Showing posts with label Dog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dog. Show all posts

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is Your Hero a Sheepdog? Character Development for Writers


Captive Mexican Wolf at , New Mexico. Edit to ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is your hero, male or female, a sheepdog? Understanding the theory set forth by Dave Grossman might help you to develop your character and create fun plot twists that your readers would never see coming.

Dave Grossman is a retired Army Lt. Col. now teaching psychology at West Point, and writing. He developed a theory widely embraced by our military and domestic security forces concerning the "sheepdog" mentality.

Video Quick Study (1:40) Dave Grossman speaking on being a sheepdog.
Video Quick Study (2:02) Dave Grossman on being sheepdog and talks about his books. Very interesting to hear how he expresses his convictions. Listen to his tone of voice. This is the tone I have heard -- soft, controlled, respectful -- in the men and women whom I know to be combat-hardened, lethal sheepdogs; it's remarkably consistent.

I first ran across the sheepdog theory at the Writers' Police Academy 2013. I found it interesting that sheepdogs were discussed by both retired Secret Service Agent Mike Roche Blog Link in our class on Mass Killing and again the same day in our SWAT class taught by Dr. Scott Silverii, Chief of Police, Thibodaux, Louisianna.

Dr. Silverii included Grossman's theory in his doctoral dissertation A Darker Shade of Blue which is available on Amazon as a scholarly work, (which I found paradigm shifting). Amazon Link

This information will soon be available in a less academic version January 29th 2014.
Amazon Link

According to Grossman, there are three kinds of people: The sheep, the wolf, and the sheepdog.

Image from Facebook


* Create 98% of society
* Have empathy
* Do not harm others purposefully only accidentally
* Generally follow laws
* Generally non-violent
* Seek security behind the sheepdog
* Will run scared (stampede) with the herd

Image from Facebook

Image trolled from Facebook.
Ideation of a wolf


* 1% of society
* Criminal
* Predatory mental health issues such as sociopaths or psychopaths
* Driven by instinct
* Capacity for violence
* Lack empathy
* Prey on sheep (general society)

The natural predator for the societal wolf is the sheepdog.
Imagine found on Facebook


* 1% of society
* Natural warriors
Image from Facebook
* Protect the herd (society as a whole) from the
* Society likes to hide behind the sheepdog - they
   know they are safe
* Society does not like sheepdogs because the
   sheepdog reminds people that wolves exist.
* Sheepdogs feel marginalized by
   society - they do not feel like they
   fit in.
* Tend to seek out other
   sheepdogs, both for work and for
   personal time, in whose company
   they feel understood and their
   lifestyle affirmed. This was a theme
   that was very  important in Silverii's The Darker Shade of Blue. As the sheepdogs become more
   acculturated and entrenched in their own society, it is harder for them to feel empathy for the masses
   (sheep), to develop lasting relationships, especially healthy marriages, and to interact with the community at
* Driven by instinct
* Capacity for violence
* Maintains empathy, though according to Silverii, this diminishes over time as the sheepdog becomes more
   entrenched/socialized in the norms of their work cultural especially at the level of the Special Operations
   Groups, SOG, such as SWAT and undercover work.

Video Quick Study (3:14)

Usually sheepdog stick together
Image found on Facebook

Both the wolf and the sheepdog kill but the difference is the intent.

Image found on Facebook
Do you believe that your characters will fit neatly into these boxes? Are you writing a wolf, a sheep and a sheepdog scenario? I've contemplated this idea, and I would agree that there are clear cut personality types. As a counselor, I relied on empathy to help my criminal clients develop life skills. Where empathy was lacking, it was a useless waste of time - they were born wolves.

But let's contemplate the idea of grey boundaries. I would call myself a secondary sheepdog. I have been in enough life situations that I know that I don't mind running in to help -- be it a medical or survival emergency or fighting with a criminal hurting someone. BUT I would prefer a true sheepdog  (with trained skills, equipment, and backup) to stand firm. If there's no one else, I'll rise to the challenge. And if it is one of my kids? We are talking a whole other dynamic. Grizzly mama on steroids with a bad case of rabies (yup, that's your warning) will show her fangs. Endangered kids are the go-ballistic hot button for most parents, fictional or not.

So contemplate your character and find their switch.

Image from Facebook

I always find it interesting when I think I understand a character and then circumstances forces them to act "otherwise." Maybe your presumed superhero-of-a-boyfriend goes all scared-sheep on your five-foot tall, hundred-pound heroine, and she ends up having to save the day. A friend of mine's eighteen-year-old daughter, who matches the description for an itty-bitty heroine, watched her boyfriend being attacked by ten frat boys for about a nano-second before she went ape-shit and hospitalized three of them. The other seven ran away. Granted, she is a third degree black belt, but the odds were not in her favor. A non-sheepdog by nature, something internal had to go off so that she would express this side of her warrior personality.

What if your sweet beta male must drop his pacifist stance to save the day and wins the girl right out of the arms of  hunky-dude-turned-sheep? Good! We all liked him better anyway, and then beta-boy and his unattainable heartthrob can live happily ever after.

