Thursday, November 24, 2011
“Who's your favorite dog trainer?”
The question came out of nowhere. My husband Brian and I were lazing around in bed, discussing what we might do that weekend, when he asked.
“Um... That's a hard one. Denise Fenzi, maybe?”
I laughed, explaining that I thought he was asking about famous trainers. But everything about the question- from the fact that he even asked it to the wounded look on his face when I didn't name him- reminded me that this Thanksgiving, I am profoundly thankful for my husband. There are many, many reasons for this, but since this is a dog blog, I will try to narrow them down to the canine-related.
Perhaps the thing I am most grateful for is that he shares my dog training philosophy. Like me, he avoids the use of pain and fear when interacting with dogs. He doesn't feel the need to intimidate or dominate our dog. He isn't afraid to use some praise and a handful of treats. He supports both the things I set out to do with Maisy and the way I do them.
Brian's also very giving. He drives me to out-of-state trials, spends hours at runthroughs with me, recently volunteered to steward at the obedience trial I chaired, and handles dogs at the shelter dog class I've been working with. He's good at it too- the man has a natural talent that makes me envious, and he's great with shy and fearful dogs.
He's incredibly smart and well-educated- Dr. Duxbury, my dog's veterinary behaviorist, once said so after hearing him make a very insightful comment on a video of Maisy we were watching. He has read many of the classic positive reinforcement books, from Pryor to McConnell, and he's gone to his own fair share of dog seminars. Heck, he even went to Clicker Expo with me! We have some fascinating discussions around our house about things like stress, tertiary reinforcers, and the role of medication in behavior modification.
The seminar thing is pretty awesome in its own right, but it also means that he doesn't complain about how much I spend on dog stuff, including on Maisy herself. She's a pretty expensive little dog, and things like veterinary behaviorists, chiropractors, and pre-made raw diets add up. Thankfully, he doesn't mind a bit, and will even let me know when he thinks she's due for another massage.
Which brings me to perhaps his best attribute: he loves my dog. It's true- he's head over heels for her, which is a good thing because Maisy and I? We're a package deal. As it turns out, though, I think the same might be true with him.
I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but Brian is at the top of my list. I love you, honey.
(P.S.- In case you're wondering, his favorite dog trainer is Sara Reusche. I pretended to be upset that he didn't choose me, but he just smiled impishly. I'd get mad at him, but he's so cute when he's being a brat.)