A HEALTHY Pet, Is A HAPPY Pet.
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P.O. Box 332 • Montmorenci, SC 29839-0332 • 803.643.9960 •
www.TheDogAndHound.com • Editor@TheDogAndHound.com
Time Dated Material • Periodicals • Volume 6 • Number 1
The Dog and Hound EDITOR & PUBLISHER Pam Gleason
inter is here. It’s time for the short-haired dogs to shiver and ask for a coat and for long-haired dogs to revel in the cold, rolling happily in the grass on frosty mornings. One of the things about dogs is that they make you more aware of the weather. If you don’t have a dog and it’s a cold, rainy day, you can stay warm and indoors. If you do have a dog, and your dog needs a walk, you have to put on your boots and your coat and go out. If you have a young puppy, you might have to do this in the middle of the night, and possibly more than once. You might not like it, but it is, in fact, good for you. Those regular walks are one of the reasons that people with dogs are healthier and live longer than people without them. While putting together this paper, I was struck, yet again, by all the things that dogs do for us. Getting us out walking is just the beginning. They also make us more sociable: If you are walking a dog, you are more likely to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know, especially if that person also has a dog. Dogs lower our stress level. They can act as our partners in dog sports like agility, or in human activities like hunting. Then there are working dogs and service dogs. They are in a whole different category and what they do for us is nothing less than astounding. We have two articles about two different amazing dogs in this issue. One is about Rory, a
Labrador Retriever owned by Peter Way. Peter was injured while serving in Iraq and now relies on Rory, who is a service dog, to help him do his day-to-day tasks, and much more. Aside from being a cool dog, Rory is also amazingly helpful, wonderfully empathetic, and talented to boot. Service dogs are getting more common in this country, and when you meet Rory, you understand why. The second article is about Pindo, a retired Military Working Dog who also served a tour of duty in Iraq, where he worked as a drug dog. We met Pindo for our column about senior dogs. At 11, he is not all that old, but he does have a fantastic story. When you meet him, you realize how dedicated these dogs are and how important their job is. These days, MWDs have the opportunity to live out their retirement in comfort, and that is what they deserve. In the past, dogs like Pindo did not have that chance. We have some other interesting articles too. Find out what some Aiken-based dog professionals are thinking about new directions in dog training; meet Crissy Franqui, a dog groomer in Martinez, Georgia. Read Michael Ford’s latest essay on resolutions and acceptance. We hope you enjoy the issue. As ever, please drop us a line if you have questions or suggestions and let us know if you have a story we should be covering. We’d love to hear from you. It’s rainy, it’s cold, and my dog Zelda is pawing my leg. I guess it is time for a walk. Enjoy the season.
Pam Gleason Editor & Publisher
ART DIRECTOR Gary Knoll ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jean Berko Gleason LAYOUT & DESIGN Gary Knoll ADVERTISING 803.643.9960 email@example.com PHOTOGRAPHERS Pam Gleason Gary Knoll
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About the Cover
Our cover shows Rory, a service dog owned by Peter Way. Rory was provided by America’s VetDogs, a New York based organization dedicated to pairing military veterans with service dogs to improve their lives. Read about Rory and Peter on page 6. Photography by Gary Knoll The Dog and Hound Policies: The opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers, editors, or the policies of The Aiken Horse, LLC. The Dog and Hound is owned by The Aiken Horse, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
All contents Copyright 2016 The Dog and Hound
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Table of Contents 6 9 12 15 16 18 20 22
Peter Way & Rory Dog News Fall Dog Events in Pictures Pindo, Retired MWD Dog Grooming with Crissy Franqui Training Good Dogs Fall Calendar Mikeâ€™s Story: Resolutions
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A Little Help From My Friend Peter Way and Rory
By Stephanie Polley, photography by Gary Knoll
n the Central Savannah River Area, it is quite common to see I men and women wearing various military uniforms. Fort Gordon, located in Augusta, Georgia, is currently home to roughly 12 Army
battalions, five military squadrons or commands, and three security agencies, altogether accounting for about 30,000 civilian and military employees. One of the largest of the military employers is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center (DDEAMC). This hospital treats service members on base and retirees in the community and has stateof-the-art equipment that enables the staff to offer premium level care to injured veterans returning from deployments. Wound treatments offered at DDEAMC are the most advanced in the Department of Defense, and the DDEAMC has the U.S. Army’s only clinical hyperbaric chamber. Because of these and other advanced therapies, DDEAMC and Fort Gordon often become home to military veterans not originally stationed at the Fort, who have incurred injuries or trauma during their careers. Today, along with medical treatment, physical therapy, psychiatric care or psychological counseling, many veterans have also sought out the help of assistance dogs. Trained assistance dogs can serve in
a multitude of ways: they may be service dogs who assist those with physical disabilities; guide dogs who lead the blind; PTSD dogs who provide emotional support; hearing dogs who assist those with hearing damage; seizure dogs who detect and help with seizures; and facility dogs. Facility dogs are trained to work in specific medical, educational or visiting settings to bring comfort and relaxation to people who are not their owners or handlers. America’s VetDogs is a New York-based agency whose mission is to train assistance dogs and provide them, completely free of cost, to veterans and disabled first responders. Their goal is to enable veterans to live independently with increased mobility, self-confidence and autonomy. VetDogs was founded in 2003 under the auspices of the Guide Dog Foundation, the national agency responsible for providing seeing-eye dogs to those in need. Each dog used by America’s VetDogs is a Golden or Labrador Retriever bred specifically for the program, trained and then placed with his new handler. Veterans are flown to the VetDogs’ facility in
New York, regardless of where they live, and are housed at the site while training with their new dog. Once the training is complete, the veteran and his or her new service dog are flown home, again, all at no cost. At home, if the individual needs assistance paying for food, medicine or veterinary bills, VetDogs will cover the bills. One man in the local community who can attest to the benefits of America’s VetDogs is Peter Way. Peter Way served two tours with the Army in Afghanistan. During his second tour in 2003, he was injured when multiple pieces of shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade were embedded in his right leg. As a medic, Way was determined to serve out the remainder of his tour, knowing his services were vital on the field. Despite his injured leg, he stayed another three months before returning to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. When he finally returned home, Way was transferred straight from the combat zone to his home so that the doctors could begin fighting infections in his leg immediately. This rapid transit allowed for no debriefing and left Way reeling from culture shock. “I felt very vulnerable at home,” he says. His helplessness quickly shifted into anger and hostility. He became overprotective of his family and then isolated himself from them. Soon, he could not tolerate being around anyone. All the while, doctors kept prescribing him pain medication that allowed him to remain in denial about his hostility and withdrawal from his family and society. During this volatile time, Way underwent 24 surgeries to try to repair his leg and stave off the infections. After each one, the doctors would assure him that if he could remain infection free for one year, he would be all right. Those 12 months never came. In February of 2015, Way had his 25th surgery. This time, the doctors amputated his right leg. A year later, he had a revision surgery to help his prosthetic leg fit better. Between the last two surgeries, Way was in Reserve status in the Army, working at the Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta. There, he encountered therapy dogs from the VetDogs organization and knew immediately that he wanted one. The Army helped him to apply through America’s VetDogs online. Way was medically discharged from the Army on December 18th, and by January 11th, he had Rory, a black Labrador Retriever, his own service dog. “The application process was very easy,” Way says. “There was the initial application online, and then someone from the VetDogs staff called and sent more paperwork for me and my doctor to complete.” After that, Way created a video to show the organization where the dog would be living and then he and the VetDogs staff came up with a plan of action. The trainer from VetDogs contacted him to confirm exactly what his needs were. Way needed a dog for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and prosthetic limb assistance. Way was then flown to New York to pair up with Rory and receive training. “It was a very healing environment,” he says. He learned commands, bonded with Rory and gained confidence in himself and in his dog. Now back home, Rory works diligently every day to meet Way’s needs. Due to his PTSD, Way has frequent nightmares. Rory is trained to act on “nightmare interruption”, by gently waking him when these occur. When in crowds, Rory also acts as a social buffer, creating space around his master so that Way never feels trapped or encapsulated. Rory is keyed in to Way’s feelings and serves as an “emotional interrupter.” One of Way’s challenges is road rage. When Rory feels that Way is starting to get agitated when he is driving, he will tuck his head under Way’s arm to indicate that he needs to calm down. Rory can also detect when Way is nervous or in pain. At the doctor’s office, Rory senses Way’s anxiety and will place his head in Way’s lap, assuring his friend that everything will be all right. Having a prosthetic leg also requires a great deal of assistance. Rory
