In Memoriam

Landis

March 2007 — March 2019 (what can we say, German Shepherds are precise like that!)

NW1 and Harry Award Recipient, NW2, NW3, NW3-C, NW3-E, NW3-I, NW3-V , L1I, L2I, L1E, L1V, L2V, National Invitational competitor 2013, 2014, and 2015, (qualified for 2017), NW3 Elite, Elite 1, Elite 2

The beginning is a bit of a long story, and the rest will then just flow naturally. We first met Landis, aka Eric, when I was dropping off adoption paperwork at Pet Orphans Fund, a private shelter. I was a volunteer there and did many of their home adoptions. As I was walking to the office, there was a volunteer taking a beautiful German Shepherd puppy out of the kennel for a walk. “Who is this puppy?”, I asked? Because I did many of their home adoptions, I had my finger on the pulse of the puppies that came in, knowing there was a good chance I’d be involved in the placement. She said, “He’s one of Jessica’s puppies”, to which I disagreed, since their somewhat stubby noses made them all look like Rottweiler puppies, in spite of the fact that Jessica was a German Shepherd (GSD). Pet Orphans Fund had pulled Jessica and her litter of puppies from a shelter in Riverside.

I probably don’t have to tell you that it was love at first sight! Our eyes met, and I was smitten. And no, we were NOT looking for a puppy!

It just so happened that I not only had Gerry with me, but our other two dogs at the time, Jarrah and Shadow, were also in the car. Without hesitation I took “Eric” out to show him to Gerry and our K9 crew. The kennel manager, watching the saga unfold, suggested we “take him home for the night”. Ummm...sure, okay, will do. And as my friend Cynthia would say, “and we did!”

It was a L O N G night. He didn’t sleep a wink, and managed to wrangle himself out of a vari-kennel AND an x-pen, allowing him to roam the entire house! What were we thinking? We didn’t have time for a puppy! I called the shelter the next morning to say we would be bringing him back...that we didn’t have time for a puppy. They said okay, and we brought him back. “Bye- bye, little puppy!”....less than 24-hours was enough of that nonsense!

Later that day, we got a call from a dear friend of ours who said he got a “psychic hit” (intuitive impression) that we had just adopted a dog. W E I R D! One, we didn’t have him that long, and two, we hadn’t told anyone! So yes, we confessed, we had tried bringing home a puppy but took him back.

The following day, Monday, as I was driving to work, it struck me that I just couldn’t get THAT puppy out of my mind. I’d probably seen over 100 puppies come and go from the shelter and never gave any of them a second thought, except this one! So while still in my car, I called the shelter, asked to talk with the kennel manager, and said that in spite of the fact that I had returned him, I had decided to adopt him after all. She chuckled and said, “sure, no problem. We’ll hold him for you”. “What did I just do, I thought?” Nothing had changed from the day before when we had decided we didn’t have time for a puppy, except I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

We’re fortunate to have a very dear friend who, in addition to being a Reiki Master, is an animal communicator. She’d helped us through many other animal concerns with previous pets, so we decided, just for the heck of it, to see if there was anything to my “premonition” about THIS puppy. We sent her a photo and asked her what, if anything, she picked up from the photo. O M G ! She immediately called us back and said “YOU HAVE TO GO GET HIM! HE’S MEANT TO BE WITH YOU!” Talk about pre-cognition! Little did she know how much this puppy would change our lives! (or maybe she DID know...psychics are like that!).

The decision made had now been solidified, and the following Saturday, 07/07/07, we picked him up from the shelter for a life with us that would last 12 years! The shelter said he was about 13 weeks old, but he seemed to be much younger, more like 9 weeks. At that age, 4 weeks makes a big difference in terms of development, but regardless, he was ours to keep!

His name…in as much as we liked “Eric”, as that was the name of one of our favorite soap opera characters, it wasn’t too fitting for this little guy. Rewind to the phone call we received from our dear friend Matt Landis, who had a “psychic hit” that we got a puppy, and well...there you have it. “Landis” would be his new name!

