. She lives near Rotherham.
in agility with her Terrier X, Lucky who is now 11 and with Jack. Next year she should be
getting another dog and wants another Mini as she enjoys handling the smaller dogs.
belonged to the YKC for three years now and competes in Obedience, Agility and Biathlon (Obed
and Agility) with the club.
moment she is studying agriculture at Bishop Burton College (near Hull) and wants to be an
Agricultural Researcher or a nutritional advisor for dairy cows.
Lovely story of how love can win through. It bought many a tear to my eye as I know
how difficult Sally was when we got her and how she's slowly overcoming her fears. Well done
Sam - don't ever let anyone tell you that you did the wrong thing.... you're wonderful.
From Debbie Martin
Would someone please give Samantha the recognition she so deserves for the patience
and devotion to her dog, Jack, featured in the article 'Love Conquers All.' Having also had
rehomed dogs with similar problems and being told that one was so wild that no one would ever
train him, it was thanks to this dog that I became involved in training at all. It has been
hard enough as an adult to deal with so many difficulties, but I can only admire Samantha for
her determination to do her best for Jack which she surely has done. She may not have won any
prizes in the form of pieces of ribbon but in my book she is an all out winner and I wish them