I have had dogs all of my life, many dogs across many breeds, but I guess you could say I have a preference for working breeds, but I have owned many other breeds and crossbreeds, including a Chihuahua!
I love the dog and human relationship, when its good, it is SO good.
In the last few weeks, a few special moments have happened in my life that remind me of this very thing. They are not with my dogs so much but some of the connections I have formed with people, through dogs.
I am going to describe them in order they happened, they all mean so much to me in different ways.
The first was, a few weeks ago a client and friend I haven’t seen for a while asked if they could drop by for a few minutes. I said sure and let them know when I would not be in lessons with clients.
The moment arrived and we met and caught up with a few of the standard things we all ask each other after a period of absence.
In the back of her car she had her dog, a Malinois I bred actually and had quite a bit of involvement in her development and training.
Herzhund Alis jumped out of the car, and it was like we had never been apart. Dogs can be like that when they have that true connection with you.
She was so affectionate and delighted to be in my arms again, as was I.
Alis gained her IGP3 title not so long ago, what a proud moment that was for me, as I was cuddling her, I looked up and Naroa had brought me a huge, framed collage of pictures and the actual vest / bib she wore when she competed, signed.
I have looked at this every day since.
I think about my plan to breed my first Malinois litter and during development and testing, who would they go to. How I chose Naroa for Alis and the journey that weaved its way through the hearts and minds of many.
Proud is not a good description of this part of my life, of course I’m proud, but that word is pretty small compared to the actual feelings, words cant convey.
Next time you see our training room you will see this frame hung pride of place for all to admire.
The next was that one of my very good friends passed away. His name was Norman, he was a Jack Russel Terrier I met a long time ago in Perth, Western Australia.
Normy was a “dude”, he had swagger, he was sweet, unless you were a Possum, he was everyone’s friend (not Possums).
We did many things together, he belonged to 2 of our best human friends. I never really trained him, he didn’t need that from me.
One of the fondest memories I have of him was when we worked together. I was running some courses for AQIS on handling dangerous dogs and I brought Normy along.
He played the role of the dangerous dog, although he was nothing of the sort (unless you’re a Possum).
Everyone loved him, and he loved that they did.
I demonstrated the handling techniques etc. with him and he played his role very seriously.
At lunch break we shared lunch and on the way home I bought him a 6 pack of Nuggets as his pay.
Years have gone by, and I saw him from time to time, he always remembered me even when he got older forgot most things.
His little clock had slowed right down in the last year or so, and life was not as pleasant for this old man anymore.
For some reason, dogs passing is so much worse for me than people.
Claire, his owner brought me this frame just recently.
They say, “a picture says a thousand words”, well these trigger a million memories.
Why do we always think about them more when they are gone?
Today I got an email from a client, again I have not seen them for a few months now, no need really, their dog is awesome.
There is a Christmas card and a picture and some kind words about me helping them. I get one every year, without fail from these guys.
Anyway, we met because Vicki and Paul got themselves a Malinois. He was a young dog that was a bit reactive etc. with other dogs and strangers.
They came to me and followed my program, no questions, no complaints and not once did they ever see anything but all they loved about Rommel.
They are such amazing dog owners.
Rommel was challenging when we first met but I have yet to find a more dedicated owner than Vicki. Taking him into town every day, making friendships with the station master at the railway station, at the café where they come out to see Rommel and give him treats and Paul running military style hikes and adventures with Rommel.
They wanted to introduce Rommel to a cat, and they followed what I said, went slowly with patience and they all became family.
Rommel was in a picture book illustration of dogs in the area they live, he has made many friends and has the best life, his behaviour was never a reason why he would not live a full life, Vicki and Paul saw to that.
They have achieved everything they wanted to achieve with Rommel, and way more, but if they didn’t get where they wanted to be, they would have just loved him anyway.
The focus on what they do have vs what they don’t have is so endearing to me.
I have countless, I mean I have never counted them and it would take a long, long time to count how many dogs I have helped owners achieve super results on trial fields, how many owners have emailed me saying I cant believe how well behaved my dog was today after working with you.
Each and every one of those is special to me, and I absolutely love being given the privilege to help where I can, but the reality is, the real hero is the dog’s owner. They do the work, support the dog, seek help, and tough it out through hard times.
Whilst these three stories mean three different things to me, they all highlight just how dogs can have such an impact on our lives and if we don’t focus just on what is wrong, the awesome shines out.
This year has been a tough one, sadly Normy was not the only friend I had pass. To those that left us this year, you know how special you were to me, you helped me and your humans meet and stay friends long after you needed me.
As always feel free to share, comment or add your own story.