Keeping on…

SWAT training scenario

SWAT training scenario. ©Dawn Norris, Canines on Duty.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to show how hard these teams train year round to keep our communities and country safe.  Then something else occurred to me – I even get to see and share things that their own families and friends never see.  At a recent training, I photographed in Fort AP Hill, Virginia I was on the hip of a special operations soldier who allowed me to document a building search in the dark of night to experience the adrenaline and skills required to find a suspect in a large building with his dog.  It was a unique experience to be sure.  It was also “just” a training exercise and I witnessed something that even his closest family and friends will never see.  To say that this was special doesn’t cover it.  It was scary, intense, and inspiring.  These soldiers and law enforcement officers go into places with their dogs and it is life or death.  They are the real deal heroes and my dream is to continue to bring those stories into the light to show the world how unique and incredibly brave these teams/units are and they do it with humility and strength and dedication…
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly
so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt
Being briefed to track a suspect at Fort AP Hill, Virginia

Being briefed to track a suspect at Fort AP Hill, Virginia.  ©Dawn Norris, Canines on Duty

To continue to do the work and show these amazing team in photographs I have a Booster campaign where you can purchase a t-shirt and fund the overhead costs of donating my time to photograph these heroes.  Go here to purchase your t-shirt today!  My goal is to sell 100 t-shirts by August 7th.
With tons of gratitude,
Dawn Norris
Canines on Duty

Canines on Duty Donates Tuition in Contest for K9 Handler Team

Canines on Duty is sponsoring a tuition scholarship to attend IrondogK9 Street Tactics Seminar May 5-8 2015! Submit nominations to with Name of Handler, K9, Unit, Email and Mailing Address by April 27th. Tuition covers $440 fee to attend. We will cover the seminar cost and winner will provide transportation to and from event and lodging costs. Hope we can get a deserving team a great training spot!!




Roll Tape…

K9 Guardians the movie is set to release in July 2015.  During the filming I have been documenting the work of these amazing k9s and their handlers in stills to show the intensity and drive these police teams have to work the streets every day.

George Quinlan, owner of It’s All About the Dogs Training, is a host of a weekly television show in Biddeford, ME sharing training philosophies, dog sports and more.  I was featured on an episode for my work on K9 Guardians and my animal photography in general.  Here is a little clip the K9 Guardians team sent out to social media…

We want to thank Dawn Norris from Canines on Duty and George Quinlan for speaking about our upcoming documentary, set to release in July. Dawn currently works with us capturing amazing pictures of our dogs in action. Dawn is becoming the Ansel Adams of the working K9 world :)Please follow the link to watch the full interview “It’s All About the Dogs” with George Quinlan. Or go to; to see her amazing work

Posted by K9Guardians on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Facebook screenshot from K9 Guardians page.

Facebook screenshot from K9 Guardians page.



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!




K9 Guardians

This past month I was given the opportunity to join the team filming an independent documentary called :: K9 Guardians.

As an official photographer for the film I’m seeing the amazing and intensely hard work that goes into training a K9 unit. Paul Ludwig, Sam Edmonds, and Drew Barrow are moving mountains to help educate the general public about the exposure and training that is necessary for the working dogs of America’s K9 divisions.  Drew Barrows, filmmaker, is privately raising funds to produce this film.  DONATE HERE BY CLICKING HERE::

You can also buy a tshirt to help raise funds as well ::

I’m gifting my photography towards this film to help show the hard work, the intensity, and the power of these working dog teams.  Stay tuned for updates as production continues.

The movie is slated to release on July 1, 2014.

Follow the film on Facebook here ::



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 ::

A Canine Companion for Dallas…

I’ve had a dog in my life every year I’ve been alive dogs are a part of my existence.

(Dallas and Honeycomb, a Belgian Malinois visit.  Honeycomb is a canine good citizen.)

I was severely wounded in Iraq in 2003 by a suicide car bomb.

