FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
Busy Bee Dogs show

Lana Maeder balances Jack Russell terrier Bonkers on her feet during the Busy Bee Dogs show at the Ulatis Community Center in Vacaville Tuesday. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Features-local

Busy Bee Dogs entertain children of all ages

By From page D1 | June 30, 2013

VACAVILLE — Abby Ruessing, 9, and her sister Sierra Ruessing, 10, would like a dog for a couple of reasons.

First, the family dog died. Now, after watching a Busy Bee Dogs performance, the Vacaville siblings have some tricks in mind they would like to teach any canine that comes into the family.

“I’d teach it to walk on its back feet only,” said Sierra Ruessing. “I would teach the dog dancing moves,” Abby Ruessing said.

The sisters were in the crowd of about 125 in a room at the Ulatis Community Center to watch former shelter dogs do a variety of entertaining moves that included one canine, Bonkers, driving a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car while another, Shred, pushed it from behind with his front paws.

That was the favorite trick for Alex Barkley, 8, also of Vacaville. His favorite dog was Shred, short for Shredzilla. He dreams of teaching a dog to fetch something out of the air.

Lana and Herb Maeder are the couple behind Busy Bee Dogs, which began about 16 years ago. The couple actually met at a disc dog competition.

She graduated from college with a major in animal science with an emphasis on equine behavior modification. Lana Maeder, who performs with the dogs, discovered that the horse whisperer methods could be easily applied to canines; so easy that the busy mom of two sons only has to work with the trained dogs about 15 minutes a day.

The Busy Bee Dogs’ visit to Vacaville was part of the Vacaville Cultural Center Library’s summer reading program. Maeder made sure she emphasized the importance of reading as well as education about pet issues.

“When I got my first dog, I came to the library to read books on how to train it,” she told the group.

A brief discussion on animal shelters followed. Maeder explained the two main reasons dogs end up in shelters are either they are found wandering the streets or their owners surrender them.

“It’s hard to believe but it does happen,” she said of the latter. “Between 6 months and a year-and-a-half, the dogs get to be like teenagers. They want to explore the world.”

She advised the children and adults to research a dog before bringing one into the home. Find out information such as how many times a day it needs to be walked.

One by one she introduced the dogs and mentioned their ages and where they were rescued from.

Pebbles was up first. She jumped to the tune of Van Halen’s “Jump.”

Bonkers was called to jump over a panel three times.

“Should I make it higher?” Maeder asked the audience. The crowd answered with a resounding “Yes,” so Maeder raised up the panel. Bonkers, however, found a door within the panel that he opened and walked in and out of. He followed that by jumping rope with Maeder.

The dogs rolled empty barrels, fetched hula hoops and pulled magnetic letters out of a bag to spell out words on a magnetic board. One of them, Dazzle Diva, even fetched mail out of the mailbox.

“Diva likes to read 20 minutes every night,” Maeder told the group.

Richard Lessa, 88, of Vacaville, stopped to shake hands with Maeder and Bonkers. He was at the show with his great-granddaughter.

“It was Rin Tin Tin in my day,” he said.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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