Category Archives: dog sponsorship program

Ashes the Fire Dog Fuels Up with Help from CANIDAE

Ashes 2By Langley Cornwell

Sometimes CANIDAE gets the honor of helping out truly special pets and their amazing owners. It’s even more amazing when the duo goes further than just making a phenomenal team, but actually helps save lives and solves crimes together. That’s why I would like you to meet Ashes, a five-year-old chocolate Labrador fire dog, and her owner and partner, Brooktrails Fire Chief Daryl Schoeppner, of California.

What makes this story even more unique is the outpouring of community support and hard work—by both Ashes and Schoeppner—that it took to form their partnership. In fact, the community has stayed involved and continues to do what’s necessary to keep it going strong. You see, Ashes is a completely donation-driven dog, meaning that taxpayers are not charged for her upkeep or training.

Ashes herself was a gift. Schoeppner lost his first fire dog and partner of ten years to cancer. That special dog was an accelerant-detecting golden retriever named Eddie, who was also sponsored with dog food from CANIDAE. When sympathizers in Devonshire, England, heard about Eddie’s death, they gifted Ashes to the program.

It’s Hard Work Being a Hero

“She definitely earns her groceries,” says Chief Schoeppner, when asked about Ashes’ workload.

Having already helped to investigate over a dozen arson cases in 2013 alone, one memorable case Ashes and Schoeppner worked to solve wrapped up last year in Mendocino County. In this case, a 52-year-old mother was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years in prison for setting fire to her home while her quadriplegic son was inside. The fire was particularly dangerous to local firefighters, as propane and oxygen tanks were used as accelerants.

And it’s not just major local arson cases the duo work to solve. They are a shared resource for the Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma County region. Ashes also recently helped with a weapons search in a local high school, searching over 600 lockers after a weapon was discovered at the school.

ashes 3Rigorous Training Required

There is a lot of training – for both dog and handler – that goes into making an arson dog worthy to carry the title. Considering that what these canines discover is used for court evidence in cases like the one above, the evidence has to be solid enough to withstand the courtroom environment. The work is so rigorous and scrutinized that there are less than a hundred canines in the U.S. that do this type of work.

Ashes has always proven more than worthy of the challenge, though. When she was almost a year old, she was flown to Texas to attend the Canine Academy Training Center for three months of intensive training. It’s not easy detecting accelerants when you’re talking parts per billion. As part of her testing, she would have to identify one syringe drop of accelerant, such as 50 percent weathered gasoline, in a mixed matrix of materials, explained Schoeppner.

For example, containers mixed with carpet fibers, wood and plastics would be presented to Ashes and she would have to locate which one contained the tiny drop of fire accelerant. That alone is amazing, but Ashes had to identify the substance correctly within a six-inch area. Ashes can detect specific substances in vehicles, on the clothing of suspects and in large open areas, such as parking lots.

After her individual training course, Chief Schoeppner joined Ashes for an additional two weeks of intense training. They had to prove that they could pull their own weight, singularly and as a team, and meet every criteria with a 100 percent correct rating. “She’s a multi-disciplined dog and quite the working girl,” said Schoeppner.

The initial thorough training isn’t all there is to it, either. They have to be re-certified every year in order to work together. Ashes and Schoeppner will soon be traveling to San Diego to do just that. There they will be joining other arson dogs, including three others from the state, although Ashes is the only public agency dog in Northern California. Washington and Colorado are also expected to have dogs present.

Giving Back to the Community

In addition to firefighting, Schoeppner and Ashes participate in grade school fire safety education by visiting local elementary schools. Ashes is a hit with the children. “She’s a great tool to get the attention of the kids,” said Schoeppner. “We even have trading cards with Ashes’ photo and stats to hand out.”

This is fitting, considering the community support it takes to adequately see to Ashes’ care. Their initial training and travel costs were covered by the Mendocino County Fire Chiefs Association, who is a big supporter of the program. The community at-large also donates, through fundraisers and a special dog house, as well as collections taken at local merchants’ counters.

