January 5, 2012

My Pack

So before I get too involved in this blog, I thought I would take a second to introduce you to my pack-o-fur.

The first trouble-maker to enter my life is 6 year-old Farley, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi:

When I say that he's a butt-pain, I mean it in the nicest possible way. He's what I would call a "house-dog," meaning that beyond the silly pet tricks like dancing and closing doors, I haven't done any competition-style training with him. He knows what he needs to know to survive in the house, and other than that, his main function is to make us laugh. 
The Corgi puppet show (Farley, right, and his brother Oscar)

Farley is very full of himself. Despite his size, he's unwilling to back down to anyone, and is willing to brave being stepped on or accidentally punted across the kitchen if it means that someone might actually drop some food (nickname: Speed Bump).

Fun Facts about Farley:

This dog can hear transmissions from space, and will alert us to said transmissions by waiting until everyone is quiet and concentrating on something to issue a pee-in-your pants style high-pitched bark/howl combo. He is unapologetic about this.

This is the gassiest dog you will ever meet. Please, if you visit us, do not give him a drop of milk or a nibble of broccoli. If you do, our eye lashes will be curling for hours afterwords.

He is an obsessive licker. We have figured out, though, that when he gives us intense tongue-baths, he is actually cleaning the spot where his head will soon be resting. Apparently, he thinks we humans are filthy animals.

Farley has an auto-immune disorder that nearly resulted in his euthanization at age 2. After trying every possible drug and treatment with no success, I put him on a raw diet that I had been researching, and he has been 100% ever since.

Funny Farley story: When Farley was young, I trained him to close car doors, after struggling with grocery bags and kicking the door shut myself and then tripping over the Corgi. I thought, "Why not teach the dog to do it?" Well, that came back to haunt me. During a trip to the pier on Cape Cod, I parked my car and opened the back door to let Farley out. The little darlin' tried to be helpful, and closed my car door...before I had gotten the keys out. It was more than a little embarrassing to tell the locksmith how my dog had locked my keys in the car.

Next in line comes my once-in-a-lifetime dog, Carbon vom Kraftwerk, a working-line German shepherd:

14 weeks
From the moment I got him at 8 weeks of age, I knew this dog was different. Confident, brilliant, drivey and hilarious, this guy made me earn his respect...but once I did, a bond developed that won't ever be broken.
Carbon is now 5 years old, and has had Schutzhund training, narcotics training and Personal Protection training. I was offered a ridiculous amount of money to sell him to a Boston police department, but I declined. Naturally. This dog goes nowhere if it isn't with me.

Carbon has had formal training, yes. But what really impresses me about him are these two things:

1.) His ability to understand what I want with little indication from me. I can just look at him in a certain way, or I can speak in complete sentences (no need for a command or cue, even though he knows them). After over 19 years of working with dogs, he comes the closest to human intelligence in a dog that I have encountered. And I've met some smart, smart dogs.
2.) His sense of humor. There have been countless times that this dog has me clutching my stomach in laughter after being awake for mere minutes.

Click HERE for a 30 second video of Carbon that is sure to make you smile.

I hate to give the impression that Carbon is perfect. Far from it. He's pushy, opinionated and often obnoxious. But he's perfect for me. There's a saying in dog training that you don't get the dog you want...you get the dog you need. In this case, I got both. I've learned far more from him than he's ever learned from me. 
8 weeks

Carbon's ball obsession has gotten him into hot water

At 18 months, with a sea shell that he inexplicably adopted.
Carbon at 8 weeks, my son at 6 years.
Schutzhund training in Texas with Rob Dunn
Fearless in his searching
More Schutzhund training. 18 months of age.
And people wonder why his neck is so big...

And finally, meet the smooth coated Border Collie, Fizz.

Fizz was a dog I rescued in Texas. She was discovered at a nightmare of a training facility: she was used for narcotic detection, and was only let out of the cage to train. No dog does well in constant confinement, but Border Collies are especially effected. She would spend her time chewing on the cage, and as a result, snapped off one of her canines (which had to be removed).

Me and Miss Fizz, off-leash healing exercise

After I received Fizz, I trained her in agility, Search and Rescue, Schutzhund BH, and AKC obedience. She was also my demonstration dog for training classes and seminars and clicker training, and showed a remarkable ability to rehab aggressive or fearful dogs.

Fizz is aptly named, as she is a ball of fire! She's always happy...relentlessly happy! Nothing gets this dog down!

When I decided to relocate from Cape Cod to St. Louis, I had a difficult decision to make. Fizz is an asset to both my training business and my life, but requires a huge amount of exercise. Walks and fetch just aren't enough for this girl.

One of my best friends is a marathon runner, and had been training with Fizz for over two years, developing a strong bond. Since exercise is paramount to Fizz's happiness, I decided to "time-share" her with my friend. She is currently living in Cape Cod with him, still enjoying her runs and her life.

Fizz, pictured here with her marathon running buddy, Eric.

That's it for the dogs! For those of you interested in my non-canine animal companions, here's a quick look at my 3 ferrets: Alan (albino), Steve (sable) and Tesla (champagne):

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