I have always been drawn to animals, particularly dogs. Many of my first memories were of our family dog, Ginger. I was only 7 years old but I can still remember the day that I had to give her away when I moved to a different state and to a home that didn’t allow pets. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s, when I purchased my first home, that I would have my next dog, an adopted pit bull named Eve.
I took Eve to every dog class I could find; 9 in all. We passed CGC but I wanted to do more. A friend mentioned that I should check out K9 Search and Rescue because its challenging and the training never stops. I joined the local search and rescue organization in the fall of 2006. Eve certified in Tracking and Trailing within 6 months. Along came my next dog, a boxer name Emmett. I certified him in Area search. Later in her career, it became clear that Eve didn’t love tracking so we changed to Human Remains detection and that is where I found my passion, odor detection. I trained those two dogs and certified them in 3 disciplines.
After years of struggling to maintain the appropriate working drives with my own dog and observing other dog team at seminars, I realized there were very few real exceptional teams. Many teams struggled and some weren’t what I would personally consider mission ready…sometimes mine included. There was something special with those great teams, they had dogs that were “monsters”. These dogs wanted their reward more than life itself.
With a clear picture in my head of how I wanted the final product to look, I went on a two month search for the right dog. I wanted a dog that I had to try to keep up with rather than a dog I was routinely fighting to work. I was searching for a Malinois or Dutch Shepherd with insane drives. I found that dog at Vrijheid Dutch Shepherds. Atika Van Zion (Ninja) was a bitch that they had their eyes on for a long time. Due to a cross country move, they reluctantly agreed to part with such an excellent female. The videos they sent of simple hunt tests were exactly what I was looking for.
We bonded for a few weeks before training started in Human Remains Detection. At first I struggled to keep up with and tolerate this new toy obsessed monster. She was a quick learner and FAST. We passed CGC about 6 days after bringing her home. Having a dog with this much drive made training fun and rewarding. K9 Ninja certified in Human Remains Detection through North American Police Work Dog Association in her first year. NAPWDA’s certification is tough, having six different areas/types of HRD finds. To date (April 2018) Ninja has five confirmed finds and has worked for Law Enforcement in multiple states and even for the FBI. She has brought loved ones home to their family and brought closure to the unknown.
Ninja’s health testing was completed (hips, eyes, elbows, DM) and many in Dutch Shepherds feel her sociability, work ethic, and traits need to pass on to produce quality working dogs. Nemesis Dutch Shepherds was created so that the right dogs can field whatever sport or discipline that they decided to do.