Play, Pivoting, and Positivity with Crystal Wing

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Crystal Wing from Training Director for Evolution Working Dog Club and the K9 Detection Collaborative about play, pivoting, and positivity.

Science Highlight: ⁠The feasibility of using scent detection dogs to locate bat hibernacula⁠

Links Mentioned in the Episode:  

⁠Thousand Hour Eyes⁠

⁠Simon Mueller Episode⁠

Where to find Crystal: ⁠Linktree⁠

You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at ⁠⁠

⁠K9 Conservationists Website⁠ | ⁠Course Waitlist⁠⁠Merch⁠ | ⁠Support Our Work⁠ | ⁠Facebook⁠ | ⁠Instagram⁠ | ⁠TikTok⁠

Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt  00:09

Hello and welcome to the K9Conservationists podcast, where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs. Join us every week to discuss detection, training, canine welfare, conservation, biology and everything in between. I’m Kayla Fratt, one of the co-founders of K9Conservationists, where we train dogs to detect data for land managers, researchers, agencies and NGOs. Today I’m super duper excited to be talking to Crystal Wing, who is the training director for Evolution Working Club and is part of the K9 Detection Collaborative. We’re going to be talking about play, pivoting and positivity.

Kayla Fratt  00:40

First off, we’re going to start with a quick review from Jacob8226. Titled one of my favorites, and this review says, “I’ve been listening to this podcast for a couple years now, and it’s never not amazing. Kayla consistently puts out really interesting and informative episodes. It’s kind of absurd how much I’ve been able to learn about dog training and conservation through just one podcast. And if you’re into dogs and conservation, this podcast is definitely for you.” Thanks so much, Jacob, really appreciate it. And if you haven’t left us a review yet, they mean a lot. They make me very happy. We don’t get a ton of them because I know we’ve got kind of a small but mighty group of listeners. But if you can go ahead and drop on over into Apple podcasts and that will make me very happy.

Kayla Fratt  01:22

So now we’re going to give Crystal a quick introduction. So Crystal is a certified trial helper through the GSDCA for IGP and as a training decoy for Mondioring. Through extensive traveling and training she has titled several different dogs in several different protection sports, dock diving, agility, weight pull, and rally. She earned a national certification through American Rescue Dog Association for her Human Remains Detection K9, Radish. She has been a guest instructor at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and is an instructor at K9Sensus Foundation in Iowa.

Kayla Fratt  01:54

If you don’t listen to the canine detection collaborative yet, what are you doing. Crystal and her co-hosts Robin Gruebel and Stacy Barnett, who have both already been on this podcast, are absolutely amazing. And this show was literally the highlight of my week. I have absolutely bursting with excitement to get to talk to Crystal today.

Kayla Fratt  02:10

But first we are going to get into our science highlight. So this week I read “Investigating the feasibility of using scent detection dogs to look at bat hibernacula in a coastal temperate rainforest,” which was written by Tory Rhoads and was published as a Master’s in Science thesis from the University of Alaska. So this starts out with a shout out to friends of the pod, Rogue Detection Teams. All of the dog work in this article is done, thanks to them. So this was a really interesting paper quite long because it is a Master’s thesis and it covers a comparison and a camera trap efficacy for detecting hibernacula to the use of camera traps. And a hibernacula is basically where the bats go to hang out and hovered it. I don’t know if it’s specifically just hibernating or just kind of like resting roosting during the day. I should have double check that I did. So unlike many other papers, this one went into quite a bit of detail regarding sample acquisition and training and it was super duper interesting to read. And that’s partially because they weren’t just trying to find scat or carcasses or in this case guano instead of scat. They wanted the dogs to find the areas just with bats were hanging out. They created a fuller sense picture for the dogs by using live bat guano and some really creative bat scrubs where they actually took a bath parkas and kind of rubbed it across a rock. And overall, the dogs Jack and Skye performed really well with that activity being confirmed confirmed at 28% of the sites that Jack alerted to intervention routine. And while this might seem kind of low training of the dogs intentionally on residual odor may have led to a lower number of confirmed finds. And if a bat crawled into around the site the night before but didn’t return Jack might have been correct, but the camera traps wouldn’t have confirmed this. Moving on to Sky she indicated to 14 out of 47 sites in 2021 12 of those 14 were confirmed to have previous bad activity and the remaining two were confirmed have footages of footage of the bats nearby prior to surveys. She had an overall miss rate of eight or about 40% I didn’t notice that they were comparing the dogs to random camera placement which seems a little bit unfair if the cameras were placed randomly and the dogs were being used strategically. But overall it was really impressive work for a super challenging target and huge well done to Tory Rhoads, Colette Yee, Jake Lammi, Heath Smith and the rest of the team.

Kayla Fratt  04:26

So without further ado, let’s get to our episode with Crystal Winbg. All right, welcome to the podcast. Crystal. I’m super stoked to have you here.

Crystal Wing  04:33

Hi. Thanks for the invite. I’m excited to be here.

Kayla Fratt  04:36

Yeah. Yeah, it’s a it’s so fun because I feel like I’m constantly like for an hour a week approximately. I am like, talking back at you. So I’m very excited. You hear me now?

Crystal Wing  04:51

Yeah, I saw your message. You were like I wanted to say something like Oh, I wished you could.

Kayla Fratt  04:57

Yeah, I wish that some of those Like there was a couple of different audio, like group call sorts of things that have started and stopped over the last couple of years. Yeah, clubhouse was one. Yeah. And I think your podcast is the one that where I wished that existed most.

Crystal Wing  05:21

We do that with our round table. So that might be a fun kind of cool way to do it. So let’s

Kayla Fratt  05:26

I’m going to start writing down my thoughts and questions. So that for the round tables.

Crystal Wing  05:31

Yes, please. Did you do that again, that we’ve had to go to every other week now just because of timing. And, you know, I mean, like, you know, podcasts are not cheap. So you get it.

Kayla Fratt  05:41

We’re also at every other week right now, and I really doing it more often, but I just feel that for a couple years, and I can’t anymore. Yeah,

Crystal Wing  05:50

I feel that my soul you’re so busy, though. Oh, my gosh. Well, we all are I get it. I don’t know how you do at all.

Kayla Fratt  05:55

I have a lot of despair. I’m a very, I’m a very high dopamine person. And everything I do gives me more dopamine. Yeah, I feel that an extremely extroverted I think helps a lot. So I don’t get as burnt out by a lot of things that burn other people. Yeah,

Crystal Wing  06:20

I don’t. Whereas I’m more introvert. But I’m, I’m bridging more toward the extroverted side that I can but it’s about dog people. If you let me talk to dog person. I’m like, wow, yeah. Not a dog person. I’m sorry. Yeah, I don’t know what to talk to you about?

Kayla Fratt  06:38

Yeah, one of the other things, we’re already off topic, but like I schedule, it’s really helpful to have a good variety of things. So like, yes, on Mondays I have agility. And then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, right now I’m doing dance classes. Uh huh. But like, I can do a full day of PhD work, and then go and dance for several hours. Because it’s like a totally different part of my brain actually does more for me to recharge and like, get back. And then reading a book, what like, the last thing I want to do after a day of PhD stuff is sit down and read a book.

Crystal Wing  07:12

Yes, I feel in my soul. So much. So. And that’s what the dog training does for me. Exactly. I used to do rock climbing. And I’ve torn my shoulder too much with the dog training stuff. And so then it’s cross training with different things with the dogs. And that keeps me so busy. Yeah, yes.

Kayla Fratt  07:27

Used to kayak and the running and all of those sorts of things like yes, I’m very busy. But it actually I think cleanses my mental palate, better than something that looks more like traditional rest, actually would.

Crystal Wing  07:41

Absolutely. I know, growing up my some of my family members would kind of make comments about you just keep her too busy. You keep her too busy. And it’s like, well, she needs it. And I didn’t know at the time, you know what, I was ADHD too. I didn’t know that. You know, I didn’t really talk about that. When I was a kid. I’m what I’m gonna be 46 this month, you know, so. So, you know, it wasn’t really something we talked about back then. And and girls, you know, show it so differently than boys do. And so just a whole bunch of masking and just dealing and coping. But I mean, I did have a lot of that I had to go I needed I needed to release like my leg is always bouncing, always bouncing people always like touching me and like, stay still stay still.

Kayla Fratt  08:22

Yeah, I have not yet been diagnosed with ADHD. But I have talked. I talked to my therapist about a while ago. And they were kind of like, well, yeah, probably. But you seem to be like, Look, we can focus on other things. Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh. Yeah, I guess you’re masking well enough that it’s okay.

Crystal Wing  08:43

Yeah. And I did until COVID. And that’s when I couldn’t anymore. But the thing that I didn’t realize I gave up Dr. Pepper at the same time. Oh, and I didn’t realize the power of the caffeine. And so when I gave that up cold turkey, and then I was doing, you know, being a high school art teacher, we had part of the schedule where it was hybrid where I was in the classroom for, you know, one day of kids and then the different day, the next day, and you had to teach online at the same time and, and then we went to like traditional and everybody got sick, and then they went to completely everybody’s at home. And then I was also at night teaching 120 kids only online all over the state of Missouri. And it was like, and they gave up Dr. Pepper at the same time. So, I wonder if Ignite is yeah, that caffeine was such an important you know, I’ll say air quotes medication for me. And so that’s that’s when it was like, Okay, Doc, I need some help. me all those years, all those years, they teased me you know about when you know, you’ve got ADHD is you know, and they would kind of laugh and I’m like, nope, not diagnosed. No, I don’t. But it too is part of what makes me kind of a creative problem solver in dog training. And kind of gives me the the art side of me I think also gives me kind of an edge and that I cry Trying to do so many different things, and so many different interests like you. So we can take all those because I even take, like every professional development day, oh my gosh, I take what I’m learning there. And I’m constantly like, oh my gosh, I can use this to explain to somebody you know about dog training, you know, and then that dog training stuff. I’m like, Oh, I can use this with my kids, you know?

