Archive for the Dog diary Category

Playing in the Snow

Posted in Dog diary, life with a working dog, pets with tags , , , , on February 13, 2014 by rattlerjen

Snow brings out my inner child

It snowed about 14 inches here at home in Northern Virginia.  I have two dogs and a hill in my back yard.  This of course calls for the implementation of a bad idea. Deja vu!

My dogs needed exercise

Molniya has a special pulling harness she has been taught to pull on and a bungee leash. She had tons of fun running down the hill. I had so much fun, this will likely be repeated again tomorrow morning!


Grom and Molniya Got Wet

Posted in Dog diary, pets with tags , on August 30, 2013 by rattlerjen

All Feet!

Many of you long time readers may remember my posts about trying to get my dog to like swimming.  Read a post about it, here:

We tried everything.  We threw his favorite toys in the water. We threw other dog’s favorite toys in the water and he watched those dogs swim for them.  We threw Grom’s favorite toys in the water and let other dogs swim for them.  I got in the water and teased him with his favorite toys.  I got in the water, put a life vest on the dog, and helped him “swim,” through the water. We did everything short of just throwing him in to the water.  No matter what, he would only get to the point where his feet stopped touching the bottom. Then, he stopped going any further.

He never really liked to swim.

Until now.

All it took was his best friend in the whole world, a lab named Seamus, to go swimming.  There must have been a doggie conversation between the two, because after Seamus went out, so did my dog!

But that is not all!

Did you catch the little dog in the lifejacket?  That’s right, it is little Mo! She loves to swim!  Of course she really enjoyed biting the waves and digging in the sand too.

What a great day on the water.  Woo Hoo!

A Journal Entry

Posted in Dog diary, pets with tags , , on August 20, 2013 by rattlerjen

Let’s get you all up to speed

Some of you have been wondering what has been going on with my posts.  They have lately been infrequent or have not included any updates of my Search and Rescue life.

I have been one busy chica

golden puppy

I have also been pretty bad at keeping up on my blog here. What have I been doing? Well, eight months ago I began my education towards becoming a Certified Dog Trainer through Animal Behavioral College.  My nose was deep in reading material and my brain was smoking with information.  My time was  spent driving to and from animal shelters to train dogs so they may be adopted as good pets.  My skills were assessed by a mentor in real life training environments.  I was also working a job with early morning hours and training two Search and Rescue dogs to boot!  My husband said I had three jobs going at once.  Well, now it is over and the real work begins.

I started my own animal training business


This is not something I really thought I wanted to do.  All the paperwork, and taxes, and responsibility, and…..  Until my husband pointed out that I practically did all of that at my last job anyway.  He was right, of course 🙂  Now I can truly make my own hours.  I can even go on a search and rescue mission whenever I am needed!  The best part is that I can continue to work at the wonderful doggy daycare with a fantastic staff and an amazing pair of owners.  My clients include dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, small animals, and even fish!  Now, how cool is that?

My website is coming together.  Check it out.

Pawsitive Critter Academy

What’s up with Search and Rescue?


This is where I wish I was able to update all of you more on this blog.  Remember the rescued little Malinois we named Molniya?  She is turning into a wonderful dog that finds new ways to test me on a daily basis.  I call her the Rubik’s cube.  She has found a way to perplex myself and everyone else to boot.  More on the sweet little girl on another post.

At the moment

I am visiting my family in New Mexico for a week. Here’s to hoping some desert sun will kickstart my brain back into blogging!  Check back later this week for some awesome news about Grom and Molniya that was a very long time coming!

Paws Up!


How to Keep Track of your Dogs Progress

Posted in Dog diary, dog training with tags , , , on April 12, 2012 by rattlerjen

It’s very important to log your dog’s training

Keeping track of how your dog is progressing is an invaluable tool for both yourself and your mentors.  Often a problem is the cumulative effect of several trainings and may only come to light if it is written down.  There are many ways a handler may track training.  Here are the many I have used.

Paper Logs

They are portable and easy to use. All you need is the log and a pen.


The simplest is an inexpensive lined journal.  Simply write all that happened during each training session.


  • Easy to use
  • portable
  • unformatted – freedom to write anything


  • subject to weather
  • unformatted – hard to track progress and find what is important in the text
  • difficult to remember what is important to write down
  • difficult to share with others
  • bad handwriting
  • cannot be backed up easily

Formatted Log Forms

You can use any word processor to create a training form.  Simply print them out, punch holes in them, and put in a binder.  Concentrate on making the important information easy to see at a glance using check boxes and the like.


  • Easy to scan for important information
  • Standardized – use one form for the whole team
  • limits amount of room for long notes

Drive Log

These are most useful with younger dogs, although I still work on drive with my operational dog. Notice how you have the ability to see the important information.

