Sunday, December 13, 2015

Disappointment or Learning Experience?

Today was a day of disappointment and while you can sit there and think to yourself about everything that went wrong, I'm going to think about all the good.

In under a year I had a dog that shut down to trailing, completely forgotten how to trail to a dog that trails fantastically and loves it. This year we started off by having troubles with locating where our subjects left (starts) to today where her starts are rock solid no question about it at all. Did our person turn? 5 months ago she would be a hit or miss. Today she nailes her turns even with a bobbling idiot of a handler holding the lead. 8 months ago, I know Peanut felt that Trailing was “meh” today she was having such a blast she refused to stop even though she was tired and hot. 2 months ago Peanut decided that she wasn't going to just pick the right person, every person was her person and she was going to make sure they all give her treats. Today she ignored people to only find the one person she was looking for. She even ignored a bicyclist passing by!

Today we may have not found the person she was looking for, but the information she gave me was enough for me to put other teams in the area and we would have brought them home. THAT right there is what I want in my dog. I don't expect her to be perfect, it's impossible. I want my partner to give me information where I can make decisions that I can relay back to my team that can allow us to make better decisions.

We failed today but I'm SO proud of my partner's work and with everything that happened, we won. Failing isn't always a bad thing, it opens your eyes and allows you to see things you may have not saw before. We are lucky to have such a passionate team that really cares about each others success.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Things Finally Click

Our Search and Rescue Team has boot camp twice a year, which we completed this past weekend.  It's 3 days to hammer out issues that you may be having or grow in an area that you may have never tried.  It's a time to get out with teams you may have never been out with or learn more about an area you aren't confident in.  It's a time to grow, bond, learn, teach, and make friends.  It's a lot of hard work but you gain so much from it.

I will admit what has held Peanut and I back was the fact I had issues reading her body language.  I refused to go for our certification before I fully understood what she was telling me.  Someone's life is at state and there was no way I would put a sub-par human in the field behind a dog. Thursday I had an epiphany before leaving for camp, and with that in mind, I went into camp with a different way of reading my dog.

Three trails that I ran blind (I had no clue where the trail was and neither did my field support) were all complete successes.  Never before had I heard Peanut's voice so loud and worked so much in sync.  We were unstoppable.  I was so proud of us this weekend! I never felt like we really had a chance in the past, my fault not hers, and after this weekend, I'm so much more confident in our abilities.  We even ran the oldest aged trail we ever have which was amazing!

What we do is a partnership and a partnership is only as strong as your weakest link.  Today this partnership is that much stronger and I hope that one day, our partnership, not only with us but with everyone on my wonderful team, will bring home someone who otherwise wouldn't return.

Peanut and I heading out to our trail.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Coming up to the slow season!

So I'm apologizing in advance for the lack of updates.  My mom's been in the hospital and it's not good news at all.  So bare with me because updates are going to be slim to none.

To hold you by, Here are a couple of photos of a demo we did with our Search and Rescue team.  This was our first, on the spot, working demo and Peanut worked like a champ.  A group of 30 people standing there, all talking, and she couldn't care at all about them.  She's an awesome dog.

The first run of the day, I didn't know what to expect so I had my boyfriend lay a short trail for her so she had a familiar scent to go on,  Knowing a scent makes it easier in a new situation, and when you are doing a demo, you know showing off your skills, you don't want to leave anything to chance.  She didn't need the help, that girl blew through it like it was nothing.

The second on of the day we picked someone from the crowd to go find.  My Boyfriend and the woman walked off so I couldn't hear what they were doing and they both left together and then went two different ways so Peanut had to choose the correct path.  She did and did it all without problem.  It was a fantastic demo with a wonderful dog!
Talking to the crowd

Keeping Peanut from cheating while they walked their trail by doing ticks!
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The start (doing a "Scent Inventory" letting her find all the scents in the starting area so Peanut knows what scent to look for when we start)

She's on the trail!

And the find and reward (FOOD!)

Saying Hello to her fans!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dog Bites, We Lose!

As a Pit Bull owner, dog bites are a huge concern to me. One even half snap and I have a dead dog. I've worked hard to have dogs that can take most anything thrown at them and not react in an aggressive way. It has taken a lot of training, but it shows when I'm out with the dogs.

Last night was National Night Out. It's a program that is put on by local law enforcement and normally the store Target has a lot to do with it. It's like a big party. You bring the kids, let them meet local police, have food, games, meet some other local government/law enforcement agencies. It's a ton of fun. I've gone the last 4 years with Peanut and every year I have a story that I come home with. This year is no different.

