Steamboat Springs “Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” — Corey Ford, an American humorist, author, outdoorsman and screenwriter
The first time I read this quote, I did a double take. Then I laughed and nodded my head approvingly, thinking what a smart, insightful and kind man he must have been.
This reminded me of a conversation I had some time ago with a dear friend who has the gift of passion for shelter dogs and foster families. She has fostered several dogs that later were placed successfully in forever homes. She and her husband also have adopted a dog that they fostered.
My friend often calls me with questions about problem behavior. She’s an educator and a willing student who tries hard to keep an open mind when the world of canine behavior collides with her beautiful heart. I listen carefully to her when she explains the emotional side of shelter work and the toll it can take on those who volunteer.
For a long time, we seemed to play tug of war between the love she feels for the dogs and dealing with the behavior with which she was struggling. Who in the world of dog rescue has not lead with his or her heart? Usually, that’s why people are there in the first place.
I helped her with her adopted dog’s behavior. While walking together, I described the behaviors her dog was showing and how, when seeing these, she could help him more effectively. When she recognized her dog’s behavior in the moment that it happened and heard my descriptive words, it really seemed to come together for her. She said she felt empowered by knowledge.
Now that’s music to any dog trainer’s ears. A later conversation provided me with what I always hope for when working with a dog owner. She had pondered our discussions and put together what I thought was a beautiful expression of her understanding.
“If you have love without knowledge, you have half the essentials tied behind your back,” she said.
I would say knowledge without love ties half the essentials behind your back, as well.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 25 years of experience.