For those of you who knew us back then, you’ll remember that Landis was a sickly pup. His eyes had lost most of the fur surrounding them, he was skin and bones, and lordy mama, did he have diarrhea. So much diarrhea, for so long! After about a year and a half (YES! A year and a half!) of trying a variety of meal plans, different brands of kibble, no kibble at all, etc., we went the “raw” route. Well, he didn’t actually eat the food in a raw state. We bought raw meat from a butcher and spent hours and hours cooking and prepping his special meals. We used a crock pot most to the time to cook such meats as Llama, lamb, emu, goat, pork, etc. We cooked these in the house, until we discovered just how bad these exotic meats smelled when they were cooked! So the crock pot soon went out on the back porch, hooked up to an extension cord that ran into the kitchen. But the upside was, Landis was doing SO MUCH BETTER! And then one day we got really brave and decided to try a true raw diet. Once we did, we never went back, he lived on a raw diet, combined with dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and potatoes for the rest of his life, and thrived! His fur grew back, he put on and then maintained his weight, and he became fit and strong.

Shortly after acquiring Landis, our friend Sara offered to let Landis come to her home and play with her English Shepherd named “Rowdy” (named, of course, after the famous WWF wrestler “Rowdy Roddy Piper”!) Ironically, Rowdy was also from Pet Orphans Fund and adopted about a year earlier. So Gerry spent several mornings each week bringing Landis over to Rowdy’s house for play dates, where they chased each other around the yard, tugged on toys together, and generally had lots and lots of fun! It was a great time for the boys to get together and run off some of their young dog energy! Rowdy was one of the few dogs that Landis really got along with.

But in many ways, Landis was a problem child for about the first 4 years of his life! Along with his diet issues, he was a real “handful” behaviorally speaking. He often got into trouble around the house. As another trainer reminded us, “He needs a job!” Along with that, he needed training every day! We enrolled him in obedience classes, where he learned the basics, but not without putting up a fight about it. We were so delighted to “get-in” to a competition obedience class at a local obedience club. (The exclusive kind of club where you needed a sponsor in order to be accepted). We had one, and we got in, only to be politely excused a few months later after Landis had some incidents with a couple of other dogs during class. (We were sandwiched in together, and Landis needed more space between him and his classmates). And let’s not forget the disruption he caused during class when he started howling at the sirens of the fire trucks going by the park where class was held. (Well, that’s what dogs do, right?) Needless to say, the instructor was quite agitated about that, too! So what the heck were we doing there? He hated it...I hated it...but by God, I wanted to be one of those teams that could have my dog in heel position in a line of dogs all in heel position. I even tried a private session with the trainer. But it never worked out in spite of my efforts. And it soon occurred to us that the preferred breeds in this club were Australian Shepherds and Border Collies. We were doomed, and soon excused from further participation.

Well, now what? This was the kind of dog that NEEDED something to do. Very unlike our previous German Shepherd that we had adopted as an adult, Landis, as stated earlier, needed a job!

We also tried agility and sheep & goat herding, but I didn’t care for the former, and Landis didn’t care for the latter. (And the instructor was none too pleased when our boy came away with a mouth full of fur from the butt of a sheep he was supposed to be herding, not biting!) Plus the full day required, which included an hour drive both ways, and lots of waiting around for our turn, standing around in desert heat or freezing cold, well, you get the picture.

So at about the same time, the 3 founders of the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) approached my then dog-training boss, Karen Taylor at My Best Friend Obedience, about the possibility of teaching K9 Nose Work classes through her company. And as we all know, trainers’ dog’s are always the last ones to get training, and this was no different. In an effort to market to her students, there wasn’t a spot available for Landis. Until one day, when Landis was about 10 months old, and one of the nose work students was in the midst of a nasty divorce with custody issues over their dog. He ended up having to pull his dog from class and asked me if I wanted to buy his remaining spots, which I did!

So the rest, as they say, is history! Landis was a natural from his very first box search! We took classes in a parking lot in North Hollywood for some time, and then, as kismet would have it, I heard about an open spot in an advanced class in Long Beach! Similar situation — one of the students was moving and had a few paid classes left in the que, and I bought them from her. And once again, as before, “the rest is history.”

