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I have recently taken a huge risk with my husband’s dog, Charlie.
When our Rottweiler (my heartthrob), Yogi, unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 7. I was left with “Crazy Charlie”. I couldn’t believe Yogi left me with this knucklehead! Yogi and I were in sync! We worked together effortlessly and enjoyed it. Charlie was about 2.5 years old when we got him. He had ZERO MANNERS, SOCIAL SKILLS, or EXPOSURE TO THE WORLD! I spent more time with Yogi and let my husband enjoy the wild ways of Charlie. Charlie and I were like oil and water. I filled the swear jar many times when with him!!! I remember telling my family we all needed to exercise him 1-2 miles a day. They said, Okay. Then I finished my sentence… EACH OF US! They moaned and complained. Charlie was obnoxious (by my standards) because his needs were not being met. You can’t have dog that has a high energy drive and not meet his exercise needs without behavioral issues! Between playing fetch, walking, zooming on the trails in the woods, and running next to the bike we managed to bring Charlie to a calm state. Over the last few years it was a big deal to simply manage and shape desired behaviors for Charlie to be a well mannered dog. He has kept me humble for sure! About 3 weeks after Yogi passed, I had a long hard look at Charlie and whispered…. GAME ON, DUDE! I thought to myself…Yogi must know I need you or you need me, so let’s do this. I really didn’t think I needed him! Perhaps, I was wrong and Yogi was right!
SO, WHAT WAS THE HUGE RISK? I gave myself permission to “DO POORLY OR FAIL” when trying a new sport with Charlie. Allowing myself to step out of my comfort zone has opened new doors for us to explore and bond. We are learning about new things and each other at the same time which can be tricky when you are expected to work well as a team. We are a work in progress and continue to keep each other in check. I am not a competitive person like many that compete in dog sports. My reason for adding new challenges was to strengthen my bond and relationship with Charlie. I have failed at multiple things in my life, but a meaningful relationship is one of the most important values in my world. So, I needed to risk failing or doing poorly in new areas to hopefully benefit and strengthen my relationship with Charlie . I am thrilled to see the positive results. We are both in a healthier place!
Now, that Charlie is mentally balanced (for the most part, wink, wink) we can focus on obedience with the option for new sports. In the last 6 months we have dabbled in Canine Good Citizen, Therapy Dog Prep Work, Agility, Rally, Scent Work, and Luring. I am enjoying the one on one time with Charlie because I don’t think about anything else. I am 100% focused on him. I didn’t tell anyone we were trying new things as it was between Charlie and I. We had to work on us, I had to feel it for myself and experience it before I could share our stories.
Have you ever considered doing a sport with your dog? There are numerous types of sports that suit the natural talents and drive dogs harbor! There are clubs, groups, and classes that will help you learn a new sport. You will learn a great deal about yourself when working with your dog. It will be a team effort that requires the patience of the learning curve from both you and your dog!
I wish everyone would find a job/sport/hobby for their dog like they do for each family member. I love when people say, “My dog knows what day of the week we have class and they get so excited!” We are proud to offer some specialty classes with our amazing trainers.
Listed below are some dog sports. This is not a comprehensive list, but a gateway to think about how to spend time with your dog having fun together. Please, consider offering them time to do something they enjoy!
Scent Work / Nose Work
Musical Canine Freestyle
K9s Unleashed “Legendary” Dog Training Camps are a HIGHLIGHT of
our YEAR! This is the 9th consecutive year that K9s Unleashed has hosted Dog Training Camps for youthful dog lovers in our community!
A Note from Amy –
My love for children and kids’ safety was the motivation to start this camp. A tragedy struck our small community with two incidents spanning 3 weeks apart, involving young children and dogs. One ending in the horrific loss of a sweet child’s life. It was then I asked 9 schools in our area if I could provide a presentation to the kids on how to meet and greet dogs appropriately. I was turned down by eight schools! It happened to be the Bonds Grove Pre-School that welcomed the idea. Perhaps they agreed to it because my son had been enrolled in their program and they knew me! It was my big moment to fill my sorrowful heart. I did not know the girl that passed away, but I thought of her and her family with a heavy heart non-stop.