Ashes is so well recognized in the community that Schoeppner says people always come up and ask him, “Hi, how’s the dog?” and then inquire after him. Not that he minds. “She’s the rock star and I’m the roadie,” Schoeppner jokes.

Fueling a Fire Dog

CANIDAE has been happily providing food for Ashes for five years. For ten years before that, they supplied the food for Eddie. It all started 15 years ago when Schoeppner contacted a member of the CANIDAE sales team, who was always supportive of making sure he had what he needed.

Even his vet is pleased with the use of CANIDAE dog food for Ashes, citing good weight and health. “Without CANIDAE’s sponsorship, it would be very difficult for us,” said Schoeppner. “I’ve always liked the food and it’s a great working dog food. I would like to extend a special thank-you to CANIDAE.”

Photos by Daryl Schoeppner /Brooktrails Fire Department

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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The Flying Houndz Frizbee Trick Dog Show


By Julia Williams

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Jeff Wright’s Flying Houndz, a team of six talented canine athletes who excel at what they do. On the surface, one might describe this as “performing dozens of different tricks with flying discs.” But what these dogs really do is amaze, thrill and delight audiences nationwide.

These extraordinary canines are powered by CANIDAE dog food, and they’re part of the company’s Sponsored Dog Program. CANIDAE accepts only the very best canine athletes for sponsorship, and the Flying Houndz are a perfect example of how premium dog food can contribute to athletic excellence.

Sadie, Sampson, Vegas, Ace, Tango and Turk leap, flip, vault, dance and spin. They perform high-flying acrobatic feats and catch flying discs with remarkable ease. The professionally trained canines perform before crowds of every size, from as small as a few hundred to as large as 25,000. Fairs and festivals, pet expos, sporting events and schools are just a few of the places the Flying Houndz have entertained spectators with their exciting show. Depending on the venue, their show lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

The newest member of the Flying Houndz pack is Gizmo, a 3 month old male Border Collie who Jeff says is “very smart and learning quickly.” Gizmo began playing with the Frisbees in his very first week with the family, so it seems certain he will be a great addition to the show when he makes his debut in 2011.

Like many pet owners, Jeff and Misty Wright consider their dogs to be an integral part of their family, their “canine kids” if you will. These dogs are not used solely for the purpose of entertainment. Above all, they are loved and appreciated for the unique beings they are and for what they bring to the family. The Wrights have adopted most of their dogs from shelters and rescue organizations, and are grateful to have each one in their family, regardless of what they can contribute to the show.

Some of the dogs, like Sadie who is considered the “star” of the show, utterly adore their time in the spotlight and can’t get enough of it. Others were rescued from sad situations such as being raised in a puppy mill or found as a frightened stray, and they’re still a little timid about performing. Jeff takes baby steps with these dogs and makes sure they only do what is comfortable for them at the time. Their well-being and health are always a top priority.

As responsible pet owners, the Wrights nurture their dogs emotionally, and rely on CANIDAE All Natural Dog Food to keep them healthy and fit. Because these dogs are serious athletes, Jeff has done a great deal of research to determine their nutritional needs. He believes it’s vital to learn as much as possible about the food he feeds his dogs to ensure they not only perform to the best of their ability in the shows, but live long and healthy lives as cherished members of the family.

“When competing and performing, my dogs are always at their best on CANIDAE. The choice of ingredients is superior to any on the market and is a perfect fit for the needs of my dogs. Believe me, we have tried many of the top dog foods and none have shown the results that CANIDAE has. My dogs not only maintain their energy throughout the day, but they are happy, have beautiful coats, and are gleaming with good nutrition inside and out.”

Jeff has been performing with his dogs for about four years, and it’s clear to me (and to the audience) that this is truly a labor of love. The focus of every show is to share the special bond he has with these amazing canine stars, while having lots of fun and entertaining all ages.

Jeff says he’s “loved dogs since I could walk,” and like many youth, he played with Frisbees. So naturally, he began throwing the flying discs just for fun with his first Border Collie Sadie. This led to his discovery of disc dog competitions. Jeff and Sadie entered one, and placed third at their very first event which was a world championship with top teams from around the world!

