The official name of my business is “I’m the Cheese”. My father, who is a brilliant man, warned me that people will not understand the name. Perhaps he suspected that it would conjure up images of wheels of cheddar or vats of creamy queso. Those images are so delicious that I had to take a moment to wipe the saliva off of my laptop screen…but they have nothing to do with dogs-or the reason I named my business after a dairy product that can be melted over tortilla chips.
Many years ago, before I was a trainer, I accidentally stumbled upon a walking technique that helped me to enjoy walking my three dogs. They all had different priorities, speeds, and “feelings” about other dogs and it drove me crazy! There was gagging at their end of the leash and a stretched out arm at my end. I made a small adjustment and TA-DAH!! This method was so life-changing for me that I wanted to share it with everyone who I saw struggling with their dogs. Imagine a hair stylist approaching you excitedly with scissors and telling you that that she can help you with your hair. I think that’s how people saw me.
After a few years, I decided to hold a public “walking clinic,” absolutely free, to anyone who was having difficulty controlling their dogs on a leash. I held the clinics at a soccer field and people actually showed up! It was fun to finally help people who wanted to learn, and the attendees all supported each other. After some demonstrations and practicing, we would line up, and each pair (dog with human) would take a stroll around the painted lines of the field with everyone watching. When the walking pair would start to lose control, I would holler to them cheerfully, “Who’s the cheese?” The reply, which became the mantra for the weekly clinics was, “I’m the cheese!” and the walk would proceed more gracefully.
Everyone who owns a dog is their dogs’ cheese (not their pack leader or drill sergeant). Dogs look up to us naturally and follow us around like we know what we’re doing. My training methods revolve around that concept. If you’re human and you have a dog, you already have a perfect foundation for a fabulous relationship.