Search Logs

Everything you need to keep track of is easy to see with a form like this.  Remember to KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid!) Make things easy on the eye and simple to scan for information quickly.  The idea here is to see patterns and catch problems.

On the reverse side, I write down information to help me remember exactly what happened so I may easily recall that day’s particulars.  These logs were written nearly two years ago, but my unique comments bring back the memory in full.

Categories to include are:

  • Details of the search exercise.  Explain how the problem was set up and exactly what the dog did.
  • Comments from your mentor or team mates – they will see things you do not.  Dog problems are typically caused by things the handler does.  Many times you do things without realizing it!
  • Comments from the handler – What did you see?
  • Things to work on – What advice did others give you? How are you going to set up the training next time?

Now, just remember to bring your logs to EVERY training.

Computer Logs

Smart phones and ipads and tablets have enabled us to bring documents with us everywhere.  They also allow us to share that information to our home computer and others with a press of a button.


  • infinitely changeable
  • can be backed up
  • shareable
  • ability to link videos and images
  • searchable
  • date stamped
  • don’t have to worry about bad handwriting


  • not as easy to use in the field
  • needs a full battery
  • not as easy to standardize – everyone has a different device to use
  • cannot be used by all devices – cross platform concerns (iphones use different software from androids and pcs)
  • privacy concerns
  • must REMEMBER to back up to multiple devices

Since I have my phone with me everywhere and have found videos from that days training may be shot to accompany my day’s log, I have switched to computer logs. I have seen trainers use everything from word processors to excel.

An excellent program available on most all platforms is Evernote.  It is accessible anywhere and can have anything from forms, documents, videos, web links, photos, and more embedded in each note.  I have moved nearly everything to this.

Evernote backs everything up from my phone to the “cloud.”  It is password protected, I may access it with any device, and may share each individual note with anyone through a variety of ways.

evernote for k9 search and rescue logs

My only complaint is I must learn to create a template to use for training logs, otherwise they become as difficult to read as a personal diary. I simply made a template copying the paper training logs above.  Instead of circling each option, I highlight the word and set the computer to underline it.


  • infinitely sharable
  • works on all platforms
  • can embed videos, documents, web links, videos, diagrams, drawings, and nearly anything else within each note
  • automatically backs up
  • easily organized with keywords, tags, and notebooks (folders)
  • searchable
  • date stamped – can be searched this way too
  • password protected


  • unformatted – must either learn to create a template for easy scanning of information
  • small learning curve
  • not as fast as writing with a pen and paper
  • careful what you share


Sure, why not use a blog to track your training!  I use the blog along with other apps to track my progress.  THIS blog to be exact.  If you visit the early days of this blog, you will see how.  Since my blog is public, it forces me to really consider what I am writing.  Of course, I link each blog posting to each corresponding personal log in evernote so I may write freely there.

I would write my training in a paper journal each day, then would use that to write each blog post.  This would force me to read and think about what I wrote each day.  It unfortunately caused me to edit out information that needed to be kept out of public eye. (such as choice words used when he ate my new sneakers)

Remember, you are a first responder and your public postings could be used in court.  Think about what information you are sharing before putting it in electronic form!

No matter what you use

to keep track of your training.  Be sure it is easy for you to use.


Remember to use it


What do YOU use to track your dogs progress?

Grom’s New Mexico Brain Freeze

Posted in dog, Dog diary, dog training, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , on October 10, 2011 by rattlerjen

The trip to the desert state had been going quite well.  Grom had a great trip on the plane, sniffed at some really interesting boots hidden near a lake, and even got to play on some nice playground equipment.

The trouble started with an easy little problem on the farm.

We went out to visit some family out in the country.  Everything was cruising along smoothly, until we did a short field search problem on the farm.  We hid someone under a tractor and started Grom on the other side of the house.  The whole family was watching from the window of the house.  I gave Grom the search command and he bolted away from me into the field.  His nose diligently working the air while his legs carried him bounding across desert sand and over dried grasses.  He was having fun!  My brother in law followed me holding the video camera while his fiance hid under a big hunk of metal.

Grom sped back and forth across the field searching the edges of the scent cloud blowing across the field. He got closer and closer to the house, near the window everyone was watching from. Then he put his nose to the ground.

What in the world is he doing there?

A potty break?

I know the girl hiding did not walk across that patch of ground.  Plus, Grom is not one to try and track on the ground.  He was in scent for goodness sakes!

Grom then began to paw around at objects on the ground.  Oh great, he is messing around over there.  As I got closer, I knew what it was he must have got into.  Egg shells littered the ground at his feet.  Grom had found the compost pile.  Sigh.

