June 9, 2011
DogWatch Dealer Chat: Ron Pace, the CPR Hero Dog Trainer!
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
Name a level of government – city, county, state, federal, tribal – and chances are Ron has trained dogs for its canine units. He has trained police dogs for over 25 years, but his newest focus is on training service animals to assist those with chronic health conditions.
In addition to being a DogWatch Dealer and his Canyon Crest training duties, Ron is also the founder of Dogabetics, an organization that trains dogs to detect when their human companion’s blood sugar levels dip too low or too high and to alert them to this dangerous situation. He started Dogabetics in 2009, after meeting Liam, a then 13 year-old Type I diabetic who needed help managing his condition. Liam and his Labrador retriever Max are now a great team, and Max’s keen nose and quick alerts allow the teenager to participate in sports and other activities safely.
To learn more about Dogabetics, visit the organization’s website. Talking about this new passion, Ron proudly tells us one of the dogs he trained saved his owners’ life after only two weeks together. Whether it’s police dogs or medical assistant dogs or any other hard-working service dog, watching these dogs meet their charges for the first time is “pretty fantastic.” Dogabetics is also a multi-generational cause, as Ron’s son Jarod has joined the training team alongside his father.
Sugar’s CPR Rescue
Ron’s personal protection training class on Saturday, March 5th may have started off uneventfully, but it ended in truly dramatic fashion. During the advanced class, participant Sugar suddenly collapsed, seizing and uttering what Ron called “deathly moans.” Sugar’s devoted owner, Tiffany Kauth, shouted for help.
“I had to help Sugar while keeping Tiffany safe, too,” Ron said, “and I thought, we need to get it on film if we can, so that we can give the footage to a vet.” Ron quickly handed his camera phone to his assistant, and rushed over to help Sugar. Luckily, Ron had previous experience resuscitating a dog, even if he had never had formal training in canine CPR. “I did what came naturally,” says Ron, “It may not have been exactly perfect, but it worked.” After performing CPR on Sugar for about a minute and a half, the dog began breathing on his own again, and he was up and walking five minutes later. Another class member had a vet appointment scheduled after class, and gave it to Tiffany and Sugar for evaluation.
Later that day, Ron posted the cell phone camera footage of the event, so that Sugar’s vet could see it and so that his clients could see the steps he took to revive Sugar. The emotional seven minute video, embedded below, eventually traveled much farther than Ron ever imagined, garnering over a half a million views on YouTube via Canyon Crest’s YouTube channel, and no doubt thousands more on the various news and dog sites around the world who picked up the story.
Soon, Ron was receiving calls from his local Fox affiliate, then the Fox News Channel, then CNN, “Today,” “Good Morning America” and many more news and TV sources. He says he didn’t know what “viral” meant until his own video went “viral” within a week. All of the media attention was exciting for Ron, who had experience speaking with the media during his long and successful career, but it was also “pretty wild” and a bit exhausting. After five days in the spotlight, Ron headed to his vacation home for some well-earned peace.
Update on Sugar
Unfortunately, Sugar’s health problems continued to plague her after Ron’s dramatic rescue. The boxer’s heart trouble proved to be very severe, and she passed away 10 days later. Yet despite this sad ending, Tiffany told Ron that she was very grateful that his efforts allowed her to have those ten extra days with Sugar. She “treated Sugar like a king and had a lot of fun with him the last 10 days.”
What’s more, Sugar’s legacy does not end with her death. Ron has received emails from around the world from dog owners sharing similar stories and thanking him for spreading the message that CPR saves lives both human and canine. In addition to encouraging dog owners and pet professionals to seek out animal CPR training, Sugar’s story also raises awareness of canine cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition that is particular common among boxers, along with Great Danes, Doberman pinschers, Newfoundlands, Labrador and golden retrievers, and Irish wolfhounds. If your dog is one of these high-risk breeds, ask your veterinarian about testing for potential heart issues during his or her next checkup. And contact your vet immediately if you witness the following symptoms in your dog: heavy or labored breathing, coughing, fainting spells, severe exercise intolerance, restlessness and lethargy. They may be signals of a serious heart issue. Click here for more information on cardiomyopathy.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our dealer profile, and we encourage you to visit Ron’s website and Facebook page to learn even more about him, DogWatch Northwest, and his training resources. Ron has also written a dog training book, Who’s the Boss, which is available via his website or Amazon.com. Thanks to Ron for sharing his story with us, and we look forward to highlighting more of our remarkable dealers in future installments of Dog Tails’ DogWatch Dealer Chat!