[June 22, 2020] Starting college was a major decision for me. No one, other than my mother, had any college time, and she only went for a short time. My family could provide no guidance or suggestions for me. My main problem, like so many, was that I had no money to pay for it. So I got a job training dogs. It was a time-flexible job I had while attending college.1 I learned a lot from those days and would like to share a few of those lessons.
Fortunate for me, there was another young man who was starting a dog-training business and had advertised for an assistant. I applied and was accepted. As a boss, he was okay, although a little nutty, in my opinion. I certainly didn’t share that thought with anyone; least it gets back to him. I wanted to make a couple of extra dollars to pay for university lab supplies and health insurance. This job fits my goals perfectly.
Over nearly three years, I trained all breeds, ages, and temperaments of dogs. I trained them one-on-one with their owners, boarded them 24/7 and trained them, and trained dogs with their owners in a classroom setting. Folks paid in cash and loved their dogs. What could be better?
The lessons came quickly. Of the 15 life lessons learned, they all were valuable later in my military career. Here is what I learned:
- Like people, dogs are smarter than you think.
- Every dog is different in intelligence and temperament.
- Dogs can be pushed beyond their tolerance level and react poorly.
- They are very accepting and tolerant of your behavior.
- To successfully train a dog, the human also has to be taught.
- Dogs can be confused by human behavior.
- Abused and neglected dogs are unpredictable.
- Love and loyalty are a dog’s main redeeming qualities.
- Dogs are forgiving. They don’t hold grudges.
- Dogs love to play, exercise, learn new things, and socialize with people.
- Dogs like other dogs (mostly for play and sex) but the human is their primary focus.
- Dogs are never underhanded, sneaky, or judgmental.
- They can be easily shamed and humiliated.
- Dogs can be protectors that stand at your side or rescuers when you are in danger, despite threats to their own lives.
- And…. You can judge a person by the dog he keeps.
“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.” – Aldous Huxley
For the past years since retirement from the U.S. Army, I’m blessed with my dog Bella. She is a beautiful 5-year old Yellow Labrador Retriever. I continue to learn from her that being humble is a worthy trait.
- I worked on the railroad during the summer months. https://www.theleadermaker.com/leadership-and-working-on-the-railroad/