Clicking With Canines

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Cougar, Nickel, and Kara: Clicking With Canine's Research and Development Staff

Here are the dogs in my life that have helped me become a trainer.  I owe them a lifetime of bones for being so eager to experiment with new training ideas.  They each had a love for learning new things as well as traveling to new places.  They are physically gone now but spiritually with me each and ever day. 



Favorite sport:
cougar diving
Olympic freestyle diving

Cougar is an AKC registered yellow labrador retriever born July 1998.  He is named after a cat because of his yellow eyes and pink nose.  Labs like him that are born with no black pigment are called "dudley's".  It is a rather rare combination of the color genes and is more likely to occur when successive generations of yellow and chocolate labs are used as breeding pairs.

Cougar is very athletic, loves swimming, frisbee, and simply lives to retrieve anything you will throw for him.  Cougar is definitely in charge of the pack when I'm not around.  He is a dog that knows what he wants and usually can figure out how to get it.  Cougar is not a "spoiled" dog, he just has ME well trained!  But then, its hard to say 'no' to a GRIN like Cougar has!

Cougar passed away on June 8, 2011 as the result of a brain tumor just 6 weeks before his 13th birthday.  We never had a bad day together and I am forever indepted to him for facilitating my second career as a trainer and teacher.

My "velcro" dog!



Favorite sport:
nickel in tree
Olympic tree climbing ("I know that squirrel is up here somewhere!")

Nickel is a black labrador retriever who was born in February 2000.  Nickel chose me!  He wandered into my yard one day when he was about 6 months old without any identification and draging a 4 ft. length of chain that was bolted around his neck.  His ribs were showing, his ears were infected, and he had a total of 16 ticks all over his body.  Despite such a poor start in life, Nickel has a sweet personality and not a mean bone in his body.  He has yet to meet someone, or something, he doesn't like.
Nickel is not much into retrieving, but he is always on a mission of some kind:  either searching for small critters, chasing squirrels up apple trees (and climbing right up after them!), or spending hours trying to catch fish in the pond (he did catch a 10 inch bass all by himself once).  He has been in love with Kara since the first day he met her! 

Nickel passed away on January 12, 2015 from heart failure.  He was happy and active right up to his last day.  No dog ever enjoyed life as much as Nickel did and he got the most out of it.  His happy-go-lucky nature infected everyone he met.

My "oops" dog!



Favorite sport:
Olympic water polo

Kara is, my best guess anyway, part yellow lab and part pitbull.  She was born in July 1998.  Kara had three strikes against her when she was young.  She was born with a very shy personality, she was taken from her litter at less than 5 weeks, and she received very little socialization during her first year.  I agreed to adopt her so she wouldn't end up in a shelter and surely be euthanized becasue of her problems.

When Kara came to me she couldn't keep food down, was afraid of having a collar put on, she refused to walk on a leash, and displayed fear aggression toward strangers, other dogs, and especially kids.  She had absolutely no dog-to-dog social skills whatsoever.

After about two years of rehabilitation its hard to believe Kara is the same dog.  She has taken agility classes and run the obstacles off leash with other dogs present, she greets kids with a tail wag and allows being petted and loves treats from them, she is friendly around most strangers and even attended a beach party in Daytona with over a 1000 people present.  She now loves to travel with us and one of her most favorite things in the world is rolling around on the slippery covers on the beds at Super 8 motels.

Kara still finds some things fearful, and she will never have the outgoing personality of Nickel, but she has learned skills on how to deal with fearful things that are much better than barking, lunging, and growling.  The journey I took with Kara to help her has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done with any dog and I owe her a great deal for what she has enabled me to learn. 

Kara loves to swim in the pond (only when its warm enough!) and spends hours pushing her ball (one that she doesn't allow either Cougar or Nickel to touch) around it.  She has learned to retrieve and even catch the frisbee on short throws.  Her most fun though, is killing the small critters that Nickel finds!  Yes, after a rocky start, she fell in love with Nickel!

My dearest Kara passed away on July 1, 2014 due to her arthritis getting so bad that she finally lost all control of her rear legs.  She passed on her 16th birthday and enjoyed an afternoon swim with me followed by cake and ice cream before saying goodbye.  Of all my three dogs I'm most indebted to her as she taught me patience, consistency, and helped me the most in understanding the world from "the dog's point of view."

My "little princess"!

Steve Benjamin, KPA CTP
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Karen Pryor Academy Faculty Member
P.O. Box 5715
Endicott, New York 13763