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Owner Jennifer Heid says her Cocker Spaniel Jordi's favorite activity is Scent Work because it allows her to be in charge.

In November 2015, a 2-ounce Cocker Spaniel named Jordi was born. Her breeder, Kathy Korab, was not only shocked by her small size but by her leg as well. Her front right leg was deformed, folded in toward her body. On top of that, the mother had rejected the entire litter and all three puppies needed to be bottle-fed. Korab knew right away she needed to help this special puppy survive.

By three weeks, Jordi’s two siblings could stand and eat. But Jordi still couldn’t stand on her own. By five weeks, Korab was setting her alarm every two hours to check on Jordi. There were many, many moments she wasn’t sure if the pup would survive. But even Jordi’s littermates were determined to help her. The two siblings would even help Jordi balance so she could eat and drink.

Eventually, Jordi’s back legs became so powerful that she could leap to get around.

That’s when Jennifer Heid came into the picture. Heid had worked with Korab for years, owning many of the dogs she bred. Korab was also the handler for Heid’s dogs in conformation.

On Facebook, Korab began tagging Heid and her mother in photos of Jordi. “I wasn’t sure that I had the capacity to care for a puppy with a disability,” Heid says. “But my mother and I went to see her and I immediately fell in love with her.”

Early Training

After bringing Jordi home, Heid had to spend lots of time with her, helping her adjust to her disability. “It took Jordi a while to walk without falling on her face!” Heid says. “She would try to run and would hit her chin on the floor or cement. When we are practicing sit/stays, sometimes she can’t help but slide into a down.”

When Heid took Jordi to her first puppy class, the instructor was immediately rude upon seeing the pup’s disability. She wouldn’t even allow Jordi to socialize with other puppies and mostly ignored the pair during the entire seven-week course.

“I eventually told her that unless she was teaching the puppies to do handstands, that she was able to do anything that any other puppy could do,” Heid says. “I think it was this experience that made me realize that this puppy would have a normal life and do anything any other dog could do.”

Excelling in Scent Work

Jordi quickly defied expectations and earned her S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen (CGC). Later, she would go on to earn her AKC Trick Dog Performer (TKP) as well. But when Heid started to look into other sports, she realized Jordi wouldn’t be permitted to participate in many sports like Rally, Obedience, Tracking, and Agility for safety reasons.

Shortly after the start of AKC Scent Work, Heid’s training club started offering Scent Work classes. Heid enrolled in one in January 2018. “She took to it immediately and had a hard time waiting for her turn,” Heid says. “Every time she sees a group of containers together, she is convinced that they need to be searched.”

In class, the other handlers began to let Jordi go first because of her excitement. By February 2019, Heid and Jordi entered their first trial. Jordi earned both her SCN and SIN at that trial.

Heid says Scent Work has completely enhanced her relationship with Jordi. “It helped me to realize that my dog is capable of so much, even though I already knew that on some level,” Heid says. “We have worked some in Obedience, Rally, and Agility as well. But, I think Jordi prefers Scent Work because she is in charge.”

Jordi’s full AKC title is Drama’s Holy Trinity, SCN, SCA, SBA, CGC, TKP.

Photo by Michael J Connolly

Being Different is OK

Outside of sports, Jordi is also a therapy dog. “I thought that with her disability, it would show kids that being different is OK,” Heid says. “That people and dogs can overcome the odds and be successful.

“We frequently get approached when we are out on walks with questions about her leg. I explain that just like people can be different, dogs can be different too.  Often times, kids will try and feel sorry for her.  I tell them that she has no idea that she has a challenge.  That this is her normal and that she is a very happy girl who loves life!”

Jordi’s favorite part of being a therapy dog is interacting with kids. She sits patiently while the children read to her and she loves when they show her pictures in the books. “She also loves to give kisses, so I have to warn the kids that she gets out of control with her kisses!”

Jordi gives kisses to the children that read to her during her work as a therapy dog.

Proving Jordi Can

Thanks to Heid’s patience and Jordi’s enthusiasm, the duo has proven to all the people that said Jordi “can’t” that in fact, she can.

In September, Jordi earned her SBN and SWN. She also competes in the annual Special K9 Games in Columbus, Ohio, which is an event created for dogs with special needs. Events include Rally, Agility, Tricks, disc games, and rat games.

Jordi jumps at the 2019 Special K9 Games

One of Heid’s proudest moments came at a trial. She was waiting outside the ring with Jordi and doing some focus exercises. That’s when she felt someone staring at her.

It was the instructor from Jordi’s first puppy class.

“Hey, that dog was in my puppy class,” the instructor said to Heid.

“Yes, she has come a long way, don’t you think?”

The instructor didn’t respond.

Heid and Jordi went on to earn a near-perfect score.

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