I mentioned dog trainer Michel Hasbrouck in my last post. How we ended up working together is an amazing story of Internet connections (of the human kind) and of the friendships that come from them.
|Michel with his dachshund |
(dog wanting to play!)
Photo 2011 - Jean Gill
When Vincent's beautiful Pyrenean puppy of 3 months was left with a neighbour for an hour or two, while Vincent went shopping, something happened. When Vincent came to get his puppy, the neighbour told him 'That'll teach him not to pee in the house' and from that day Vincent had a puppy so aggressive that everyone, including dog trainers he consulted, said that he had to accept the inevitable and have Stratos put down. Vincent's guess from the body language of the man and the dog was that the neighbour had slammed the puppy against the wall. Bear in mind that a male Pyr of 5 months weighs about 25kgs and keeps growing to 60/70/80kgs - even a very young dog can be seriously dangerous when turned agressive. Vincent didn't give up, remembered a chance meeting with a dog trainer, took Stratos to Michel Hasbrouck and saved him. He also made it his mission to publicise Michel's work and so, because I was trying to improve my knowledge of dog training before I started again with a puppy, Vincent recommended 'Dressage Tendresse' to me.
|book link below|
I read the book, was amazed at how much clicked into place with what I'd figured out from experience but never expressed, and also at how much I'd got wrong and could put right. There were so many mantras that went into my head and stuck there. 'No hitting, no shouting.' Guilty of both in the past but no longer. 'No dog is irrecuperable'. I'm sure you too have friends who have put dogs down for aggression, unable to find a way out of the impasse. In the past I would have had to do the same in their shoes but now I have enough technique, and professional support available, that I am confident it will never happen to me with any dog of mine. But of all Michel's pronouncements the one I still love the best is 'Ignore a dog and he does what he likes.' So much dog training theory is based round 'ignore him' as a punishment, I wonder if these trainers (or comportmentalists, as is the trendy name) have ever met the sort of dog who destroys everything to get attention, including his owner. Or the dogs who find their owners boring because they are being ignored, and who bound off to find something more rewarding to do than hang around said owner.
|book link below|
I finally chose my breeders for my two Pyrenean puppies, was thrown off the Forum for choosing badly (according to the breeder who ran the Forum) and a group of us started the Patou Parle Forum, which has lasted 5 years now, with the usual ups and downs of rivalries and friendships, but with an underlying respect for people's right to disagree - and to buy puppies or adopt dogs, wherever they choose.
PHOTO - Michel Hasbrouck 2006
Blanche and me at the end of the 2nd day,
so relieved that all that hard work is over -
of course it was just beginning.
Dog training is for life -
not just for Christmas.
I've progressed since then. I would never have coped with Bétel's problems without all I learned from Michel. A mixture of health problems and maltreatment from a kennels owner, when the dogs were 8 months old and I left them there for 4 days, gave us a 70kg dog who was aggressive towards vets and strangers. Strange how history repeats itself. Like Vincen with Stratos, we worked him back to his real nature and kept him safe.
This year I decided to continue my own training with Michel and spent another few days in Switzerland, always learning more. He plans to retire in the near future and wants to pass on all he has learned to the next generation of dog trainers. I think I've lived too many careers to start another as a dog trainer but what I am learning will at least benefit my own dogs, and I have not lost the urge to take it further again, and be able to train someone else's dog. When you've seen the tears in clients' eyes because they've found the dog they've always wanted, right beside them, and they now have the technique to build on this behaviour, there is no better reward for work.
|PHOTO 2011 Jean Gill|
Michel training client in lead behaviour
while dog watches
|PHOTO 2011 Jean Gill|
one good dog after 'Dressage Tendresse'
His health never stabilised enough for the transplant to take place and Vincent died in June, optimistic and full of plans for the future until the last few days. It's hard to believe he's not there any more, about to jump in with a provocative remark, a quote in ancient Greek or exactly the right advice for someone whose puppy is chewing his master's hands to shreds. Online friendships can turn to real friendships, a casual word is a pebble dropped in a pool, and you never know where the ripples will spread. Without Vincent, I wouldn't have met Michel; if I hadn't worked with Michel, I'd never have coped with Bétel's problems. And I know for certain, from readers telling me so, that other dogs' lives have been saved by reading 'Gentle Dog Training.' That makes me feel good. And it made Vincent feel good too.
What was it that E.M.Forster said? 'Only connect'.
kindle .com, kindle.uk pdf
We did try audio-book, with me reading the text. Believe me, it was hard trying to do a deep, sexy voice while reading 'If your puppy has worms...' but some people think I managed it. Sadly, the Internet seems to have exploded with excitement over this particular version and I don't know whether Michel will rescue the remnants. It would make an interesting found poem but I am NOT recording it all again!
TO BUY THESE DOG TRAINING BOOKS
'Dressage Tendresse' on amazon fr
Gentle Dog Training amazon uk amazon.com
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