I have the pleasure, the honor, and the privilege of working with some of the finest dogs in the world.  This is not due to their famous pedigree, their multiple distinctions in competition, or the titles that they have earned at their masters side.  They are the finest because they have owners that play with them, work with them, care for them, cry for them, cheer for them, and when the day is done, they are fed nutritious diets.  And when those details are fulfilled, those dogs get belly rubs until they are satisfied.  The following post was conceived over several years of friendships with people that keep dogs as pets, partners, helpers, and therapists.  I have seen every level of what is described here in those people.  Best to worst. 

While this particular story involves a German Shepherd, it can apply to nearly every breed of dog.  Having a dog of any kind requires work and sacrifice on the part of all members of the family.  Dogs deserve to be treated in such a way that their God-given purpose is fulfilled.  Hopefully, readers will be able to see themselves without bias, but in a way that will prevent your dog from neglect, either physical or mentally.  While it is written to affect your thinking, it was not written to discourage.  But there are too many homeless dogs, or worse, abused by neglect dogs.  This post is dedicated to all of the dogs that are loved and cared for by great families, and offered as Hope that every dog will find one of their own.


The Smith family is nearly delirious with the new family member that they will welcome home today.  They are driving to a breeding facility of healthy, happy, lovingly cared for German shepherd dogs, where their puppy is waiting.  Their appointment is still an hour and a half away, but the family has been preparing for weeks.  Dad and Mom agreed some years ago that their children would have the experience of having a dog, a soul that would teach them responsibility, and maybe other life-lessons worth having.  They chose a well-known and reputable breeder, and went thru a process of suitability as owners.  And though a busy, career-minded family, the breeder thought them a suitable prospect.  The wife was soon to be a stay-at-home Mom.  Perfect for a new puppy.  The children, were, by age, 13, 11, and 5.  Old enough to care for the responsibility of a dog, yet energetic enough to keep up with the tireless activity of a puppy.

“Ya’ know honey, there’s a lot of things that a dog like this can do!  Scent work, agility, and that funny sounding German thing, what was it? Schnutshound?  Snootshund, or something like that?”  The husband informed his wife with certainty.

“I’m not sure I want a puppy learning to bite people on purpose, dear.  Remember, we have young kids around the yard all the time.  That kind of training is just asking for a problem.  Or a lawsuit.”

“Yeah maybe…but knowing that the house and the kids have a  protector seems like a good thing.”

“That’s true, I guess.  But doesn’t that require a lot of special training?”

“Some, I guess.  But that’s why there are trainers out there.  To help us.  It can’t be that big of a deal.  We’re not talking about teaching the dog to fly an airplane or something.  And dog-trainers are a dime-a-dozen.  Isn’t “ABC kennels & training” just a mile or so away from the house.?

“I’ll be happy with a dog that just sits by my feet near the fireplace.  And the kids just want a dog that plays fetch…It’ll work out just fine.  You’re right dear, it can’t be that hard.  Besides, we’re getting a pure-bred German Shepherd. All that obedience and protection stuff is bred into them.  It’s natural.”

The back seat of the Suburban suddenly came to life as Sophie, the 5 year old girl with a ponytail, screeched.  “Mommy! Trevor keeps making faces at me!  He’s a creep!”

“I did not!  You just want to get me in trouble for no reason…You’re just a spoiled baby…” retorted the 11 year old.

“How long is this going to take?” snarled Dillon, the eldest sibling, slumped in the seat.  “I’ve got soccer practice at 5 today.  I’m tired of being in this truck…”

“Oh come on, Dillon…we’re doing this for you.  The least you can do is show some enthusiasm.”  corrected Mom. “I have a House Showing later today too.  We’ll be home soon enough.”

“And I need to finish the yard work later.”  said Dad.  “…Have plenty of day left.”

Up front, Mom opened her tablet and pored over the photo’s that the breeder had posted of their puppy.  “Oh my God, what a beautiful puppy!”

“Lemme’ see Mom!  Lemme’ see!” the children surged forward.


The visit went well.  The breeder was an experienced hand, and lead the family, or at least Mom, thru the whole program.  It all seemed so simple.  In her real estate agent thinking, this puppy was a “Turn-key” situation.  Almost…If this farm- woman can keep eight fully grown German Shepherds happy and healthy, and watch over two or three litters at a time, it can’t be too tough.  I’ve got a Masters degree! 