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serves as a balance for Peter when he is walking. When Way is getting up from a seated position, Rory stands with his back flat and Way pushes himself up from Rory’s strong front shoulders. Rory can also turn on lights, open doors, push handicap door buttons and most important, retrieve things from the floor. “Reaching things on the floor is the most difficult thing to do,” says Way. Rory has mastered this skill and can pick up something as small and thin as credit card. Rory travels with Peter everywhere, including on airplanes. On the plane, Peter does not wear his prosthetic, so he uses a counterbalance harness on Rory to help him hop down the aisle to his seat. “People always ask me, what does Rory do on the plane? He just curls up under the seat and sleeps!” Rory is nothing if not a professional. Way has had some difficulties with his prosthesis and has had to use a wheelchair at times. When he initially began using the wheelchair, Way and Rory flew back to New York so that the trainers at VetDogs could teach him the proper way to let Rory pull the chair and how to guide Rory from it. Again, all of this was done at no expense. Rory has enabled Peter to cope with his PTSD and prosthetic limb so that he can not only function with everyday events, but truly thrive. Today, Way helps train wilderness search dogs, participates in mountain sports and travels frequently. In December, he will be competing at the Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado, and is currently the skier highlighted on their website. He also recently became the featured athlete of the National Ability Center and is the cyclist pictured on the front of their flier. Peter says that all of this is due to his dog. “I would give up my leg in order to keep Rory,” he says; that is how important Rory is in his life. And although it may sound like all work and no play, underneath it all, Rory is just a dog, “a goofball,” actually. Rory loves to play, particularly fetch and tug. He also responds well to all the members of Way’s family, following his wife around the kitchen in the morning and listening to his kids. Rory acts as a therapy dog when around other veterans or at Peter’s prosthetic support group: Rory is totally attuned to the needs and emotions of others and provides comfort and reassurance
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everywhere. In the community, Peter says individuals respond well to service dogs for the most part, but he would like them to keep some things in mind. “Never pet or feed working dogs or make noises to distract them,” he says. “Please remember to always speak to the handler, never to the dog.” Similarly, never give a service dog a command. If a service dog is resting or sleeping, do not disturb him. With so many veterans in need, there are now many different programs designed to help provide service dogs. While all dogs used in America’s VetDogs program are bred on site in New York, Peter says that Augusta University is soon going to be raising puppies for the program. In addition, there are several regional and local programs that specialize in training service dogs, including Veterans K9 Solutions, a regional group that uses shelter dogs which veterans train themselves. There is currently an 18-24 month wait to receive a service dog from America’s VetDogs, but some of the other programs may have shorter wait times. Way encourages anyone who needs a dog to apply through the program that suits them best.
If you need more information about service dogs or other helpful agencies, here are some resources to get you started. You might also consider making a donation: As a charity, America’s VetDogs relies solely on donations from individuals, corporations, fraternal organizations and businesses. They do not receive any money from the federal or local government. Just breeding and training a service dog costs at least $50,000. AMERICA’S VETDOGS: 1-866-838-3647, www.vetdogs.org VETERANS K9 SOLUTIONS: 706-231-3856, www.veteransk9solutions.org JerryLyda1@gmail.com K9S for WARRIORS: 904-686-1956, www.k9sforwarriors.org NATIONAL VETERANS’ CRISIS HOTLINE: 800-273-8255 or TEXT: 838255. www.veteranscrisisline.net EISENHOWER MEDICAL BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CENTER: 706-787-6377; www.polytrauma.va.gov/facilities/Augusta.asp AMPUTEE SUPPORT GROUP OF AUGUSTA: Diane Wilson: 706-823-8504 BRAIN INJURY SUPPORT GROUP: Patty Goolsby: 706-840-9676; 706-737-9300
Dog News Fall Fundraisers
This fall, Aiken’s various animal welfare organizations held three weekends of events that got people and their dogs out for walks, games, contests, races and socializing, all while raising money for worthy causes. On Saturday, October 22, animal lovers went to the Aiken SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare on Willow Run Road to “party for the animals” at Barkaritaville. Barkaritaville is a party that is staged outdoors on the grounds of the facility. This year it featured 25 booths with different themes, each offering its own signature food and drink. Party-goers sampled the fare and then voted on which booth should win prizes in various categories. Booths were creative, the food was eclectic, and if you managed to sample all the drinks, you would have been very drunk indeed. A new addition to the event was a pet costume contest that attracted 30 entrants, with prizes donated by Downtown Dog. Favorites among the costumes included Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz and characters from the movie Minions. For the people, there was dancing to live music played by the local band Third Time Charmers. The event raised thousands of dollars for the SPCA, which has a number of important animal welfare programs in addition to its well-known adoptions. These include dog training for shelter dogs and a full service low cost veterinary clinic open to the public.
Two weeks later, on November 5, Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS), which helps the animals at the Aiken County Animal Shelter, put on their annual event, Woofstock. Woofstock is a dogs and music festival, that was held in a new location this year: Citizens Park in downtown Aiken. (For the last few years it has been held at the shelter itself on Wire Road.) The festival included music, vendor booths and various activities for children. The main attraction, however, were the dog contests and the Doxie Derby, a race for Dachshunds. In addition to the Doxie races, there were also races for other types of dogs, though in some cases “race” was not a very accurate term, since many of the dogs were pretty sure that playing was better than racing, and had no idea where the finish line was. Then there were costume contests, lookalike contests, trick contests and more. The event drew a large crowd of people and their pets on a sunny fall day. Andrew Siders kicked things off by singing the National Anthem,
and John Hart, who does the news on WJBF Channel 6 in Augusta, was the emcee “It was a great success,” says Edie Hubler, who was one of the organizers. “We were happy with how much we raised for the animals and the Aiken County Animal Shelter, and the citizen attendance was fabulous. The exhibitors really got into the excitement, too.” The third event, Saturday, November 12, featured the Trail Wag Funday at Langley Pond Park in Burnettown. This was another family friendly festival, and it featured a hike on the Langley Loop Trail as well as dog contests and an art contest for kids that had 100 entries. The Trail Wag was put on by the Aiken County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in partnership with Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, Inc., a rescue group based in Aiken. The purpose of the event was to raise money to make Aiken’s parks more dog friendly, with the ultimate goal of building as many as four dedicated dog parks in Aiken County.
