Jay's Heart Dog

By Jay Stoeckl, Chief Assistant to the Assistant, Assistant Breeder, Sept. 5, 2023
Cricket search and rescue.jpg
Jay's dog Cricket.

In celebration of this 200th Inner Circle email newsletter we want to share with you a story of one of the best dogs to have ever lived…

Jay’s heart dog, Cricket.

As Cricket closed her eyes for the last time, I whispered words into her ear that she knew well.

"You wanna go on a SEARCH??"

Cricket's body began to twitch as she readied herself for her favorite activity deep inside a dream.

"Are you ready? GO FIND!"

These were the last words I said to my favorite girl as she was no longer able to walk this earth in her final moments.

It was the happiest of memories as Cricket imagined going through the forest, hot on a subject's trail, seeking a lost and frightened person, cold and weary, deep in the wilderness. With a red reindeer bell tinkling on her harness, Cricket zigzags this way and that, one mile and then two. She slows to linger a bit on a trail change. The lost soul has turned to the left and gone a different way.

The scent then gets stronger. Cricket lifts her head into the air in a quick motion, something our trainers called "a hook." She presses forward, still crossing right and then left, but her pace is much faster now. The bell's tinkling is much louder with the rhythm of the dog's graceful strides. She moves far ahead of me, over the hill, behind the grove of fir trees, and disappears out of sight.

I continue forward in the direction in which my girl had disappeared. Then my booted feet take me more towards the right, it is the direction in which my ears still perceive the sound of her bell. Her pacing is far beyond my abilities so I press forward as quick as I can, listening... anticipating...

Then out of the woods far to the right, Cricket ambles forward in my direction. Her pace is quick with excitement, her mouth set in a happy grin, her eyes on me and me alone. I attempt to ignore her so that she does not alert falsely. But just as she slows just a few feet in front of me, out comes the most beautiful sound in the world--three woofs from her mouth!

"Papa! I found him!"

"You found him?" I call back to her, now my eyes and body fully towards her. "Good girl! Show me! Show me!"

Cricket knows these words. She knows ALL of them very well.

Immediately, she turns and darts back in the direction she had appeared from, her head angling back toward me from moment to moment, assured I am running along with her. She keeps her pace steady, not a full sprint. Cricket knows I need to keep up.

There, just where Cricket had left him, a young man hides behind a tree. He was not truly lost, only pretending for the purpose of me and my dog's training. We had done this hundreds of times. Cricket approaches him and out of her mouth she begins to bark again. The moment I reach her and the young man, I crouch beside her,

"Good girl, Cricket!


Cricket dances about me, but the prize is yet to come. From my backpack I pull out a ball, toss it along the forest floor for Cricket to chase and retrieve.

We do this three or four times before I embrace her again, scooping her into my lap, and telling her she's the greatest dog in the world.

The memories were real.

Cricket and I had lived these experiences over the course of two years before she injured her back playing too rough with some of our other dogs. She loved the search game. She out performed fifteen other dogs in a recall exercise ten summers prior when she was only thirteen months old. 

Cricket was my pride and joy and the greatest dog I ever had.

So when the vet had to have her put down, I whispered the search commands to her as she slept.

Her final memory on this earth was running a search exercise with me, her papa, just like when she was just approaching her adult years.

I share this story with you, because I notice that the puppies we still have for sale are all females. I shake my head and wonder why. Jennifer once told me that she and Lois had advertised their male dogs as... well, better somehow. I don't recall the words. Perhaps it had to do with temperament, that the males bond more strongly to their owners. It was something like that. But that has never been my experience.

Oh, I understand fully that the males are more majestic. They grow taller, more bulky, the way a Dire Wolf should. But my dogs have always been females. Growing up my parents had a white wire hair terrier named Taffy. When Jennifer and I were first going out together in college, she introduced me to a giant schnauzer we renamed Rose. She was a champion show dog, all black, and had won several ribbons. She LOVED me and I loved her.

The only thing that made Cricket a more prominent bond in my life was that I had Cricket from eight weeks old until she died at thirteen.

Don't get me wrong. I love our males too. Of the many dogs we have raised and rehomed, I had a unique love for Strider, then Skipper, then Zukes, Essex, and now Monstro. But I didn't love them more than Shennara, Meriwether, or Clementine. When the community would ask me if I was ready for another forever dog, my pick would have been Cotton Candy had we not found a great home for her. Males or females, to me, they are equally wonderful in their temperament.

One of these days when Jenn and I can afford to build a simple house, I will choose a retired breeding dog for myself to raise and train, just like Cricket. That dog will likely be a female.

The three females still available from the Genius Litter are just as wonderful as my heart dog, Cricket. Maybe one of them will end up being your heart dog. They have exactly what it takes.

Currently, they are for sale at our normal prices. $2500 - $3800.


We are beginning to train these intelligent girls and once they have the many hours of training we plan for them, their prices will more than triple.

Make no mistake, a fully trained family companion dog that doesn’t require much other than the transition is quite a bargain in and of itself… but if you want to save the money and do the training yourself, now is the time to let us know. These prices will not remain this low for very much longer.

Here is the link to find out more about them: