Hello Fellow Pet Lover and Pet Caretakers and WAGS family. I have been a pet lover all of my life. Dogs, birds and other species have been a part of my life since I was an infant. I got this affection for pets honestly from my maternal grandmother who was far ahead of her time as far as her pets being an integral part of the family was concerned and understanding the importance of good nutrition and training for her dogs and other pets..
My grandmother, whom we called “Neenie”, had a dog called Patsy that I can remember from when I was very young. When I think about Patsy now, I realize that her heritage was probably a Border collie mix, she was a tricolor with markings similar to a Bernese Mountain Dog but the size of a border collie and incredibly smart and gentle. Patsy would take a grocery list to the neighborhood grocer who would fill the order while Patsy waited and then he would send the bill to my grandmother who would put the money in a fancy hankie, tie it to her collar and send Patsy back to the grocery to pay the bill so that the groceries could be delivered. Yes a very different time. This was in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Patsy would wait at street corners for the light to turn green before crossing the street and she would also go to the neighborhood pub to let my grandfather know it was time for supper. Yes a very smart girl and helpful too.
My grandmother also cooked for Patsy. If you ate with my grandparents you never took a second pork chop or a second helping of veggies without first asking “did you cook this for Patsy?” This attention to good nutrition, I am sure, contributed to her long life. Patsy was actually my mother’s dog that she got as a graduation gift when she graduated from grade school in 1938. In a time when most dogs were lucky to make it to 7 or 8 years, Patsy lived to the ripe old age of 16. She passed in 1954 after a long life well lived. She was never spayed and she had a couple of litters of puppies, things that we frown on now. In my lifetime, I don’t ever remember her being sick or crippled by arthritis but then she received lots of exercise on her “jobs” of delivering notes and lists and retrieving my grandfather and occasionally accompanying me on a walk to my grandmother’s for a visit. Mom knew that Patsy would get me there safely and since we didn’t have a car, we walked everywhere and when I was only 5 or 6 Patsy was my guide and protector. She never knew a day when she was not loved and nurtured. She lived a life with purpose and a family, the dream of each and every dog.
I inherited my Grandmother’s love of pets but not necessarily her natural instinct on how to rear them to be wonderful, reliable, and well-adjusted pets. I now know that I probably “ruined” several of my earliest dogs by spoiling them rotten without also helping them to understand boundaries, impulse control and did not get them the socialization that they needed. So they were constantly in trouble with my Mom for chewing furniture, soiling in the house and generally being a nuisance.
Thank goodness I finally recognized the error of my ways. Through reading, seminars, and conferences I began to actually learn how to be a better pet parent and eventually a dog trainer. Once I learned to optimize the talents and skills of dogs I was able to understand that they had so much more to give than “just being a pet”, a true gift in its own right, but that led me to look into pet therapy as a “job” for my dogs.
The rest I guess is history, I would never have ever imagined the joy that pet therapy work would bring to me, my dogs and the people that we work with. I hope that “Neenie” is looking down and is proud of the seeds that she planted in me all those years ago. Thank you “Neenie”.