One Step at a Time – A Testimony from an ACO

I recently received the following wonderful email from an ACO who took my course in Massachusetts last month.

“I just wanted to tell you that last night I used the “quiet” technique you taught
us in class. Unfortunately I couldn’t use the Y pole as the dog could have bolted (not fenced in) and with the way he looked, I wasn’t sure if he was rabid or not, or just really terrified. Anyway, I approached him one step at a time letting him settle each time I moved. He never stopped growling and I never took my eyes off of him. I used the catch pole in the same manner as the Y pole, carrying it low to the ground. When I finally got close enough to use the catch pole the dog was calm, I was calm, the audience just watched (LOL) and I quietly slid the noose over his head and tightened it just enough not to lose the dog. When I realized he was just terrified, I patted his head, scratched his ear and put my lead over his head patted him again and I took the catch pole off. It really was the most awesome experience and I really didn’t care how long it took me to get him. The folks thought I was scared of him and I informed them that I just didn’t want him stressed out any more than he was. The dog jumped into my truck and his mom found him this morning. I really want to thank you for all you do for the dogs and for training all of us. It really did help last night………your voice was reminding me to take that deep breath and be calm… really worked.  I thank you, Niko (the German Shepherd) thanks you. Nicest catching experience I’ve had since I started this job.”
Tracy Root, Southwick MA ACO

What a great story!  I asked her in a following letter: “Tracy, I see you as a very kind and caring person. And you are obviously a very experienced ACO.  Why is this a new approach?  Have you not always handled dogs this way?”

Tracy responded, “As for why its new…..the classic case of “needing to get it done NOW” syndrome. I’ve always tried to be slow, caring and just let the animal chill, but most the time we have that homeowner or driver acting like your “imposing” on them by taking that extra time. Since your class, I’ve decided the human can wait, the animal is my first and most important reason for being there and if it takes me 30 mins or more to collect the animal, and the animal is calm and relaxed then I have a much nicer, happier animal and call that I just finished. Hey, at my age I’ll never stop learning! Lots of “new” in my life of working with the animals. Patients had gotten pushed aside. I had forgotten how to tune out the rushed world until your course……now its back and its not going anywhere again. I see so much calm in the animals and myself now. Very experienced??? Not really, I’ve only been an ACO for 4 years…………just love my animals and want to do the best for them.“

Tracy, it is great that you used the catch pole in the same way you would use the Y pole.  It clarifies to me that what I am striving to teach is not just the tool (the Y pole) but the calm and compassionate approach for all situations.  Thank you.  Dr. Mark

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