I wanted to start a fun and educational program for kids to thrive with dogs with proper interaction. My previous career, as a Recreational Therapist, was the powerhouse behind this community outreach program that was brewing in my daily thoughts. I brought my personal dogs Tux and Bear as ambassadors for our hands-on lesson. This opened my heart for the desire to do more. Mr. Eggleston, the kind owner of Waxhaw Ace Hardware, allowed me to host the first dog training camp, in the garden section in his store. His generosity opened the doors to years of “Legendary Dog Training Camps” as the kids refer to it! We aim to create an awareness of appropriate interaction between dogs and humans with our next generation!
A Note from Abby –
It was four summers ago that a friend said “You have GOT to sign Charley up for this camp, but sign up quickly, and shhhhh….there aren’t that many spots! This might have been the greatest gift this friend could’ve given me!My daughter’s shy and introverted personality lead her to cling to my leg for most of her early years, making it difficult for her to build confidence and try new things. I can honestly say, this camp has changed both of our lives! On the first day, I dropped her off with tears in both of our eyes. I picked her up each day – a completely different child, beaming with sunshine and pride. Her smile was so big and so bright. On the last day, she cried so hard because she did not want it to be over.Children have an incredible ability to connect with dogs. Working with dogs in a positive way and a leadership role will build their self-confidence, self esteem, and most importantly – let their true souls shine. This camp was the beginning of a true passion and love for animals for Charley and the beginning of her journey to be the independent and confident girl she is now. Dog camp will warm the heart and soul of all of the hardworking parents that want to see their children happy and thriving. I have witnessed this first hand as a parent. I loved it so much that I knew I needed to be a part of it! I thank Amy, and I also thank Charley, for giving me one of the greatest gifts in life! I have found a passion and it all started at Camp!
K9s Unleashed “Legendary” Dog Training Camp!
It is a Marathon, not a sprint.
While the mind is typically focused on mile 26.2, most marathoners will tell you, it’s about the journey, not the finish line.
When we first got our second dog, I decided we should get a puppy. You’ve heard it before “I want the kids to have a puppy and experience what it is like to be responsible for a dog”. I hear this so often and I can honestly say, I just disagree. I do not believe raising a puppy is a child’s responsibility. For many reasons. But first and foremost, most children just aren’t mature enough to handle a puppy. I have two of my own children and they are mature, responsible, kind, caring, and empathetic kids, but when that doorbell rings or they are invited for a sleepover – they are outta here! As they should be – because they are kids.
Our first dog was a Rescue mixed breed that had been severely neglected for his first two years of life. He was fostered and rehabilitated before he landed in our home when he was about 2. The circumstances of his early months lead him to be a shy, introverted, dog with some major health issues. Despite a rocky start, he is the best dog we could’ve asked for and was the perfect dog for our family at the time. We had two young children and were just starting to sleep through the night, and had a just moved into brand-new home. We did not want a puppy coming in to create chaos in our life! We opted for an older, potty and crate trained, rescue pup with a temperament that worked best for us. Best decision we ever made!
When the kids were older and we were ready to add a second dog, we did go the puppy route. We got our dog at 12 weeks. We are grateful to the rescue group and her foster family for potty and crate training her! This made things a little easier on our family. We took time to get to know her and enjoyed her soft temperament and laid-back personality. She was dream pup. We all fell in love. She loved to snuggle, wasn’t nippy, and wanted to be held (looking back….that was mistake #1!) I want to say I fell in love MOST, but it’s really a toss-up. The connection was strong among all family members.
As time went on and schedules became busier and careers took different paths, we realized that we weren’t putting as much time into her as we needed or wanted to. About 10 months in our home, she started to jump a retaining wall in our back yard to chase squirrels and find her neighborhood dog friends. This became an issue and we quickly decided that an invisible fence would be the best option. At least the quickest! I will spare everyone the details, and will sum it up by saying, this was not a good decision for our puppy. You know when you get that experience you didn’t want? That was it. The invisible fence training was short and the correction level was too high for her soft temperament. I did not really understand the magnitude of what was happening at the time, but soon, I saw the effects of what happened. Joey was “corrected” two times with Shock. In my heart, I know this was permanent trauma for her.