I had one child, around 6 or 7 with his Parents come up to me and talk about what Peanut does and how she's a good dog. A few weeks ago he was nipped at by a neighbor's dog and had been scared since. It took a little bit of his mom and dad petting her and a few other kids but he got the nerve finally and gave her a nice pat.

The smile that replaced the anxiety on his face was priceless. It warmed the hearts of everyone around.

However, the amount of children with no dog manners was astounding. I understand toddlers with no manners but these were kids 5 to 14! One little girl ran up to Peanut and just hugged her. Peanut moved away and she moved closer and tried to give her another hug. I quickly stopped her and explained that what she was doing was in dog language, asking to fight with Peanut. She was shocked and had no idea. She was 10. So many children came up to us yelling, jumping around, moving fast, even invading her space even after I asked them not to.  So many kids tossing her food, trying to pet her as she was drinking, teasing her, slapping her on the head, and even stomping on the poor girls tail!

After last night, I'm shocked we don't have MORE dog bites with children!

Parents, please take some time and actually correctly teach your children how to interact with dogs. For their own safety. Dogs are just animals. They are highly domesticated animals with so much tolerance for human error, but every dog, even Lassie, has their bragging point.

Take a look at this URL for great information on what to teach your children. Dog bites are preventable, but it is not something we learn naturally.  Take the time to teach your kids, even kids around you, the correct way to interact with dogs.  Peanut and I thank you for that!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Worst Vet EVER

Thursday morning I woke up to not find Peanut in my bed.  Peanut has slept with me for the past two years and not once have I ever awoken to find her not trying to sleep on top of me.  I found her on the couch and instantly I knew something wasn't right.  She just didn't look good.  She ate breakfast fine, but really slowly, went outside to go potty, but when I went to give her some of her allergy pills, she refused to eat the peanut butter. My dogs have never refused peanut butter, however she took a treat just fine right after that.  

I decided to have my sister come over and check on her a few times through out the day while I was at work, hoping by the time I got home, she'd be better.  I got a few texts through out the day saying she was doing OK and that she was not herself but not doing bad.  When I came home, things had changed.

My dad lets the dogs out in the late afternoon and was waiting for me as soon as I pulled into my driveway.  "You have a very sick dog.  You need to get her to the vet."  My stomach sank.

Peanut was in Nubs crate, not really moving.  She didn't even acknowledge me when I reached down and started petting her.  I called my vet, which had already closed, then called my dreaded backup vet because they have later hours then my vet.  We got right in.  As soon as Peanut heard her leash and collar come out, she perked up a little, came out of the cage and was happy to walk to the car for a ride.

By the time we got to the vet she had perked up, but she still wasn't "Peanut Perky".  The over the top "OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!! HHHHIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!" that I expect to see from her.  For a normal dog she looked fine, but I know this wasn't her, and I was really concerned.  I ended up getting the worst vet at the practice,  a female vet who doesn't listen and has about the worst attitude I've ever dealt with.  She didn't beleive me that Peanut was sick, decided to just think it was Heartworms for some unknown reason, and flat out decided I was just a horrible dog owner in general.  I hate that woman.  I demanded her do some lab tests and she said she would if I paid for a Heartworm test.  Peanut was due for it anyways so I agreed and I could just see the smirk on her face.  I took Peanut home with no answers but I did get some antibiotics and a steroid to help with a sore spot on her back (which I didn't see) and to help with a rash on her belly that she always gets.

The next day I waited on pins and needles to get the results back.  By 11am I still hadn't recived a call, when I knew the results would be back by 7am, I called the vet to make sure they did get the results and to see if they would send me a copy of the results so I could get a second opinion from my vet.  Because the vet hadn't looked at the results yet they refused to tell me anything and refused to send them to me.  I called back around 1pm, and still the Vet hadn't taken a look at the labs at all.  I go there at 5pm, already angry because I couldn't get the results in time to call my Vet to get his opinion, and when I asked for the results, I get the run around.  That damn vet STILL hadn't looked at the results.  Finally I demanded the results and sure enough her HCT, HGB, and Neutophils were all high.  I demanded to see that vet.

After waiting an half an hour (which was no big deal to me in all honestly) I get taken back to the room so I can speak to the Vet about what was going on with my dog.  Peanut had perked up a little but still wasn't herself.  The Vet walks in with an attitude.  After me questioning her about the results and why they hadn't been reviewed and why I hadn't been told that her results were not normal I get told "I don't know if you've seen the waiting room or not but I've had more important things to do then to look at your dog's lab results".  Yes, that is word for word what she said to me.

Now if she came in and said "I'm sorry.  We have been super swamped and I haven't gotten a chance to even eat today" or something along those lines I would have instantly been alright with everything.  Do not however, tell me that my dog is not important, more so when she's a sick dog and I don't know what's going on with her.  I just recently had a friend lose a dog to a heart attack who otherwise was a completely, 100% healthy dog.  I am terrified about losing her.

