Rowver was given to me by my friend Linda who trains dogs for hunting. I was out of the country for half of his first 12 months, so she trained him to retrieve and hunt – and he was very good at it – he has an unbelievable nose.

Rowver was very obedient with Linda in the field, but when he came to live with me – in the city, on a leash – it was difficult for me to contain his high powered energy. I tried a variety of collars and leads (choke, pinch, halty, etc.) but none of them gave me the obedience I wanted.

So I decided that Rowver needed a “job.” I do not hunt or have an interest in Field Trials, so decided to train him for Urban Search and Rescue with FEMA – he could use is nose to find people instead of birds, his directional training to search a desired location, and his high energy to do it for a 12 hour shift.

I located a local group that trained for FEMA, and took Rowver to an agility session. Rowver was quickly out of control – he became over-stimulated by all the excitement, went berserk, and ran head-on into a wall. Though not seriously injured, I was crushed that I had let this happen to my Rowver.

I started training him on my own – at 5 am, in the dark when there were no distractions. He was great at this, but at some point we needed to be out in the daylight with other people – and then his high energy and my lack of training in obedience became obvious – we were quickly out of control again.

My colleague Cathy recommended Ron Pace – she had taken several of her dogs through his obedience training. When I asked her “why Ron?” she said “because it works””.

And it does. Rowver was a whole different dog after just the first private lesson. Rowver is now in his 3rd year with Ron. I work him almost entirely off-lead. When we attend training sessions and testing for his FEMA certification as a Disaster Search Dog, he is the Star of Obedience and Direction-and-Control. He follows my every move, and the crowd goes wild – they compliment me, and they clap for Rowver.

I now have a wonderful, well-trained working dog that may one day be called upon to save lives.

Julia N Allen, PhD, DVM
Emergency Management Veterinary Services – Seattle WA