About six months ago I had to say goodbye to our Mom. She’s been hurting a lot since then but once she heard about you, I saw that she was filled with joy again.
You might hear talk about this Malinois, larger than life, that changed your Mom’s world. Ignore it all.
Your job in life is to take Mom on a bold, new, wild adventure, one that I could never be a part of. I took myself too seriously and only let my guard down when I was really too old to enjoy it.
You’re going to have the bestest life with Mom and Auntie Kristin to look over you. I hear that you’ll even be meeting Auntie Michelle too, please remember to give Kim a kiss from me.
I’ll be watching you always, keeping you safe, like I did for our Mom. Please try to make friends with Tuppence. I was too set in my ways, but she seemed like she could be pretty cool… For a cat at least.
Most importantly, have fun, play, roll in some really stinky stuff, and don’t take the world too seriously.
Copper, our busy senior Malinois, was not an easy puppy. Few Malinois are. If you’re a first-time puppy owner and for some reason think that it’s a good idea to get a Malinois, go and get yourself checked in. Few people are qualified to take on this kind of level of responsibility. I have LITERALLY been on the clock for over 15 years. 15 years of training, 15 years of preventing boredom and the inevitable destruction that follows the boredom. Every Day. Don’t get me wrong, he has an off switch and as he’s gotten older we’ve been able to relax our guard little by little, but still, at the age of 15 years old, he has the capacity to get bored and get ‘into stuff’.
At a little over a year and a half, we started competing. He had shown that he was starting to understand complex concepts in locations that were unfamiliar to him – he had learned to generalize.
At about three and a half years old, I was finally at a stage where I genuinely liked him. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved him since the moment he fell asleep in my arms at the tender age of 4 weeks at the breeder’s house but liking him is a different matter. At three and a half I was able to let my guard down a bit and really trust him to not make crap decisions constantly.
Somewhere at about eight years old he really wowed me. This boy had come into his own and we seemed to have this near telepathic connection. We seemed to know instinctively what we each needed. It’s not that we didn’t have plenty of miscommunication in the ring, but the emotional support that we each required was crystal clear. I understood him and he understood me, and there was this connection that I can’t explain except that it was akin to finishing each other’s sentences.
At ten years old I sat him down and asked why he couldn’t have been this dog for the past ten years. He explained to me: “I was cookie dough. I wasn’t not done baking. I wasn’t finished becoming whoever the hell it is I was gonna turn out to be.”. I asked him why he was quoting Buffy? He told me to throw the damn ball.
At 12 years old, I could start to see the body was telling him he wasn’t four anymore. His mind called BS on his body and he kept on pushing. His mortality starting weighing on my mind as I had already seen some of his peers pass away. He injured his iliopsoas and I was grateful that I’d already retired him from agility and obedience. My planning for his future seemed almost prescient, as that injury is generally considered career ending. I was just grateful that I’d started his nose work journey a couple of years earlier.
He’s 15 years old now and he’s probably the last man standing. He is still completely capable of getting ‘into stuff’ and I am still ‘On the Clock’. If you leave a plastic bottle at dog height, it had better be empty because he will steal it and use it as a toy. If you leave a bag on the couch, he will rummage around in it until he finds a suitable toy (aka something that is clearly NOT a toy). If his ball ends up under the entertainment center, he will annoy the crap out of you until you rescue it and then he will immediately punt it back under the entertainment center. He will still chase a groundhog/rabbit/squirrel out of the yard. He will still bark at cars/bikes/trucks and other offensive vehicles on his roadway. However, he can still find the 8ft hide or the deep inaccessible one, or the hide that’s 4ft from another hide. He can still jump on the bed, leap into the car and other crazy Malinois crap that his Vet and Chiropractor cringe over.
He’s 15 years old and I wouldn’t give up a single one of the grey hairs he caused for the world.
You might feel like I feel, we’re all just marking time until we’re released from our enforced ‘Social Distancing’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in flattening the curve. However, it’s tough as a small business, when I have rent to pay and no income.
Here is something that you can believe in – Training dogs at Kudos for Canines has always included Social Distancing. Not because of the potential health hazards for the humans, but because of the dog’s need for space in order to learn. In our pet training classes, dogs (and humans as a byproduct) have been socially distancing since we first started offering puppy manners classes – long before COVID-19 hit the streets.
When the Governor’s orders came down and we temporarily shut our doors, it was a gift to hear that clients would have felt comfortable continuing classes at Kudos because our dog training stations were already a good 10+ft apart. Our pet training classes have a 5-dog limit and with 2,000sqft in our classroom, that makes for plenty of space for dog and human learning alike.
Kudos has always been committed to fostering an environment where learning can happen. We have been taking this down time to pursue online continuing education – participating in webinars on subjects from aggression to loose-leash walking to nose work. Our passion for understanding behavior in dogs remains unchanged. Our commitment to sharing that understanding continues.
