A South Elgin woman celebrated the 10th anniversary of her dog obedience and agility business, which she launched after she and her husband lost their home to hurricane Katrina.
The couple relocated to South Elgin from New Orleans after the devastating hurricane in 2005. Two years later, Brian Lane had found a good job and Julia Lane started her business, Spot On K9 Sports, in the backyard of their new home in South Elgin. The couple have a 3-year-old son, Brandon, and two Dalmatians, Darby, 15 ½ years old, and Jolie, 14 years old.
Julia Lane started with four dogs and now teaches 75 students a week in group agility classes and private lessons. She also has 60 students who take obedience classes and do in-home training. Her lead instructor, Donna Orlowski, teaches five classes a week.
Spot On K9 Sports recently hosted a party to celebrate its milestone.
The business offers obedience and agility classes and private lessons at Spot On K9 Sports, 1942 Gyorr Ave., South Elgin, and intermediate, advanced and masters agility classes and private lessons at Agility at the Farm, 8N861 Burlington Road, Campton Hills.
Julia Lane shares the South Elgin space with her vet, Denise Crittenden, owner of South Town Animal Hospital in South Elgin.
"I'll never forget the day (Crittenden) was examining one of my dogs and I was lamenting how winter was coming, so I wouldn't be able to continue teaching classes until spring since I taught in my backyard," Julia Lane said. "She mentioned a 'basement' that might work and I could take a look. She seemed to think I would not be impressed. But oh my gosh, it was a huge indoor space and I was so grateful! There's no way I could've afforded anything of that size on my own."
Julia Lane said she thinks of herself as a teacher rather than a trainer "because I'm teaching both the person and their dog," she said.
"The students who are open minded and eager to learn will be successful, no matter the breed or mix. Those students who want a cookie-cutter approach and instant results will be disappointed in my teaching philosophy," she said.
Her first students were Dave and Rosie Lukas of Elgin, and their multiple agility champion American Eskimo dog, Shadowfax.
"They have become good friends who helped me keep going, especially during those early years when I learned that a love of dogs and people didn't necessarily translate to business know how," she said.
She does her best to educate people about science-based, positive reinforcement training, she said.
"It's about appealing to the dog's brain instead of physical force or intimidation. There is no reason to cause pain or frighten a dog."