Category Archives: Sporting Dogs

Here’s to 2017…

Dawn is excited for a new year and new opportunities to work with K9 Units and Military Working Dogs all across the country.  Any working dogs are always welcome to grace the front of her lens as well!

Dawn offers on-location photography anywhere, anytime.  Pricing is based on a job’s location, use of photography, and the time required for production.  Reach out today with details on what you are looking for and we can discuss how Dawn can delivery working dog photography that works for you. Private commissions and business commissions are always welcome.

2016 AWMA National Championships IPO

Held in Saco, Maine on October 14, 15 and 16 2016 the AWMA (Malinois) National Championships.  The dog sport, IPO, is a three phase, multiple day competition where tracking (nosework), obedience, and protection abilities are judged.

The weather was cool but gorgeous and the participants worked hard.  It was an honor to photograph this intense dog sport where obedience is paramount.

Photographs can be purchased by clicking here.

Enjoy my favorite images here::

Mt. Major with a Malinois…

Tracer and I hiked Mt. Major’s Orange trail (aka The Boulder Loop Trail) Tuesday, July 26, 2016.  The weather was perfect and we enjoyed the challenge of this short hike and an AMAZING view at the summit!

Great weather, a fabulous hike and my dog by my side = happy lady!

Great weather, a fabulous hike and my dog by my side = happy lady!

Getting there :: I used Waze app on my iPhone and typed in Mt. Major and it gave me the trail head as an option.  The drive took a little over an hour and was easy peasy.  Plenty of parking and there were 4 port-a-potties in the lot.  Keep in mind, we did this hike on a Tuesday morning in the summer so there were fewer people there than will likely be on a weekend during the Summer months.

Signage and orange markers were plenty and easy to follow along this trail.

We encountered some rock climbing, nothing requiring ropes and harnesses, but not for those who aren’t physically fit (including your dogs).  This is a great hike for working dogs, my Malinois served as my sherpa with a light and capable pack from Good2Go which we picked up on our way to the hike at a local Petco.  I purchased the large Good2Go in Yellow/Green ($29)- Tracer is approximately 75 pounds.  I was able to pack one standard size water bottle in each pouch (one on each side), a collapsable dog water/food bowl, a payday bar, trail mix, band-aids, Neosporin, car key, USB/iPhone charging cord, a power pack for my iPhone, id cards, dog treats, and my cell phone.  There was a little room for more but I wanted to also keep the pack light for Tracer.  I made sure that each side was balanced so it didn’t tilt and sit awkwardly from lack of balance and equally distribute the weight in the pack.  Adjustments for size were easy to make and Trace wore it with no problems for his first time with a pack.  I should state that prior to this hike, he was used to wearing a working dog harness so that made it an easy transition to a hiking pack for him.

Good2Go pack on Tracer the Malinois. Purchased at Petco.

Good2Go pack on Tracer the Malinois. Purchased at Petco.

Tracer in his Good2Go pack at the summit of Mt. Major

Tracer in his Good2Go pack at the summit of Mt. Major

The hike was intense in certain portions and climbing for Trace was easy for him but again, he’s used to climbing rocks and other obstacles.  Fit dogs with agile builds and capabilities are best suited for this hiking route up Mt Major.

Tracer and I just before the Summit. – Selfie thanks to a nearby tree with good branches 😉

Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability becomes subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I am standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen. -Brene Brown, Daring Greatly


Taking a moment to feel the sun on my face and say Thank You from my soul for this day and this journey in life!!

Taking a moment to feel the sun on my face and say Thank You from my soul for this day and this journey in life!!

We reached a wide flat area that had lots of wild blueberries and trees which I thought was the summit.

Wide flat area before the summit, good shade and wild blueberries were abundant.

Wide flat area before the summit, good shade and wild blueberries were abundant.

Video from just before the summit (we thought we had reached the top but had a lil’ further to go yet!) Finally we reached the summit!

