Sadie and Alex Aufmann Take Their Game to New Heights

This is another blog in the series on Wildrose’s Adventure Program.  Scroll down for a look at the earlier stories.

Birthplace of the Adventure Dog Program

As I noted in the first blog on the Adventure Dog Certification Program (posted on June 26) Wildrose Kennels officially launched its program in mid-June.  Mike has quite a bit to say about the ADC in his current newsletter.  Interestingly, this program concept was not born where the Wildrose dogs are conceived and born—in Oxford, MS.  The birthplace of this self-directed training certification program is the mountain trails around and lodges in Aspen, CO.

Wildrose Adventure Dogs: Deke, Indian, and MT Drake

Ever the visionary, Mike observed dogs’ behavior problems and people’s need for better obedience and skill training.  He recalls, “I realized there are people out there who are interested in having a better trail dog, a better relationship with their dogs, and a happier dog on the trail.”  Envisioning a concept is something that can come in a flash of insight.  However, developing a formal training program for the outdoor canine enthusiast takes hours of planning and testing—about four years of development, in fact.

During the last several summers, Mike has been encamped at Wildrose Colorado, Clear Creek Ranch in Granite, CO.  He has conducted summer training for our hunting dog program and has teamed up with Grayson Schaffer, of Outside Magazine, to conduct adventure dog workshops.  On the weekend of June 11-12, Mike conducted two, single-day adventure dog workshops as part of the Outside In Aspen series of outfitter-led activities.

Here is one participant’s experiences with her dog as they set out from Outside In Aspen’s Adventure Base Camp, hiked, set up camp, and participated in obedience, skill, and steadiness exercises, all the elements necessary for trail manners for extended overland travel and for boating.  

Alex & Sadie on a deck with a scenic view of the foothills of the Rockies.

Sadie and Alex Aufmann Take Their Game to New Heights

Alex Aufmann, the Sales & Digital Advertising Coordinator for Outside Magazine and Outside Online, participated in the June workshop with Sadie, her German short-hair pointer, who is nearly two years old.  Here’s Alex’s note on their experience:

“The Wildrose Adventure Dog Clinic was a great experience for myself and my dog.  Beginning with basic training (that carried over to outdoor applicable events) really helped my dog better understand certain tasks.  We worked through a great introduction to the exercises, so that we owners knew how to instruct our dogs in order to have them better perform (Calm, confident, and consistent!).  Mike was a great instructor with patience and love for the dogs.  We practiced greeting other’s dogs on the trail, retrieving gear that may have been dropped on the trail or the river.  We even practiced riding a bike and even kayaking with our dogs.  I felt that Sadie learned a lot mentally and I grew as an owner to better understand how to work with and train her. I would definitely recommend these clinics to other dog owners, and am looking into taking some more classes in the future.”

Alex, who lives in Boulder, CO, grew up in Illinois and studied at the University of Iowa, Alex traveled west to fulfill her passion for the outdoors—rock climbing, skiing, running, and fishing.  As she continues her story, she reveals that she has found a wonderful companion in Sadie, but she also faces challenges that many young professionals face in raising a working dog.

Alex Talks about Life with Sadie

Sadie is nearly two years old.  My ex and I had purchased her at eight weeks of age from High Point Kennels, located just east of Colorado Springs, and I’ve raised her since then.

Young Sadie in a windowsill pose.

Sadie has high energy, is very loyal, and likes to be outside.  But after hours of chasing squirrels and birds, tennis balls and Frisbees, she’ll always fall asleep every night under the covers of my bed.  She is a sweet, gentle dog that is nice to kids and loves attention. 

We enjoy hiking around Boulder, taking runs, and going to the parks.  Sadie also loves to go fishing with me and will sit next to me during every cast, just waiting until I reel something in so she can sniff it out and lick it.

Sadie enjoys the catch of the day.

When I moved from Aspen to Boulder, I signed us up for classes at the Boulder Humane Society, but felt that they weren’t the right classes for her.  The high reward system made me feel as though there was no discipline or teaching her wrong from right.  She loved the classes, though, and did well but I think that’s only because I brought bags of treats with us every time—what dog wouldn’t listen to her owner when she has a lot of treats in her pocket.

Sadie traveling in the fast lane. Blow, wind, blow!

Sadie has traveled a lot as well and enjoys taking car rides with me back up to Aspen frequently and all over Colorado and Wyoming.  She has flown a few times on an airplane in her crate back and forth from Chicago as my parents live there and watch her sometimes.  While I’m at work during the week, she stays in her crate or will stay in the back of my 4Runner with all the windows and seats down so she can sprawl out (no more than 4 hours at a time).  For a while, I was trying to leave her out of her crate, but it soon backfired and she would get bored in my house and eat shoes and anything else she could get into.  I quickly learned that it’s not punishing her to leave her in her crate for 4 hours at a time and she likes her space in there.  Now when I’m home, the door will be open to her crate and she chooses to lie in there even when she doesn’t have to.  During the workweek, I take my hour lunch breaks with her and we hike/run around Boulder.

Sadie likes to romp and play in the rivers and is starting to learn how to swim.  She also enjoys playing with other dogs in the neighborhoods and is never aggressive, which is a huge plus for me.

The hardest part about owning Sadie and being single is that I always have to have the energy to keep up with her and take her out and manage my schedule around her needs.  Because she is such a high-energy dog, some people don’t see her as a good dog or a dog that listens. I know that she is smart; it’s just a matter of learning her thought process and guiding her better to understand what I want her to do.  I think working with her mentally would be a great step to helping better train her and getting her to focus.  Right now, distractions are the hardest because she wants to run after something or play all the time. I know my dog needs discipline and to be a better listener but I also don’t want my dog to be a soldier and not have any character and playfulness.  I think finding that happy medium is difficult, especially with a high-energy bird dog.”

Sadie lounging.

Adventure Dog Training Redux

Here’s Alex and Sadie’s chance for more training: On August 20 & 21, 2011, Mike will offer a two-day AD workshop, beginning at the Buena Vista (CO) Community Center, with The Trailhead and Colorado Kayak as sponsoring organizations.  This workshop will focus on obedience, patience, trail and camping etiquette, watercraft, mountain biking, hiking and emergency care, and more.  In the two-day format, Mike will be able to go more in depth with individual participants and their dogs on relationship building and problem solving.  The group will also travel a hiking trail, work through a mountain bike obstacle course, scale rocks, and kayak over a very large area.  (Others who are interested in attending may call contact Cathy Stewart, or 719-486-2540.)

Adventure Dog Certification Packets Are Available

The folks at Wildrose encourage you to fulfill your passion for outdoors activities with your dog.  You, too, can own an adventure dog—prepared to go anywhere.  Adventure Dog Certification Packets are currently available.  Each packet contains a registration form, program information, including guidelines, individual merit completion forms, and a formal certificate.  E-mail Mary Lee Ward at or call at 662-234-8636 to get yours today.

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