Kayla Fratt  10:19

Yeah, I know, I love I love that cross disciplinary stuff. And it’s so helpful. I, I have been like thinking about this a lot for the last several years. So starting about four years ago, I started riding dressage, for my first time in my life, wow. And then I’ve also been a ballroom and latin dancer for about 10 years. So that a lot that applies, all of those things are like it’s pressure and pressure and release, and nonverbal communication. And like, even if I’m working off leash with my dogs, there’s a lot of like, it’s the spatial awareness. And like having an orbit and a gravity with each other, and is quite put my finger on it, I keep starting, like an essay about how all of these things relate, but I fell in love. I really think all three of them, like, help each other so much. I’ve been trying to explain like the concept of back chaining to my dance instructor, whenever we learn new patterns, like it would actually be easier if we learned the last eight count first, and then the second the last eight count, and then we could like, get this, you know, momentum. Instructor. And it’s just it’s, I think it’s just that we would need to like, sit down and plan it out. You need to kind of know, I think it’s a really hard way to figure out how to teach at first. So I’m not saying that to complain in any way,

Crystal Wing  11:44

I’ll have art teachers freak out, because I teach my kids tracing, and they’re like, wait, wait, you’re letting your kids trace. I’m like, yes, because you’re back training, like this is how the line should work. This is the end result you’re wanting to get. And so if you can learn this step, and then we can learn how to start to adapt that and we can add line weight to it. And it’s that same kind of feeling. So there’s so many things, they’re almost –

Kayla Fratt  12:06

You can almost put that in the category of splitting as well, where it’s like, it’s like, it’s like using a pot target to teach. Like, we might want them to pivot without it at first, but like, let’s give them the prop.

Crystal Wing  12:18

Well, the other thing is I like to teach, and Sarah brewski really hit this home with me about teaching dogs concepts. And then once you have the concept, then you can apply it in lots of different places. And it’s the same thing with the kids, you know, it’s you, you teach them this concept. And now they can start applying that. And they don’t even understand. I mean, I have kids after sculpture class, especially. And one of the complaints is, you know, I’ll stay on the little scale, like, did you learn a lot? And a lot of the kids will say no, but I really enjoyed the experience. And then when I start asking them things, they’re like, Well, yeah, I know that. Oh, yeah, I know that, like, did you know that before, won’t know. And then they don’t even recognize that they’ve learned. Because I’ve split it down so much. It never felt like learning. And it was this kind of fun experience. And that’s what I want dog training to be too. And so that’s I love the two together, it’s just so nice when you just it just feels like it’s effortless. Yeah,

Kayla Fratt  13:09

I’ve been thinking of I also I’m assistant coach for the high school cross country ski team. And I think it’s because I need more to do. The first three minutes of this podcast, I think next year, I’m going to ask the other coaches and the parents if we can get permission to film the kids on their first practice of the year, and then show that and then sell them on their last practice of the year. Because even in the span of like four months, it is in ratable how much progress these kids make. And I don’t, I think especially for these physical things, it’s really hard to know and to remember how hard it was. And I’ve even back when I used to teach cross country skiing at Breckenridge, Nordic center. And even from the first five minutes of a lesson to the last five minutes of a one hour lesson, I often wish that I had video to show my clients because it’s just amazing how much progress they make in in just a little bit of time. And they often Yeah, they still feel like, oh my god, I still have so much to learn, but it’s like, oh my gosh, but yeah, look at where you were just go. Yeah.

Crystal Wing  14:15

And that’s why with my art students, they keep a portfolio. And at first, they’re just like, oh, this is just extra time to take a picture and put it in Google Slides, you know, but by the end of that time, and then we go back and we look at the change over time. And it’s a very powerful tool. But tying that back to our dog training. I’m always begging people to video and I get the kind of pushback of but I don’t like to watch myself. And it’s like okay, well here’s the thing, you know, look for these things. So like, if you follow Steve White, you know, you can look for his eight different characteristics. You can break down the things you’re looking for, you know, like, I always go back to Steve because you know, it’s already kind of laid out but but whatever it is, whatever sport you’re looking at whatever You know, activity you’re trying to do. You don’t have to watch yourself, watch your dog. And then when you become more comfortable, then you have that nice focus on whatever they’re doing and you see the change over time, well, then you can start adding yourself, then you can start looking to see how you’re impacting that if you’re not ready at first.

Kayla Fratt  15:15

Yeah, on even, you know, I think ideally, yes, we’re watching our video back, but even just taking video and then not watching it, you know, obviously, I think that is not necessarily as helpful for progressing. But then being able to go back and look at it. Later on is still a huge confidence boost. And we’ve done that a little bit in our online mentorship group. We’ve got like a Facebook group for all of our students and patrons. And a couple, I think, in December of last year, so we’re recording in March, I asked everyone to find a video from January, then a video from December and share them again, just to really show me and remind them that like okay, so yeah, right now we’re still struggling with maybe holding an alert at distance. But remember, in January, we’re your dog couldn’t alert without masking the height of like, we’re still working on alerts. Yes, yeah. That’s kind of frustrating. But like, Oh, my God, look at how far you’ve come. This is amazing, like, but

Crystal Wing  16:16

I think we’re also so pattern to like seeing the bad things. And we keep beating ourselves up. And we keep you know, but I mean, it’s good to progress. So it’s, that’s a good trait to have in order to continue to improve. Yeah, but we need to focus on those positives and those growth, because then I think, you know, I look at like, Kathy, stay with smart 50. Are you familiar with that? I think you are right. Yeah. So I mean, if there’s others that aren’t, it’s the what is it? See Mark knows the market reward training? Yes, there we go. To like, I was using my fingers, I no one else can see it as like saw. But it’s just a matter of looking for those behaviors that you like, and rewarding those things to keep you looking for the positives. And we need to do that in ourselves too. So we need to look at the things that we’re improving on as well. And every session, I always try to also say, you know, like, I’ve done my best I can, there’s not ever a time that I’m gonna stop and be like, oh, man, you know, I totally, you know, was not giving it my all or, you know, if something happened, and it wasn’t the best, I still gave it my all. And so I have to recognize that for myself and my dog every time.

Kayla Fratt  17:27

And even if you were distracted or kind of forgot what you were supposed to be doing or something in the middle. It was still the best you can do. It was the best you could do in that moment. And yes, maybe other days, you could have done better. But that doesn’t mean that that moment –

Crystal Wing  17:44

You gave it your all and so it’s like that’s okay to embrace that and just say look that that was the best I could do. Give yourself a pat on the back. That’s why I like doing that whole like wish wonder thing, you know, because it’s, every time I’m giving myself something about myself and my dog that I like. That way I know for a fact that I’m starting with this, okay, don’t beat yourself up start you know, straightaway because we do we have this propensity to just start beating on ourselves. And you know, seeing all the stuff that was wrong. So start with the like, then that creates the Okay, now I can start thinking about I wish this would have been different in this way, which creates your wonder and that’s what do you want to change for next time, which is your training plan. And then the cool thing is if you did video, you can watch your video after you create that. And sometimes you’ll even notice that it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Yeah, all the time.

Kayla Fratt  18:38

100% Okay, so I want to ask you my first actual question. We’re gonna talkative ADHD. So, okay, you’ve had quite the journey with your dogs. Can you kind of give us I don’t know if we have time to do all three of your dogs. But tell us a little bit about kind of your journey with your current crew. And where you’ve started because I’ve heard like bits and pieces through your podcast and I think a lot of our listeners probably have as well because I’m constantly telling them to listen to your show.

Crystal Wing  19:14

Oh, you’re so amazing.

Kayla Fratt  19:16

Well your show is amazing! I’m not doing it to be nice, it’s genuinely good! Yeah, so tell us about Yukon and Radish and the rest of your, your crew.

Crystal Wing  19:29

So I’ll start actually with Charles. Charles was – my my parents do rescue. Charles was my gateway dog. He was black fluffy Border Collie type dog and just the best guy parades like he was the do everything dog perfection. I got him around like seven. I think he lived to like 16 as it were guessing or or even longer than that. Like, depending on how old he was. So he’s the one that was like, oh, let’s go do anything. So I’m like, Okay, let’s try agility. So I started agility with him. And I was amazed. about what people can do, like out there with their dogs doing those courses. I’m like, that’s amazing. So he was the gateway. Yeah. Then I got Ike and Ike was they thought he was a wolf and the neighbors were shooting at him. He was a lost dog. This is like suburbia. Missouri. He’s not a wolf. Okay. What?

