Being around dogs brings about a change in my mind and body. All other stimuli fade away. I relax. It's just me and the dog. It almost feels like I'm sending the dog a telepathic message: "I love you." My first pet, an English Springer Spaniel named Stan, taught me that telepathy isn't a great way to communicate with dogs. I learned that lesson when I tried to mentally persuade Stan not to steal the ice cream from right under my six-year-old nose. Stan came along two years before I was born, so he was my "brother," my protector, my guide into a lifelong connection with dogs.
Jenny, my second dog, didn't really care for ice cream. She taught me about a much more heart wrenching canine problem: separation anxiety. We rescued Jenny when she was about four. Her previous owner had given her up because of the extreme nature of her separation anxiety. It was hard to see Jenny in such distress when we had to leave her alone. My parents and I used our limited knowledge to try to lessen her anxiety as much as possible. It worked a little - something that can't be said about our attempts to train her not to chase sheep. Jenny was a Labrador/Border Collie mix who would start running if she caught even a whiff of a sheep. We lived in England; there were a lot of sheep!
My third dog, Mr. B, taught me the joy of giving an older dog a good home for his final years. Mr. B also taught me what it really means to be a dog owner. He was the first dog I adopted after I moved away from home. I was entirely responsible for the physical and mental wellbeing of this tiny, scared Rat Terrier. I hate seeing any animal scared, or hurt, or uncomfortable, or unhappy. It's an awful visceral feeling that has compelled me to rescue a turtle, a lizard, a baby mouse, and various other animals that were lost, abandoned or otherwise in distress. I worked with Mr. B on his various problems and was delighted to see his sweet and spunky character emerge. Witnessing this change in Mr. B was such a privilege and inspired me to want to make similar differences in other dogs' lives. I researched dog training apprenticeships and was thrilled to find that I could study with Stacy Alldredge and the rest of the Who's Walking Who team.
I am looking forward to learning how to (non-telepathically) train spaniels - and other breeds - not to steal ice cream, how to cure separation anxiety, and above all, how to help as many dogs as possible live fulfilling, happy lives. I am so excited to have the opportunity to do this with Who's Walking Who. The team's holistic philosophy and deep love for all animals tell me I've come to right place.