During long rainy days at home I have to get creative with my dogs.
Mostly they sleep. Yanque my BC X JRT X? doesn't mind the wet but still needs
to come in, at 17 yrs old, I don't want him out in the cold for long.
Bizzy the "Border Terrorist" turns into a little "Wimper" worried about drowning,
I suspect, heaven forbid he get wet while doing his business! This is, a Dog who kills any
toy, except solid rubber toys, and is afraid of NO THING! (Oh Keep in mind that I bought a
dog whose job is to terrorize Foxes! He's still a 10 on the cute scale!))
What comes to mind are many days I spent ,in the pouring rain, feeding
animals of all species, during 1972-1975 at the compound belonging to Frank Inn,
entertainment industry animal trainer, (RIP Frank.)
Can you think of a better time for Flea dipping over 250 dogs and their
runs, then in the RAIN? Dipping was scheduled, not the rain! I think I was happy
to be there hot, cold, dry or wet, I was in my element, I was learning so much about
animals and the people who worked with them. I had basic knowledge and wanted more.
So many different personalities, and ways of being with the animals.
Some intriguing, like Franks little cricket toys he used back then. I was also repelled by
some of these "trainers" who found it easy to abuse when they didn't get what they
wanted. Frank was huge, 6' 4" perhaps, and very wide I think he weighed in over 300#,
yet he moved like a ballerina around these animals, he rarely raised his voice to them,
what humans got from him, another story! I was inspired by his ability to move so
little and get so much from his dogs. Benji was his claim to fame but I saw him with
many new rescues he could communicate with very quickly.
I learned to move watching him, Thanks Frank.
What I remember most is my time with "Bunker" a Red Fox, about 6 months old,
that was brought in with a harness embedded into the pits of his front legs! He was
wild and in pain, the people who stole him out of the woods, just couldn't handle him!!!
After getting him separated from his harness and treating him, He was mine to care
for and tame for more training.
I look back and see how I was using the principles of Operant Conditioning, without
knowing that was what I was doing. In order to get close to Bunker to feed him, I had
to get to his cage, which was elevated about 18 or 20 inches off the ground.
This made his behavior, jumping up in excitement, more problematic for the
following reasons; I would get sprayed with Fox urine. I couldn't open the door safely.
There were techniques to feed most of the animals, but Fox are highly agile and this one
was not kept in the big enclosure because I was going to be working with him. He could
have jumped over my head easily and I was not going to get sprayed if I could help
So the dance began! I would show up with food and Bunker would squeal, stand up,
flicking his tail and urine would fly! I would back up, just out of range, till he was standing
on all fours, then proceed slowly one foot at a time, till I could get him his food while
he learned the dance better.
I hand fed him on my knees, to keep him on all fours, or would push his mixed food in
on top on his den box. I could not open the door for days unless I caught
him in the box. Just for the record, NONE of the union trainers including F.I. offered
any suggestions, EVER! I was on my own. I hand fed him as much as possible, chicken
necks mostly. Eventually he learned to keep his feet on the floor. Then when I
wanted to get closer, I lured him up on his box, feeding him there was better as it caused
him to move there faster when he saw me coming. Soon I could open the door and hand
feed him standing in the opening, blocking his way out.
It took me 6 months of using my free time and days off, to get him leashed trained and
walking around the compound with a confidence needed for further training. He was my
Red Boyfriend!!! I smelled like Red Fox for 6 months! But I could brush him, walk him,
ask him to "Stay" (simply meant stay where you are, no coming forward) by
using his food when he allowed me to open the cage door without moving and closing it
if he moved forward before I was ready, same way I teach pups now to begin the "Wait".
I didn't try to teach him sit or down or any doggy behaviors. His job would be different,
he was going to be running from tree to tree for the Fox Audi commercial,!
He was all pre-prepped and then they took him away from me and gave him to a union
trainer guy. Not an uncommon tactic. I hate to say it but I cheered, along with my
co-workers when Bunker won a Patsy Award and the "trainer" was rewarded by Bunker
with a nip on the hand, on screen. That will teach him to take all the credit!
Anyway, I was younger then, and the world I worked in was a Mans.
I quit because I knew I would not go any further and Frank hurt me to the quick with a
remark about me never being a trainer because animals liked me too much! Ah WHAT!
What I learned is there are other trainers who are ready and willing to help a young
person who has that quality!
I went back 9 or 10 months later to visit my friends there. Mr Frank said, go see
Bunker, he's still here, in the front enclosure. So I went not thinking he would know me
WOW! was I surprised, he went nuts, running around his enclosure, jumping off the chain
link and finally running into his house, dragging a partially eaten squab, which he then,
from the top of his den box, tried to push through the fence at me!! With 4 feet touching,
but his tail was still flinging urine in his over the top excitement! I was Honored and it
made me cry, and still does to this day.
I learned a big lesson that day, treat animals as if they are capable, with respect, and
they will not forget you. With excitment and affection you will be remembered, forever!
Humans are the same!