Leader of the Pack.
If you own a dog, that’s supposed to be you, according to Jim Burwell, a Houston Trainer renowned for his almost mystical ability to become one with dogs. One Saturday morning, two worried owners arrive at Burwell’s for an evaluation. It’s the last stop before they return their 80-pound Airedale mix to the shelther where they got him. Toby seems appealing and friendly, but his owners confide they can’t handle him. He growls at them for no apparent reason. He’s destructive when left alone. He has pulled them into traffic on his walks. He nearly flunked out of one obedience class because his aggression scared the other dogs. Nor had two other trainers been able to help. Though Burwell admints that getting bitten is an occupational hazard, he is undeterred by Toby’s “rap sheet”. He clips Toby to a leash and heads to the middle of the classrom. ”Hey big boy. Let’s go walkies”, Burwell invites in a happy talk voice. The owners warn Burwell that walking this dog is like being on the wrong end of a tractor pull. Their hopes are not high for dog or for trainer.
Without so much as a tug on the leash, or a harsh word, the recalcitrant Toby trots to the center of the classroom, drawn by Burwell’s focused attention. Thirty minutes later, he is heeling on command. Had Burwell turned a scarf into a rabbit, Toby’s owners could not have been more astonished. Given hope for their wayward pet, they promptly sign up for further training.
When Burwell works with a new dog, he’s not unlike a slow, persistent suitor who knows that with attention and patience, he will gain the trust and connection he desires. He bends slightly toward the dog, talks softly, praises enthusiastically. He seems to sense when the dog needs firm control or when it needs coaxing. It’s as though he and the dog are listening to the same station, but nobody else can hear the music.
“He takes a dog that’s going crazy, acting nuts and puts a leash on it and the dog does what he asks it to do” He has some knack for making dogs just obey, a natural rapport with animals, Dogs just respond to him.” Terry Hugo, DVM.
“Jim has a special ability to communicate with dogs, and they communicate with him”, Linda Barrett
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