I just realized I have not blogged in quite awhile.  In september I attended my first, of what will be many, HRD seminars. I went to AMPWDA and loved every minute of it. It was the perfect seminar for a novice. I got amazing advice and support even after the seminar was over.  They even had class room instruction in the evening to just train handlers in SAR. It was by far one of the most positive and encouraging groups of people. I left with great training plans, support and new friends. I can’t wait for next falls’s!


SAR A Great Community

I have connected with a lot of SAR folks on Facebook and I am glad I have. Recently one of those people recommended this book to me How to Train A Police Bloodhound and Scent Discriminating Patrol Dog and it is beyond helpful with training and is intended for any breed of dog.  I am only a few chapters in and wish I had known about this book sooner. Some of the tips I will definitely use with Ruger and some others I will keep in my tool belt, as I do not think they will improve on what Ruger and I already have going. It is very inspiring when veterans of SAR are so willing to help us newbies be successful. Hopefully one day I can do the same for someone else. 17425032_1375083899180475_8592714991163761537_n

How Awesome is This?

I do not usually share upcoming research in my blog, however as a Great Dane and German Shepherd owner this is awesome. Check it out:

News Release

For Immediate Release

AKC Canine Health Foundation Announces New Research to Tackle Bloat in Dogs

“RALEIGH, N.C. (June 1, 2017) Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV, or bloat) is a serious problem for many canine breeds, but little is truly known about the causes of this deadly disease. While any larger dog can be affected, targeted breed-specific research can help advance understanding of potential genetic factors that may predispose dogs to developing bloat.” For the full article Click Here




Dog Training is Never a Straight Path

When I got Ruger I had plans for him before I even picked him out, before he was even born. The thing about life is we can plan all we want, then life happens. I had dreams of Ruger being a Therapy Dog, like Gracie, and to show him in Conformation, perhaps even breed him one day to have my next show dog.  Expectations and reality do not always match up, I once saw a diagram about dog training and it was a squiggly line about getting from A to B, well sometimes we never make it to B and have to switch plan C or even D.  When one door closes another opens, well this week one door will be closing for me for good. Ruger is getting snipped, he will never be able to have puppies, so although I said goodbye to Therapy Dog work for him a long time ago, and knew Conformation was not for him, for some reason I am feeling sad. The realization that none of my plans for him will come to fruition is hitting me hard this week.  A quote by Tony Gaskins sticks out and that is “if you can’t do anything about it then let it go. Don’t be a prisoner to things you can’t change.” I wish it was that simple! I have to keep reminding myself why Ruger would not better the breed, for one he has allergies, two he was never shown and does not have CH in front of his name. I could go on. I have to remind myself of all the positives instead.  We did find plan D for Ruger and that oddly enough is something I never thought would be possible with a Great Dane and that is SAR work. We still have a long way to go and have so much to learn, however we are heading in the right direction. Life is funny, expectations are not always met, but the opportunities it opens you up for, if you are open to it, can surpass even my wildest dreams.  If those other doors had not closed I would not have met some amazing people and had the opportunity to become a better handler than I was a year ago. I would not have a dog, which has certified twice now in tracking and has added an article search certification in there as well.



I had the privilege of attending my second NAPWDA seminar at the end of April. I have a LOT of information to share, however two things I had never really thought about until it was brought up, at the seminar, was what the function of certain dog behaviors are. The two were Barking and whining. Whining…. Do you know what it is? I learned over that weekend that it is your dog’s plea for assistance. Once you hear it put like that, it makes total sense! In addition, that a Bark’s function is distance. It could be stay away or come closer, but nonetheless it is distance. I have had dog’s my whole life, taken numerous courses as well as help teach at our local kennel club and I can tell you I am constantly  learning something new. I suppose the moment you think you know it all you might as well quit, …… I know I will NEVER know it all.



A good friend recently gifted me a book about SAR, which I wish I would have had months ago. As I am reading through this evening one quote has been sticking out “……..The first time search dog handler may believe they are ‘mission ready’ after a few months….” This quote sticks out to me, because the more I learn the more I am NOT ready, if that makes sense. Someone’s life is on the line. I have so much to learn and there is a lot of things I do not know, I do know. How could anyone after just a few months be prepared? Be qualified? I still have a few courses and certifications to complete and even then, I know there is so much to more to it than just that.  Tonight I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with how far I still need to go. That being said, it will all be worth it, if I am able to help just one person, even if that is a year or two out.

