June 3, 2009
California K-9 Officer Jin
Jin, now in training with Lt. Lynette Shimek to become a California Dept. of Fish & Game detection K-9 with Cal-TIP (California Turn In Poachers), had a rough start in life.
The Fairfield shelter received "Star" from someone who brought her in claiming they couldn't handle her. The dog was adopted from the shelter, but was brought back again for the same reason.
She was unruly and not housetrained, fought a leash, and jumped on people and counters. She was crazy about toys and balls and always wanted to carry things in her mouth.
Master K-9 trainer Chip Johnson found that she had no manners whatsoever, but she still tried hard to do everything he asked. He liked her and decided to give her a chance.
She was very thin when Chip brought her home. Although she ate voraciously, she continued to lose weight and her digestive system was in bad shape. Being stressed in a kennel environment compounded her problems. Chip took her to his veterinarian, had her spayed and got her hips and elbows x-rayed. The vet could not find a reason for her digestive problems.
Chip called me, knowing I liked to solve problems. I accepted, knowing I had my work cut out for me.
Bought at A Pet Store and Shuffled Around
I picked the dog up and immediately took her to my veterinarian. At 45.6 pounds, she was dangerously thin. There seemed to be nothing physically wrong with her.
On a whim, I asked the veterinary technician to check for a microchip. She had one.
I contacted her previous owner and found her name had originally been Ginger. She had come from a "very good" kennel in another state, and was purchased through a pet store. When the pup was about five months old, her owner moved and took her to the shelter in Sacramento. This person told me that Ginger was not quite a year old.
The poor pup had never had a stable environment, never been able to bond with anyone. No wonder she was such a mess.
Calming A "Crazy" Dog
My work began in earnest. She turned her head when I called her Ginger, but not when I called her Star, so I changed her name to Jin, short for Ginger. She was constantly stressed and wouldn't sit or lie down except at night, and only then because I crated her in the house. Her perpetual diarrhea was terrible, and she certainly was not housetrained.
I fed her smaller amounts of food, up to ten times a day. I began giving her enzymes and turmeric, and exercised her mind and body, while trying to calm her fears. Jin acted like she had never played with other dogs. She barked at and for everything: food, attention, the other dogs and the horse.
Within weeks, we began seeing an improvement. She started gaining weight and calming down. I cheered for every semi-solid, then solid stool.
By the end of January, Jin gained fifteen pounds. I decided to teach this crazy dog obedience using only positive reinforcement. The only time we use a leash is when we work off the property.
The Path to K-9 Service
Jin has changed dramatically after living with us for over five months. She is healthy and strong. Her "ball drive" is incredible and she has begun training as a detection dog.
She has learned to trust people. When she gets wild, all I have to do is quietly speak to her, and she will promptly sit and calm down. While playing ball, she will even stop running and lie down when you ask.
Jin will continue working toward becoming a certified detection dog and with luck will ride in a Fish and Game truck and help protect California's resources.
Until that day comes, Jin will have a home and the best care I can provide.
Chip gave up on getting her back months ago. He got exactly what he wanted, anyway—another shelter dog getting the chance to become a police service detection dog.
Lt. Lynette Shimek
California Department of Fish and Game
K-9 Program Supervisor/ Trainer