It's been a hot sec since I've introduced myself and how I interpret Longsnouts' role in the world of dogs and their humans.
There are 2 popular questions:
- How did you become a trainer?
- How many times have you been bitten?
Seeing as the goal is to work with the dog in front of me and to make them as comfortable as possible, I can honestly say the only bites I've received have been from my own dogs. The first because I made a dumb choice and removed a pig's ear from a semi-feral resource guarder. The second because Dominic really hated the vacuum cleaner...but I moved it (I was cleaning) and he got my calf muscle. That said, I have teeth on my body every day. "Tooth kissing" dogs are kinda my flavor, from puppies through working breeds.
The short answer to the first question: I got a dog.
In the late 90s, I assumed the family dog when my parents were moving back overseas. See, they 'fostered' a Saluki/desert dog cross when they lived in Abu Dhabi, a quivering runt of a beebs. Fast forward several years, they moved her to Michigan, now had nowhere for her to go and there was talk of surrendering her to HSHV (very much in a the high-kill history of the shelter). Enter me and a moderate temper tantrum.
So, Kali came to live with me in the era of dial-up (free!) AOL, listservs, and the very, VERY early days of clicker training, enrichment, and canine body language. I couldn't tell you HOW I stumbled across the foundations of my core dog/human relationship, though I consider myself incredibly lucky to have always used a force-free, positively-focused training approach.
I spent a solid decade working with shy, reactive, and traumatized dogs in shelters and rescue organizations. I learned the most by taking adoptable dogs through basic training classes in several different states. There was enormous reward for all involved!
Truthfully, I enjoy physical dogs, often from working breeds...they certainly keep me on my toes (and in/out of Physical Therapy!). My second Coonhound, Livvie, was my intro to working line dogs and started to shift how I work with dogs and their humans. And THAT, my friends, is a good spot to leave off...and pick up the rest of the story soon.