The week she got corrected, she began going to the bathroom in the middle of the living room. She had never done that. She was timid and scared and didn’t want not go outside. Within a week, she began lunging and growling at people and dogs on walks. This was devastating to me as I was certain I was going to do every thing right with this puppy. I believe I lost her trust. Or at least I certainly didn’t gain any.
This was right around the time I started working with Amy & K9s Unleashed. I am beyond grateful for Amy and her advice, coaching, and expertise. It was the beginning of a personal journey for me on so many levels.
I have spent countless hours, hundreds of miles, many private playdates, group walks, and outings with Joey trying to work with her and regain trust. I have taken her to many classes. She became reactive to other dogs, and even people. This was devastating to me. This is not a good feeling for the person on the other end of the leash. It’s really not a good feeling for anyone involved.
But this is where we were. I could (and did) look back into the past to see what I did “wrong”, or could’ve done better, but as Amy said “At this point, it doesn’t matter. We are where we are now. Let’s move forward”. And we did.
It has been a slow and often frustrating journey. However, it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a human. I’ve run marathons, and they’re not easy. The growth is in the grit and the daily training. The early mornings. The pain, the tears, and yes, the perseverance. The SHOWING UP. This is where the magic happens. Dog training is no different. It is about showing up, taking time, giving love, creating boundaries, earning respect. It’s grit.
Joey has been one of the best things that has happened to me personally. She has taught me so much and I know she came into my life for a reason. She is just about 2.5, and doing wonderful. We have bigger goals and a way to go to achieve them. But I can confidently walk her on greenways, bring her in public, and meet other dogs and people. She has many canine friends in our neighborhood and loves walking with them. She is a love and adores my family and children. She loves to give surprise kisses, whether you want one or not! (We’re still working on that!).
Most importantly, I learned to be Joey’s advocate. I took time to understand her and what caused her fear. I spoke up to other people and dog owners to let them know what Joey needs to feel safe and confident. And some times that meant standing at a distance while all the other dogs played.
There were many days I was scared to be an owner of a reactive dog. And there is a difference between reactive and aggressive. It’s not easy or fun and can give you icky feelings. But with effort, time, love, knowledge, and education, you can change it. Joey might never be the laid- back dog that loves strangers petting her. Maybe she will? Only time will tell. But for now, I am focusing on the progress we’ve made as a team and the bond we have formed along the way. Isn’t this why we get dogs in the first place? Each time I return home from an outing without any reactions from Joey, I celebrate. And now, those celebrations are happening more often 😊.
Dogs teach us so much – we just have to open our hearts and take time to learn, educate ourselves, and get to know what our dogs need to feel safe and confidence.
Joey has been one of my greatest teachers!
~ Abby Frey
4 Tips for the “Dog Days of Summer”
Guest Writer: Rachel Tohill
This summer seems hotter than any I can remember in the recent past. The heat index has been hitting the danger zone by 10:00 AM here in North Carolina, and we are not feeling much relief until the sun goes down. With that in mind, I wanted to give you some tips about keeping your dog healthy and happy in this heat.
Paw pads on pavement… ouch!
When the first dog I ever owned was a puppy, I made a horrible “mom mistake”! We went for a walk in our neighborhood one hot summer day, and when we got home she rushed to her water bowl and stepped right in to it to cool off her burning feet! Here’s what I learned after that searing lesson:
- Asphalt temperatures can be almost double the air temperature. So, if it is 80 degrees outside, it’s possible for the sidewalks to reach a sizzling 140 degrees. At 131 degrees, an egg can fry in 5 minutes.
- A dog’s paw pads are essentially as tough as the soles of our feet. Try walking barefoot on the sidewalk before taking your dog out. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pup.
- If you can press your hand to the asphalt for 7 seconds or more without being uncomfortable, the sidewalk should be safe for your dog’s paws. However, it will get much hotter throughout the day so early morning or late evening walks are best.
- Try to walk in a location that has grass or dirt along the sidewalk so that your dog can step onto the cooler surfaces if necessary.
