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Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Watson and Gracie - They aren't sleeping, they are growing!

Watson and Gracie – They aren’t sleeping, they are growing!

Have you ever wondered what kinds of questions we get for our Technical Support team? Well, I can tell you the questions are all over the place and we must learn new things every day. I’ve learned about horses, armadillos, snakes, gophers, ingrown toe nails, threading eyebrows and more in just the last month. Our customers have a varied collection of interests and experiences. Sometimes we have brilliant answers and sometimes we ask just the right question that allows the asker to solve the problem themselves. The synergy that happens is amazing. Our guest blogger today is the result of this type of question.

You can imagine what I thought when I was asked if our tins were magnetic and if a magnet would stick to the bottom. I wondered what kind of lip balm was going to have a magnet! Come to find out, it has nothing to do with lip balm. Let’s have Megan explain.

My name is Megan and I’m a soapmaker and dog lover/trainer (as well as a handspinner spinning wool from our sheep mixed with “fur” from our dogs!). I make soap under the Cowdance Soap label. I began soapmaking in 1998 when our Jersey cow, Fiona, started producing far more milk than we could drink. I turned the surplus creamy milk in to soap and fell in love with the whole process, especially the fragrant scents used in the soaps. Scents are terrific in all sorts of “forms” and recently I have started using several essential oils with my dogs, training them in a new, rapidly growing sport called Nosework (or Scentwork). Nosework training is similar to training a dog to “alert” to drugs or bombs only in our sport we train our dogs to detect three different essential oils: Sweet Birch, Anise (Pimpinella Anisum or Aniseed), and Clove.

I knew where to go for my essential oils (the Sage, of course) but I also needed little tins to hold the scent-impregnated Q-tips used in training. I found the perfect tins, the lip balm tins, here….so now perhaps they should be re-named “lip balm and NOSEWORK tins”!

Nosework or Scentwork is not only a fun sport but it is wonderful for dogs with special needs. It is used very successfully in shelters to provide shelter dogs with mental stimulation and build their confidence, helping them to be more easily adopted. Senior dogs, dogs with disabilities, ALL dogs love this “game” because it uses their natural ability to smell odors. People love it because the training is completely positive and motivational …. and, the essential odors used smell wonderful!!!

Check out these website for more information: nacsw.net and unitednosework.com

So many uses for essential oils…..soap, canine scentwork….and, of course, I always add a dash of essential oil to the fleece I wash and handspin!

I now have another handspinner to chat with (YEA!) and I learned what I can do with Gracie, our Golden Retriever mix, that has a nose like no other. Eating? She knows. Leave a dirty sock in the sofa? She’ll find it. Missing a cat? She’ll track her down to the hiding spot at the top of the book case and remind the kitty it is time for dinner. Going for a ride? She knows the box of Milk Bones is hidden in the haul from Home Depot. She does the: “I think I’ll stop for a treat before I leave the garage, OK?” type of maneuver. Dogs are amazing and so many are eager-to-please breeds. I can see why dogs that need a job to feel they have value really respond to this sport.

So, you might be wondering if the tins actually can be held by a magnet. The answer is yes, they can.


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