Hidden Talents – Tracking Turtles with Josie

                Welcome to Peaceable Paws!

It’s been an interesting week at Peaceable Paws… but then, aren’t they all? We continue to work through the challenges of starting up our classes outdoors – electrician is coming on Tuesday to give us some quotes on providing lighting – to see if we can do classes after dark – and we’ve ordered an Amish 8×10 wooden storage shed for some of our equipment, so we don’t have to keep lugging everything back inside after class. Wonderful husband Paul is leveling a spot for it near the training yard with the tractor, and with cream-colored siding and green roof and hardware, it will match the house! Sadly, Paul got called back to work at the casino this week, so farm projects will definitely slow down…

        Paul – leveling a spot for the shed.

Summer is officially here, and the last couple of weeks as I’ve watched the thistles bloom and start to go to seed I’ve been thinking, “Where are the goldfinches? We should be seeing them by now!” Sure enough, two nights ago I walked out the back of the barn and spotted them flying in the trees behind the patch of thistles next to the round pen. Well hello, finches!!! No photos yet though – will work on it. Then there was the starling who somehow got into the house, and I got to hark back to my humane office/animal control days and escort him out. I did take a hike around the farm without the dogs the other evening when I heard a tractor in the back field – I wanted to make sure it was our neighbor who leases some of our fields (it was), and not someone who shouldn’t be there (it wasn’t). I did take my camera along and saw some of our local residents, as well as some lovely scenes.

Lots of deer on the farm (we’ve seen as many as 30 at one time) – and we’re still seeing young fawns, so the coyote didn’t get them all!

Very elusive tuxedo feral cat – we only very rarely catch a glimpse of him.


Farm Scenes:

Hidden Talents

I like to stop and realize, sometimes, how much our dogs can do that we aren’t even aware of. I think back to our wonderful Terrier mix, Josie (so named because Paul and I found her when we were doing undercover cockfighting surveillance in San Jose, California). We had several tortoises then (Fred, Wilma and Jammer, all adopted from humane/neglect impounds at the Marin Humane Society where I worked… never purchased from a pet store!).

Each day when Josie and I got home from work we would go out to the back yard where the turtles roamed during the day, I would say “Let’s get the turtles, and gather them up to go under their heat lamps under the house (nights are cold in the SF Bay area!), Josie following at my heels. One night we got home and I couldn’t find Jammer anywhere. As I walked around the yard, searching, I said out loud, “Where is the turtle?” Josie ran over to the fence and sat there. Dense human that I sometimes am, I kept searching, and Josie returned to my side. Again I said out loud, “Where is that turtle?” Josie ran over to the same spot at the fence and sat.

This time I got it. I walked over to where she was and sure enough, Jammer had fallen down in the gap between the retaining wall and the chain link fence. Without Josie’s help I doubt I would have ever found him. And no, I had not ever done any scent work with Josie and certainly hadn’t taught her to look for lost turtles. Well, apparently I had, but I hadn’t realized it. Another time, Jammer found a hole in the fence and went walkabout. This time I enlisted Josie’s help deliberately. I took her to the hole outside the fence, and said, “Find the turtle!” She put her nose to the ground and quickly tracked Jammer into some deep bushes at the next-door neighbor’s house. Again, without Josie, I doubt I would have ever found him. Josie was also my crossover dog – the one who gently showed me the error of my old-fashioned coercive training methods. Miss you Josie!

Josie – turtle tracker extraordinaire!

So what hidden talents do your dogs have? Share!!!

That’s in for now – just two weeks until our academies start back up – looking forward to working with some wonderful new trainers!

Next blog – IMITATION!! Meanwhile, you all stay safe, sane and well.

Warm Woofs and Happy Training,


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