Thursday, July 29, 2010


I just had the most wonderful thing happen to me. Cranky, nasty, bossy, overbearing, mean me left home this evening to go teach my two Thursday evening classes.

I was pretty stressed-out when I left since I need to be ready to start the first class at 6 p.m. and the damn phone started ringing at about 5:15 with calls from people who should have known better. (Judith - You were not the first call and there were 2 additional calls after you)

Both of the students who normally drive me to class called and said they were running late and wouldn't be able to pick me up. To make matters worse the other two people who sometimes pick me up are both away on vacation. I know that because their dogs are here.

My substitute ride gets here and by the time we finally get to class we are already 15 minutes late. So when I get out of the car at the door and walk into the building I'm only thinking about getting the class started. Instead of the lights being on and the fans running in the training room it is dark. The jumps haven't been set up and there isn't a soul around.

I'm hot, tired, and cranky and I hurt. Why in the devil do I see students rushing here and there and yet not a single one of them is available to help set up for what is now a 30 minute late class?

Finally, a couple of them come out on the training floor and sort of start setting up. Another student comes over to me and asks me if she could talk to me in the conference room. "Sure, why not? Doesn't seem anyone is interested in working right now so we might as well go somewhere else." And with that Sanity and I follow her to the conference room doors. These are the extra wide double door set-up and instead of just opening one door she throws both doors wide open.


The entire room is crammed full of students and their dogs. There are two long rows of tables covered with brown paper and two bushels of wonderful Maryland crabs. One bushel of crabs for each long table. In the back of the room are two more tables covered with salads, a cake, fresh strawberries, cream, and drinks.

These truly wonderful people got together and threw me, mean, nasty me a WONDERFUL birthday party. Yes, it well and truly was a surprise. They worked on this party for almost a full month and somehow managed to keep me from finding out about it.

I received many wonderful gifts, but the one I will treasure forever is a book of pictures. These pictures were all taken either during the Thursday evening class or at my place; some were outside and some in my training studio. These pictures are of dogs past and present and each one of them brings so many good memories.

Right now I just can't fully grasp what happened. As my son said after reading what each person wrote in the back of my book, "Mom, you have a book full of love." How right he is. How rich I am. May all of you be lucky enough to have something so rich and full happen to you before this year is over.

We even had a couple of people there who were just "checking us out" as they decide whether or not Applewoods Dog Training and Margot Woods are a place they might want to come for dog training. They got fed too. The fact that the room was full of dogs. Dogs that were quiet, mannerly and pretty much out of sight sure seemed to make a strong impression on them. Hope it was a good impression.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More History of the Beast

It has been one year since Brandy first came here for help. The changes have been enormous to say the least. For anyone who is thinking about embarking on the journey to "save" or retrain a dog with documented dog aggression issues, I say this to you, "have a serious plan".

Here are the links to last year's history:

Actually you need not just a serious plan but the dedication and determination to see it through. If you aren't ready or able to spend at least 1 to 2 hours per day for an entire year working a training plan that spells out on a day-by-day basis exactly what is to be done and when, where and how each weekly test is to be handled, well do you really want to take the risk?

Brandy's journey included, but was not limited to learning a very solid sit/stand/down with stays, a reliable recall in the face of the very sort of distractions that got her into trouble in the first place and of course, solid, precise heeling both on and off leash.

Once the baby stuff was well along a serious working retrieve was added along with a drop on recall, and the hold used during the early stages of retrieve training was beefed up to be an exercise unto itself. Brandy has a stuffed toy that she is responsible for and which she carries every were she goes when she is out and about in public.

Since we are currently in the final, polishing stages prior to entering the necessary AKC Obedience trials with the FIRST goal being that of a Companion Dog title it became necessary to make very certain that she will not back slide and allow her strong prey drive to get the best of her. So, with the help of some serious, hard working little guys we set about the business of making as sure as possible Brandy has excellent control of herself.

The test of her self control was then tested at a match and guess what? First of all in the next ring was a toy breed dog doing Open (Companion Dog Excellent). Brandy did the "laser eye lock" and then was able to turn it off and continue working.

Will she ever be one of those "oh, don't worry she loves all dogs" kind of dogs? Never in this lifetime will that happen. However, I honestly believe that there aren't but a very, very few of that kind of dog anyway and most of them are less than 3 months old or more than 15 years old.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Is it too late?

My senior apprentice, Samantha "Sam" Daley has posted some thought provoking blog posts on her blog. I'm strongly encouraging all of you to head over there, read, think and perhaps post a comment or two. She sure could use the support right about now.

It all started with my assigning a very eye-opening task to all my students and just about anyone else who happened to be around me at the right time. The task is a simple one. At least it appears to be simple on the surface. Now I'm assigning it to all of you as well. Not only that but I shall take a page out of Sam's book/blog and call it a contest. As is true of all contests there will be a prize for the first person able to complete the task.

The Task
All you have to do is to go out and find 10 dogs 1 year of age or older. Five must be intact dogs and five must be intact bitches.

The Reason
This task didn't come about on a whim. Nope, not at all. It got started because I shared some figures with a couple of my classes. The figures? It depends on which group you want to believe but here they are:

Coming straight from the mouth of the beast, also known as HSUS of all owned dogs have been rendered sterile. On the other side of the field is the American Pet Products Manufacturer's Association. Take a gander at what their figures show: 72% of all owned dogs have been rendered sterile.

About 20 years ago HSUS gave us "Spay and neuter until there are none". A result of the "...until there are none" campaign has been to all but eliminate litters of puppies or even the odd one or two pups available at the local municipal shelter or humane society shelter.

What one finds at the shelter will be a heavy preponderance of dogs from about 9 months to 28 months of age. These dogs have lost their homes for pretty much the same reasons. Lack of training, lack of any place for the former owners to get meaningful help with training. These are the bullies, the fighters, the biters, the failure to housebreak and a host of other similar issues and they do NOT represent a problem of over breeding. These dogs all represent a problem of retention. They are unable to stay in a home because the lazy, permissive cult of the furchild has doomed them to failure.

The fact that breeding stock numbers have now fallen below a sustainable population level has given rise to a new breed of human. As they campaign to kill via desexing on the one hand they are becoming more vigorous at importing strays/mutts/street dogs from all over the world. After all, they have to find the poor waifs to raise the money necessary to keep those fancy new shelters open.

The Burning Question
Are dog owners all too stupid and lazy to behave in a responsible manner when it comes to the ownership of their dogs? Or to put it another way, since when is maiming and restraining actually more humane than supervision and training? Leashes have been used as successful birth control devices for eons. Real training, the sort that teaches a dog to be responsible for its own behavior is yet another form of birth control that seems to have been tossed out the window. Why?