Miracle of Life

My friend, Bethany Tracy from Wasatch Canine Camp, and WCC’s Berners invited me to experience something incredible. It was a very cool day, but a night full of waiting. Yep, I got to see a puppy brought into this world. It truly was something I will remember forever.C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

I was just at home, hanging out with some friends, while training some dogs around distractions. I get a text from my friend saying that her dog, Luna, might be having her puppy (yeah, singleton puppy) tonight. I immediately said I would be right over and sent my friends home, and packed up some overnight essentials to head over. Of course, this just included kit-kats, graham crackers, and m&m’s. I’m serious about overnight essentials. ;)

What was truly amazing was that this particular bitch was bred around 2 months ago, and 2 ultrasounds later said no puppies. Pregnancy didn’t take. So, we were not expecting a litter at this time. About a week ago, Beth saw something moving in Luna’s abdomen while she was laying on her back. It was either something out of Alien, or this dog was indeed pregnant. She took her in for an xray, and sure enough – she was pregnant with one puppy!

C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

This little life is brought into the world!

Anyway, I head over to her house, and we camp out, waiting for Luna to go into labor. We were seeing signs of her starting to get ready, but still no puppy. Around 1:30, she was starting to get awfully uncomfortable, but again – still no puppy. Heavy panting, eyes darting, wanting to snuggle constantly, and couldn’t get comfortable. We were looking for our her to ‘nest’ in her birthing pool (where she would shred the sheets and blankets in there) or at least a contraction. Nothing. We fall in and out of sleep, as the sound of Luna’s panting waking us from time to time. She didn’t sleep either.

She had an appointment to get a c-section at 9:00 in the morning. We were really hoping for a naturally born puppy, but that doesn’t always work out. Beth said that normally, she would just wait for the puppies to be born, but with singleton puppies, you have to be careful not to put too much stress on them. So, I went home, let my dogs outside to potty, fed them breakfast, and then we headed to the vet.

C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC BernersWe were really hoping there may have been more puppies in there, that we just couldn’t see in the xray. We impatiently wait in the waiting room to get Luna prepped and ready for her procedure. We see many dogs come and go, and finally she is ready. We get to watch the c-section, and see this puppy be born!

We go back into the room where she is under anesthesia already, and the vet makes the first cut into her abdomen. It happened so fast! First, Luna was on the table, and they were asking us if we were ready. Then,  A PUPPY! A little boy was born into the world.

They got him out of his sac, and then the vet tech cleaned out his throat and nose, and there he was. A healthy little boy weighing 1.2lbs. He was so small, and cute, and just figuring out how to breathe.C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

I was able to hold him the whole way home. Luna was a little nervous at first, but figured out he was her puppy soon enough. He figured out how to nurse, and she figured out how to clean him. One of Beth’s other dogs, Sasha also had puppies a long time ago. She was a great helper! It was like she wanted to be a mom all over again. She hovered over the little guy, cleaning him every once in a while, and was very concerned about his well being.

I didn’t get to see a natural birth, but this was just as awesome.  It was so awesome, that I wanted to share it with all of you!

C-Section on Luna, Wasatch Canine Camp, WCC Berners

Welcome to the world, little man! Click me to find out more about me, and see more pictures of me!

I’m Alive!

Sorry I haven’t updated in so long! With building my business, the holidays, and taking some much needed time to myself, I am back in the game.

Heather Hamilton blog Project K9 Dante cropped earsLet’s see.. I already told you about my little puppy, Dante. Well, he’s not so little anymore. I can barely pick him up now. He’s all legs, and reminds me a baby goat! He’s clumsy, but wants to run super fast, so he runs into everything.  After the first month or so with him, we have adjusted and learned more about him. We have learned his good and bad behaviors. He is a little shit in the crate sometimes (was horribly when we first got him), but he’s learning and is getting better every day. He is trained on Halti now, and we go on nice walks around the neighborhood every day. He has experienced seeing cows, goats, donkeys, ducks, etc. We are still working on socialization, so I’m not so concerned with obedience. That’s the easy stuff that can come later. He has already learned absolutely no nipping ever, and the jumping up has gotten 1000x better. He is well on his way to making himself be a wonderful member of society.

