An Unstoppable Pack - Meet the West Coast Heeler Pack
Ambassador Highlight: West Coast Heeler Pack
The West Coast Heeler Pack is one of our longest running and most active Rex Specs ambassadors. If you’ve been following Rex Specs on social media at all over the years, you’ve likely seen Ali Erskine and her four-dog pack tearing up the trails, modeling the latest Rex Specs products, and offering training tips. We decided it’s well overdue to properly introduce Ali and her pups and share her story!
Ali got her start dog training by turning her love for hiking with her dog into a career. Out in the West Coast of British Columbia where Ali, her partner, and their four dogs live there’s no shortage of wilderness to explore and they take full advantage of it. Whether that’s paddle boarding, quading, hiking, backpacking, or camping, the squad is regularly out adventuring.
Meet The West Coast Heeler Pack: Kona, Cali, Ruger and Loot
Meet the Dogs of West Coast Heeler Pack
Ali’s pack of pooches has slowly been growing over the years. First, she got Kona, her ten-year-old blue heeler, as a puppy in 2012. Kona is sensitive, moody, and likes to think she’s the alpha. Moving into her more senior years, she still goes adventuring with the pack, but keeps to a lower level of activity.
Cali, a nine-year-old red heeler, joined the pack in 2014. Energetic and free-spirited, Cali still has plenty of puppy energy, but has also earned awards and titles in agility, tricks, and scent detection.
In 2019, Ali found Ruger and brought him into the fold. “He definitely was the one to pick me out,” says Ali. When Ali was looking at the other puppies, Ruger kept sitting next to her. Ruger is now four years old and has already racked up some impressive titles in tricks, scent detection, agility, and dock diving.
Finally, Loot came to join the pack in 2021. A two-year-old Shepherd, Loot is well on his way to being just as accomplished as his siblings in both adventures and training titles.
The Pack Adventures
It’s literally been a part of Ali’s job to take her pups and other people’s dogs out on adventures, so it’s no surprise they’ve been on some good ones. Her business, Engaged K9 provides dog training and boarding for other dogs while her core four join Ali for everything from cross country skiing to hiking to paddle boarding. Their favorites? Hiking and running with the quads. After many years of going for hikes and learning to pose for pictures, both Kona and Cali are always ready for their close up. “If there's a stump or a downed tree or a big rock, you'll see the dogs naturally go to jump up like ‘Is it ready for my picture now?’” Says Ali. “Because that's been our normal for nearly a decade.”
As for running with the quads, Ali is adamant about all the pups wearing Rex Specs to protect their faces from branches, sticks, and other debris that the quads kick up. “I think I’ve been out on the quad once without the dogs wearing their Specs and it gives me so much anxiety because I have so many videos of the dogs getting hit in the face with branches. I'm like, thank goodness they're wearing those Rex Specs because I can only imagine what the outcome could be.”
The Entire Pack Quadding in BC
Sport Training Activities
Aside from outdoor adventures, Ali also trains other competition sports with her dog like agility, barn hunt, scent detection, French ring, and others. “Cali’s be all, end all is agility,” says Ali. “For Loot, it would be barn hunt. He likes to look for rats.” Ruger’s top choice is French ring. And Kona? “Kona just really likes to think she's the boss of the house.”
Training Tips from Ali
Over the past ten years of training dogs, Ali has earned various certifications in training, trick instruction, canine fitness conditioning, and others. Along with her own Engaged K9 training courses, she’s worked with Rex Specs providing several instructional videos specifically for getting dogs used to Rex Specs and offered tips on how to go offroading with your dog.
General advice she has for dog owners training their pups? Engage with your dog and build the relationship.“Take your dog everywhere you possibly can with you,” she says. “Be exciting with your dog. Reward your dog for engaging with you.”
You can build that relationship and engage with your dog through training tricks, leash skills, recall, and introducing your dog to new experiences. Working in those regular training moments helps build your dog’s confidence and builds trust between you and your pup. Even just the process of familiarizing your dog to Rex Specs can have a beneficial impact: “Anything where you can adapt your dog to having things on their face or just on their body in general and being touched and manipulated, there's so many other aspects in their life that it benefits them. It makes it easier for you to handle them if they get hurt or when they’re getting checked over by the vet,” says Ali.
What’s Next for Ali and the Fantastic Four
So what’s next on the adventure list for this little pack? First up, a roadtrip across British Columbia with hiking stops along the way. The team hasn’t nailed down specifics and prefer to keep the stops flexible but we’re sure it’ll have plenty of good times, new experiences, and dog treats.
Ali, Colten and the dogs of West Coast Heeler Pack
Words by Johanna Flashman