Pet store to offer tracking training for family dogs

Westborough - A child wanders away from a picnic or a park: it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Westborough Aquarium and Pet Shop owners Ron and Linda Bertrand plan to help alleviate that fear by training pet dogs to track the family’s children.

“Tracking Little Wanderers” will be offered in the fall at Westborough Aquarium and Pet Store at 18 Lyman St. Ron, an experienced trainer, will run the 12-week program.

“There will be a fee, but we will donate it to the no-kill shelter,” Ron said.

The Bertrands’ devotion to animals is clear in their full-service pet store, where they offer premium pet food and treats, toys, leads, and other items for cats and dogs, as well as fish, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, birds and turtles, and all their supplies.

Not only that, but the Bertrands groom animals and even clip bird wings and nails. They also offer boarding for small animals of all types.

“We’ve had all sorts of requests to board reptiles,” Linda said.

Ron’s first love, however, is training dogs. He started at 19, with his own company, K9 Guard Dogs Limited.

“I did that on my own for several years until I became a police officer and brought the first K9 Unit in Northborough,” he said. “[Kano] did a lot of good things in the department. I don’t think we were ever more than 10 minutes before we found our person.”

He has continued offering training to dog owners since he and Linda opened the Westborough store in 1988.

Now he wants to use his skills in training dogs to track so that it can benefit both owner families and their dogs.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do, getting the family involved in training and scent work,” Ron said, adding he hopes none of his trainees ever need to be put to the test in the real world. “It’s my goal to work on them tracking the children.”

Tracking is no simple task, and Ron will evaluate dogs before they start training to be sure individuals are up to the challenge.

“There are all sorts of things when you teach a dog to track,” he said, such as using their eyes and their nose as they follow a scent. “They do that by using their nose. They actually smell crushed vegetation and the scent that falls down to the ground.”

The training will take place behind the store, where the regular obedience classes occur. Beyond the paved parking area and road is a wooded area that Ron plans to use.

“You start off with very simple things going on,” he said. “The dog will watch the parent and child go behind a tree.”

Ron said that while the program is designed for the whole family, people aren’t the only ones to benefit.

“It’s fun for the dog,” he said. “There’s a little reward [when he tracks something]. It’ll be the dog’s favorite toy.”

According to Linda, Ron loves the training as much as the dogs do.

“He gets bored at home,” she said. “He teaches our little [Yorkshire terriers] to track him.”

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