Our soft-coated Wheaton Terrier, Orchid Good, met her trainer, Don Sullivan when she was two months old. She is now eleven and had the surprise of her life last week when she was reunited for the first time in eleven years with her trainer, better known as Don the DogFather. This is a story of finding hope in the hopeless.
This story is amazing because Don and his family moved to Australia after Orchid completed her training. We never thought we would meet again. But, just when Orchid, my ultimate concierge, and I needed help, Don came to our aid again! Where there is love, hope springs eternal my dear readers, and I am hopeful that Don’s re-entrance into our lives will improve Orchid’s quality of life.
In the early fall of 2017, after eleven years, my ultimate concierge, decided to take a chance and email, Don. He wanted to tell him about Orchid’s illness, Degenerative Myelopathy, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Orchid had lost all feeling in her back legs and could no longer walk on her own. He wanted Don’s advice.
The next day, the phone rang. I picked up and heard a familiar voice. It was Don. The family was now living in British Columbia and planning on spending three months in Palm Springs; arriving in January. We would be reunited. Orchid would see Don again. Shelly and I were ecstatic.
Don Sullivan is no ordinary trainer of dogs. He is Canadian with a charming Australian wife. He is an inventor of doggie products and has an infomercial, Secrets to Training the Perfect Dog, with Orchid and my ultimate concierge as co-stars. The television show has played all over the world and can still be viewed on television, 11 years later.
Last Saturday, Don, his grown sons, daughter, Elisabeth and wife, Kaye, came for a visit. Orchid was lying at the front door wagging her tail and slathering kisses on the boys, their daughter, Elisabeth, and Kaye. Then, she saw Don! She looked up at him with her big black eyes and showed… respect! She had not forgotten her trainer or her manners!
Don recommended we purchase a walking aid with rear wheels. The rear wheels would act as Orchid’s back legs, allowing her to walk. A few days ago her ‘pink’ walking cart arrived. Don arrived the next day and began training Orchid and us.
He also told us he is doing a new show and Orchid again would have star billing!
ORCHID’S TRAINING STORY
Eleven years ago, four or five couples brought puppies home. We used the same trainer, Don Sullivan, to train our new pups. At the end of the training period, Orchid Good was a well behaved young lady.
Don taught Orchid her manners and we reinforced his training philosophy. Stick around, stay, down, let’s go, sit, etc. were just a few terms. Hand commands were also used. We were taught to always give Orchid a loving pat after we disciplined her. We learned dogs should be given commands in one or two words and to never reward her good behavior with doggie treats. We followed his teachings and after weeks of training, Miss Orchid could have won Miss Congeniality for being the best behaved and most agreeable pooch. And, over the past eleven years, she has been our blessing.
Orchid was trained in a small community neighborhood in Rancho Mirage, California. As we were preparing to leave for our city home in Chicago, I asked Don, “How will Orchid handle life in the big city with elevators, escalators, loud noises, throngs of people, condo living? “
“Let’s take her to the shopping district in Rancho Mirage and try out her skills,” replied Don.
On a busy Saturday afternoon, Don, Shelly, Orchid and I drove to the shopping district. We parked the car and our unleashed dog, Orchid, walked beside Don with one command, “Stick around.” My ultimate concierge and I were in shock. We proceeded to Saks, where Orchid was commanded by Don, “Let’s go” and up the escalator — with no fear or leash — went the obedient Orchid.
We walked into the woman’s department and Don said, “Down” and Orchid lay down in a corner. Then he told me to put my hand in front of her face and say, “Stay.” I did, and then I pretended to shop. Orchid did not budge but kept her eyes on me the entire time.
We left the shopping district feeling secure. I knew Orchid was well trained. We knew we could take Orchid anywhere and she would have manners. And, over the years we have taken her on many adventures. She has laid at our feet in restaurants never begging for food, walked through airports admired by all because of her manners and beauty, traveled on airplanes, shopped at Neiman Marcus, Walgreens and Tiffany’s and the list goes on. I used to take her to the park and take off her leash and let her run.
This experience with Orchid has reinforced in me that love knows no bounds and doesn’t play by the rules. Anyone who has cared for a sick creature of any kind, from puppy to child to life partner, surely knows that when love enters the picture we find the strength to color outside of the lines, to find hope in the hopeless and to find gratitude in small blessings.
Today, Don will train Orchid, who no longer has the ability to walk without our assistance, to walk in a handicapped cart. We want Orchid to have the ability to be a free soul and the freedom to move on her own in her private pink mobile, Walk-in Wheels, for Handicapped Pets. I know Orchid will try and I will let you know the results. Fingers crossed darlings. Fingers crossed.