Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Godspeed Lee.

Being involved in dog rescue and being the "parent" to 12 dogs of my own I am constantly asked questions like "who do you recommend for pet sitting, for vet services, trainers?" We get countless calls on the Blue Dog phone line from people who say they need to give up their dog due to a variety of reasons and we always try to encourage them to get training and keep their dog. And without fail my suggestion is always the same "Go see Lee Mannix." Now what do I say?

When Tom and I found out that Lee had died we just stood completely silent in our kitchen. I know it is always a shock when someone young dies, but the thing about Lee was his bigger than life stature, presence, and personality. My friend Robyn said it best "how does someone so big, so alive just cease to be?"

Lee was widely regarded as THE best dog trainer in Austin and I think, probably, just about anywhere. He had a way with dogs that was almost scary. It seemed like an odd combination of common sense and science. Years ago when Tom and I had just four dogs I signed up for a private session with Lee. I showed up with all four dogs in tow not really knowing what to expect but whatever, it was dog training, right? You teach them to sit, stay, no barking, etc. Umm, no. So we go into this small room that was empty but for two chairs. Lee goes in and sits in one of the chairs saying nothing to me or the dogs. Now if you know me at all you know that I am not one to start asking what he was doing - I don't like confrontation or anything uncomfortable, but I was waaaay uncomfortable! Was I supposed to sit? ask questions? keep the dogs from marking the back of his chair? But I just quietly sat down and endured the nearly 15 minutes of silence. The only thing he did was throw his hat into the middle of the room. After the 15 minutes he says to me "okay, I've got them figured out." huh? "The little one is your pack leader (Clarence), the dingo mix is your protector (Seven), the chow is a nervous wreck (Ozo), and the Great Dane couldn't care less (Preacher)." And that was it. He had them pegged to a tee. That was the beginning of my understanding my dogs.

Over the past few days I have read hundreds of posts from people who say that their dog would not be alive if it were not for Lee. Tom and I both believe that there is little point in being here on this earth if you don't try to leave it better than you found it. As Tom said "whether it's for other people, dogs, oceans, or otherwise." Lee obviously did just that.

"You gotta be more fun than f%&king dirt!"