My Life With Dogs #13

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
This, by the way, is the continuation of my last entry.

     I had become hooked on training dogs and was a voracious consumer of all aspects of dog history and training; particularly studying the techniques of well-known dog trainers. That knowledge, along with what I had learned at Canine TV Trainers, led me to write my own manual, which I entitled the Famed Method of Dog Training.  And “no”, I did not plan “slipping a mickie” into every dog’s water pan prior to class. Rather, the name was my way of honoring Mr. Tuck for what he had taught me about animals, well beyond the induction of a hypnotic drug prior to a training session.
Since I worked eight-hour days for the military, by the time I made it to the pet shop in downtown Washington, fed animals and cleaned cages, it was usually dark by the time I started training. Fourteenth Street in downtown DC was mostly the center of the African/American commercial life in the city. Needing room that was not available in the shop, I used the streets at night to tame and train ocelots, cheetahs, dogs of all sizes, and fox. A fox would walk on a leash with me though he would be totally absorbed in his surroundings. Any movement from cars, passersby, or bikes, would pique his defensive mechanism and his hackles would stand and he would snarl through clinched teeth. By the way, it didn’t take me long in training a fox to learn the meaning of the anecdote that a coward will kill you to get out of a corner. If I cornered him in a storefront doorway, trying to pet him, he would rip the glove off my hand and even dive at my throat.
Anyone remaining on 14th Street when I trained animals at night promptly crossed to the other side. This practice began shortly after one of the first dogs I trained. As it happened I was working with an attack-trained Doberman Pinscher who Mr. Tuck had agreed to retrain and desensitize. The dog belonged to a local policeman, had been shot in a drug bust, and was being retired because of his injury. The policeman did not want the dog put down because he felt the dog had saved his life. He had heard of the work that Mr. Tuck had accomplished in the training of dogs and asked for help. I implored Mr. Tuck to let me work with Boomer and he finally agreed following my relentless pleadings.
I had been working with Boomer for about 45 minutes one evening when gunshots shattered storefront glass and burglar alarms screamed. Not knowing what to do, I froze…until Boomer started pulling me in the direction of the gunfire. He wasn’t in a hurry. Each step was measured and calculated. I couldn’t have held him back if I wanted; instead, like a dummy, I followed.Doberman (2)
Sirens began to blare and rubberneckers peeked from second-story windows as the burglar alarm seemed to grow in intensity.
Two men burst through the broken window of a jewelry store, skidded to a stop as flashing lights from police cars approached; they turned and ran straight towards Boomer and his bumbling handler. I don’t know where my voice came from, but I heard myself say, “Boomer, get ‘em.” I dropped the leash and he lunged at the criminals who were paying more attention to what was behind them instead of what was in front.
When the first guy saw Boomer he screamed and threw his gun at the dog. Boomer hit the second man, knocking him across the hood of a Volkswagen and into the path of the cop cars.
As quickly as it had started, it was over. I finished my training with Boomer and put him up for the night. As I left the shop two of the cops thanked me and people on the street waved at me. The next day I had a nickname…Demon Man, and I was never bothered by anyone when I trained animals on the streets of 14th and U.

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