I will start by stating that I was raised as an Air Force brat and was told I could never have a dog, because we moved so frequently. So, being an obstinate child, I asked for a dog for every birthday that I was old enough to speak.
When I was 14 I “borrowed” a book from the school library Animal Behavior by J P Scott. It set me on a course of study and understanding that continues to this day.
On my 17th birthday, my parents had to break a promise that I would graduate from the high school where I first started. I asked for a dog and could not be denied. We had moved to the panhandle of Florida and so began my fascination with dolphins. My life’s path was well started.
I have worked in every avenue of training and working with animals that I could find. Kennel worker, driver of the Sooner Schooner (mascots) at the University of Oklahoma, obedience instructor, veterinary assistant, Schutzhund club training director, marine mammal trainer, private zoo habitat construction and training, and program manager for a federal government canine breeding and development center for detection dogs.
My work history has exposed me to a considerable amount of professional training and continuing education. I have been a past member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association, and the Animal Behavior Management Alliance. I have presented and been a board member at multiple International Working Dog Breeders Association conferences and the Penn Vet Working Dog Center conferences. I worked closely with a University of Texas canine personality laboratory researching canine behavior and found my way to 5 co-authorships based on their work. Often when I refer you to peer reviewed scientific literature, I have spent time with the authors discussing their work.
When I advise program participants it is with the full spectrum of my knowledge and experience. If your perspective is one of control of the leash, I will be thinking how I would get the behavior from a 300gm Cockatoo or from a 450 pound Dolphin where I can’t put a leash on either one. Additionally, I am still reading literature to find advanced understanding of canine behavior and physiology. Very rarely will I offer you advice solely based on my “opinion” – it is more likely that I am referring to past experience or validated research.
It has been over fifty years since the Jackson Laboratory concluded their genetic research on the social and developmental behavior of domestic dogs. This research was never intended to shape how we currently raise working dogs, yet people treat the work as though it was written in stone. There has been a vast amount of research and practical knowledge gathered since that time. Now is the time we advance our knowledge through consolidating our experience and gathering data through “Citizen Science”. Together we will rewrite the approach to raising dogs not as pets or as “guinea pigs” but as dogs that continue to help man to live safely and securely.
Through gathering phenotype (observable and measurable behavior) and comparing it to genotype (genetic constituents of behavior) we will prove our country can set the standard for the improved breeding and development of the detection dogs that work in law enforcement.