Cadence has found his job

October 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Cadence is a handsome Belgian Malinois. His ears are upright and mirror his moods, his tail is always going, and his eyes are warm, bright, and intelligent.

Last fall, Kindred Spirits had received a request to find and train a dog to serve as a mobility service dog for a woman who needed to retire her old service dog. She had some very specific requirements for a dog — both in physical attributes and in training — so my trainers and I put the word out for a dog that would suit those requirements.

I got a call from the Escondido Humane Society about a Malinois they had taken in a few days earlier. The dog was a victim of the foreclosure crisis, was half starved and had some scars on his muzzle where they guessed he had been trying to get out of his yard. But they felt he had the ability and temperament to be a good service dog.

Well, I know the breed and was a little skeptical but I thought it was worth going out to see the dog, meet him, and temperament test him. Oh my gosh! What a dog! He passed all our tests with flying colors; he retrieved well, he didn’t flinch at any touches on his body, he followed direction, made eye contact, handled sound and sight distractions well, and appeared social with other dogs. Whew!

As soon as he was available, we adopted Cadence and brought him to our veterinarian. After a thorough physical, we found out that his hips and elbows were great, his eyes were fine, and bloodwork was normal even though he was about 20 pounds underweight.

So he began his training.

Cadence, like most Malinois, was born to work. He thrived in an atmosphere of training, play, exercise, training, and more playtime. He put on weight — lots of muscle — and he absorbed his training like a sponge. He went for bus rides, train rides, and went to the movie theater. He rode in my van and Kate’s sedan. He served as a demo dog in our classes. He learned to ride in an elevator and escalator and how to provide mobility support for someone going up the stairs and down the stairs. His training went without a hitch.

Unfortunately Cadence has a flaw that we cannot accept in a service dog and all our training could not change. He attacks other dogs. He’s not aggressive; he does it in play but somewhere during his puppyhood or early life he never learned to pull his punches and with his size, speed, and height, he hurts the other dogs.  After several of our dogs had to have stitches, with great regret we pulled Cadence from our service dog program.

What to do now? Cadence wasn’t suitable to be a pet dog; he needed a job to do. What could he do where he wouldn’t attack other dogs? Plus, this was a complex, extremely intelligent dog. He needed an experienced dog owner.

Well, after a great deal of search, we found Cadence the perfect home and now that he’s been there a little more than six weeks, I can say he’s thriving.

Cadence has a police officer partner. He and his partner go to schools and find illegal drugs that have been brought onto the school campus and into the buildings. Cadence has had 25 finds so far with no false alerts. In addition, his partner runs a school to teach this to other police dogs and Cadence is his demo dog. Cadence has even been on TV already.

So, although Cadence wasn’t suitable for the job we originally had in mind for him, he has found his niche and is doing well. He has a partner who values him, who takes him home every night, and who is experienced enough to keep him out of trouble. And Cadence is happy, too. He’s found his job.…

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Teach Your Puppy Not To Bite Cadence has found his job

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