Jake Scott, International Certified Mondioring Decoy
This is a story about a brilliant spirit, about a man who found himself in a very dark place without hope and was saved by his dog.
This is a profile on Jake Scott, a Mondioring Level 3 competitor, International Level 3 Mondioring Certified Decoy, Level 1 French Ring Decoy, professional dog trainer and member of the US Mondioring Association Board of Directors. He is one of a small group of dedicated dog sport enthusiasts working to expand awareness of Mondioring in the US. But this story begins well before there was a dog in Jake’s life.
The first time I met Jake was through an email, with him asking if I would like to photograph the 2018 USMRA Mondioring National Championship in Ohio. I explained that I do not have Mondioring experience and might not be the best choice. Jake insisted, saying that he was a fan and that he wanted to show Mondioring in a similar light to how I show IGP to the general public. I liked his energy and sense of purpose and agreed to the shoot, yet quietly wondered what I was getting myself into. I would soon learn that this was a glimpse into how Jake thinks. He doesn't care how things are, he wants to get things to how they should be. My first interaction with him was at a point when he was looking to create a well-planed promotion for Mondioring.
Jake’s early life was miles away from dogs. His first love was actually music. He plays guitar, bass and drums. He played lead guitar in a death metal rock band called Salt the Wound. They released three full-length albums and toured North America and Europe. The link is to actual footage of one of their shows. The death metal music culture piqued his interest for tattoos, which would later evolve to become a full-time occupation as a tattoo artist when he left the band.
As a boy, Jake’s earliest dog influence was his grandfather, Larry Small. Larry served in the US Army during WWII and was an avid German Shepherd enthusiast. Larry was a positive influence and a guiding light for Jake. After Jake satisfied his taste for death metal gigs and tattoos, he became aware that time was passing. He began to feel there might be other things he wanted to experience in life. Larry's influence started to take a more prominent role in Jake's life choices, prompting him to make a huge change in direction and follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by enlisting in the military. Being of Jewish ancestry, Jake felt his calling should be the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Never one to take the easy road, his choice would involve moving halfway around the globe and learning a new language. Although he was raised Jewish, he did not speak Hebrew. In preparation, he hired a tutor in Ohio and set to work. After his enlistment in the IDF, he was sent to his basic training and intensive language course at MIchve Alon, where he was recognized for the highest achievements in his company.
Archive photo of Grandpa Larry Small and his dog Yankee which he enlisted though the Dogs for Defense program and became a military working dog. Circa 1944.
Archive photo of Jake with his unit during the swearing in of the Golani Infantry Brigade of the IDF.
Upon returning home in 2013, he began to have bouts of severe anxiety and depression. It spiraled to a point where he struggled to leave the house or have any form of social contact. He was treated by a team of doctors, only to have the condition worsen as he became increasingly reclusive. One of his doctors suggested alternative treatment, and retraced Jake’s childhood passions and interests. He tapped into Jake’s admiration for his grandfather Larry and for his dog that he put into military service. This doctor suggested Jake try training a dog as part of the healing process. Enter Tye the Malinois dog. Jake devoted every day to training Tye. Jake would not leave the house during the day, but once night fell, they would go for long walks until sunrise. Tye literally led Jake from this darkest hour back to the light.
Time with Tye felt good, and it helped Jake find his way back to himself and gave him an ability to deal with social situations. He was driven to find more ways to spend time together with Tye, which led him to discover Mondioring protection dog sport. Mondioring is a mix of French Ring, Belgian Ring and KNPV. It is particularly suited to the athletic Malinois breed. The sport is immensely difficult, and few teams ever achieve the highest title of Level 3.
Jake joined West Penn Mondioring Club and devoted the majority of his time to training under Todd Dunlap, who is a major influence for many high-level US Mondioring competitors. Jake & Tye earned a Level 1 title within one year and earned a 4th place Level 1 at the 2017 USMRA National Championship in St. Louis. As anyone who has been smitten by dog sports knows, once you’re involved it is hard to only have one dog! This, of course, was true for Jake, so he researched and located an untitled working bloodline Malinois with proven pedigree named Pajr. Training two dogs occupied Jake’s time, and this in turn accelerated his healing. The culmination of this time will enable him to compete in Level 3 with both his dogs Tye and Pajr in the coming year. His newfound love of dogs also led Jake to open a full-service dog boarding, daycare, grooming and training business called Heights Canine in South Euclid, Ohio. www.heightscanine.com
Apr 2018 Tye and Jake, High Jump Level 2 USMRA National Mondioring Championship.
Apr 2018 Atlas (Pajr) & Jake, Palisade, Level 1 USMRA National Mondioring Championship.
Not satisfied with training two dogs and running a dog care business, he embarked on becoming a Mondioring Decoy. He earned his Level 3 Certified Decoy status under the mentorship of Todd Dunlap in 2018. He also had fulfilled the requirements to earn International Level 3 Certified Decoy. To understand the magnitude of this achievement, one needs to know that there are only five Level 3 Certified Decoys in the United States! His next goal was to earn a spot as a decoy for the USMRA National Championship. Jake traveled to Belgium to train under Tommy Verschueren who is a world level Mondioring Decoy and Philip van den Abeele who is the training director at H.C Wetteren dog sport club. This was done to get critical bite suit time, training scores of dogs every day in preparation for the USMRA Nationals. The work paid off and Jake was selected as the Decoy for the 2019 National Championship alongside International Certified Mondioring Decoy Morgan Blanchard of Spain.
Because of the good fortune of crossing paths over the internet with Jake a few years back, I had the honor to be the photographer for both the 2018 and 2019 USMRA Mondioring Championships, and in turn came to know this very special person in the working dog community. Jake is intelligent, articulate, and has a passion to extend the reach and awareness of Mondioring to others. Six years ago things may have been very dark for Jake, but today things could not be brighter. The sport of Mondioring is a better place because of Jake Scott.
The work is done, it's ok to be playful now. Decoys at the 2019 USMRA National Mondioring Championship. From left Jake Faas (USA), Jake Scott (USA), Morgan Blanchard (SPAIN).
Face Attack with Brad Hardin's Lanzo van Arne's Hoeve at the 2019 USMRA National Championship. One of the few GSDs in Mondioring Arne is also IPO3 and had competed on both IGP and Mondioring National Championships.
Attack Stop (Flee) with Humberto Bobadilla's Leonardo DaViinci. Level 3 at the 2019 USMRA National Mondioring Championship in San Diego, CA.
Jake trying to be sneaky during Gaurd of Object with Jessica Valentine's Khaleesi Enfer avec de Deluje in Level 3 Action at the 2019 USMRA National Championship.
From novice to Level 3 National Mondioring Championship Decoy in less than six years. Photo with Morgan Blanchard (SPAIN) International Certified Decoy, Celso Alves FCI Judge (PORTUGAL), Emma Svensson FCI Judge (SWEDEN). Good company.
Brian Aghajani is a freelance photographer based in Houston. He began his fascination with dog sport in 2000, has titled three dogs to IPO3 and competed in a handful of national IPO championships. He is an official photographer for most National IGP/Mondioring competition including the USCA, GSDCA, AWDF, AWMA and USMRA as well as the WUSV World Championship. Follow him on facebook