Enjoy our review and reach out to the companies who have products that made this hike much more enjoyable!
Swell Bottles
Good2Go Dog Backpack
Payday (YUMMY)
Ranger Up (T shirts that say it all!)
E-Collar Technologies (for control off leash and training)

The things that made this hike even more awesome...

The things that made this hike even more awesome…

Then I saw the orange trail band markers (paint strips) and we continued to follow those to what was clearly THE SUMMIT.  Wide open rock and views upon views upon views!  Here is a video of that actual summit – too windy to hear what I’m saying – but you can see how gorgeous the scenery is and the perma-grin on my face is proof positive that we had reached the top ;). The windy warm air offered us a refreshing recharge but makes it hard to hear my summit “commentary”…

The SUMMIT - Mt. Major Alton, NH

The SUMMIT – Mt. Major Alton, NH

Giveaway on our new Instagram Feed

A photo posted by Dawn Norris (@caninesonduty) on

Follow me contest #giveaway for my new branch of my photography work!

Enter in three steps:: 1: follow @caninesonduty 2: share pic with hashtag #caninesonduty 3: share in your social network. Contest runs through 5.1.15 – winner will be chosen at random #giveaway #workingdog #policedogs #mondio #frenchringsport #psa #k9 #knpv #bitework

Winner receives everything in this photo:
7.5 inch patch
8 gb sub drive

Train Hard…

2015 is bringing lots of opportunities to the world of working dogs.  Particularly to MWDs and K-9s from all divisions (bomb dogs, man-trailing, HRDs, tracking, and more).  However, we are also upon trial season for French Ring, PSA, Dock Dogs, and a slew of other dog sports.  Despite the purpose and the locations, the people and dogs that work together to learn and compete or certify train hard.  This is their life.  Day in.  Day out.  I’ve recently viewed posts on social media feeds where mondio competitors (some of the most diehard handler/canine teams out there IMHO) practice their positions (sit, down, stand in one spot without creeping) on any available surface at Lowe’s, Home Depot, on a dumpster while they wait in a parking lot, you name it.  The world becomes a training ground.  The more variety the better.  The more exposure the better.

Facebook has become a leading resource for finding out about these training seminars due to the up-to-date posts in specialized groups that focus on speciality training for dogs.  Recently I’ve found a few good contenders I wanted to share with you here via links ::

K-9/MWDs (click on image for jump to details and to register)


Monandnock Working Dog Spring PSA Trial

Trial location: Club Field as the National Guard Armory, Armory Rd Milford NH
Date: April 24th-26th, 2015 USCA Judge Robert Johantgen
Various IPO titles being offered.  Click here for entry form and to see titles offered. 

International Rescue Dog Trial IPO-R May 29-31 2015


Dock Dogs
Cabela’s Presents Dock Dogs

2015 Dockdogs Mid Atlantic Regional Championship Beach Bash

For All Official DockDogs events go here


Tracer’s Clear Blue Flame

©Dawn Norris Photography, Inc.

©Dawn Norris Photography, Inc.

Introducing my new Belgian Malinois :: Tracer’s Clear Blue Flame aka “Trace”.  He’s my new little guy. With big hopes of working him for Personal Protection or Search and Rescue.  The path we carve will depend on where Tracer’s skills excel and what best suits his genetics, his drive, and access to the best trainers for his strengths.  Tracer was bred by Jeff Luciano of The Police Dogs Centre Connecticut.  Trace’s line is a new take on the Backhaus lineage.  This breeding was hand picked by Martin Pol of the Netherlands.  Martin is a top working dog trainer and KNPV trainer and competitor.  When I was first talking with Jeff Luciano about a puppy he mentioned he had one that was “just spicy enough” and I was given the opportunity to photograph the entire liter when they were approximately six weeks old.  They were super cute and many were “spicy”…


Trace at 6 weeks of age.

Trace at 6 weeks of age.


Tracer at 8 weeks old. ©Dawn Norris Photography, Inc.

Tracer at 8 weeks old. ©Dawn Norris Photography, Inc.

