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Happy Birthday, Reggie!

Reggie just turned 12 years old. Dogs are a gift with a limited warranty, but Reggie is still doing well - some arthritis in the back end, and he sleeps a lot, but he can still be feisty, will work for food, and still has that sparkle in his eyes.

His first 12 years have been filled with adventures - performing up and down the East coast, getting dog titles in Rally and Tricks, and three TV appearances (K-9 Undercover on the Disney Channel, the Macro Magic Cooking Show, and an extra role on Manifest).

But Reggie wasn’t always a celebrity. He was born with a luxated patella - his knee cap was in the wrong place - and he needed two surgeries on his left knee. But the surgery couldn’t happen until his growth plates were closed. So he was ten months old, and 85 pounds, when he had the surgeries. Afterward, he went through physical therapy, and then I found The Academy of Dog Training’s Swimming Paws program, to build up the muscles around his knee. Reggie was not a great swimmer, and of course learned how to float, barely moving his legs, with just his nose out of the water. Such a character.

One day at the pool, while toweling him off, he got away from me, ran across the room, knocked an old lady down and pinned her German Shepherd to the floor. That’s when I knew I was going to have my hands full with this dog - and that if I didn’t get him some training, something bad was going to happen. So I enrolled him in a class at The Academy, and he did really well. I put him in another class, and he was REALLY smart. Then I started helping teach the classes (because I found out if I helped teach classes - he could swim for free…).

I liked working with the people and dogs so much, that I decided to go to dog trainer school, and become a professional trainer. So I applied, and got into the Karen Pryor Academy Professional Course - one of the top dog training schools in the US - with puppy Reggie as my partner. He would have to learn everything that I learned, for me to pass. One crazy puppy, and one crazy but determined human… It wasn’t easy - but we did it!

Through the years, Reggie became my demo dog when I taught classes. He performs in my comedy show, and he is my helper when we worked with aggressive and reactive dogs, ignoring them, and helping them learn calming, dog body language. He’s my traveling partner, I’m his guide when there’s a situation that he doesn’t understand, he’s the comic in our performances (I’m his straight man), and he’s my therapist on our walks when I need to talk.

We are a team.

And now Reggie is twelve. He gets chicken or tuna on every meal, just to celebrate another day of livin’ the good life. He’s still my demo dog in class (despite the fact that he has some trouble sitting), and though we don’t perform as much, he’s still my partner, and makes audiences laugh with his tricks and his attitude, and rolling his eyes to the audience when I ask him to do something.

Happy birthday, Reggie. You are one in a million, and I love you.

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