Swimming pools in New Mexico can bring the image of a mirage in the desert to mind. A thirsty rough-looking person drags one foot in front of the other. They haven’t had a drink of water in days and are on the verge of giving up and letting the dirt swallow them up, when suddenly, they look across the desert and see it—water!
But not all pools of water in the desert are mirages. Some pools are quite real, including the dog pool at Fast Action Dogs Training and Sports Center in Stanley.
You read that right: There is a dog pool in Stanley.
In 2015, Traci Medrano opened an indoor dog training facility in Edgewood and two years created an outdoor dog training facility with a pool at her home in Stanley.
Medrano is a life-long, multigenerational dog trainer who spent 20 years working as a registered vet tech.
Her life-long enthusiasm for dog training, combined with a perceived need in the community led her to create Fast Action Dogs.
Medrano said during her years as a vet tech she also taught dog training classes on the weekends. “I loved veterinary medicine,” she said, adding, “but once I was teaching classes on the side my weekends became full and I had lots of demand for classes.”
Realizing that there was enough demand to go into business for herself, she decided to go for it and also had the added benefit of being home all the time with her own dogs.
She said she has always been around dogs and that her mom, grandma, aunt and great aunt all trained dogs when she was young. Her parents kept Collies and toy poodles growing up, but she fell in love with German Shepherds and got her first one at 14. For three decades she kept German Shepherds, showing them in obedience competitions.
After a while, she said she came to really appreciate Belgian Malinois, fell in love again, started keeping and training them instead. Belgian Malinois are “extremely high drive dogs, with a very strong work ethic,” said Medrano. She currently lives with five and said she really enjoys her connection with them.
Now that Medrano is able to dedicate all of her time to her love of dogs, her facilities specialize in several different types of dog training.
At the indoor facility they offer puppy school, obedience training, rally, agility and scent detection, and conformation handling classes.
Classes are available to families looking for pet dog classes as well as dog sport enthusiasts. They also offer training and fitness conditioning and underwater treadmill conditioning for active and sport dogs, dogs with musculoskeletal conditions, aging dogs who need to maintain strength and mobility, or overweight dogs who need to lose a few pounds.
They offer small group classes, private lessons, day camp where dogs are dropped off for the day for training “intensives,” and full board and training programs.
Group classes are $135 for a 7-week course. Classes are an hour once a week and include a detailed workbook designed specifically for each class with a recap of class and homework suggestions. In addition, she said they are updating their workbooks to include links to training videos.
Private lessons start at $60 and day camp is $100 a day. Boarding and training prices vary depending on the client’s needs.
Most group classes are in the afternoons and evenings. Private lessons and day camp are scheduled by appointment.
They also have an interview process to determine the needs of both the dogs and their owners. Medrano said they do get a lot of “problem dogs” including a lot of fear-based issues and aggression issues.
They also deal with more typical things like chewing, scratching and digging. “Yes, training can help any dog and we do recommend it for all dogs,” she said. “However, I always tell people, ‘genetics are genetics’ and we can’t change genetics which makes it important to understand some behaviors are based on that and not training.”
The outdoor facility boasts a full-sized agility field for private and group classes, as well as swimming and dock diving lessons. “We also host three AKC North America Diving Dog Competitions annually, including a Regional Qualifier event that draws clients from several states,” she said.
Those who compete can earn titles, ribbons and trophies, “but what we really earn is a lifetime of memories with our four legged partners,” Medrano said.
The outdoor facility is typically open May through October, and hours of operation are by appointment only.
She said, “Our dock diving events this season are scheduled for June 26-27 for Regional Qualifier; July 24-25 and August 14-15.” Spectators are welcome unless group limitations change due to Covid restrictions.
To get involved in dock diving, Medrano recommends people start with a lesson at the pool to see if their dog enjoys swimming and diving off of the dock.
“I enjoy incorporating dog psychology, an understanding how and why dogs learn, into all of my lessons. I feel that owners will better be able to connect with their dogs, understand why they do the things they do, and be able to successfully train their dogs with this information,” Medrano said.