Kayla Fratt  20:21

Population is like three states away? Right? Yeah. So

Crystal Wing  20:26

So this lady rescued him out of the woods and he was a mess. He needed both hips. fho he didn’t have skin like he didn’t have for like his skin was bleeding. I had to give a bath every day. His ears were in such bad shape that he had to have like an ear ablation on one. It was just intense. So there was a lot of rehab, but he was the dog that I will bite you before you bite me. So I have to bring him up because he is the very kind of forward aggression type dog. So I learned a lot from him. He German shepherd and he was the one that got me into looking into bite sports because I Googled what to do with German Shepherds. And then that’s what I ended up learning about protection sports and fell in love with that. And then that’s when in my first club, they introduced me to the Malinois and that’s when Quinn happened, and Quinn changed my life. Quinn was like, Man, I could just talk days about him. Malinois that just did everything with me. We did IGP at the time was Ipoh. And we also did mondial ring. And he did everything. He traveled me all over the country. He gave me the confidence to meet people to hike. Like, I could go everywhere at them just you know, single, let’s go. So that took me to my current crew that’s still alive. So I got Nakota as a next up and coming bite dog, and he decided he didn’t want to bite so he’s now my dad’s bro dog. And that broke my heart. I have never rehome the dog before. Yeah, so that was intense. I had also fostered smudge, he was a monster launder, but knowing I was fostering, I did all of his foundation sent work. I had him for a little over a month. That pup was phenomenal. He got placed with a taskforce in Tennessee. So that was an incredible experience for me having a little floppy ear dog. And then because Nakota didn’t work out, he lives with my dad, I still get to see him. So it’s a great relationship still. And then, since Nakota didn’t work out his breeder who I also got Quinn from replaced him which is just outstanding. You know that he did? Yeah, he does that. I got Yukon. And Yukon is my special boy. He’s a little neurodivergent he tries real hard, but he’s the one that I can credit with making me the dog trainer that I am. So he’s the one that I have to teach things five different ways before any of them start to click if they ever do click so it’s he makes it a real challenge but he got me into search and rescue. So I’ve been doing sport work. I got him and he tried weight pole agility doc dieting what else frisbee League. So we tried a lot and then it was always his nose always fighting his nose. So I checked out search and rescue because I always wanted to do that with with Quinn, but they wouldn’t let protection train dogs do search and rescue. Which I’m still like, oh, like finding dead people like lawn and especially the way that I trained protection sports. It’s not in a defense type way. It’s all prey oriented. It’s all play. It’s you know, killya kind of stuff. It’s not a lot of pressure, you know So anyway, I’ll I won’t go that way. So we started search and rescue wooded area search, which he was he really enjoyed. But then the injury started. He had to go to Colorado to see Dr. Franklin. Both of his shoulders had tendon damage. And both of his elbows were like, what’s that called the something process starts with a C. Oh, do you know what it’s called? It’s like, there’s like bone chips in the elbow space. So it’s like coronoid process cool. Now that can’t be that. I don’t know. I can’t rember the word. You’re looking it up, I see.

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Kayla Fratt  24:42

Yeah, elbow dysplasia

Crystal Wing  24:46

Which basically that’s what it is. Little bones in the elbow.

Kayla Fratt  24:52

The little coronoid process.

Crystal Wing  24:54

It was that, wow. My brain right now. Both elbows So we had to have that procedure done. And we found that he had an old fracture in his right leg that had healed. I’m like, Are you kidding me? So they were gonna do shockwave on that. So that was all just nuts. And so in the meantime, I’m like, All right, I still need to buy the dog. And yeah, it turned out that I’m Alan Wah popped up on my feed at six months. And so I drove to Chicago and got him. He’s PSA lines, which is another protection sport. And he had terrible hips, like in the worst 5% Terrible hips. Oh, point seven, six, and point seven, four on PennHIP. So atrocious. And even as an eight month old, was like clacking, he would walk by and clack. And it’s like, what does that sound terrible. So he had a hip replacement. So I already had an fho for one dog. And now I learned about total hip replacements. And this is after we were trying to see if DPO was another option for him. But he was too old by the time I learned about it. So as a word to the wise, if you have a working dog, have them have a pin hip at four months old. Because if there’s any chance that their hips made, you know, maybe bad at that point, they can do a DPO which is it’s a wonderful procedure, that then their hips are going to be able to grow into the sockets properly. Oh, the reason I know this is because after checkmate, I got radish. And the deal with radish was she had to fit into the house. She’s allowed Malinois. She’s an oopsie puppy. Her daddy, Rogue, went through a chain link fence to get to her mommy Labrador.

Crystal Wing  26:39

Tale as old as time.

Crystal Wing  26:45

Yeah. Four months old, we did the PennHIP. And sure enough, her and her sister both had questionable hips. And so we had the chance to do I know. And that was one of the deals, it was deal breaker. She has to get along with the dogs and she has to have good hips because I’m like, I’m not doing hips again. I’ve had an fho I’ve had a total hip replacement. Well, yep. But she had the DA Joe or Yeah, no, Harris was the JPS. So she had the juvenile. Oh, gosh, JPS. Oh, pelvic, so so. If you’ve gone, okay, and the sad thing was, they had this like cauterizing thing that they put on their back or somehow and they burned her back. Like this giant burn. She still had, she’ll have a scar the rest of her life there. It sucks. I felt so terrible for her. So we’ve had all the procedures now except for the DPO.

Kayla Fratt  27:43

It’s kind of impressive. You’re like a walking hip library. Let me see if I can do this. Pubic simphysiodesis.

Crystal Wing  27:54

Good job. Nobody’s judging you. If they are, well, they’re listening to the wrong podcast.

Kayla Fratt  28:05

Or something else. This is free.

Crystal Wing  28:07

So her and her sister had that procedure. And they have beautiful hips now. So everything worked exactly as it should have. And from now on, I will have every dog at that 16 week tested at PennHIP to see where they are. So that’s that’s my word to the wise. Because we’re not supposed to have bad hips. Like that’s, that’s just not common at all. So yeah, those are our struggles. We’ve had shoulder elbow, and even poor Quinn, like he lived such a just like rough and rugged life. He was always he would go through walls go through fences. He just nothing stopped him. He wasn’t a go over. He was a go through. And he tore his Oh, this and the elbow. biceps tendon. Oh, and apparently that’s severely like that’s super painful. Oh, no, he didn’t show any signs of it. The only sign he would show is occasionally when he would do a fast turn. He would kind of do a little poll. And so that was I learned about PRP injections and I learned Yeah, when you’re talking about pivot Yukon, I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing with him and we quit search and rescue. Well, he recovered. And so it was like, well, maybe we can do this. So we got back into it. But brain wise, I could never trust him. He’s just too inconsistent. He would be brilliant one day, totally brilliant. And then the next was like, Have I ever even smelled odor before? And he also had like a thing with pressure. If and here’s the pressure he would feel if I was excited. He would shut down. So if I was excited or hopeful or was you know, any sort of happiness, he would absolutely it was too much for him. I mean, what a strange experience.

Kayla Fratt  30:02

Yeah, that’s not the direction that that usually goes. Yeah.

Crystal Wing  30:09

So I would have to start off any search, any training with this is going to be terrible. This is the worst experience we’re ever going to have. Like, I would have to actually try to make myself feel disappointed. If anybody knows me. That is not who I am. I’m like the opposite of that. I am like, let’s go find all the good, you know, let’s, let’s like, have fun. Let’s party and it was it was too wearing on me. And so I was like, You know what, buddy, we’re just going to retire. And the same summer which was was that last summer I think that was last summer, I decided that checkmate. I would also retire him. As much as I love doing protection sports, and it’s like my passion. I’m a decoy. I’m a helper, all those things. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t see with him hurting as badly as he was because he’d only done one hip replacement. We just couldn’t do it. So then I was like, You know what? We’re doing the second hip. So we did two total hip replacements. He’s super bionic boy. Now at six years old, it’s like, Okay, we’re gonna do this. Oh, no, wait, it gets better. He just got released after his second hip replacement to really start doing stuff that next week, we were going to start doing jump grids. And I was working with Bobby Lyons doing conditioning. And I had a really long night, parent teacher conferences. So I put him out in his kennel. And I had a giant like metal pot for water because he’s the dog that I can’t keep a metal bowl around. He just he devours them. He chews them. He had just broken the metal thing off the wall. And I can’t let him get out there from 6am to 8pm. Like, this is my one day of the year that it’s like a super long day. Yeah. When I pulled into the driveway, and he heard the truck pull in, because his hips are feeling better. He jumped he never jumped before but his hips are feeling better. He jumped, landed on that pot of water that he moved across his Kindle. Okay, starting where I left it. And he broke his foot.

Kayla Fratt  32:02

I remember seeing that video. I’m just being like, makes me sick.

Crystal Wing  32:08

That was the end of October. Yeah, fast forward. He broke it again. No, I didn’t know. Yes, after the new bone had grown over it on February 12. We were in the backyard. And he was supposed to continue to increase movement because he has to keep walking, or it gets problems. And so it’s like, tell them how and why they can’t run. They can’t jump. They can only walk calmly on a leash. Doing that since October. And we were in the backyard. And he stepped on the the I’m starting Arsa which is IPO our search and rescue sport. Again, another pivot. And he all of a sudden was going to the bathroom. And he just stopped going to the bathroom midstream and ran over and got on the ladder. It’s been in the backyard since December. I like why. And so I was like check. And so he turned and when he turned his leg fell through the ladder on the outside of his right foot and broke that bone. It went all the way through the old bone and all the new bone. So he is now on crate rest until May 14.

