I have known Ranger literally since he was born. Ranger was one of thirteen yellow Labradors delivered by our girl Misty (Misty Mountain Miss Independence) and our boy Zeus (Gingerbred Celestial Thunder). My wife, Lorraine, and I were familiar with the great work that Summit Assistance Dogs was doing to help people with disabilities gain more freedom by providing them service dogs to assist them in their lives. We thought that we needed to support this effort by providing some great dogs to their organization so we donated not only Ranger, but also Misty so she could be a proud mom of future service dogs. (She just had a litter of pups that are currently in Summit’s training program – we hope to see them in service some day). Misty and Zeus pups are quite popular in the service community as a couple have also joined the Bergin University of Canine Studies program which you can read about in a future article.
Sue Meinzinger, Summit’s founder and Executive Director, has been great to work with and her passion for helping people through dogs is contagious. We learned from Sue that the success rate when training potential service dogs is only ~30%. There are many reasons for a dog to “wash out” and prey drive is one that often comes up with retriever breeds. They are retrievers after all! On the other hand, the temperament and bidibility that most retrievers possess make them prime candidates for this type of work. Following is the story of Ranger who found out how to make his “retrieve-ability” something to be proud of. Rock on, Ranger!
Ranger, a handsome Yellow Labrador Retriever bred at Misty Mountain Labradors in Woodinville, Washington, was in training at Summit Assistance Dogs where he was learning the skills necessary to provide assistance to people with disabilities. His puppy trainer, Brenda Crispin, took him through level 1 where he was a star performer. Then Ranger went to prison – not as an inmate but as part of an ongoing training program Summit Assistance Dogs has with the inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex.
Ranger completed Level 2 of his training at Monroe. However, being the kind of guy he is, the rec center was his favorite place to hang. Why? Balls, lot’s of balls! Unfortunately, it took his inmate-handlers 10 weeks to get him to “leave” the ping pong balls in the rec center! The center became “off limits” to Ranger. This behavior is not a good thing for an assistance dog, but Ranger’s hard driving, high energy work ethic is a great attribute for a drug sniffing dog.
Wendy McDougal, one of Summit’s trainers, suggested that Ranger might be a better match for the training at Pacific Coast K9s. Owner- trainer, Ken Pavlick, declared Ranger a great match for the kind of work he trains dogs to do. “Ranger was a very popular dog and performed well,” Ken says.
Smells Like Drugs
Drug sniffing dogs are trained to identify a minimum of five different drugs. And when they’re performing well, guess what their reward is? Food? No! A round of fetch with a tennis ball! This is just the ticket for Ranger. Ranger is now a proud member of the U.S. State Department team in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Ranger’s story highlights how important it is to identify the particular abilities of each dog in training and match them appropriately to their work setting. The dog is happy and their people are happy. It’s good to know we have a Ranger looking out for us!
How Can You Help?
If you want to help out Summit Assistance Dogs with their vision of “Empowering people with disabilities to greater heights”, please go to the Summit Assistance Dogs website and donate generously.
Category : Dogs With Jobs