Aggi's Journey - From Meningitis to Mantrailing
At only 18 months old, Cockerpoo Aggi was diagnosed with Meningitis, resulting in her needing to undergo intensive treatment which restricts not only her physical activity, but also her social life. Here is her story and how Mantrailing is playing a part in her recovery...
After multiple MRI scans and spinal taps, Aggi was diagnosed with meningitis in April 2017 when she was just 18 months old. A month prior to being diagnosed, Aggi began having seizures and lost her sense of coordination, struggling to walk and move around properly. Sadly, on diagnosis, the vet confirmed that her Meningitis was from 'Unknown Origin' which meant she has had to undergo very intensive treatment since. Aggi started on treatment of chemotherapy, which she has to have for 2 days every 3 weeks, alongside anti-seizure medication and steroids. After about 18 months of receiving the treatment , she seemed to be on the road to recovery, however, about a month later, she sadly re
lapsed & the treatment had to be started all over again and although she is now stable, she is still having to undergo treatment now almost 3 years on from her diagnosis.
Due to the type of chemotherapy Aggi had to have, alongside the fact she was so unwell from the Meningitis, she wasn’t able to go out for the best part of a year, and as a result, she became isolated from meeting new people and every new person she did meet was a vet. due to the fact she had also been poorly from a young age and couldn’t be socialised as her family had hoped for, she began to associate all new people with fear and became very very nervous of anyone new she met. Her owner, Ellie, has done a lot of work with her, as well as working with a behaviourist to try and build her confidence back up, but as she’s still having treatment they have only been able to make so much progress.
Ellie is already a keen Canicrosser, running with Aggi's doggy sister ,Tink , and often spoke to us about how she wished that Aggi could join in on our runs, however, due to her having to be on restricted exercise, particularly anything too exerting, she couldn't. After launching our Mantrailing workshops, Ellie was keen to try Aggi at this new dog sport as a form of mental stimulation for her, and although a little worried about how she would get on being around a group of new people, as well as the fact she would be searching for an unfamiliar 'missing person', she decided to give it a go in the hope it would give Aggi a fun activity which she could finally participate in and tire her brain, without fear of over doing it physically.
They both attended our Mantrailing Introduction Workshop and before everybody arrived, myself and Aggi made friends ( through her love of cheese!) so she was a little more at ease with at least somebody else at the workshop. As the other workshop attendees began to arrive, Aggi went to settle in the car so she wasn't overwhelmed right from the start. After Introductions and a demonstration, It was Aggi's turn to come out and have her first go on the trails! She picked up the game super quick but was worried when she initially found her first 'missing' new person, giving a few scared barks and backing off before realising there was some super tasty sausage to be had from finding the 'scary' new person. After being brave enough to claim her reward, her 'missing' person then ran off to hide again just a short distance away and instantly you could see the difference in Aggi's association with the 'scary new person' as she keenly pulled towards the direction they ran and went straight up to them for her sausages again!
As the trails went on, her confidence began to soar and by the end of the workshop had found 3 different new people who were acting as her 'missing' person, seeking them out straight away and claiming her reward without hesitation, and by the end, even with enthusiasm! - The real breakthrough was on her 3rd trail where her missing person had hidden in a small wooded area. As she began to trail, there was a small group of 4 members of the general public who had wondered into her search area nearby. Her motivation was so high that she was even brave enough to check out the group of strange people hidden in the trees to eliminate them from her search and after a little worried bark after doing so, she turned and continued straight back on the trail, quickly finding her correct 'missing' person and claiming her Sausage and cheese reward!
The Kocher method which we use for our Mantrailing training is aimed at creating a driven, focused and motivated canine partner and as a result of this, meant it had given Aggi the tools to build a good relationship with the 'missing' person due to association of 'finding missing person = super tasty food'. Aggi has had an ongoing struggle both mentally and physically as a result of her Meningitis, but Ellie & Aggi feel really positive to have found an activity which is not only mentally stimulating for her, but is also working towards a more positive relationship with meeting new people again. - Mantrailing really is a dog sport that everyone can try!