Through our story, I’d like to show the world that terriers aren’t “bad” — they are different.
Emma Kesler CPDT-KA
I am one of those people who strongly believes that if you don’t try, you will never know. All of my life, I have been interested in and passionate about the bonds humans share with other creatures. I grew up in Oregon in a family of non-dog-people… You know, the kind of people who react to an oncoming dog as if a dinosaur is approaching? As a little girl, I begged my parents for a dog, but, it wasn’t until I took care of a lost dog we found while hiking (from the safe distance of our garage) that my parents realized I was serious. After that, my parents got me a puppy, and I was the rare kid who actually took care of him! Cinnamon and I were inseparable. Two work nights a week, my hard-working dad shuttled us an hour away from home to obedience classes and Dog 4-H. To this day, my dad journeys to support Miles and I at big events. I am now a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) with a successful distance-based dog training practice, where I coach people with terriers. My heroes are Frederick Douglass and Temple Grandin. My favorite pastimes are learning and thinking about behavior, dog agility, hiking, my 1989 MR2, sarcasm, and good tv and movies. I am a Pacific Northwest girl at heart: I don’t own an umbrella despite living in the rainiest part of North America, and my motto is “why choose between beach and mountains, when you can have both?”
Miles is a full-o’-beans Welsh Terrier, named after the musician Miles Davis. Miles is a very true-to-breed Welsh Terrier, a 10/10 on my “full strength terrier” scale. He is hard-wired to chase anything that moves, his teeth are enormous, and he is always looking for action. Less than a week into being placed with me, at Miles’ first veterinary check-up the vet told me that Miles was behaviorally damaged and needed to see the best local private dog trainer. Private training and many group classes later, I was repeatedly told the same thing. Despite being the best-rated and most progressive training facility in a very large urban center, none of the trainers could figure out Miles, and they began resorting to old-school methods of force and intimidation. These tactics not only didn’t work, they seemed to cause Miles to become checked out and MUCH worse behaviorally. The situation seemed dire. Still, I had this feeling that Miles wasn’t “bad,” but that he was grossly misunderstood. I saw the potential, and decided to go the training route alone. I began this blog to document our journey together. In the process of facing such a big roadblock, I ended up realizing that I was a natural at working with “full-strength terriers,” and my entire life changed. I began helping others, and Miles and I became an unstoppable team. Miles is now the most awarded trained Welsh Terrier of all time. Miles is a relaxed, confident, and happy dude who can do pretty much anything. If I had stuck with tradition or one-size-fits-all training methods, there is no question that Miles would not be alive today, let alone a record holder. Below are Miles’ list of official training titles:
ADC, SGDC, NAP, NJP, NFP, AADC, AGDC, OAP, OJP, OFP, MADC, MGDC, MSDC, MJDC, MTRDC, MSDC, MSCDC, MCDC, MXP, MJP, MFP, T2BP, Expert Standard Bronze, Expert Gamble Bronze, Expert Jumpers Bronze, Expert Snooker Bronze, Bronze Award of Merit, Versatility Bronze, Expert Standard Silver, Expert Gamble Silver, Expert Jumpers Silver, Expert Snooker Silver, Silver Award of Merit, Versatility Silver, Expert Standard Gold, Expert Gamble Gold, Expert Snooker Gold, Gold Award of Merit, MXP2, MJP2, MJPB, CGN, CGCA, CGCU, TKN, TKI, TKA, TKP, NTD, ITD, ATD, ETD, TDCH, ATCHC (AAC Agility Champion), IAC (International Agility Champion), IWAC (International Agility Win Champion).
Why a Dog Blog?
People get pets so they can find some relaxation and companionship in this crazy world. Often and without even realizing it, we end up placing enormous expectations on the animals we bring into our lives. In their role as dedicated human companions, dogs are especially subject to our wants and desires. For centuries, dogs were primarily bred to fulfill important working roles, such as herding, guarding, hunting, and pest control. Only a select portion of dogs have been bred solely to be human companions. For many breeds, the very ingrained working traits that we bred them for often now conflict with the sudden expectation for most dogs to just be human companions. Sometimes what is supposed to be a leisurely life together becomes a struggle. A Welsh Terrier like Miles isn’t born knowing what people want. Oftentimes, people want instant results without taking the time to learn how to communicate with the other being involved, or to consider why the other animal might behave or react the way they do. It is easier for people to label the dog “bad” or to just find humor in the way the dog struggles to adjust and simply call them “naughty.” On this blog, I’d like to show that if you take the time to try and understand your dog, and work with the dog you’ve chosen, you can accomplish a great deal. After all, the beauty of the human/canine bond lies in our differences, and the ways we find to communicate with each other across these differences. Dogs allow us to relish the sloppiness and imperfection that is life with pride and gusto. And that is why we love them.