Is this really my life?

Sometimes i stop and think, wow am i living a dream or is this really my life? Everyday is a new experience, a new lesson, a new opportunity to learn more about how best to communicate and live with dogs and exercise that every second of every day.  I really do live a dream, and this weekend was a great one!

Friday was a fun day at home depot with kara and mika training and working obedience. Rainas SAR training is progressing so fast, now that i finally have a kink free method of back and forward chaining and a smooth way to teach nose work, recall, and refind, while also working her indication for a bark outside of the search work. I realize how quick she will be up and going now that i know how to do it perfectly for these shepherds.

Raina loves to tug










Eme is also doing great and while working two dogs this close in age is tough its worth every second.

Eme after her SAR problem

Saturday brought a training session with a client which was powerful and successful. It is always the best when i get to see another pack of dogs improve because of what i am teaching.  It helps remind me that my understanding of canines is correct, and my communication and my foundation that i lay prior to working with a dog is what really gets them started on the right track. I’m happiest when i get to teach someone else how to have a canine co-pilot for life!





Saturday was another pack visit day, we worked on some Life Long Tails grants and got the website updated and looking pretty. We also went out and did a short problem with both girls so the other members of the rescue were able to see how it all works. April was nice enough to hide and flank me and nick did the same even though he couldn’t feel his feet!

Ok whats next?


It was another good successful find with both eme and raina getting some practice with new subjects.

Getting ready to start


Sunday came quick and 6am found the girls and I, kara and mika, and stacey in the truck headed to an old IBM builing at Tech City in Kingston. We had access to 3 floors of empty building to work some SAR problems. This was Eme and Raina’s first time doing any building work and i was BLOWN AWAY.


Eme was quick to catch on and we did a few short run aways to get her into the scent picture of a building. Air flows VERY differently in buildings especially when there was some heat and duct airflow. Eme blew through problems and delivered a perfect refind, bark indication as long as i asked, and show me back to the subject. There was NO light what so ever and the dogs were asked to work in PITCH BLACK. Eme would body slam the doors to open them and clear the room as soon as i asked her to “check”  She took direction perfectly but also worked independently on her own.  We worked some longer problems with her and she stayed frustration free, giving me no false indications, only pin pointing the subject, coming back to me to tell me and  bringing me right back.

and....... SEARCH!

Raina was baby steps but by the end of the day she was doing short blind problems with her recall back to me. We started out by placing subject in the door to the dark room and making her bark to get in and get her reward. Then we moved to short run aways like that, then to longer run aways where she had to actually search a few rooms. Then we would place a subject and give her 3 rooms to search to find him. It was so great to see a  young dog take to working scent in a difficult environment. You could hear her stack her breaths when in scent and you could watch her follow the scent cone into the subject!

Focused and ready

The holy day of the week

My girls












Sundays are another good training day with the co pilot pack. This weekend we headed down to ritas with the girls all in tow to work some of the regular obedience, socialization, and of course SAR.

hanging at the school













Raina spent some time at the school, in the gym working on recall obedience then just hanging out with the kids. We practiced her commands with a lot more distractions present and upped the requirements a little.  We also did her short problems with a refind back to mom. Raina has A LOT of subject loyalty and while her indication (a bark and hold to mom) is coming along great we need to stop the game at mom for awhile to get the fast bounce back for refind.


With my ball after the find














We set up a short problem for Eme to see how her refind and indication would hold up. It turned into a bit of a mess but she found the subject, came  back, indicated upon asking, and did a good show me! We solidified it with a few more short drills and let her take her prize to the top of the mountain of snow!

Both girls did great and enjoyed playing with Mika and Tank who is Raina’s brother. Another wonderful training with my good friends.

The heart swells with pride

When owning dogs you have good days and bad days, especially when you have a large pack to manage and most are working dogs that are on the path to certification. Today was a great day, a day that makes me realize that all the time, effort, love, and discipline i put into my dogs everyday is worth it.  A day that makes me realize that what i do, what i teach, and what i know really is amazing.

Emeline and Raina and i started the morning out meeting Amigo SAR dog team members at Cole park.  I worked eme first on a short snow burial, her first ever with a nice quick refind to remind her what we have been practicing the last few months.  Then i took the plunge, i knew the last few weeks she was getting the whole concept of refind and it had been forever since the girl had a LONG problem where she had to work out scent. She was first up with an off trail problem over a mile long. As we were working she stayed close and checked back at me often, sometimes with bits of frustration, probably wondering why all of a sudden she was working so long to find her toy!

