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In 1995, Gail Hubbard set out on a mission to better understand how dogs think so she could help owners deepen their relationship with their dog, train needed behaviors, and rehab those those that need a helping hand. Training that is fun, humane, and works as well as effective was her goal. While reading and researching dog training, Gail first started a dog walking business, A Dog’s Life, in Cleveland, Ohio. After helping clients with the basics and building more of a love for helping dog owners, in 1996, she out-sourced her advertising work to close colleagues and enrolled at West Virginia Canine College (WVCC).
The Leap of Faith … a Belgiam Malinois jumps off a set of stairs falling 27+ feet to land on concrete! [Video of her view below.]
On January 6, 2017 when Gaia, a Belgiam Malinois, jumped over a retaining wall and fell 27+ feet ... I was despirately waiting for her preparing to run an agility Jumpers coarse at the show in Harriman, TN. while Natalie went to get her. I was running Tayt in his standard run and Natalie went to get Gaia — the runs were one right after the other. It had snowed in Harriman that evening so there was a chill in the air. That add chilliness, with the fact that Gaia gets super excited after she poops, she must of felt like superwoman or something, as she headed my way.
Natalie allowed her to go ahead of her up the steps to get to where we were crating the dogs (watch video below). She let go of the leash as I have done repeatedly assuming she would stop on top to wait for the door to open letting her in from the cool weather.
As soon as the leash was out of her hands, Natalie started up the first set of steps behind Gaia — there are two sets of 13 steps. Natalie never got to that first landing when she looked up the second set of steps to see Gaia’s butt as she continued forward and jumped over the retaining wall on the top landing.
Gaia jumped over a retaining wall 5 blocks + high and landed 27 blocks (give or take) later onto concrete! Yeah, concrete!!
Natalie screamed “No!!!” as she quickly ran around the steps to see Gaia! Gaia was then standing there looking up as to say, “augh, what a jump!!!?”
By that time, I had just finished running Tayt and was looking for Natalie and Gaia. Gaia, jumping a standard height of 24,” was the first dog in her Novice JWW class. As I was anxious to get her on my end, Natalie picked Gaia up outside and was heading to find me. An agility show has people walking around, pottying their dogs, etc. but at this point no one was around to help Natalie with this 64 lbs. dog. With no one was in sight … this process felt like minutes upon hours until she finally got Gaia inside to notify me as to what happened.
As I finally saw Natalie inside, she was standing with Gaia … I wave her to me … “Come on, I’m next” was my gesture. She waved to me just as I waved to her … “She jumped off the steps!” In my perspective, I’ve seen her jump off the front porch steps several times, so I was silently saying “So!” and waved her to come in further towards me. Natalie just kept waving to me to come to her … “she jumped off the steps” and waved me to come to her again. That process took forever in my mind because I wanted to get her in where the agility courses were and settled before I had to run.
It took Natalie now yelling at me several times with larger hand motions as if she was talking to a person who couldn’t hear before I caught on. “Holy Crap!” then I saw the blood beneath her nose for the first time. My stomach sank immediately because I thought it was internal damages … “Oh man, she’s bleeding from her nose!” By that time the on-site veterinarian had come over.
As I looked closer and as the vet was examining her, we both noticed that the blood was coming from her chin. “Thank you, God!” The veterinarian didn’t find anything major … unbelievable!!
Natalie ran to get the truck and we quickly went to Roane Veterinary Hospital [roaneveterinaryhospital.com] where Dr. Rebecca Wierschem was on top of everything - very pleasant and professional. Never did I feel she was profiled and deemed a dangerous dog. The vet assistance did great and doctor went to town feeling every aspect of her body. Gaia took it all in stride and allow just about everything — even x-rays. I never doubted their professionalism or capability. I placed Gaia in their hands with ease and comfort. I truly think she knew she was getting taken care of and allowed them to do all their tests.
After having some horrifying trips to the emergency vet clinic, my experience at Roame Veterinary Hospital was one of my best experiences I have ever had - owning personal dogs nearly 30 years. Maybe it was because she was okay. Nothing major was wrong. --- Right … a guardian angel caught her.
The video above shows the blood from Gaia’s chin. She didn’t suffer any broken bones. The x-rays confirmed that as well as the thorough vet check. What they found was:
—A chipped bottom left canine tooth
—Superficially scratched her right eye
—Scrapped her chin
—Sprained her left front leg — she was limping pretty bad.
That night Susan and Judy showed me how to use their cold lazer and I truly think it made a tremendous difference in her left shoulder/leg recovery. For that I say: “Thank you!!” I also took her to the chiropractor on Saturday, January 7th as well as Beverly at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Massage [www.blueridgetheramassage.com] and everyone said she is very lucky.
We are not going back to that show this year — maybe next year.
Simply writing this brings back the same knot, but less intense.
