During his nine years of training dogs, Jef Blake has developed a philosophy based on doing what is best for each individual dog. He shares his home with 9-year-old Milo, a chocolate lab, and three younger border collies: Gael, Voucher and Klepto. Jef is currently competing with two of them, but he spends equal time every day with each dog to give them the level of exercise appropriate for his or her age and condition.
Jef has seen what can happen to dogs who are trained too strenuously and then, two years after stardom, are burned out and possibly permanently injured. Instead, Jef focuses on maximizing the enjoyment of an active life for his dogs. He wants Klepto, who clearly has stolen his heart, to stay healthy and be able to compete for a number of years. He keeps this goal uppermost in his mind when he makes decisions about training and competition schedules.
Jef was very supportive of the AKC 2008 rule changes regarding the spacing of weave poles. Previously, the permitted range was 18 to 24 inches. The revised regulation increases the minimum to 20 inches and recommends the higher 22-inch setting. Jef feels that this change will decrease the occurrence of long-term chronic injuries in large dogs who compete regularly.
Located near Seattle, Jef provides dog training seminars and private agility lessons. He is adamant about the use of positive reinforcement training techniques. His training career was launched when Milo, a Marleyesque lab, came rollicking into his life. Looking for an outlet for Milo’s energy, he enrolled himself and Milo in obedience training classes. Uncomfortable with the methods used in the class, Jef switched to agility training. There he found a place where he and Milo could learn together as well as build the type of relationship he wanted them to have. Today, while obedience training is still accomplished using a variety of techniques, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers advocates for “dog-friendly” methods which they define as “primarily positive reinforcement.”
Jef gets the most gratification from working directly with individual dogs to help them achieve their personal best. His own dogs compete in regional and national events. In 2007, 2008, and 2009, Voucher competed in the AKC Agility World Team Tryouts. Milo set the Labrador world record for the 60 weave pole challenge in 2004 in British Columbia. That some year, Gael, previously adopted from the Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue, won the NADAC National Championship in Colorado. More recently, in June, Voucher and Klepto competed in the USDAA Northwest Regional Trials where Klepto won the Steeple Chase and Voucher was second in Grand Prix. Visit Jef’s Youtube channel to view some spectacular performances as well as get a glimpse into Jef’s loving relationship with his teammates.
Jef embraces the attitude of Sweet IRiS, an abandoned and badly neglected pup, born on Tax Day, he found at the park: no matter what hardship comes your way, life is wonderful. In addition to the rewards from his selfless devotion to extending the active lives of agility dogs, Jef is enjoying a computer programming career at BergerABAM. For the past 20 years he has worked for this innovative company that encourages and supports their employees’ participation in charitable events and personal activities by sponsoring sports teams and providing flexible work schedules.
We are honored to have Jef as an i Love Dogs Delegate Trainer. He uses our Glucosamine & Chondrotin with Green Tea to support joint function and cartilage health in his active dogs. Look for him in his i Love Dogs shirt at AKC events in the Seattle area this summer and at the USDAA Nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona this November.
We know you have your own a tail-wagging Sweet IRiS or energetic Milo who makes your life wonderful. Share your stories with us here.