Operations Manager Carrie Rubens‘ Dog Rondo
As The Service Dog Academy’s operations manager, I spent a good amount of time helping Mary prepare for her classes, stuffing Kongs, getting future students enrolled in the classes, and championing her successful positive reinforcement dog training program. At the end of the day, as staff member at a dog training school / studio, it became apparent that I needed a well-behaved dog to complete the package!
I adopted my dog, Rondo, from a shelter only a month prior to our first class. I knew very little about the 4-year-old Manchester Terrier and being a first-time dog owner, when Mary said she had an opening in her Seattle adult dog obedience class, i jumped all over it to refine Rondo’s already good behavior, increase our bond, and teach him a few new skills.
On the first day of class, there was a lot of anxiety in the room. Between the other dogs in class who were new to each other, and wanted to sniff each other out but had to resist, and me wondering how my dog would handle the entire situation. Learning new things right away, you could see the wheels turning in dog’s heads. In just the one-hour long class there was a new energy in the room. Smarter, calmer, happier dogs, and week after week you could see the the amazing advances in each and every student. Blazer, a beautiful, but vocal Labradoodle desperately wanted to play with Rondo on the first day of class, and by graduation day he could sit calmly near Rondo. I watched the energetic dog go from lunging for treats during the loose leash walking exercise, to calmly walking over to them letting his owner control the pace only a few tries later using Mary’s techniques.
Rondo and I took a 40 minute bus ride to our weekly class, and it was almost heartbreaking to see how anxious he was that first day, but each time we rode from downtown to west seattle he grew calmer and calmer, knowing that we would have an exciting fun-filled class ahead of us and utilizing Mary’s methods. By graduation time, random strangers on the bus were complimenting us on his behavior, and his apparent attentiveness to me despite all the distractions that come from riding a city bus.
Adopting an adult dog might come with its challenges, not knowing the details of this dog’s history, but the payoff is huge, and training with Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS at the Service Dog Academy made a huge difference. Mary used relatable, real-world examples, the training encourages thinking dogs, and for me and my do-it-yourself attitude, it created a thinking dog owner as well! Although the course was 4-weeks long, the skills we learned will last a lifetime, and after only two months of ownership our bond gets stronger every day.