I was not sure where the subject was and only had man tracking to try to tell me when we were getting close. I wanted to make sure Eme had a successful find since it had been so long but i was worried her refind and indication would drop out like it had been a few months back.  Through the first 1/2 mile i had head pops across the water towards the subject so i knew she was working good. Once we got about 250 feet down the trail prior to the subject i noticed a body language change and a pep in her step! I was about to comment i thought we were close when she head popped right and took off up the hill, after working the cone back in to the subject so got him perfect, turned around came back to me as i gave her words of encouragement, sat in front of me barked and with a “show me” we were off to the subject! PERFECT!!!  We ended the problem with a 20 minute play session on the way back to the truck. We tugged, we fetched, we lost the toy a few times and found it again.  It was a great mesh of working dog and working handler. I love it when all the work pays off!

We worked Raina on some small short problems and now that she knows the game we are incorporating a refind back to me starting now. Her loyalty to the subject is already unwavering so bringing it back to mom now will help any hesitation later on in training.


Pull mom PULL











After training we hit the town and made rounds to Gander Mountain, the pet store and home depot for some in store work and out of store work. My emphasis with Raina is focus in public places and work on obedience commands with distractions. She is great at tuning out any noise but kids playing in the snow was just to much so we distanced ourselves and worked our obedience at Home Depot.














The girls all did great and Emeline and Raina shared their truck so nicely with Bonsai and Mika during the trip.  All 4 girls worked obedience for a few hours and even made some new friends and impressed some complete strangers with their obedience!

A weekend of Raina’s firsts

The weekend had a bunch of raina’s firsts!!! Friday brought her first demo for a preschool class. She practiced a runaway, did some obedience, and socialized with the 3 year olds.

Practice makes perfect












She did wonderful and all the kids loved her and parents highly impressed with her obedience! At 13 weeks old raina is an amazing girl and her rock solid nerves are shining through!


Saturday brought raina’s first search experience where she was able to socialize, practice her focus and obedience, do some short search problems, and experience 2 huge fire trucks leave the fire house lights and sirens!

Resting in the fire house










Sunday after we were done searching raina got to run some live search problems, two run aways and 1 short problem. Then we headed back home. Monday brought our first store visit where we went to home depot and practiced obedience, focus, (these are so important as you can tell!!) and just plain meeting everyone!! Raina did great and made me so proud.


Shopping at home depot











All in all it was a good weekend. Raina got a lot of exposure and socialization, experience in new places and with new people. All of this goes such a long way to making her a good balanced adult dog.

The power of time

The weekends usually fly by anymore and its sad when i look at how little i accomplish sometimes.  This weekend however was not like that. Friday brought some training time and getting the house in order and paperwork set.  Raina had her first demo which will be in detail in the next post. Saturday morning Raina and I left the house at 430 am to head to Kingston NY for a search.  We spent the weekend looking for a missing man, I in the field and Raina back at the firehouse base socializing and learning how her future years will be spent as a SAR dog.  We spent saturday night at a team mates house and raina was great even sleeping in a strange crate in a strange room with new dogs coming in and out of the room all night. The importance of exposing your dogs to these new things are so important especially if you are raising a social working dog!!

Sunday night brought a few quick search problems for Raina in which she did amazing.  She is excellent at using her nose and not her eyes despite doing a run away or two first. Her drive is high and right now she works for food and ball play once shes cleaned her plate!


Monday is our in town day, eme and raina both get obedience, socilization, and work some new place in town. This week we did Home depot and Eme we worked her focus and attention to mom. We also built her play drive and then moved inside and worked some obedience around the new machines, all the people and carts ect.  Raina we worked on her focus and obedience and did a lot with her socialization. She also got to work 2 problems inside the garden center of the store!

Once finished there i met Kara at the state land up by me and we worked Eme on a few short problems. She did great came right back to me, wouldn’t take the toy, barked, went right back to kara did a second refind to me where i was finally able to reward her at me for the whole sequence!! We did it one more time with kara going a little further away and i got two refind sequences before rewarding her at me. A few more times like this and we will be on the road to a SOLID refind!!! Now just gotta get the bark automatic as soon as she is on her way back to me.

We finished up our weekend by relaxing at home and cuddling on the couch.  It was a great weekend and i was not only proud of my dogs but the teamwork that i experienced and the friendships i have developed just over one common love, the canine!