I still did not find out what the problem was with Peanut.  Monday I'm calling my vet to speak with him and ask his opinion on it all.  She's acting better today (Sunday) but she's still off.  She's playing, causing mischief, and running around but she's still just "off".  Hopefully it's the steroids.   

So if you are in Michigan, use Dickman Road Vet clinic in Battle Creek at your own risk.  This is the same vet that messed up Nubs knee's and flat out lied to me about their vets abilities.  Next time  I'm taking my dogs to the nearest Emergency Clinic and just pay the extreme fee's so at least I know my dogs are being properly taken care of.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Step One: Level One

Trying for once to keep my goal, I normally write these posts a few weeks in advance.  Just means I can keep more things going and write when I have more time. However it means if you happen to know me in person or online you may have heard about the news already.   

Today we had our Search and Rescue's team training.  It's a day where everyone across the state meets up to train and catch up.   Now the team has standards, like every team does, that you have to meet before you are able to be deployed on a search.  For Trailing dogs, you have 3 different tests you have to pass which are refered to as level one, level two, and level three.  Level one is the lowest and level three is the highest.  At level three you are considered a team that can be deployed and used on a search.  Each team must go through all three tests.

Now, Today was hot, I'm not talking about warm, I mean HOT. We haven't had this type of heat here in roughly two years.  In fact, last year it only hit 80 once!  Today it was 83*, which isn't horrible but there was no wind and the humidity was at 87%.  You couldn't even walk a few feet without breaking into a sweat so bad it was dripping down your face.  So now imagine Peanut who is black working in this heat and you'll realize how much harder and amazing the feat is.

Today Ms. Peanut and I passed our Level One trailing test!!!!

It's an amazing feat for us.  First of all, Many people have told us "You can't do it" and this just proves, yes we can.  Second, we are one the only non-hound team on our trailing team.  I am just so proud of us and where we are.  Next up is our level two!  Lets go TEAM PEANUT!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oh My! Flying Pit Bulls!

As part of our Search and Rescue training, we sometimes may have to do some "strange" things.  This month we had a specialized training which involved: ropes, harnesses, heights, and anxiety.  Any guesses??  If you said rappelling, then you would be CORRECT!

Not many dogs get to add rappelling to their resume but now Peanut can!

So some common questions I've been asked about our latest adventure:

Why would you ever need to know how to do that?
In the world for SAR, you never know what you may need to expect.  Tomorrow I could be called to a place like up in the Upper Peninsula (Slim chance but it could happen) and might need to get to a place at the bottom of a rock feature or the bottom of a deep hole.  The only safe way to get there is by rope, so by learning now that something I won't have to worry about then and won't have to worry about how my dog will react.

How did Peanut do?  Was she scared?
She did FANTASTIC!  Once she was in the harness, she just relaxed, and took it all in stride.  She was never scared and fully trusted us humans to not put her in harms way.  I've actually always thought this was something that we would have to do so from the time she was a puppy I've taught her that when she was off the ground, she needed to relax her body.

I had someone else take Peanut for me since, well I've never rappelled before and I wanted to make sure she was as safe as possible.  The person in the photo has a lot of experience with rappelling so I knew she was in much safer hands.  My girl's safety is my number one concern.

Now since I don't have permission, I blurred out the humans faces.  Gotta be careful you know, but ENJOY!
Peanut harness



Going Over-1

Can't wait until our next adventure!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Up Up and AWAY!!!

Ok, not really.  This time of year is really when summer kicks off around here.  Heat kicks in, grass dies, the loud roar of jets going over the house, and most of all, all the color of the balloons in the sky.

Some things people never think of doing is socializing their dogs with such things like Hot Air Balloons or even Jets.  You know, always prepare for the unexpected right?  I'm lucky with both Nubs and Peanut that neither of them are noise sensitive and neither of them care about things going overhead.  Makes for great photo ops!

Best Friends

What's going on over there???

Hurry up lady!  There's grass to pee on!

Hope everyone, two and four legged had a safe holiday!  Enjoy the time in the sun and warmth while you can!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy Gotcha Day Peanut!

Can you believe that it has been 4 years since Peanut joined my home?  I sure can't.

She brought pure chaos to my house but made it complete at the same time.  She once was a terror puppy who grew up to be my shadow, my cuddler, my princess. She became more then I ever thought possible.

