Category Archives: working dogs

The Amazing Loyalty of Guardian and Herding Breeds

By Linda Cole

There are very few dog breeds that aren’t loyal to an owner who has earned their trust and respect.  Stubbornness and independence are common characteristics in many breeds, along with the ability to think for themselves. But when it comes to loyalty, it’s the herding and livestock guardian breeds that display a unique devotion to those they bond with.

One trait wolves passed on to domesticated dogs was a strong sense of loyalty to their pack members – their family. In the early history of our relationship with dogs, warring humans utilized the size, aggressiveness and loyalty of large dogs to fight alongside soldiers on the battlefield. Since that time, dogs used in battle have been refined and tempered through selective breeding to fit into our more civilized world.

Guardian dogs, however, have remained much like they were when they were first created centuries ago to guard flocks from large predators. It’s thought that most livestock guardian dogs (LGD) are descendants of the extinct Molossus dog. These dogs were mastiff-like, big, powerful, courageous and loyal. Because guardian dogs are usually large breeds, it’s essential to make sure they get a proper diet formulated especially for big dogs, like the CANIDAE Life Stages Large Breed formulas for puppies and adults.

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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

How Archaeologists Use the Power of a Dog’s Nose

By Linda Cole

Dogs are famous for their acute sense of smell. Beagles have been employed as bed bug detection dogs, and they sniff bags in airports to check for illegal fruits and vegetables being brought in by travelers. Drug and bomb sniffing dogs are trained to detect the smallest hint of contraband or explosives. More recently, archaeologists have discovered a dog with a good nose can be trained to search for smells that will tell us about our historical past buried in prehistoric grave sites. Now that’s a dog with a keen sense of smell!

When comparing scent receptors, we humans are woefully inadequate to dogs. Humans have around five million scent receptors in their nose, and the average canine has around 200 million. Adding to a dog’s extraordinary scenting ability is an organ located on the roof of the mouth that allows them to “taste” a smell, as well. So when we catch a whiff of steaks grilling on a BBQ close by, you can imagine how that mouth-watering scent is affecting your dog. Dogs are also capable of honing in on one specific smell among many. Once they find what they’re looking for, their focus is on that one smell, and they can follow it to its source. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to evade a tracking Bloodhound.

Historical Human Remains Detection dogs (HHRD) are trained to sniff out lingering odors from bones and teeth in old grave sites, some that may be thousands of years old. These unique canines are the newest detection dogs, and they help humans search for information underground that is difficult for us to find on our own. These specially trained dogs have been used by archaeologists, construction companies and ordinary people to locate American Indian burial sites, lost family cemeteries and unmarked grave sites.

We live in the present, but our history is buried in the past. We learn who we are as a people by understanding who we were in the past. Spread across this land are historical and prehistoric grave sites that can take us back to another time. In many cases, finding a hundred-year-old family burial spot isn’t of any real value to most people, but it is to the family searching for their roots.

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Difference between Parson, Jack Russell and Russell Terrier

By Linda Cole

The Parson, Jack Russell, and Russell terriers are actually three different breeds, even though they’re related and look much alike. The Russell Terrier was introduced at the National Dog Show in 2012 as a new breed recognized by the AKC. The Jack Russell is not a recognized breed, despite the dog’s popularity in this country. There is a good explanation as to why, but it can be a bit confusing.

The Parson, Jack Russell and Russell terrier breeds were all named after the Reverend John “Jack” Russell (1795 – 1883), a parson who lived in Devonshire, England during the 1800s. He was an avid fox hunter, when he wasn’t attending to his duties at his church. The Reverend was also quite fond of fox hunting dogs, and bred them. His first terrier, a female named Trump, was likely the foundation for Russell’s working dogs.