Heather Hamilton blog Project K9 DogsJinx is progressing in her training as well. She is super comfortable at home, and is off-leash reliable for the most part. We are working on off-leash reliability around people now. According to Marc Goldberg, ‘eCollar fixes everything. Except for when it doesn’t. But it usually does.’ We are finding this to be true. She loves her eCollar, and she is making improvements. Over New Years, we had my in-laws in town, and we had some changes in her that we haven’t seen before. She has moved a little from avoidance/flight stages to avoidance/fight. Which, is actually progress. Now, I want to move her into avoidance/acceptance. As we knew when we got her, she is a project, but she couldn’t be in a better place. We are giving her the training, understanding, and love she needs to be successful, and get over all her fears.

As for Napoleon, he is getting older. I notice it every day. He’s not anywhere near close to being done with this life, but I do still notice it. He has become quite the helper with all my training dogs. He’s not great at social queues, but he is damn near perfect at house rules, and a great example of walking nicely on and off leash. He has calmed down quite a bit in the last year. I think taking him to clients’ houses and expecting a 1-2 hour ‘place’ command has really helped.

Well, that’s it for my kids. How about my board and train dogs? Well, in the last few months, we have had 3. A shih tzu/schnauzer mix puppy, a chocolate lab, and a boxer. All did wonderfully with their training. The lab and the puppy were both residency programs, but my boxer is here for the full boarding school. She came to us for dog aggression, which turned out to be excitement and adrenaline. We have been working on calming commands, rest, and learning to be calm when she would normally go straight to excitement.  She is doing great, and progressing every day. We received some wonderful pictures of the chocolate lab for Christmas. He was doing a perfect ‘place’ with 15 people, and an excited energy around the house. Wonderful! The little puppy came to us all the way from Oregon, and unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time with this kid. He was super jumpy and sensitive. Didn’t really like being touched or handled too much, but was a champ around other dogs. The family had children, and it wasn’t a good fit, so he was rehomed into a different family. However, they are continuing his training and it sounds like it is working out a little better for the dog.

Heather Hamilton Blog Project K9 Calm Dogs

Please excuse the mess, lol.

I have so many plans for this year, I just need to get the ball rolling and take initiative. This week, I have been working at K9 Lifeline for some extra experience. I have helped run a social with them, did some daycare, kennel tech stuff, and worked with a few tricky dogs. It has been a really good experience for me, and I learned a lot from the staff there. My little Dante found a bigger Dante to play with while we were there. MY Dante made friends with a blind pit/bulldog (I think) mix. His name was George, and I kind of fell in love with him. Unfortunately, I just went from 1 to 3 dogs fairly quickly, and I don’t think we should do another one so soon. Hubby and I discussed fostering him, but I just feel I’m a little busy trying to get my feet on the ground still, so maybe later this year.

Speaking of fostering, I want to foster a pregnant mom this year. I want to do the delivery, and rear the puppies until they are 8 weeks old and ready to go to new homes. That is the biggest project/experience I want this year.  Hubby is like ‘OMG NO!’… but I’m sure I can convince him once our puppy gets a little older. I just attended a ‘Proper Socialization and Natural Rearing of a Litter’ seminar through WCC Bernese Mountain Dogs. Bethany Tracy is one of a kind with the way she raises her puppies. With all of her experience in training and breeding, I take her advice above anyone else’s when it comes to how to raise a litter. That’s why I took this seminar: So I could be ready this year when we foster our mamma and have puppies. I learned so much more about puppy development and behavior. I was exhausted after the seminar! So glad I had this opportunity!

Whew, ok, I think that’s enough for now.


Project K9 Heather Hamilton husband Red Doberman Puppy

Welcome to the family, Dante!

It’s been just over 2 weeks since I quit my day job, and I have never been so busy, nor so tired. I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath at all! My last day was on 21st, and I started a board and train dog on Nov. 22nd, and boarded a ton of dogs over the holiday. I love my life and I’m proud of myself for taking the giant leap into business ownership. I am very happy with this decision, even though I am exhausted and my house is in a constant disarray!