Happy Gotcha Day Peanut.  Thank you for choosing me as a partner in crime!!!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Peanut in Print

Every year we try to make it to a local event that brings in 50,000 to 100,000 people every year.  How many dogs can handle walking around 50,000+ people?  Not Many.  Just like past years Peanut is bomb proof in these large crowds and LOVES all the kids that come up to her to say hello.  Such a well mannered dog and it really shows at events like this.

Today I came home to find some paper tucked in my door handle.  I figured it was another solicitation since I already had 2 this week but once I grabbed it I  realized it was the newspaper.  Peanut made it in the local newspaper!!!


It says "Community Emergency Response Team Member Peanut is ready to help any in need."

YAY!  First time in the newspaper!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Peanut Out Working

It's been an eventful month so far.  Getting out there and practicing we've come a long way but have a long ways to go.  Peanut is doing well (her handler needs some work though).  One of our teammates took time to catch a few photos of Peanut doing her job so I wanted to share a few photos with you.

The start:  
It's a science in a way.

Off we go!
Picked up the scent!

Across the field:
Where are you?

Not all fun and games:
Yes that is dirt, yes she took me through it, yes it was a Dustnado and not fun.

She did well for as hot as it was and the humidity was horrible.  More practicing and more fun!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Another Day at the Nut House

I get a random laugh when people ask me "Why do you call it "The Nut House"?".  When Peanut came to live with me, my house was pure chaos and I felt like I was living in an asylum.  I never knew what I would turn around to find.  The dogs would start working together to get into things.  Never in my life would I thought two dogs could do so much and so many things that had me scratching my head.  I mean really, how could a dog climb up on top of my refrigerator????

Today things are much more sane, as it only took 4 years to calm down.

A few days ago I got my camera out and took a couple of photos of the dogs in the back yard.  Nubs is 8 years old now and starting to show signs of age catching up to him.  He has the start of cataracts so he's not seeing as well as he once did and I've noticed signs of him not having as much control over his rear legs as he use to.  It's very sad watching a beloved dog get older.  He may be older but he's still a trouble maker, and as long as he's happy that is all that matters.




And to put it all together:
Nubs over the years

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Trying Something New

Because it's so hard for me to sit down at a computer (or sit down at all) to update this blog, I'm trying a new App from my phone. This should allow me to give more updates when I'm not at home and in between the hurry up and wait parts off my day.

So Pit Bulls aren't natural retrievers and they don't seem to naturally understand the concept of holding things with their mouths unless it's to eat it, chew on it, or carry it to a specific place to either eat or chew it. This presents issues when trying to teach them to do simple things like pick up a toy.

I've been working hard with Peanut the past few months on getting her to take objects, hold them, and move with them while still holding them. Its been a long road but she's starting to get it!

Now I can hear some trainers yelling about mixing up commands as it could be confusing, and you are right. I was trying to figure out what word she was attaching the trick to. Looks like the word "basket" is the one she chose to remember. So don't get mad at me, it's a learning experience and thankfully she's a very forgiving dog.

I am very proud of how far she's come and while it's not easy, she's doing better then I could ask. It's amazing how far she's come since she was a scared puppy in my house and I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Problems

Longtime no post, I know I know.  Being on a Search and Rescue Team means I can't talk about a lot that goes on or a lot about our training for legal reasons.  Not being able to talk or post about our training means that there's not much to post about. 

This month we did some water training, which for trailing dogs we can't do much with it.  We did however get to ride in a boat for the first time (Peanut's first time not mine) and boy did she have fun!  She wouldn't get out of the boat after and then tried to get into ever boat she saw.  

Peanut tried her hardest to drag me into the water.  For 50lbs shes STRONG!




And then Peanut and her buddy Bruno

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Been an Exciting Month!

Well, not really.  Nothing is really exciting when it's below zero out (today it's in the 20's it's a heat wave!). Winter can move on any time now.

Earlier this month Peanut and I got an amazing opportunity to go try out for a K9 Search and Rescue team for our state.  Now this team normally doesn't accept new dogs over the age of 2, and if you can believe it she is already 3 1/2, so to even have the opportunity to try out was awesome.  Of course Peanut being Peanut does what she always does and blew their minds with her nose.

I tell you this dog is amazing and it blows my mind that she can do what she does.  She needs some work and a lot of brushing up but we were invited to join their team and will be their only trailing dog on a team on 20+ Air Scent and Human Remains Detection (HRD) dogs.  Seems like  Tracking/Trailing dogs are rare in Michigan which is a shame.  Yes Police K9's can track but unless taught they aren't scent specific but normally only follow the newest scent.  Their skills are perfect for following someone who recently robbed a bank or made a dash out of a car on a traffic stop but a scent specific dog does better in large crowds and in areas where there is a lot of traffic.

So here we start a new chapter in our Search and Rescue career.  Go Team Peanut!