Pack visiting hours

Life Long Tails had a small meeting/get together sunday to go over some grant options and new programs we need to start. The pack was beyond thrilled to have an extra 8 laps to sit on. The advantage to being a dog behaviorist and owning a pack of 11 dogs most all from rescue situations is that i had the ability to mold and train them to enjoy the company of strangers in the house and still keep that calm air about them.  Its rare that you will find a pack of this many dogs in size and breed range of ours that can achieve the state of balance we have gotten.

We have just met you and WE LOVE YOU!!!









I have to say our guests were wonderful sports about the barrage of dogs that tackle you with kisses and barks when you walk in the door!! It can be very overwhelming if you do not have trust that I have a controlled pack.












The experience for both dogs and humans is great and from the feedback of the day i believe this will be at least a monthly occurrence. If interested in joining us and either helping with the rescue, hiding for the search dogs, or just gaining some confidence around a large pack of dogs this is your place!! Keep an eye on my blog and website for the schedule of events!

One cute cuddle session

Winter training

Saturday was a great training day, cold but not crazy winds and only light snow. Eme worked her indication over and over with various kids as subjects with distractions all around, Raina worked her first runaway problems with subjects and then eme did a little cadaver work before we wrapped up the day.  Of course everyday begins and ends with a hike and even in the low light of the morning i tried to capture some pictures of the girls.

What ma

Raina’s day

I love all my dogs, and i appreciate them all for each of there specific traits and behaviors even if it is the smelly farts my english bulldog gives off on a daily basis.   But my time spent with miss Raina is so much fun, she is so sweet and photogenic as well!


We took a hike alone to work on her focus and play and to test her dedication to over coming obstacles in her way. Her intensity was great and she always looks right at me when i ask for her focus.

What ma i'm balancing on top of the dirt mountain!











After mastering the dirt piles and range on the property we moved on to huge downed tree piles from the last logging.

Why are you on the other side of this??










We got a crazed look, then countless whines and barks growing louder and louder as i moved on and left her behind. 20 seconds later i turn around and capture this

Got it










Not gonna let anything hold her down! Now thats a SAR dog

This was it

My emotional release each day is when i step out the front door with the woooosh of four paws thundering all around me as i head up the trail into the woods out our front door. Sometimes i take most of the dogs, sometimes i take them 1 at a time if we are working obedience without distractions but no matter what i need that time.

The other day i took eme and raina out separate to get some obedience, focus and drive training in with each of them.  When raina first came to us she was fiercely independent and could care less how close or far i was to her.  The last few weeks that has changed 10 fold and she always checks in, doesn’t get further then 15 feet ahead or behind me and if i stop moving and try to hide she whips around and looks for me……gotta love it.  So the only way to play hide games with raina is to take her out with Eme where she gets distracted, strays further from me but is the first to come flying back using her nose and crash into me with a happy grunt.

Two cute GSD butts

Today we went out before sun set and trekked down off our hill onto the flat land below our property the girls happily playing in the new snow and responding to obedience commands when ordered.  I wasn’t equipped with any lights so we headed back up the hill and reached the peak of our property just as the sun was beginning to fall. I have to admit with the leaves off the trees and the reflection coming down over the other hills in the distance it looked breathtaking. I believe i found where our new house will be built.

We hiked back down to the house in time for dinner and a nap and here we sit now all digesting as i sift through pictures to place in the blog and go through the ever growing list of emails of animals in need. No matter where i am in my house i can always reach down and touch fur, the soothing feeling caresses my fingertips and i know that for another night I’m happy and content.

Oh how the weeks have flown

Raina or rainy or raina braina as she is called has been with us now for almost a month. Hard to believe she is already 12 weeks old 22 pounds and defiantly a member of our pack.  She loves her hikes and play time with mom, her cuddle on the couch football time with dad and her romp and play and chew bones with her siblings.

My ears are floppy!

She has learned the manners and rules in the house, and challenged quite a few of them for such a young pup too! Shes a handful but has calmed down a lot with the training we have done. She is doing great with her obedience and can sit and come under distraction already.

Halfway there!!!

I’m always amazed at the raw natural abilities that dogs can poses when you take genetically sound dogs and mate them in a stable environment to be raised in.  Raina has the innate ability to love people, use her nose to find anyone, play with her tug all day long, and focus on mom with a one word command. Every day she does something else that just makes me stop and think   wow if all dogs could be like this!!!

They made it!!!!!!!!

We are looking forward to a wonderful 2011 and the whole Canine Copilot pack has lots of new years resolutions they will achieve!!!