What’s in a Name?
Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for your little one’s name to be called, you might be forgiven if you forget whether you’re at the vet or the pediatrician. Especially if your bundle of joy is named Sophie or Sophia. That name graces both the top 10 most popular names for dogs (compiled by the pet sitter/dog walker site rover.com) and for human babies according to BabyCenter.com. These websites both recently released data on what we’re naming our young. While Sophie/Sophia is the only name the lists have in common, names often associated with human babies take up the majority of the spots on the lists for both female and male dogs. Number one for female dogs is once again Bella, which has reigned supreme for several years after legions of fans of the Twilight series chose to name their furry friends after the novel’s heroine. Rounding out the female name list are Lucy, Daisy, Lola, Luna, Molly, Sadie, Bailey, and Maggie. Of these, only Luna is new to the top 10 since last year, swapping places with Chloe. For the boys, the perennial favorite Max remains king, followed by Charlie, Buddy, Cooper, Jack, Rocky, Bear, Duke, Toby, and Tucker. None of these names are new to the list from 2015. Although the top ranks of the lists for both puppies and babies remain stable, movement can be found in the rest of the hot 100 on each list. Names taken from popular culture find their way onto the lists for both sexes. According to rover. com, a full 53% of respondents said they chose their pets’ names from a book, television show, or videogame, with the most popular sources for 2016 being Pokémon Go, the Harry Potter franchise, and Game of Thrones. Also showing a marked rise in popularity (up 26% from last year) is Betty White. The Golden Girl’s name now also graces Golden Retrievers and Goldendoodles across the country. With more and more millennials choosing four-legged children over the two-legged variety, expect this trend to continue in 2017. And with Hollywood A-listers saddling their tykes with names like Apple, Rocket, Bluebell, and Moxie, you can expect “Dog or Celebrity Baby?” to remain an entertaining party game. Michael Thomas Ford
Whether you stay at home or visit your relatives, the holidays can be a difficult time for pets. Lavish meals, holiday decor, and changes of
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routine can bring temptations and anxiety. Beware of holiday dangers: A panicked visit to the veterinarian is not on anyone’s list for holiday fun. “My Irish Setter ate an entire pan of brownies at Christmas time one year,” Priscilla Denehy, a local dog owner, says with a sigh. “Then he had diarrhea all over the back seat of my boyfriend’s red mustang. He ended up being OK – the dog, not my boyfriend – but I definitely make sure to keep the brownies out of reach.” Many holiday foods are dangerous for dogs. Although most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, not everyone realizes that xylitol, a commonly used sugar substitute, is approximately 100 times worse. It is typically found in sugar-free candies and gum, some peanut butters, toothpastes, medicines, and baked goods. Onions, raisins and grapes are also bad for dogs. Turkey and ham bones can splinter and perforate the
stomach lining or other organs, requiring surgery for removal and repair. Alcoholic beverages can fairly easily lead to poisoning – and dogs will drink the eggnog if they can get to it. The best policy is to maintain your dog’s regular diet. If you feel the need to give him a special holiday treat, make sure it is safe for him, and don’t let him overindulge. There are some plants that should be added to your watch list as well. The most poisonous plants for dogs are lilies, mistletoe, amaryllis, and holly. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias and Christmas cacti are only mildly toxic to dogs. Your Christmas tree is not poisonous, but if your dog chews on it, it could upset his stomach. Drinking the water from the tree-stand reservoir can make him sick and if fertilizer was added to the water, the effects can be much worse. If your dog eats your floral arrangement, call your vet or the poison control center: flowers vary in their toxicity. Ornaments, tinsel and ribbons pose choking hazards for pets. “I actually had to pull about two feet of ribbon out of my dog one year,” says another dog owner, Emile Labuschagne. “It was quite unpleasant and unnerving. Luckily, I could reuse the ribbon.” Unfamiliar visitors may also pose a threat to your dog’s safety. For instance visiting guests and family members may engage their hosts in political discussions that become so heated that the dog may feel the need to intervene on his owner’s behalf. Or, younger visitors who aren’t used to dogs could provoke even your sweetest mutt into snapping. Escape artists might find it easier to slip out of the house or the yard when guests arrive and packages are delivered. So enjoy the holidays, but keep your pet’s safety in mind. You want to have a happy New Year, after all. Ragan Morehouse
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Forget Me Not
How good is your dog’s memory? Can he remember what he did yesterday? Where he buried his squeaky toy? If he could talk, would he tell you about his day when you came home from work? If you are the owner of a dog of average intelligence, you would probably guess that he could. Until recently, however, most scientists studying animal behavior would probably disagree, but there are some new findings. Researchers who study human memory have divided it into different categories. One category is semantic memory. This is memory of specific facts: for instance, if you know that your father’s birthday is September 2 or that there is an English spelling rule that goes “i before e, except after c”, or that you don’t like soft-boiled eggs, these would be examples of semantic memory. Another category is called episodic memory. This is the ability to remember stories such as what you did on your first day of college, or what you were looking at when you had breakfast. Episodic memory allows you to integrate semantic memories into a coherent story. It was originally assumed that non-human animals don’t have episodic memory; that they may remember commands, or learn certain facts about the world, but they couldn’t put them together in a narrative. For instance a dog might learn quite quickly to sit when you tell him to, or not to put his paws on a hot stove, but he would not be able to remember what he was thinking when he jumped up on the stove in the first place. The idea was that non-human animals do no have enough self-awareness to imagine themselves in the past. This is the origin of the often-repeated statement “dogs live in the present.” Recently, however, researchers have been devising tests to try to determine if various animals might have episodic memory after all. It is not an easy thing to do: if you have a human subject, you can just ask her to tell you what she did yesterday. With a dog, you have to get a little more creative. That is exactly what researchers in Hungary did for a study published this November in the journal Current Biology. According to paper, one of the fundamental features of episodic memory is that you can remember things from the past you weren’t paying specific attention to. For instance: say you were learning Spanish in the classroom, and you had to memorize vocabulary words your teacher was writing on the blackboard. Then you were given a test, in which, instead of being quizzed on the words you studied, you were asked to describe how the teacher looked, what she was wearing, and say whether she was left or right handed. Remembering these things requires episodic memory. The Hungarian researchers devised a test of episodic memory with a group of dogs that had previously been taught to imitate their trainers’ actions using “do-as-I-do” training. In do-as-I-do training, the owner performs a novel task, something like climbing up on a chair, then turns to the dog and says “do it:” the dog would then climb up on the chair. The dogs in the memory experiment were already well-versed in doas-I-do. To test their episodic memory, the handlers taught them instead to lie down when their handlers performed a novel task. This meant the dogs were not necessarily paying attention to what tasks their handlers were performing: they just knew they were given a cue to lie down. Once the dogs were reliably lying down when they were given the cue, the handlers performed a task and then instead of just being satisfied when the dogs were lying down, unexpectedly told the dogs to “do it.” If the dogs had no episodic memory, they would not be expected to remember what tasks their handlers had performed, since they were concentrating on their new “lie down” cue, and not on the task itself. But they did remember and they did imitate. Some of them were even able to imitate their owners’ actions as much as an hour later. The authors of the study say that this research suggests that dogs have more complex memories and perhaps richer inner lives than has been believed in the past, yet another study that suggests that dogs are similar to humans in the ways they think and feel. So do dogs really live in the present? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean they don’t remember past.