This competition also had a canine freestyle disc event. The incredible talent Jeff saw that day inspired him to go home and immediately start practicing some tricks with Sadie. And as the old saying goes, the rest is history.

Says Jeff, “Spending time with my dogs this way is so rewarding. Learning together and particularly watching my dogs grow and overcome new challenges in training is very inspirational.” He’s also pleased to be able to bring smiles to the faces of young and old alike. One touching memory also makes him smile. It was the day an elderly lady asked to have a picture taken with one of the dogs. She didn’t have email and didn’t even know how to use a computer, so she asked Jeff if he’d mail it to her for Christmas. Jeff was delighted to print out and mail the picture to such a special fan!

When pressed to share some of his dog training secrets, Jeff says that “the key to successful dogs that are happy with life is to first train the best classic trick of all—the dog kiss! All of my dogs are trained to give big kisses! There’s nothing like watching parents take a picture of their child with my dog giving them a big kiss after a show!”

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

CANIDAE Sponsors Surf Dog & Donates to Pet Food Drive


By Julia Williams

Mere moments after I finished writing my last article on Teaching Your Dog to Surf, I learned that the most famous of all surfing canines has joined the ranks of the CANIDAE Special Achievers. I’m talking about Surf Dog Ricochet of course, the amazing canine who uses her remarkable surfing talent to raise money for charity. Surf Dog Ricochet is a perfect fit for the CANIDAE dog sponsorship program, which began in 2006 as a way to support extraordinary canines and their devoted owners.

The dogs selected for sponsorship must be good ambassadors in their chosen “vocation,” be it dog sports, search and rescue, service and therapy work, police work, or conformation. These dogs all eat CANIDAE food, naturally, and their good health and ability to excel at their jobs helps promote the many benefits of a premium-quality holistic pet food.

Surf Dog Ricochet was slated to be service dog but was released from the program because her interest in chasing birds could be a risk to a person with disabilities. Undaunted by this change in her life plan, Ricochet perfected her surfing techniques and discovered another way to help people. Ricochet’s inspirational story of how she went “From Service Dog to SURFice Dog” has touched millions of lives worldwide, and to date she’s raised over $30,000 for her charitable causes!

Surf Dog Ricochet eats the CANIDAE Grain Free All Life Stages formula which helps her stay healthy and strong. Previously, Ricochet was plagued by chronic ear infections, but since switching to CANIDAE she has been free of that problem. Because she is an extremely active canine, she needs a high quality food to maintain her energy, stamina, and performance.

Surf Dog Ricochet embodies all of the qualities CANIDAE looks for when choosing canines to sponsor. Ricochet and her human companion, Judy, live a lifestyle of helping others by “pawing it forward,” while raising awareness and funds for both human and animal causes.

Speaking of good causes, Judy recently asked CANIDAE if they’d be willing to help out the “Dog Days of Summer,” a drive to collect food and supplies for shelters all around the world. The Dog Days drive was organized by Ricochet’s friends at BlogPaws, an online resource for pet bloggers. BlogPaws was founded by three passionate pet lovers/bloggers who are dedicated to supporting rescues, shelters, and the people who work so hard to help homeless, abandoned and abused pets.

As many of you know, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods is a very generous company with a long history of charitable giving. They were happy to lend their support to this great cause for shelters, and donated 350 pounds of premium-quality CANIDAE dog food and FELIDAE cat food to the drive. Ricochet split her food donation between two shelters, the San Diego Humane Society and the Rancho Coastal Humane Society.

You can help BlogPaws and the Dogs Days food drive too, but only if you act quickly, as it ends on July 31st! For information on how to contribute to this worthwhile cause and help the homeless animals in your community, click here.

CANIDAE is proud to welcome the extraordinary Surf Dog Ricochet (aka Rip Curl Ricki) as the newest member of their Special Achievers team. If you haven’t seen the Surf Dog Ricochet video yet, you really should – because the touching story of how this beautiful young golden retriever found her true calling and is changing countless lives as a result is one that every pet lover should see.