I called the little goof off and sent him back to work.  The little monster defied me with a nice long pee on a crushed egg shell then trotted around before going back into a run.

Ok, he is back to work.  Whew!

He made a few turns then zeroed in on the hidden subject.  I was too far away to see clearly, but I knew he had found her.  Why in the world is he hanging out with her?  I counted… one….two….three. I had no idea what was going on and did not care. I sure hope he wasn’t trying to play with her before coming back to tell me!

Time to call the boy back. Reluctantly he left the hidden subject and loped back to me.  Knowing that something bizarre had erased his little noggin, I gave him the bark command.  He is well past needing hints. What a trouble maker!  I let him give me a few barks before sending him in to play.

Let’s hope this was just a one time occurrance.  Perhaps a new place threw him off?    There is the rest of the vacation to find out …

Dog Meet Goat

Posted in Dog diary, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , on July 26, 2011 by rattlerjen

It is one of my busiest times of the year at work.

So, I bring you:

Grom meets goat.

That is one funny looking dog.

That is one funny looking goat down there.

Does this mean I am delicious?

Open Field Test with Aaron and Grom

Posted in dog, Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by rattlerjen
-Aaron P.

Grom has begun his testing, and his first obstacle is a big open field.

The test criteria is pretty easy for this one. He has to work for an hour minimum, has to listen to the handler, and he has to find the subject by air scenting.  The biggest obstacle for most dogs at this point is getting them to stay focused for at least an hour. The test for the me is a little more involved, but not much. We have to pretend that it’s a real search where we receive a briefing from the responsible authority (the evaluator in this case.) We have to look at the map and create our search strategy taking things like weather, wind, terrain, and the subject’s behavior and condition into consideration.

Since we’re pretending this is an actual search, I have to look at my evaluator/escort and say fun things like “Base this is Team Grom.” He gets to say fun things like “Team Grom, this is base, go ahead”. This is followed by looking him strait in the eye and saying, ” Base this is a radio check” even though he’s not base, and there is no radio.

So the morning starts out at Great Meadows at 8.30am when I get there and meet my evaluator/escort.

Grom gets to come out of the truck and take care of his personal business before he goes back into the crate where he stands by while I receive his orders. We are to cover the 60 acres of three fields at Great Meadows in a search for the owner of a truck that the staff found on the grounds after an event.  I ask (Hopefully) pertinent questions about all thing things I am going to need to know to construct a search strategy, I look at the map, I draws some lines that may or may not be helpful in the future and I try to talk too much so the evaluator actually has something to do other than sit there and watch me sweat.

After we have a strategy worked out, I go to the truck, get my gear together and strap on my pack.

This is where I realize that 1) the dog is still in the crate and 2) that it’s next to impossible to climb in there with a giant pack strapped on.  This is where the my evalutator starts to wish he had a camera out and that he could cue the 3 stooges music. But it doesn’t take long before Grom is out and ready to work. I am geared up and ready to work.

We’re Off-

Since the wind is coming out of the southwest, we take go through the north east gate and begin our grid pattern into the wind. It’s a beautiful day and we have a nice strong 5mph wind right in our faces. Since this is actually a closely cut equestrian grounds we don’t really need to cut short grids through the field to cover everything, but in the interest of showing off how good my navigation skills are we’re cutting grids about every 35 meters, and we’re making sure they’re STRAIGHT!

This is the boring part, we walk back and forth across this field, watching as Grom does the one thing he loves to do more than anything else in the whole world. That would be running as fast as he can in giant circles around us as we walk our straight lines in the morning sun. He sprints from tree to fence, stopping and sniffing. Then he’s off to an obstacle with his head high in the air sniffing for who ever is out there to give him his play reward. This is a dog doing what a dog lives to do. (As a handler, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching him working really hard and loving every single second of it.)

In the map you can see the area and how we covered it.

The black lines are the borders around our area of responsibility and the red line, starting in the top right side, is the path we took. The first part of that line with the three narrow grids is pretty boring, but we soon cut south into the area with the creek running through it. Grom has a great time checking out the sides of the creek as I and my escort/evaluator pretend to talk on the radio, discuss what would actually happen in a real search with the large trailers full of chairs and tables stacked next to the creek, and check the wind to see if the wind still favors the search strategy.

Now the one thing about testing is that they try to make similar to actual searches, but some things you just can’t plan.

Like the fact that right in the middle of this test, were I and my evaluator are watching the wind move and judging distance covered vs time, and if we have a good….. OH MY GOD! WHERE DID THIS EXTRA PUPPY COME FROM!?!