When your hero/heroine acts uncharacteristically, it will necessarily change the dynamic of your characters' relationship. The larger the threat the larger the shift.What happens to their relationship afterwards? Definite plot twisting capabilities.

The sheepdog theory is a fun one to play around with. Happy writing.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Military and Police Dogs - Information for Writers

      ANGEL and WINGS

Character Designation:   HEROES

Meet Angel and his K9 Wings (K9's name created by Fiona Quinn to protect his identity). I'm only using Angel's first name for security reasons. He pronounces it Angel and not An-hell as in his Italian/Puerto Rican background, or even Ange as they pronounce it in his new home in Switzerland.

I "met" Angel online six years ago. We were both fighting a crime, trying to take down a criminal who abused dogs and preyed on medically fragile children. (And we were successful - this perp. is no longer allowed to work with dogs or children.) So my contact with Angel has only been over the web.

When I first started corresponding with Angel, I was rather taken aback. He only wrote in CAPITAL LETTERS - ABOUT EVERYTHING, whether it was just to ask how I was doing, or offering me some information about our case. I thought he was permanently angry and shouting. Luckily, Angel released his CapsLock, and I got to know him better. A great friend - but your worst enemy. Here's hoping I always stay on Angel's good side.

Angel has the conviction, fortitude, and power that makes sense of that CapsLock writing. An ex-Marine with all of the Hoorah that that encompasses. I saw a cartoon once of a maze and then a path that had been cut diagonally through the center, a beeline from START to FINISH, no corners turned. It was captioned something like "If you don't understand this, you are not a Marine." And that's Angel. Once he's convinced of the straight path, he takes it. Get out of his way. And if you're the bad guy... RUN!

Fiona: Hi, Angel. Would it be okay if I interviewed you about your work with Wings?

           (Wings is a highly trained working dog and Angel's partner).

Angel: Oui, Ca va.

Translation - "Yes, that works." Angel speaks American, Spanish, French and enough German to work

                    with his K9His dexterity with languages serves him well in his job. He lives in Switzerland
                    and works for a company that provides personal protection for diplomats as well as the rich
                    and famous who come through town. (He also protects ships from Somalian pirates - so
                    hopefully he'll agree to another blog interview so we can read about that!) His job is the stuff of
                    movies and thriller books.

Fiona: What is your background with the military/security?

Angel:  Well I was in the Corp. (Angel was a Marine - Whoops. Angel e-mailed me to remind me ONCE A

            MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE. Noted.) When I left the Corp, I started doing armed security
            officer (Body Guard) assignments. I've always had a love for dogs, and I always felt training was
            important. When I moved to Switzerland, I really got into close quarter protection and wanted to
            bring a K9 in as a partner. So I bought a K9 from a reputable place that believes that in order to
            have a great K9, you first have to train the handler to work as a team and to trust your K9 Partner.

Angel in a Training Session. 

Fiona: Let me stop you there, is there a difference between a police and a combat dog, sorry K9?

Angel: There is ONLY one difference between a tactical police K9 and a combat K9. The difference is that

           a combat K9 works in a war zone and the tactical K9 does not. Other than that, the training is not

Fiona: Thanks. Okay, go on with your story. You bought a K9...

Angel: I went to Florida and started my training. Now, in training I didn't just work with my dog. I also

          worked with all of their dogs. The group trained dogs for the military and for the police. I worked
          with labs German Shepherds and  and Belgian Malinois. It was Amazing.

Angel and Wings on Duty

FionaIn law enforcement - could just any police officer be placed in the K9 unit? Or are there specific men

           and women who only work K9? LINK to dogs at work (Delta K9 - not Angel and Wings)

AngelLol that's funny. Well in most cases they choose guys that have proven themselves to be good,

          but all departments are different. They have different standards. For instance, some K9s are trained
          in "bark and hold." Now, "bark and hold" is when the K9 is sent after the criminal, the criminal stops
          running, puts his hands in there air, and gives up. The K9 will stop right in front of the criminal and
          bark. If the criminal moves and try's to run, the K9 will attack without a command. Some departments
          train that when a command is given, the K9 doesn't stop unless the handler gives the command, or the
          K9 can't get to the criminal and barks to let us know where the criminal is, i.e. like in building searches

Fiona:  Is Wings trained in "bark and hold?" Or, attack?

Angel: Wings is trained to attack the threat. 
Now, Wings was trained in the U.S. In the U.S. the dogs are
           trained to go until they are told to stop. This helps to prevent the dog from getting stabbed or shot 
           which is likely in the bark and hold. Here in Europe, they think they have seen everything. So Wings 
           and I  did several exercises that the officials ran to watch our team in action. I told the "criminal" to 
           stop; he did not. I sent Wings out. Wings caught up with the man, bit him in his back shoulder, and 
           flattened the man -  knocked the wind out of him. The man playing the "criminal" didn't cover his
           head like he should have, and Wings went for his face. I called Wings off before Wings could sink his
           teeth. That's why obedience is very important.

Fiona: I bet that poor guy was terrified! So the take down is a bite to the shoulder?

