When Ron Pace, the DogWatch Dealer in Washington state and a renowned dog trainer with 35 years of experience, shared his story with Dog Tails, he mentioned how strange it was that the dog that brought him worldwide attention just happened to be named Sugar. You see, at his Canyon Crest K-9 Training Center in Tacoma, WA, Ron currently trains service dogs for people who have diabetes. These dogs use their unique abilities to detect and alert their owners to potentially dangerous blood sugar levels. So it seems appropriate that the boxer who collapsed and was resuscitated by Ron during an obedience training session should be named Sugar! What a sweet coincidence.
In this installment of DogWatch Dealer Chat, we speak with Ron about his years of dog training, his diabetic service animal organization, and of course, Sugar’s dramatic rescue, which was captured on video.
(You may have seen this video of Ron’s heroic efforts on our Facebook page, or on CNN, Fox News, “Today” or any of the many media channels which showed the footage and covered the amazing story. If not, we’ve embedded the video below. Don’t miss it!)
A Dog-Centric Career
Ron Pace has been a DogWatch dealer for 20 years and a dog trainer for 35 years, but his love for animals goes back even further. His love of dogs began in high school, when he took a neighbors’ Doberman pinscher for a walk and stayed with the dog for hours. Not long after, Ron brought home a dog of his own, a German shepherd puppy he named Jake. To learn more about Jake, read Ron’s tribute to the dog who “changed his life” here. Like all puppies, Jake was a bit “unruly” at first, so Ron took him to obedience classes. There, Ron discovered that he and Jake were quite “good students” and at 19, he won a $1,000 scholarship to pursue dog training as as career.
Ron and Jake proved to be a strong team. The talented dog even helped Ron secure his first bank loan to start his dog training and boarding business, Canyon Crest K-9 Training Center in Tacoma, WA. Jake accompanied Ron to the bank, showed off his obedience training and proved that his dog trainer “meant business.”
At Canyon Crest, Ron offers a variety of training courses, from puppy preschool to advanced training in tracking and personal protection. He works alongside his wife, Patti, and their two dogs, a 16-year old Norwich terrier named Mattie and a 2-and-1/2 year old German shepherd named Jude.
Service Dog Training
In addition to Super Bowl XLV, last weekend also marked the annual DogWatch Hidden Fences Dealer Conference. 180 people, representing 75 Dealerships, traveled to Clearwater Beach, Florida for the two-day conference. The group included DogWatch Dealers from as far away as California, Alaska, and even the United Kingdom. This week in Dog Tails, we wanted to share with you a few of the highlights of our biggest annual gathering, and celebrate the accomplishments of some of our amazing Dealers.
The conference kicked off on Saturday, with a number of exciting presentations. DogWatch Dealer Shawn Bader of Mount Kisco, NY discussed the BigLeash, DogWatch’s remote trainer product. He highlighted some of the exciting new features that will be available starting this March.
DogWatch staff also introduced our newest, smallest receiver collar – The R7mini. (See image at right.) A perfect solution for small dogs and cats, the R7mini has all the same great features you have come to expect from DogWatch. Weighing in at only 1.1 ounces (including the battery!), it is the smallest receiver collar available for hidden fences. To find out more about these new products and features, contact your local DogWatch Dealer.
Other presenters included Chris Burns of Fort Point Design, who discussed website optimization, and Catherine Weber of Weber Media Partners, who discussed social media marketing. That evening, we held our annual awards dinner, honoring the achievements of our Dealers in 2010. A complete list of award winners is included after the jump.
On Sunday afternoon, we held a Dealer Fair where Dealers shared information with each other about their businesses and learned from each other’s varied experiences. Of course, the Dealers also shared a lot of their own dog stories and training advice – after all, it’s all about the pets! At the end of this productive day, everyone gathered together for a Super Bowl viewing party. Our Green Bay and Pittsburgh dealers were there to cheer on their home teams along with the DogWatch team.
All in all, it was fantastic weekend. Congrats to all of the awards winners, and a big thanks to the all of the dealers who attended. To see photos of the event, check our Facebook page next week. We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into our event, and we encourage you to contact your local Dealer to learn more about our new products. We can’t wait to tell you about them!
Dog Tails interview with Emily West, DogWatch Hidden Fences of Columbus. Emily and Pat West have been DogWatch Hidden Fence dealers since 1992.
DT: You’ve been a DogWatch dealer for the past seventeen years—what’s your most poignant training experience working with a family and their dog?
EW: Don’t know that there is one particular story that really sticks with us. But the most poignant and satisfying thing is when we run into one of our customers and are greeted with a big hug and they tell us something like “You guys are the reason my dog is alive” or “You have saved my dogs life so many times, I can’t thank you enough.” It is the most satisfying and fantastic feeling in the world to know that you have meant that much to that family. It makes us know what we do is really important to families and their dogs.
DT: What’s your funniest story?
EW: Pat and I differ on our favorite stories. Mine has to do with a pot-belly pig that he trained, but Pat says it isn’t relevant because it isn’t a dog story. If you’d like it anyway, I’d be happy to share.
Pat’s favorite and funniest training story happened several years ago when we got a call that a dog was leaving the yard. The customer didn’t explain over the phone and just asked us to come out as we had to “see” the problem. So when Pat got there, the customer brought him into the kitchen and let the dog out. Pat watched from the window as the big Great Pyrenees proceeded to “walk” on his two back legs right through the fence, all the while making sure his neck and collar stayed above the level of the range of the fence. It was an easy fix as once the range was a bit higher the dog could no longer go through without correction, but it was quite the amazing circus act.
DT: People often have strong personal biases about whether to get a purebred dog, a mixed breed–and some have strong personal preferences for going with a rescue dog? How would you guide people with these decisions?
EW: Regarding pure bred, mixed breed or rescue dogs. Pat and I do have strong feelings about this, but it may not be what you think. Obviously, we feel it’s important to rescue dogs and we’ll always support our local rescues, shelters and Humane Societies.
However, we feel that it’s equally important to get a dog that is well matched to your life style. For instance, we NEVER recommend that anyone gets a dog simply because “it’s cute”. We always encourage people to do research regarding whatever type of breed or mix. Size, shedding, exercise, barking tendencies, temperament around other dogs, temperament around children, and digging habits are all important aspects to look at. And people need to be honest with themselves about what they are willing or not willing to do for a dog before they pick one out.
If people do the necessary research BEFORE they get a dog, Pat and I feel many fewer dogs would end up in shelters. And keeping dogs out of shelters is just as important as rescuing them once they are in shelters.
DT: We’ve noticed that DogWatch of Columbus has many online presences e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn. What interested you in having social media presences? How has it worked for communicating with clients, prospects and others in your industry?