Kayla Fratt  33:25

Yeah, I’ve had a I’ve had not nearly the same but like literally today, I had to take niffler in for an x ray because he’s been limping very subtly. And he’s supposed to, or four months of work and about two weeks. Oh, shoot. And I’ve been noticing if I fully flex his wrist joint, I get a pain response. So we took them in. They look like they’re fine. So it’s probably just a sprain. We can rescue it, we’ll be able to get through it. But I wanted to be 100% sure it wasn’t a breach. Right? And we’re still they’re gonna send it off to a specialist just to make sure and then I come home from this. And barley had open a door to the pantry and fire bottle of Gallo. No. So I just got home from X rays with one dog and then was like, okay, so we load up and go to the ER or I’m dog sitting right now I’m sure there’s hydrogen peroxide somewhere and we often I’ve never done it before. I’ve actually never done the actually throw up before Yeah, I’m just barley has a stomach of steel. So this is something that I actually was worried enough about that I was like, vomiting needs to happen now. But I mean, it’s nowhere near the same as having to do multiple hips. But you know, sometimes these dogs you just have these days or weeks or months where you’re like –

Crystal Wing  34:48

You’re like, where’s the end? Just stop hurting yourself.

Kayla Fratt  34:53

Yeah, the only way I can meet your needs so that you stay safe. If you’re injuring yourself so that we can take you out and you can do the thing. And then you can like meeting their needs is just so hard when they’re injured. And then you get into these spirals and it’s,

Crystal Wing  35:10

It’s about meeting our needs too, and like, I don’t have a baby dog. And the amount of mental turmoil that has put me through is It’s insane how, how much that’s impacted me, but I think I’m getting to be really good at it. And I’m lucky that I have a wonderful club. So I’m the Training Director for evolution working dog club. And so I have amazing friends there, they’ll have me work their dogs, but you know how it is. It’s not your dog. You know? All those fun dreams and plans and it’s just all kind of like, Oh, poor buddy, I do have a peroxide story for you. So checkmate ate a sock. And I saw him do it. And I was like, Are you kidding? He just walked over just to get a sock. Like, why? Why did you do that? And so I’m like, Alright, peroxide it is. So I give him the like the cap full or whatever, and no puking. And so I’m like, okay, so give another cap full, no puking. Give another cap full and no puking. And I’m like, okay, dude. How much can I give you?

Kayla Fratt  36:19

Me? I just Googled this. It’s 10 milligrams per 10 pounds? Uh huh. I think is what it let me I’m gonna fact check myself you finish your story, a lot more than I thought up to three times before –

Crystal Wing  36:35

I know is when I looked it up. By the time I had given him what I you know, I given him almost the max of what it had said online. And he still wouldn’t puke. And so I’m like, fine. So I load him up, we go to the ER, I’m standing outside in the parking lot of the ER, between my legs, and I’m shaking back and forth, back and forth with my knees doing everything I can to like, get this peroxide to shake up to do its job. So then I’m like tugging with them thinking okay, you know, because he does like a jackhammer, back and forth. He’s like, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. I’m like, you gotta puke. But you gotta, you wouldn’t. And so I called them because COVID stuff, you know, and it’s still the same restrictions. And I call them like, I’m in your parking lot trying to get my dog to puke. So if you see me out here, bouncing around with my dog. That’s what’s happening. How long before I need to actually come in? If I’ve given them this much, and they’re like, You got like, 10 more minutes, and you should probably come in. He never did puke. I had to take him in. And they had because they said after a while peroxide can be toxic. Right? And so I was like, Oh, crap. So anyway, that’s my peroxide story. So again, another weird thing.

Kayla Fratt  37:47

So I’m gonna, I’m gonna amend myself, definitely don’t listen to what I said earlier. It is one teaspoon per five pounds with a maximum dose of three to four tablespoons for dogs to weigh more than 45.

Crystal Wing  37:58

Okay, because I had given him his max at that point. And it was like, Whoa.

Kayla Fratt  38:03

Yeah, and I think I saw somewhere that you can do that up to three times in a set time frame, you know? So, definitely, definitely, you know, if you’re not sure, just take them into the ER, don’t this is not a veterinary podcast, but

Crystal Wing  38:16

Yeah, no, not at all. I mean, I mean, clearly the the technique is not to put them between your legs and shake them around in the parking lot.

Kayla Fratt  38:23

Yeah, I took longer than I expected. I like barley walked around the backyard for about five minutes. And then, okay, I guess I’m bringing him back in while I measure out the next dose and then you found it on

Crystal Wing  38:36

It was a 20 minute drive. Plus, I was in the parking lot for a good 20 minutes and was here shaking around like it. It was about an hour.

Kayla Fratt  38:44

Yeah, no, it sounds like you definitely waited long enough. But I kind of I brought him back in from the backyard too early, and then I clean up on it.

Crystal Wing  38:53

 These damn dogs are gonna kill us if we don’t kill them.

Kayla Fratt  38:59

So okay, so how I mean, it seems like because a lot of this was pretty straightforward medical stuff. This might be an easier question than I anticipated when I wrote it. How did you kind of decide to pivot in each of these cases? Like I’m sure that was just so disappointing. You know, going from rehoming to hip surgery to hip surgery to another hip surgery.

Crystal Wing  39:18

Shoulders elbows. Yeah, yeah. So Quinn was really hard because he ended up with Oh, tic disease. And so he retired from sports and it was right before like, a couple weeks before our Mr. One we were going to do and I grieved I grieve so hard the loss of my working dog and companion or I should say sport dog. I know there’s distinction whatever. In the sport world we call my –

Kayla Fratt  39:50

You could see my little like head wobble of like, all right, sure. But also.

Crystal Wing  39:58

Yeah, but yeah, he could have been a working dog in the, you know, other world too. But whenever he’s hurting dogs or working dog, whatever. But I did, I agreed so hard. And it’s been interesting to me how many people have been so thankful to hear that? Because they always think that it’s weird, you know that it’s like my dog is alive. Why am I grieving this hard. But I think anytime you retire your dog, you have lost that life that you’ve done, and you’ve you’ve built and you’ve committed for so many years, and I don’t care if it’s sport, or if it’s, you know, search and rescue, if it’s, you know, conservation, if it’s, I don’t care what it is, you’ve spent a lifetime with that animal. And you’ve built this connection that I don’t think it’s possible with any other human. It’s, it’s beyond words. And I think anybody that listens to this podcast knows that and they can feel that to their core. And so I grieve that super hard. And then he almost died. So I agree that super hard, and then he made it and then he had Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome. We think from the heavy doses of antibiotics he has it take to save his life, or that’s what eventually took him. So that’s what took me to Nakota in the coda was a tough one, because I could have tried other stuff. And he would have been an exceptional search and rescue dog exceptional. This dog is solid, amazing nerves. Amazing. He can be around anybody around anything super solid, like that kind of dog. You know it, you know, and I wasn’t ready to do anything. But protection sports. That’s all I had in my mind. Yeah. And so because I couldn’t, I couldn’t be opened anything else

Kayla Fratt  41:42

I could see myself struggling what I mean, and it’s a little different, I guess, because this is my career. But I have had moments where I’ve doubted whether or not niffler is the right job dog for the right job for him. And I he’s in agility right now. Partially, and that’s like kind of a separate story, as far as I’m hoping. And I’m already seeing that really build up our relationship as a team because he just lives in barleys shadow in a way that I think is really unfair to him. And I I’m aware of that cognitively, but emotionally still struggle with it. Yeah. But anyway, it’s so I, if niffler started showing a ton of promise and agility. And it became really clear to me that he wasn’t going to work in conservation, which is not I don’t think that’s the route that is what’s going to end up happening. But if it were to happen, yeah, it’s not a one to one replacement. Right? You know, I? Agility costs money. Conservation makes me money, not to say no, it doesn’t. Gemini definitely doesn’t make me any. Negative.

Crystal Wing  42:53

I don’t know, though, because it makes you a better conservation handler.

Kayla Fratt  42:57

I mean, financially, literally, I know, I know. conversation, but I haven’t, we’ve only been doing agility for about four weeks. And it’s just, it is so good for us to have like one hour a week where we get in the car, and it’s Kailyn niffler. And we’re gonna go do the thing. And barley is never there. And I’m never thinking about barley. I’m never comparing him to barley. Like, we just have this if I can do a sport that barley and I had never done. Instead, I would I would do that event because barley and I have done agility. But like I you know, that’s a whole other conversation about like how to get when you have that sparkly dog, that hot dog how to get the next dog like out of that shadow? Yes.

Crystal Wing  43:43

That was my idea.

Kayla Fratt  43:44

I screwed that up already. So, so very different. Yeah.

Crystal Wing  43:48

So I thought if I got a different breed, I got a Dutch shepherd. I thought, then, you know, I don’t have that comparison. And in my brain, I was kind of told that the duchies and the mountain was out of this breeding, because they’re all cane PV lines, that they’re all basically the same dogs. And I will say both of the duchies that I got, are very similar in a lot of ways, and nothing like the bow. So and I’ll say we were up at Ohio at one point, and we had, I think, nine duchies there. And all of them had the same kind of characteristics. And it was like, no, they’re not they’re not Malinois. They’re not like just because they came in the same litter, like he’s in the same litter with Malinois. They’re different dogs. So it was fascinating. Wow. So yeah, I thought that that’d be enough. Gwen was so amazing, you know. So I don’t think that I had the comparison thing going on, because they were so very different. Like their learning style was different. And so I think getting a different breed can be a good help to that when you do have that incredible dog. If you can’t be 100% invested to that breed. So And then when I got checkmate, I thought maybe I’ll have that same problem of comparison. But I think because I had the duchies they really kind of took it out of my head of having expectations of ever having a dog like Quinn again. So that’s, that’s helpful, too. So I don’t know. That’s that’s how I got past it.

