Monster is a 4.5 month old pitbull/lab mix dog. He had only minimal commands and house training when we got him and had spent most of his time in a fenced yard, outside.
We have only had him for 22 days.
Monster is ready to take his Canine Good Citizen test, the first of 3 certifications he will need to lose his "in training" designation and become a fully vested service dog.
1) He knows 19 of the 32 total commands we will be teaching him. There is absolutely no food agression with humans or other animals in Monster. His prey and hunt instincts are minimal. He is happy being a 'middle of the pack" dog and does not act aggressively toward other animals or humans. He is happy and eager to please.
2) Monster does not relieve himself in the house and learned, the first night we had him, to signal when he needed to go out. He will not relieve himself at the office, waiting until he is in his own yard to do so.
3) He can pass all 10 of the CGCtest criteria on command at any time.
Sam is amazed at how quickly and easily Monster has responded to the training I have given him, and how quickly he responds to the same commands and expectations when Sam gives them to him. All of this has been because of the time and energy I have put into working with Monster.
We laugh, but it is a known fact amoung our family and friends that I am capable "of hearding cats."
Our 3 cats, the 2 cats I raised and trained for Tom and Laney, and the cat I raised and trained for Garion all come when called by individual name, understand "no," "out," "down," "off," "sit," "stay," "night-night," and "treat." They do not scratch carpets or furniture, and half of them can even use the toilet, including flushing, instead of just a litter box.
All of our animals, caninr or feline, know that "show me" means to walk the human to whatever they are trying to communicate. There are no cat vs dog wars in our house and in the past 22 days, the cats and Monster have learned to live quietly and peacefully together. They are even starting to learn traits and tricks from eachother.
Sam will tell anyone that this is all because of me. Training the animals is and has always been my "chore." For me it is more a simple matter of raising furbabies than a "chore," and something I just do.
So, Sam and I were lying on the bed, surrounded by our motley pack of cats and dog, last night, talking about what life will be like when I am aretired. I have my artwork and all that, but there is still a part of me that needs to feel like I am contributing to society. It's something that I've needed since birth. As long as I feel like I am doing something for the "greater good," I'm happy.
Well, during our conversation, the Dog Wisperer was on. Sam looked at me and said, "ya know, that guy gets paid big money to help train other people to live with their dogs." I laughed because that is what I have always said. Cesar Millan does not train dogs, he trains people.
Sam told me "you can do that, babe. You know just as much about dog behavior as he does. Look what you've done with Monster in less than a month!"
"Well, one of the guys at work has a pit bull/lab mix, like Monster, who is afraid of everyone and everything. He said he wanted me to see if I could get the dog to be less scared."
"Why not try? If you can train the cats not to be afraid of the dog, and the dog not to chase the cats, I don't see why you can't help your coworker's dog."
Then the lightbulb went on!
We are looking for a house to buy with some of the money from my inheritance. So, why not look for a house, 2 or 3 bedrooms, with about a 1/2 acre to an acre of yard? I can get my certification as a dog trainer and animal behaviorist, and then I can open myown pet psychology center and do the same thing that the "Dog Whisperer" does! I don't have to do it full time, I can take on as many clients as I want to, and I'll neve "work" another day in my life! I can even train dogs to be mobility assistance dogs and adopt them out to stroke survivors who need/want them!
OK, maybe we were getting a little ahead of ourselves toward the end there, but it is a goal to think about. And the dog training thing I think would be fun.
We decided to revisit the idea after I do a little research on everything it would take to get the ball rolling. I'm thinking I might even train my sister to work with dogs too, if she wants. She has much patients and love for animals as I do and works with a lot of the local pit bull rescue organizations. Frankly, I think we are both better with dogs and cats than we are with humans.
It's given me a lot to think about, and might just be what I need to feel like I am contributing back to society. I'm not looking to be world renown, famous or rich helping families integrate their furry children, but it certainly would be something that could help a lot of people and a lot of animals.
I'll keep thinking about it.