Secret Service Dog Dies from Fall

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I hope it was the dog’s fault. I hope for the handler’s sake the dog made the decision on his own.

Making mistakes while training or handling is common. We’re human, we’re all about imperfection.
We make mistakes in judgement, technique and timing. But we’re seldom if ever faced with a mistake
that takes the life of our dog.

The idea of making a mistake that sends our partner, friend and family to it’s death is almost too horrifying to contemplate. In this case I dearly hope the dog made the decision which led to his own death. I hope the dog disobeyed, or mis-read, or simply made a bad decision to investigate.

I believe it’s possible the dog jumped over the concrete wall of the parking garage, thinking it was a barrier. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever get that information as the general public wouldn’t understand or be interested in the finer points of training dogs, so it’s unlikely to make the news.

The barriers used in military style dog training are often vertical panels which resemble the walls of parking garages. This is a mistake of recognition a dog could easily make. The handler might have directed the dog to check near the wall or the front of a vehicle only to see the dog sailing up, over and out of sight. If that was the case, the dog would have expected to land on the other side of the barrier.

I make training and handling mistakes all the time, everybody does. In fact, making mistakes paired
with the ability to be honest about the results enables us to learn.

I however, can apply my mistakes and gained knowledge to future benefit.
That is redemption, it allows us to forgive ourselves for being human. We can make up for whatever harm we might have caused.

This handler is faced with a nightmare with no redemption, the worst possible kind of mistake. This man has lost a partner and a friend and he has no way to make it all better. So for his sake, I hope it was the dog’s error.

My sincerest condolences.

No Better Indicator

This morning, my 15 year old dog is outside laying in the grass watching the world go by.

After months of worry, brain wracking sleuthing, failed efforts, sleepless nights and vet bills, my dog is happy.

I’ll document at some point in the future the efforts that have led to this surprising event, today I want to forget the work involved and simply enjoy.

Very few people get to see their beloved old pets return to any semblance of normal activity. I know how rare this is. After 45 years of dog ownership there have been more than a few old dogs in my life.

People who really love dogs, will spend enormous effort to ease the pains of old age and postpone the inevitable end for their companions. But these efforts are seldom successful.

Today victory is mine. I have beaten the odds, received a gift from the divine, gotten lucky or finally smart or persistence has paid off. Perhaps it’s Karma.

However you want to look at it, I am overjoyed today that my old dog is laying outside on this fine and temperate morning, casually watching the world go by.

Her eyes are soft, her brows are even, her tail gently pats the grass.

Christmas Dangers

Christmas is coming! With all the joy of the holidays it can be easy to forget about the dangers for your pets that also come with the season. Keep some of these tips in mind as you enter the holidays!


        1. Dogs love to unwrap Christmas presents! This is great fun on Christmas day, but before then, it can cause serious problems. Make sure not to put anything under the tree that your dog will be tempted to open. Anything that smells good will definitely catch their attention; like a nice leather wallet or belt, or yummy food, like chocolate.
        2. Poinsettias bring Christmas cheer wherever they are seen. However, it is important to know that these festive plants are very poisonous to your pets. Best to keep them far out of reach.
        3. Christmas decorations are always fun! Or are they? Be careful with light cords as dogs and puppies especially, love chewing on them. Keep cords in a protector or out of reach in some other way to prevent electrocution.
        4. Another common Christmas time hazard is tinsel. Tinsel can be very harmful if swallowed by your dog. Tinsel tangles up in animals’ intestines or punctures their sensitive organ walls.
        5. Often times during the holidays candy is left out in dishes on counters or low tables. Make sure these stay out of reach of your pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, and many candies are sweetened with xylitol; both of which can be fatal when ingested by our pets.
        6. With all the food at the table and those begging eyes looking up at you, it can be very tempting to give just a little human food to your pet. Don’t give in! Most of the food on the table will just upset your dog’s stomach.


Buying Safe Toys

As you buy Christmas toys for your dogs, be sure to look carefully at the quality of the toys you are buying! It isn’t difficult to find safe toys, you just have to know what to stay away from. Buying toys that aren’t safe can cause serious issues.

If a toy has parts attached to it, be sure all the parts are securely on the toy and don’t look like they will fall off with time or wear. Little parts can fall off toys and get lodged in a dog’s mouth very quickly.

Also be careful what squeaky toys you buy. Many discount stores sell toys with small squeakers that puppies can easily chew off and they can become a choking hazard or become lodged in their intestines requiring expensive surgery to remove.

Puppy Potty Training

What is the number one rule for potty training? Take your puppy out often! Your goal is to take them out before they make a mistake. It is best to start out every half hour and than gradually extend your time based on how your puppy is doing. It may seem like a lot, but it works to prevent your puppy from feeling the need to go in the house. You will be able to gradually lengthen the time between let outs based on your puppy’s response.

As you observe your puppy’s body language, they will give you signs they need to go out. If you use the same door to let them out, they will frequently start going to that door to indicate they need to go out. Some people place bells on the door knob that they teach their dog to ring to indicate they need to go out.

A good rule of thumb is that puppies can typically hold it an hour for every month old they are. Remember when they are young that it is your responsibility to get them out in time. So don’t yell at them if they make a mistake. They really can’t help it. Rather, set them up for success.

It is very important to reward your dog when he goes potty outside by praising him and playing with him. When you reward your dog for going potty outside, it clicks in their mind that outside is where they need to be to do their duties and not inside. Remember to let them out right after they eat, sleep, or play. To set them up for success overnight, don’t give them a lot to drink right before bed and get them out as soon as possible in the morning.

Bufo Toads

What is really scary for your dog? Bufo toads! These highly toxic toads are a non-native species that has been rapidly expanding. If a dog even licks a Bufo toad, it can die.

The effects of a Bufo toad are seen instantly. A dog that has licked or bitten a Bufo toad will start foaming at the mouth and will often rub at his face. Rinse your dog’s mouth out IMMEDIATELY to try and get as much of the toxin out as possible. Then, get them to the vet as QUICKLY as possible. This is a matter of life and death for your dog. Fatality rates of dogs without care is nearly 100%.

Scan your yard for toads before you let your dogs out. Toads are attracted to light, water, and dog food. To stay on the safe side, keep your dog away from any and all toads you see.

Mental Exercise

Dogs need exercise, but not just physical exercise. For some dogs physical exercise is just not enough! What they need is mental exercise.

Mental exercise can actually be more tiring than physical exercise. Think about it: you come home from work and you’re so tired. Why? You sat at your desk all day. That shouldn’t wear you out, should it? You’re tired, not because you physically moved around a lot, but because you used your brain a lot. The same is true for dogs.

So if your dog is super hyper or you can’t go on a walk because it’s raining, pull out some treats and start training. Your dog has to think a lot when learning new things, so start thinking of fun tricks you always wanted to try. Happy training!