Heather Hamilton Project K9 Wasatch Canine Camp Social

Jinx at Wasatch Canine Camp’s Saturday social class! She’s in the middle on the hay stack!

I have started reading  ‘The Art of Raising a Puppy’ By the Monks of New Skete. Which leads me into a major announcement! We got a puppy! I planned on buying this book, and attending a ‘rearing puppies’ workshop hosted by a friend of mine in December, in preparation to get a puppy in May from Anya’s next litter.  Well, seems I have quite the story to tell as to why we ended up getting our little red dobie early!

Remember when we adopted Jinx, our fearful black pitbull? Well, we were considering getting a doberman puppy instead. But I couldn’t put in the time a puppy would need, as I was still working my day job at the time when he would be ready to come home and I would have to board him for 2 months. And I fell in love with Jinx, anyway. So we took her home, and she is improving little by little.

Anyway, we passed on the puppy and I asked if they would be breeding Anya again. I was sad I couldn’t adopt him, but at the same time… it is what was best. They said yes and there would be a litter in May. I wanted my name down and wanted to put down a deposit to get a pick of the litter. The breeder is my trainer friend’s sister, and a very reputable breeder. That is a blog post in itself: backyard breeders vs. reputable breeders. For another time. Anyway, I think every trainer should go through the experience of raising a puppy, so that was a goal for next year. As well as to foster a pregnant mom, but that may be put off now since I have quite the project with this little guy.

Heather Hamilton Utah Dog Training Project K9 Red Doberman Puppy TrainingOf all the puppies who were born, there was one in particular I really loved. The only red dobie of the litter. We visited them at 4 weeks old, and I took a special liking to him then. Once he was old enough, he started coming to socials on Saturdays and I got to see him every week. He was getting so big, and he was so confident! The family told me he was special and that they decided they wanted to keep him. I was secretly hoping he wouldn’t find a home by December, and that when I quit my job, I could adopt him. So, this made me a little sad, but I knew I couldn’t handle a puppy right then anyway, and this family is great – he would be well loved.

Fast tracking a bit: Social class on November 30th was a big day. Jinx was off leash in social for the first time! She didn’t do fabulous, but this was a big step. We have been doing eCollar training for the last couple weeks, and she has done great, so I felt comfortable enough to let her off leash. I showed my husband how to use the remote and she was off. Big day, Yay Jinx!

Heather Hamilton Utah Dog Training Project K9 Red Doberman Puppy Training

After class was over, I was chatting with some friends when my husband asked me to stand in a certain spot… well, see for yourself what happened in the video below!

We adopted this little guy and things have been great! We are so excited to be enjoying this little guy! He is a sweetheart and is learning quickly! He is doing great on potty training, nipping/chewing, walking nicely on a leash (sometimes) and is learning ‘sit’. This coming week, we will be working on ‘come’, ‘downs’ and getting used to ‘following’ rather than walking up ahead. He is almost 14 weeks old, and is already best friends with Jinx. Napoleon is tolerating him-he is too old to want to play anymore. My cats don’t want anything to do with this little puppy, haha!

He is getting bigger by the day, and we have to keep retaping his ears because he plays so rough. I can usually keep them on for 2-3 days, and then we need to change them. I’m also getting much better at it. Not too difficult, just takes practice!

Faces of Project K9 Utah Dog Training

The Faces of Project K9

Anyway, hope you all are getting ready for Christmas! It’s going to be a busy month!

Saying Thanks

As you guys know, my last day was yesterday at my day job. I have been overcome with emotions and I have just begun to work through them. Today was super busy with dogs, cleaning, preparing, and making lists of things I have to do over the coming weeks. I have a ‘to buy’ list, the ‘I want’ list, and the ‘To do’ list. Let me tell you: They are all long. So, instead of getting into how exhausted I am already, I’m going to switch it up a bit.

This Thanksgiving, there is a lot to be thankful for. So, instead of my traditional posts, I’m going to list off everything that comes to mind (note: I don’t make ‘drafts’ what I write on my blog. It’s all on-the-spot, and unedited, so sometimes there are typos).