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Aiken dog events, Fall 2016
Photography by Pam Gleason & Gary Knoll
Pindo the Military Working Dog A Soldier’s Best Friend
by Pam Gleason, photography by Gary Knoll
n November 2016, Pindo, an 11-year-old German Shepherd, got his certificate of meritorious service and his discharge papers from the United States Army. This meant he was allowed to go home with Kim Walker, who had been waiting two months to adopt him. Pindo is a retired Military Working Dog (MWD) who spent most of his life stationed at Fort Gordon, an Army base in Augusta, Georgia. Kim works at Fort Gordon, and had been visiting him there regularly waiting for all his paperwork to come through. He is the fourth retired MWD that she has adopted. “I plan to adopt them for the rest of my life,” she says. “I feel naked without a soldier dog.” Pindo, like all dogs used in the U.S. Armed Forces, started his training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The dogs trained at Lackland perform a variety of duties. Some learn to detect bombs, some to find drugs, some to be search and rescue dogs. Others act as tracker dogs and protection dogs. Most dogs in the MWD program are German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds or Belgian Malinois. These dogs have high drive, keen noses, and a protective instinct that makes them ideal for soldiers who are working in dangerous territory. Sometimes dogs from sporting breeds are also trained at Lackland. These dogs are only called upon for detection and not for protection. Lackland gets its dogs from various sources: some are procured overseas, some from American breeders, and some are bred at the base itself in a program that was started in 1998. Pindo was most likely imported from Germany as a young dog and then sent to Lackland for basic training. He passed his basic training when he was about 18 months old and was mobilized to Fort Gordon. Soon afterwards, he was introduced to his handler, Sargeant Chantel Razack (now Weed), who had just completed her own schooling to become a dog handler. “He was what we call a green dog at the time,” she says. “And I taught him to do everything.” This included running obstacle courses, providing personal protection, and most important, sniffing out and detecting drugs. Pindo was a star. Drug dogs must pass a drug detection test to be recertified every year, and Pindo always aced the exam. He got so good he was used as a demo dog whenever Fort Gordon wanted to show what MWDs could do. “I think he was one of the best because he was lovable but he knew how to work,” says Chantel. “He was so good at his job, but he was also great with kids. Another trainer’s kids would come up, and he would lay on his back and let the kids rub his belly. I treated him like my partner, and he was like a house pet with me.” While at Fort Gordon, Pindo was required to live in the kennels and was not allowed to go home with his handler. But Chantel always made sure he knew how much she appreciated and respected him, not just for what he could do as a MWD, but for himself, as a dog and as a soldier. The military still considers dogs to be equipment, but for Chantel, he was far more. “We had a really good bond,” she says. “I didn’t see that with the other handlers and their dog because most people did just treat them like equipment. They would do what they had to do with them and then put them up in the kennel and then forget about them. I would play with him, talk to him, sit in his kennel with him. I loved him.” In 2009, Chantel and Pindo deployed together to Iraq. They lived at Camp Liberty, a coalition military installation in Baghdad, which is one of the largest overseas posts built since the Vietnam War. There,
they were called upon to do many missions down range and Pindo was credited with four or five major drug busts. “He could do everything off leash. He was very independent when he was working, which is great when you want to do different missions. He was really good at what he did, and he made me look good. I just had to stand there,” says Chantel. When soldiers take their dogs on deployment, the kenneling rules no longer apply. During the year that Pindo and Chantel were in Iraq, they were inseparable. “He slept with me, he ate with me, he went everywhere with me. Deployment solidifies a handler’s and a dog’s relationship. If they have a strong bond to begin with, it just makes it stronger.” While in Iraq, Chantel served as a kennel master and she trained other handlers to train their dogs. Pindo continued to act as a demo dog, showing everyone how it should be done. “He was my partner,” says Chantel simply. “Dogs are absolutely one of the best things to help a soldier down range, no matter what they are searching for. They are not just a piece of equipment; they are actually that soldier’s partner. They are really good out there.” A few years after returning from Iraq, Chantel’s enlistment was up, and she had to leave Pindo behind at Fort Gordon. He continued to work for various other handlers, but he never formed a strong bond with another one. Living in the kennels, he developed problems with separation anxiety and, as a result of hurting himself, he eventually had to have his tail amputated. Finally, after nine long years of service, Pindo started slowing down. He was getting older and he had a touch of arthritis in his hip. It was time for him to retire. In the old days, few MWDs were adopted out: most were put to sleep when they were no longer useful. Today, however, thanks to various laws that have been passed starting in 2000, Military Working Dogs that are considered safe and fit to live in a household situation are available for adoption. Handlers get first choice, although often they are not in a position to adopt their former partners when the time comes. Members of the public can apply to adopt by filling out an application and getting on a waiting list: there are usually more people who want an MWD than dogs that need homes. There is no adoption fee. Three weeks after coming home with Kim Pindo is settling into retired life and that he gets along well with her two other dogs. He is starting to bond with her, and doesn’t want to let her out of his sight. She is being a little careful with him around strangers, however, especially around men, because he does need to learn to relax and to know he’s no longer on duty. He loves to play with his squeaky Kong and his hard orange stress ball and he enjoys sleeping on his oversized orthopedic dog bed. “He’s a big baby with me,” says Kim. “German Shepherds are my favorite breed, and I just love the soldier dogs. When you adopt one of these dogs, it’s true; they are older, and you know you won’t have them forever. But it’s such a joy to see them get to be a dog and enjoy life after their service. They’ve lived in the kennels so long and they’ve never really been pampered, and I am so proud of their service. They are the heroes of the military, along with their handlers. To be able to give them a happy retirement . . . It’s an honor.” If you are interested in adopting a retired Military Working Dog, visit missionk9rescue.org.
