Archive for April, 2015

The Bog…on Amazon

This is where to find The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend on Amazon: IMG_2052 (2)

My Life with Dogs #11

Friends: I have decided to share with you My Life With Dogs. These Blogs taken from my book, 14000 Dogs Later, may be one page at a time, or more. I don’t want to dump too much on you at a time. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to make comments here, or on Face Book or Twitter. Best, John

“Not all animals exist to please humans.” Unknown

     Before I continue with the 14,000 dog’s I’ve trained, I want to tell you about some of the other animals I have encountered. Margays and Ocelots are not the size of circus cats, still, a deep scratch, bite, or pounce from 50 to 100 pound cats can be problematic. I’ve encountered everything a cat can throw at a trainer and it didn’t take long to understand that cats are not trained; they are tamed…at least that was our approach.

Skunks make great pets. BUT, be sure you start with one that is de-sacked. I made the mistake of purchasing one that was supposed to be…wasn’t…and four stores on 14th Street closed that day.
My Boa was named Noah. If you could straighten him out he’d push six feet. Some Boa Constrictor’s will eat in captivity…Noah would not…yet; he still had to have live food. So, once a week I’d have a lottery-drawing of white mice. I’d take the chosen one by the tail, whack his head on the counter to knock him out, and then force feed him to Noah. The “force feed” part sounds easy. It wasn’t. Especially if Noah wasn’t hungry. While Noah wrapped his body around mine, I’d force his mouth open, and with the erasure end of pencil I’d push the whacked-out mouse down his throat.
The following year when I received orders for Saudi Arabia, I gave Noah to an animal psychology friend of mine in Chicago. When my orders were cancelled he wouldn’t return Noah. Bummer.
Birds are easy to train based on one concept…they always walk to the highest point. Therefore scaling a ladder, traversing a tight rope, dog with birds (2)or walking from your wrist to your shoulder is an easy first-time trick. Anyone can do it. A lady came in our shop one day, and having seen me put on a show with a Military Macaw, she proceeded to show her friends the DO NOT TOUCH sign on the Macaw’s cage did not include her. (A grown Macaw can bend a small piece of metal in its beak) She knew when touching a bird’s chest that he would step up. She did. He did. And now, in front of her friends, she was holding a squawking bird, with flapping wings that spanned at least three feet. She panicked, dropped her wrist toward the ground hoping he’d release his grip on her wrist and hop to the floor. Remember, a bird automatically walks to the highest point. And so he started creeping up her lowered arm until he rested on her shoulder. She was screaming and I just watched as he mauled her earring. Now, thinking this was part of my daily show with birds, every visitor in the shop was laughing, she and her friends were screaming, and I retrieved the bird while pointing to the sign on his cage. She never visited us again.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: It’s not just the “do not touch” signs in pet shops that people have trouble with. I’ve come to realize that the words “do not” are somehow offensive to the human psyche. Those two words seem to challenge us, turn us into super-beings, and let loose within us an uncontrollable force of opposition. Examples: Do not tattle, do not enter, do not turn left, do not smoke, do not lie, and do not kill.

