Goodbye to our dog training intern, Debbie

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We are sad to announce that tonight was Debbie’s last night at OhMyDog! Debbie has just completed her ten-week internship and will be continuing her animal career with other species.

Debbie came to us with a solid animal CV: she was a vet technician and life-long horse handler. But, she said, she had nearly no experience with dogs and wanted to do something about that. She needed to intern at a dog-behaviour-related company for her studies. After a long chat about what our standard internship would entail, both sides were on-board and Debbie started with at the end of August 2015.

Right away, we knew Debbie was a force to reckon with. Her quiet demeanour meant that she spoke little but when she did, it mattered. She would often look at us run around like headless chickens (we had a lot of logistical disasters this Autumn) until she’d say “Like that maybe?” and fix whatever we got tangled up with.

debbie and cat

Debbie wasn’t one to take the spotlight. When it came to our students, she was more into absorbing knowledge than pushing it: she did not seem comfortable coaching the students. After a while, Debbie approached us to say she was more interested in familiarizing herself with dog body language than the art of client coaching or the mechanics of dog training. She had no ambition to continue in a career in dog training, she just wanted to get more familiar with dogs. We brainstormed together and shifted the focus of her internship from dog training to dog ethology. We armed her with a solid reference on canine body language and her new job was to act as our early stress detector. She had to scan the class for early signs of stress or discomfort in the dogs, and alert the Behaviour Coach so they could help out and make sure the dog quickly went back to having a good time in class.

During her ten weeks with us, Debbie became indispensable. We are a bunch of nerds so her resourcefulness with practical things was a life-saver. We often looked at her imploringly after pathetically attempting to load a suitcase or to unscrew a lamp stand… She would take over and after two seconds the business was done. Another “Like that maybe?” moment. To be fair, when it came to unscrewing stuff, she was the one who tightened screws up like Popeye on steroids. We were often bemused at this fairy-ballerina-princess-looking person showing herculean strength and McGiver-esque resourcefulness.

debbie and horse
Our Debbie: Looks of a fairy, Strength of an ox

Debbie will always have a special place in our heart for her unwavering loyalty through our toughest times (problems with shelter, light, wildlife, sickness and IT have plagued our Autumn season). Every class night, come rain or shine, she was there on the dot, early even. And she had our back and was there for us even when the weather was rotten and we were feeling stressed out. She didn’t need to be told what to do and would just get on with it.

On one of the stormiest nights, she even offered to come anyway, despite being sick, as she would just “pop a few aspirins”. Even working under tough conditions with a stressed out team, she never once lost her cool. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I am in awe at how someone so young can show such a solid work ethic.

And, what’s funny for someone who declares having little affinity with dogs, is that the dogs instantly took to her calm and quiet demeanour, especially the shy ones who wouldn’t normally dream of approaching a stranger. It turns out she was not just a gifted horse handler after all, but she was also a natural with dogs.

So we are VERY sorry to see Debbie go, and are really happy we got to know her. We wish her the best of luck in her future animal career and a future employer would be lucky to have her. Now get out there, Debbie, and show the world what you can do.

Laure-Anne, Tommaso and the Sabines

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