Photos courtesy of Diane Edmonds and Judy Fridono

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Therapy Dogs Live a Life of Community Service


By Suzanne Alicie

CANIDAE sponsors several outstanding animals, and are exceptionally proud to be able to include therapy dogs Stitch and Riley as well as their newly certified partner Sophie. Because of the CANIDAE sponsorship and even the attendance of some company employees at events, these dogs are able to spread their love and comfort in an ever growing way including hospital visits, community events and the Make a Wish foundation.

Johne and Jane Johnson volunteered their time at the VA hospitals before they got involved with the therapy dogs. Johne bought Stitch as a puppy for the express purpose of training him to be a therapy dog in order to expand their outreach program with the VA hospitals in the area. Along the way they adopted Riley whose owner claimed that she was a terrible dog who didn’t like men. Riley became a certified part of the team and loves being around people, men included. This just goes to show that the way an owner thinks and feels about a dog does affect the way they behave.

Jane, a marathon runner, found a Maltipoo in a gutter while out training one day. She brought her home ,and now Sophie is the newest certified therapy dog on the team. Sophie is small enough to claim a lap to cuddle in when she visits, and usually does so. The Johnsons have also rescued another dog, a Bluetick hound named Bella who is in the process of training. These wonderful dogs visit VA hospitals as well as children’s hospitals and many community events to spread love and companionship.

Pets in general have a positive effect on people, and therapy dogs are trained to provide the attention and love that the people in the hospitals need. Mr. Johnson tells of many times when visiting the VA hospital there were patients who were despondent and non- responsive to him and the others who visited with him. However, when the dogs began to visit, these same people opened up and began talking about pets they used to have, and really enjoyed their visits with Stitch and Riley. Eventually those same patients began to look forward to his visits, although if he went without the dogs the main thing he heard was “Where are the dogs? Why didn’t you bring the dogs?” This lets him know that his therapy dogs are truly something special, and that they make a big difference to these patients.

The difference between therapy dogs and service dogs is that the service provided by therapy dogs is purely social. Service dogs are trained to stay with a specific person and assist them with different tasks, while therapy dogs are welcome visitors who provide their services to everyone they encounter. Many times veterans need physical therapy to aid with their recovery from illness and injury; this can lead to a boring and repetitive routine. Therapy dogs introduce something a little different and bring some excitement into the day. Lonely or depressed patients have shown remarkable improvement after a visit from Riley and Stitch. The unconditional love and acceptance of a dog can lift the spirits and distract patients from dark thoughts and loneliness.

Imagine being a bored patient who is in pain and all alone. Suddenly these two gorgeous golden labs and their tiny white partner burst onto the scene, three special dogs who love to be petted and played with, who are happy to just be in contact with you. Interaction with the dogs breaks up a dull routine and makes the patient feel so much better.

The training to become a certified therapy dog involves learning several important things. Besides basic obedience, these dogs learn to deal with loud noises, ignore food when it’s dropped or eaten in front of them, how to handle crowds, and the fact that everyone will reach out towards them. The mentality of a good therapy dog is that any attention is welcome, and that love is the name of the game. Little Sophie recently got to take a trip to Disneyland as part of her training to become certified.

Mr. Johnson says that any dog can be trained to be a therapy dog, but some may have learned behaviors that must be worked through first. Dogs that have been abused in any way may shy away from strangers wanting to pet them. The Johnsons now have three certified therapy dogs and only one of them has been trained for his job since he was a puppy. There is a difference, Mr. Johnson says. All three dogs are good at their jobs and love what they do, but Stitch is the one who has been raised with love from the beginning and simply has no understanding of anyone being mean.

Besides being beneficial to the hospitals and the people they visit, therapy dogs like Stitch, Riley and Sophie are also helping to spread the word of the importance and legal allowances for certified service dogs. Mr. Johnson often takes Stitch to dinner with him and his wife; this is not only a training enforcement for the dog but also a learning opportunity for the people who work in restaurants as to when a dog is allowed in, and the purpose of the dog for the person he is with. There have been several instances where Mr. Johnson has been told he can’t bring the dog in. This leads to educating and informing the employees and management as well as other diners about the legality of service dogs and their purpose. By taking on this challenge, Mr. Johnson is making the world more aware and hopefully making it easier for the people who need to take their service dogs everywhere with them.