To be continued…

Shaggy the dog

Friends:  Following is a story written by Beth Sergent, staff writer for the Point Pleasant Daily Register, Point Pleasant, WV.  It’s a dog’s obituary from the dog’s point of view.  Original, telling, and heartfelt.  This is a story for all dog lovers.  John
A dog’s life, like that of a human’s, can take many twists and turns in our search for what, and who, we truly call home.
A friend recently told me dogs should live as long as parrots. Still, another friend remarked dogs have such short lives because the loss of them would be too much to bear if they lived as long as their human companions.
My dog Shaggy recently died, but she was not just my dog. For awhile, she belonged to a community — the community of Pomeroy, Ohio.
In the early to mid-2000’s, people noticed her wandering village streets, searching for food, searching for a safe place to sleep, her head down, eyes never making contact as she apologetically persevered. Those in Meigs County know the rest of the story. They know how those working at the Meigs County Courthouse and in downtown businesses took Shaggy in, fed her, showed her kindness, gave her companionship and she returned all in-kind.
She became a conduit for connecting people who otherwise wouldn’t have noticed each other. Noticing Shaggy in need and wanting to help, caused strangers to recognize something of themselves in others. Shaggy recognized it too, namely kindness. Kindness is often common ground for us all. She followed that trail of kindness until she found her home with me.
Last month, Shaggy died from the ailments of old age and left this earth laying on her dog bed in the same, safe spot she had slept in for years. If not for the kindness of others, it’s hard to say where Shaggy would’ve taken her last breath and if not for Shaggy’s kindness towards others, it’s easy to say something would have been missing in downtown Pomeroy and certainly in my life.
The groundhog population on Mechanic Street alone would also be at critical mass if not for Shaggy’s efforts to control it during her homeless days. Though I could go on about what a wonderful dog she was — and she was — I thought the appropriate send off in the newspaper which celebrated her off the streets would be an obituary, from a dog’s point of view.
So here it is, Shaggy’s obituary containing what, and who, she called home.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Shaggy, age unknown but suspected to be between 13-15 years old, of Point Pleasant, W.Va., and formerly of Pomeroy, Ohio, died Feb. 22, 2015, at her home with her human by her side.
Known as Pomeroy’s “town dog,” Shaggy was a door greeter at the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and later at the Pomeroy Daily Sentinel for several years. She was Pomeroy’s first four-legged grand marshal of its Christmas parade, in which she made repeat appearances. One of Shaggy’s little-known accomplishments was visiting the residents of Overbook Rehabilitation Center in Middleport, Ohio, and consuming nine slices of American cheese given to her by those residents in under two hours — followed by chugging a gallon of water. Her favorite foods included cheeseburgers (plain with cheese only) from fast food establishments and free hot dogs from Tom Tom’s in Point Pleasant.
Her favorite pastimes included sniffing grass at public parks and traveling to places while riding in her very own back seat in a Pontiac Grand Prix. Favorite smells occurred often at Krodel, Riverfront and Tu-Endie-Wei parks in Point Pleasant, with special attention given to a post planted beside the butterfly garden along the walking trail at Krodel. After being homeless on the streets of Pomeroy, Shaggy’s world opened up and she traveled to places like Huntington, W.Va., Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, and to every corner of Meigs County — from (nervously) witnessing a 21-gun salute at Portland’s commemoration of the Battle of Buffington Island, to searching for remnants of the old Titus Mansion in the Rutland, Ohio, area. The latter adventure resulted in the need to remove several ticks, a process which Shaggy showed much patience for, as she did with most everything in life. Her last big car ride was to Fairfield, Ohio, in May 2014 which also included a trip to Voice of America MetroPark in West Chester Township in Butler County, Ohio, where she ate a chicken sandwich under a shade tree — sometimes life is more about chewing slowly and observing.
In addition to her human, Beth Sergent, of Point Pleasant, she is survived by initial caretakers Donna Boyd, of Pomeroy, Rhonda Riebel, of Chester, Ohio, and Jenny Shirley, of Point Pleasant, with special mention to friend and animal lover Gloria Kloes, of Pomeroy, who helped with her first bath.
She was preceded in death by Sentinel staff writer, and late in life dog lover, Brian J. Reed.
She is also survived by countless employees at the Meigs County Courthouse who provided her with companionship, cheese, lunch meat, peanut butter, drinks of water and a dog bed. She also leaves behind supporters at the Pomeroy Police Department who attempted to keep her safe during her time on the streets, and her Pomeroy Daily Sentinel family which included Charlene Hoeflich, of Pomeroy, Brenda Davis, of Syracuse, Ohio, Judy Clark, of Racine, Ohio, Matt Rodgers, of Gallipolis, Ohio, and David Harris, of Pomeroy.
She is also survived by a generous benefactor from Meigs County who paid for all of her veterinary care at Meigs Vet Clinic over the years and who shall forever remain nameless but thanked. She leaves countless other friends and family behind, including a cat named Alfie who she considered eating in the beginning but later learned to tolerate. We should all show as much tolerance for someone, or something, with the ability to scratch us.
Shaggy’s ashes will be scattered at Krodel Park in Point Pleasant along the trails and water’s edge once spring officially arrives. This way, a piece of Shaggy will be forever at, and forever become a part of, a place she loved, as the grass turns green and life renews itself again … and again, and again.
In lieu of cheeseburgers, consider adopting a homeless animal from the Meigs County Dog Shelter or Mason County Animal Shelter in memory of Shaggy and for yourself. Don’t forget to give special consideration to the adult dogs and cats who have been wandering all their lives in search of a forever home, just like Shaggy.
In closing, a quote from the writings of Jane Austen:
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
Austen’s quote may refer to the nature of a select number of human beings on this earth, though it with certainty refers to the nature of all dogs. Dogs, like Shaggy, are incapable of loving their people by fractions or with incremental signs of affection. They teach us more than they will ever know by their capacity to be whole with us.
May Shaggy, and her whole heart, rest in peace.


