By: Joel Allen
Hello, folks! When I was a boy, my parents taught me to respect and love animals, especially dogs and cats. The love for dogs became stronger as I grew older. One time I was punished because a dog bit me on my ear. The reason I was bit is because I was teasing her with a toy plane on a string and kept banging into her with it. She gave me warning but I thought it was funny and continued until she bit me. I learned a couple of lessons from that and that was don’t keep on with a dog who has already given warning with teeth bared and growling and don’t think that just because it’s a dog, it gives anyone the right to mistreat them. My parents were firm but fair about this.
As the years went by, I had a few dogs and each one taught me something. Most of us go through life with a dog and we don’t see the things they do teach us. There was Rufus, a three-legged German shepherd, he taught me that a dog will watch over and protect me. He was always with me when I would go fishing and everyone knows how boys who go fishing will grab a pole and walk right to the creek and not always tell their mom. I did this, and from the window of our home, Mom would see Rufus tagging along with me and know I was okay as the cork on my pole disappeared over the hill with Rufus in tow.
Little Girl, a Dachshund and Pitbull mix, taught me a dog can love and protect by trying to eat my tall Uncle Danny from foot to head because he played too rough with me. For a short Pitbull mix, she could jump, and she proved that by chasing Uncle Danny onto the back of a car as he tried to keep his long legs from being the next meal…LOL.
I had many dogs over time and as I grew up, I learned lessons from each one. As I learned these lessons, I became aware of an ability to get a dog to do things for me. At that time in my life, I had no idea what a dog trainer did. Over time, I would learn that dogs like to please their humans and that they would give their all for us.
Years later, I would come across a Great Dane by the name of Scrabbles, and through him I would learn that dogs can tell us when they are ready to leave and things they really like, such as “Grandma’s” Snickers Bars hidden in the dresser. Yes, a dog that ate chocolate! He still lived to be 16 years old! He even became the bread maker alarm for my Mom. When he heard the bread machine beep that the bread was done, he would go get her and dance around the kitchen waiting for a fresh piece of bread.
Beauty, another Great Dane, would teach me patience, and I mean she would test the snot out of my patience! If she did not get her way about something, I was going to come home to a mess whether it was her “toilet-did-not-flush-away-through-the-floor” kind of mess by the door. Or she would tear the trash out of the trash bin across the kitchen and wait for me to come home before standing in the middle of said mess snorting at me like, “Yeah! What?!” I am shaking my head at that memory right now. Don’t get upset folks, but I did take a belt to her for that mess. As I got older, I found a better method of training and for that we all owe world-renown dog behaviorist Cesar Milan a big “THANK YOU!”
As I matured in the Army and grew in rank and experience, I became an instructor. I did this for some years in the Army, and it gave me the tools to perfect my dog experience. When I retired, the Army asked me what I wanted to do and I requested to be sent to dog-training school.
In 2009, I would be diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic and get a crash course in service dogs. Zues, who is in the picture with me, was my first SD. And he taught me that dogs have the ability to detect blood sugar levels and have the ability to prevent a person from crashing or going too high on the blood sugars. This all came to pass by the Lord’s hand. I was never one to believe that a dog could help me with diabetes until Zues. Once again, that love and protect lesson came to be. Zues would later also be able to detect other people’s blood sugar, and he let a stranger know at Wal-Mart that he had an issue. Thanks to Zues, this man was able to address his medical condition and get it under control.
In 2010, I became a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College, thanks to God and the Army. To this day, I pull on all my experiences with dogs from all throughout my life. Sometimes, I find that I learned lessons hidden in events from the past now by thinking on them. Those were gifts, and I hope to always remember the most important parts.
So, how do you know if dog training is for you? For me, it was the fact that God had put so many dogs in my life and given me the confidence and experience through the Army to deal with people and different scenarios. It also comes from the dogs I’ve had. Although I’m not crazy about cats, I’ve had a few that chose me and try as I might to run them off, it never worked…LOL. So, I have loved a few cats too.
I’ll leave everyone with this to think on. If anyone reading this is contemplating becoming a dog trainer, they will need patience and love — not only for dogs, but also for the people who have the dogs. And if money is your driving principle, it will not work, not without patience and love. “Greed will get you nothing…”
By: Joel Allen