I just got back from Fred Hassen’s Sit Means Sit Dog Training school in Las Vegas. I expected to learn a lot. But what I didn’t expect was to come away from the experience with so much. Not just information. But a total program for sales, marketing and training. Not just seeing a couple of dogs trained, but watching four staff trainers and Fred work dozens of dogs including their own of every size, shape and temperament, and in every stage of training from the demo to the owner’s last requested lesson. In homes and in the park and out on the streets. Not just seeing and learning all of this, but being impressed with every facet of the program, the character and caliber of every member of the Sit Means Sit team, and the energy, enthusiasm and total commitment of Fred to his method and his students. I talked to several clients with little puppies who said the same thing to me — they couldn’t wait until their dog was big enough to wear a remote. His clients and their dogs are in every park in the city. They form a kind of movable celebration of training, and their dogs couldn’t be happier. Of course I didn’t just watch, I participated in training and in demos with my own dogs and got lots of feedback from everyone on the team.
On my last day, I got to go to the pound with Fred and work a big monster American Bulldog who had no trouble shaking me off like a flea when he first came out of his cage, and was walking quietly and confidently with me past dozens of cages full of dogs by the time we were done, stopping when I stopped, moving when I moved, coming back to me when I backed away and snuggling up to me for a head scratch. Even I was amazed by that miracle. A large city shelter is barely controlled chaos, loud and hot and full of crazy energy even when it’s as well run as this shelter. And this American Bulldog was no foofy dog wanting to please you for a cookie. Fred is a trainer who can analyze and work problems out as they come up, and he helped me polish my skills even in the pound will all those distraction and the public and his colleagues watching every step. Talk about showing you. I could stop here to tease Fred so that his head still fits in his new, very subtly wrapped motor home. But I have to say that anyone thinking of going to Vegas would come back with their own confidence so built up that you better not be planning to stay small minded. The generosity of Fred and his staff, the camaraderie they extend, the playfulness and commitment that they bring to work with them every day, is the real thing. If anyone is considering a trip to Vegas, I gotta say, go! Me? I’m pretty much taking the stance of the Terminator. I’ll be back. Thank you to Fred, Alfredo, Rich, Brian, Joe, Yolanda and all of Fred’s students and colleagues for your hospitality and friendship. You’re pretty nice, no matter what they say about you. 🙂
The Compatible Pet