One cold winter morning, I was asked to go to
Coronet Peak Ski Field to help promote and solicit donations for
search and rescue dogs. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two
Border Collie pups around 9-10 weeks old. I immediately asked if I
could borrow one to carry around with me. The owner said,
"Certainly, just take any one you want." I grabbed the larger of
the two and as I walked off with him the owner called out, "I don't
like that one; he doesn't respond to my training."
I brushed this off and proceeded to go around
collecting donations, telling people that the dog would grow up to
save lives one day. Carrying the puppy, I collected more than
$2,000 for the search and rescue cause. When I returned the
puppy to his owner, I asked what his name was (Jocko)
and mentioned to him that I would gladly take the dog if he
didn't want him. He didn't take me up on it.
Five months later, during a search and rescue
training session, I was reunited with Jocko and his owner. I
noticed that the owner was having issues training Jocko
and overheard him say that he was going to shoot the dog, as
he was untrainable.
As the owner headed to get his rifle, I spoke
up, offering to take the dog. Luckily, the man agreed to give
me Jocko and handed me his pedigree papers, as well as an $800
bill. Although steep, the price didn't worry me - I was only
concerned with saving the dog. Once I was the dog's owner, I
immediately changed his name to Jack, had him neutered and
proceeded to train him myself.
By the time Jack was 12 months old, he was a
fully operational search and rescue and cadaver dog. Then with
the help of Barbara Williams from Shoot First NZ, I was able
to do quite a few commercials and movies with Jack. He is still
doing that today.
Throughout his search and rescue career, he has
found many people alive and, regrettably, also dead. In
addition to finding people, Jack also has the ability to
find lost dogs.
As I am a canine behaviorist and a professional
dog trainer, I can say that Jack's exceptionally well-trained. His
best ability, which he has become famous for, is rounding up the
dogs that have become "runaways" and bringing them back. Jack's
also proved to be an excellent sheepdog, obedience and agility dog
and an extraordinary swimmer.
Now, as a 13-year-old, Jack still does search
and rescue every now and then. We visit Kidsplay centers and
children's clubs for demonstrations, and he is very popular at
retirement communities. Jack and I are a perfect team and have
always done our best to help each other. In my 45 years of dog
training, he is the most extraordinary dog I have ever owned.