IMG_2052 (2)     Father’s Day is June 21st. How about something unique for a special Dad? If he loves dog’s he’ll love this. The cost is $14. Here’s what you get: An autographed copy of The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend, along with any special note you want me to duplicate on the first page, like…the day his dog locked him out of the car, the day his dog shredded his tuxedo, the night his dog chased a burglar (or not), or the obedience training class that his dog made a fool out of him. You get the picture…tell me about it and I’ll remind him about it.

I’ll also include, at no extra cost, a copy of my book on two compact discs…perfect for his next commute back and forth to work…or for the next time he and his dog spend some quality time together!

By the way, The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend, is a story about the extraordinary connection between man and his dog. It is a fantasy fiction novel that will warm the heart of every dad who understands the value of having a dog at his side.

I make a contribution to the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital in Huntington, WV from the sale of each of my books. Don’t wait friends…dad’s day is approaching as fast as a Beagle on a rabbit! $14 includes: 1) an autographed copy of The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend, plus your special message, 2) The Bog on compact disc, 3) postage and handling, and 4) a warmed heart after reading or listening.

Send your check to Preston Books, % John Preston Smith, 30 West 6th Avenue, Suite 103, Huntington, WV 25701. Thank you, John

Twitter: @prestonbooks

Because of postage costs, this offer is valid for United States residents only.

My Life with Dogs #10

Friends: I have decided to share with you My Life With Dogs. These Blogs taken from my book, 14000 Dogs Later, may be one page at a time, or more. I don’t want to dump too much on you at a time. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to make comments here, or on Face Book or Twitter. Best, John

Fame Tame
(A continuation of last week’s blog)

     It didn’t take long for me to uncover that something was amiss at Canine TV Trainers. Mr. Tuck always spent the first half-hour with every dog we trained. From that point it became my duty to carry on the process. I was amazed at how easy dog training was and figured I was a natural. The largest or smallest dog was putty in my hands. I could put a dog in a sit-stay for hours and nothing could make him move. I could recall a dog from a block away and he’d crash through a plate glass window to get to me. I could yell a down command and a dog would slam to the pavement in the middle of traffic.
Slowly, though, I noticed the temperament of the dogs I trained was not the temperament of the dogs that had first come in the store. Every dog I trained was even-tempered, eager to learn, non-aggressive, and passive. However, when first brought into the shop they had been wildly barking, jumping up on the owner, or pulling on the leash like an attack dog. Maybe I wasn’t the Houdini of dog trainers that I thought I was. Maybe something else was going on. Maybe Mr. Tuck’s first half-hour with each pet was more than what appeared.
Two months later, after closing hours, the three of us went to dinner at one of the seafood houses on the Potomac. Mr. Tuck and Carol craved fresh fish. There had to be 20 years difference in their ages, yet they spent most evenings and weekends together. She always pampered him and faintly lisped when she talked softly. They reminded me of the beauty and the beast and I was sure that their relationship was purely platonic. I had prepared myself, on this particular night, to delve into the unknown, wondering all the while, if my suspicions would get me fired.
My chest covered in a paper bib with beastly claws on the front, and in the middle of surf and turf dinner, I explained how much I enjoyed my work at Canine TV Trainers. Both listened intently wondering at my patronizing speech.
What the hell, I thought. Just ask the question. “Why do you spend the first half-hour with each dog?”
Mr. Tuck was never quick with an answer. He struggled with words and mulled them over before speaking. He knew their value and put a price on each. He removed his stained bib, wiped his mouth, and looked at Betty as if expecting her to speak for him. She did not return his look, instead picking between the surf and turf on her plate, not wanting any part in the conversation.
I should tell you that I suspected that Mr. Tuck was a chemist for the military. This opinion was based on various whispered conversations I had overheard between him and Carol…and at times on the phone. I had not become paranoid and did not envision Canine TV Trainers as a research facility of the US Government. But, on the other hand young minds conjure crazy ideas. The fact remained; something was going on in the first half-hour of training that affected each dog’s disposition. Worse, I suspected I wasn’t God’s gift to the world of dog training after all.
“What do you want to know?” The words hesitantly slipped from his mouth.
I told him of my suspicions.
He told me about Fame Tame, a form of psychological imprint that allows him to control the mind of the subject for a select period of time.
“You drug them?” I asked.
“In layman’s terms, yes. But, it’s more involved than that.”
“Is it legal?”
“Yes, but very few people know about it.”
“Is this a research tool for some kind of military experiment?”dog jumping (2)
“I can’t answer that.”
I was hooked.
The next day I administered Fame Tame to a new recruit. Thirty minutes later I took the dog outside and taught him the five commands of control. After 30 minutes of training he had it down pat. In fact, we could have sent the dog home that same afternoon…fully trained. But, who’d believe us. So we kept all trained dogs for thirty days, I exercised them everyday and went through the motions of continuous training, but the fact remains…they didn’t need it. They were already fully trained within the first 30 minutes of the program. Further, how would we make money if we sent them home the same day? Who’d pay $100 for a half-hour training session? And…nobody’d believe us anyway!

