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Dr. Ps Dog Training

The Adventures of Nikki: Body Double
by John DiStano (
Drawings by D. Felton

(Dog Sports Magazine)

Anyone wishing to contact John may do so at the following address:
Beyond Obedience K9 Training
15 Cliff Court
Succasunna, NJ 07876
(973) 927-7387
Copyright © 1999

This will be a series of fictional stories based on my once in lifetime dog. They will be a combination of loyalty, devotion and the true definition of what a great working dog should be. Hopefully our readers will enjoy these, and possibly even give them some interesting ideas and methods of utilizing your dogs various talents and skills.

An elderly woman had called me to help re-train her 6 year old Rottweiler mix (Missy), who suddenly was having housetraining problems. The vet had examined her thoroughly, and couldn't find anything wrong. He suggested she call me to see if I could help. I drove over to her house and we sat down to talk awhile. "Where is she?", I asked. "Oh, she's outside, loves to be in her doghouse", the woman answered. So we took a walk out back so we could meet. I was stunned by her resemblance to Nikki. It was uncanny. "Damn she looks like one of mine", I said. She could pass for her twin. She was very shy, almost timid with me. I was down on the ground petting her when all of a sudden a door slammed open behind me. I spun around and saw this big, fat sloppy looking guy, drunk as a skunk, glaring at me. "That damn dog craps on my side of the yard again, and I'll throw it in the damn garbage truck!" he slammed the door and went back inside. "Who the hell was that?", I asked. "He's the landlord", the woman said, "he's always complaining about her messing on his side of the yard. Missy's terrified of him. Since he moved back in she's really been acting scared." "Did her house training problem start when he moved back in?", I asked. "Come to think of it, the exact week he came back is when the problem with her started", she responded. Hmm. I thought so. So it seems that the landlord probably hit or scared Missy into not relieving herself outside anymore. Makes sense doesn't it? Hmm. So I told the woman to give me a couple days to figure this out and I would call her back. "I'll think of something", I said. So I drove back to the kennel, my mind wandering.

My decoy was on his way over to work with some of my dogs. "Can we save you-know-who for last?", Butch asked. "I'm gonna ask for a raise pretty soon, the way she pounds me. If I work her first, I'm kinda shot for the day, even with the extra padding." "Yeah sure, no problem", I said. "I don't want to lose you. I can't get anyone else to work with her". So he went through the first few dogs, we did some car jackings, runaways, and winded down with a puppy on the tube. "Okay", Butch said, "go get her." Out came Nikki, smiling ear to ear. She knew why he was here. She always walked up to Butch and gave him a kiss before we worked her, kind of her way of saying, you're mine pal. And he knew it. He rolled his eyes. "Okay", he said, "lets go." Nikki launched herself at him. It sounded like a Monday night football game. Butch was a K9 officer and worked alot of dogs, but none hit like Nikki. "Christ, get her off me", he yelled. No exaggeration, she had crushed the tubing in a hard sleeve once, and he hasn't trusted her since. Muzzle work was kind of like sparring with Mike Tyson with both your hands tied behind your back. The workout ended with Butch flat on his back, exhausted. Nikki also ended each session by giving him a kiss. Kind of a, "thanks, see you next time." "You think we could borrow her sometime", Butch asked, "just for a couple weeks?" "No way", I said, "shes my baby. I can't risk that." "Hey John", he said, "can't we do this like, once a month?" "Nahh", I said, "gotta keep her in shape, besides it keeps you in shape too". We both laughed. "You know", said Butch later over a cup of coffee, "I was thinking the other day, could you imagine Nikki nailing somebody with no padding on?" We both howled. "C'mon Butch", I said, "nobody deserves that". We laughed some more. Then I stopped laughing. As Butch drove away I was still lost in thought. Then it hit me. I looked at Nikki and smiled. "Hey Nik", I said, "you know who you look like?" Then I smiled some more.

