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Dog Training’s Diffcult; I’d Rather Ride!
By Sarah Ward
When I started college, for the frst time in my life I
wasn’t surrounded by family and friends 24/7. In fact, I
was lonely. Against my better judgment, and others as
well, I decided to adopt a rescue. Mind you, not just any
dog: I found myself a Coonhound!
I went to and there was “Tommy.” He
was at a no-kill shelter just waiting for the right person to
come along and give him his frst forever home. And that
was me! I fgured (logically) that the barn would be the
perfect place for an “energetic, intelligent, and active” dog
that “requires plenty of exercise.” There was no doubt in
my mind that my new companion would be able to run-off
any extra energy at the stable and come home happily
exhausted. I didn’t know much about Tommy except that
he was two years old and his ear had been bitten off while
at a foster home. But it turns out I was the one who’d
bitten off a little more than I could chew.
While these scent hounds are bred to hunt raccoons,
possum, and even bobcats, Tommy was far from “typical.”
In fact, he was even afraid
of cats! He had pretty
intense separation “issues”
and would cry whenever I
left him, even to go to the
bathroom. That is, until he
learned how to open the
door so he could sit with
me. Awkward? Defnitely!
When classes started
back, our all-day outings
to the stable were a thing
of the past. Tommy had
to be alone in my small off
campus apartment. When
I’d returned to take him
out, he’d drag me down the
stairs, pulling the leash out of my grasp, and gallop off into the
distance. There was more than one kindly stranger who returned
my wayward dog. I had to do something; it was time for me (as
Cesar Millan says) to become “pack-leader.”
I did a lot of research on
training methods, read advice
from experts, watched videos,
and talked to fellow dog
owners. A “Dog Whisperer” I
am not, and there was a lot of
trial and error going on as well
as a lot of people telling me that
I was crazy (yes, well maybe
sometimes just a little!)…
Horses aren’t with you all
day long, live in your house,
bark or howl, and I don’t know
of one that’s ever been potty
trained. But I do know that to
have successful partnerships
with both equines and canines,
it takes time, understanding
and patience. Tommy and I
have come a long way and
he and I have made great
steps together. He’s even
learning (very, very slowly) to
stop barking at the barn, but
unfortunately he can’t always
resist chasing the horses now
and again. While he fnds this
tons of fun, I am quite sure that
my mounts are not so amused.
We now spend a lot of time
playing together and when we
can’t get to the barn, we head
to the park. His anxiety attacks
are gone; at home he relaxes
by chewing away on his bone.
No more crying or bathroom
visits. Today it is rare to fnd me
without my Crazy Coonhound,
but from now on, I think I’ll leave
the dog training the pros…
horses are more my speed.