The videos below shows her walking around at the vet office on January 9th — 3-days after her leap of faith. The root canal research is another story for another day. I learned a lot about how Gaia, in particular, feels pain and determined that she is a machine. It may be part of the Belgiam Malinois breed, but her pain tolerance must be high or her tooth really didn’t need a root canal.
A little history about Gaia
Gaia was found tied to a Walmart lamp post when she was about 6-months of age (?) and fell into my lap after she regained her strength, gained some weight and was adopted by an awesome family who couldn’t handle her at that particular time of their lives. She came home with me as a K9 Camper at first and eventually came home with me for good about a month later. I made her birthday January 1 since I didn’t know her real birthday. Now a year later, she is 4 years old. She is a blessing and surprises me with her athleticism all the time.
In 2018, Quinn_nearing 14yo, Tayt_6yo, Gaia_4yo and I ... a lot older are taking a different leap of faith. As A Good Dog’s Life transitions into AGDL Training Center, I am forming WNC K9 [wnck9.com] and will be holding classes for the first time not as A Good Dog’s Life, but as WNC K9. I’m more excited about this leap of faith and will never forget Gaia’s leap ... as she continues to run agility jumping 20" ... you would never know this ever happened.
I pray that we all have a guardian angel watching over us as the year progresses. Thanks for reading. God Bless!
First, barking is way a dog expresses things. It is very common for some dogs to bark in class. Some dogs are more expressive then others and your dog typically is doing this same behavior when in other highly stimulating environment. However, if you have a dog that likes to be expressive in that manner, here are some helpful tips to help. The more you do and practice in other arousing areas, the better and faster your dog will learn to relax and be quiet.
BARKING … it just doesn’t fit into our world at all, does it?
Focus back onto your tricks are the tricks that will be most helpful here. As soon as you get to class, do some spins and twirls in the parking lot. Teach a target trick, nose touch on your hand. For this to work, practice tricks on your walk and other locations where stimulation is high.
SIR SNIFF ALLOT
“Insnifficating walks” can improve a ton of things, but in this case it may calm your dog down prior to coming to class. Place your dog on a long-line and allow your dog to sniff some where that has low amounts of visual and audible stimulation. For example — behind Ingle’s — in a church parking lot — at a car dealership — etc.
Busy dogs typically do not bark. It is only when we come into a stimulating environment without proper timing and a job for our dogs to do. If you have a dog that gets over stimulated in a vocal way, you need to come prepared. Prepare yourself to keep the dog employed. Asking for what you want before you dog starts to bark. If you ask for behaviors your dog knows, the probability that your dog will find that more reinforcing then barking increases. Or, bring things your dog love to chew on instead. For example — a favorite rubber toy with “stuff” in it that is tasty — a bully stick — a food puzzle — etc.
Bring a “place matt” from home (something familiar in a unfamiliar environment) or use one of the crates in the room to put your dog into during lecture time and in between games and exercises. Practice this at home first, but typically the crate is a safe place and a calm place. But just to make sure, bring and place a food puzzle in the crate in between working the dog.
Pheromones released during lactation give puppies a sense of wellbeing and reassurance, known as appeasing pheromones. ‘Dog Appeasing Pheromone’ can be embedded in a plastic collar or sprayed on a bandana. Typically your vet office has it or find it on line.
You may have to be really fast. Click and reward calm behavior take a lot of observational skills. A nose that is turning from the stimulus — click and reward. You are catering all those good choices for NOT barking. Clicking calm behaviors before the dog barks will create a thinking dog. Every time a dog walks in the room, get prepared and use incredible timing to click the calm behavior. Then, you may start to say: “shhhhhh” ask the door cracks open, click and move back into your spot and reward. When you start to say words, make sure the dog has been rewarded a lot just for the behavior the word now represents.
BRING TWO PEOPLE
To be able to do everything that is mentioned above AND listen to instruction is hard. Bring another person to help listen and take notes, so you can be focused on the dog. If you want your dog’s focus, you will need to be focusing on your dog.
If you do not have another person to bring, you will need to become a good multi-tasker and keep your dog busy using the suggestions above as well as listen in class. Or, the benefit of a class are monstrous. Please work on the things that are needed in this class and continue on with the next class after you tackle getting your dog’s focus in a stimulating environment. FOCUS is key. Everything starts with focus. Repeating this class has proven to be the best thing ever for several dogs!!
People have put their dog’s back in the car. Returned to class to listen for a few minutes. Regained composure, so-to-speak. And tried it again with the upmost in timing and consistency while clicking calm behavior and asking for easy behaviors that the dog knows as they re-enter the room. Then repeated the exercise … again, and again, and again!
Outside of class, be sure to put your dog in situation where the attention is divided. Sitting on a park bench is awesome. Go to these places knowing your attention is going to be on your dog at all times. Practice techniques above and DO NOT GET FRUSTRATED.