On my way back to the old woman's house, my mind was racing. The plan was this: To take Missy back to my kennel for "training." And to make sure Mr. Massi, the landlord, knew about it. "He goes away every other weekend to see his daughter", said Mrs. Lombardi. "Perfect", I said. "Hey look, here he comes now." Mr. Massi pulled up in his old beat up pickup truck. He practically fell down he was so loaded. "Make sure that damn dog stays off my side of the yard!", he yelled. Missy cowered in her doghouse when she saw him. "Hey Mr. Massi", I said, "come here for a minute." He staggered over. "Oh you're that dog guy ain't you?" "That's right", I answered, "I'm gonna be taking Missy for training for awhile." "That dog!!!!", he roared, "you gotta be kidding me. You couldn't get that dog to do nuthin!" "Oh sure I will", I said. "As a matter of fact", I smirked, "you'll think she's a different dog when she comes back."

Drawing 1

So I took Missy back to the kennel to undergo some obedience and confidence building work. That was going great. I got her to the point she would bark and lunge at a Mr. Massi lookalike. I also got her to hate the smell of alcohol. All I had to do with Nikki, was to have her look submissive on my command, and the plan would work out great. We had done some theatrical work years before, so that would be no problem. The plan was going perfect.

Two weeks had passed, and Mr. Massi was coming home. Mrs. Lombardi was briefed on what to do. The stage was set. She was out in front of the house waiting to greet him. Nikki was slumped in the dog house (wearing Missy's collar to increase animation). Missy was having a blast at the kennel playing around with some puppies. I was in the 2nd floor bedroom giving Nikki hand signals. Oh yeah, I had thrown dog droppings from the kennel ALL OVER his side of the yard to get his attention. The plan was to get Nikki to nail him as he was turning away. I didn't want him hurt TOO bad. Mrs. Lombardi had stated earlier that Mr. Massi had repeatedly kicked Missy in the rear end when he found any droppings on his side of the yard. This, I surmised, is why she "tightened up" when she was outside. Well, soon it will be his turn.

He almost hit the telephone pole when he pulled up to the house. "Is that stinking dog trained yet?", he drawled. "Oh yes", said Mrs. Lombardi, "hard to believe its the same dog that left here. John did a heck of a job." "Yeah right", he said, "let me see her." They went around to the back of the house. He froze when he saw the droppings on HIS side of the yard only. Mrs. L was instructed to look surprised. "Sonofabitch!", he yelled, "look at my yard!". Nikki sat there glaring at him. She looked up at me. I kept her in a down position in the dog house. He charged at the dog house and kicked it. Nikki looked up at me again. "That's it", he screamed, "I'm gonna kill that damn dog". As he turned to go into the house, Nikki was given the green light. What happened next, was hard to explain.

It was even harder not to laugh. To this day I have yet to see a human being make such strange movements while in midair. Animation wasn't the word for it. It looked kinda like a guy who jumped out of a plane and his parachute didn't open. His yelling didn't help things either. Half the neighborhood must have heard him. I called Nikki off him and she went back into the dog house. He lay there, several yards away holding his buttocks. "I'm calling the cops", he yelled. "I AM the cops", I said, "and I saw the whole thing". He stared at Nikki, not believing the whole thing. "Damn", he said rubbing his butt, "hard to believe that damn dog was capable of something like that. You must be one heck of a dog trainer."

Drawing 2

Later that day we switched the dogs back. When Mrs. Lombardi walked a newly confident Missy into the house, Mr. Massi was outside, working in the yard. "You keep that dog away from me", he said. Missy kind of glared at him, the smell of alcohol annoying her. "As long as you leave HER alone", said Mrs. Lombardi, "you shouldn't have any problems with her anymore". He turned away, still limping from his sore behind, to finish picking up the droppings in the yard.

Mrs. Lombardi never had any problems with the landlord after that. Missy lay in her doghouse smiling, an occasional bark sending Mr. Massi scurrying into his house. He moved out shortly afterward. The new tenants owned a male Rotty mix. He and Missy got along great. There are now 2 doghouses in the yard.

As Nikki and I drove back to the kennel, she smiled at me. She knew. "What'll be next Nik?", I asked. She smiled at me again. She had that look. Time to call Butch.

[Other articles by this author]

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