Rescue Success Stories

MEET ANIMAL BEHAVIORIST DAN IRISH & TWO OF HIS CATC

By Kimberley Harper

Ella and Amos came to the CATC Rescue in need of understanding, socialization, and good new homes. The two dogs started out life together, going from the same litter into the same shared home. As they grew up and took on personalities of their own, they became more and more of a handful to their original families, who eventually surrendered them to our Rescue.

Upon acceptance and initial evaluation, Virginia Smith of the CATC Rescue sought the help of professional and highly experienced canine behaviorist and trainer, Dan Irish. She had first met Dan when she attended a talk he gave to the Sacramento Council of Dog Clubs. With Dan’s help, would it be possible to turn these two unruly terriers around?

Happily for them, the answer from Dan was a confident “Yes!” He first evaluated the dogs, which included a review of their history prior to coming into the CATC Rescue. A number of important questions had to be answered before the dogs could be matched up with new homes. Could the dogs be separated from one another? Would they be better in homes with other dogs or pets? What kinds of experiences and socialization were missing from their lives so far? With Dan’s help, both dogs began to respond well in new and expanding environments. It was determined that the dogs would actually benefit from separation, being quite different from one another. Separating them would further open their minds and hearts to their people, rather than keeping them focused on each other. Dan worked with the dogs to promote good new habits, and a healthy curiosity about their world. He spent time and attention establishing the trust and authority that would be the new foundation for future health and fulfilling dog/owner relationships.

Dan’s work paid off! Today, placed in their permanent homes, Ella and Amos are doing well. I had the privilege of talking to both of their families. Alfred and Linda Temple couldn’t be more pleased with their companion, Amos. The love and warmth in Linda’s voice speaks for itself, as she shares about life with Amos. “He’s such a doll! I couldn’t find a better friend?” She goes on to say that Amos is somewhat of a homebody, who craves the company of his family and follows them from room to room as they go about their day. “Everybody who meets him just falls in love,” she relates about this Airedale ambassador. He has even learned some tricks, with gusto. He has learned “Play dead”, and displays great warmth and intelligence. He listens to his human family, and tries very hard to please. In talking to Linda, it’s obvious that both her family and Amos have made a good match. Ella has had equal good fortune. She lives on a ranch, and has another 3 year old Airedale to join in her adventures.

Connie Marianella was happy to share about life with Ella. “She spends her days busy about the ranch. She can dig to her heart’s content, hunting gophers, and she loves to chase the hawks on our property!” Connie tells me that Ella is delightful company. “I don’t know what all her past experiences have been, but with each passing day, they get farther behind her. She seems to understand more and more that her life will never go back to what it was. She just gets happier and happier, and more trusting every day that we have her.” Connie and family are experienced Airedale owners, having had them for over 30 years. Ella is their fourth Airedale. Their previous Airedales lived to be over 15 years old, loved and appreciated their whole lives. It’s good to know Ella will benefit from the same love and care her Airedale forerunners also enjoyed.

Our thanks and appreciation are extended to Dan Irish for the part he played in bringing these two to their current happy homes. Dan Irish has been working with dogs since childhood, and has amassed impressive and varied experience. He has worked with several Police Canine Units, training dogs and people for the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department, Martinez Police Department, Oakland Police Department, and more. He also assists several breed rescues, including Golden Retriever and Bulldog, as well as our Airedale rescue. His special area of interest is in bite prevention, and he has worked with postal carriers, meter readers and others who work with the occupational hazard of dog attacks. He has also worked with many public schools, teaching kids to understand dog behavior and educating them about our furry companions. Dan states, “I want to teach children and adults that a dog can be their best buddy, and will be for life if trained well.” Dan has over 30 years of experience working with therapy dog, Search & Rescue, Police Dog Training, and handicap aide dogs for the hearing impaired. His unique experiences include medical research training dogs to detect the presence of cancer.

Dan’s experiences with the CATC Rescue include not only his work with Ella and Amos and a previous rescue Airedale that he ended up adopting into his home, but several others, including “Duke”, who you will be reading about further along in this newsletter. Dan works with the dogs that come to him from several rescues, taking them into his home and integrating them into his mixed pack of canine companions. He has several different breeds in his home pack, and they all work together to outfit the rescue dogs they host with a happy, healthy outlook, and new life experiences. In the setting of his ranch home, with Dan Irish and his own dogs, many opportunities arise for spontaneous training and education. The rescue dogs learn to successfully navigate the world and love and trust again. Dan has made a significant contribution to our rescue effort. Ella, Amos and their families are a living testament to the success of his canine behavior training, his experience and the love he pours into his work for the CATC Rescue and for all the dogs and owners he has helped over the years. Thank you Dan, for making permanent homes a reality for some of our recent rescues!

Editor’s note: Should you wish to retain Dan’s services for behavioral consultations, he can be reached at: PO Box 65, West Point, CA 95255, (209) 293-3249