The Hand That Holds The Leash

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” A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself – Josh Billings”We all as kids have dreams and know what we want to do when we grow up but some of us realize those dreams with the passage of time. Born in a family that has always loved animals, I managed to earn the reputation of having mutated genes and was known for my exceeding love for animals specially dogs.

For many years I heard stories about my parents and family owning a variety of pets from dogs and cats, to squirrels and pigeons and even fish tanks the list was endless. However as I grew up we had no pets in my house until I turned 16 and manipulated my mother in to consenting for a pet. My choice for a pet was a dog a 5 year old Indian Pariah that stayed in my complex. I called her Sweety and she was so witty that every time I got her home she would sit in front of the refrigerator and whine till she was fed. Once she was satiated she would not stop scratching and barking at the door until she was allowed to go and live on the streets again.

A relentless hunt for an Indian Pariah puppy didn’t go well so I just gave in and got myself an English Cocker spaniel. We all remember our first love; mine will always be “Prince” my very handsome jet Black English cocker spaniel.

They say that behind every successful man is a woman in my case it was my dog – Prince. When I got him he was just 3 months old, so trips to the vet began in all earnest enjoyed by the both of us, for we not only got to meet other dogs and cats but like minded people. We enjoyed waiting in line at the vets clinic sometimes just skipping our turn so Prince could socialize. Because of this practice he always looked forward to visits to the vet.

The next step once his immunization schedule was complete, I began training him with nothing but books to refer too and armed with the advice of a seasoned show dog owner. Competing in dog shows as a thrill and we quit our show career once Prince was a champion.

As I got more actively involved in pursuing my passion for working with animals specifically dogs I picked up a job with my veterinarian as an assistant and a groomer. There my skills were honed by practice of handling dogs of various sizes and temperaments.

My biggest asset was that I never feared being bitten by a dog something  which you cannot be trained for. My first dog bite at the clinic happened when I picked up a sick pariah owned by a Mrs Perriera and kept her on the table. It was a week since she was coming to the clinic for her antibiotic shots before she was scheduled for surgery. The dog was always muzzled at the owner’s instructions. Once “Sandy” as she was called was kept on the table I noticed that she was shivering and wanted to comfort her so thought I should give her a kiss – instead I was rewarded with a bite on my nose. I had nobody but I to blame as Sandy has misinterpreted my body language. Also dogs react very differently when they are nervous or scared to a given situation.

You can never really say that you have learned it all. A turning point in my life came about when I was not just bitten but mauled by a Rottweiler. The dog was owned by a childless couple that has spoiled him silly and had not bothered training him. Despite being advised by us. What most people fail to realize is that no matter what breed or size of dog you own training is a must just as education is a must in the case of your child. The Rottweiler had to be muzzled when he was in the clinic and the only one who could do it was the lady who owned him. When they returned after several months to the clinic on an occasion it was with a complaint of severe gastroenteritis( stomach infection) which can be fatal in puppies if not treated. They had apparently delayed their visit because the lady who owned him was now pregnant and could not travel. So now the real question was who would bell the cat in other words muzzle the dog.

So another technique of restraint would need to be used, so we took him in to the waiting room and restrained him with the dog leash in such a way that he could not turn around and bite or attack when the shot was being administered. The one detail however that I missed out as I stood there with the antibiotic shot in hand waiting to inject him was that he was a on a regular collar and not on a semi choke collar which would have been ideal in this scenario. The collar slipped off and as he turned around with rage, all he wanted to do was attack me since I was holding the shot in my hand. He pinned me down and bit me on my chest and was trying to get to my neck, to save myself I pushed my hands in to his mouth to keep him preoccupied. I was helpless as he tried ripping flesh from bone, so when he tugged at my hand I gave in rather than pull away. The entire assault lasted for about 40 sec amidst people screaming in the background which only aggravated the situation.