I am thankful this year for:

-A super supportive husband who loves me and has made sacrifices to help me get to where I am.
-My family and my husband’s family for the support and love when things got really hard.
-My dog for forgiving me for not giving him the attention and training that he deserves. I’ll admit that sometimes when I got home from a 16 hour day, I was too tired to feed him.
-My old job for being supportive and understanding my reasons in leaving. Also, they wished me lots of luck, made me cry, and made it even harder to leave.
-My friends who have helped me along the way when I needed to scream or cry, or just vent and curse and talk shit. Seriously, you helped me get here.
-All my supporters of this blog. I’m so happy all of you are following me. I encourage you to make a comment, or let me know you are reading. It does help on hard days.
-My clients for trusting and believing in me with your dogs. I want to help, and I don’t know everything. But I know where to start, and I won’t stop learning. I won’t give up, and I have stories to prove it. I am worth your time and your money, I promise. Thank you for putting your trust in me. I’ll show you what I’m made of!
-My neighbors for putting up with me and all the dogs that come and go, and make their dog try to get through the fence to get to the dogs in my backyard.
-On-the-go meals. I think I would have starved without them.
-The fact that my husband has a job and can support us if I don’t make any money next year.
-The ability to save and budget. We have made plans and have put money aside for emergencies, as well as ‘just in case’ money.
-Facebook. Yeah, this one is weird. But it has really helped me get my name out there, meet new people and educate people. I really enjoy hosting events and advertising through facebook because it is always such a great turnout!
-And most of all: I’m thankful specifically for my parents. For making me. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my parents. They shaped me into an entrepreneur, and I have made the decisions and the choices because of the way they raised me.

So, thank you all for being here in one way or another. I feel so accomplished at what I have done, and I wouldn’t be here without all of you.

Heather Hamilton Blog Project K9 Dog Training Utah Saying Thanks

Official Announcement

I am officially making an announcement: I will be leaving my current day job and going full time with my business starting on Nov. 22nd. It is a month earlier than expected, but it is just going to jump start my plan.  I am so excited, and nervous at the same time. I have so many plans and ideas brewing, and I can’t wait to be able to do a lot of my events during the day, rather than squishing everything in at night.

My office found out what I was planning on leaving, and we all agreed mutually it was a better idea to part ways a little earlier. We are all good terms, and they are very supportive and excited for me. I am sad I have to leave this awesome company and all the great people who work there, but I’m excited I am starting the next step of my life.

This is a major milestone and I am proud to move on. I have accomplished so much this year and I’m so grateful for all my supportive friends and family. I have had major ups and downs the past week, due to this decision, along with difficult client situations, and personal challenges. But.. I somehow manage to keep my head above water and keep treading. Even if have swallowed some water sometimes, I haven’t drowned – as much as I thought I was going to on many occasions.

The most recent business challenge I have had was an emergency boarding client. For any boarding that I do, I require at least 3 days notice, the vaccination and contract information to be sent to me before hand, and for the dog(s) to come on leash with food. I don’t accept their toys, blankets, towels, beds or anything else to prevent the spread of disease.  I have always collected payment upon pickup, as sometimes I have the dog longer than expected. Oh, I also don’t accept dogs with human aggression, as that is something I am working up to – I’m not quite there yet.

This time, I had less than ½ hour notice before she showed up at my house, was late for my next client (which cost me $50 because I had to give a discount), didn’t sign the contract, and one of the dogs didn’t even have a leash. She at least brought food and vaccination history, but she also brought toys, blankets, treats, and insisted I keep them. I told her I would keep them in the closet, but I couldn’t let them play with these toys here as I have so many other dogs coming and going. She also neglected to mention her name, her phone number or any contact information, and didn’t tell me when she was coming back. Oh, and one of her dogs was human aggressive. Great. Just lovely.

*Skipping through the week to make this story go faster*

After a week of training, ‘normal’ day work, boarding work, and home events that week, the family came to pick up their dogs. I referred them to a trainer who works on issues like these, calmly explained the price (we had a miscommunication, making the night very stressful) and I learned a few valuable lessons.

