Archive for September, 2015

My Life with Dogs #19

”Friends: As you read along you will quickly come to realize that I am of the old school in training dogs. Or maybe, if you have been to any training schools in the past five years, reading my method will be ‘new’ to you. I’ll talk about the differences later, but for now, again, welcome! If you have time, reading my former blogs will bring you up to date.
The basis of my training method falls into five categories, or lessons…sit back and enjoy.” John

“Outside of a dog, a book is probably man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

There are parts of the human body that wear out sooner than others. For me it was the left, inguinal hernia…a piece of the anatomy that screams for relief when you are training dogs…especially dogs that could care less about your pain and suffering.

     My hernia came about when I was lifting used railroad cross ties into holes for a horse paddock on our farm. When I felt and heard the internal “snap” I knew my body was telling me I had screwed up.

     At the time, I belonged to a civic group called Ruritan, most members were farmers, and most had endured hernias. Now, if you know anything about farmers, then you know they are the ultimate businessmen. They have to know market conditions for their various crops, they have to be able to budget, they have to be weathermen, accountants and contractors…and generally, they are their own workforce. Point being, they can’t afford to be laid up in a hospital when there’s work to be done on the farm. Which brings me to my next point, they also know about medicine.

     Once my Ruritan friends found out about my hernia there was only one place to go, Shouldice Hospital in Ontario, Canada. Why Shouldice? That’s where a unique technique was developed so that the recurrence factor of the hernia was near .05 percent as opposed to 15 percent in the United States. And farmers could be back on the tractor within 48 hours. A win-win as far as the farmers were concerned. They loved Shouldice, as did my insurance company, but my Mom thought I was nuts.

     I tell you this because my hernia burst forth in the middle of my first set of dog training classes in Hartville. And by the time my second set of classes was scheduled, I had airline tickets to Canada and was scheduled for an operation.
Remember the dog biting preamble I mentioned above…

     On the night before I was to leave for Canada, I held a first-night training class. Lo and behold a lady approached me with a German Shepherd. I made the mistake of not studying the dog before I agreed to hold him while she returned to her car for her purse.

     I took the leash, she turned, I turned my attention from the dog to answer the question of another handler, and her dog bit me on the left cheek of my rear end, opening up a five-inch gash that gushed blood like a stuck pig. And to increase my embarrassment, he also took a five-inch square of my pants with him.

     Talk about attention getters!

     Within a second the dog lunged for me again, but this time I was ready. For the next five minutes I worked that dog on leash to the point we were both sweating like Arabian Knights. When I finished he sat at my side, perfectly still, not willing to bite ever again…at least not me! I will admit, there are some very special training techniques I use for dogs that bite humans…but we all have our secrets…right?

    Remember:  I am responsible for the safety of all dogs and handlers in my classes. When I am aware of a problem dog, I can keep that dog and handler separate from the rest of the class until appropriate training has been completed and I am satisfied that they are ready to join the others.

     An indiscriminate biter, fear biter, aggressive biter, or any other type of biter is a menace to society. In the majority of court cases the person owning the dog that bites is judged as the guilty party.

     Numerous times through the years folks have tried to justify the threat of their dog. It’s different if your wife is being attacked and your dog comes to the rescue. Everyone would support your dog. But, dogs that bite kids, mailmen. meter-readers, other dogs and cats, surprise guests, the extended hand of a vet, or any other person without provocation, as I said, are a menace to society. These dogs should be trained or placed in a home where the owner is totally knowledgeable of the problem. AND, if you choose a training class, then for goodness sake keep your dog in the car or separated from other dogs and people until you have talked with the trainer.

My trip to Canada was painful. Upon arrival I discussed my difficulty with the nursing staff who immediately prepared a Seitz bath to calm my raging sore, which could not be stitched because dog bite wounds need to drain.

     Two days later, finding it uncomfortable to sit or lay, I returned to Hartville with ten-feet of stainless steel wire supporting my hernia, and resolve to err on the side of caution the next time a handler asked me to hold a dog while they get their purse. I’ve decided it isn’t worth the $30 training fee.

Prayer in memory of a pet

Friends:  I can not count the number of pets I have outlived.  Hopefully, though, the day will come that I will meet each of them again.  If you feel the same this prayer is for you. 

Prayer in Memory of a Pet
Almighty God,
I was fortunate to receive the gift of (pet name) from You
Now that he (she) has left this life,
please help me cope with my loss with strength and courage.
I know that my beloved companion no longer suffers,
and will live on in many fond memories.
May they be treated with the care and respect
As he (she) has enriched my life,
I pray that I may enrich the lives of others. Amen.
Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.

