Flatout — I love dogs. Always have. My latest canine companion is nicknamed Nut Bag, to reflect some of his behaviors and mannerisms.
He’s a Shih Tzu mix, the smallest dog I’ve ever had, and the first male. My last pooch was a 90-pound female, and the smartest dog to walk the earth.
I always thought — Big Guy, Big Dog, or you look funny walking it.
But my condo has weight restrictions on dogs. When I first moved in, the weight limit was 15 pounds. I told the condo council my cat — a horrible mistake and another story — was 20 pounds.
The weight limit on dogs was too strict, I said.
They said, OK, form a committee and come back with recommendations.
So I rounded up a bunch of — what else? — dog lovers and we agreed 50 pounds was a much more realistic maximum weight for dogs. Truth to tell, size is a bad gauge of performance.
A nasty little Cocker Spaniel can be much more of a problem than a large, laid back lab. But that gets you iinto speciesism, which is akin to racism, and a place you don’t want to go.
I prefer to live in a pet-friendly building, even when I don’t have one myself. They’re great ice-breakers for one thing, and create a comfort level for people who are afraid of dogs.
Birds, cats, gerbils, snakes, all allowed in my building, but not fish aquariums.
Fear of damaging neighbors’ property, if the fish tank falls over and causes a flood.
But water beds are allowed.
Anyway, dogs need to be walked, and when both Half-Pint and I were working, we needed a midday walker. Over a period of a few years we had several, starting with Peter Jambazian, a very interesting character.
He is known as Peter Jam, and was born in Lebanon to Armenian parents who were trapped in Beirut during a nasty civil war. As a child he had known only war. He was musically gifted, so he became an ambassador for peace.
In one of life’s little oddities, he had to do time in Lebanon’s military before he could get a visa to get to the U.S., and sing for peace.
Mostly he was self-taught musically and formed a classic rock cover band. He was such a good student, he wound up giving lessons to aspiring musicians.
He has become a permanent resident of the U.S. with the valued Artist with Extraordinary Abilities status.
As you might know, it’s difficult to make a living off music. In addition to paid gigs and teaching, he also supports himself as a professional dog walker. That’s how I first met him, about six years ago.
Because of his great affection for dogs, he became an accredited canine instructor, a pet psychologist, and began writing a book on dog training.
That book — “Magic Starts With You: Doggy Education for All” — has now been finished.
The $8.99 book is backed by MagicDogs.net which was founded on fundamentally changing the way folks approach pet training. The last chapter is named “The Approach.” Rather than demanding ‘Obedience” using force or treats, it’s focused on two-way trust in a relationship. (Never use force.)
So, meet Peter Jam and I wish you a good dog day.