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Crissy Franqui Offers Personal Attention By Stephanie Polley, photography by Gary Knoll
or many dog owners, there is nothing quite as endearing as the warm, musty corn chip smell of a sleeping puppy. However, the same cannot be said for the offensive odors with which a dog might bombard the olfactory senses after romping in mud, grass, dirt and worse. And heaven forbid a dog’s anal glands become impacted; no more need be said. Then there is the coat. Some dogs have short coats that require little to no maintenance. Others have resplendent, long coats that demand continual attention. Nails, too, must be looked after and tended to frequently, regardless of breed. All of these doggy details inspire many dog owners to seek the assistance of a professional groomer. One popular groomer in the Central Savannah River Area is Crissy Franqui, the owner and operator of A Affectionate Pet Parlor in Martinez, Georgia. Crissy started out in the grooming industry in the summer of 2005 at a salon in Washington State. After a few months working as a bather, she began grooming dogs as well. Her husband was in the military, and
she recognized that a career in the grooming trade would be useful even if they relocated. She also had a deep affection for dogs (she is currently the proud owner of five), and so she decided to pursue her certification in the field. This entailed grooming over one hundred dogs and four weeks of training. “I always knew I would do something with animals, especially dogs,” Crissy says. “It surprised me because I’m not crafty but I did really well when it came to cutting the dogs, scissoring the hair. I came naturally to it.” After moving to the Central Savannah River Area in 2007 and Crissy began working at A Affectionate Pet Parlor under its previous owner. In late 2011, she was given the option to purchase the business herself. A mother with a 3-year old son, Jaxon, she had been struggling to find a balance between caring for her son and being an employee. She was overwhelmed. She knew if she bought the business, she could set her own hours, create a consistent schedule for her son and let the job stay something she loved, rather than an obligation. So, in January of 2012, Crissy Franqui became a small business owner. She says that her biggest concern was ensuring that the salon’s clientele remained with her. “Before purchasing the business I was only working one day a week.
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Now I was going to be working a full workload. The most important thing was establishing a relationship with people. The previous owner had those relationships. Now I had to make sure those clients would come with me, that I made sure those relationships were sustainable.” As the boss, Crissy operates the business differently from most other groomers. Her parlor is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm. This enables her to be home during the week when her son gets out of school. Currently, she only books around seven dogs a day. This, and the help of a bather, allows her to give individual attention to each client. “Each puppy has unique fears, discomforts and stressors,” she says. “Just as some humans have sensitive scalps, some dogs must be brushed and groomed gently. Some cannot be left in kennels and many are afraid of dryers. Elderly dogs often become anxious and suffer panic attacks. It requires time to get to know each animal and what their particular needs are.” She says that she enjoys being able to cater to each dog and make his or her grooming experience a pleasant one. Aside from being able to spend more time with every dog and getting to know each one, Franqui says her schedule enables her to ensure that each haircut is done properly. While many of her clients ask for simple shave downs, particularly in the summer, she prefers more intricate grooming tasks. Cuts that require detailed hand scissoring are Crissy’s favorite because they require the most skill and advanced knowledge of each breed and that breed’s cut standard. She appreciates clients that put a high level of trust in her and rely on her to deliver excellent work. Crissy says she also focuses on the health of dogs in her care. Last year she was exposed to the benefits of essential oils and has since incorporated them into her business. “My son Jaxon was suffering from asthma and allergies,” she explains. “He was having to take his inhaler two times, twice a day and stay on steroids. We were looking for alternatives and learned about the essential oils. Now that he is on the oils, he doesn’t have to use his at all anymore.” The essential oils are highly concentrated fragrances extracted from various parts of a plant: the stems, roots, flowers and more. These oils are used as aromatherapy to treat various ailments. With dogs, the oils are diluted, and depending on the symptoms, the oil is applied to either the dog’s paws, teeth or ears. Franqui uses Serenity oil on her own 10-year-old Border Collie, Boone. Boone is afflicted with severe anxiety and had, on numerous occasions, virtually destroyed her home while in an anxious state. She had previously attempted to calm him with a ThunderShirt to no avail, and had even resorted to medicating him. Nothing soothed him. The Serenity oil however, diluted and placed on his paws and ear tips, relaxed him. She says she has seen similar success on other dogs with different issues. Franqui uses the oils in her shop as well to sanitize the parlor, keeping it fresh and deodorized. In addition to her grooming services, she currently offers workshops and individual consultations to teach and train about the benefits and uses of essential oils. Presently, Crissy is looking for a new location for her shop. “I’m always keeping my eyes open for beneficial options, and right now there’s just not enough space,” she explains. Ideally, she would prefer to stay in the Martinez/Evans area, since it is convenient to her home and her son’s school. She said her heart’s desire would be to open a doggie boutique with the salon in the back, and a store in the front, replete with food bowls, collars and leashes with bling, organic food and opulent puppy clothing. Until that time, it is business as usual as she continues with the harmony she has established in her professional and personal life. “I’ve managed to do something I love and still be a mom,” Franqui says.
So You Just Want a Good Dog On The Education of Dogs by Joya DiStefano
Love is patient, love is kind; it keeps no record of wrongs; it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Mark Fullmer, Dog Trainer, Sarahsetter Kennels
Mark Fullmer couldn’t open the gate for just one of the seven six-weekold English setter puppies to come through from their play yard; they were all scrambling to get inside. “Go down the fence line and distract them,” he said. My assistant and I waited eagerly to watch a tiny student’s lesson. As we hurried to help, one five-pound puppy found her way through the opening at the gate and, nose down, scampered across the floor. A large open-front, plastic-mesh crate with a pad in the bottom sat in the middle of the training area. With bits of hotdogs from a pouch at his waist, Mark captured the attention of the eager little dog. He scattered some pieces of hotdog on the pad until the puppy was happily rooting around inside the crate. As he worked, he described and explained what he was doing, predicting that this puppy would choose to go in, and stay in, the crate. And she did. In less than 10 minutes, the puppy was sitting on the cushion in the crate patiently watching the man and waiting for her next treat. He had never uttered a single command. Suddenly, everything I had been told by Mark Fulmer since we’d arrived at Sarahsetter Kennels made sense, including the question that brought me there. What role does “relationship” play in your work with dogs and their humans? Put another way: how do we want to relate to our dogs? Do we want them to perform on command or do we want to share our lives with them much as we would with a child? Do we want to own them and be served by them on demand, or do we want the pleasures of an eager devoted companion?
The Role of Relationship
These questions are at the center of various new philosophies regarding how we view and treat our dogs. “While positive reinforcement-based trainers had long come to value the role of ‘relationship’ in training, to a blossoming new generation of trainers, ‘relationship’ doesn’t just have a role; instead, training is relationship,” writes the dog trainer and author Pat Miller in a recent issue of the Whole Dog Journal. In this context, training with ‘choice’ moves far beyond command and correction, beyond “do-what-I-want-and-get-a-reward,” to “trust me, and I will offer you a better option.” Is the dog training world coming around to a new way of thinking where relationships are valued over obedience? I called every dog trainer I knew to ask their opinions and they all agreed to talk to me. Here’s what we talked about: What do people want from their dogs? How do those expectations affect their relationships with their dog(s)? How does this influence the role of dog training professionals? How can relationship problems be fixed? Unfortunately, at this point, all the trainers agree that few dog-owning or dog-seeking people even bother to think about the answers: but this is slowly changing. In the meantime, here is a little of what these trainers shared.