Kayla Fratt  45:18

Yeah, I mean, I think for me, a lot of it going back to actually video has been really important for me to go back and watch videos of niffler and realize how much of it is that I am not reading him appropriately because he doesn’t work the way that barley works. So a lot of our quote unquote failures in the field have been actually related to my own skill set. And not its may not. So yeah, that’s been helpful. And then finding he tends to be lower arousal than bar that I think Farley’s arousal makes it really easy to push through stuff and yourself your trainer, because he will just tolerate it. Yeah. And niffler is definitely making me a better trainer, because he doesn’t have that. And when he gets high, it doesn’t help him push through stuff. Yeah. And then it’s been so fun to find the ways that that is good. Like, oh, my God, this, this, this, this boy’s precision alerts. And like being able to know his target things, I can teach it. And I have not been very successful at that with barley because his arousal spikes so high, so fast that teaching him precision. It’s just really, really hard for both of us. So like, I’ve been trying to be really conscious about finding, not just the places that barley is better, but also the places that niffler is better, and then finding the places where it’s just different. Because that, you know, it’s not always a better, worse sort of thing. But it has been really helpful for me to consciously be like, Wow, niffler is better at this than Barley, and remind myself of that frequently.

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Crystal Wing  46:55

The likeliest wonder.

Kayla Fratt  47:00

I also like I’m earlier in my sport working career than you are. So I wonder, have you found it easier as you’re on dog four, five, than it was with dog two? Because I’m hoping that part of my problem is because niffler is dog number two.

Crystal Wing  47:16

Here’s the thing that I find harder. Some of that stuff. I just don’t want to teach again, like I’ve already done. You just do this, you know, like, can’t you just know this already? Can’t you just like osmosis this from the other dog? Now I –

Kayla Fratt  47:28

I taught leash least skills already, like do I really have to do it with every dog.

Crystal Wing  47:32

That’s a lot of damn work. Why am I doing that again? I didn’t like it the first time. Yeah, I have found myself several times with radish that I’ll do something. And then I’m like, why don’t you know? Wait, haven’t that taught you that? She’s like, No, I don’t know that word. Like, oh, crap. I didn’t even taught you that yet. Like, I just thought it ahead. Yeah, I think that’s the part that makes it harder for me. And that’s where I do want another protection dog again. But it’s so much work. Yeah. So do I really want to invest all of that again. And so I think I’m gonna wait until I retire before I invest in that next dog. But I have to be so real with myself. My line is it has to be a healthy dog. And if it’s not, I have to be willing to rehome that dog or to send the dog back to the breeder. And so I’ve really got to find that special breeder and that special pedigree, because it’s, I mean, this might be my last, like, real hurrah, because my body is getting beat up, you know, being a decoy and a helper and I’m not getting younger, as they say. So. And everybody says, you know, especially for females around 48, when you really start to, you know, go through some physical changes, and it’s like, I gotta, you know, I got one more chance at this because I can’t afford to pay a decoy, you know, it’s 50 bucks a pop at cheapest, just, like a 10 minute session. And, oh, yeah, yeah. And I’m like, I can’t afford that. You know, so I have to do the work myself, you know, and then maybe like, once a month, or once every other month, meet up with a decoy and get the work done that I need to do. That’s not me and be the actual handler. So if that’s the case, you know, I’ve only got a couple years left is what I’m feeling. So I guess any good breeders or pedigrees out there, let me know.

Kayla Fratt  49:27

Do you have you considered going with an older like going with a two year old where you could have the health test and already –

Crystal Wing  49:32

You know, I keep thinking about that, but the problem I have. So I started with checkmate who was six months, and I really thought that that was kind of old enough to be able to kind of tell, and it wasn’t. And so I’m like, Okay, there’s so many things in that first two years. I just thought, oh, no, do I want somebody else to do all that?

Kayla Fratt  49:58

As far as my next dog I’m like, do I really? Like I yeah, I mean, it’s different in that, like, I’m just looking at I’m in year one of probably a six year PhD. Yeah, barley is currently 10. So Marley, at best is not going to be working by the time I graduate. Yeah, if there will be seven at that point. So I, and I don’t think I can do a puppy while I’m in this program. But I’m also not sure if I want to get a puppy the day after I graduate and then have a year question. Realistically before that dogs able to work and then niffler is like nine and doesn’t have backup data. Like, I’m starting to have to look really far out. But it’s like, I think I might have to go with a a year or two year old dog right away when I graduate. Yep. Because it makes so much sense. take that gamble of Yeah, you know,

Crystal Wing  50:49

I’m at five years better working dog. This is five years without a protection sport dog. And it was supposed to be such a straightforward thing. And it’s been three dogs now that have all said, Nope.

Kayla Fratt  50:59

Yeah. And I’m sure you know, it’s yeah, you’re not just going out there and getting like random dogs from the shelter or something.

Crystal Wing  51:09

Radish was bad. It was kind of random, but, but I was also fostering her and I thought lab mixed with the MAL that can be a pretty fantastic nose dog. And I was really curious about if the lab would fit in my life. And I was like, I think I want to foster a lab because that might be a really cool dog to do search and rescue with. And then she came across a lab mixed with a mouse. I’m like, okay, that’s probably more my speed. Perfect. Yeah. And so she just fit in so seamlessly. I mean, just, and she’s such a hard little worker. So yes, she was a little free dog. But still, you know, she was, but you got to think to her dad is like badass K NPV lines, you wouldn’t even believe it. When I see her Embark. It’s hilarious. She’s like, little floppy eared dog. And the next was like 25%, you know, relative, and it’s a Dutch breeding dog for their special forces. And then the other dog on there. I mean, all of the dogs in that line, they’re all bred off like really important dogs like arco and you know, so it’s really funny that you know, she’s such a badass in her lineage.

Kayla Fratt  52:11

So Crystal, how have you like stayed motivated through all of these is it just how much you love protection Sports? Is there some other secret to your your motivational success because I just know you as someone who is so positive still in the game and

Crystal Wing  52:31

Dopamine I mean, aren’t we like the only species that can keep being motivated to do things for like, rewards we’re gonna get a decade from now, you know, like, you get the good grades in school, like Sapolsky says, and you know, and he’s like, you get the good grades, so you can get into the good college, you can get into the good, you know, graduate program, and then, you know, and all these things, and so you can get into the best nursing home and so you can die, you know, and then we also have the beliefs that we can be a really good person now for words we’re not going to get in our lifetime, it’s for being when we’re dead, we’re going to get all the rewards, you know, so I mean. So with those kinds of like motivators, that dopamine kind of kicking in there. I think that’s probably what keeps me going. I have an amazing support system. And that is the the true that’s the true foundation of my being. I have, like Nancy, my club, my collaborative with Robin and Stacy. My parents, like, you gotta, you just gotta know how many people I have on my side. My neighbors, you know, yeah, was it yesterday, the day before? UConn, I fell asleep and I left him out back running around with radish. And he ended up out in the front yard and my neighbor comes over, and he doesn’t really know UConn and so I mean, other than he’s the dog that’s on the roof of my house and he sends me messages the dogs on the roof of the house again. That’s always a weird phone call to get on. You’re at work like well, I guess. But he was in the front yard. I don’t know how he got there. All the gates are closed. There’s no holes nothing. I mean, he probably jumped the fence finally he figured it out that it just walks over and he’s like my you know, Girl Scout dog but the neighbors just like well, the dogs in the front yard like all thanks, Earl. You know? And then I’ve got my crazy cat lady neighbor, you know, and she totally takes care of me it’s she’ll see me totally stressed out and she’ll bring me dinner. You know, just I can you believe that kind of support system I have. So when you have so many people in your corner, I don’t know how you can’t be grateful. So just every day and gratitude every day. I have gratitude practice every day. That is something I never skip. And I haven’t stuck that into my life. So that’s there’s something every day I’m going to make sure that I saved my gratitudes for that day. There’s just there’s no way I’m skipping that that’s an important part of my life. So I mean those those are the some some of the ways that I stay positive. It’s not all rainbows, right?

Kayla Fratt  55:02

I feel like my, yeah, crying helps sometimes.

