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…

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