The Trainers’ View
Brad Stauffer, who is the president of the Aiken Training Track, and Training Director at the Palmetto Dog Club doesn’t think of himself as having the last word on training dogs. But after a long career training young racehorses, he knows an animal in trouble when he sees one. He has also been working with dogs for most of his adult life, starting with German Shepherds and ending up with an affinity for Aussies. Brad knows that the solution to the “problem dog” means changing the
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approach of the human involved. What are his thoughts on the role of relationship in training? He reflected on his experience with apparent frustration. People have unrealistic expectations of their dogs. This disconnect extends far beyond the dogs’ failure to get the “Canine Good Citizenship” award. For instance, there are also people who acquire dogs for “protection” and then can’t understand or manage their dog’s aggression. This lack of understanding comes up frequently. People just want to have a good dog, but they don’t necessarily realize that they are part of that equation, too. Laura Phillips and Elizabeth Burgess are a local training team called “Two Chicks with Dog Tricks.” They have been working together for nearly two decades, and on the subject of the dog-human relationship, they can finish one another’s sentences. The team offers classes at Gregg Park in Graniteville, S.C. The classes are small and the women adjust their approach depending on who attends. The ultimate aim of the classes is to help participants teach their dogs “to be good citizens at home and away.” “My role is to help define each dog-person relationship,” Elizabeth Burgess says, “and help people to keep the dog in their homes.” Behavior problems are commonly recognized as the number one reason that pets are taken to shelters or euthanized. Yes, but what is a behavior problem? Is a dog saying in a dog way that it needs attention, or exercise, or to feel safe, a behavior problem or a Susi Cohen training at the Palmetto Dog Club human problem? “You are teaching the dog a foreign language,” offers Laura Phillips, reflecting on how many people assume that the dog will just naturally understand their commands and remember their obedience lessons. Like humans, dogs value and repeat those behaviors that are reinforcing, that meet a conscious or unconscious desire or need. How important is it to begin with “the right dog?” Laura insists that any combination can work, “It just depends on what you want to invest.” She is not talking about money or buying a fancy breed; she means time spent building the relationship. Susi Cohen, a professional dog educator with a long history in the field, thinks that some dog-human relationships are more likely to
they often seem to know that you have saved them and that offers a big leg up to an unbeatable bond. It all depends on what you are willing to invest. But is all this positive-relating-to-dogs, and respect for them as sentient creatures, making life easier for dogs, and consequently for their humans? Not necessarily. For instance, there seems to be an increase in the number of dogs who are suffering from stress, anxiety and poor impulse control. Could that be because people are working too hard to “train” them? “Life today is strictly regimented for many of our canine companions,” writes Pat Miller in the same Whole Dog Journal article. “Many live in social isolation, and when they do get out their activities are on a tight schedule. Owner expectations and demands are high. Dogs are told what to do from the moment they are allowed to get up in the morning until they are put to bed at night, including when and where they are allowed to poop and pee. Most of today’s dogs never get to run off-leash or socialize freely with other dogs. During their free time they are expected to just lie round and be ‘wellbehaved.’…They have virtually no control over what happens in their world…” If humans don’t have any control over their lives, even if those lives appear outwardly pleasant, this causes stress and unhappiness. It seems that the same holds true for dogs.
Brad Stauffer trains horses as well as dogs
work out than others. Susi is president of the Palmetto Dog Club, and has been in charge of the behavioral assessment and training program for the Aiken County Animal Shelter through Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS.) She sees people coming to the shelter for a dog without giving much thought to what it is that they are seeking – “The kids need something to play with…” “My dog died…” It is as if it were a new toy or a replacement for an old TV. “I can tell you before they even leave the shelter which [dogs] are coming back,” Susi says. If she even suspects that the animal might end up chained in the back yard, she will tell the applicant, “No, you can’t have this dog.” Dogs are sentient creatures, but unlike virtually every other animal, over millennia they have evolved to be specifically tuned into humans and particularly interested in bonding with them. “K-I-S-S,” Susi Cohen says, when asked about how to solve problem behaviors, “Keep it simple simple!” She refers to a case where a woman was at wits’ end over her dog’s continuous barking when she went to work. Susi suggested that the woman put her dog in its crate with a treat that it had to work to get – peanut butter in a marrow bone, for instance – and to turn the radio on. The barking stopped. The woman called Susi in amazement, and told her that now her dog doesn’t even need the treat, just the radio playing. Simple. You don’t beat the dog for barking – you don’t change the dog; you change the conditions so the dog will choose a better way. “If a shelter dog develops a [behavior] problem three months after you get it, you have to ask, ‘what changed?’ and work from there. If they come with [the problem], you have to start by building trust. What is it that will make the dog feel secure?” Shelter dogs present special challenges: they often come with preshelter and shelter issues that have to be undone. On the other hand,
When we’d arrived at Sarahsetter Kennels on the day that we went to observe the puppy lessons, Mark Fulmer had called to us to open the gate and enter his covered arena. He was in a far corner slicing and cutting hotdogs into bits while he watched two English Setters run, ears flying with tongue-lolling grins, in a huge open field abutting the facility. Then Mark moved through a gate toward the kennels, and immediately the Setters returned, bounding up into a raised exterior pen. Mark closed them in the pen and then turned to help the seven setter puppies down into their play yard. Before we began our chat, Mark wanted to show us his kennels, so we walked around, through his office and into a long narrow hall between about a dozen raised kennels that faced each other. Almost every door to the dogs’ cages was open. Dogs were wiggling and whining. Some were barking. All were friendly and happy to be petted, but not one dog bounded onto the floor. The beautiful hunting dogs waited and wagged and stayed. Mark says too many breeders breed for looks; he breeds for intelligence, then he teaches his dogs about the world they are going to be expected to work in. The dogs reminded me of the young sailors I’d met years ago on a Trident submarine: bright, handsome, and proud of who they were and what they