By Melissa Patrick
Libby Rockaway, a rising junior at Trinity Christian Academy, is the owner and operator of Libby’s Loving Leashes, a dog-training service featuring a Kids & Canines class.
For the past three summers, Libby has run the training class for kids 8- to 13-years-old.
The class teaches young pet owners and their dogs basic commands and beginning agility skills during eight, one-hour sessions, culminating with a judged competition. All classes are held outdoors under a tent on her family’s property in Nicholasville.
The program obviously works because attendance has doubled each year – 15 students took the class in June.
“Watching the kids and dogs start the camp as two individuals, each with their own mind, and seeing the two form a bond and build a relationship has definitely been the most rewarding part of camp for me,” Libby said.
“By the end of the month the child and dog are a team.”
Jane Frederickson, an 11-year-old homeschooled student, praised Libby’s instruction.
“My dog wasn’t very good when we started out,” she said. “She wouldn’t heal and wouldn’t obey me. She ended up doing really well. She got first place in the competition.”
Libby has been training dogs since she was 7 when she joined the Jessamine County 4-H Dog Obedience Club.
She is currently the obedience trainer for the Club, is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and learned from three trainers who worked with her and her dogs.
The business started out as a dog sitting and boarding service when Libby was 8, and she has since paid for all of the equipment and supplies through her earnings and a 4-H/FFA grant.
Kids & Canines was born in 2011 out of Libby’s dog training experience at her 4-H Club.
Libby’s business expanded again in 2011 to include in-home training for puppies.
To date in her home, Libby has trained more than 17 Comfort Retriever puppies that have been sent all over North America as well as to Brazil and Dubai.
When Libby isn’t working or being a student, she trains her own dogs for competition: Zoe, an award-winning Corgi, and Elliott, a Border Collie working on agility training.
When Libby started her dog sitting and boarding service she had no idea it would grow into the business it is today.
“Libby did not set out to become a business owner,” Cherilyn Rockaway, Libby’s mother said. “She just followed her interests a little at a time, and as it was successful it expanded.”
Libby’s passion for dogs and training has transformed into a business she loves.
Said Libby: “I wanted to help others teach their dogs so they could experience the same joy I have in my dogs.”