The moment we’re allowed to reopen our doors, we’ll be there, socially distancing with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Hard to believe we’re almost into October! Our fall classes that start in the middle and late parts of October are now open for registration. Check out the updates to our website and the class registration page. We’re hoping the new format will help you find the specific classes that are best for your team with a little more ease!
Also, hop over to check out some of the photos from our ORT event that was held in Bloomington on September 24th. It was a fantastic event and thrilling to see so many Kudos teams testing and passing that day! We’ll continue to bring great events like these to the area as we’re able, if you have a specific event you’d like to see, feel welcome to send us a note to let us know via our contact page!
Attention ORT event participants! We’ve just added an ORT Refresher Course designed to help your team prepare for testing at our event on September 24th. This class is a mini format, running for 3 weeks at a cost of $60!
Registrations for the ORT testing event are filling up quickly but we will continue to accept registrations online and snail mail until 90 spots are filled or on September 9th at noon (whichever comes first)!
All classes will be held at Positive Training (with the exception of ROAD TRIP classes) located at 1103 Martin Luther King Dr, Bloomington, Illinois.
As always, if you have any questions about our class line ups, now, or in the future, please contact us!
If you’ve ever been a fan of All Creatures Great and Small, then you’re probably familiar with the very unscientific term ‘crackerdog’. That’s the only term that seems appropriate to describe how my 10 year old, Copper, was behaving last night. He would stand at the baby gate barking, we’d ask him to quiet down…He’d stop for 5 seconds and go back to barking. We tried to sit down on the couch with him…No go. Tried moving him to a different room…Barking continued. My husband and I had a heated discussion on whether he’d fed the dogs (this was later confirmed by a Kong count in the freezer). We let Copper out to potty multiple times and NOTHING seemed to stop the behavior.
Then, by a stroke of luck, I was standing in an area of the house and heard this very quiet, high pitched whining. We looked around the house, outside the house and finally determined that a smoke alarm battery was dying…A very slow and, according to Copper, a very painful death. So, replace the battery and wait. Finally, after several minutes, Copper was reassured that the sky wasn’t actually falling (Malinois’ are sure that the sky falls at least several times a day) and he settled down to eat the bully stick that we’d offered while attempting to calm down behavior that we had assumed was BMS (BMS =Bored Malinois Syndrome).
All became quiet in the house. Both dogs were happy with their respective bully sticks and there was calm once more. I should add that Penny hadn’t given two hoots about the dying smoke alarm, but those kinds of things have never bothered her.
And then I was an idiot. I was on the couch, Facebooking, clicked on one of those ‘must watch’ videos and suddenly a smoke alarm beep starting issuing forth from my phone! The Sky Was Now Most Definitely FALLING!!! Copper was up like a jackrabbit, I’m pressing the back button faster than you’d believe, but the damage was already done. He came up to me and starting crawling into my lap (no mean feat for a 65lb, 25in dog!), so I pulled him the rest of the way up and just held him until his body started relaxing. And I held him, and he was happy that his Mommy was there to protect him from the evil, treacherous sky. And then all was right again with the world. He finished his bully stick and I stayed away from random links on Facebook.
In Nose Work (www.nacsw.net) the only equipment that you are not allowed to use during a search is aversion based equipment (i.e. shock/prong/choke collars). This means that there is a whole HOST of equipment that you ARE allowed to use. In furtherance of this understanding, it also means that you can dedicate one or more pieces of equipment that your dog will wear while they doing Nose Work and only wear while they are doing nose work. My choice is a specific type of harness, unlike their walking, tracking or agility harness.
Why do I choose a specific piece of equipment for the dog to wear while doing searches?
Well, here’s my theory. Anything we can do create a clearer picture for the dog (specific to the task we are about to assign it) will help with the outcome. We, and our dogs, are creatures of habit and ritual.
Here’s an example: At what point in the morning does your dog know that you are leaving? Is it when you shower, put your shoes on or grab your keys? Your dog knows that you are leaving because of a complex set of cues (rituals) that are provided in the environment.
Let’s look at the Nose Work ritual:
Dog in crate travels to location
Human has treats on person
Human puts task specific equipment on dog
Human takes dog to specific location
Dog sees familiar boxes in location (practice boxes are available for use prior to running your dog)
Human presents verbal/visual cue
If we have strong rituals, then it stands to reason that our dogs will be more proficient in their understanding when we generalize the environment more and more. Nose Work is ALL about generalization. If you do not take time to first build a VERY strong foundation and then take this training on the road, your dog will not be successful. When you’re on the road generalizing the behavior you have very little control over your environment. The only thing that you have control over IS your rituals.
Are these rituals necessary for every dog?
In one word: No. I am reasonably confident that my dogs will do the search (at this stage of their training, with a VERY thorough foundation) without the rituals, but when I’m on the road these rituals will help the search behavior be more robust. It will shore up weaknesses that occur and help the dog (and myself!) when a curve ball is thrown our way.