Today was one of the days that I take my students of the professional dog trainers school to the local humane society to work with some of the dogs there. Our trips to the shelter always make for very interesting and enlightening days, but today was a peach.
Today, as the four of us assembled ourselves outside the front door, a woman came out and stood nearby. I did not pay much attention and went about directing a couple of the students to “go get one of those black lab mix breed pups and bring him/her out and we will work with them first.”
The students brought the dog out and I said “wow, what a beautiful coat” One of the students who brought this little female pup out said “yeah, but it feels gross what is on it?” The other student who had helped said “I think it is urine.” So I took the leash and took a look and said, “yep she is full of pee, her brother must have peed on her” And the student said, ” I think they were playing, she probably rolled in it” Conversation went on for a few more moments and at some point I said “Well, she will need a bath cause the ammonia could start to irritate the skin if left too long”
At that point the woman who was standing nearby came in abruptly and in a very strong voice says “How did the dog get ammonia on it!?” I was a bit taken aback to tell you the truth cause the tone of voice was very accusatory. In any event I explained that ammonia is a by product of urine, we felt the pups were probably rolling around playing in their run and she got in it that way.
At that point the woman said “oh, well I am from PETA and I watch for these things” I thought “what things?, puppies rolling in pee?” (ok I am being a wise-ass but the word PETA isn’t a positive word in my vocabulary)
So anyway, I go back to work with my students who are studying remote collar techniques and we are getting equipment out of the tool kit and talking and the woman comes forward again and says “Can I ask you something?”
woman “these dogs are here often because they are aggressive or shy, WHAT do you hope to gain by putting a SHOCK collar on them?”
Now the question itself doesn’t bother me at all, the again accusatory voice did. However;
Me: Well, the goal is to begin to teach the dog to pay attention to the person on the other end of the leash. Once we can keep a dog paying attention to us we can then use that skill to take an aggressive or shy dog into a situation that normal caused them to be reactionary and we can keep their attention focused on us, away from the trigger and then reward them for that attention in the midst of what was previously a concern for them. Basically the goal is to be able to communicate with the dog, “Hey don’t worry about that over there, just hang out here and pay attention to me and rewards/good things happen” That is the short version of the goal, it is more than I have time to explain right now.
Woman: WELL, I just don’t agree with SHOCK collars.
Me: I understand, there are a lot of misconceptions about them and a lot of misunderstanding. I don’t have time to explain a lot right now because these people (the students) are paying me for my time to teach them these things. However, if you would wright your name and address down for me and leave it with X (the person who works inside at the shelter) I will be happy to mail you a DVD about my work that better explains and demonstrates what I do.
One of my students chimed in, or watch her videos on YouTube
Woman: yeah, ok
So after that the students and I went and worked 5 dogs; two black Labarador Retriever mixes, a German Shorthair Pointer, a Leonburger mix, and a Terrier of some variety. I believe in being very public with my work. I do understand the misconception about remote training collars. So we work in the front yard of the shelter, highly visible.
Meanwhile I notice the woman (who could of been watching us if she chose to) standing by my vehicle writing down information and talking on the phone.
Eventually she left and drove off.
After we finished working dogs I went inside and asked X (woman who works at the shelter) who this woman was. She tells me her name. And I ask “Did she leave me a paper with her address?”
Me: oh, well what was she doing here?
X: She comes around almost every week.
Me: For what?
X: I don’t know, just always looking around.
Me: Is she a volunteer? Does she walk the dogs or give them a bath or anything?
Me: (and yes, I’m getting pretty irritated by now, so the following sentence came out as a statement, not a question) So, she is just sniffing around to find problems.
X: I don’t know. I do the best I can here.
Me: I know X, you work your butt off. Has she every done anything to help?
X: She says she wants to foster that one grey cat cause she thinks it is depressed from being in that cage. And she does ask if there is anything she can do.
Me: What do you tell her?
X: I’ve told her that cat has allergies and doesn’t feel very good. And many times told her we really need kitten food. We got lots of kittens right now and we keep running out of kitten food.
Me: But she hasn’t taken the cat? And has she ever brought any food or donation in?
The rest of the conversation is not relevant to my point in this blog, plus I was sprinkling in a few curse words by this time.
Here is my bottom line take on the whole thing: If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Walking around, sniffing for anything to point a finger of suspect and guilt at, tells me all I need to know about a person. The fact that no address was left certainly seems like a mind is closed and not interested in seeking further information. Heaven forbid if there is a discovery that means the assumptions were incorrect.
Humane and caring people roll up their sleeves, they dig into their wallets, they cry the tears over the situation and they DO something productive to help change it. The holier than though attitude of the proud card carrying members of PETA hasn’t reduced the euthanasia rate. Please do the real animal lovers a favor, take your anger and self-rightous attitude and move out of the way so the rest of us can keep on *gettin’ er done*