NWK9 Program Graduates: Dora

Dora and friend playing tug-o-war with a piece of grass.
Playing tug-o-war with a piece of grass
Dora -- PLACED -- (OFA Hip Prelim; microchipped), a darkly-pigmented, red sable beauty whelped January 26, 2000. Ball and prey drive plus, Dora possesses a superbly balanced temperament. A substantially boned and athletic girl, Dora's dam and sire are both titled in Schutzhund and weight-pulling. Dora's brothers are NorthWest K9's recent foundation program graduate Police K9 Dugan and younger brother Fonzie, and her sisters Dadja, Fireball, and Freya are all in training for SAR. Dora is now in advanced training in Georgia for urban and wilderness Search and Rescue certification.

Dora and I were called around midnight last Thursday to a Church fire down the road. When we got there, I noticed several hay bales on fire next to the church. The fire was quickly extinguished, however I determined the cause to be arson. Our local Fire Investigator notified the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to respond to the scene, along with several other Atlanta agencies. Prior to their arrival, my Captain asked me if Dora might be able to track a scent from a warm vehicle in the parking lot and see which direction the track led. I was hesitant, as I really didn't want Dora and I getting in over our heads, seeing as we just started tracking together earlier that week, but I agreed to attempt it while we awaited the arrival of the ATF. Well, needless to say, when I put Dora in her vest and gave her the 'find' command, she tracked from the car to a house across the street, all the way to their front door. A Sheriff's Deputy and I knocked on the door and asked the occupant if they had just been across the street to which they replied, "Yes, I just parked my car there and walked home." It turned out to be the same car that Dora tracked from. He was able to give us a description of a person he saw in the parking lot just minutes before -- and we now have a suspect in the fire. I think it's safe to say that Dora is well on her way to becoming an excellent SAR dog, I was so proud of her. The ATF is giving our department a commendation for handling the case so well, and getting a suspect within 24 hours. Every major news agency covered the story, and Dora and I were even caught by an unsuspecting news camera. Well, we're off to do some training. . . .

-- K9 SAR Dora's Handler, Jon Kempler; 11/06/00

Dora has proven herself a quick study in obedience and tracking fundamentals. She is trained to AKC CD level obedience and is solid in functional commands such as crate, kennel, leave it, pfui, shush, wait, and more.

Tested on sheep at 6 months of age, Dora demonstrates natural herding instinct. We asked Brandy Burton-Tarantino to share her observations of Dora's first time with the sheep, and these are her unedited comments:

"Dora was introduced to sheep at the tender age of 6 months at Joe Kapelos Ewe-topia Herd Dog training facility in Roy, WA. The stock utilized for introduction are of various cross-bred varieties, primarily heavy bodied (Cheviot/Dorset/Merino types). These sheep tend to be quite "heavy" though they can be split with a hard dog and/or an inexperienced handler. They are dog-broke. Dora exhibited immediate interest in the stock and strong herding drives with a particularly strong desire to gather (many young dogs will become fixated on one particular sheep and run it in their initial excitment). She works loose-eyed and upright as is natural for the breed though there was limited evidence of eye... this can be encouraged through handling. Dora shows a good wearing pattern and good connection to her working partner. All in all she has the makings of a very nice herding prospect."

Dora is well-socialized, having been exposed to a variety of everyday environments and some unusual ones from urban to wilderness, including retail stores, heavy land-moving machinery and farm equipment, amusement park, domestic pets and livestock, fireworks display, children in active play, bodies of water with bridges and docks, high-traffic parks and trails, loading docks, thunder and lightning, gunfire, emergency sirens, water sports and swimming (she's a fish in water!), busy urban traffic intersections, construction and demolition sites, regional and international airports, and more.
Relaxing at the park

Up close and personal with her favorite people
Dora is not dog-aggressive and is at ease with domestic livestock, children, and adults. She is highly responsive to and demonstrably affectionate with her handler, and calmly observant of and at ease with strangers. She travels beautifully and is confident in any social situation. Quite simply, Dora has it all together.

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