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About Me

About Me. Hmm. Where to begin? OK, I’ll try to tell you a bit about myself and how I came to make this website, though it will probably be long and rambling, and may not be entirely in chronological order…  🙂

This website is dedicated to my Uncle Joseph. He has been my inspiration all these years!

I’ve raised and trained dogs for at least 40 years. When I was growing up, some of my relatives raised and trained dogs for the circus as well as other purposes, and I loved to spend time working with them. One of my uncles used to brag that he could teach an intelligent dog to do anything that was physically possible for a dog to do, and did some pretty amazing training, even before he began breeding his “super dogs”.

Because he made his living as a trainer, intelligent dogs that learn quickly and obey promptly were very desirable. He bred poodles because not only was that usually what the circuses wanted, but they are very intelligent and have most of the qualities that make for an easily trainable dog.

However, one day my uncle ended up taking in a stray  that changed our lives forever. It was a medium-sized cur, (“Heinz 57”) nothing remarkable to look at, and in fact we used to joke that he was the ugliest dog any of us had ever seen! No dog in Joseph’s household went untrained, and no dog was ever turned away homeless, so the plan was to teach him some manners and a few cute tricks to make him more desirable, and quickly find him a good home elsewhere.

As Pup’s education began, he amazed us all; we’d never had such a clever dog! And we thought poodles were smart! He learned his lessons quickly, often on the first demonstration, exhibiting a fantastic ability for learning human language, and was eager to please to a fault. He had an uncanny ability to figure things out, which sometimes got him into trouble, but certainly made life interesting! Pup had eyes only for Uncle Joseph, although he would work for me if I (and Uncle Joseph) insisted. A more devoted and loyal dog one could not ask for, on top of everything else. Pup had found his forever home, and Uncle Joseph had a new lease on life.

This might be a good time to mention that Uncle Joseph’s wife had died that year, and he’d lost interest in life and was wasting away. Though present in body, Uncle Joseph was only a sad shell of mourning. Pup attached himself to Uncle Joseph, brought him balls and sticks and continually pushed his head under the man’s hand, insisting upon being noticed. It was just what Uncle needed, and slowly he began living again.

We just called him “Pup” in the beginning because we had to have some way to address him while he was with us, but the idea was to leave it open for his new owners to choose his real name, but it stuck and he didn’t get another one.

The main thing that was wrong with Pup was that he was one of a kind! However, that didn’t stop Uncle Joseph, and he set about trying to make more like Pup, and over the years produced some amazing dogs. As a joke, he called the breed “Dog”, because he said “This is closer to what a dog is supposed to be!”  Only the best of the best are allowed to breed and be considered Dogs. Uncle devised a stringent battery of tests to determine if a puppy met the criteria to be called a Dog. After a couple of generations even the most mediocre of Uncle’s dogs was a more intelligent, trainable dog than most purebred tail-waggers that one might encounter at a confirmation show! But in order for Uncle Joseph to call it a Dog, it had to be really exceptional.

It was Uncle Joseph’s opinion that breeding for looks is usually a bad move, as well as the fact that most of the breeds we have today were originally bred for some specific purpose (like enhanced scenting abilities) to the detriment of other important qualities, which can compromise their general usefulness.

Of course, there’s anything wrong with the average dog! It would be difficult indeed to completely breed away the essence of what caused dogs to be called “Man’s Best Friend”. Besides, most dogs are trainable, and once they start training, they “learn to learn” and get even better. In fact, many of the dogs that seem not so bright are just independent minded and not what we sometimes refer to as “biddable”. In this case the trainer may need to work more creatively!

There are still some wonderful dogs of a variety of breeds and mixed breeds, and an occasional individual like Pup turns up unexpectedly here and there. Hopefully your dog is one of them!

Service dogs as we know them today are of course a product of our modern life, but dogs have served man in similar ways for eons. It isn’t a new concept!

Although my uncle trained a dog to assist a deaf man when I was a child, I’d not given that much thought until a few years ago, when I happened to come to require assistance myself to live a more normal life.

I have wonderful family and friends who tried to help in the beginning, and they were awesome, (although it turns out that there are a couple of things that my service dog is able to accomplish more efficiently than a human helper can, due to certain dog senses being more acute than human senses) but it’s more than I want to ask of my two legged loved ones. I don’t want my disability to affect those I care about.

Anyway, to make this long story shorter and wrap up the “About Me” page, I’ll just say that because I now use a service dog, and because I have a lifetime of dog training experience to share, if not service dog training specifically, I thought I would make a website where others who use service dogs can come together to discuss what is dear to their hearts – their dogs!

It is my hope that those who have, (or are thinking about having) a service dog will use this site to discuss their dogs and training issues, or just brag about what a good job their companion does! We can all learn from each other, and whether your dog was trained somewhere else or you trained him/ her yourself, it is my opinion that a dog’s education (or my own education for that matter!) should never be finished, so on this site I will be giving advice as well as looking for tips myself about other useful tasks for our service dogs to learn.

(You can read more about Uncle Joseph in my book which is available HERE).

 

 

 

 

 

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