The Inner Dog LLC
I'm a retired police Explosives Detection K9 handler for the NJ Transit Police Department. I was one of the founders of the unit and retired as the Sgt. of the unit as well as a handler. My K9 Sanders was rejected from the Seeing Eye Institute for being too energetic but he was perfect for our purposes. We had to make up 3 weeks of classes in K9 school because my first K9, Toto, was not suited for the work. Sanders and I may have started school behind the curve but he was magic!! Sanders set records for the most hides / successful finds on our final test- 62! He was the perfect partner, never questioning where or what I asked him to search, always trusting my judgement and super excited every time I turned on the siren to answer a call. BUT, when we got home and my uniform came off, Sanders was ‘a dog’. There were many times when he employed selective hearing and my wife had more influence on him than I did!:)
My wife Rosanne and Sanders had a very special, but sometimes trying relationship. He loved when she would rub his muzzle, closing his eyes in canine ecstasy. But, when I wasn’t home, he would just lay at the door waiting my return and there was nothing she could do to persuade him otherwise. He loved to walk beside her when we were together, but he would balk at walking with her when I wasn’t around. I am very fortunate because Rosanne’s father had also been a K9 handler so she understood. How lucky am I to have both in my life?!
Sanders next job was to become the big brother, mentor, teacher and playmate for our first rescue dog. Joey and his siblings were rescued from S. Carolina at 3 months, escaping the ‘gas chamber’ at the local shelter. Sanders taught Joey housetraining and Joey became his shadow. It was Sanders who helped me teach Joey his basic life skills and manners, how to be sociable in the human and canine world and how to push mom and dad’s buttons to get what they wanted. This relationship led the way for bringing our second rescue into our home. That dog, Rufus, came with a ton of fears & phobias and it was Sanders and Joey that have helped me make Rufus a happier, less fearful and anxious dog.
Sanders passed away unexpectedly on February 2, 2010 from canine cancer. Joey mourned for months, looking for his big brother in every room and outside every day. He was despondent. Rufus was lost without his ‘guide dog’ and both of their behaviors actually deteriorated. It wasn’t until about 6 months after Sanders passing that they began to rely on each other and today they are buds, pals, partners and protectors of each other. The torch may have been passed, but it would never have been if it wasn’t for Sanders. Rest in peace, my boy, my big pup, my partner; we’ll be together again some day, just like old times. To see my memorial to Sanders, please visit my Facebook page.
In September 2013, we welcomed a new addition to our home: Jessie. I adopted her from the Best Friends Animal Society after she was found living with her two puppies underneath a chicken coop outside Fredonia, AZ. Jessie is absolutely amazing, nature's miracle of good genetics. She has no fears, no issues and is completely loving of everything and everyone. She and Joey are now constant companions which gives Rufus' old bones a break:) She has been the perfect complement to Joey (center) and Rufus (right) and as a team, they allow me to better educate people about all things dog as well as assist me when I'm working with dogs who have any kind of behavioral issues. Jessie is also my service dog.
My big buddy Rufus passed away on March 15, 2016 of congestive heart failure. Rufus was the single greatest teacher dog I've ever had the honor and privilege to be with. He always moved forward, he overcame so much and Joey even taught him to play. Rufus bit Jessie twice within 48 hours of bringing her into our home but they became fast friends. He was living, breathing proof that while he had his fears, he still found a way to enjoy life. Behavioral medication along with behavior modification protocols meant that within 18 months in our home, he was enjoying meeting people, loved going on group dog walks, found peace and joy anytime he was in the water and loved to sleep on the couch with his head in my wife's or niece's lap.
So for now, it's the Joey and Jessie show. She's the very tolerant but loving big sister and he's the pain in the butt little brother but they always want to be together and they are a comedy act like no other.
Rufus came to us from the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Utah where he had been for 5 years. With my acceptance into the Community Training Partners Program, Rufus was chosen from a list of 15 dogs to be the first dog in the program. Rufus has never really had a home, spending most of his formative time in life in various shelters before being turned over to Best Friends. He hadn’t ever been exposed to other dogs in a communal living type arrangement so he was even fearful of other dogs. As you can see by the picture at right, dogs can be wonderful teachers for other dogs. Sure has made my job easier and it’s been quite educational as well. (Rufus was a little camera shy in the beginning)