Reverend Russell, also known as “The Sporting Parson,” wanted a working dog that was feisty, strong and confident ,to hunt fox and go to ground to flush out fox or other prey from a hole. The Reverend lived in the southern part of England where the terrain wasn’t as hilly, and a short legged dog met his needs. The small dog ran with hunters on horseback, and hounds following a fox. When the hounds chased the fox underground, it was the terrier’s job to follow and flush the fox out of the hole so the hunt could resume.

It was after Reverend Russell’s death when the JRT breed began to evolve into the Parson Terrier. Hunters living in areas where the land was more uneven and hillier wanted dogs with longer legs that allowed them to better navigate rougher terrain so they could keep up with the hounds and horses. They were also more interested in hunting other prey, primarily badger. If a pup was born with shorter legs, they were kept at home as companion pets, to roam around the barn and home catching vermin, and as watchdogs.

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The Highest Paid Animal Actors

Rin Tin Tin in the 1929 film Frozen River

By Langley Cornwell

Animals don’t really care about money, but nevertheless, when it comes to animal actors, they do indeed get paid. Some animal actors receive a hefty fee for their performances, and that pay would make any human drool. Who are the highest paid animal actors? Check these out.

Rin Tin Tin the Dog 

This beloved pooch starred in 26 films for Warner Brothers and commanded a cool $6,000 each week. In today’s money, that would equal $78,000 per week! With that income, he could feed himself and thousands of his friends a healthy diet of CANIDAE dog food. Rin Tin Tin earned Warner Brothers so much money, in fact, that he was responsible for bringing the studio back from the brink of bankruptcy in 1930. Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd dog that was rescued from a battlefield during World War I by an American soldier named Lee Duncan. Duncan trained “Rinty,” his pet name for his dog. Rin Tin Tin became a beloved movie icon and was rumored to have received the most votes for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929, but the Academy would only give the award to a human. The original Rin Tin Tin died in 1932. (Read more about this famous animal actor in The True Story of Rin Tin Tin).

Keiko the Whale

This killer whale made a killing financially, thanks to his depiction of Willy in the Free Willy films. He earned a grand total of over $36 million for his role! Eventually, Keiko gained his own freedom in 2002, as he was returned to the open ocean. Sadly, Keiko died in 2003 in Norway from a bout with pneumonia, but his work lives on after his passing.

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Terrier Dog Breeds: Big Attitudes in Small Bodies

Airedale Terrier

By Linda Cole

The terrier group of dog breeds is an interesting mix of canines, bred to do a variety of jobs from hunting prey to keeping rats at bay. They are feisty, energetic and small enough to fit into any home. This is a group with a variety of distinct personalities, but all have a “big attitude in a small body.” Digging is common in terriers because they were bred to go underground after their prey. Terra is the Latin word for “earth,” and terriers are certainly “earth dogs.” The American Kennel Club recognizes 29 different terrier breeds. Here is brief information on nine of them:

The Airedale Terrier holds the “King of Terriers” crown; they are the largest and most robust of the group. The Airedale is considered an all purpose dog, and was used during wartime as a guard dog, to run messages, control rodents, and as a hunting dog. Hypoallergenic; they stand 22-24 inches and weigh 40-64 pounds.

The Australian Terrier was the first breed recognized in 1868 as native to Australia. His job was to work alongside his owner in the Australian Outback to keep vermin and snakes in check. He was also a watchdog, and helped with livestock. Hypoallergenic; they stand 9-11 inches and weigh 12-16 pounds.

Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier could easily be mistaken for a lamb because of his woolly, curly coat. The breed was developed in a mining shire in Northumberland, England, and that’s where its name comes from. The miners used the Bedlington to control vermin, and because they had excellent speed and endurance, miners also raced them. Hypoallergenic; they stand 15-18 inches and weigh 17-23 pounds.

The Border Terrier can get into most any size hole, and can race across different types of terrain after his main prey, the fox. The Border was bred as a working dog and protector of his owner’s livestock. In the old days living on a farm, this little dog had to be a good hunter because he had to hunt down his own supper. Hypoallergenic; they stand 11-16 inches and weigh 11-16 pounds.
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