In Remembrance of Mango

Love of The Pup started out of inspiration for Mango, a blue-nosed Pitbull mix. At the request of a friend (who runs a rescue) I took Mango out of the Harlem Animal Control Shelter in NYC the night before he was scheduled to be euthanized. It was the beginning of a highly transformative relationship that lasted approximately two years before Mango's life was sadly cut short by cancer.

From highly inappropriate, fight provoking dog greetings and play styles to excessive barking, rambunctious generalized anxiety and chronic health issues – Mango covered all bases at once.  Because of his history, devil cut ears and litany of behavioral issues it was difficult to find trainers.  Out of necessity I tried lots of things on my own to manage his behaviors and train different/better ones.  Often times I picked up incomplete, misguided pieces of information from popular culture.  Regardless, I slowly awakened to the fact that steady, consistent training day in and day out was the most impactful over time.  At that point my training methods were all instinctive but consisted primarily of two of the four operant conditioning quadrants: positive reinforcement and positive punishment. Despite the unintended side effects that punishment created (and there were a few) change finally began to take place and I watched him blossom into a much more stable version of himself; capable of successfully interacting (always with supervision) with most dogs.

After his death I was deeply saddened but also struck with a highly focused desire to study and learn everything I could about humane training methods. I quit my profession of ten years and concentrated on training classes/seminars and volunteering in shelters.  It's safe to say that without Mango's influence in my life - I would never have embarked on my clicker training journey.  I would most likely still be living in Brooklyn working as a bridge inspector.  This journey is motivated purely by a desire to understand everything I can (which is an ongoing process) about canine behavior and learning from a science based perspective.  I find the humane practice of clicker training highly enjoyable, enriching and effective; it's the embodiment of creative communication between myself and my canine partner.  Together we engage in the process of shaping and creating behaviors in numerously fun ways.

While the desire to learn was initially sparked by Mango's animated presence it is sustained by all the dogs that continue to enrich my life on a daily basis. Shout out to all my hiking and pet sitting dogs and my two training partners Lemmy and Linus!