by Doug Jimerson
Recently I started volunteering at our local animal shelter in Franklin County Florida. I wasn’t sure how I could help, but after seeing how out of control many of the dogs were I thought I’d try using “The Wildrose Way” to give some of the craziest canines some manners. I’d read Mike Stewart’s book many times and currently live with a Wildrose pup named Pilot (Luke x Mara). I don’t consider myself a dog trainer, but I’ve had many dogs in my life (mostly working with Border Collies on our sheep farm), but Pilot trained really easily using Mike’s methods so I figured it might work with other dogs, too.
The shelter manager, Karen, was more than willing to let me try the Wildrose Techniques on any dogs I chose. So, I started with an Aussie/Lab cross named Schroeder, but could not help but notice his kennel mate, Oggie Doggie. This poor animal had been dumped in the “drop pen” on Christmas night with a severe case of mange and every parasite you can think of. Most shelters might not have the time or inclination to help him, but this tiny, non-profit shelter took Oggie on as their personal project. Week after week they photographed this sweet animal as his skin and attitude gradually improved. And by the time I saw him, he was a bouncy, happy, partially-bald black lab (at first no one actually could tell what breed of dog he was).
So, I thought I’d use Oggie as a test case with the Wildrose Way and quickly discovered how well this training regimen works on any dog, not just Wildrose pups. In fact, in just a week or two, Oggie was sitting on command and doing long stays as well as any dog I’d seen at Wildrose. Considering how this dog had been treated previously I was thrilled at his progress. Meanwhile, his skin completely healed and he looked amazing (interestingly he looks more like a British lab than the American version).
A few weeks later, a kind gentleman who lived nearby stopped by the shelter. His old yellow lab had just died and he was desperate for a new companion. After sizing up all the dogs in the shelter he stopped at Oggie’s kennel and was impressed at his good manners and good looks. I was lucky enough to see Oggie go off in this man’s truck, to his new home.
In the meantime, I have to report that the Wildrose Way has also worked wonders on the previously mentioned Schroeder (still needs a home), as well as happy pit mixes Oreo and Penny (both need homes), and an amazing Catahoula named Spot (who also needs a home) who clearly had never been on a leash in his life before, but after a couple of sessions he, too, was sitting, staying, and heeling perfectly.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the great people at the
Franklin County Humane Society. They understand that there’s potential in every dog, no matter what the breed and have saved countless animals on a very thin budget. This is a tiny shelter in a region where dogs are routinely dumped in the woods to die so please consider sending them a donation.
Also, note that Oggie is doing great in his new home, but now requires expensive surgery to repair his enthropian eyelids, which causes the eyelids to turn inward and scratch the eyeball. A fundraiser is being held to help his owner pay for the surgery so please contribute to his medical bills. Donations can be made through the Franklin County Humane Society. Any extra funds beyond what’s needed for Oggie will go to the shelter.
Below are the before and after photos:
How people can help the shelter:
Stewart and Wildrose Kennels in Garden and Gun magazine. I’ve had dogs all my life and had previously worked extensively with Border Collies to help maintain our sheep flock.
But Mike’s training methods and his line of British Labradors sounded too good to be true so I put my name in for a Wildrose pup and a year later found myself the proud owner of a red Wildrose pup named Pilot (Luke x Mara). Meanwhile, I’d read Mike’s book, blah blah