Top 10 Questions Asked of Me in Russia

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Editor’s note:

Ken Ramirez has been traveling in Russia for the past few weeks, offering seminars to zoos and aquariums in that country. As a teaser for his November Letter where he will describe his trip in more detail, Ken shares here some of the predictable, and not so predictable, questions he has been asked during his trip.

Two Russian editions of Ken's book

Two Russian editions of Ken's book:
St. Petersburg version (l)
and Moscow version (r)

Ken’s Top 10

My journey through Russia has been endlessly fascinating. Later in November, I will provide an update on my trip and the interesting things that happened while I was there.

I have realized that in Russia I hold an odd celebrity status that is really unusual and a bit unsettling. The list below consists of the Top 10 frequently asked questions OR unique questions that have been highlights (lowlights) for me. You will have to read my Letter in November to get the context to some of these questions!

1. Will you sign my copy of your book?

Ken: There has never been a sanctioned translation of my book into Russian. But much to my surprise, there are two popular editions circulating through Russia (the Moscow version and the St. Petersburg version). I am told that every trainer in Russia has this book— and considering the number I have signed, that very well may be true!

2. Can I get you another cola?

Ken: I am a Diet Dr. Pepper man, a soda that is nowhere to be found in Russia. But my hosts were quick to notice my desire for a soft drink when I teach. They hand me a bottle every 30 minutes! I am drowning in cola!

3. Are you looking for a Russian wife?

Ken: Oddly this question was asked of me at least five times—always by men!

4. Have you ever met Karen Pryor, did you disagree with her on any training methods, and how did you resolve your differences?

Ken: When I explained my new role with Karen Pryor Clicker Training, they seemed dumbfounded. And, they were even more surprised that Karen and I had never had a disagreement—so far!

5. When can you return to Russia?

Ken: They are trying to get me back again next year, but I think I will take a year off before I return. I need to recuperate!

6. I have a big dog that likes to chase and kill cats during walks! I refuse to use a leash because I am a positive trainer. How can I get him to stop killing cats during walks?

Ken: The number of big, aggressive dog questions has been a bit overwhelming. And, some of the questioners’ logic has to be a loss in translation—I hope?

7. Please watch me train. Can you please tell me everything I am doing wrong?

Ken: I am constantly put on the spot. A zoo director often has me watch a session, and then he calls the whole staff together and asks me to critique the trainer I just watched.

8. Why don’t you drink vodka?

Ken: It is unfathomable to them that I don’t drink (alcohol) at all!

9. I have been training in the zoo for many years and have trained many animals, but how do I train my dog?

Ken: Trainers all over the world are the same—we can be very species-centric!

10. Are you sure you are an American? You don’t act like an American!

Ken: This question has been asked of me often. I have decided not to pursue what that means—I am afraid of what I might hear!

Editor’s note:
Watch for Ken’s Letter later this month for more details and stories about his
captivating trip to Russia.

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