The first week after puppy’s homecoming went as most such situations will.  The puppy was cute, comical, and a ball of “Go, go, go” wrapped in a fuzzy coat.  Everyone fell over each other trying to feed the pup, pet the pup, and play with him.  They finally decided on the name “Spike” after the puppy found a large nail in Dad’s workshop.  But there were the little problems that inevitably happen as well.

“Honey!  This puppy took a dump in my office!  Get in here and clean it up!  I’m working on something!”  yelled Dad.

“I was getting ready to leave!  I’ve got an appointment with a home buyer!!”  She replied as the two older children ran out the back door as fast as possible. “Oh FINE!  I’ll do it for the five hundredth time!  I thought a puppy quit doing this by four months old!  This whole house is going to stink!”

“Don’t worry, dear.  I’m downloading some plans for a dog house…”


Several weeks went by, and the little German shepherd now had perfectly pricked ears, and an ability to entertain himself.  When the children were home, they usually played with him for an hour or so, or until their devices went off with friends wanting their attention.  Then they would put his collar on him, and attach him to the dog house that Dad had dutifully built for the puppy.  Mom watched from the kitchen window, as the children left him alone.  She sighed deeply.  Well, summer will be here soon.  Then they’ll spend more time with him.  It’ll be fine.

In the mind and body of a German Shepherd puppy, certain things are inevitable.  Teeth develop and grow.  The desire to test and use those teeth, follows closely behind.  And that’s exactly what happened.  “Spike” soon learned that the way to gain attention, a reaction from anybody, was to place his new teeth on unwelcome places.

The crying from the backyard sounded like someone had fallen off something high.  Dad ran downstairs to find Trevor at the backdoor with blood running down his left arm, dripping onto the concrete.  “What Happened!? How did you…?” he was frantic.

“Spike bit him Dad!  They were teasing him with the ball!  Spike went crazy!” tattled Dillon.  The young teen had stopped playing with the dog several weeks ago after deciding that he was afraid of the growing dog.

“Where’s he at now?  Chain him up while get Trevor taken care of…”  Dad ordered, as he lead the boy into the house.


Four hours later, Mom arrived home to find the aftermath of the incident.  “TELL ME what happened!  Is Trevor alright?”

“The bite was superficial, nothing really!” Dad explained. ” I checked him over and he’s fine.  He’s got some nasty bruises though…”

“Why did Spike suddenly get aggressive?!”

“It wasn’t aggression.  They were playing “keep away” with his ball, and the dog just did what was natural…We didn’t go to the Urgent Care because it’s nothing deep.  I cleaned Trevor up, and he’ll know not to play with the dog that way again.  And we could get into trouble with the dog warden…we don’t need that.”

“Well, we can’t wait another second.  We need to get that dog into some training by a professional.  We’ve waited almost a year…if it’s too late…” she felt anger more than anything else.


The search for training the nine month old German Shepherd started the next day with a phone call to the closest facility.  It also ended that day after inquiries to a total of seven different trainers.

“I can’t believe how much these crooks get for basic training of a dog!  Look at this!  The cheapest one is a hundred bucks an hour, with an agreement for five total hours minimum!”  Dad explained to Mom.

“That’s more than daycare for toddlers…that’s unreal!  We can’t afford that!”

“Yeah, but we also can’t ‘Not’ afford it…this dog is still doing his business in this house!  Not to mention we can’t even walk him on a leash without going for a nice, restful, DRAG!”

Their discussion was interrupted by a frantic voice from upstairs.  “Mom!!  Spike has ripped a big hole in my bed!!  There’s stuffing all over my room!”

“That’s ENOUGH” now Dad was barking.  “Put that dog outside in his house!  He’s finished in here.”

“But Dad…It’s raining outside!”

“Better that he be wet than destroying everything we own…Out he goes!”

And that day, Spike went outside.  For good.

