In the Beginning

"You're a dog trainer?"

I hear this question every day. Folks see the logo on my shirt or someone mentions they are former or current students and they ask.

Second question: "How in the world (or some variant thereof) did you get to be a dog trainer?! Who does that?"

I will do my best to address that question forthwith.

In the beginning I was a kid that really, really wanted a dog. When I was about nine or ten years old, we got a dog for the family. We were not a dog oriented group of people. My parents thought it would be a good idea and, knowing little or nothing about dog ownership, they jumped in.

Poor little Lucy. She was a small mix of some kind and lived outside confined in her kennel for what I remember of her stay with us. After a couple of years she “went somewhere else”. As children we were less than responsible for her care and my parents realized that she needed a new home. These memories were to significantly influence my character as a dog trainer later in my life.

Got older. Read every book on dogs I could find and there were a lot! At sixteen I really, really wanted a dog for myself, primarily as a hunting dog. My grandpa told marvelous tales of hunting ducks and upland game. He was a hero of mine and I desired the dream of training and hunting with my own dog as only a teenager can. My parents, however, remembered the Lucy experience all too well and my begging was benevolently ignored. That is until they purchased a half a pig to put in the freezer and I made some snarky comment (teenager) about it “not being a dog but at least it’s something”.

Kids can be mean.

Apparently my parents hadn’t realized the depth of my feelings on the whole dog thing. It was an obsession really. It just wasn’t their obsession. Anyhoo, about three months later my dad, while purchasing supplies at a lumber store, came across a family selling black Labrador puppies and purchased the pup that would change my life. I still remember with an almost painful vividness my dad walking toward me with a strange (loving, anticipatory, anxious) look on his face. When I saw what he was holding my mind went still. That’s the only word to describe it. Still. Life changed for the better.

I was the sole companion of the pup who I named “Bo”. I trained out of books and endless questions asked of my grandpa and others who hunted and trained dogs. It was glorious and I learned a lot. I was not, however, a professional dog trainer. That would come later. It would be the combined experiences of my years with Bo and my memories of Lucy that would have my life change in an hour’s time.

Seeds of joy are planted in those around us every minute of every day. My dear parents planted a seed in me that amazing day when Bo came into my life little knowing or even suspecting it would greatly influence their son’s life.

Next time join me for: A Life Changer