Dog training tools
On April 29, 2012, I gave a presentation at the Roanoke Pet Expo, displaying my work as an animal actor trainer and agent. I introduced a few of my current dog actors - Sunshine, Sugar and Roxy, all experienced actors. While there I met a few other pets who have the ability to become working actors. I have to carefully "vet" out the pet owners as not just the animals who must have the appropriate attributes,
Before the expo began there were people there walking some of their pets who were up for adoption. Most pet expos feature humane groups and rescue groups who hope to find homes for some of their charges.
This is when I saw Pumpkin. He just knocked my socks off.
Pumpkin is an adult male Australian Shepherd. He's brown and white with a pink with black freckled nose. He grinned from ear to ear, tongue hanging down like Odie from the Garfield comic strip. Though highly stressed, as most animals would be in this situation, he was very friendly to everyone he met - human and animal alike.
I had to meet the fellow. He greeted me as though he'd known me for a long time.
I inquired about how he came to be at the pound. Here was a very healthy dog with a great temperament. Apparantly, his previous owners had 3 children and he chased them in the yard.
Throughout the morning I visited with him each time he neared my table. By noon I told the handler, Barbara, that if nobody else would adopt him I would.
I had lost my last Aussie in 2001 to old age and just a year ago my beloved Golden Retriever, Peaches, also to old age. I miss them both very much and nobody could replace them. As I currently have 3 other dogs (2 JRTs, Lola and Jasmin and Princess a pit-bull mix) I was NOT looking to adopt another dog. Unfortunately, Pumpkin (who was named Dream) hit me like a brick wall. I saw more than just a dog needing a home. I saw a future animal actor star. Not only did he have the perfect appearance/coloration, but also the perfect temperament.
My girls weren't thrilled having to share their space with yet another dog, especially one not relegated to a suite and in their main hall area. There's been some grumbling, but after some great dog games two days ago everybody is more settled.
A week later now, Pumpkin has learned some of the house rules and also some obedience cues, though he by no means reliable.
This blog will follow his progress from pound puppy to canine star. I will relate his training progress and also follow his work, showing all who care to read this how a dog from the pound can have fantastic potential. They all deserve such a chance.
Pumpkin - 2 year old, male, Australian Shepherd.
Miriam Fields-Babineau is the author of 42 pet books and is an animal actor agent.