He had shelter.  Barely.  He got food brought to him.  Which often got soaked, or dumped on the ground by the chain that kept him secured.  The parents went about their daily lives, work, soccer practice, the usual.  The children spent the summer enjoying the pool, bike riding, playing sports, band camp.  Kid stuff.  Spike, spent his summer tethered  to his dog-house.  He usually had enough water to drink, but once in a while somebody would forget for a day.  Or so.  No one tossed his ball.  Most of his time was spent digging large holes in his territory, which was about twenty feet across.  The rest of it was spent laying on the hardscrabble dirt with despair in his eyes.  This used to be green, lush grass, comfortable and clean.  Spike’s pacing at the end of a chain brought that to an end within weeks.

When someone happened to approach him, with food, or an attempt at engaging him, Spike usually responded with barking, snapping, and rearing up on his back legs.  No one but the wife of the family could feed him or change his water bowl.  And her mood when caring for him was one of disgust, sadness, or pity.

One early winter day, when Spike was almost two and a half years old, she could no longer bear the sadness attached to that chain in the yard.  Dad was off at work, the children were in school.  She had to get rid of the nagging knowledge that the idealized life they had dreamed of for Spike was never possible.  They were too busy, under informed, and maybe just a bit dismissive of what it takes to really train a dog.  She needed to get the large German Shepherd into her car, God Help me get him into the car without dragging me down the street!  And please, please, please don’t let him piss in the seat .  Excited at the prospect of doing something, anything, after months of nothing, Spike went ballistic as soon as the leash was attached to his collar.  The powerful dog might as well been a Ford truck with the power he displayed…The young mother didn’t have a single chance to control the dog.  Spike bolted, leash trailing, and headed toward the four-foot high decorative fence like a trident missile.  “Stop! Stop!  Down!  Get Back here!!”

Never having had a moment of training, Spike had no idea what the concept of the sound of her voice meant or required.  As for having a relationship with this frantic human, well, Spike had no desire to stay here for another frozen moment.  He ran, jumped the fence like a steeple-chase champion, and blindly crossed the nearby road at flank speed.  The sound of an air-horn mounted on a dump truck meant nothing to his dog-brain either.  But it did end the frantic running, the boredom of being tied to a tree, the grief of watching his humans laugh and play without him.  The young wife carried the guilt of not understanding what a dog needs to be happy for the rest of her life.
















She stood atop of the massive metal bleachers, her puppy triumphantly standing on one of the rows, as she called down to me. “Aren’t you going to socialize your puppy?” she asked. “I’m good.” I said with a smile. “I’m going to work on engagement down here.” She looked perplexed. As if I had just…

via More Harm than Good: 3 Reasons Why I Never Socialize my Puppies — The Collared Scholar

That title takes great liberty with proper English, but forgive me my literary sins.  I’m reprinting a letter written by Mr. Jim Alloway, President of the USCA in reference to certain rules proposals by the WUSV  regarding training methods and tools.  My purpose in doing so is to give it as wide a circulation as possible in the working dog world.  The progressive-ism of the 21st century is reaching ridiculous levels of control around the world.  Political correctness has run amok (or “amuck” if you insist) and threatens to eliminate many effective methods of dog training, and will shortly water down the effectiveness of the world’s finest dogs.  We support Mr. Alloway in the content of this letter, and follow this latest development with great interest.



United Schutzhund Clubs of America
For the German Shepherd Dog

Dear Friends of the German Shepherd Dog:

USCA has been made aware of a movement toward a WUSV rule that imposes an international ban on the use of e-collars and possibly other training devices. USCA strongly opposes such restrictions for the reasons explained in this memorandum, which is addressed to our members and all WUSV organizations. Through its existing rules, USCA actively supports the continued progress of our programs through responsible and humane use of training methods. USCA asks the WUSV to reconsider this notion and urges other WUSV organizations to join us in support of our opposition.

1. USCA opposes any international rule that would dictate directly or indirectly what is or is not lawful in other countries. Unlike Germany, there is no legislation restricting e-collar use in the United States or in the majority of WUSV member countries. However, animal abuse is unlawful in the United States and in most, if not all, WUSV member countries. Legislation directed to equipment cannot prevent abuse, as any training method can be abused. Our AKC has adhered to this position for nearly two decades, “The AKC recognizes that special training collars may be an effective and useful management device, when properly used . . .” USCA does not intend to impose a rule on our members that is legal in our country.

