About Me

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My name is Lesli Hyland. In my fifty one years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty four dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I became a dog trainer because of them. I met my friends because of them. My husband and I are are forever bonded by our mutual connection to them. Currently, as a Dog Walker I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to experience their unique personalities. The dogs make me a better person by forcing me to closely examine my motivation, my actions and my choices. Everything I do affects their behavior, safety and happiness. It is an awesome responsibility. The dogs keep me honest.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

 Simon is a great puppy.  I walk him twice a week for his family.  He is crate trained, knows how to sit and lie down and for the most part he walks pretty well on leash.  His family brings him to my training classes every week and they work hard on his lessons.  I work with him too of course, when we take our walks, but right now, Simon is at that awkward stage where his level of training has been surpassed by his size and strength!  He can't help but forget himself now and again, lunging out out at a passing leaf or a teasing squirrel.  He gets over excited when he sees people on the street, pulling toward them like a freight train. He is young and impulsive - it is completely normal - but wild behavior that was easily controlled or managed when he was 10 weeks old is suddenly not so easy to stop.  This past week he lurched sideways toward the busy road after a fluttering candy wrapper left over from Halloween and it took all my strength to stop him.  Visions of the family's young daughter being pulled into traffic behind him made me shudder and I thought, "Okay, time for a Sensation Harness!"  The Sensation harness made by Soft Touch Concepts is, in my opinion, currently the best management tool on the market to help slow down and redirect hard pullers.  It does not give you the same amount of control as a head halter, but it also doesn't require the lengthy acclimation period.  Let's face it, most dogs don't like the feeling of the head halter on their face, whereas a body harness seems to be well tolerated by most.  The Sensation harness allows you to gently stop your dog's forward momentum.  Once he stops and gives you some attention or comes back close enough to create slack again in the leash you can reward and  move forward - no yanking, no choking, no pain,  just a bit of gentle pressure and redirection of his own force.  It works like a charm.
     Simon is a deep chocolate color.  He has soft, expressive eyes that I could easily get lost in. I am completely smitten with him, as is his own family!  But Simon is pushing five months old and he's gigantic.  Being dragged around by him, even if only occasionally, isn't much fun.  We human's tend to get cranky when our arms are yanked out of their sockets! Until Simon's brain catches up with his body we'll need a little help controlling him on leash.  He is responsive to rewards for walking close (praise, treats, games and toys) but he is a puppy and he loses his mind occasionally!  Using a Sensation Harness will prevent human frustration and anger during those lapses in self control.  It will prevent disaster or injury, but more important it will create an environment of success for both Simon and his walkers.
Come on Simon, "Let's go!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Starting at the beginning, because I know there is no end

It all began with Coco.  Coco was a chocolate colored, foxy looking mixed breed puppy that my parents brought home to two very excited children.  My brother and I were amazed that we had a dog of our very own!  I was three and he was six.    

My strongest memories of Coco are my earliest ones…sneaking her M&Ms at my birthday parties…crying into her fur when I forgot to put on the supper when my Mother gave me that responsibility after school.  Coco was a constant through the turbulence of junior high and high school.  She lived to be 17 years old. I came home from college to put her to sleep when my Mom couldn’t make the decision. 

Coco was raised with plenty of love and absolutely no knowledge by the average American family.  She never went to doggie daycare or Pet Manners Class.  She was walked sometimes, certainly not enough.  She was a terror in the car, barking at everyone and everything outside the windows.   

I am ashamed to say that Coco even survived an acid trip that a moronic high school acquaintance sent her on one night at a party.  Don’t worry, the kid paid a price for that act, but my shame comes from the fact that I wasn’t the one to extract that pound of flesh.  His older brothers beat the hell out of him for doing something so stupid.  I wish it could’ve been me that did the beating, but I didn’t find out until many, many years later and frankly I don’t know if the weak, teenaged version of myself would’ve had the guts.   

Rest in peace Coco, you deserved better. I think you would be proud of the person I finally grew into.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One of many...

Usually I'm a proponent of individuality.  I embrace uniqueness.  But right now, as I look at the dogs lying at my feet I am thrilled to be one of many.  It makes me happy to know that there are thousands of people just like me, looking down at their dogs and feeling the same way that I do.

We are a nation of dog lovers.  We may not always agree on the best way to train them...or what to feed them...or whether adopting a dog or purchasing a puppy is the way to go...but we all feel a similar thrill when our eyes meet the eyes of the dogs in our lives.

Yes, there are people out there who view dogs as property, yard ornaments or as subordinate beings, but I choose not to allow those people into my world.  I cannot change the mind of a person with that type of belief system.  As a dog trainer I concentrate instead on the folks who love their dogs, but lack the tools and knowledge to fully develop a healthy and cooperative relationship.  In my personal life I surround myself with people who cannot help but smile when they see a puppy...people who understand the peace of watching a gray faced companion asleep by your side.

We love our dogs.   I am content to be common place, one of many... just like you.