Prayer for a lost pet


So many of us have to deal with the heartache of a lost pet.  I hope to following will help you turn the right corner when you are calling his name. John

Prayer for a lost pet

We ask you to help us find ________,
our dear pet who is now lost.
We know that you
placed animals on the earth
for many reasons,
including companionship for man.
We therefore ask you
to help us find our lost companion,
and pray that You will keep him (her) safe
and protect him (her) from harm until he (she) is found.
We join our prayers with St. Francis,
St. Anthony, and all the saints,
and pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
David Bennettpraying

My Life with Dogs #18

“Friends: I don’t know if you have been reading my blogs about My Life With Dogs…or if you might be “jumping in” with this being your first exposure. If so, WELCOME, you are hitting the right time as this is where I begin to talk about my training technique, known as The Famed Method of Dog Training.
As you read along you will quickly come to realize that I am of the old school in training dogs. Or maybe, if you have been to any training schools in the past five years, reading my method will be ‘new’ to you. I’ll talk about the differences later, but for now, again, welcome! If you have time, reading my former blogs will bring you up to date.
The basis of my training method falls into five categories, or lessons…sit back and enjoy.” John

Lesson number one: You must first get your dog’s attention.

     With that said I let Dodger lunge for Tagore while at the same time I take off in the opposite direction with the lead held firmly in hand. Timing has to be perfect for this training exercise to work. On this particular day, Dodger was airborne in his attempt to grapple with Tagore. Then the lead tightened and jerked his body back towards me. At times this movement elicits a yelp of surprise from my “victim.” In a friendly voice I called to him. He came. I patted him on the head, told him to stay, and dropped the leash. He didn’t move and I had everyone’s attention.

“When is obedience needed,” I ask again.

“During time of distraction,” I answer my own question…but this time everyone knows exactly what I am talking about. This is a wonderful training exercise and you too can use it as an effective measure to get your dogs’ attention. If, when walking your dog, he begins to drift from your side, turn and take four or five driving steps in the opposite direction. Do this every time his attention drifts. You’ll see a dramatic change in control. Before long he will be standing or sitting at your side ready to anticipate your next move…and you’ll begin to look forward to walks in the park with him.

Through the years my three kids have enjoyed wagering as to how long it would take me to get control of an unmanageable dog. Never has it taken me more than 45 seconds. And in every case the mutt in question would end up at my side, watching me intently, his tail wagging with anticipation.  No treats needed!!!

Please remember this; it is important to the extent that it will be noted more than once in this book: Firm corrections will solve problems quicker than feeble ones. Further, they are more humane, more impressionable, and place you where you belong…in the position of unquestioned and substantial authority.  I must tell you, there is no place for political correctness in training a dog the stop from pulling his master around the block every time they go for a leisurely stroll in the park.  I see it all the time in my small town and the look on the faces of the masters is always embarrassment, as if he is saying, “what am I supposed to do?”

Note: When it comes to obedience training, your dog has three levels of awareness:

Level 1) all disruption and distraction fights for his attention. Squirrels in the park, other dogs, kids on bikes, airborne Frisbees. His awareness of new and unusual happenings bombards his psych and he tries to watch everything going on around him. You are lucky if you are one of those distractions.

     Level 2) disruptions and distractions around him are a cue for him to pay attention to you. This awareness kicks in about the third week of obedience training. We want him to view all aspects of a convoluted world in regards to you, his master…when on, or eventually off, lead.

     Level 3) the absence of disruption or distraction (you are waking in the park and nothing is going on) is the cue for him to watch you. This is the ultimate awareness we seek through obedience training.

Here’s an example of the difference between level 1 and level 3. You’ve seen it many times when you go for a walk in the park.

Level 1: The dog is at the end of the lead, lunging at passersby, squirrels, and joggers; totally oblivious to his master’s every pleading.

Level 3: The dog walks at the heel position beside his master…off lead…keeping an eye on his master’s every move while also aware of the world around him. Or, you see a dog running loose in the city park, but you note that he is constantly looking back towards something. He sees a squirrel, but then looks back; he tracks a scent; but then looks back. And then you hear a faint whistle and the dog makes a bee line to his master who has been walking 50-yards behind.


WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Mr. Tuck, by the way, had taught me one of the preambles of dog handling. “It’s not how often you will get bitten, its how bad”…and my time was on the horizon.