Everyone Could Use a Little Charm School

We have always had awesome, loving, well-behaved dogs, but now we have a little more time to try to be better parents to our new “bundles of joy.” Donny and Marie, sibling Shih-Tzu pups are the newest loves of our lives.

My husband, David, suggested we sign them up for obedience school. I thought obedience sounded too harsh for our puppies, so we agreed to refer to it as “Charm School” and off we went for a six-week course in charm.

Obedience School and its Benefits

By week number two, I realized Charm School wasn’t so much about the puppies being trained, as it was for the puppies to train their people. Dogs are so smart, and people can make things so unnecessarily complicated and confusing. Making commands simple, firm and followed by a treat or loving gesture is all they need to know to enable them to communicate with us. Most importantly, we need to stay consistent and repetitious.

Before Charm School started, David and I were going about puppy training in all kinds of crazy directions. David would study every video on the Internet for potty training and of course, no two trainers did it the same way. He read about so many ways to try that it wasn’t long before I was doubting where to go myself.

I am not innocent either, as a mother and grandmother, I went with the rational, calm approach about why they shouldn’t eat their own poo. I would hold them and explain, “Your breath will be bad. You won’t have any friends. No one will want to play with you. No one will let you kiss them. Don’t do that anymore. Okay?” Much to my surprise, this did not work.

David and I have learned a lot at Charm School and Donny and Marie are happy that we all went. Graduation Day was a proud day for all four of us, and I believe we are all finally speaking the same language. If you are interested in having this experience with your pup, I highly recommend Petco in the Port Orange Pavilion, under the instruction of trainer, Brittany Jordan. Petco specifically trains with all positive reinforcement. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable.

I think having a pet in your life is so important and for so many reasons. I love all animals, but this story is more focused on dogs, so I will give you some wonderful reasons to have one (or more) in your life.

When you take your dog for a walk, it has several benefits for you both. You are both getting fresh air and exercise. You can’t really text while walking your dog, so you have time to enjoy your surroundings. When you have a dog, you are more likely to meet new people. I met my new neighbor while I was outside with my dog. I was out in the backyard and I was using my “firm voice” and repeating, “Go pee pee and poopy. You can do it. Focus. Go potty!” I then heard a man’s voice say, “Excuse me?”

I hadn’t noticed anyone was there and my dog was out of his sight line. I quickly tried to reassure him that I wasn’t talking to him and then introduced myself as his new neighbor. I haven’t seen him much since then.

Did you know April is also National Humor Month? Someone may want to tell my neighbor.

Dogs are the best non-judgmental listeners you could ever talk to or share anything with. They can make excellent psychiatrists. My fur babies have gotten me through both good times and bad. They listen to me run my lines over and over when I am in a show and always give me an enthusiastic, loving face – never a bored, rolling of the eyes. Well, I did have a dachshund that I caught giving me an occasional eye roll from time to time, but dachshunds can’t help it.

Dogs give you unconditional love. They can help with feelings of depression or anxiety and can contribute to lowering your blood pressure.

People who own pets are happier. Dog owners experience less stress. Dogs bring comfort, loyalty and companionship to people of all ages. Pets teach compassion and patience in a child. A pet is usually a child’s first real acceptance of responsibility.

Dogs make us laugh. There is no better medicine for humans than laughter. I think they make us lighten up, too. Donny and Marie have had “accidents” in some of the finest places around. You can be embarrassed, or you can just get used to carrying some tissue and “poo” bags and move on.

If a dog is already on this earth, no matter the circumstances, they are all in need of a forever home.

Over the years, we have raised rescues, purebreds and a puppy mill dog. Our puppy mill dog, Maui, even though he came with more than his fair share of health hurdles, became an amazing, scene stealing, canine actor at the Little Theatre of NSB. To this day, he is the only dog to take home a “Hammy Award” for his outstanding acting ability.

So, why could we all use a little Charm School?

It teaches us (or reminds us of) important life lessons such as: When you work hard for a job well done, you deserve some praise and perhaps a treat. The key to a great relationship is strong communication skills. Go potty before you leave home, but don’t feel bad if you have an accident. A little lick of peanut butter can make you instantly happier. Positive reinforcements will get you much farther ahead than negative ones.

It’s important to give and receive lots of daily kisses and hugs.

Keep it simple. The best love of all is unconditional.

karin Jenkins headshot and biography

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