The Stafford dog earns titles and treats for its tricks

Chloe could be an all-American success story — or at least the version with four legs and a tail.

The Stafford County dog’s rise from rags to riches begins on the streets of San Antonio, Texas, where five years ago he was covered in flea bites and practically starving. Her two-legged “sister,” Hannah Jones, said most of her hair had fallen out and she was “so thin she looked like she was walking on stilts.”

Fast forward to the present and Chloe is a nationally ranked performer adored by her military family. She has comfortable dog beds in her Embrey Mill home and in her own room. He’s full of framed certificates, ribbons and a really heavy silver trophy trophy, his award as a finalist in the American Kennel Club’s National Trick Dog Competition.

Only those who have earned AKC titles as elite performers may compete. Christina Jones, Chloe’s human mom, trainer and constant companion, was among more than 150 people from the United States and Canada who submitted videos of their dogs acting out stories and doing tricks.

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Chloe’s Back to School video shows her helping students in the classroom, from waving to students to holding the Pledge of Allegiance flag. Chloe also turns the pages of the book with her nose, follows the commands from the cards and rings the bell to answer basic math questions.

The AKC selected one winner and two finalists, one of whom was Chloe. It does not distinguish between second and third places.

Having a title like that and her own social media presence, as well as being able to do over 120 tricks, it might sound like little Chloe is turning into a dog diva.

No, Jones said. He’s still an idiot and proud of it. She hopes Chloe’s story will inspire others to give shelter dogs a chance.

Jones and her daughter were at an animal facility in San Antonio in 2018, waiting to check on another dog when they came across the cage. He had no tag, microchip, background or owners looking for him.

Animal Care Services staff named her Chloe and said the 4-pound dog was in such bad shape that she was scheduled to be euthanized the next day.

“We had no idea that a sad little puppy would change our lives,” Christina Jones said.

Christina Jones had never trained dogs before Chloe, but noticed how quickly the dog learned. After a rep or two, he got his skills down.

Jones turned to YouTube for more ideas and taught Khloe how to stay, sleep (head down), kiss and cuddle.

He also took a DNA test to determine Chloe’s background. She is said to be a mix of 25% Chihuahua, 25% Parson Russell, 15% Bernese Mountain Dog (a large breed whose presence does not appear in Chloe’s frame) and the rest a terrier.

Jones usually puts an “all-American” or mixed terrier, such as Chloe, on entry forms.

Jones enrolled in an obedience course, and the trainer there also noticed Chloe’s agility and offered agility lessons. Chloe was great, but the course was too fast for Jones.

Then a friend suggested dog tricks.

“I had never heard of the trick world,” Jones said.

They began taking lessons and quickly progressed from novice to elite performer, increasing the requirements to earn titles.

Certified professional dog trainer Dr. Dee Yates said Chloe was so good at tricks because “she really wanted to please her owner”. She was quoted in a 2020 story about Chloe in the San Antonio Northside Herald.

“She was just excited to do it,” Yates said of Chloe’s routines. “He was one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever seen, if not the smartest.”

Jones and Chloe spend about half an hour a day reviewing new skills or reinforcing old ones because the dogs will forget without reinforcement, Jones said.

Even when they’re not training, Chloe locks eyes with Christina Jones as if nothing else matters except what the coach is asking her to do.

Just as children learn hand-eye coordination, a small dog can stack different colored rings on a tapered pole. Chloe can play a dead or miniature piano; ring and roll bells; skateboarding, shooting a mini basketball, rowing and barrel rolling.

He had a little trouble learning to walk backwards around his owner, but eventually he mastered what looks like a canine “moon walk.” If someone sneezes, they can buy a tissue. He can open a cash register, push a mini shopping cart, and go for a walk.

Chloe enjoys the food and treats she receives as rewards.

“He’s definitely talking through his stomach,” Jones said. “But even if I put him down and asked him to do something without food, he would still do it.”

Mary Burch, director of AKC Family Dog, said she is very willing to work because of the bond between the trainer and the dog. Burch called Jones “Chloe’s secret weapon” because of her stage presence and staying calm, using subtle cues and not repeating commands, which gives Chloe a chance to respond.

“Chloe is a great dog and the bond between Chloe and Kristina is a joy to witness,” Burch said.

The skit was the Stafford family’s AKC competition win

Although Chloe did not become a diva, she has the froufrou name because the AKC requires it. But this also speaks of its humble roots.

Earlier, Christina’s husband and Hannah’s father, Gary Jones, called Chloe a “flopdoodle” because of one of her ears. He is a major in the Air Force and a cost analyst assigned to the Pentagon.

So when the AKC asked for a registered name for the dog, the Jones family came up with “Flopdoodle Chloe Bean.”

Those interested can follow her on Instagram, @chloe_trick_dog_champion; On Facebook, @chloetrickdogchampion; and on YouTube, @Flopdoodle Chloe Bean Trick Dog Team.

Chloe Bales, 12, has competed in agility all her life and will represent the United States in an international competition next month.

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Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425


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