did. These were good dogs. So you just want a good dog? Like choosing a partner, or getting a job, or having a child, the dog you end up with may be the perfect place to start thinking about the role of relating. A dog can fill a void in your life; a dog can work its heart out for a human need; and they are so deserving of being rewarded by the best of who we are in honor of who they are and what they have to offer. Having a good dog is a lot like having a good marriage, or a good kid. It is not something you can actually possess; it is something you create, together. Many thanks to the many dog trainers who spoke to me for this article, especially to Ann Kinney and Trish Wamsatt from the SPCA Albrecht Center of Animal Welfare and Melissa Hartley, a certified canine behavioral consultant and the principal at Sindar Kennels in New Holland SC. These three trainers were generous and insightful, but their contributions on this subject will have to wait for a future article. To contact the dog trainers mentioned here: Brad Stauffer and Susi Cohen can be reached through the Palmetto Dog Club: www.palmettodogclub.org. Laura Phillips and Elizabeth Burgess can be reached by email: twochickswithdogtricks@gmail. com. Mark Fulmer is at www.sarahsetter.com
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Winter Calendar December
1 Trish Wamsat’s Beginning Nose Work. 5:30pm at the SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Rd, Aiken, SC. Class fee is $130. www.trishwamsat.com, 803.574.3647. 2-4 Circle of Friends Dog Agility. Georgia International Horse Park, 1996 Centennial Olympic Parkway, Conyers, GA. www.georgiahorsepark.com. 3 SPCA Albrecht Center off-site adoptions at PetSmart. 11-2pm. PetSmart, 2527 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC, 803.643.5626, www.letlovelive.org, subject to change. Check website for updates. 3 Dog Networking Agents (DNA) Adoption. PetSmart on Robert C Daniel Parkway, Augusta, GA. www. dognetworkingagent.wixsite.com. 3 Pet Photos with Santa at Cold Creek Nursery. Bring your furkid out to Cold Creek Nurseries to meet Santa and get a photo! Your $25 donation to the SPCA Albrecht Center includes a photo session and two (2) 5x7 prints. Holiday themed background included. Festive pet attire welcome and encouraged! Cold Creek Nursery, 398 Hitchcock Parkway, Aiken, SC. 803.648.3592. 3-4 Stuff-a-Stocking at PetSmart. 12-4pm. Fill bags with free select holiday treats from Milk-Bone® and Pup-Peroni®. PetSmart, 2527 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC, 803.643.5626. 5 Trish Wamsat’s Holiday Manners Class. 7pm at the SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Rd, Aiken, SC. Class fee is $120. www.trishwamsat.com, 803.574.3647. 5 Pet Night with Santa. Bring your four-legged friend to see Santa and pose for a photo! Cats and dogs only, please. 6-8pm. Sears Court, Augusta Mall, Augusta, GA. www. augustamall.com. 7 Dog Ears Reading to Shelter Animals. 1:30-3:30pm. Aiken County Animal Shelter, 333 Wire Road, Aiken, SC. 9 South Carolina Open Shooting Dog Championship and Companion Open Derby. H. Cooper Black, Jr. Memorial Field Trial Area, Patrick, SC. Dr.Billy McCathern, 803.772.4446, www.americanfield.villagesoup.com. 9 Photos with Santa and Adoption Event. Tractor Supply, 195 Edgewood Dr, North Augusta, SC. 10 SPCA Albrecht Center off-site adoptions at PetSmart. 11-2pm. PetSmart, 2527 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC, 803.643.5626, www.letlovelive.org, subject to change. Check website for updates. 10 Hope for the Holidays. 11-2pm. Dog Networking Agents INC. will be hosting adoptions. Columbia County Animal Services, 1949 William Few Parkway, Grovetown, GA. 10-11 Pet Photos with Santa. 12-4pm. PetSmart, 2527 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC, 803.643.5626. 10-11 Carolina Lure Coursing Society Trial and Test. Polo Field, Polo Lane, Camden, SC. www.carolinacoursing.com. 12 Pet Night with Santa. Bring your four-legged friend to see Santa and pose for a photo! Cats and dogs only, please. 6-8pm. Sears Court, Augusta Mall, Augusta, GA. www. augustamall.com. 16 Find a Furever Friend Friday. 1:30-3:30pm. FOTAS will have adoptable dogs with them and will offer photos with Fido. Aiken County Visitors Center, 133 Laurens St. NW, Aiken, SC. 17 Dog Networking Agents (DNA) Adoption. PetSmart on Robert C Daniel Parkway, Augusta, GA. www. dognetworkingagent.wixsite.com. 17 SPCA Albrecht Center off-site adoptions at PetSmart. 11-2pm. PetSmart, 2527 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC, 803.643.5626, www.letlovelive.org, subject to change. Check website for updates. 17-18 Creatures are Stirring. 12-4pm. Gift the gift of exploration! Learn amazing animal facts, meet exciting pets, name an animal & feed fish. Get a FREE coloring book, craft a Guinea Pig ornament and get a special $10 off coupon!
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PetSmart, 2527 Whiskey Rd, Aiken, SC, 803.643.5626. Eighth Annual Hoofbeats and Christmas Carols Parade. 2:304pm. Dog walkers may dress your dogs in costume and meet at the start of Laurens downtown. All dogs must be leashed. Dog Networking Agents (DNA) Adoption. PetSmart on Robert C Daniel Parkway, Augusta, GA. www. dognetworkingagent.wixsite.com. Tri-county Coonhound Event. Luke Bridge Road, Aiken, SC. Ben Brown, 803.522.0231, www.ukcdogs.com. Dog Networking Agents (DNA) Adoption. PetSmart on Robert C Daniel Parkway, Augusta, GA. www. dognetworkingagent.wixsite.com.
1 First Day Hike at Mistletoe State Park. 2pm. 3725 Mistletoe Road, Appling, GA. 706.541.0321, www.gastateparks. org/mistletoe. 5-7 51st Annual Grand American Coon Hunt. Orangeburg County Fairgrounds, 350 Magnolia Street, Orangeburg, SC. David McKee, 803.528.9050, www.ukcdogs.com. 7 The Secret Life of Pets Movie (Rated PG) Showing. Aiken County Library, Chesterfield Street South, Aiken, SC. 9 Georgia Shooting Dog Derby Classic & Georgia Shooting Dog Championship. Waynesboro, GA. Nell Mobley, 706.554.2991, www.americanfield.villagesoup.com. 21-22 Greater Columbia Dog Show. Tri-City Leisure Center, 485 Brooks Avenue, West Columbia, SC. Christopher Brooks, 864.263.7382, www.akc.org. 28 American Bully Kennel Club Super Bowl III. Heritage Hall Building, GA National Fairgrounds, Perry, GA. 404.819.6332, email@example.com, www. theabkcdogs.org.
1 Dog Ears Reading to Shelter Animals. 1:30-3:30pm. Aiken County Animal Shelter, 333 Wire Road, Aiken, SC. 4 Walk Your Pet Hike. 9:30am. $2. Enjoy a guided, leisurely hike through approximately 2.5 miles of nature park trails with your 4 legged best friend. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, 1858 Lock and Dam Road, Augusta, GA. 706.396.1426, www.phinizycenter.org/events. 13-14 Westminster Dog Show. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY. www.ticketmaster.com/Westminster-KennelClub-Dog-Show-tickets 15 USCSDA Southeast Regional Championship. Cape Fear Field Trial Association, Rocky Point, NC. David Huffine, 910.620.2970, www.americanfield.villagesoup.com. 15 Eastern Shooting Dog Championship & Derby Classic. Waynesboro, GA. Tippe Fountain, 478.275.7003, www. americanfield.villagesoup.com. 16 National Bird Hunters Association National Free-for-All. Cooper Black WLMA, Patrick, SC. John Everett, 803.499.3596, www.nbhadog.org. 18 Southeastern Continental Breed Shooting Dog Championship. Waynesboro, GA. Tippe Fountain, 478.275.7003, www.americanfield.villagesoup.com.