-I will never do emergency boarding again.
-I will revise my contract on a few fine points where this could happen again.
-I will require payment up front for people I don’t know or who I haven’t done business with.
-I will make sure the total amount and the pick up/drop off times are CLEARLY discussed over the phone and included in the contract (for drop off times and price) so there is no confusion.
-Don’t get upset when there is a misunderstanding. I need to stay calm and completely stable in every situation.

I learn more from bad situations than in any other circumstance to minimize risk and prevent any miscommunication from happening in the future. I’ll get better, and I’ll learn how to prevent more and more uncomfortable situations in the future.

Compassion Fatigue

I realize why I have been so anxious and shaky lately. I see shelters filled, rescues overflowing, and animals being euthanized for no reason other than there is no room.

My chest is always tight, and I tear up when I see the result of mistreatment. I get over it and think ‘I’m doing as much as I can.’ I focus on breathing and I recover.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueAnd then I hear about someone wanting to breed. Not reputable breeders, but just some random person who doesn’t know anything. Some random person who wants ‘for their kids to experience the miracle of life’ or ‘I want one of my dog’s puppies’.  I hear it every day. ‘My dog is cute, I should breed her’ or ‘I have papers, so I need to breed her. It’s my responsibility’ or ‘I want to make some money’… the list goes on.

It starts over and I have a panic attack. WHY do I have to be so sensitive?! I want to toughen up and not let things like this affect me so much. I want to scream and cry and hit someone. I want to shake them and force them to watch the pink juice go into animal after animal so they understand what they are doing is filling up shelters. I can’t breathe because of other people’s ignorance. I can’t sleep and feel sick. It’s happening again, and I can’t stop.

I have visited 2 shelters this week, and I’m going to another one in a couple days. I want to take all these ‘breeders’ with me and shove this in their face. I can’t stop shaking I’m so mad. My heart won’t stop pounding. I can’t breathe and the tears won’t stop.

I look at Jinx and know I saved her life. Not only that, but I see she has been bred. She has been mistreated and someone did wrong by her. She should never have been bred, but she was. Where are her puppies? Probably in a shelter or dead. Not only It is ignorant or stupid, but abuse. I don’t show her I feel this way.  I am a strong leader, and I have to her show confidence, rather than pity. I can feel weak and sad for her on my own time. She has to learn how to handle different situations and looks to me for guidance. I show her how I want her to act. That is confident, stable, balanced and strong. She’ll get there, but I can’t let her see me this way. She will feel it, and it will cause anxiety, fear, and for her to be unsure and concerned.

These PEOPLE want to breed because a ‘pomsky’ is the new, cutsie dog. People want to make a quick buck off of some backyard poorly-bred puppies. They are sold for hundreds or thousands each. No pedigree lines have been proven. No papers. They are not a ‘real’ breed. Does that make them any less of a dog or worth less? No, but that means these people are contributing to the vicious cycle of life and death. If people would spay and neuter their animals, we would have less of a problem. If people were responsible and did their research, they would see this isn’t a good idea. Do they care? No. They only care about money and making cute puppies.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueInbreeding, puppy mills, overbreeding, and pet stores run rampant. The doggie parents were not given prenatal care or vet checkups for the pups. The males didn’t have proper fertilization tests done. The females had problems during pregnancy because the inexperienced ‘breeder’ failed to provide proper care during delivery. No health checks were provided, so dogs who have cancer, hip dysplasia, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems or heart problems are bred. Puppies die. Genetics get worse, and our ‘reputable’ breeds are hurt. They are have to raise their prices because of all the bad lines. They have to work harder to find good lines for their operation.

Cross breeds are made and then designer breeds are born.  Health problems occur and the animals are bred again. Puppies are given up on and end up in the shelter because of behavioral problems. Then killed because lack of space. Most puppies don’t make it to their 2nd birthday because of this cycle.

