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

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“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.

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