The Johnsons, their wonderful dogs, and the Masonic lodge they are a part of have received awards for their community service. They plan to continue with breeding and training therapy dogs in order to make life a little better for all of those they encounter.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Meet Scout, an Avalanche Rescue Dog Sponsored by CANIDAE


By Suzanne Alicie

The CANIDAE dog sponsorship program began in 2006 as a way to support extraordinary dogs and the people who love them. Among the many canines chosen for sponsorship are teams who participate in dog sports, therapy dogs, K-9 units, assistance dogs and rescue dogs. These dogs are all fed CANIDAE products to provide them with the energy, strength and nutrition required for their demanding jobs.

One of these CANIDAE-sponsored special achievers is Scout, a Chocolate Labrador retriever who works for Copper Mountain as a Certified Avalanche Rescue Dog. His handler, Rich Silkey CMSP, took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for me about Scout and the job they do together at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado. What an eye opener it was to learn about this dog and his amazing job.

Rich is not just Scout’s handler, he is his owner. Many places have rescue dogs that are owned by a resort or company and live on site. Scout, however, is a hard working dog that gets to go home at night. Socializing is a big part of Scout’s job. On a typical day, which means a day that an avalanche doesn’t occur, Scout enjoys riding up to the duty station on the chair lift, sleeping in the duty station, patrolling with Rich and interacting with the guests. But don’t assume he’s a lazy dog sleeping the day away. The playful and friendly Scout gets a lot of exercise playing with the kids from ski school when he’s not busy. Sounds like a tough job huh?

Well, when an avalanche happens Scout is all business. He began his training at 8 weeks old. Now at almost 4 years old Scout is a certified and professional avalanche rescue dog who knows when it is time to stop playing and start working. Labradors aren’t the only breed suitable for avalanche rescue. Copper Mountain utilizes 6 avalanche rescue dogs that rotate through each week, including Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds. However, Rich selected a Labrador to train as an avalanche rescue dog and as a pet because of the breed’s agility, work ethic, stamina, loyalty and excellent nose.

Unlike dogs who trail or track a specific person or scent, avalanche rescue dogs are trained to air scent for humans, in and under the snow. Victims buried in the snow as a result of an avalanche are just one type of snow rescue. Youth and elderly that have fallen due to injury or hypothermia can become covered by snowfall. Even a healthy well-prepared hiker or skier who holes up in a snow cave after having become lost or exhausted is another type of rescue for an avalanche rescue dog. Because once a person becomes buried, detection by the naked eye is impossible.

These awe inspiring rescue dogs can detect the human scent more than 15 feet deep. Dogs can cover the dangerous terrain of an avalanche area approximately 8 times faster than a human. This means that Scout is usually the first on the scene and helps make sure that people get rescued in time thanks to his wonderful nose and excellent training.

According to Mr. Silkey, Scout performs his task of air scenting to locate a buried person and does an aggressive double paw dig as an alert. But he doesn’t stop there; Scout continues digging and sometimes has the avalanche victim dug out before his human backup arrives. For performing his job so well, Scout gets to enjoy a good game of tug-of-war with his favorite toy.

To make sure that Scout and the other dogs stay on task and don’t forget valuable training, the crew does a mock search once a week to help them stay sharp and practice their skills. Helping teach and lead younger dogs like the two new dogs that are just beginning their training also keeps Scout and the other avalanche rescue dogs at Copper Mountain on top of their game.

Due to the rigors of their job, the cold and unyielding snow and the pressures of the searches, avalanche rescue dogs usually work until they are between 7 and 12 years of age. CANIDAE dog food helps provide the extra nutrition and energy these dogs need to stay healthy and happy from the beginning of their hard working lives through their retirement and lazy days.

The CANIDAE team is proud to sponsor Scout as he goes about the business of saving lives with his partner Rich in the cold and snow at Copper Mountain.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.