WHAT YOUR DOG WANTS TO TELL YOU, “Lessons from Bug, A Rescued Dog” is a 60,000-word, non-fiction, memoir, self-help animal relationship book. In his praise for the manuscript, Jack Canfield said, “When I started reading, I just kept turning pages and learning more from his dog Bug.” Combining science, psychology, and empathy, Bug, shares heartfelt stories through co-author Gary’s unique dog’s eye view that give us an honest and valuable perspective on dogs.
WHAT YOUR DOG WANTS TO TELL YOU, is Bugs’ story of her life and training beginning with being rescued until the time she reached national prominence in dog agility. She describes joy-filled experiences that we need to build relationships, enjoy activities and be effective teachers and learners so that all of us “two-leggers” can live life better with dogs and with each other.
Readers of this book will be people that have dogs, or are interested in getting a dog, specifically, the 80 million dog owners that spent $95.7 billion on their dogs in 2019. That figure is estimated to increase to $99 billion in 2020 (American Pet Products Association). People will buy this book because they will want to read about combining good lessons on dog handling and being successful in life.
This book is worthy of publication because most books in the competitive market are fiction stories told from the perspective of the human. Bug and Gary use a fresh approach, with an easy-to-read format, that is humorous and purposeful. The lessons are clearly demonstrated making the book useful as a reference book, since the qualities and techniques are in a pragmatic fashion that humans can use for success in handling their dogs, lives, and business.
WHAT YOUR DOG WANTS TO TELL YOU will be marketed through social media, book tours and whatever it takes; Gary is dedicating his future work to the writing, promotion, and sales of this book and the sequel of Bugs’ sister, Blue, and her life and mission in pet therapy work.
Gary stands out as a dog handler for over twenty years, being the only dog handler that has taken rescued dogs, giving the dogs a free-range life on his ranch, competed in dog agility, obedience, and disc dog, gaining national stature in each. At the same time, he has built a multimillion-dollar business that helps people with developmental disabilities gain needed services in their communities. Gary’s initial education includes a BS degree in English, an early career as a coach and school administrator, but learning the most through dog handling. He is a voracious reader of dog books and works hard to improve his writing craft.
Bug was born into a litter in a drafty old barn owned by a non-caring farmer, then given to a family that abused her. At three months old, she was mercifully rescued by Gary and eventually gained prominence in national competitions, as well as providing the lessons for WHAT YOUR DOG WANTS TO TELL YOU.
If people really love the dog they adopt they may want to think about honing in on what the dog likes to do and follow up. Many dogs are smart and attentive but have no desire to do high drive sports. Much like people all dogs, regardless of breed, do not necessarily have similar interests. The BOGZ DOGZ are a good example of this. BLUE loves to meet people and other dogs. She has truly little interest in dog sports. Blue is a pet therapy dog. Some high drive dogs like one sport better than another one. DUCHESS was a high drive dog but would drag around the agility course. If she had a Frisbee she was a champion. PRINCE didn’t care for agility or Frisbee but he loved to work cattle and was especially useful on the ranch working and moving cattle. MOLLIE B loved agility and Frisbee as does BUG but both preferred to do agility. They would rather do agility than eat. They are incredibly good at it. Every dog has individual interests that they like best. Just like people.
My first research of dog related books and information came after rescuing the first dog I trained, DUKE. Duke was an ACD and loved to be around cattle and herd them around. He was about a year old when I rescued him and had obviously been abused. I knew nothing about training a cattle dog. I didn’t even know he was a cattle dog when I brought him home. My employee, Monica, referred to him as “The ugliest dog she had ever seen”. When my son-in-law Gary saw him, he said, “That’s a red heeler. They are one of the best breeds of herding dogs”. I said, “Is this the way they normally look?” He said “Yes. He has excellent conformation.” After rescuing Duke, the first day I went out to check the cattle I took Duke with me. When we reached the cattle, he could not wait to get out of the truck and chase them around. As the days went on, I thought I needed to learn something about cattle dogs. This is when my first real connection with dogs began. Before this time, we had several dogs for pets. As a child I had Brownie and Butch for companions. They were great dogs of mixed breeds. Later the kids, Jacki and Sandra, had a series of poodles as house dogs. They were extremely intelligent and were taught certain tricks with ease but none of us paid particular attention to them because the kids were busy with school activities and I was busy trying to get my business career started. After the poodles, a stray dog came to our house and hung around. He was a hound of mixed breed but a great dog to have as a pal. We named him Ralph. Do not ask me why. We just did. Eventually, Ralph disappeared. Life went on and it was twenty years between the time of Ralph and the time of Duke. My years of dog training, handling, and being a dog companion, had started.
