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​Sally Nist, an employee of the U.S. Department of State, had puppy withdrawal when she had to spend a month away from her beloved Border Terrier. So it’s not surprising that she took special interest in a street dog near the compound where she was stationed in Kosovo. One rainy night, Nist returned home to find the dog she dubbed Brownie sitting in front of her apartment.

“I tried to entice her to come inside, and she put her paws on the threshold before darting back into the darkness. The next day I bought dog food, hoping to lure Brownie into my apartment.”

Nist didn’t see Brownie again for several days, but had already decided to adopt her and take her to America. “I received a call a week later from a fellow dog lover working in the embassy. … Her beautiful tail was gangrenous, making her quite ill. My colleague rushed her to the vet, where Brownie’s tail was amputated to save her life.”

Nist paid Brownie’s vet bills and made plans to take her home as her Kosovo assignment neared an end. Brownie was too sick to travel, so a colleague agreed to keep her until she recovered. Back home in Virginia, Nist received an e-mail reporting that Brownie appeared to be pregnant.

Six weeks after her rescue, Brownie arrived in Washington, D.C. Ten days later, Brownie delivered five healthy puppies. Once the pups were old enough, Nist found excellent homes for all of them. But dog and owner still had work to do. As a result of fighting for her life on the streets of Kosovo, she was pretty dog-aggressive.

Nist needed to train Brownie to make her a well-adjusted housemate for her and her 15-year-old Border Terrier, Rosie. She wasted no time in enrolling Brownie in a class and was surprised by how quickly she learned obedience commands and exercises. Nist’s thoughts began to turn to competition.

She enrolled Brownie in the AKC Canine Partners program with the name of Kosovo Coffee Bean. Brownie competed in her first Rally Novice (RN) trial in March 2011, and just a year and a month later she finished her Rally Excellent (RE) title. She also passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

“I truly believe obedience training allowed Brownie to develop her potential and move from a feral street dog to a confident competitor,” Nist says. “She still has her moments, but her trust of people and new situations is amazing.”

Learn about how one of the dogs saved from Michael Vick's fighting ring became an agility star. 

This story first appeared in AKC Family Dog magazine, where you’ll find articles about purebreds and mixed-breeds doing amazing things!

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