ASHLEY — Buckeye Valley East Elementary School students had a special guest Monday when a BV alum and her two dogs performed at the school.
Professional dog trainer Marla Conley and her two border collies, Dorothy and Betty, entertained the student body with various tricks and routines.
In one trick, a dog would loop around Conley as she threw a Frisbee, and the dog would catch it before it touched the ground. The trick was met with cheers and applause from students. Conley said she has traveled across the county and has been training and competing with her dogs for years. She has performed at the Delaware County Fair in the past as part of the Southern Ohio Flying K9s club.
Conley said she she attended East in the 2000s before she graduated from Buckeye Valley High School in 2011 and was invited to perform at the school by her former teacher, Candy Staley. Conley said she enjoyed the students’ engagement in the show.
“What brings me the most excitement is the cheering,” she said. “To me, I work hard to do the big tricks but to the people here, just catching the Frisbee is what they love the most and they find the most exciting. … I love the screaming. They were amazed. They were super involved.”
Conley said she wanted to expose the students to the idea of training and competing with dogs because she didn’t learn about it until after she graduated college.
“This was a world I never experienced,” Conley said. “The (dogs) brought experiences to my life that I didn’t think I’d ever have. This is a lifestyle, a hobby or a career. I got a border collie. Everyone said to make sure you give that dog enough work. Dorothy was my first dog. She’s so smart, very special and quick to catch on. Once I got started with her, I got the bug and wanted another one and another one. The dogs make it special and drive you to want more.”
Conley told the students she also has a third collie named Bishop at home, but she added he’s only 6 months old and isn’t ready to perform. Conley said she especially enjoys the way her shows can help encourage kids to play with or get to know their own dogs more.
“They want to go home and throw to their dog,” she said. “It’s cool to see. It brings them enjoyment.”
Conley and her dogs performed twice for students Monday morning and even got teachers and students to throw Frisbees during the show. She said it was “exciting” to perform for East, even if it’s not the same building she studied in.
“It’s nice to see how things have changed. It’s a nicer school,” Conley said. “It’s really nice but it is sad to see different faces in the staff.”
Beth Bennington, a library media specialist at East, said the students were surprised by the performances, and it was a good way to end the year since students have already completed state testing.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.