Meet Mercy Colberg
“I’ve always loved animals,” says DSK agility trainer Mercy Colberg. “We had many family dogs while I was growing up, but my first love was horses.”
Kim Berkley was Mercy’s first horse trainer at a national level. Kim’s guidance helped Mercy rise to the top national ranks and win multiple national championships. In 2005, Mercy’s mare TCE Balastrana won the High-Point Horse award in the Arabian Horse Association’s annual competition. Bally finished first in a field of more than 3,000 Arabian, Half-Arabian, and Anglo-Arabian horses in the United States and Canada.
“Without Kim,” Mercy says, “I would never have received so many accolades.
“Kim took me under her wing,” Mercy adds. So strong was the student-mentor relationship that “When Kim turned from horses to dogs, I followed.”
While she was still showing horses, Mercy started her agility career with the dogs she already had at home – Euro (Euro Von Colberg OAP OJP NF), “an awesome Rottweiler who would learn by
watching – he loved the game”; Goose (Canada Goose OA AXJ MXP MJP NF CGC), her rescued yellow Labrador Retriever; and Finn (Badgersbrook Phenomenal OA NAJ NAP NJP OF), a littermate to Lucy, Kim’s famed Golden Retriever.
Putting it all together
Mercy then let training take a back seat for a while as she pursued career goals and started a family. When she returned to training dogs several years later, her ability to apply the training insights she’d gained from horses and the interpersonal and communications skills she’d acquired through her teaching profession provided a natural and smooth transition.
The result is an instructor who offers a holistic approach to training. “I love interacting with dogs and with people,” Mercy says. “Seeing the little successes that turn into big successes as the human-dog team learns and grows…. It’s about accomplishments, yes, but it’s also about developing that bond, watching dogs grow together with their owners.”
Many dogs come in needing confidence, Mercy points out; in fact, she’s seen her own rescue dog, Pearl, struggle with low self confidence. Mastering agility helped Pearl gain the confidence she needed, a process Mercy has seen play out again and again in her classes.
But while some dogs need confidence, others need structure, boundaries, and an outlet for their energy. Guiding humans and dogs along the path to growth and success is the most rewarding part of Mercy’s job as a trainer. At the end, she says, “It’s about the process.”
Mercy teaches introductory through advanced agility on Saturdays at DSK and is available for private instruction by appointment on Tuesdays.
Mercy’s canine crew
Mercy’s five-year-old Pit Bull Terrier-Boxer mix, Pearl – PACH Pearly Gates AX MXJ MXPB MJP3 MJPB PAX CGC – arrived at Mercy’s father-in-law’s door in 2013, a timid dog sadly lacking in self confidence. Mercy started working with her, and Pearl’s response was both quick and heartening. “She gained a ton of confidence and has done very well,” Mercy says. Pearl is now a gem of a dog, high achieving and beloved by all she meets.
Mercy’s puppy is Aria (Aria Von Tajgetosz AX AXJ NF CGC), a two-year-old German Shepherd Dog. For a young dog, Aria has made an impressive run to Masters-level agility. The future for her is surely bright.
Photo courtesy Grrrfix