Crystal Wing  55:06

Yeah. And it was, it was a she, how she, she was dying from something, it was terrible, terrible disease. And she said something that was really powerful to me it was on a Facebook live video kind of thing. And I wish I could think of her name, if I can find it all all, like, share it. So you can like share it out to you. But she was saying that, you know, you don’t, you don’t have to say that you can only be one thing or another. So like, you can be grateful. And you can also have other feelings that can kind of come and go. And so you can be happy. And you can also be sad and but what she said there really got me was that we’re meant to feel those things. And we need to allow ourselves to really embrace it, let that feeling come all the way in deep into our soul. And then let that feeling go completely to open it up for the next one to come in. And I heard that it just the right moment. And it was in this kind of doing a lot of work on myself. And it was like, You know what, I can be sad that my dog is no longer able to compete. And then I can at the same time be grateful for the life that we’ve had together. I can be grateful for the dogs that I have. But I can also be sad that this chapter is over. And when I really could embrace that, and I could really let those feelings and even when when passed. I was so thankful for the space and the time that my family gave me because it was right at Christmas break. And usually I go see them for a few days. And they were like, nope, take your time. And I did I stayed home for a couple days. And I grieved I took it in deeply into my bones. And I gave myself the time and the energy to truly grieve. Yeah. And then I was able to let that go, which you don’t ever really let it all go. It’s always there. But again, you can be sad and happy at the same time. So there can be little undercurrents of that like today, the last litter mate died. And so Moe and her husband had to let honto go. And it was amazing how many emotions that brought back, like just reading the message, I just I sat there and cried. But I I’m really thankful that I’m allowing myself that space now, because I didn’t do that before. Before, I was always very stoic. And I would either I almost felt like I was like, like rubber, you know, just like letting it bounce off. But you’re not, it’s still getting in there. It’s still seeping in. And so just doing that work, I think has really helped me, I think also connect with others. And being a high school teacher, like, I’m dealing with 100 and something teenagers every day, and their emotions are changing by the second. So you really, I guess you just learn how to adjust with the flow. You just gotta wing it. I do. And I’m corny. I tell dad jokes. So that’s also my go to.

Kayla Fratt  57:55

I find one of the things that I’ve been really struggling with, and sometimes doing a good job of, and sometimes not so much. And this again harkens back to what we’re talking about at the beginning as far as being like really, really, really energetic. And like really cool is I am not good at giving myself the space to feel and breathe and pause. Yeah. However, I think sometimes like, yeah, moving my body and and recognizing that continuing to stay busy is actually good for me. And, you know, there’s a balance in there, because I’m not a superhuman, I do still need rest. And I am very, like protective of my sleep. That is you have to be thinking that I’m really good at being like, no, no, I do need eight to nine hours every single night. Yeah, and I love how it this doesn’t surprise me at all, because my next question was going to be about planning and positivity from your answer to how you pivot is a lot more positive than I think mine would be like, I feel like I lean on this, like, well focus on what you can control and just do the next right thing. And both of those are really helpful to me, but they’re pretty plotting sometimes like it’s, it’s kind of low to think on those things that I like, is logical. It’s your community and refocusing on gratitude. And yeah, you know, I think all of these things can be helpful and pick up the ones that help at given points and put down the ones that aren’t helping at given points. That’s totally fine.

Crystal Wing  59:29

Yeah, yeah. And that’s, that’s just where my work is right now.

Kayla Fratt  59:36

So has there been anything that you have really learned from all of these pivots? I mean, you talked about doing that for months. What other like yeah, lessons have you come away from for you know, thinking forward to your next dog or when you’re talking to your students what, what stands out to you?

Crystal Wing  59:55

I am going to be a lot more careful. About the next dog that I get, I have been putting more energy into talking to our people about making connections, you really have to know the pedigrees, because if you’re going to get a puppy, you know, it’s you have to kind of think that any puppy in this litter, hopefully is going to be the result of the pedigree that you’re buying into. And I am not so obsessed about being like great friends or anything with the breeder. So I think that maybe sounds weird. But that’s some, like, recent conversations I’ve been having that makes me kind of go. It’s about the pedigree, it’s about finding the right dog. And doing right by that dog. I have to be able to be willing to have an alternative home, if it doesn’t work out. And I think by having smudges, my foster, I learned a very valuable lesson there, that I could give him my all. And I gave him all of my love and all of my being. And I knew that he wasn’t staying. So I know that I can do that. I know I’m capable of that. And so that’s, that’s a really good lesson that I learned. So I always encourage people to foster because they get a really good experience of trying the the activities they want to try. And they get to build the dog the way they want to build them. And you’re definitely doing better than what a typical foster home is going to be able to provide. So if you’re interested in sport work, you’re interested in detection work, you know, whatever your interests are. Use that experience and love that little creature with all your being. And you’re only going to make them a better being as well. And people will say, Well, how could you possibly let them go? Because you know, they’re so bonded, they’re so attached, and I’m like, Oh, you’re right. It’s going to be hard. I’m going to cry. And the thing I’ve learned about dogs, they can move on very nicely. Yeah, they’re in the now and they move on so easily. So I have to always kind of keep that in my mind. Now if I go back in see Nakota dad doesn’t exist anymore. And he gets so mad. My dad gets so mad. I mean, that dog adores me like no other. But yeah, so I see their relationship and I see their bond. And it makes me so happy. So I think that’s the other piece that I really have learned from all of this. That’s been helpful.

Kayla Fratt  1:02:30

Well, in my experience with fostering as well. And this might be I so I also I worked in a shelter for a while before I fostered so I got really good at putting all of my love and energy into a dog for X number of hours a day, hours a week, weeks. Yeah, whatever. And then, uh, knowing that that was never ever going to be mine. So that helps. And that was a muscle that I just got good at. Because I I guess it is it’s the same thing people would ask me all the time, how do you not just bring them all home? They’re not my dog. Right? Like, and I don’t mean that like an allele sense. I mean, like, you like it just it didn’t click. And then I was able to foster dogs and my first like five or six foster dogs. It was not hard to get them back. Yeah. Like, yeah, and I think part of that was again, because I had worked in a shelter. So I was I was used to letting dogs go. And maybe if you’ve never had a dog or even a shelter, that might be harder for you. But what I even tell, you know, pet dog people is Hey, okay, so you can’t let the dog go. You found your dog. Like that was the point was that? Exactly.

Crystal Wing  1:03:34

I mean, that’s radish for me.

Kayla Fratt  1:03:36

And yeah, I you know, I brought barley home on a trial adoption basis. And within 12 hours, I you know, and I kind of knew even when he was in the shelter, I was like, I think this is my guy. But that’s, yeah, my ex boyfriend was not my guy. Oh another couple years here on the axis not. But you know, I knew I was like, No, this, this is my dog. And you know, this dog that we’re bringing home was always going to be mostly my dog. And as long as you know, yeah, I don’t know what I would have done if he had really put his foot down about it. But I was I was willing to fight for it in a way that I wasn’t willing to fight for it with the other dogs, the other dogs were even some of them were easy to let go. I knew when I know. Yeah. And if you if you again, if that’s the first dog for you, then that’s the first dog for you, buddy.

Crystal Wing  1:04:37

It’s such a great experience. There was I couldn’t believe how much and it was probably because it was COVID and I was working from home so I had more time to spend, but how much I accomplished in 28 days with that dog was incredible to me the amount of foundation that I put on him and knowing that someone else was gonna get to love him and get to use him for this job. And I think that maybe was a difference for me too is knowing that he was going on to work. Yeah. And so that’s, that’s where I I’m in a situation now where I can’t have any more dogs, like I’m already over the limit for the county, oops, radish and you can look similar enough. And UConn in checkmate can’t be together. So it’s always going to be checkmate with a black dog. It’s just checking with the black dog, you know. And I’ve had four dogs before, but I’ve never had four dogs that were all at working ability, like, needed that work ethic. So it was always been one senior that didn’t quite need the the work and the effort. So I could balance that I just I can’t do for working dogs not with a full time job. And my CV K nine and working for fenzi. And I know I can’t do that. I’m basically kind of working two full time jobs right now. And then trying to do search and rescue and keep her deployable.

Kayla Fratt  1:06:02

I don’t know how you do it.

Crystal Wing  1:06:09

I don’t protect my sleep. And I need to protect my sleep. So that’s, that’s something. And I’m also a night owl. So that’s not good. So once I do stay up until two or three in the morning, because my alarm set for 545 to get up regardless, like that’s when I have to get up next. Yeah, but then it’s like, I get into this habit where I so easily like I feel this grew from like 8pm to 2am. That’s like my prime. That’s my creative time. That’s my, like real hyper fixate time. And it makes it rough when you got to get the 545.

Kayla Fratt  1:06:43

Yeah, yeah, I am not No, no, I mean, I’m a morning person. I like 7am to 10am is my time every day maybe to noon, if I’m lucky. So

Crystal Wing  1:06:56

That was Robin and I stayed at her place the last couple summers in the, in the Iowa you know, we were dog trainer land. And that’s always when she wanted to train and do all of our thoughts. And I’m like, Dude,

Kayla Fratt  1:07:09

I would rather train in the afternoon because my brain doesn’t work for other stuff, then training is reinforcing enough to me that I can go and do that at like 2pm versus like sitting down and writing or editing for whatever, like that can’t happen at two but I’m, I’m motivated enough. So just finding your rhythms. So tell me a little bit about why you really love using Play to train dogs. And if you’ve got any tips or things that you can share to a general audience, you know, I think we’ve got a lot of dogs. Most of our listeners are pretty darn dog savvy. Yeah. Yeah, let’s play,

Crystal Wing  1:07:47

I guess. Okay. Ah, so I could talk about play for days. So how can I shorten this? So I’ve always seen it as play is the foundation. And I don’t know when this is airing, I’m sure it’s airing after doing a conference on focus. And I didn’t

Kayla Fratt  1:08:07

I see it’s coming out probably in May or June. Okay. Yeah.

