of being “just” a pet dog person …

My Mum has been attending a scenting class on Sunday with a pretty hot crowd of dog trainers and an RVT. She’s a smart cookie with  an awesome little dog and she is staying right up there with all the folks who make their living from dogs. She asks great questions and watches everybody else very carefully and is, it seems to me anyhow, having a blast. Wilkie is having fun too.

I have commented here that I don’t think of myself as a dog trainer, in fact I  posit that the dogs train me. I cheerfully admit I enjoying playing with the dogs and learning from them. The reality is my experience with training, behaviour, and health issues reaches a  little further than many people who live with dogs.  I belong to training lists; have organized seminars and workshops and attended many more; have shelves of books about training (and animals generally); and have been paid to train other people and dogs.  I have worked at shelters, on tv shows, a film set, a stage show, competed at National competitions (successfully) and spend a lot of brain time on the dogs both here and elsewhere.

That said, I delight in watching Big T enjoy his companion animals. He snuggles them, finds lumps and bumps and ticks,  and pulls burrs gently out of coats. He walks them on meanders down the road, and lets somebody take a turn riding shot gun if he zips into town for something. He thanks them when they are polite, well behaved, house dogs and occasionally yells (although not usually at them!) if they do something bone dumb.

When discussing class schedules and content the term “just pet people” comes up quite often. I cringe every time I hear it. Pet people deserve classes that provide a solid introduction to basic skills; that challenge thinking without over facing their dog; that follow sound pedagogical principles and build a foundation to move on if they get nipped by the sporting dog bug.

I am pet people, proud pet people. My dogs are family members first and through them my eyes have been opened to a world that has improved my life, and my human student’s lives, immeasurably as well as enriched the dogs’ lives. Not all dogs are lucky enough to be pet dogs. Some dogs are tools, some are decorations, many have lives that make my heart ache. Pet dogs, at least the ones I’m thinking of,  have a pretty good gig.  No apology needed. Ever.

* photo credits in order Shelia Gibbons, Len Sylvester of TTL Photos, and moi!