2. USCA opposes any international rule that governs training. To our knowledge, there has never been such a rule. There are rules, policies, and procedures that cover what is and is not allowed at official events. Further, the rules have given direction to our judges to reward performance that evidences joy, harmony, and motivation. One only has to look at performances from just a few years ago to see the major impact this has had. This current standard of evaluation of a dog’s performance, strongly based on devotion to the handler with a free and natural performance showing no stress or avoidance in the execution of the trial exercises accomplishes the objectives and eliminates the need for training method specific bans.

3. This proposal would not accomplish the goal of eliminating abuse and could have probable unintended consequences. IPO rules have evolved for a variety of factors to support evolving goals such as speeding up the events, eliminating pieces that add no value, keeping up with increasingly better training, and evidencing increased control of our dogs. This final goal would be nearly impossible without the use of specific collars and methods; banning them could lead to dogs that no longer present such a controlled picture to the public. Further, without changing the rules to allow for less control, it may push trainers to use methods that truly are not humane. Inhumane treatment of animals stems not from methods or devices, but from the people using them. USCA supports the education and humane use of training methods and will continue to support the development and continuous improvement of training practices and overall trial pictures that are both harmonious and controlled.

Finally, and contrary to the opinion recently expressed, we applaud and support the lifetime achievements of our member, Debbie Zappia. We take great exception to the negative reference to her and a picture of her with an e-collar on her dog. Debbie is one of the most caring, developing, innovative, fair trainers to ever participate in our sport and more broadly, in all of dog training. Further, she is an unbelievably generous coach, who is willing to share any and all information to which she has access. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of working with Debbie has witnessed the thousands of repetitions with minute, broken down pieces of an exercise to ensure that her dog completely understands. We would invite anyone to review every performance of Iron and spend time with Debbie and Iron to witness the incredible bond and superior relationship she has with her dog. There is nothing inhumane or unfair in what she does. Insinuation that she is inhumane, if that was the intent, necessitates an apology.

USCA and its members respect the SV, WUSV member organizations, the WUSV, and the WUSV President for their dedication and fully appreciate their highest regard for the German Shepherd Dog. USCA joins with them by consistently promoting responsible and humane training, showing, and competition. USCA has developed and implemented policies and safeguards that are commensurate with the standards of the finest working dog organizations in the world to educate, enforce, and protect the safety of both our dogs and membership. These include, but are not limited to: An Aggressive Dog Policy, Helper and Track Layer Programs, a Judges Program, funding for regional education, and training seminars to provide continued education. Further, USCA members have attained great levels of success in show and performance trials including the current 2015 World Champion, many WUSV and FCI World Championship teams, regional/club/national events, demonstrations, and seminars. We firmly support and applaud these accomplishments of our members and recognize the skills they have demonstrated in balanced and responsible training. However, USCA strongly disagrees with any proposal for rules, policies, or procedures that would legislate the choice of training equipment. That would be a dangerous path, would not prevent abuse, ignores our progress, and should be rejected.

I thank each of you for time and effort in reading and considering the views expressed within. We ask that you, regardless of your position of support or dissent, communicate your member clubs’ position to Dr. Henry Messler. We know that he is a thoughtful, dedicated, and open-mined individual, who will appreciate the feedback for a greater understanding of the sentiments of the WUSV member countries with regard to this issue.


Jim Alloway
President – United Schutzhund Clubs of America
United Schutzhund Clubs of America 4407 J – Meramec Bottom Road St. Louis, MO 63129 314.638.9686

Why NOT the Olympics?

Posted: August 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

I know this must have occurred to someone, somewhere.  But I’m going to put it out there for discussion from my vantage point.  Why isn’t IPO included in the Olympics?

I’ve seen horses.  I’ve seen golf.  I’ve seen an American man that seems more Dolphin than human…

Our sport is every bit as exciting as any form of volleyball played…Why hasn’t anybody from any of the IPO organizations proposed this?  Yes, there are competitions that most of us are familiar with, within the fold so to speak.  But the viewing numbers outside the sport are dismal from a marketing standpoint.  The Olympics would be the perfect venue to demonstrate and widen IPO into the mainstream.  I can see Dave Kroyer on a box of Wheaties already…Maybe Katie Gillies would be better at first.  We can save Dave’s mug ’til the public gets used to us.  Yeah, definitely Katie…

Seriously, there should be no question to this.  How do we petition the Olympic committee on behalf of IPO?  HAS IT EVER BEEN CONSIDERED?  Lets hear some discussion for or against this!!!

