A story about an old dog and his special people

How we love our dogs

Over the last 2 decades I have come into contact with many people and their dogs

and sometimes there is a lot more going on than just dog training. I am grateful for these moments and always feel like I walk away from them enriched and having learned more than I ever could have taught.

I have changed the names of the owners and the dog in this story to protect their anonymity.

I was called by Jane and Mike to help them with their Terrier pup, Cassius back in 2001. Cassius their pup was a typical terrier - feisty, full of beans. They loved him but it was clear that they needed to learn how to handle him so everyone involved cvould have a better quality of life. During our initial meeting I was made aware that Mike had some very serious health issues - we didnt go into details but it was apparent that whatever was going on was grave. To give you an idea of how serious - Mike was a young man - but there was lots of medical equipment in the house and he could only go on very brief walks. Our weekly lessons went well and over the course of several weeks we trained Cassius and were all pleased witht he progress he made - Mike and Jane commenting on how much easier he was to live with both in the hosue and out on walks when we were done.

Over to a decade passed and then I heard from Mike and Jane.
They were going on a long trip and could they possibly leave the now senior Casius with me @ my kennel?

Of course - I would be thrilled to have him and to catch up with the owners on how they are doing say hello.
The truth is I have a huge soft spot for old dogs and tend to spoil them - they have put in their time being disciplined and mannered. The rules can be bent a little for them.

Caring for older dogs

The day to drop off Cassius at the kennel arrives and I was prepared for the first part fo the speech:
“Nick… Cassius is old. Very old and he is now blind and deaf. We know that he doesnt have much time left and if anythng should happen while we are gone - we want you to know that we are prepared for it and that you should do whatever you think is best for Cassius.” This is alsways uncomfortable to discuss but it doers need to be talked about beforehand and I appreciated the way they approached things. I reassured them that I would treat him the way I would treat my own dog and keep them posted on how he was doing.

Man’s best friend

This is the part that just floored me and I will never forget the feeling I had, the lump in my throat as I tried my best to pretend to appear stoic.
With tears in his eyes Mike said to me:
“I was never suposed to outlive this dog.”
I’ll never forget the emotion in his voice and the look in his eyes at that moment. We all teared up in that moment.
This dog was his companion through what was likely the toughest time in his life.
The dog was also symbolic of Mike’s struggle with his illness and eventual triumph back to health. Now the tide had changed and here was Cassius later in life deaf and blind - in good spirits mind you and Mike is now realizing that his life trajectory has greatly changed from when he and Cassius first began their journey together. That dog symbolized all his fears, his hopes, his darkest moments and his vicotry to a new life.
It was so bitterweet.

He had a hard time leaving his friend behind with me that day. I have seen many an owner get emotional when leaving their dog behind for training or just kenneling but this was more than that and we all knew it. Mike and Jane returned from their trip - picked Cassius up and went home together.

Saying goodbye to an old, faithful friend

They emailed me several months later to tell me that Cassius had passed away and to thank me for helping them rasie him and for taking care of him in his old age.
Truth is I got much more out of it than any of them and thanked them in return for having been part of the journey.

What is your dog's behaviour worth to you?

Montreal dog trainer
A client said something very interesting to me today:
She said that she ammortized or broke down the cost of our training together over the lifetime of her dog - she said that she found it to be a bargain!

I walked away wondering what the actual number was and grabbed my iPhone’s calculator and calculated it to be pennies a day if he only lived to 12 yrs old (Angus I hope you live to be a VERY old man!).

I mentioned this to anohter client while we were chatting at the end of our lesson later that day and his words to me were “there is a huge difference between price and cost”.

Some of the smartest dogs and people in Montreal!

I am very fortunate to work with many bringht and interesting peiple and their dogs and feel that over the years I have learned many valuable life lessons from many clients - some of whom maybe didnt even realize how their wise words were contributing to the shaping of my perceptions of many different aspects of business and and life in general.

Dog training like any service is not all the same - there are different trainers with different specialities and varying degrees of ability. In other words when comparing services and prices we are not necessarily comparing apples to apples. To allow yourself to belive any different is setting yourself up for disspaointment.

Price Vs. Cost
Some people have told me they wanted to use my services but found another trainer that charges less.
That’s ok with me - and of course they are free to spend their hard earned money hwever they feel it is best used.
Not all but many have later come back to train with me becasue they didnt get the results they were hoping for.
In every single one of those instances they have all said that they wished they had done things “right” the first time instead of trying to save some money. In the end they ended spending more to get things done they way they had hoped it would be the first time - having to “spend twice rather than doing things right the first time.

“Do it once and do it right”
I apply this to all apspects of my life and it is something I have tried to teach our daughter as she is maturing and will soon be making bigger decisions in her life.
If something is important enough to you - don’t try and cut corners - even if it means working a little harder than you thought you’d have to or spending a little more than you thought would be necessary at the time. We have to live with our big decisions for years to come so I think in terms of “Big PIcture” in moments like those. Living with a dog is a commitment that lasts many years - I think this line of thinking definnitely aplies here.

To be clear I dont only work with well off people and their dogs - I work with people from all walks of life from studfents to seniors and people in penthouses to people who had to make sacrifices to pay for their dog’s training. The common denominator is that they want the very best training for their dog.
It reminds me of when I was a broke musician in college - I had a couple of pairs of old beat up jeans and no pocket money at all but my guitars anbd amps were top shelf. I was driven then to pursue a carreer in music and my priorities were to invest in the things I needed to try and make that a reality.
Every dime I made from teaching guitar and gigging or working odd jobs went into my gear becasue that was my value system.
I didnt become a big rock star and moved onto my other passion fo training dogs and transferred my passion and work ethic to building up my reputation for quality training of dogs and helping people better understadn their pets over the years.

Looking back ahead - a career of training Montreal dogs and helping their owners

Over 20 years later I am proud of what I have built and happy to reflect on all the wonderful people and dogs I have had the pleasure of working with.
As I continue on my path - I remind myself to keep my eyes and ears open - so I don’t miss out on the lessons they ar eteaching me too.

Taken from Family K9’s Google Plus page.
" rel="self">Some reviews from Family K9’s Google plus page - see Family K9’s Google plus page here

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See video of Baylor the Bernese Mountain Dog working off leash in Downtown Montreal and in Montreal dog parks with Nick Here

See video of Baylor the Bernese Mountain Dog and Alycia working together for the first time - off leash in Downtown Montreal!

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See Video of MAeby a wonderful Beagle mix working with Nick
See her and her ownerJonathan in action - the same day she came home from training here.