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All rights reserved, A New Leash on Life, a  501(c)3  non-profit corporation 26-2724792, October 2015
James Capps
Air Force
A Veteran's Story
   When Life Changes
SCOUT : A Dog on a Mission
​Scout, an athletic border collie, had grown up on a farm with his brothers and sisters. This was no ordinary farm but rather Performance Dogs in Action, a center for agility and herding training which offered Scout the opportunity to show off his prowess. On the weekends the team would travel to different venues and perform in agility shows for crowds of people. There was music, fanfare, balloons and children which is where this story both begins and ends. During one of these performances, a child’s balloon was let loose and found its way into an agility tunnel, popping just as Scout entered. The unexpected object and the blistering sound shook him to his core. His show dog days were over.Scout’s confidence and trust in the thing he knew as safe no longer resonated; but somewhere out there, a man named James understood.

James Capps was in the Air Force on a plane to deploy on Sept 11, 2001. As his team sat on the tarmac awaiting departure they received news of a second plane hitting the Towers. This was his balloon moment; his psyche was bruised, his anger raged and life would never be the same. 

The following two years were rough for James. His anger stewed beneath the surface, boiling over more often that he’d expected. His personal relationships were suffering and isolation was setting in. His foundation was losing its stability.

During time stateside, his aunt told him about a border collie at her training facility in need of a home. While James had grown up on a farm and had dogs as pets, he had never crossed paths with a working dog. Uncertain, he went to meet Scout.

They clicked from the very first moment. Scout's trainer knew this dog was special and needed the right person to allow his training and talents to flourish. The timing was perfect, as if destiny led to their union.

"Military is about teamwork, so agility and herding with Scout felt familiar and the mission oriented process   was second nature."

  -James Capps, Air Force

It was a brisk November day when James brought Scout home. Without hesitation Scout ran to the yard, fell to the ground, laid on his back and rolled around on the grass. He knew he was home. James did the same, laying down next to his new partner and taking in the moment. He wasn’t sure how but he knew something great was ahead.

In the months that followed, Scout and James would return to the training facility. Scout would take charge, teaching his handler the ropes of herding and agility. The teamwork and goal-oriented activity complimented James’ military mentality. He had a trustworthy partner, who not only made him smile again, but taught him about letting go of control.

Scout's original trainer, Nola Jones, would watch the duo on her ranch with a smile. "James was sweet and sensitive and fell in love with Scout -- and Scout needed that. It was the right thing for both of them and in some way they saved each other."

It was always a sad goodbye when James would deploy but the return home was all that much sweeter with the slobbery, excited welcome.

Ten years later you can still find James and Scout at Performance Dogs in Action, among the New Leash on Life family, quietly running agility courses and chasing sheep with only good days ahead.