“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” ~Edward Hoagland
This is a two-part series… please click here to read part one.
Sterling Kennels, Inc. was a full service operation- boarding, grooming and training. We also bred, trained and sold American Bulldogs. Though I managed the entire operation, I held true to my new title of Certified Master Trainer/Canine Behaviorist, and spent a lot of time focusing on that aspect of the business. I spent countless hours teaching private lessons, group classes and in-kennel training. During the five years that ensued I trained over 1000 dogs representing over 120 breeds (much more if you include the Heinz 57 varieties!) Past clients included various police departments, military and Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue. Remember the old Purina commercials with the Golden Retrievers and Robert Urich? They were trained at our facility! I loved my job and it never became routine or boring. One client; a prominent businessman and political figure would hire us to break into his 40 acre property to gauge how long it took for his team of guard dogs to find us and hold us at bay. All the while we were wearing full body bite suits that made us look like the Michelin Man and sweat like a prizefighter.
1998. 1998 was the year I said goodbye to my friends in the west…..both two and four legged. I relocated to Western Pennsylvania and began my own training operation- Wasatch K-9. I named the company after the mountain range in Utah which was the backdrop of so many training sessions in the early years. This was strictly a dog training endeavor- obedience, agility, protection and guard……with a splash of fieldwork and tracking. The majority of the work I did here was in the form of private lessons, and I quickly made a name for myself within the pet care community. Approximately 800 dogs passed through my programs, and I did my best to give back by engaging in community outreach programs which included speaking appearances involving dog safety at local schools, as well as some therapy dog appearances at nearby retirement centers. Some of those times were the most rewarding as dogs make people smile and laugh, give them uncomplicated and unconditional love, and stick with them when others have gone.
Aside from training dogs, I had once again begun working full time in the business management arena. It helped offer a steadier income…..and health benefits (there was this incident with a Doberman- a story for another time). In 2010, a job opportunity in Maryland brought my family and me to Columbia. I concentrated on my career with the outdoor retailer I worked for- but something was missing, and like the verse from an old Beatles tune the long and winding road has led me to your door…..literally.
I cannot say it was serendipity…..as serendipity is an accidental fortune. It wasn’t entirely accidental I found The Canine Training Center – after all, I did my research and was searching for a place that would honor my reputation and high expectations. Andrew and The Canine Training Center seemed to possess the values I was accustomed to working with, and after a few short weeks I knew I had found the perfect match and compliment of skills, standards and work ethic.
So here we are. 18 years, 1800 dogs and 150 breeds later. I still have the same passion as when I began this journey, and each dog continues to intrigue me with his own unique drives and personality. Understanding the relationship between the two is a vital component in successfully connecting with, motivating and training our furry friends, and something we’ll talk about next week.
What motivates your dog?