Trace’s Father is Ivo ::
Ivo is a son of Boy Backhaus and An Iedema, one of the most successful combinations in the KNPV in recent years. Ivo is perhaps the most complete working dog we have ever seen. He possesses every trait we look for in a police dog and each of those traits is pronounced. Hunt drive, retrieve drive, environmental stability, agility, athleticism, prey drive, fight drive, power and aggression in the work, full calm powerful grip, strong will to please his handler, easy to train, very social, excellent health. He has been used for breeding many times in Holland and in our own kennel here and always produced strong, social, high drive offspring.

Ivo Bloodline:

IVO Iedema: KNPV PH 1 Met Lof 438 points. OFA good at 4 1/2 years of age.  Ivo is currently owned by Jeff Gamber of From the Lands.  Jeff’s philosophy is “to work and handle dogs exclusively from Holland. I feel the Dutch have an unmatched program with the KNPV and they produce the absolute best working dogs in the world. It has always been my personal goal to work with dogs that would excel at the highest level of Government work.”  Ivo was sold to Jeff Gamber by Mike Suttle of Logan Haus Kennels.

Ivo in Action in video :: Ivo Belgian Malinois in Action

Ivo on the bite ::

Trace’s Mother is Luca.

Luca’s Bloodline:

Luca: is a very stable, clear high drive Backhaus female. Built and looking like a male she is powerful in her work. Hips, back and elbows all done and good. Luca is excellent with children and other dogs and 100 % environmentally stable. Luca was selected in Holland by friend Martin Pol for her working ability and her bloodline, she was selected specifically to be bred with Ivo to create a Backhaus linebreed.

Trace was born in March 2014 and will be trained by specialists in Protection and Mantrailing/Tracking work locally in Amesbury, MA.  Tracer has been working diligently with me daily to socialize with many different people in lots of different spaces from the local coffee shop to the local Lowe’s.  He’s sweet and spicy, a charismatic little guy that finds children and adults alike who instantly fall in love with him.  Trace has asked me if he might have his own Facebook page but I think he’s a little too young 😉  He’s also incredibly smart as stated by some of the top dog trainers on the East Coast so I’m not too sure I want him behind the keyboard just yet for fear that he might figure out how to utilize the Internet to my disadvantage 😉  Tracer is all-terrain and there isn’t any surface he’s encountered to date that has bothered him. Here is a list of all the terrain he has gladly trambled on, rolled over, jumped onto and off off in the past month while I’ve had him ::
– tile floors
– wood floors
-hay bales
-short grass
-tall grass
-wooden bridges
-suspension bridge
-slides at the playground
-overturned wooden boat
-metal stairs with open gaps between steps
-on top of a vari-kennel
-over metal grates
-cement floors
-barn floors
Tracer is a natural at swimming thanks to the amazing decoy, Sam E. who was his first swimming instructor.  He took right to the water and we’ve enjoyed several swims and water retrieves since.

Trace Swims with Sam

Tracer will also be making his movie debut in K9 Guardians thanks to friend and cinematographer, Drew Barrow of Old Line Media.  Sam worked Tracer a bit for an evaluation and so that Drew could show the early integration of training for working K9s…

Trace woking with Sam

Trace is a natural ham and is usually pretty willing to let me snap a quick portrait while we are out and about ::

photo (4)


Tracer at 9 months old. ©Dawn Norris Photography, Inc.

Tracer at 9 months old. ©Dawn Norris Photography, Inc.

We look forward to keeping you posted on his training in the upcoming years!




French Ring :: 2013 NARA Championships

NARA is an organization where passionate people with working dogs come together to showcase their training of these incredible dogs and decoys.  Oh and another fascinating element of this sport is that men and women compete side by side, equally.  Go ladies!








