Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dog Whisperer from Down Under REBYNA RANA

“When you have a dream and decide to follow it, you are going to hit obstacles but its how you react to those obstacles that matters. Working with dogs is a wonderful life, it brings enormous satisfaction rewards,” shares dog trainer cum Animal Behaviour expert, Gary Jackson, who is in Sikkim, volunteering here with SARAH on a two-week stint.
Mr. Jackson, who arrives here from Australia, is working with dogs here accompanied by his colleague, Kerstin Keimling. Both are on their first visit to Sikkim.
In a well received move, he also organized a workshop here to provide wider awareness on the need for dog training, stressing to dog owners that this training was as much for well disciplined pets as for the owners to understand how to care for and love their pets better and also be able to recognize dog behavior and the body language of their pets. It is important for dog owners to understand canine communication signals, he stresses.
Mr. Jackson arrived here on 12 October and has also conducted a workshop on dog bite prevention and management at local schools here like Modern School and TNA where more than 500 students were addressed.
He shared tips on dog training with the students and introduced them to methods of interacting better with their pets.
It’s been almost 28 years that Mr. Jackson has been training dogs. He acquired a dog trainer certificate in the USA in 1990 and also a volunteer with the National Dog Training Federation, Australia.  During his brief visit of Sikkim will be focusing more on sharing details on understanding their body language, behavior, and about how to reduce dog bite incidents.
It is clear that he loves dogs [no surprises there], and Mr. Jackson can be seen stressing to pet owners that dogs should be loved, need to be taken out for regular walks and provided proper exercise and training. Keeping a pet is a serious responsibility, he stresses.
He also insists that wider public education, even among those who do not have pet dogs, is also important specially among school going children. Such workshops on dog training need to be provided in schools because children are generally closer to pets and dogs and should be helped to understand them better.
“I am blessed to work with dogs because from an early age I was attached to them and keen to learn more. Working with dogs doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your job, perhaps you can achieve what you are looking for by volunteering at a shelter for a few hours or week. Working with dogs is rewarding in so many ways,” he says.
He adds that whether you work with dogs for a living or just have dogs as companions, knowing how to communicate with them is an amazing gift. “In this regard I find myself blessed and lucky that my career with dogs has always been exciting, allowing me the opportunity to not only train dogs and their people, but also to help train dog trainers as well”.
During the few days that he has been here, Mr. Jackson has trained around 15 dogs free of cost. As for his career record, that totals to around 20,000 dogs that he has worked with!
Such initiatives are always welcome since our country records around 15 million dog bite incidents a year with someone getting bitten by a dog every two seconds. Most of these incidents could have been avoided if the people were made more aware or the dogs better trained. “We have seen here in Sikkim that 50% of the pet animals are not trained and very aggressive and unsociable because of irresponsible pet owners who keep their pets locked at home and don’t train them,” states Dr. Thinlay, Programme Co-cordinater for SARAH, Sikkim.

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