“Tell Mr. Jackson there’s a new sheriff in town.”
These, the final words uttered by Tom Shelby last week, as we ended our phone call, and confirmed our Saturday afternoon appointment.
Part Lennie Briscoe, and part Andy Sipowicz, Shelby is kinda like a Canine Cop. Essentially, when Nature Calls your dog, Shelby answers.
But first a bit of background on “Mr. Jackson”:
Jack “Daniels” Kurtz is the youngest of our two dogs.
He’s half Chihuahua, half Papillion, but all Beast.
He does what he wants, when he wants, and if that’s in accordance with our goals and game-plan, then harmony blooms. The rest of the time? Anarchy.
Jack’s one of those “The World is My Urinal!” kind of dogs. It’s not that he’s against using the outdoor facilities, it’s more that he prefers to sprinkle his golden treasures inside as well. He’s truly a giver in the department. However, there comes a point when ya just can’t take any more.
And so, we phoned Tom. Tom calls himself a “depends” trainer, and no, this does not mean Jack’s running around in an adult diaper. What it means is, his methods are specific to the given variables associated with each of his canine clients, i.e. age, size, breed, gender, etc.
With a single diamond stud in one ear, and an arsenal of phrases like “Smokin’ a Joint”, and “Makin’ Love”, Shelby is a reformed hippy, one pony-tail short of a Woodstock reunion tour. But he knows dogs. And he knows how to train them. He makes more than 900 appointments a year, has penned a book on the subject, and is a member of the local Sheriff’s Dept K-9 Search and Rescue unit.
His motto is “Have Leash, Will Travel”, and he proudly recalls having been “helicoptered into South Hampton for the weekend”, to help an unruly hound. Acknowledging his extremely high price tag, he admits to being the second most-expensive trainer on the East Coast (his friend is apparently even more pricey). But based on what we’ve spent already on cleaning agents, rug treatments, and a forest full of paper towels, we figured Shelby the Sheriff was worth a shot.
And the man came guns blazin’. He sized up Jack in no time at all, and told Erin to take out a “writing implement, and a piece of parchment”, as he fired off a laundry list of techniques and tools we were to invest in immediately. Some of what he had to say was old news, such as dogs being manipulative creatures of habit. But there was new info. as well, like statistics showing that canines olfactory gland capabilities dwarf those of humans, allowing dogs to sniff out a decomposing body buried under water, while standing on the deck of a boat. I did not know that.
Now in addition to Jack’s house-breaking hang-up, he’s also been known to show a tinge of aggression, especially when it comes to the possession of “high value items”, i.e. treats, bones, etc. And here is where the quiche comes in. So as to demonstrate the command “leave it”, Tom needed a fresh sampling of scrumptious “people food”. Laughing at out bare refrigerator, he remarked at how we are “true Manhattanites”, with roughly only a lemon and bottle of ketchup lining the shelves.
However, we were able to scrounge up a half-eaten Mozzarella and Zucchini quiche from Cafe Europa, the remainder of Erin’s lunch that afternoon. Placing it on the corner of the carpet, Tom began to walk Jack, on his leash, in the direction of the quiche. Each time Jack went for the tasty treat, Tom snapped the leash back quickly – not hurting him – but sending the message that this quiche, was not for him. It took five times, but Jack got the concept. As Erin and I stood in disbelief, Tom attempted to again navigate Jack toward the lunch left-overs. The lunch left-overs that had apparently morphed into a ferocious, snarling coyote, or, at least that’s what Jack seemed to think. That’s how terrified our little monster had become of the egg and custard pastry. Taking the most indirect, round-about route through our less-than-vast living room, Jack did all he could to avoid the quiche.
Erin and I couldn’t believe it worked. Tom was shocked at how many times it took, remarking, “Wow, he has some serious ‘Entitlement Issues’ we need to break down”.
Well, that’ll happen when you spend the first 2 years of your life being carried around by your “Mommy”, as she asks: “Who’s a Good Boy”! Of course, Erin and I will need to support Tom’s teachings with repetition and consistency. And if we put another quiche down tonight, Jack would likely swallow it whole, lick his lips, and ask for another. But the point is, it’s possible. Jack is trainable, as much as he didn’t want us to know it.
Now it’s on us to lay down the law of Sheriff Shelby.
Note: For more info. on Tom Shelby, here’s his website: http://www.dogsrshelby.com/