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Schutzhund: Only top dogs
Sport demonstrated at Howl O Ween Pet Parade, set for Oct. 29, Goodrich

by Susan Bromley

October 19, 2011

Goodrich- Schutzhund, a German dog sport originating more than 100 years ago, will be demonstrated following the Howl 'O' Ween Pet Parade set for 11:30 a.m., Oct. 29, at Lucy's Pet Supplies and Feeds, 8159 S. State Road.

Mary Jo Patel, owner of Custom Dog Training, explains that Schutzhund is a sporting version of what a K-9 does for real. However, instead of police dogs, Schutzhund dogs are simply pets who compete for points on a field.

"It's a triathlon for dogs," said Patel. "It started as a test for German shepherd dogs in the early 1900s to see if they had the temperament to be a police dog."

Dogs who participate in Schutzhund do not have to be of the German shepherd breed, but they do have to be tested to see if they are right for the sport, which requires tracking, protection, and obedience. Dogs with the correct temperament are then trained in Schutzhund and participate in field trials in which they demonstrate accomplishment in these three areas.

When Patel goes to a trial to show her dog, a track is laid in a field with three different placed articles that her dog is required to find without straying a certain distance off course. The dog must also perform a 12-15 minute obedience routine with complex activities. In the protection segment a decoy (a pretend bad guy) will challenge the dog, which must then protect the handler and stop working when commanded by the handler.

"It's the highest requirement of both K-9 and Schutzhund dogs that they have the best temperament," Patel said. "These must be very safe dogs. This sport is good for keeping dog from being bored. It gives him a job, provides structure, directs energy and gives him a lot of fun."

Besides the Schutzund demonstration, a K-9 officer will also be on hand to demonstrate his dog's working skills. Patel is the president of the K-9 Police Dog Fund, a non-profit local group that offers support to K-9 police officers by providing them with harnesses, leashes and various training items. The group recently purchased a Dutch shepherd named Paco from a breeder and will provide socialization and basic training to the dog before donating him to a K-9 unit when the dog is about 1-year-old.

For more information on Schutzhund clubs, call Patel at 810-797-3648. For more information on the Howl 'O' Ween Pet Parade, call Lucy's Pet Supplies at 810-636-2857.