Crystal Wing  1:08:11

So, so may, okay. Yeah, so I’m actually doing a seminar in May two. So it’s kind of cool. I’m getting to go around and do some different seminars on play, I get to my first one in person out at the ranch in California with Denise Finzi. And it was so cool to get to teach with her that was like such a like, wow experience. The whole purpose behind play is that it is to me the foundation of the relationship. And the relationship is the engagement. So we kind of think about it as the first thing that we build with our dog is attention. And on all of my hats that I have made, I have a hat that says has reinforcer embroidered on the on the front of it, I’ve actually got I’m showing a little camera thing. So it’s a blue hat. And it has reinforcer embroidered on the front. And on the back. It’s hashtag pay attention. And so every hat that I have, I have hashtag pay attention on the back. And it’s more than just paying attention to your dog paying attention to all your variables, your training plan. What it means more to me is pay for the attention that your dog gives. Because attention is that behavior. Yeah. And so if you want more attention, you need to pay it. And so that’s the very first thing I train. And how are you going to get attention? Well, when you’re fun, when you’re enjoyable to be around, if you’re an asshat Oh, wait, is this? Can I say that? I did sort of bleep it if you can’t. If you’re not fun, and your dog doesn’t want to be around you, then that’s the you’re not going to get attention. That’s just the way it is. And so if I’m fun, and I’m happy and I’m motivational, and they want to be around me, well, I’m naturally going to get attention and then when they give me attention I want reword that attention. And then that’s how I create the focus. And so now that I have focus, and they’re like, oh, no, really, what are you about? Like, I want to know, like, I want to spend time with you, well, then that’s when you build the engagement, because now we have that relationship, because I’ve now paid attention to what my dog likes, not just what toy they like, but how they actually like to interact. Is this dog a Touch me not? Or is this dog, like, wants to be a second layer of skin? You know, does this dog love to chase you know, and so we think about our dogs as like predators and scavengers, and we know that we’re all hardwired for foraging, problem solving, and hunting. And so knowing those things about us, I know that I can use food to encourage the foraging, especially for the dogs that are really into their food. And, um, I can slow their heart rate down with their breathing, you know, I can do all kinds of stuff with food, I can make them crazy high, I can do so much problem solving stuff. And I love when you get to that point where you’re training a dog, and they won’t even take food out of a bowl. Because they’re like, wait, I need to work for this. And it just cracks me up. That was actually a fault that I found with with smudge, that munsterlander. So I didn’t realize it. But in that month, I had never fed him out of a bowl. And so the first time I put food in the bowl, he was like, Okay, now what I mean, we had been doing so much problem solving and learning how to learn and having fun, that he was just like, that’s no fun.

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Kayla Fratt  1:11:32

My cat does this, like he’s fed out of exclusively out of a puzzle bowl, and he will ignore wet food that’s in a normal bowl in kibble out of a puzzle. And like cats are supposed to be the ones that don’t like contour free the loading. I feel like a bunch of times, they –

Crystal Wing  1:11:50

They like hunting, though. Yeah, but they like hunting. And so part of that is the problem solving in the hunting and they enjoy that. And so it’s your it’s more exciting to do those things. Yeah. And so that’s, that’s where I kind of play into it. So knowing that they’re foragers, problem solvers, hunters, if I can play that up. And it’s not about finding the right toy, but finding who my dog is. And then that’s when I start playing with the whole, like predatory motor pattern, you know, and, and where is my dog on that scale? And doing is that is that a familiar thing that I should talk about? Or?

Kayla Fratt  1:12:26

Yeah, I think people can go back and listen to we did an episode with Simone Mueller, about the credit prediction, substitute training per look into that, if you don’t know what we’re talking about. You’ll get way more out of it.

Crystal Wing  1:12:37

Yeah, yes. Awesome. So I’m going to play with my border collie way different than gonna play with my Malinois. So I’m going to give my hunting dog that and that’s where I think people get stuck, too, you know, like, they might have like a GSP. And they’re like, all they want to do is stock. And maybe, you know, like, they’ll do that really great. You know, I searched scan and stock, and that’s where they stop. And well, how can I use that in my play? Oh, a flirt pole. A flirt pole is beautiful, you know, there’s so many things we can do to entice that animal. So that’s where every breed, because we’ve done so much selective breeding. That’s also I think, where you get into like, like Marian Breeland, and Keller. And they really get into that kind of instinctive drift with the Breeland effect. And so you get into those kinds of ideas. And you can really start to use that in your play. And now, you’re going to have empowerment, and that’s what I really leaned toward, because I want my animal to go, you speak my language. So when they are like, you get me you speak my language, I know, I know how we can work together. That’s when I can get where I don’t even have to ask them to work. They’re begging me to work. Yeah. And that’s all created through play all of that. So I mean, that’s, to me, that’s the foundation, like if I can create that, that relationship of watching them paying attention, and paying them for attention, I have to pay them in a way that’s reinforcing. It’s not just a reward. And often, you know, the dog’s idea of reinforcement and ours may not be the same. Like, if I’m a person that says I only play with balls, or I only tug, that may not be the dog you have in front of you. So it really is the foundation, we’ve got to teach the dog how to activate us to play. And so when they can learn how to learn through play, low stakes, now I can bring that into my obedience. And when you watch me train, right now, I’m sharing all of my training videos, and I don’t know if so if you want to go back to the March, it was gonna be after the fact we’ll see if I passed the BH with radish. But you’ll see like, it’s hard to tell when we’re doing obedience. And when we’re doing play, it’s one right after the next and it’s so smooth, and that’s my goal. That’s always my goal.

Kayla Fratt  1:14:54

Yeah, well, I love that you’re emphasizing. I just want to underline for our listeners that this is isn’t just like this isn’t just will the dog take a toy as reinforcer? This is literally finding like the way to light them up and to play with them and to like, find that joy and teamwork and connection, like play in the way that you’re talking about. It is so much deeper than like, will the dog talk?

Crystal Wing  1:15:22

Yeah, yep. It’s about how does the dog think, how does the dog work? How do they move? What is their breed? Yeah.

Kayla Fratt  1:15:30

I wasn’t expecting him to go this direction. Cats have been my best teacher for this. Oh, I bet. Because they, if you can figure out how to get a cat to want to play with you consistently. And you can figure it like, it’s not that there’s like a special technique that works with cats that works with dogs. But I find that you have to be so much more observant and so much more careful. And think more creatively about how to work with cats. And they, they don’t tend to respond to pushing us as well as dogs. So particularly, if you’re transitioning from a dog that makes play really, really easy to a dog that makes it a little bit less easy. Trying to think about what how you would hypothesis test with a cat, I think has been really, really helpful for me. And maybe maybe that’s not helpful for other people.

Crystal Wing  1:16:24

If you have a kid it’s helpful.

Kayla Fratt  1:16:26

And especially like, I’ve got a young cat who is very, very active. But still, you know, I remember went back when I worked at the shelter, we did a lot of play therapy for cats that we call them overstimulated. So another word for that is petting induced aggression. And one of the big things we did for them was play therapy. So we would get them to chase something, let them complete that whole predatory action sequence, and then finish it off with a high protein high fat snack. And that was one of the most effective ways for kind of reducing their stress and making sure that they got to the place where they were handleable by now, adapters, but a huge part of that was like don’t take the toy and just hit them in the face with it over and over again, that’s not fun. You’ve got to, you’ve got to flirt with them a little bit. Yeah, to make it fun. And one of the big things with cats in particular that I’ve found fascinating was, a lot of them play with their eyes, like even these like obese 14 year old Tom’s, they wouldn’t be exhausted after just lying around. And you can see the tail flick go and you can see the pupils down and you can see the whiskers pop forward, but they never get off their butts, you know, but they’re engaged. And they’re still tired afterwards, even though they’re not physically moving. And, again, like I think the cats are just so much harder than dogs in this way, in some ways that like if you can figure out how to do it with a cat. Yeah, maybe that helps with the dogs, I was really not expecting to go that direction. But here we go. Walking around back and forth. So I’ve got cats on the brain

Crystal Wing  1:18:00

That’s making me think about, you know, like the high drive idea. I think some people think with high drive dogs that they need to give them more and more activity to satiate what, what their, their activity level. And you know, I think you can attest to this, too, it’s third, their drive is their reward. So we need to find out what drives them and satiate that piece, it’s not that they need, I mean, they typically do need more activity. So I’m saying if you have satisfied their physical needs, okay, so let’s, let’s just make that a clear thing. Almost always, if I know what my dog and I all have, my dogs are different. And the biggest compliment you can give to me is to tell me that each of my dogs have separate personalities, and that you can really see who they are as individuals. To me, that’s the greatest compliment, because that means I’ve done exactly what I want, I want to celebrate who they are, and find out who they are, and encourage them to be the best that they are in the body and the you know the mind that they have UConn and I don’t know what to think of it. We’re talking about drives, you know, it’s those are the things that it’s like what helps the animals survive. So it’s whatever those internal instincts and motivations are. And which is different than arousal. So I know you’ve talked about that before. Those natural drives, it makes me crazy. Sometimes when I see people reinforce the things that dogs already naturally do. And I’ve seen it decrease the dog’s willingness to work with them. So if my border collie style dog is already fantastic at the creeping and the stalking, and if I keep reinforcing that I’m actually going to diminish what they come with naturally. So if they already do it and they’re already what you can think about it is is that that drive is already rewarding to them. You don’t have to reinforce are set. So that’s something that I see people do sometimes. And I’m like, Oh, please don’t do that. Because you’re you’re diminishing what you already have what the dog already brings to the table. So reinforce the things that you’re building the things that you’re trying to encourage with this dog. Because, you know, training a behavior is invasive. I mean, it just out here what it is, you’re changing who they are and what they do. So let them keep the things they already bring to the table. Let those things be reward, reward, rewarding and reinforcing. Yeah, and start to build the other things and bring more reinforcement to those to add those into your toolbox.

