How Jaco Got His Game

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The Bark magazine published my piece on training Jaco this past June, and it recently arrived as an online link as well! Jaco has been a joy and a challenge. It feels as though every time I learn something new with a dog, I need to apply another new thing to the next dog. That’s certainly been the case here. But he is eager, and happy, and essentially kind and sweet. I feel as though he’s making me a better handler than I am.

Meet Jaco: 19 months old, ready to work!

Jaco, a sable German shepherd, arrived more than a month ago at our house, and he’s just started foundation training in cadaver scent. He’s from the Czech Republic. We couldn’t be more thrilled with him. True, he’s got to be exposed to many more things: lots of people, kids, farm critters, rubble, trash, noise, our (sometimes noisy) friends. But what a little love. He’s as intense as a cobra when he wants to strike his blast-hose toy, but he cuddles and grins when he’s on the couch with us. You can almost see those little canine pleasure centers firing in his brain. You, toys, food!? He’s so different from our sweet Solo, whom we lost in April at the age of 11 (and yes, it still makes me cry). And yet, I see that same spirit in this pup: What do you want me to do? Can we play? You want me to spit out the toy? You nuts? Okay, only because it’s dead now, and you’ve got a live one in your hand. And Coda and he get along like gangbusters. (the wonderful photos are from Aimee Lyn).

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Julie Hecht’s Great Posts at Dog Spies

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Julie Hecht of Dog Spies, my favorite blog — natch! — on Scientific American, has written three or four blog posts over the past year and a half that I simply love, not just because she writes favorably about my book (although I do love that), but also because her pieces highlight the science behind cadaver dog scent detection training. She also features a couple of my favorite studies on cadaver dogs.

(Pictured above is one of my favorite cadaver dogs in training, Coda, as she finally locates a buried skull during training.)

Julie, a canine behavioral researcher and science writer in New York City, explains why she’s interested in cadaver dogs: She wants to know “the whys and hows behind dogs and the dog-human relationship. How does a dog start as a dog with a nose and become a dog who uses his nose to stop beside a corpse under a canopy of trees in the woods? How do dogs learn that dead squirrels and rotting trees are not the end goal and should be ignored?”

I’m posting her pieces here from most recent to least recent. But DO read about dead chickens! Not to be missed. You can also follow her on Twitter (@DogSpies).

“Three Reasons Not to Leave a Dead Body on the Carpet”

“The Dog of the Dead”

“Would Your Dog Make a Good Cadaver Detection Dog?”

“One Day, You Will Smell Like a Dead Chicken”

What the Dog Knows picks up a few prizes!

paperbackcoverI was incredibly pleased and surprised that the Dog Writers Association of America gave What the Dog Knows three awards at its 2015 award ceremony — the Dogwise Best Book award; the DWAA Best Reference Book award; and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. It made braving the frigid New York City ice and snow worth it. In the meantime, my husband David was down in North Carolina covering bay trees, turning up the heat in the greenhouse to save the lemon trees — and braving the frigid weather here!