Puppy Pool and Popsicles
There is nothing more fun than a kiddy pool and a homemade freezer pop on a hot summer day! Most dogs love to splash in the pool and have a chance to cool off while enjoying the outdoors. You can find very affordable pools even at the pet supply store. Just fill the pool about half way and invite your dog in for a romp. After play time, make sure to drain the water.
My dogs love popsicles and ice cubes. In fact, a Frosty Paw (found in the popsicle section in the grocery store) is the one treat they get that calls for the “grab and go.” They grab it and skulk away to a private little corner of treat heaven. You can find lots of recipes online for homemade doggy freezer pops; just make sure not to include grapes, onions (including onion powder found in some baby food), chocolate, or other food ingredients that are toxic to dogs. One of our favorite recipes is listed below:
Peanut Butter Popsicles
1 cup peanut butter
1 banana, mashed
Water as needed
Mix ingredients together and spread into a Kong, cookie cutters or popsicle molds, or simply spoon “blobs” on to a cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet or toys/molds in to the freezer overnight. Serve the next day after your pool party!
The Dangers of Humidity
No one likes high temperatures coupled with high humidity. For our furry friends, humidity is even more dangerous than it is for us. Because dogs “sweat” through their paws and cool themselves by panting to release moisture from their lungs, high moisture levels in the air can prevent dogs from cooling down. If a dog can’t cool off in the “outdoor sauna” created by high humidity levels, his temperature can skyrocket and he can suffer from heatstroke. And, trying to “dry out” the air with a fan may work for humans but it not as effective for dogs because they expel most of their body heat through their paws.
If you think your dog is overheated and can’t cool down, get him to an air conditioned room, wrap him in a damp cool towel and make sure his body temperature stays below 104. Although heatstroke is fairly uncommon for dogs, some pooches with health conditions or limited air passageways can be more susceptible to heat stroke. If your dog appears lethargic, dizzy, or has a lack of appetite, contact your veterinarian.
Leave Your Dog at Home
If the outdoor temperature is above 65 degrees, it is too hot for your dog to be left in a car. Just don’t do it. Enough said.
Basically, be safe out there this summer. Manage the care of your dog as you would yourself or your kids: hydration, skin protection, and cool shelter are keys to your dog’s health and safety. Enjoy the dog days of summer and look forward to the crisp autumn September air!
At K9s unleashed, we believe in dreams coming true. Dedication and commitment, coupled with working with amazing families (furry members included), we have seen our own dreams come true. We would not be where we are without each and everyone one of you!
What we love the most are the wonderful relationships we form with our clients. We love hearing your stories, passions, talents, and dreams.
Today, we would like to spotlight the talents of one of our very own amazing clients that has been with us from the beginning.
Jen has an incredible passion for dogs, art, and human connection. You can see it through her beautiful smile and brilliant work. If you are looking for a personal, meaningful, and unique gift for yourself or a loved one, this is your gal.
“I am an artist and can sketch your animal’s portrait for every occasion, whether it be to memorialize a beloved pet who has crossed over the rainbow bridge, a birthday gift for your loved one, anniversary gift, the holidays or just to celebrate your pet.”
Contact: e-mail Jemm72@yahoo.com
Cell phone/text (516)-658-9454
Facebook “Jen Faulkner Reichel” – facebook messenger
Instagram as Jennifer Faulkner Reichel
A note from Jen….
“We met Amy many years ago when she was still teaching her classes at the hardware store down on Waxhaw Highway. At this time, she was starting her second year of her fabulous summer camps. My daughter loved the camp so much we signed up for another camp right away that same summer and have been to camp every year since then. When she aged out a few years ago, she couldn’t think of not going, so she jumped at the opportunity to become a counselor and has been volunteering for the past 3 years. Amy has been an important person in our lives for so long now, I consider her family. She is an amazing friend, an amazing person and her family are extraordinary as well. She is generous, fun, funny, ingenious, patient, caring, beautiful inside and out and has a way of making everyone feel special. She always comes up with creative and enthusiastic ways to keep the kids entertained at the camps and I know she takes special care of all of the beautiful dogs who stay with her.