1 Dog Ears Reading to Shelter Animals. 1:30-3:30pm. Aiken County Animal Shelter, 333 Wire Road, Aiken, SC. 4 Walk Your Pet Hike. 9:30am. $2. Enjoy a guided, leisurely hike through approximately 2.5 miles of nature park trails with your 4 legged best friend. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, 1858 Lock and Dam Road, Augusta, GA. 706.396.1426, www.phinizycenter.org/events. 18-19 Midlands Hunter Retriever Event. McDaniels Farm, 507 Yonce Pond Road, Johnston, SC. Don White, 603.918.0944, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ukcdogs.com.
Classifieds ADOPTIONS/PUPPIES Trinity Farms Terriers: Quality family dogs with proven calmer dispositions. Generations of great temperaments. Health/dispositions guaranteed. Breeders of terriers for 30+ years. Donna Fitzpatrick. 803.648.3137. www.easyjacks. com & trinityfarmskennel.com & trinitynorfolkterriers.com.
Albrecht Aiken SPCA. Dogs, puppies, cats and kittens for adoption. 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken. Hours of operation: MonSat. 11 am - 5 pm., Sat 10 am- 3 pm; Sun 1:30 pm - 6:30 pm. www. LetLoveLive.org 803.643.0564 Adopt a Shelter Dog or Cat from the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Many beautiful, healthy, friendly animals to choose from. 333 Wire
Road, Aiken. See the pets at www. fotasaiken.org. 803.642.1537. Pointers! Many beautiful purebred Pointers of all ages available for pets or hunting. www.pointerrescue.org. ANIMAL CARE Horses And Hounds Aiken. Pet & Horse-Sitting. Reasonable Rates, Bonded and Insured, Vet Assistant. 803-643-9972/803-443-8303.
horsesandhoundsaiken@gmail. com. www.horsesandhoundsaiken. com TRAINING Palmetto Dog Club. Training classes, puppy socialization, obedience, rally & agility. Check out the website for class schedules and more information. Join us! 803-262-9686. www.
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by Michael Thomas Ford
t’s the season of resolutions: volunteer more, procrastinate less, get things done. Whatever they are, what they really add up to is, “be a better person.” Not a bad goal, of course, but one that’s so easy to fail at. Generally, I last a week or two. Maybe a month. But inevitably, I stumble, or fall flat on my face, and then it’s all over for another year. This year, I have only one resolution: to be the person my dogs think I am. This might seem like cheating. After all, dogs love us no matter what, often to a degree that suggests a serious lack of discernment. But therein lies the challenge, to realize that what I am, right now, is enough. I recently suffered a bout of flu that came at the worst possible time. I was facing a huge work deadline while also caring singlehandedly for my elderly mother and a barn full of horses while my sister, who usually shares these duties, was away. During one particularly miserable night, my oldest dog, Andy, needed to go out. He took his time about it, wandering slowly around the yard while I shuffled behind, hacking and shivering with fever. Exhausted, achy, and short-tempered, I ended up
snapping at him to hurry up. I might have even yelled a little. Back inside, wrapped in a blanket, I felt guilty for being impatient with my old dog. Reaching out to Andy, who was curled up next to me on the bed, I rubbed his ears and silently apologized. He licked my hand and went to sleep, everything forgiven as easily as that. I, on the other hand, lay awake thinking about how impossibly perfect the love of dogs is, and also how impossibly imperfect dogs themselves are. I sleep at night surrounded by four dogs, each of whom has any number of physical and emotional imperfections. The most obvious is probably Lillie’s missing leg, which is immediately noticeable and which draws the most sympathy from others. But Lillie doesn’t know that she’s missing a leg, or that she should consider it a disadvantage. She runs and plays with abandon, and if she needs help getting up and down the stairs, well, that’s just how life is. She is not diminished in any way, does
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not waste time thinking about how she would be “better” if she had four legs instead of three. This acceptance extends to me as her caretaker. When she looks at me, she doesn’t see me the way that I see myself. She doesn’t see the faults and failures. She doesn’t care if my latest book got rave reviews or pans, or how much is in my bank account, or whether or not I’m successful according to some self-imposed definition. What she cares about is that when I pick her up, she feels secure and loved. Someone once said to me, regarding Andy, “He’s lucky you adopted him. Not many people would take a dog like that.” This might be true. He’s a difficult dog in many ways. He’s needy, has numerous health issues that require special attention, and is just the tiniest bit psychotic. But I don’t love him despite these things. I love him because of these things. His eccentricities are what make him who he is. Even when he exasperates me, which is often, I wouldn’t want him any other way, just as I don’t think Lillie would be a “better” dog if she had four legs, or Greta would be improved by correcting her crooked teeth. Their imperfections are part of what make them who they are. Why, then, is it so difficult to extend that same kind of thinking to myself ? Why can’t it be enough to be the person my dogs see when they look at me? It’s easy to say that their expectations are simply less demanding. After all, no dog ever cared whether we completed a triathlon or lost twenty pounds. But I would argue that a dog’s standards are actually more exacting, because they judge us solely on how we make them feel. And these feelings aren’t tempered by distractions, like how much money we can provide for them, or what we look like, or whether tolerating our lessdesirable traits can be overlooked because of the house we live in or car we drive. There’s a Native American legend that says that when a human dies the soul must cross a log bridge held up on both ends by the spirits of the dogs that person has encountered during life. Depending on how the dogs were treated, they will either hold the log steady or let it fall. I’ve always loved this image, the idea that a person’s worthiness to cross into the next world is decided not by some omnipotent deity, not by whether they adhered to a set of rules, but by whether or not they instilled trust in the animals who walked beside them. Working in dog rescue, I’ve seen the worst that humans can do to dogs. I’ve seen dogs damaged seemingly beyond repair by the humans they trusted to care for them. And time and time again, I’ve seen these same dogs display a willingness to trust again. Often it takes time, and often this trust is extended only to one or two particularly patient, kind people. But always on the dog’s part there is a willing heart, a longing and an ability to see the goodness in people, sometimes even when they can’t see it in themselves. This year, rather than trying to become something “better” than I am, my resolution is to see myself as the person my dogs love, the person who is already good enough, the person whose bridge they will happily hold in their teeth until he is safely across. Michael Thomas Ford’s most recent book, LILY, is available from Lethe Press at www.lethepressbooks.com.
Their Lives Are In Our Hands at the Aiken County Animal Shelter 333 Wire Road, Aiken
Each year thousands of unwanted, yet adoptable dogs and cats are surrendered to the Aiken County Animal Shelter Please help us save them
adopt ~ foster ~ volunteer
FOTAS P.O. Box 2207 Aiken, SC 29802 803.514.4313 www.FOTASAiken.org info@FOTASAiken.org
Aiken County Animal Shelter 333 Wire Road, Aiken 803.642.1537 Adoption Hours: Monday, Friday: 9:00 am Ð Noon, 1:00 pm Ð 4:30 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9:00 am Ð Noon, 1:00 pm Ð 5:00 pm Saturday: 11:30 am - 4:00 pm
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Our winter 2016-2017 edition has articles on service dogs, retired Military Working dogs, dog training and more.