Here is the book if you are interested( Don’t let the title fool you, it is full of great information for the first time SAR person) : Building a Search and Rescue Team From The Ground Up


Natural Ways to Parasite Control

Natural ways to parasite control

I get asked all the time how I handle parasite control for my dogs and the answer is, I USE NOTHING from my veterinary’s office. If it is toxic to me, why would I want it on my dogs? I am not judging those that use it, I am simply stating it does not work for me. I prefer utilizing the old motto “you are, what you eat” and help my dogs naturally fight off unwanted pests, but beefing up their food.

I spray this on them before we go outside (I live in SD, so I only need to do this about 5 months out of the year, please note this DOES NOT go in their food)


I put this in their food everyday://“>Flea & Tick


Enter a caption


For probiotics and internal control I put this in their food everyday as it also has DE in it://“>Probiotics/ DE



I also spray my yard with all natural and toxic free buy control. Research what would work best for you and how to safely spray. As with all advice, check with your veterinarian first before making the switch.

Training…. Can you train too much?

So an idea was presented to me over this week that I could over train my dog…. I had never really thought about that, so I reached out to one of the Master Trainers at NAPWDA about tracking too many days in a row and he did not believe you could over train your dog.  Before I heard back from him, I of course googled it and since nothing popped up on the first page of google I am assuming there is not much research on the topic out there. I also reached out to a past tracking instructor and he, as well confirmed you cannot over train.  My position is you need to train to real conditions. What happens if we got a call on a day we already trained? If we do not practice to that, then what? I also try to put myself in the person that told me that’s shoes, I wrote back them that I bet they are right if you are training hours on end in the same day. I think sometimes I do not come off well to others, because unless you send me research or evidence for things you present to me as facts, I will always do my own research. Hopefully, this person did not take it the wrong way. In the end it is all doing what is best for our team, not about who is right or who is wrong. It is about best practices in dog training.  It is about our calling to be of service to others.




Well it has been said that agility with your working dog is a great way to build your relationship and boost your confidence as a team. Ruger and I enrolled in an intermediate agility class at our local kennel club. It has been over a year since we have taken an agility there, the first night back …. Well let’s just say I did not exist and the other dogs were very overstimulating to Ruger. My poor guy was very stressed!! Panting/ Barking and I keep worrying about the disapproving glances of some people in the class. When a 150 pounds bark, it does seem much worse than say a 30 pound dog so I will give you that. Luckily we have some great people at the kennel club teaching, which gave me some tips, and let us run a course after the vast majority of teams had left. Ruger did okay on the first course. One person in particular always knows how to make a handler team feel better when it seems like I might have just taken a few steps back and that is Jackie. She always tells me a relatable story about her and her dog and how they overcame similar issues. I am very thankful to have such a great group of people around me always supporting me, even when I have doubts in our abilities.  Hopefully next week I will have some recent pictures, this one is from over a year ago.


Raw Taking the Plunge

Raw taking the plunge

Well I decided to go raw and took the plunge, I first started out with the premade raw, but like most individuals my pocket-book did not like that approach so I had to do more research. From what I discovered there are numerous groups of raw feeders. The big two on the block, are the whole Prey model, BARF, there are of course a few other subsets.  As like most things in life you need to pick what works well for you, because there is research which supports all. I have also found it may depend on your breed of dog. I decided to not do whole prey, as odd as it sounds, it makes me sad to feed my dogs something with a face. I do much better with getting meat from the butcher.

So what do I feed?

What I have found is there are a lot of great starting points in raw feeding, but it will depend on the individual dog and you become a poop reader…lol. From their poop you can tell if you are feeding too much bone, too much organ meet ect. The Facebook groups have become invaluable to me.

Below you will find a few  links of helpful starter guides I have received from the various Facebook groups.


I have found the percentage of organ meat was right on for my dogs, however I had to increase the amount of bone and total percentages of food each day, as they are all very high energy and we exercises a lot.

If you are thinking of making the switch, the best advice I can give you, is this: There is NO such thing as an ideal diet for dogs, look at dog food brands, they all differ. By making the switch you are already choosing to feed your dog high quality food. Do your research and do the best you can. I feed pork and beef. I also throw in duck feet and peasant pieces. I use lamb, goat and salmon for my training treats (freeze-dried raw). My dogs won’t eat most organ meat unless it is freeze dried as well, so I use that for training too. Most research suggests 5 different protein sources which I do try my best to do, however there are just somethings that are too expensive or simply they do not agree with my dogs.


Next week, the natural ways I handle parasite control.