Does it matter and how much does it matter that we become better partners with our dogs in order to become better companions and dog handlers and ultimately better people? If we study how a dog thinks and acts by imagining our lives from the dogs’ perspective would it give us a better understanding of the qualities needed to live with and train a dog and, at the same time, help us become better people? At present it is estimated there are 900 million dogs worldwide with approximately 80 million of that population being in the USA. 44% of American households have at least one dog. The average expenditure per year per dog has been estimated to be about $1,500 for food, toys, leashes, medical care and more. These figures are all growing rapidly. Is this one indicator that we need to learn as much as we can about a dog and, especially, the way they think in order to become better people and a better society?
What are dogs thinking? Do they understand us humans? What is their mind and heart telling us? Can we really train, or even be a good partner to a dog, if we don’t have some kind of understanding of what a dog wants, needs, feels and thinks? Can we really train a dog effectively if we just consider what we want?
There are a multitude of books, videos, etc. that deal with what the trainer thinks and wants but there is not a lot of information out there about what the dog wants and thinks. I believe this book can help you become a better person and a better dog partner and/or handler by looking at training through the eyes of the dog and gaining a perspective of how the dog might feel, first toward you, secondly toward himself and thirdly toward your attitude and training methods. I can verify, many people that train dogs admittedly weren’t especially good people when they started training a dog. But by golly, by the time they had trained one, two, or three dogs, they saw themselves learning the habits, skill and abilities it takes to be a good dog trainer and realized these were the same traits it takes to being a good person. I believe dogs inherently already have most of the traits that we, as people, need to obtain in becoming a better person. A recent story involved a little boy whose dog had died. The parents were fearful of the reaction of the little boy after only having the dog a few years. However, the little boy said, “Mom and Dad I think I know why dogs don’t live as long as people. I think it is because it takes people a long time to learn how to love and care. Dogs know that when they are born.”
At the time Bug came along there were four dogs on the farm: Duchess, Prince, Mollie B, and Blue. Two dogs had died previously: Duke and Babe. Duke was a rescued cattle dog that I picked up off the side of a busy highway. Babe was the daughter of Duke and Duchess. All my dogs became known as the BogzDogz. For several years we did dog demo performances. During the shows I had each dog demonstrate their special talent. We did half time shows at ballgames, school performances and demos at special events around the area.
What I didn’t know, before I started training dogs, was that dogs knew so much and could learn so much. I did not know they naturally cared, shared, loved and obeyed the way they do. Most of all, I did not know I needed to become a better person before I could become a better dog handler. I didn’t know I could learn so much from a dog. If we were to originally contrive dogs to come into our homes, make them totally dependent on our care and make them our best friends and workers, then I think it may behoove us to become better humans and thus worthy of this honor.
Bug might ask the following questions of me; Can you visualize what I am thinking while you are training me? Are you noticing how much time we use for each session? How many times a day are we training? Are you aware of what it means when I have my ears up? Ears down? Do you see me when I look at you and cock my head to the side? What about when my tail is curled up in the air or when it’s dragging between my legs? What does it mean when I run to my crate? Are you going to listen to people when they say, “If only we knew what the dog is thinking.”? If you will watch me and listen to me, I, THE BUG, will teach you these things and you will become a better dog companion and handler and ultimately a successful person. Then you can tell other people. We can all be in this together!”
I am a rescued dog. I was born into a bad environment. From there I went to an unbelievably bad home. Nobody loved me. A new owner eventually rescued me. He is a dog handler. Here is my story.
My handler, Gary, had gotten me from a Facebook friend of his, who had rescued me from an unbelievably bad home environment. The home was a trailer on the outskirts of a small town in the Southwest Missouri Ozarks. To say this place was deplorable would be an understatement. Trashy house, trashy yard, trashy people. You have probably all seen this type of environment. If you haven’t seen it, I can describe my home for you. The house is a trailer. It sits on a small lot close to a dusty dirt road. There is at least one broken window and the front porch is a makeshift add on with rickety old oak steps but no handrail. The trailer is covered with a green mold. The surrounding lot is weed-covered and only occasionally mowed so there are lumps of dead grass all over the place. Empty beer cans are scattered around the yard with some of them slashed open from being hit with a lawnmower. Some of them appeared to be flattened out by somebody smashing them with their feet. There is a mailbox out by the road dented by vandals but then straightened out to a somewhat usable proportion. The mailbox has no name on it. It leans forward since the support is a post stuck in an old five-gallon rusty milk can. The short lane to the house is dusty in summer and mud covered in winter with deep ruts. The border to the lot is an old, barbed wire fence, half up, half sagging and covered with poison ivy vines. There are a few scraggly trees in the yard. One has been struck by lightning so half of it is bent over on the ground. Behind the trailer is a back yard strewn with garbage since the 55-gallon drums, once used to burn trash, are now rusted out and nonfunctional.
I have much more to tell you. My book is coming soon!