Why I became a dog trainer. It’s a very interesting story that I love to tell so I hope you like it!
Growing up in Palatine as the second child in a family of 7 kids, every other year or so we would get a dog. Sometimes we got a puppy, sometimes we adopted an older dog. No matter what kind of dog we brought home, they all ended up having the same behavior issues - jumping, biting, using the living room as their private bathroom, and running out the door any chance they got! As one of the older kids, it was my job to hunt the dog down and bring them back home. Sometimes I caught them right away and other times it took hours! Needless to say, as a family, we were not successful at keeping dogs, after a while they went to a new family or “the farm”.
One dog, Patches, was with us the longest - almost 1.5 years! This black and white cockapoo made the front hall closet his den and we thought it was funny when he would growl and attack the vacuum. My mother was concerned about the behavior and when she asked our veterinarian about it, he said “be glad he didn’t make the coffee table his den!”
One summer day during a neighborhood block party, our neighbors grandson saw Patches run into his “den” and crawled in after him. In a matter of seconds I heard the scariest sound of our dog growling and snarling and the child screaming. The whole matter took about 5 seconds and left one puncture wound on the child’s face that needed plastic surgery. Needless to say it was very sad day, especially when my mom said Patches would have to go.
After the 10 days of quarantine, Patches was banished from the upstairs part of the house and nobody was allowed to handle him for fear of another bite. He had to live in the basement until we could “find him a home”. Well, being 14, I didn’t listen! I would hang out with Patches as much as I could and then 3 days later, I was told that he would be leaving for his new home the next day. I was so sad, I knew I would miss him terribly.
I had to figure what to do, there had to be a way to keep my dog! After some thought I figured if Patches got loose, he could find a new home in the neighborhood and I could visit him! So I took him outside over to the side of our house and set him free. I watched him take off running through the neighbors back yards like always when he was loose. As I sat on the ground watching him run, through my tears I saw the impossible happen. Something I never thought would ever happen. He came running back to me! Never in his life did he come to me, it was always “catch me if you can” with Patches. So I stood up and shooed him away again. He took off running and when I sat back down, he came back yet again!
Why wouldn’t he go find a new home? He normally ran for miles when he got out. I was baffled and bummed that he wouldn’t be living in my neighborhood! We went back inside and I said goodbye to him the next morning. A really nice older man came to get him and Patches seemed to like him so I felt better that he had a good home.
It continued to bother me as to why Patches kept coming back when he normally runs for miles when I would try to catch him. I really wanted to learn why he came back to me and that’s when I decided at 14 years of age that I would learn how to train a dog so I could keep one!! After attending St Mary’s College at Notre Dame, IN, I found an ad for a school for dog trainers and gained the knowledge that I have today to train dogs. And I also learned why Patches came back! Do you know why? I didn’t chase him!