If it would not have been for my presence of mind I would have been seriously maimed for life or not alive at all. As I was being bitten I asked my veterinarian to go fetch the bottle of water from the fridge and splash him with it. The cold water along with my synchronized shouts of “no” and a kick on his chest startled him enough to let go.

I survived the attack with not less than 30 puncture wounds which fueled my then dormant desire to do an in-depth study of canine behavior. My first step was  to enroll for a 21 day Canine Training & Behaviour course( Nothern Centre of Behaviour – U.K)  conducted by world renowned Canine Behaviorist – Trainer. The course was an eye opener; we learned methods of positive reinforcement and how to modify unwanted behaviors such as aggression, nervousness, separation anxiety etc; along with tracking, scenting, explosive detection etc.

It’s been more than 5  years now since I did the course and have launched my own pet care venture “Princely Paws” that provides Training, Grooming, Behavior Modification, Agility Training, Bach Flower Remedies, Animal Communication & Pet Sitting services for canines in Mumbai. As a Canine Behaviorist – Trainer I don’t just train the dog but most importantly educate the pet parent as well. Trained more than a 100 dogs now and worked with “Garnier” ads as well by training the Dalmation puppies.

When you are passionate about your work there is no way that  you will not be good at what you do!! .

 

60 thoughts on “The Hand That Holds The Leash

  1. I took my dog to the doggy kindergarden when he was 6 months old. There we would learn the basic commands and attempt to get out pups get used to the leash. I realized that in order to train my dog, I first had to train myself

  2. I admire you for you determination. Animals are only as kind as their owners and this is definitely a lesson that everyone who owns a pet must learn. It’s not easy to raise a pet, it’s just like having your own child. You would have to invest time and effort.

  3. Wow. That’s some story. It’s sad your first dog had to live on the street. I’m also surprised your colleagues at the Vet clinic had no training in such an extreme situation. I’m assuming that dog wasn’t fixed either.

  4. It’s so important not only to train the dog, but also the owner. Sometimes they’re not always ready to handle the needs of a pet. And they can be quit the needy one! 😉

  5. Your story is amazing, and I love how you enrolled on that course to learn more about behaviour. It drives me crazy to hear how people treat their animals. No matter how many times you try and explain that dogs need to be trained, not treated like children, spoiled…. they basically laugh. Thanks for sharing your story, and good for you for going out there and making a difference in animals’ lives. They’re lucky to have you trying to educate their parents to take better care of them.

    • Thank you for visiting. What most pet parents do not understand is that a dog just doesn’t need to be loved but needs to know whom to look up to in a pack that is his family which can be done with training using positive reinforcement techniques and patience

  6. Yes it is important to train the trainers as well as the dogs. I had to take some extra classes with Kilo as it turned out I was not helping him as much as I thought and needed a few tweaks in timing and rewards. It does take a lot of patience and effort.

  7. Yikes, being mauled must have been a scary moment. My aunt is a postal worker and was attacked by a dog that was off his leash. Good to hear that you’re doing so much good with dogs.

  8. Wow it sounds like your got your experience the hard way! You seem to have a natural instincts with animals and I hope your new venture will be very successful. I have a Cocker Spaniel (American) she was my mother’s, she passed away two years ago. Taffy is completely untrained and not very bright so we just do the best we can with her!

  9. Ouch. It’s never fun being bit by a dog, or cat for that matter. Keep up the continuing education, there is always things to learn and new discoveries. It’s great!

  10. I’m so glad you had the presence of mind to tell the vet to get the cold water! I think it is fantastic that you used that experience to learn more about something you feel passionately about. I’m sure you are helping dogs and their people to enjoy their lives more.

  11. You have had quite an interesting career so far! That dog attack must have been so scary, but you handled it very well. I’m glad you didn’t give up on your passion after that, but instead turned it into a positive by taking courses and training others.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. Wow! What a great story. Sorry you got mauled, though. Ouch. But look where it got you, further into a pet-loving world. It’s awesome that you took that course and I thank you for everything you are doing now. May you always be successful. Take care. Oh, love the picture of you and the dogs. Beautiful.

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