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The Good Family Dog

Jack is a rescue, Husky/shepherd mix dog, and was adopted by Major Brad Arsenault and his family in 2011 from the Winnipeg Pet Rescue. The Winnipeg Jets had just come back to Winnipeg and the pet shelter had named the puppies in the litter after the team members, however, the family decided to name their new 8-week-old puppy “Jack”. Jack is now in his twelfth year and loves living with Brad, his wife Justine, their daughter Nora, their son Alexander and the two Guinea pigs Hermoine and Daisy.

Jack Photo credit: Major Brad and Justine Arsenault

Major Arsenault grew up in a military family and always recalls having pets, as does Justine. Before the couple was married, Brad had a couple of cats in Germany and when Justine moved over to Germany, she left her dog behind with her parents who are also avid pet lovers. The couple moved back to Winnipeg in 2010 and adopted Jack and had their daughter Nora. In 2013, they moved to New York and while there, their second child, Andrew, was born.

The Guinea pig Hermione came into the family three years ago and was named by Nora after the Harry Potter character. The second Guinea pig arrived one year ago, and Andrew named her Daisy. The two Guinea pigs get along to a certain point. Both are female, and they like to sleep together, but when it comes to supper time, it is each piggy for themselves as they will rush back and forth to see who has the better cut of lettuce and other food in their dish and are known to steal food right out of each other’s mouth!

Jack tends to ignore the Guinea pigs, like a grumpy old man. However, Jack is very fussy about his feet and does not like anyone touching them. So, when the Guinness pigs are rushing around on the floor, and they happen to scurry over Jack’s paws, he is not impressed and will let them know it! Once in a while, Jack does like the smell of the Guinea pigs and is interested in what kinds of treats they may be receiving.

Jack has had no health concerns, passively trained to ring a bell to go outside, shaking both paws, and having a variety of other interactions with his family. When Nora was an infant, she grabbed at Jack, and he responded with a nip. This behavior was corrected immediately. Jack was not taken away from the baby but was allowed to spend more time with Nora and he became comfortable with her behaviors whenever Nora would grab Jack again, he would respond with a kiss/lick and Nora would stop the grab and learn how to enjoy the family dog.

Major Arsenault researched different breeds of dogs regarding aggression towards food and eating habits. For Jack, free-range feeding, where there is a constant supply of food, works well. He also ran his hands through the food while Jack was eating to encourage less possessive/aggressive behavior toward the food. So when the children are near the food, there is less chance of Jack getting angry.

Major Arsenault also indicates that socialization and a stable routine are extremely important in the training and upbringing of a good family dog. It is important to get to know your dog and how they react in different situations. While the family lived in Winnipeg and North Bay, Ontario, Jack had a lot of different opportunities to interact with other dogs and people. However, when the family lived in New York for two years, they had a big backyard for Jack to run around, but there were limited opportunities for Jack to socialize and they noticed a negative change in his behavior. When they moved back to Canada, they put Jack into a Doggie-Daycare and they saw a great improvement and a happier dog.

The Major and Jack did an overnight camping hike on the Mantario trail in which Jack was off-leash. There would have been many different enticements for a dog on a wilderness trail, but Jack never strayed more than 20-30 yards away from the Major, always circling back, showing Jack’s trust and loyalty.

As Justine works from home, she spends most of her day with Jack and Brad credits her for the great job that she has done with Jack over the years. Their daily walks, any training and behavior changes, and the day-to-day routine have been done by Justine. In return, Jack has been a loyal companion and protector to the Arsenault family, especially when Brad has been away. Brad states that the most rewarding part about having a dog is watching the developing relationship between Jack and the children, as they grow. It teaches them responsibility and love.

If you would like to have your pet featured in the VoxAir, contact Kelley Post at

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