I only met Abby twice but she has to be just as amazing as Amy to have been chosen by Amy to work side by side with her. We went to a quarry party together with a small group and normally I might feel intimidated by such a gorgeous lady but she treated me like I was a best friend that I’ve known forever and to be treated that way by someone I only conversed with once prior to this, well, as I have heard her say, “it makes my heart happy” ❤️
I’m very blessed to be a part of the K9’s Unleashed Family.”
I would like to welcome you to the big ‘ol rock. It may look like a misplaced chunk of stone, in our yard, to the bystander. What do you do with a massive rock…sit back and watch. What happens on the rock is a blissful tranformation of energy. If you want therapy, attention, love, affection, inner peace, joy, comfort, laughter, and more you will be drawn to the rock too.
This rock has provided me with great pleasure being able to see others enjoy the relationships they form on the ROCK. My dear friend, Meredith, would come over not to see me, but to spend time on the rock. She knew the benefits of the ROCK! I am pretty certain many children will remember the ROCK as a special place too. Here are some snapshots of my family on the ROCK. I am not a blogger, so I will let the photos tell the story.
When I began planning for my eldest daughter’s birthday I started the way I always have: by asking her what she would like to do for her special day. She’s not hard to figure out – she loves animals and she always has so it came as no surprise that she wanted to have a party that involved animals in some way. Here’s the thing though, I’m not an outsourced party kind of gal. I mean that in the least offensive/judgmental way possible. I think outsourced parties are grand and seem to be WAY less stressful than the elaborate in-home parties that some people throw. Our parties have always been at home and they’ve always been pretty simple but I had no idea how on earth I would be able to give her an animal (specifically dog and cat) birthday party. She mentioned the possibility of incorporating the animal shelter somehow but a few calls to the local shelters later confirmed that a shelter party was not a plausible option. It was at that point in the party brain-storming process that I remembered seeing a woman and her dog do an obedience demonstration at my daughters school. More specifically, I remember her mentioning that she did summer camps at which she would teach children how to approach dogs, behave around dogs and furthermore train dogs. One quick call to the awesome Union Academy receptionist later I had a name and number. That name was Amy and the business name was K9’s Unleashed. I called Amy to be sure we could work something out and then I pitched the idea to Kennedy and the rest is history!
Working with Amy to determine what types of things Kennedy and her party guests might enjoy was fun and she was very flexible in the planning which was nice because I, of course, wanted Kennedy to be thrilled with the end result. Luckily, each party guest had a dog of their own so they were all very excited about learning more about dogs and as an added bonus were all comfortable being around dogs. I loved that even though Amy new all these girls had dogs – she still went through the basics with each of them in a fun and interactive way. Questions like “how do you approach a dog for the first time?” and “how should you talk to a dog” were great openers to get acquainted with the girls and to determine if their inclinations were correct or not. Once everyone knew how to “meet and greet” new dogs, she let her dogs out and into the gated party area. Giggles and wagging tails abounded and we were off to a great start!
The girls were able to learn about canine agility drills and were even able to partake in running the dogs through some of the drills which they all LOVED. They learned how to appropriately use the leash to lead the dogs and were able to learn how to coax a dog through open tunnels and tunnels that appear to be closed at one end – emphasizing how important them communicating with the dog is and how important it is that the dog trust them as his leader.
The girls loved the agility part of the party but a close favorite was when Amy talked with them about enriching the lives of their dogs at home just as she does with her dogs there. She showed them several enrichment toys and how they work. She taught them a really neat trick with a muffin pan, tennis balls and treats (something each of them could go home and try with their own dog). Each girl got to take a turn picking the dog and toy they wanted to work with and they got to really see these dogs work while playing and it was really fun and interesting.
After the party we made homemade dog treats and everyone went home with the recipe and some dog treats for their beloved pooch. The recipe we used was compliments of Amy. She really will try to work in what seems best fitting for your child. I knew Kennedy would love the agility and she loves to cook so making dog treats was perfect for her. Maybe your child would prefer a craft and Amy can do that too – just ask and she will do her best to make your party a success!
If you’ve got a dog lover at home – K9’s Unleashed would be a pawsitively perfect place for a party!
The new K9s Unleashed site is up! We still have a few tweaks to work through but we’re getting there. Check back here shortly for updates!