It’s All Because of a Little Dog in a Cart…Part One

I know it’s Tuesday, and that’s normally a training tip day, but today, I’m going to share something a bit different, because this is the post I wanted to write yesterday, but I was too exhausted to get it done.

I was exhausted, because I had just returned from a long weekend of Corgi fun at the North Carolina Corgi Picnic.  If you read my blog, you know that Rugby is no Corgi….except in his dreams.  So let me tell you a little story about how Rugby came to be an honorary Corgi with freakishly long legs!  It starts with a little dog in a cart, because he’s who has changed my world.

Schatsi...who started it all.
Schatsi…who started it all.

I started training dogs in the 1980’s with my very first Corgi, Schatsi.  20 years later, our last Corgi, Felicity died at

Felicity is in front…middle

home, and we had many others in between those two, because I showed our dogs, and so we had multiple dogs living with us.  I am head over heels in love with this breed of dogs, although there are many, many individual dogs and breeds that make my heart sing.  For me, however, there’s just something special about a Corgi, and Corgi owners all seem to get it and understand exactly what I mean when I say that.

I had been following a wonderful Corgi blog, “The Daily Corgi” and also one of my very favorite Facebook microblogs, “Denby Dog” for a long, long time.  Little by little, over the course of many months, I began quietly learning about Corgi Nation and the wonderful people and dogs who make up that group.  Even though I’m not a current Corgi owner, I’ve always considered myself as a Corgi person, because of my past association with them.  I never thought of myself as being part of Corgi Nation….nor did I think I would be welcomed as a part….because I have a little mutt pup who rides the hot mess express!

As I’ve said so many times before, when you’re a dog trainer, and your own dog is riding the struggle bus through life, and you can’t fix him, you’re not going to find much compassion or love from people.  Shelters and rescues are just chock full of wonderful dogs…many of whom end up being euthanized for no good reason other than they just didn’t have a family who wanted them.  People just don’t understand a professional dog trainer who wants to keep a crazy dog when there are plenty of great dogs out there, and so many are being put to sleep.

RJ various 013
My little speckled buddy!

My own personal story has been one of trying to find my own place in the world where I would fit and be wanted…much like the lives of those shelter dogs who seem to just want to be loved…and to know that there’s a family who really wants them.  It’s no coincidence that Rugby James ended up coming home with me.  We’re two misfits who somehow found each other in a huge world….and then fell in love with each other.

One of the qualities about me that you’ll learn if you hang with me for long, is that I’m BIG on encouraging others.  HUGE. Encouragement R Us.  I could hang out a shingle and put out a cup on a busy sidewalk to make pocket change!  There’s far, far too much criticism and hate in the world, and far, far too little love and encouragement.  So I love and I encourage.  Be the change you want to see in the world, right?

I could always find cute photos to make me smile on “The Daily Corgi”… but on “Denby Dog,”  I found hope and encouragement.  So many people had told me to just give up on Rugby or to get rid of him and get a “nice” dog that I could use in my business that would be a help to me and not hold me back.  I didn’t want to give up on Rugby.  He is beautiful to a fault, and has the most amazing chocolate drop eyes, that are seared into my heart.  He’s an old soul in speckled fur, and his eyes stare deeply into mine during our quiet moments together.  I know there’s a story he can’t tell, but his eyes remind me that it’s there, even if I can’t read his mind to know the details.  Rugby couldn’t help the fact that at least 4 previous owners gave up on him.  I just couldn’t be the fifth.  I couldn’t.  He didn’t deserve that. And neither did I.

So every day, I made sure “Denby Dog” was part of my daily Facebook time.  Sometimes I cried, sometimes I smiled, or laughed as I read the words on the posts and saw the cute photos and creative thinking and clever designs of the posts.  Always, and I do mean always….I walked away feeling hope and encouragement.  I loved that.  I needed that!  There were so many hard Rugby days, and it was such a boost for me to know that another dog owner was fighting a battle that was challenging….a battle with an uncertain outcome at her home too.

Little did I know it at the time, but “Denby Dog” was to change my whole world probably to the same magnitude that Rugby did.






  1. Sarah Thomas says

    I just realized, Mama Sally, that you and Rugby are my and Marley's Denby Dog! The both of you are a special part of our day, every day <3

    • Sally says

      Oh Sarah! You couldn't have said anything more powerful to me! To think that we could give you a small fraction of what Denise and Denby did for us, is an amazing thought. I SO hope that your journey with Marley is easier because of Rugby and I. Thanks so much for caring to read and comment! <3 <3

  2. Lori Enterline says

    The only thing that could have been better than meeting you and all the other Corgi Nation royalty last weekend would have been if Rugby had come with you! It was such an honor to have you here in NC!

    • Sally says

      Lori how kind of you to leave such a sweet comment! I was the one who felt honored to meet YOU! I SO wish Rugby could have a big world of fun experiences like so many other dogs do. However, it would have been NO FUN for my little guy, so sadly, I have to leave him home for fun trips like this. It's heartbreaking for me, because my Corgis went everywhere with me. But I'll give him a belly rub for you, and I know he'll be impressed! 😉 Thank you so much for taking time to read our blog and comment! <3

  3. Ashley says

    I love Denby and Denise and even though I never meet either my heart broke and simultaneously sang when he went to the rainbow bridge to finally frap again free from his cart.
    You and rugby are an inspiration and and encouragement to all. You took in a dog that others found unloveable and improved his world so much just as his quirks help you improve other dogs worlds. Please keep up with the blog I love reading about your "hot mess express".

    P.s. His eyes are truly amazing it's like I can see his thoughts.

    • Sally says

      Ashley, thank you SO much for your kind encouragement!! You actually made my eyes leak a bit! It is absolutely true that Rugby's quirks have made me into the dog trainer that I am today. He has just transformed how I approach work with dogs from top to bottom, and that's been a very good thing. I owe so much to Denise and Denby Dog, because they were the catalyst behind giving me the courage to try. I wasn't sure Rugby would be accepted as the hot mess that he is, but I also knew that I had to be completely honest about living with him, because there are many versions of Rugby James in homes all around the world. I wanted so much to give them hope and encourage them to hang tough and never give up on their little doggers! I'm so glad you love his eyes too! I get lost in them!! <3


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