From his first trial in January 2009 through his NW3 Elite trial in June 2012, he scored overall placements in 6 of those trials, and earned 19 element placements! With each title he earned the coveted “Pronounced” designation, bestowed by the judges in the competition! Even the National Invitational, a very advanced trial, didn’t slow him down. He took 2nd place overall at the first one in June 2013. He qualified and competed in the first three Invitational events, and qualified for the 4th one as well, which was held in 2017. Although he qualified, I decided the trip to Massachusetts would be too much for a now nearly 11-year-old dog, and so together we watched on the live Facebook feeds.

He loved to travel! There wasn’t an adventure he wasn’t up for! When he was still quite young, he made a cross-country trip in a van with four other dogs, and I flew to meet him there several days later for our first Dogs Of Course® Nose Work camp, where a variety of instructors teach many different types of classes. You see, with his success, the founders must have thought I knew what I was doing when they invited me to become an instructor!

Landis has traveled to many nose work camps! He’s been to Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Colorado camp. And of course we traveled all over the Western United States to compete! In the early days he seemed to be in the right place at the right time as he got to serve as “Dog in White” (the test dog for the hidden odors that are set out for the dogs to find) for numerous trials! He has also been featured in a number of educational seminar videos.

He was even evaluated for professional detection work, and “made the grade”! We decided we didn’t want to sell him for that kind of work, however, and continued on with his non-professional nose work career.

We even dabbled in Schutzhund, aka IPO. We were so fortunate to be able to train with two of the best IPO trainers from Germany who spent some time in the United States. While I was learning about the sport, he was learning how to be a more confident dog, and we learned some serious obedience commands as well!

We sure have been blessed with having the absolute perfect people appear in our lives at the absolute perfect time! Amy, Ron, and Jill (the founders of the nose work sport), of course, were instrumental in his foundation as a nose work dog, as was Gerry for the hundreds of hours of odor hide placement and the many miles he put in traveling to training classes with us!

When we lost our oldest dog, the last remaining one in our household, this left Landis as our only dog. We were concerned we would never be able to add another dog to the household. For those of you who knew him, you know full well he “didn’t play well with other dogs”. Family is different, though, and so when he came to live with us as a puppy, he learned to acclimate to the family we already had. But now it was just him and Parker, the cat. Through the grace of God and the brilliantly talented Sue Sternberg, the most perfect match was found for us, and Cassandra Sue, aka Cassie, a black Labrador mix, came to live with us! We never thought we’d see the day that he would accept another dog, let alone grow to be smitten with her, but he did, and he was! They grew to love each other like we had always hoped they would.

And we were blessed once again when we were offered the opportunity by well-known Chris Zink, DVM, PhD, DACVP, DACVSMR, CCRT, CVSMT, CVA, to examine Landis! One evening at a small social gathering, where we were invited to bring him, she noticed that his gait and other movements were not looking quite right. She examined him and said she believed he could benefit from further evaluation from a professional colleague in California (she is located on the East Coast). Not only did she write up a report on the spot, but she also referred us to California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) in Santa Monica for what would be an ongoing regimen of physical therapy lasting for two and a half years. Within the first few months of treatments and a home exercise program, it was as if Landis regained 5 years of his life! Acupuncture, physical therapy, exercise, underwater treadmill, and laser treatments on a regular basis all aided in getting and keeping his strength up until literally the very end of his life. Every canine professional who met him couldn’t believe what good shape he was in for a dog his age!

We are so grateful to so many people who made his life, and our lives, better! As he was getting ready to make his transition, he gave us one spectacular week of a good appetite, happy walks, and great searches! About a week before that fateful day of March 11th, when we said good-bye to him, we spent some quiet time together, gazing into each others&squo; eyes. While enjoying that time, I heard him say in a most happy and joyful voice: “Don’t be sad...I’ve had a good life with you!”

I don’t know how not to be sad, but I would say I was the one who had a good life with him! I think we changed each other’s lives beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

We’ve been told he’s inspired hundreds of nose work teams and instructors, which moves us beyond measure. We’re so grateful to have been able to share him with you. We imagine he’s found Ron and together they’re still doing nose work!