That’s right, out of nowhere a 7 month old black lab/dachund mix came screaming up to me and laid a vicious Puppy Kiss Attack on me! Luckily my evaluator/escort was on top of his game and tried to grab and control Mystery Puppy. Unfortunately by this time Grom had returned from scouting the creek and bushes only to discover that his skills as Puppy negotiator were needed. So he inserted himself and sternly asked some serious questions. Loosely translated from Puppy Body language they were “Who are you?” and  “What do you think you’re doing with my people?”. Followed by the most important question, delivered after a piercing stare and some sniffing “…… Do you want to PLAY?”

As handler, at this point, I figure the test is wrecked.

We have to get Grom back on task and his head back into the game. After we corral Mystery Puppy and give him back to the woman who was chasing him, Grom goes back on the lead, and walked to the other side of the creek where we take a moment to call out for the subject, and restart the search. I silently hope that Grom doesn’t just go back to the puppy and play . Luckily Grom has his game face on and gets back to work. We finish up the big field in about 10 minutes, doing another cross before heading to the south gate where we can cross some marshy banks and get over to the east field.

Unfortunately the east field has a pond that we have to pass which is filled with geese and nests.

Now Grom has to check the banks of the pond which mean that he’s got a chance to chase geese, and if there are any, goslings. It’s time for another silent plea for Grom to resist temptation. After a couple of calls to leave it, I and my evaluator start  heading north east up the creek so we can move south down this field into the wind. Grom, like a champ, follows along checking stands of trees and bushes. As we reach the north end of the little field Grom is diligently working bushes and shrub, checking where other dogs have been, and we pass the “abandoned” vehicle.
At the north east end of the field I see his ears go straight up in the air and his nose goes into the wind.
He has the look. I look at my evaluator and say “He’s got something. “

Grom has the 1000 yard stare, looking up a hill he can’t see what he can smell, but he knows it’s out there.

So he takes two steps backwards, lifts his leg to pee on something and then lights out up and over the hill. My evaluator is smiling big and says softly, “watch the magic happen now.”

As I reach the top of the hill I can see Grom working the scent in a cone pattern that could have come out of a book as he closes the 60 meter gap to find his reward. When he gets to her, he sticks his nose into the subjects arm pit and comes screaming back to me to deliver a three bark indication like he’s just found the coolest thing ever. I give him the go ahead to lead me to her. Only problem is that he’s four times faster than me and I’m only 30 meters closer when he gets to her, so he runs back to me and delivers another loud and proud indication and makes me swell with pride. With my permission he continues to lead me to the subject.

Once I’m finally there, and only when I’m finally there, does the tug come out of my pocket so he can get his well earned  reward from the subject.

“That”, says Grom, as he tries to tug the arms out of the subject, “is how you pass an Open Field test!”

Grom Started Testing

Posted in dog, Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, Rescue Training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on April 18, 2011 by rattlerjen

It seems only a few months ago we were just teaching our dog to bark on command.

When he did it all on his own, we were ecstatic.

Indication work moved quickly on to pursuing a person who just ducked behind a tree.  Then on to a someone he did not see hide, but would call his name from somewhere deep in the woods.  The little puppy moved on through longer and more difficult problems.

It seems only yesterday.

Now he has already started testing.

There are 6 search tests we will need to pass with our dog to become an operational search team:

  • Open Field Test
  • Trail Test
  • Light Brush Test
  • Dense Brush Test
  • Night Test
  • Operational Test

Why haven’t I said anything about it until now?  Well, there are two of us who have to run through all of these tests with Grom.  We decided my husband gets to go first this time.

Grom and Aaron have passed their Open Field and Trail Test already. (Look for upcoming posts from Aaron on their progress)

I will soon be following hot on his heels.  I am caught up in what must be the largest group of handlers and dogs ready to test our team has ever seen!

Oh, and if you didn’t catch it,  the little dog has to do everything twice!

Grom’s First Boat Ride

Posted in Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by rattlerjen

My little guy has never been on a boat before.

Lucky for him, one of the other awesome k9 search teams in Virginia happened to have a boat set up for the fur ball.  We geared up and headed for adventure.

“Where are we going and what is what that funny vest you are wearing?”

First, we ask the G-man to wait before hopping on.  He should only enter and leave the boat when given permission.  Safety first!

Did I mention that Grom doesn’t know how to swim…

“Hey, is that stuff wet?”

The view is best up front.

Arrrrrrrh!  I am the feared Furball Grom, prepare to be boarded.

Ahhh Vacation

Posted in Dog diary, life with a working dog, pets with tags , , on April 13, 2011 by rattlerjen

Hound and the Found has not had a post in a while, what is going on here?

One word folks: Vacation!

-sunset over the rain forest

Please allow a day or two for a new posting, then back on schedule.

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