Kayla Fratt  1:20:34

Yeah, and I think people are so afraid of not delivering the reinforcer. Oh, yeah, they forget that things can be reinforcing in and of their own sake, Simone Gadbois is great for talking about this. You just had that just, but like the his episode with Cameron Ford from Canine’s Talking is great.

Crystal Wing  1:20:55

 I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.

Kayla Fratt  1:20:56

Oh, my God, it’s so good. I’m a total fan girl for Simone, so.

Crystal Wing  1:21:02

Me too. That’s, it’s on my like, as soon as I get a moment to breathe, that’s my reward.

Kayla Fratt  1:21:08

Google Scholar alert setup.

Crystal Wing  1:21:10

Nice, you’re so smart.

Kayla Fratt  1:21:13

Oh, but he talks about, yeah, these dogs, that you stopping them and trying to force them to take a reward from you, in the middle of a search is actually not the best thing for building that behavior. And I think that is really, really, it’s not the case with every dog. And you know, it, there’s a lot of nuance there. But I think people get so scared of not paying for something that the dog is already being paid for. You’re just not delivering it. But that doesn’t mean it’s still happening or whatever it is, like, you know, we don’t have our dogs under, under some fancy scanner at all times. So we can’t say for sure. But if the behavior is continuing to increase, without you paying for it, or even if it’s just maintaining without you paying for it, something else is sustaining it. And you don’t necessarily have to worry about that. If it’s something you’d like, if it’s something you don’t like them like, Okay, now, we need to start talking about them. But and

Crystal Wing  1:22:13

I think that’s where people say, you know, what, why is it important for me to learn the science behind it? You know, why should I learn about dopamine and acetylcholine and epinephrine? And, you know, why do I need to get all geeky about it? Well, because it’s fun. First off, and why wouldn’t you want to?

Kayla Fratt  1:22:28

Ski I was just like, oh.

Crystal Wing  1:22:32

But seriously, like, the science behind it? Yeah, it explains the why. And what it’s taught me is I ask questions differently. So because I understand some of the things and again, like, we don’t know what at all times, because I’ve researched now and I’m starting to understand some of these things. I’m starting to ask different questions, because, okay, so if dopamine is my motivator, if that’s what’s going to help my dog continue an activity over a prolonged amount of time. Okay, what can I do to start helping that? So what is my reinforcement schedule? You know, should I be in a continuous schedule? Should I variable should I be fixed? Like, what can I do at this moment, to interact with that and try to improve that, I know that cortisol is happening, and I know that, you know, if I want to get my acetylcholine in there to really narrow in their focus and, and get that razor that that pinpoint, especially for doing detection and TFR, like I need my dog to like Hone out everything else in their world. Okay, I can do and teach all of that through play skills. Because when I’m using my play skills, it’s so low stakes. And so that’s where I get to have my dog experience the world through these different games, you know, whether it’s food, not food toy, not food, or, you know, I mean, it can be social, it can be I can use my voice, there’s so many things I can do to give my dog feedback, and that can be silly and fun, but some play can be very serious. So I mean, I use some play very serious with my Malinois. I mean, he, he’s physical, you know, like, it put it this way, if I was to hit him, the way that I hit him when we play, he would think that oh my gosh, the world is ending, but when we’re playing, like, we’re both so into it, like, I’m all bruised up. I’m sure that you know, I don’t know No dogs bruised the way we do. I know he’s electric your skin and tough but it’s it’s amazing. Like how physical we get and we’re just we’re having fun. I would never do that to other dogs, you know, like golden retriever. Yeah, out of context, especially if I walked over and you know, and gave him the Big Shot like he does with me. He’d be like, Oh, dude, what did I do?

Kayla Fratt  1:24:41

Yeah, I know. And that’s something I don’t get because I run Border Collies now but back. When I used to work at a different organization, I got to work with a male and even their lab like the lab that I worked with, like yeah, they take so much more physicality and they enjoy it. I think so. Yes. topping up on you and pushing off of you getting shocked and like You know, it’s it’s really, really physical. And it was funny occasionally transitioning back and forth between the male and the Border Collie. And going into it’s not quite as extreme, but with my two boys niffler loves the verbal praise and like, I’ll like run backwards with my arms outstretched. And then he begins his ears. And He’s wagging like, like it’s jaw line backwards, like, I could see it and then healing comes and pops off and like he likes and then like, I’ll catch him and sometimes, and he’s like, he’s a 47 pound Border Collie. He’s no little leap into my arms and like licking my gears and I push them down, and then they get to do it again. And like Marley has, as Bartlett would be horrified. And occasionally, when I’m switching back and forth between the dogs, I kind of forget to like run backwards with my arms outstretched. And finally, it’s just like, ah, what are you okay?

Kayla Fratt  1:25:52

Are you gonna – tug on this? What are you doing?

Crystal Wing  1:25:58

Are you falling down? Do you need help?

Kayla Fratt  1:26:02

Follow Me Around with the tempo and like, it doesn’t happen all that often but, and I had the opposite as well, where like, you know, barley is really he’s a big talker and like, he’s big, strong boy, you know, we really put you to death for that time twice. And if I talk with niffler, like that, I rip it out of his mouth. And he’s like oh, here Yeah, we gotta do like these little baby tugs. Tell me super strong. And like, I talked with him, like I talked with yorkeys That’s what makes it.

Crystal Wing  1:26:33

Yeah. Yeah.

Kayla Fratt  1:26:36

It’s like, and I feel like then this is where like, the outside pressure comes in. Because sometimes I feel like I want him to like her and like, get into it. And like, you know, I think there’s also in this working dog world, there’s so much desire to make every breed look like a mouse. If you don’t look like a mouse, then you’re not being taken seriously. And that’s a whole other concept. But, you know, it’s hard when I’m reading seeking sent right now by an McLuhan, which is her, her time with her. She had mostly sauce like Spaniels in search and rescue, and she talks about, you know, getting the dog out of the truck, and people being like, you’re gonna search with that. So yeah, they are bred to work through this sort of undergrowth and like the dog would blow everyone else out of the water, but there’s so much expectation that you’re going to get out of the truck with a German shepherd or, or barley or whatever it is.

Crystal Wing  1:27:30

That little munsterlander Oh my gosh, yeah. And then learning about them. I’m like, okay, that’s that’s like a dream dog for me later on in life. So if that’s ever an opportunity, but it’s so hard to get one for search and rescue, yeah, it’s

Kayla Fratt  1:27:42

I’ve been thinking about Lagotto Romagnolo, they’re dogs from Italy. That seems like a perfect dog to try out for conservation. And I still I’m not there yet, because I’m like, it looks. It looks like a cockapoo.

Crystal Wing  1:27:54


Kayla Fratt  1:27:56

I’m already young and short and blonde. Don’t think I’m ready to be the young short blonde girl who gets out of the truck with like the little dude elite looking at not officially there yet, even though they are super interested. These days. I mean, again, we as we just said, I’m not getting another dog for six years. So obviously

Crystal Wing  1:28:22

You’ve got a couple days to think about it.

Kayla Fratt  1:28:26

I’m probably gonna go spaniel first anyway, but okay, we are devolving. I think I think we need to wrap up here. I still want to talk to you for another six hours, but

Crystal Wing  1:28:38

And again, I could talk about play all day long.

Kayla Fratt  1:28:40

Oh, my gosh, this has been so fun. And Crystal. i Oh, my gosh, this is so fun. I love podcasting.

Crystal Wing  1:28:51

You get to meet all these cool people like oh my gosh,

Kayla Fratt  1:28:54

oh my gosh, yeah, no, it’s just it’s just the best. So remind everyone where people can find you online. You know, we’ve obviously talked about the canine detection collaborative podcast, but you’ve got a bunch of other places that people can keep up with you.

Crystal Wing  1:29:06

Probably not a bunch. I have a Facebook group. It’s CBK9, the number nine not like the word but que nine. So that Facebook group I’ve been posting a lot of stuff on there, I post something at least everyday there. And I have my my personal timeline, which is CB Wing. That’s why I make the wing at jokes. And I also have a functional obedience online class. If you go to my CB wing Facebook, there’s a link tree and that just takes you to all my links of all the different things. And then I’m a guest instructor at FDSA, The Fenzi Academy and that’s been like a dream come true. Like pinch me it Yeah. And then I’m up at Canine Census with Robin in Iowa. I teach up there in the summer. And then I’ve been doing seminars kind of across the country on weekends. Whenever I can take a day off or I have a day already planned off like if we have a month They offer like a holiday or something. I’m like, okay, sure I can come. So those are the main places that the link tree can get you all those places too.

Kayla Fratt  1:30:08

Excellent. Yeah, we’ll make sure to link all of that in the show notes. And for everyone at home, you already know the deal. Now it’s your time to go outside and be a canine conservationist in whatever way suits your passions and skill set. You can join our Patreon or student, our class, I guess, at, or you can buy cool merch there as well. Whatever else you need, it’s all just go to And we’ll be back in your earbuds in a week and a half or two weeks. What am I talking about two weeks. We’ll talk to y’all later. Bye.