Maybe the Curmudgeon in me got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Maybe I was just looking for a Writers Prompt to show its head. Or maybe I just responded to something that I strongly believe to be an immutable Truism.
For whatever brain dead reason, I opened Flakebook. (I’m purposely doing this less and less) The first thing I read was a post regarding, ‘Finding what you want to do’…” The authors advice was to have a “Do Nothing Day”, and discovering what you couldn’t stop yourself from doing during that day.
Do Nothing, To Discover Something.

If you are under 40 years of age, and you take this advice seriously, you are going to live a life of underachievement, rife with periods of unfulfilled wishful dreaming, leading to blaming everyone but yourself for life not being fair. It’s the moral equivalent of stubbornly refusing to WALK to your destination, while opining that someone should quickly build you a bus stop, subsidize a Bus line, and take you directly where you want to go, when you want to go. And yet, we seem to have raised a generation that is ready to do just that. Wait for something to happen, and complain that nothing ever happens.

What does this have to do with Dogs? Specifically? Not much, unless you put it into a broad based conclusion regarding life in general, and modern societal paradigms. Although, upon reflection, when a dog trainer advises you to “Ignore bad-behavior” and offer no correction, it IS quite similar.

In order to minimize the “rant-like” tone of this post, let me be succinct in voicing my recommendations.

If you truly feel like you are searching for “something to do”, don’t sit around on your IPhone or tablet, looking at what OTHER people are doing, WISHING that you could do something. Go out and DO SOMETHING!!! You MUST begin to do something, with goals that point towards what you will ultimately end up doing that puts the wind in your personal sails. Sitting idly by, waiting will get you nowhere, and expecting perfection immediately, will only kill whatever ambition you may have inborn already. If Michelangelo had decided that his first painting or sculpture, was terrible and unworthy of display, he could have decided to do NOTHING about it, and wait for talent to land on his hands. But he didn’t. He painted and sculpted, and studied, and learned, and practiced, and generally chomped at his own bit. Eventually, he produced works of such soaring beauty, grace, and power, that his work will live forever. Good thing he didn’t have the internet.

If you want to discover what it is that YOU want to do, go do something. It may not be what you want at first, but effort breeds success. Go mow your elderly neighbors yard without expecting to be paid. Do something that helps other people in the community. Go introduce yourself to people, find out about their lives. Tour a Firefighting Station, a real, live, working farm, or a control tower at an airport. Plant a garden, or help someone else plant theirs. Get your hands dirty. Take a seminar in whatever interests you, be it dog-training or local archaeology. For the truly courageous, pick up the Bible and READ it. Go on a ride along with a local police officer. Build a Bat-house. Learn about Bee-Keeping. Go Fishing. Make the road to personal Discovery an adventure! Raise the dust, brave the storm, ignore the scornful and the lazy, DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING that lights your fire, and doesn’t harm anyone! A “Do Nothing Day”? Not in my life, Not in my Adventure…

Enough said…I’ve got THINGS TO DO!!!

Lifelong Immunity – Why Vets Are Pushing Back

German Shepherd Adventures!

I’m contemplating a haggard and forlorn pair of Docker shoes that are sitting under the table of our patio furniture.  They’re about 3 years old, leather, with soft rubber soles.  The once dark brown tone is now sun-bleached and several shades lighter.  The left shoe is missing the entire toe, which has allowed the sole to partially detach and flap freely when I wear them out in the yard.  The right shoe, while intact cosmetically, is missing the padded insert and leather cover that had the Dockers logo branded to it.  Currently, both shoes are soaking wet.  They smell like…well, like old, wet, shoes.  My wife throws them in the trash bin on a weekly basis, and I recover them on the same schedule.  “Those things are just gross…throw them out!”  she pleads with me.

“But they’re  my yard shoes…” I counter, ” I need them to mow in, and work the grill, and take puppers out for…

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