Pet Guide - Dog's Life

Photo By Norma Lopez Molina

Working Like a Dog

Tirelessly and eagerly, these canines put in an honest day’s work for no pay. But they do get benefits.

Henry (Above): Personal Protection

A gun or a trained guard dog? Those were the choices Kristin Kehley weighed in 2008 after her house was burglarized while she and her mother were home. Three months and $18,000 later, Henry, a German-born German shepherd, arrived as Kehley’s bodyguard. You’ll often see him lounging on the floor of Kehley’s Ocoee dance studio, but “the sad thing about these kinds of dogs is that they never really rest—they’re always on alert,” she says.  Henry might make dating a little tough for Kehley—he’s trained to dislike men—but she is OK with that tradeoff. “Having Henry lets me live life without fear,” Kehley says.

Jada: From a Shelter to the Stage

As many as 35 times a week, Jada joins a cast of more than 100 animals in SeaWorld Orlando’s Pets Ahoy show for a performance that lets the Dalmatian flaunt her animated personality by jumping rope or garnering giggles during a comedy routine. Jada came to SeaWorld in 2009 from a shelter in Ohio that rescues abused and abandoned Dalmatians. Trainer Shannon Dennison insists Jada needs no cajoling to perform. “Dogs don’t look at work like we do. For them it’s one big play time.”


Hobie: Crime Biter

Two years ago, during a struggle with an armed suspect, Orlando police officer Tim Stanley (left) released his K-9-unit German shepherd, Hobie, from the police cruiser via a remote on his uniform. In seconds, Hobie came to his handler’s rescue, chomping down on the gunman’s arm. In the three years since Hobie joined the Orlando Police Department, the German shepherd has captured more than 100 dangerous criminals. After a shift, Stanley takes Hobie home, where the canine behaves more like a mellow lapdog than a vicious police dog. “He’s lovable and sociable but he can also be very violent,” Stanley says.


D.O.G. & Red: Full-Time Ranch Hands

D.O.G. (pronounced dee-o-gee) and Red put in long hours on the job—and the Black Mouth Curs love every minute of them. At the end of a long day of herding cattle and horses as well as accompanying horseback safaris at Forever Florida’s 4,700-acre eco-ranch in Kissimmee, D.O.G. and his buddy Red spend the night guarding the stables, making sure coyotes and panthers keep their distance. “These dogs are extremely smart,” boasts Alan Perry, a Forever Florida cowboy and D.O.G.’s owner. Perry takes the two with him on the Rawhide Round-Up experience, where inevitably the handful of city slickers require the assistance of the duo to help round up cattle or bring a rogue horse back.


Suzy: A Comfort to Cancer Patients

Trained to sit calmly while chemotherapy patients at MD Anderson Cancer Center stroke her fur, Suzy provides a small speck of comfort during a dismal moment. The Labrador retriever’s “Bark Strong” collar lets cancer patients know that as a fellow cancer survivor she shares an odd kinship with them. And while some might think that Suzy’s three-hour workweek is pretty light, her trainer, Barbara Grodin, explains that the work is actually exhausting. Therapy dogs “really understand what the patient is going through and internalize those emotions,” says Grodin.



Dog Parks

You can let your best friend run wild at some of these local paw parks. Just be sure she plays well with others.

Avalon Dog Park
Fenced with benches; best for small dogs
3680 Avalon Park Blvd.

Barber Dog Park
Agility equipment and a fenced running space for leashless playtime 
3701 Gatlin Ave.

Downey Dog Park
Sandy space with a small-dog area and water fountains
10107 Flowers Ave.

Dr. Phillips Dog Park
43-acre park with a separate small-dog area, drinking water and rinse station
8249 Buenavista Woods Blvd.

Hound Ground Dog Park
Leash-optional, fenced space, with shade and water, small-dog and training areas
900 E. S.R. 434
Winter Springs

Fleet Peeples Park
23-acre waterfront park with trails, pavilions; dogs can run off leash during posted hours
2000 S. Lakemont Ave.
Winter Park

Meadow Woods Dog Park
Fenced park with a separate small-dog area, benches, drinking water, rinse hose and shade
1751 Rhode Island Woods Circle

Paw Park Place Dog Park
Part of Paw Park Place Dog
Bakery and Boutique. Fenced park with benches and dog exercise equipment
315 S. French Ave.


Training 101: Lead Your Dog to Good Behavior

Certified dog trainer Mariah Hinds (; 321-946-1035) offers these tips for teaching your buddy to behave:

1. Don’t treat your dog like a person. While dogs feel emotions, they don’t feel or react to them the same as we do.  A dog left alone might make a mess, but spite wasn’t its motivation. Spite is a human motivation, not a canine one. Boredom or anxiety was the likely cause. Assigning your emotions and motivations to your dog, and reacting to them
in that context, will make training your dog much more difficult.

2. Be patient.  You’ll never accomplish anything by getting mad at your dog. The time it takes to teach good behaviors varies.  With a new puppy or new dog, teach it the “come” command by rewarding with food or a toy after the completion of the behavior 100 times before transitioning to a 2:1 ratio. Teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash for 30 minutes without having to correct at all usually takes three months, although some owners accomplish this in just six weeks. 

3. Be consistent. Permissive and inconsistent behavior from humans will result in a confused dog. Dogs require boundaries, but with inconsistency they learn to persist until they get their way. 

4. Stress correct behaviors.  Demonstrate the correct way to do it first, several times. The only way for the dog to learn the correct behavior is by doing it correctly from the beginning. 

5. Bad puppy behavior is not “normal” behavior.  Don’t think that if your puppy is chewing on things, for instance, that it’s OK because he will grow of it. That won’t happen. If you don’t correct the dog now, the bad behavior will become a habit.

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