“He was entering the city of Fallujah when Rosacker spotted a car speeding toward his vehicle. When the car refused to stop he opened fire with his rifle, and the two vehicles came to a stop side by side. “The driver looked up at me, smiled and pushed the button,” Rosacker said. The explosion threw him from the vehicle and caused traumatic brain injury but then a firefight erupted around him between insurgents and Marines.

That’s when Rosacker was shot in the stomach and at one point was declared dead before being revived.” (Jack Minch, )

(photo above is the vehicle after the car bombing)

Dallas explained, “I was even pronounced dead and flown to Baghdad in a body bag and upon my arrival they unzip the bag I’m breathing and say “what’s up?” I had a sense of humor for some reason.  I was also in a ton of pain since I was also shot in the stomach.  I was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from the bomb.”

Dallas was working on a contract basis during his tours in Iraq for the Department of Defense (though according to Marines “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”) at the time of the car bombing.

(photo of Dallas the morning of the car bombing in Iraq)

Prior to the tours in Iraq while Dallas was an active US Marine where the US Government had him working on counter narcotics on the US/Mexican border, overseeing security for nuclear submarines during refueling,  and completed multiple hostage rescues anywhere the Marines were hailed to do so throughout the world.  During his active service as US Marine, Dallas received the Purple Heart.

(Dallas in full gear.)

(Dallas in LA working as a bodyguard.)

“Seven years go by and I have a life with my girlfriend and working as a bodyguard for celebrities – Johnny Depp, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan.  One day I’m playing volleyball on the beach in Los Angeles and I become dizzy and pass out.  I’m rushed to the ER where the doctors said I flatlined twice in the ER and won’t make it thru the night.  I suffered a massive stroke and am paralyzed from the neck down and will never walk again but I’m a Marine and you can’t keep a good Marine down.”

With therapy I got my right side back and am still paralyzed on my left but a lot of my fellow veterans are getting assistance animals that help them with picking things up, opening doors, turning on lights, they also help with lowering blood pressure plus they are good company and good for exercise.  I just sit at home a lot.  I suffer from PTSD and depression.  I know they have dogs out there that help with controlling that.

Born and raised with a younger sister and a younger brother in Dallas, Texas, Dallas (a nickname given to him by his Marine unit) comes from a US Marine lineage spanning back 135 years.  His father (Lt. Col. Ret.) and his grandfather (Col. Ret.) were Marines before him.  It’s in his blood, a true Marine – to the core.  Dallas’ goal is to get back on his Harley Davidson and ride.  The smile that comes over his face is priceless as he shows me his old ride prior to the injuries which caused him to sell his bike.  There is no doubt within his eyes as he explains to me that he will ride again…

(Dallas age 19)

When I asked Dallas about his incredible journey through all the injuries and truma he says without hesitation, “I’d do it all over again.  It was my job.”  Despite what Dallas has endured, his stature remains tall (over 6 feet tall), and you see the huge heart come through in the presence of those he cares about.  When a good friend of his stopped by during our visit, he lit up and expressed to me how much he wants a future with a wife and his own children.  At age 41, Dallas is determined to be back to his old self – the days of a super fit motorcycle riding protector of others.  I’ve known Dallas for several years now and he’s gone from not walking bound to a wheelchair to answering the door yesterday under his own power, upright no wheelchair, and with that cocky yet warm Marine smile and the Texas drawl, “Hey Girl!”

Even though Dallas has PTSD it doesn’t stop him from participating in sports through the disabled veterans adaptive sports programs by swimming, skiing, biking and more.  He even got to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game back in 2011!  While maintaining an allegiance to is home teams back in Texas, he is a bit of a converted New England sports fan who wants to talk football and baseball.  He’s a Bruins fan as well having met Lucic and Bergeron on a recent visit to the TD Garden where he was admired by the Bruins players for his dedication and service to the United States.

To aid in his healing and rehabilitation, Dallas desires a canine companion to keep the PTSD at bay and help him with basic needs from opening doors (as his left side is still weak) to completing some of the everyday things we all take for granted.  It’s been a struggle to get a dog because of all the red tape that the VA has in place.

If you know of anyone who can help with getting a dog for Dallas, get in touch with me and I’ll connect you to Dallas.