Some of us are Dog people, some are Cat people, there’s no room for Rabbit people, or Budgie people in our binary world of animal lovers, pick a side or move on!
I’d always believed myself to be a dyed in the wool, true blue, Dog person, but a sneaky one that loves Cats when there’s no one about to unmask my divergent inclination. I understand Dogs and their endearingly simple value system, and more than that, because Dogs like me, and it’s nice to be liked.
There aren’t many TV shows that can actually alter the course of your life, well there shouldn’t be otherwise the world would be in an even weirder state of flux than we’re presently surviving. Cesar Millan’s “The Dog Whisperer” was one such programme that snuck up on me and altered my career focus quite by stealth.
I watched Cesar’s show with its parade of troubled pooches and found myself shouting out the answers like your elderly relative being loud and watching TV. They’re not getting ANY points for watching, so DEFINITELY no more for extra volume.
“Separation Anxiety””, “Fear Aggression”, “WALK YOUR DAMNED DOG, IT’S NOT A CUSHION!!!!”, I was a very passionate viewer. New episodes were a genuine cause for excitement in our household but invariably the repeats came thick and fast, and a kin to a sing-a-long screening of The Sound of Music, I was joining in with the dialogue (I refuse to acknowledge my adoption of a Mexican accent).
Hungry for new stories I bought Snr. Millan’s book “Cesar’s Way” and devoured it, nodding along with every page. It turned out that I could already speak Dog and was well on my way to understanding Canine Behaviour. It’s basically a foreign language, as soon as you accept that they’re not just little people in Dog costumes, it’s simple enough to pick up. NO THEY CAN’T UNDERSTAND EVERY WORD YOU SAY, ahem, excuse me.
My new obsession became a topic of fun for my friends and colleagues, but the Dog owners among them came to me with genuine questions and I did my best to provide what meagre information I had and was getting some very happy feedback. Someone in the office had a bit of a Google and said I should do a course informing me I could get a qualification of “Dip.Dog Psy.”; oh how we laughed, it was hilarious, such silliness, LOL!
So two years later and I’d got a Distinction with 88% for my Diploma in Dog Psychology final exam, and I was livid! I very nearly wrote a strongly worded letter to the college to demand they point out exactly where I’d dropped 12% on my exam. In the end I didn’t, mainly because the “College” was essentially a man in a shed, somewhere in the Midlands running courses and giving out ‘Qualifications’ like biscuits at a coffee morning. I presume he bought a load of books on an array of subjects, read enough to set some questions and opened an ‘Educational Institute’. I sound ungrateful but without that man in his shed I would have a shorter CV and one less qualification.
It had finally happened, my time in the wilderness was now over, I’d found my calling: I was going to be a Canine Behavioural Therapist!
I immediately joined LinkedIn and started a discussion group: ”Dog Behaviour… not just training”, and so began my relationship with excessive use of ellipsis…
Company name: The Dog Fixer, sorted.
Web address: http://www.dogfixer.co.uk reserved.
Phone Number: Supermarket Pay-As-You-Go Sim bought.
Business Cards: 250 ordered.
I was good to go, I figured I should start by doing some pro-bono work to gather some case studies for my website, along with some kind words from happy customers. I was flying.
My wife raised a valuable point at this stage, she very wisely pointed out that a Canine Professional without a Dog would probably look a bit weird, worse than that, a Dog Psychologist who’s NEVER owned a Dog looks downright deviant. And so the search began, to find the right kind of dog for us. We ideally wanted a rescue dog to show that we’re good people, and we wanted a mixed breed because they’re less likely to suffer from breed specific degenerative conditions. This hound needed to be even tempered, good around kids (for when we spent time with our nieces) and old enough for it to not just look like we got a Dog to cover up for the fact that we didn’t have one.
While searching we volunteered at our local RSPCA as Dog walkers, this was a wonderfully rewarding experience, and a fantastic way of getting you out of bed on weekend mornings. It was also pretty good training ready for being up at the crack of dawn to walk our future.
We were ready, timing was our only issue, every dog we thought we’d be good for, got snapped up before we had a chance to reserve it. We sat down together one morning and had a long talk about our approach and realised we’d got a couple of criteria points for our animal adoption wrong. We made a couple of adjustments to our plans and in no time at all we had a meeting with the RSPCA Adoption Team, a very successful home visit to check our environment; which we passed with flying colours, and one week later Monica moved in!!!
Monica is black and white, was about 4 years old at the time, very vocal, loves her food and is a Cat.
I know, but we figured we were usually hungover on a weekend (BC- Before Children), it was the only chance we had to sleep in. It was more than likely that the vast majority of the walking would be MY responsibility as my wife isn’t one for wearing a bra if she’s not going to be seeing other humans, and outdoors decency dictates a modicum of presentability.
Learning so much about Dogs mostly showed me what a terrible Dog owner I’d make. It also ruined the experience of being around Dogs. The method through which I learned about Dogs was all coming from the angle of dominance. I didn’t want them to see my innate lack of authority, and as a result could not relax when I was around Dogs!
At last count the LinkedIn group’s membership is approaching 8,000 worldwide with new people requesting to join on a daily basis. It is maintained by a few very generous and diligent volunteers who engage in the lively debates and police the fallouts. All ticking over nicely without me, unless I need to do something ceremonial, but I’m no master; of man, nor beast…, nor even rudimentary grammar.
I’ve fixed it now, I’m fine with Dogs and resolutely see one in our future. My big stipulation is that my wife needs to commit to being the one who walks the Dog if we’re going to even consider it, at least until one of the nippers is big enough to take over.
I know it’s going to be me, but it’s nice to pretend I have a say in it, if only in my own mind, and bras don’t stay on for any longer than they need to.
Cats rule and Dogs drool, but so do some Cats if you stroke them right.