“The North American Ring sport Association (N.A.R.A.) is the governing organization and maintains a liaison with the parent French organization which operates under the auspices of the S.C.C. (Societe Centrale Canine), the French equivalent of the AKC. Titles earned here are recognized internationally. Recognized trials are now offered in several countries, including Mexico, Canada and other places.” (


For the lay person, this dog sport has 4 levels of achievement tests which involve scoring by a judge that results in a point accumulation for placement at the end of the competition.  There is a succession of levels each dog and handler must work through during their years of participation in this sport.  Those levels are Breve, Ring 1, Ring 2, and Ring 3.  Ring three is the top level.  Achievement of each level requires successful completion of a variety tests of obedience, jumps, protection work, decoy work, attacks, and other exercises.  My favorite part of the competition is the guard of an object, usually a basket.  The dog must utilize his/her intense guarding instinct on their own.  The handler is not visible and leaves the dog in a down stay next to the basket with the command “Guard!”.  In comes the decoy whose soul goal is to steal the basket from the dog who has to make a multitude of decisions during this exercise.  The NARA website describes this exercise as follows,

“Probably the best-known Ring exercise is the GUARD OF OBJECT. Here the handler leaves his dog alone with a large basket to guard from the decoy’s attempts to steal it. The dog must stay with the object and only bite the decoy when the decoy comes within one meter of the object. When the decoy is bitten, he pauses as still as possible, for 5 seconds, after which he tries to go away from the object. The dog must automatically let go his bite within one meter and return to the object. This is the most advanced, complex and difficult exercise to teach the dog. It requires so much self control from the dog, yet at the same time so much drive to bite. The balance in training is supremely difficult to achieve, especially considering that the decoy is watching for any weak spots in the training, any slight lapses of vigilance, hesitations in the dog’s decision making, etc., in order to steal the object. From the decoy’s point of view it is a real test of his skills…his ability to read the dog, his knowledge of training techniques, his speed, his subtlety. It would be easier for him if he simply were allowed to try to lure the dog away from the object by begging to be bitten, but he is not permitted to do that. He must honestly try to take the object, either with his hand or his foot.” (  Chris Redenbach and Lesli Taylor 6/28/2000)

Guard of Object

Guard of Object



The breeds participating at this past weekend’s event were Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, or a mixed cross of these two breeds. (NARA Authorized Breeds consist of any registered dog, registered by a nationally recognized breed registry. Males must be sexually intact.NARA also authorizes “Blue” dogs to compete. A “Blue” dog is any unregistered dog and/or a male dog that is sexually not intact.) These breeds are part of the herding genre of the canine world.  They are incredible tough, fast, strong, agile, and pretty much “super dogs”.  These breeds are often used as military working dogs (MWDs) and as members of local police forces.  They are very dedicated to their handlers – instinctively protective, driven, and have one of the most powerful bites in the canine world with a range of a force bite between 195 pounds (Malinois) and up to 600 pounds (Doberman). (  Now you put a human on the other end of that bite power with an oncoming freight train force behind it and you’ve got a brave decoy at the receiving end of that energy force.  Decoys are the “Michelin Men” (though I do hear that there are women decoys in French Ring sport) inside the typically french linen bite suits crazy enough to endure the power of these dogs.  Often you hear the grunts of these brave few who bear the brunt of the sport on their arms, hands, legs, and sometimes… their crotches.  Power to the protective value of “a cup” in that region – personally if it were me in that suit and I was a guy I’d want my cup made of cushioned wrought iron!


The Judge for the 2013 NARA Championships was Michele Valdon, flown in from France.

There is true beauty in this sport on so many levels.  There is the bond between handler and dog, a dedication to the well being of the animals that participate, the strength of the decoys as they push these dogs to drive harder, faster, and with extreme finesse.  There is the dedication to a set of rules and protocol.  It’s a formal celebration of the relationship between human and dog and also a spotlight on that amazing abilities that result from consistent training and dedication of all those who participate from the judges, to the decoys, the handlers, the dogs, and the breeders who wish to ensure that the right dog ends up with the right handler/guardian.  There is an intricate dance that happens on the French Ring field that is majestic, dangerous, powerful and the combination of those elements make this a beautiful and striking sport…


Resources for more information ::