See the trend? It doesn’t end. Recently I have come across many ‘breeders’, and people pretending to be a rescue while they are also breeding. It has been quite a lot in the last week. That, with visiting the shelter has been emotionally exhausting. I have to ‘buck up’ and handle it because this is my life now. What can I do, other than volunteer with shelters, offer training to people who have adopted dogs from shelters, and spread the word about non-responsible breeding and puppy mills? I feel like what I do is never enough.

I want to call everyone out. I want to educate and yell and punch someone’s face in. But I won’t. Because I am a professional and have to hold my tongue. I have to educate in a ‘smile and bear it’ kind of way. Even when those people spit in my face.  Apparently, I have compassion fatigue. It’s a real thing. Look it up.

Catching up

Heather Hamilton and Hubby as Fix It Felix and Vaneloope Von SchweetsHalloween came and went, and as most of you know, I love Halloween.  My husband and I dressed up as Fix It Felix and Vanellope von Schweets from Wreck it Ralph. Our costumes were great, I was very happy with the turnout!  My hubs made a GREAT Fix-It Felix, too! Good day filled with chocolate, excess calories, unproductive behavior, and awesome costumes! We had a party at his office, and it was really fun. Haunted House, cotton candy machines, popcorn, candy, costumes, kids, etc. It was really fun.

Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, JinxWe have had our newest addition for 3 weeks now, and I love her. She is PERFECT once she gets comfortable. She’s super playful, has that pittie spunk, and rocks the ‘place’ command, sit/stays, and we are working on down/stays along with eCollar work. She loves her eCollar and is just doing great. She understands the concepts, responds well when I tap her, and she is just fabulous at come when called. When she gets super excited, it only takes a gentle reminder to calm her down. There is a time and a place for high-energy play, and it is not when we are inside, nor when we are trying to train. We still have some work to, and her biggest issue (people shyness) is coming along nicely, as she meets about 10 new people a week. If I can have people pet her, that’s even better. She warmed up to my family, and they spent some quality time together and fed her peanut butter.  She is also transitioning to a raw diet and is eating a pound of meat some tripe, fish oil, and a raw eggs. She loves tripe! She is a whole different dog than when we brought her home.

Tiny little improvements are still improvements. She doesn’t like crowds, but does great in a pack of dogs. She is starting to approach the front gate when we have people come over, rather than running away down the stairs. No accidents, and she loves her kennel now. She is putting on weight, learning to be respectful, and not to jump on the furniture. She is just doing so well! Again, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m happy to say she is making improvements. It may be a few months before I am able to use her for work though.

I attended my Force-Free method workshop at K9 Lifeline and watched Marc Goldberg work some dogs using his method. It was great to see, but also refreshing to know I’m on the right track. I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning, but I’m doing it right. I have a ways to go before my body language is crystal clear like his, or before I start working dogs with aggressive tenancies. I’m in no hurry. In fact, after having a few reality checks, and seeing some recent injuries  to some highly qualified, talented trainers, I’m going to take them when I feel ready. I know what to do and how to work them, but I don’t quite have that balanced pack yet, nor the confidence to know how to handle any situation.Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, Jinx

Napoleon is considered a ‘difficult dog’ because he makes not-so-great decisions when he gets excited. He is a confident, silly, poster-child of a lab: happy go lucky. He is a great demo dog for on and off leash walks, obedience, and using him as a ‘rude example’ because he is a rude dog. Jinx isn’t rude. She has a dominant personality (after she warms up) and will administer corrections if needed. I have seen her correct Napoleon, and a few of our board dogs when they get a little too crazy while playing. She’s the ‘fun police’, however she can have a good time too. She’s calm, but not great with people. Awesome with other dogs, though. I need one more to add to ‘balance’ my pack (though it may be a while) and I’ll know it when I see it. So, we are still looking, but not actively.  If I meet the right one, I’m bringing it home.

We are planning on going on vacation soon (obviously not posting dates on the internet), which is also exciting. We weren’t planning on having one this year, as we are preparing for a change (which I have yet to announce) and financially didn’t know if it was going to happen. I’ll post pictures and post the story after we get back.  It will be nice to leave for a bit and take some time off work.

Anyway, just wanted to give everyone an update of the last week or so’s adventures.