My Life with Dogs #9

Friends: I have decided to share with you My Life With Dogs. These Blogs taken from my book, 14000 Dogs Later, may be one page at a time, or more. I don’t want to dump too much on you at a time. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to make comments here, or on Face Book or Twitter. Best, John

Twitter: @prestonbooks
“If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give Fido only two of them.” Phil Pastoret

We all meet characters in our lives. Those few individuals that mark our places in time, send us into fantasy worlds, challenge our reason for being, or force us to draw on our reserves to complete a task beyond our talent. Edward Tuck, owner of Canine TV Trainers, at some point in time, was all of those men.
Slump shouldered, he stood six feet two inches with an Icabod Crane build…plus fifty pounds. His arms were extra long and hairy and his friendly face pitched forward on a long neck. His expression made you think he was at the ready to explain something. He constantly scratched his thinning hair and pushed his glasses back into place. He did not stutter, rather, he played with words before finalizing on them.
He had a way with animals. He could pick up a Stump-tailed Macaque or a Military Macaw as if he were selecting a book from a shelf. He was never leery or overbearing. He understood their fear of captivity and respected their need for companionship and freedom.
With dogs he was a whisperer. They watched him, rubbed against him, or fought to be the one he would touch or talk too.
He and I met on my third day on the job in the latter part of 1963. It was a Saturday morning and I arrived at 7:30 a.m. sharp. Mr. Tuck unlocked the door and I entered the world of chaos. During the night monkeys had escaped their cages. A common practice, I later learned. They had released the birds and dogs before ravaging the display cases and wrecking havoc with the fish tanks. With a Chinchilla in one hand, a broom in the other, and a Cockatiel on his shoulder, Mr. Tuck smiled. I netted birds while he cajoled monkeys and dogs back to cages and by ten o’clock we were open for business; most animals resting in clean wood chips or eating their particular food. I was exhausted. Carol Burns arrived with her beautiful smile. And Mr. Tuck told her that he thought, “I’d do.”

There were important items I learned very quickly on this job:
Ø God never made a monkey that won’t bite.
Ø Monkeys can pee a fifteen-foot stream.
Ø Monkeys in captivity are likely to kill themselves it they can’t see their next meal.
Ø Only buy de-sacked skunks.
Ø A fox will kill to get out of a corner.
Ø Raccoons can find food anywhere you hide it on your body.
Ø Force feeding a ten-foot boa constrictor is easy…if the boa is hungry.
Ø Walk at night with big dogs.

I had studied about the sit, stay, down, heel, and come commands of obedience training…and that they could turn the most obnoxious problem-dog into a master’s delight. The process was simple. People would leave their dog and then return after thirty days and pick up their fully trained pet. Each evening, after cleaning the store, I would train dogs on the streets of DC. After training dogs, I walked the large cats; margays, ocelots, and twice, cheetah’s. Most times I did not get back to the military base until one or two in the morning. I worked at the pet store on Saturdays and Sundays and most evenings.

pet shop (2)
I came to learn though, that training dogs consisted of more…much more, than time spent at the end of a leash.