The trainer under the big pink dog

I just saw a dog that looked a lot like an Naaty! So what’s so special about that? Well, I am in the Frankfurt airport. That’s what! I am sitting here, waiting for someone very very special to turn up in the next 30 minutes. She is my idol and has been my inspiration and crutch for the last 3 years and like most leaders, she is not even aware of how much she has done for me, Nishi and our family. She is Turid Rugaas – leading canine behaviourist at the cutting edge of understanding dog-dog communication and dog-human communication.

When Nishi met with an accident almost 3 years ago, we fought tooth and nail to keep her alive. As soon as we realized she was going to live, we were relieved. But along with the relief came an immediate realization that she was going to bear scars more than skin deep. She was goign to bear emotional scars that could prove far more damaging. I head heard of dogs being hit by a bicycle who had gotten so aggressive that they had drawn blood from owners. So I started searching frantically for answers. That’s when Turid entered my life without her knowledge.

Of all the canine experts in the world, her approach was very compassionate and grounded in the well being of the animal in it’s natural state. It doe not insist on getting dogs to do something by coercion or wit. It spoke of how to just communicate with dogs – plain and simple. How to understand what they were saying. How to tell them what we need. And how to reach an gentlemans agreement, if you will (well, in our case a “ladys agreement”?). In any case, this approach was so appealing to us. It felt natural. It felt holistic. It just felt right.

The lady in the light blue shirt under the big pink dog
Turid Rugaas
Anything but a martinet dog trainer

With no expectation of a response, I emailed her asking for help with socializing Nishi. We had some special conditions in India that I needed help to tackle. And lo and behold she responded! With her help, I have been working with Nishi and I am rather proud to say that Nishi has come around tremendously in the last 2 years. She is no more a scared scarred dog. She is as close to normal as I ever expected her to get and she still shows promise.

Then I started using the knowledge I had gained in the process to help others. It was working wonderfully for friends. I wished I could do more. I wished I could learn directly from Turid. As fate might have it, I entered a sabbatical in my job. One of those idle evenings, I started looking at Turids newly revamped website. Her course spanned 30 days, stretched over 1.5 years. It was only offered in Norway. Her fees were far too beyond my affordability. But how I wished…

They say the idle mind is the devils workshop. If that’s really true, the devil is perhaps not as bad as he is made out to be. After staring at her website for days and days I drafted a letter out to her. I saved the mail. I read it every day for a month. I finally sent it out. I just put my cards straight out on the table. And the most unexpected happened. She replied, completely willing to help me out. She made a program just for me. She arranged for everything. I was faced with road blocks all along the way. The visa process was excruciating. The visa was issued 2 days before I was to depart and that too in Delhi. Thanks to a wonderful network of angels, one angel called in a favor to expedite the visa, one angel in Delhi picked up the visa and delivered it to Gurgaon 10 minutes before another lovely angel flew down from Delhi to Bangalore, bringing my passport on the day I was to depart. I call all these women angels because it really feels like there have been several angels on my shoulders making this happen. And of course, my husband, pushing me all along, pulling me up when I felt it might not happen…just making it happen!

Something about the universe conspiring to make things happens comes to mind at this point. The number of people who have come together to make this happen is mind blowing. I have a long list of questions that several dog lovers have sent in. I have poured over several books and DVDs and helped several dogs in Bangalore, to identify issues specific to India. Everything has lined up for this. For this moment. In the next 15 minutes she should be here. I cannot wait. I cannot wait to see how this month pans out. But I am sure I will treasure the experience for life.

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