Angel: Wings will see a threat if you attack any part of my body. For example, in the next part of the

           exercise,  I don't tell Wings to attack; he attacks on his own to simulate a real life situation where I
           can't make a command. The "criminal" tries to kick me, and Wings attacked his leg. The "criminal"
           tried to punch me, Wings let go of leg and bit the arm before the "criminal" could make contact with
           me. The "criminal" tried to hit me with the other fist; Wings let go of the arm, bit him right in the chest,
           put him to the ground.

FionaGo Wings!

FionaSo that makes sense that the dog has several take downs, and I can see why you would want
          different tools in Wings's tool box for handling a situation. How is Wings rewarded?
Angel: If we do obedience, then it's a ball. If we do obedience attack, it's the bite. If it's
          drugs, it's the ball. If it's SAR work, it's the ball. If it's a SAR bad guy, it's a bite
Fiona: SAR. Can you tell me what that is? And are there other phrases that a K9 handler
          would use that would make a writer's work more accurate? Also, do you train in a
          foreign language like German?
Angel: SAR is Search and Rescue. Wings is a dual-purpose K9. He is trained in
           patrol/protection and narcotics. There are also dual explosive K9s, as well. Dual
           means the dog either dose narcotics or explosive with tracking and handler
           protection. You can not have a K9 certified in both narc and explosives. It's
          dangerous  -- if the K9 alerts to drugs but it's a bomb, you're dead. The K9 knows
          the difference, but if you have a mixed signal then you're dead.

           Most of the K9s in the U.S. are imported. They are trained in German, Czech, or

           sometimes French. But remember every police department is different, and the laws
           are different for every state.

           Wings knows German, American, and French but mostly German. One of the

           biggest reasons for this that the handler doesn't want the bad guy to give commands
           to the K9 thereby confusing the K9. From what I've seen, if you have a great bond
           with the K9, he won't listen to anyone but the handler -- even if they know the
           language and correct commands. I've proven it. When training here, part of the
           police test that I had to take here went like this: the police tell you to release your K9
           and let him play. Then they have a group of people call his name, give him 
           commands, everything you can think of. After the test the police and boarder patrol
           asked to buy Wings. I told them in a stern manner that THEY HAVE A BETTER
           CHANCE IN SEEING GOD ! ! !
Fiona : Bahaha Amen. I love that. Okay one more question.What does a typical day look
           like for the team? Okay more ??s What do you call the dog part of a team? And can
           you think of any other weird little special do's and don'ts that a writer could use to
           make their stories more accurate?
AngelHere in Switzerland we use K9 Team the U.S.  we use K9 Unit ... Also, I should be
          clear that police K9s are also called police service dogs. MWD is a Military Working
          Dog. There is a big difference in the drive of  police K9 and a military K9 and a
          regular ADA service dog (one used for medical reasons). Military and Police K9s
          have a ton more energy and are no where close to being laid back like the labs you
          see as service dogs. The military K9s have to be WORKED if not they go crazy.
          Also, back in the day, police and military picked the craziest most AGGRESSIVE
          dogs they could find. That's not the case anymore. Now they pick clear headed K9s
          that they can bring anywhere without a problem. The K9s you see today are more
          effective than back in the day.

         About our day: 
         Before going to work, I take Wings out, and he goes pee and poop. LOL. Then I say
         to him, "Let's go to work," and we start obedience training. When done (it takes 10 to
         15 min. Never push the dog long in training)I load him into the SUV. From there, it
         depends on what the job is sometimes we are protecting a celeb's house or an event 
         ... We patrol the area and keep the peace. There is always someone stupid drunk or
         on drugs.. 

FionaI just posted a picture on my author page on Facebook about a dog named Ape who
          was FBI killed in action - do you know his story? I can't find it.

AngelHerkimer, N.Y. - Thursday morning FBI agents and officials stormed a building to
          end a daylong standoff.
         The gunman inside was Kurt Myers, 64 of Mohawk, and he is responsible for 
         shooting six people on Wednesday morning. Four of those men shot died, two more 
         remain in the hospital. Two of those killed were longtime New York State 
         Corrections Officers. The shootings occurred at a barbershop near Myers' apartment 
         and a car wash a mile away in the Village of Herkimer.
         Myers began a standoff with police inside a vacant building on N. Main Street in
         Herkimer late Wednesday morning. Early Wednesday afternoon he exchanged gunfire
         with police.
         Thursday morning New York State Police and members of the FBI, with support 
         from local police, raided the building to end the standoff. Myers shot and killed an 
         FBI K9 dog named "Ape" before authorities shot and killed Myers.

In case you should think that Angel's work is all fun and games with his K9 - here are some pictures to show what can happen when he is working a dog. The handler had a glitch in his training, though Angel is quick to point out that he (Angel) should have done a better job protecting himself: 


A K9 (not Wings) tried to remove Angel's ear.

Fiona: GROSS!!!!! Do you have an excellent scar now? Do you look like a pirate?

AngelLol. There is a scar, but I had a great surgeon. I have scars all over my body. I'm always doing things that can Kill me. LMAO

FionaI've noticed   >_<

If you have questions for Angel - just post them below.

Also, Angel bought his K9 at There is more information about K9 work dogs available.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.