Sit! Stay! Love!
SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY
Sun writer Laurie Krosney took the classes with her dogs,
Jake, right, and Ben, after Jake grabbed and consumed a
10-pound bag of flour and Ben ate the couch.
When my dog, Jake, grabbed a 10-pound bag of flour from the pantry, ran under the bed and proceeded to eat a huge amount of it, and my other dog, Ben, ate the corner off the couch, I decided maybe it was time for me to take control of my household.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I will now challenge anyone who says that.
I, myself, am no spring chicken. (And if I were, Jake and Ben would have made even shorter work of me.)
Jake is six and Ben is three.
Enter Cheryl Brown, owner of The Last Paw, whose training technique is all from a positive reinforcement perspective.
I found that she not only positively reinforced the dogs, but she reinforced me, too.
I heard about her from my friend, Charlene Doll, whose dog Bay Breeze was coming nicely into line. In fact, after a class at the Community Center last spring, Bay Breeze passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.
Joyce Akins, who has the Paw Spa in Holmes Beach and is a bit of a dog whisperer herself, recommended Cheryl as well.
My young friend Logan Reiber, who walks Ben every day for me, and I took the class at the center.
Jake and Ben now sit, stay, lie down, will drop things like shoes when ordered to, while Jake has learned to “Leave it!” when I drop an Advil or leave my coffee unattended.
I won’t say we live in an orderly household, but I am definitely the one in charge here – well mostly, anyway. That’s quite a change.
Jake will jump up on the seat of my walker so we can walk across streets and I can sit down while he gets a chance to sniff around.
Brown’s classes are offered again this fall at the Community Center. She will also come to your house for private lessons.
I took advantage of both. Doll and Bay Breeze took the classes at the community center.
“Bay was totally out of control, and I was at my wits end,” she said. “We’re still working on things, and I have to stay on top of it, but what a difference!”
Gail and Ron Tutewiler, of Holmes Beach, and their golden pup, Murphy, took the Basic I and then the Basic II classes. They aren’t ready to take the CGC test yet, but they’re getting there.
“At least we walk the dog instead of the dog walking us now,” Tutewiler said.
Holmes Beach resident Lori Hawke took the classes with her golden, Ami.
“She’s a big dog, and I knew I needed to get her under good control for everyone’s sake,” Hawke said at the class.
Joyce Karp got her miniature pinscher, Loki, as a pup.
“Min pins are high strung and anxious,” she said. “You have to provide them with leadership and show them what you expect of you so they can calm down. You also have to give them something to do because they’re very smart.”
And Caroline Pardue, also of Holmes Beach, took the classes with her daughter, Charlotte, who got her black lab, De Soto, for her seventh birthday.
“I realized I couldn’t even take the dog to school to pick up my daughter unless I got him under better control,” Pardue said. “He was a jumper, he was wild, and he really needed some manners if we wanted him to have a good life.”
Charlotte, who is now 8 and in the third grade at Anna Maria Elementary School, took Brown’s basic classes and then the trick classes “Watch him jump through the hoops,” Charlotte said as she signaled De Soto to jump through a hula-hoop.
De Soto got half of himself through the hoop and then stopped and looked at Charlotte.
“You have to work with your dog for a long time,” Charlotte said, not at all discouraged. “It takes patience to train a dog.”
Charlotte, De Soto and Caroline were all in the courtyard of the Back Alley on Bridge Street. Several children came through that way, and Charlotte told her dog to sit and then invited the children to pet De Soto.
The lab was calm and a true gentleman.
“I can’t imagine what we’d have done without the classes.”
Pardue cautions that Brown does not train your dog for you.
“She will show you what you need to do, and she’ll help you learn to do it and to teach your dog to do it,” she said. “The classes are good, because you go home and try what you learned in class, and then you can ask questions the next week if you had trouble. Once you get the hang of it, and once you make up your mind to stick with it, you’ll be amazed.”
And that seemed to be the sentiment of all the dog owners we interviewed. I know it’s true of me, too.