Dog trains man

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What a nose boot camp, dog shows, and neutering have in common

I am excited too!
During last week's tracking class, Kenzo did his worst track ever. You couldn't even call it a track. I picked up Kenzo and our tracking backpack right after work. I noticed the sight of the backpack didn't arouse him like it used to. When we started tracking, he showed no interest. He put his nose down because I asked him, but the nose was quickly up in the air again. Sniffing frantically for something I could only guess what was.

What to do?

I was worried. Did I train him too hard or too much, trying to achieve more focus on the track? What did I do wrong? And more important, did I spoil Kenzo's fun in tracking, and should we give up tracking and look for another sport he would like to do? The trainer observing Kenzo's failed track was stunned and didn't know what to say. She was as sad as I was. I remembered our trainer went to a training school every summer to brush up her nose work knowledge and asked her if they would accept mere mortals like Kenzo and me at this school. She was worrying too much about Kenzo to note my clumsy and rude attempt for a second opinion. She scribbled the name of the school on a piece of paper and said I should try to contact them, although she didn't give us much chance.

Boot camp!

That's what I did when I came home. I wrote a long mail to the school why I thought Kenzo would qualify to join their ranks and the waiting for an answer started. We maybe didn't had much to show for in achievements but hopefully the passion for tracking touched the person on the other end. After a couple of days I got the answer. We were accepted! Kenzo was shocked with my impression of a happy dance. I also received the 3-day program with a lot of tracking and scent discrimination trained by - among others - the Danish Champion in Search & Rescue. I am thrilled to take part in this.

It is not just the nose

But lets return to the evening after the track went sour. The next morning on our walk Kenzo continued to act differently and I started to realize what actually was wrong. It wasn't Kenzo that was walking, but it was the nose. Or should I say hormones. When we came home and I gave him his breakfast, he didn't eat it. That was the final clue. Someone was in heat and Kenzo knew who it was. Later in the afternoon the black German Shepherd dog - one of Kenzo's sweethearts - and her owner passed by our house and they confirmed what I suspected. Kenzo's bark was high-pitched and frantic when he noticed them. Kenzo is in love, once again.

One more project

Kenzo's neutering has been postponed for too long. Some Hovawart experts were impressed with Kenzo's mental state - ok, he looks good too - and urged me to consider breeding with him. To do that correctly, it involves a lot of health- and mental tests, and also earning prizes on dog shows. A project that will easily take 6 months up to a whole year and I have been postponing it ever since. So we will set this in motion too. It will either work out or not, but we will close it off with Kenzo enjoying his retirement from the dating scene having him neutered.

Maybe I am in denial, my wife says it is my lame male subconscious that makes me postpone. She is probably right. What else can a nose boot camp, dog shows and neutering have in common? I therefore officially and publicly pledge that this is my last and final postponement attempt.



  1. Heh, poor Kenzo. No wonder he couldn't concentrate! Breeding done right is a lot of work to be sure. I also understand the pressure you have gotten from others in the community. Kenzo is an awesome dog, very special, and his line would be pretty outstanding for the breed. It's a big decision but I know you can handle it.

    Congratulations on getting in to the boot camp! It should be so much fun and I look forward to reading all about it.

  2. I read your post the other day, and had to think a bit about it!
    First congrats on boot camp! woo-hoo!

    Second, now forgive me if this question sounds stupid but the Hovawart is not recognized by the AKC only the CKC right? I looked up the breed in my show schedule this weekend and just assumed this??

  3. The Hovawart is a breed recognized by the FCI. European kennel clubs and also the Canadian Kennel Club, follow this. The AKC doesn't but I can only guess why. When they recognize a breed they also have to "support" it, make sure there are judges, etc. Maybe they don't want to do that for a breed of which there are very few in the US?

  4. Got it! Thanks for explaining that!
    I look forward to following Kenzo's show career!

  5. Wow, you're certainly taking on a lot of extra work. I hope you and Kenzo enjoy all the upcoming activities together.

    Can't wait to read all about it.


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