Duke saved me
It was August 2011 in North Carolina. I was in the military and stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. I had just gotten home from work, and I took the dogs out to the huge empty farm field down the street from my house. With me, I had my Australian Shepherd puppy, Zoey, my German Shepherd, Duke, and a foster puppy from the shelter. I pulled up to the field, parked my car, and set out for a relaxing walk across the field, just like we did every day after work.
But this time, something unexpected happened. As we were approaching the tree-line that ran parallel to the field, two dogs came barreling out of the woods, barking at us. Their hackles were up and they were foaming at the mouth. Instantly, I thought of “Old Yeller” and I knew they were rabid dogs. My heart started pounding and I felt a rush of adrenaline surge through my body as blood flowed to my extremities. My body was preparing for a fight, I had three dogs with me, my car was 1,000 feet away, and I had no way to defend myself. Or so I thought.
In a split second, my German Shepherd leapt out in front of us and charged the dogs. He ran straight at them, barking ferociously. He was buying us time so we could get back to the car. I scooped up the puppies and backed away slowly, then ran as fast as I could, to the safety of the car with tears in my eyes. I knew there was a chance Duke was going to die for me that day. And he hadn’t even hesitated to do it.
When I got the puppies back to the car, I screamed for him. He stood his ground, hackles up, until the dogs retreated and left. Then, confident the threat had been neutralized, he turned towards me and ran back to me.
My heart still pounding, I loaded him up into the car and rushed home. I didn’t go back to that field for weeks. And I was forever grateful for what Duke did for me that day.
Not just once but twice
There was a second situation a year later when Duke protected me again, and I’ll share that story in a future post. What was amazing to me was that we always joked that Duke “didn’t have a mean bone in his body” and yet he showed me that not once, but twice, when I was in danger, he had my back.
That feeling of security has stayed with me all these years later. He was the reason I got another German Shepherd who I also named Duke in honor of Duke the First. There will never be a time in my life that I don’t own a German Shepherd.
With my next German Shepherd, a handsome sable with a big head and imposing looks, I got compliments constantly. I trained this dog in protection, and I knew that he would always have my back. I remember taking him out in public one day and having someone offer me $10,000 on the spot for him. I politely thanked him and said, “He’s not for sale.” The man shook his head and responded, “Name a price.” My answer was the same.
That’s when I realized that a well-trained protection dog is a tremendous asset; an asset that others wanted but couldn’t find. A well-trained protection dog is valuable, and yet the good ones weren’t for sale.
A few years later, after the incident where Duke saved my life that day in the field, I had followed my dreams and was attending dog trainer school in Indiana. It was a grueling four-month course with a special emphasis on protection dogs, tracking and control work. I remember being on lunch break when an employee brought out a muzzled German Shepherd. He asked us to pet the dog because the dog needed to be socialized. I pet him, but I remember thinking, “Yikes, if this dog weren’t muzzled, I wouldn’t touch him with a 10 foot pole.”
I asked the man what the dog was here for, and he said, “We’re rehabilitating him so he can be sold as a Personal Protection Dog.” I think my jaw dropped. How could someone possibly sell a dog like this – with his history of aggression – as a trustworthy family companion and discriminating protection dog? This dog was not safe and never would be 100 percent safe no matter how much they tried to “fix” him. I was so disappointed. The problem is, dog training is an unregulated industry. Who’s going to stop this dog from being sold as a Protection Dog? I hope and pray the dog was never sold and went to live with someone who knew he had issues and could manage them. That was 2013.
Raising the bar
Fast forward to 2021, and I’ve been training dogs for nearly a decade. I’ve trained thousands of dogs and I hold myself to the highest of standards. Regulated or not, I seek to improve this industry with my training, my team and the results we achieve for our clients. Together we’ve trained thousands of dogs in various stages of puppy training, obedience, behavioral rehabilitation and protection. And time and time again in protection training with other trainers, I have seen dogs who are nervous, fearful, aggressive and easily agitated being taught to bite. Dogs who should never be “turned on” because they never fully “turn off.” I am extremely picky about the dogs I choose to do protection training with. The dog must prove it is social (friendly), safe and obedient both on and off leash before we add protection training to his list of abilities. I have turned away more dogs for protection than I’ve taken on, because I feel protection training should be reserved only for the best dogs who have the genetics, mind and drives to do the job and do it well. Protection training is one of the most advanced forms of training a dog can have, and few have what it takes to handle such a responsibility. It’s like comparing a Chevrolet Cavalier to a Corvette. They’re both made by the same company but couldn’t be more different. No matter how much money you put into it, a Cavalier will never be a Corvette.
Why protection dogs
Over the years, I have always found myself drawn to protection dogs. My personal dog, Havok, a sable working line German Shepherd is my Personal Protection Dog. He is absolutely invaluable to me. I find myself thinking back to that man on the street in Tennessee who said, “Name your price” and I think, “More people should have access to dogs like this.” Social dogs who can hang out with people, kids and babies. Dogs who are safe, tolerant, and tested. Trustworthy dogs who have superior obedience training. Dogs who can go anywhere as loyal companions and sidekicks and possess a special set of skills to provide 24/7 security for their loved ones and families. Dogs who discriminate and have the confidence and training to back up their instinct.
Not every dog has what it takes
With the rare exception of dogs like Duke who acted on instinct, good protection dogs are made, not lucked into. They are a combination of genetics and training. Have you ever seen the news stories of dogs who flee when intruders break into their owners’ homes? They lacked the courage, confidence and training to respond appropriately to threats, intruders and bad guys. It doesn’t matter the breed of dog, even the biggest Mastiff or the most ferocious-looking German Shepherd may be a poor security system when you need him most. I sleep well knowing myself, my loved ones and my home are protected. I know my dogs have had the proper training to react accordingly when the situation calls for their protection. And that is a gift I want to give others.
Reliable protection dogs are a result of good genetics, proper development and hundreds of hours of training invested into each dog by a team of professional trainers.
After years of sitting on the sidelines and watching people cut corners and sell dogs who are not social, not reliable and not worthy of the title Personal Protection Dog, I took the leap and opened Valor Protection Dogs. My goal and the sole reason for this company’s existence, is to do this and do it right. I seek to build dogs who are social, confident and capable to do such an important job for their families, homes and loved ones. That means picking dogs from the very best bloodlines, who’ve been home raised and professionally trained. I have the highest of standards for the dogs Valor Protection Dogs produces. And I’m watching carefully as we raise and train puppies. Any dog that doesn’t live up to my standard will not make the cut and will not be sold as a Personal or Family Protection Dog. Period. I will never try to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Personal Protection Dogs are truly priceless. Having a Family Protection Dog provides a blanket of security for my everyday life. As a woman, I can walk down the street without unwanted attention or harassment from men. His presence alone is a deterrent. As a mother, I love knowing Havok is always keeping a watchful eye on my daughter and will keep anyone with bad intentions away from us. He is my constant companion and 24/7 security with fur. As I type this, he is lying between me and the door. I couldn’t tell you where my gun is right now, but that doesn’t matter- I always have Havok. He has my back no matter what happens. He would give his life for me without a second thought. My wish is that I will never need to use his abilities, but if I do I know he will be a formidable opponent.
Regardless, if you’re in the market for a Personal Protection or Family Protection Dog, look no further. Valor Protection Dogs will surpass your expectations. We have a variety of dogs available for anyone looking to add unwavering security to their home and family. See our Available Dogs HERE. Our dogs are safe, reliable, obedient and trustworthy. Call or text today for more information: 208-577-0744.