My Dad Hated Dogs
Imagine how proud my parents were when I decided to follow my dream of dog training!
I am not sure how it all happened.
My name is actually French for “kitty”, so you’d think I’d be a cat lover (I AM) and a dog hater (I AM NOT), especially since my father so disliked dogs when I was a kid.
When I was a toddler my mom broke the rules and got my older sister a dog, I think he came from Santa Claus. He was a Maltese mix the first problem is that my mom allowed my sister to name him… My sister was a creative child. She named an all-white dog “Zebra”.
My mom admits they would giggle at the vet when we made an appointment for “Zebra” and I remember we had a 4 ft fence he would regularly jump. We would wander through the neighborhood yelling “ZEEBRA… ZEBRA COME!!!” and crying.
Our next dog, my mom smuggled home after she saw free puppies at the mall where she worked. He was an apricot poodle that my mom named “OJ”. I remember he had ringworm, and then so did the rest of the family. I was maybe 6 when we had “OJ”, but my dad hated him.
I don’t remember the facts because I was so little so I don’t know if there was a WHY (like he chewed stuff or pottied on the floor) but I do remember him making us get rid of him.
They found a home with other kids and OJ went to live about 10 miles away. Then after about a day, his new owners called and told us that he had run away. We were blown away when the following day he had actually found his way through town and home again. Mistakenly I then thought we would get to keep him, but we weren’t allowed. I remember being heart broken.
Then when I was 12 the people across the street raised and showed Chow Chows. We watched these beautiful little fur balls grow and one day my mom (she was always the instigator) snuck across the street and bought us a puppy.
To our surprise, this was the only dog my dad had ever liked. We all loved “Baby Bear”, but I have to admit, a Chow is not the best dog for newbie dog owners. Chows kind of have a reputation for being aggressive. As a breed of dog, they have not been domesticated for as long as many of the other breeds and our “Beary” was no exception to the rule. She would show her teeth if she thought she was in trouble and she threatened to kill anyone who came to the house.
When she was about a year old I went with my mom for her vet visit. I still can’t figure out why the vet and my mom allowed me to be up by her face when she got her shots. But I certainly got bit. I think the vet had wings, I have never seen a human move so fast! I think a tooth scratched my mom, but I got the brunt of the attack.
I have always been a quiet kid (and now an adult), so I didn’t say anything until we had muzzle the dog, wrestled her down, gave her her shots and paid the bill. In the car, I remember saying to my mom “I got bit”. To which her response was… “Yeah, well,… we all got bit”.
It wasn’t until we got home that I tried to emphasize how badly I had been bitten. You could see the tendons in my hand and the deep puncture wound. It was so deep it was barely bleeding.
My mom didn’t believe in investing in medical bills or doctor visits. Not that we did not have insurance, we did… she just never took us to a doctor.
So she got some isopropyl alcohol and a large Q-tip, dunked the Q-tip in the alcohol and proceeded to thrust it into the holes in my hand.
Not only did she force it down into the hole, she then twirled it around to make sure I almost fainted and that she got out anything that might cause an infection.
I must admit I didn’t get an infection (mostly because I think my dog still had fairly clean teeth). But I will also say I grew up a lot that day. It was my first bite, my first dog scar, I got to see the tendons in my hand and how my hand works, and it was probably the worst pain I had had up to that point.
I think some kids would have been scared of dogs, or would have disliked even their own dog after that; but I didn’t. I still loved her. But I realized the capability and damage dogs can do in a fraction of an instant.
I realize now, the vet had probably seen some signs that my mom and I just didn’t recognize; and that is why it seemed he had wings that day. It was pure self-preservation on his part!
I also used this experience as a reason to keep the dog. If I could endure a bite like that and still want to keep the dog, I was going to make sure neither my mom nor my dad would ever get rid of her.
I thought dog ownership was a commitment and giving up was not an option.
That is when I realized I loved and wanted to work with animals. Although I went to college for a non-animal degree; I soon recognized that I had a gift with animals and the ability to read their behaviors fairly quickly.
After a few years and getting jobs first working with Service Dogs for the disabled and then starting my own non-profit, my parents learned to accept my choice of work and eventually have a little pride about what I do.
And, the good news is… my dad was just a “big dog” person. He loved our Chow Chow, then my parent’s got an Akita and later all the dogs that I owned up until my dad died (2 Rottweilers, and 2 Belgian Shepherds) and of course all the Service Dog’s in training I brought home.
My “Snitch” was a Service Dog and a Therapy Dog and he was around during the time that my father’s Alzheimer’s was getting severe. Mr. Snitch use to go over and nuzzle my dad’s hand and sit there with him for hours.
I remember my dad saying once “I LOVE this dog! I wish I had, had a dog like this when I was a kid”.
I know they are both now smiling down on me from heaven.
Even if you get a late start owning dogs in life, you can still become quite proficient with them and unless you are a professional I suggest avoiding the bite :)!
And, to those of you parents out there debating on whether or not to get your kids a dog. Sometimes a dog can be just what they need to become a kind and caring adult.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.