First, I want to thank you again for the best dog I’ve ever owned or trained, after a lifetime of working with dogs. She’s the best hiking and travel buddy anyone could ask for. Insanely smart, inquisitive, supremely (oddly) serious about her work since the time she was a baby puppy. She learns new things with only a few reps – you can literally see the processing happening. And when it comes to inherent genetic drive to do the work, many times without being specifically taught, I haven’t met her equal. You are breeding perfectly balanced dogs, and you have my gratitude.
Iras (like the Shakespeare character – Cleopatra’s female bodyguard) and I were the only civilian team there on a working spot, because we train with the Albany sheriff and they vouched for her. She handled everything they were throwing at certified patrol K9s – gunfire, biting in dark confined spaces, loud rooms, strobe lights, being picked up and banged against walls, sent for completely passive bites, car bites, bites where the decoy made her fight up on top of his shoulders like a spider monkey – and she did it all with intensity, and zero fear.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ll have a first session with a new decoy, and the first words out of his mouth are: “She’s an angry little thing, isn’t she?” She takes her work VERY seriously. She did her first “jacket shed” exercise this week – many of the patrol K9s would just keep thrashing the slipped jacket of the bite suit, or do a victory lap with it, ignoring the active threat – the man in the hidden sleeve. I can show you the video of her first ever rep: she abandoned the jacket instantly and went straight back after the man. This pup loves the fight, although she’s had ZERO official work done in defensive drive – the harder you fight her, the more she enjoys it, and that level of fight drive is just inherent/genetic.
Her obedience on the field, while not as precise and controlled as some sport dogs, just because of her level of drive, is still sufficient to compete. And she’s not yet two – we’ll keep improving the precision. But her real world obedience/manners are excellent. Off leash hiking is no problem, because she’ll literally tear her paw pads up to spin on a dime and sprint back at the recall command, and her down in motion/at a distance is almost as fast. She loves to swim – we do water retrieving with her ultra ball in the river every day, as well as water recall drills (come = swim to me). On that note, her ability to generalize training is the highest I’ve ever seen in a dog: I taught her a “search and bark” working alone, using a bite wedge in various trees. The first ever time I gave her the command with a decoy in hiding, she nailed it – knew what I was asking, transferred the skill to an entirely different search object and visual picture – ran to find the decoy, and executed a perfect bark and hold without biting. I was amazed. I expected to have to back up a few steps and teach it again. Nope – she made the mental jump with no problem. Same with “defense of handler” – after teaching it on a field, with a decoy visibly approaching and then hitting me – the first time we tried it inside, in a hallway with a decoy jumping out of a room to hit me without warning – she reacted immediately and bit instantly on the hit. That’s crazy generalization for a dog! She’s just incredibly clear on what her job is, and the location or situation changing doesn’t matter. I can have her jump up on a baby swing in a park, tell her to stay, and start pushing the swing back and forth – she stays.
We will be going for our Mondio Ring level one next month, and our PSA PDC and 1 early next year – although sport is not my primary focus. I train my dog in ways that a sport trainer never would – they tell me our scores will be lower as a result of all the real world scenarios I do with her, but I am ok with potentially lower scores in games if it means I have a confident and proven working dog by my side in real life.
Did I mention she is the most cuddly little thing? If we’re not active, she wants to be touching me. Bone chewing happens on my lap 🙂 She sleeps with me at night. Spends almost every minute with me during my days – road trips, grocery stores, meetings, restaurants. Perfect manners, and calm demeanor in public, which is an impressive feat for such a high energy breed. But can also be left alone in a crate, and be perfectly calm with no separation anxiety until I return.
In short, I am overwhelmed with this puppy. She’s a once in a lifetime dog, we’re having tons of fun together, and I’m grateful to you for entrusting her to me.
We will be driving near your area next Monday/Tuesday – would love to stop by, shake your hand in person, drop off a bottle of wine, and maybe do a demonstration for you, if you have someone working dogs that day. Let me know what your schedule looks like.
Brittney F. – California USA