Friday, February 17, 2012

A Real Dogman

The Dog Man Movie Documentary from The Dog Man Movie.

Joshua M. wrote me last week and asked me about the term "dogman".

I've heard the phrase, or title, "Dogman" used in a few encounters. In my experience, the people who have called themselves dogmen are of ill repute as far as I have seen. Basically being breeders of pitbulls in low income areas where I've lived. ... I have great passion for my dogs, and dogs in general, and make my living training people's dogs in the best way I can. I like the sound of Dogman, but I feel like I would be casting a negative stereotype on myself if I used the moniker. Any input you could throw my way would be greatly appreciated...

My reply was written before someone posted a link to the excellent video, above:

I understand your point....

My two cents are that words are just words. They only have meaning in context. The world has true dog men, whatever they call themselves, but they are for the most part people with WORKING dogs, not pet people. Show people are never dog men in my mind and neither are mere typists and most "trainers" whose experience is running sit-stay classes. A man who has run 40 hounds for 40 years in the field is a dog man whatever he wants to call himself, while a man who has yet to bury his first dog is not, no matter how much he may toss the title around.

A true dog man takes care of his dogs, thinks like his dogs, and respects the dogs at the level of animal, carnivore, canid, breed, individual. A true dog man puts the welfare of his dogs front and center, and that is not only their physical welfare, but also their intellectual and spiritual welfare as well.

No fighting dog man is a true dog man in my book, and neither are the breeders with 50 screaming dogs in a kennel that never see a moment's work, or the show people who put rosettes and ego before canine health. I do not believe the owner of a lap dog breed can ever wear the mantle of a dog man (or woman), but some will disagree I suppose.

A dog man's goal is to have the dogs have a self-actualized life. He lives for the dog; the dog does not live solely for his needs.

The good news is that there are a lot of people in America who are honest dog men and women. Not poodle poofters, dog fighters, frustrated vet techs, dog groomers, or failed actors with marketing plans, but honest dog men and women who put their dogs first, and who might even have a little to teach other people  if someone were to slow down and ask or watch.

Some train trick dogs, some hunt dogs, some breed dogs, and some work dogs.  Almost no one does it all, as the world of dogs is too big and each breed has its own idiosyncrasies and getting good at even one thing can take most of a lifetime. 

If someone tells me they are a dogman, however, I will generally raise an invisible eyebrow.  It's the kind of thing someone else might say of someone else, but a dogman will rarely say of himself.  He or she knows how little they know.  The real experts have a tail.

My favorite part of this clip is when Dick Russell asks if his audience know he's a world famous dog trainer and then follows on... "because honestly, until four or five months ago, I was not aware of it."

Perfect. That's a real dogman.


Dan said...

I absolutely love this post. I read your articles frequently. Sometimes I don't agree but I often do. Whether or not I agree, your articles are always written with a deep intelligence and you care to cross the line that many would not.

Keep up the good work!
--Daniel Audet

PBurns said...

Thanks! Glad this once hit the mark!


sally said...

So pleased to see this video on your was filmed and produced by my son-in-law, Richie Adams. He is working hard on the documentary of Dick Russell....anyone interested in helping bringing Mr. Russell's amazing story to the world can go to, search for "dog man", and check it out! He was truly an amazing trainer...