|Stratosphere above the skyline in Knoxville|
When the invitation came from PetSafe (Radio Systems) to join their Bloggers’ Summit this year I thought there had to be a mistake. I’m quite outspoken against electronic collars and fences. I don’t believe in aversive training. It hurts the dog and breaks down the human-animal bond. And there’s no need for it when we live in a kinder, gentler world, especially when we can use operant conditioning or lure and reward. It’s no secret that I’m fully supportive of The No Shock Collar Coalition (http://www.noshockcollars.com)
On the other hand, Radio Systems had purchased both Drinkwell and Premier. I was pretty sure the fountains were safe but I am one of those who has been very concerned about their purchase of Premier which specialized in products for positive training for dogs and cats.
I was up-front about wanting to see whatever was positive and, to their credit, they did not rescind their invitation. If I was destined to be the thorn in their paw, so be it. Truthfully, they could not have been nicer and made a point of telling me that they have had veterinary behaviorists visit. They want to hear from those of us who don’t agree with them. Are they hoping to change our minds? Maybe. Will they? No. There is too much information to back-up what so many of us believe about electronic collars and fences. Sadly, I got to witness it first-hand. The toughest part of the trip was a demo by their “trainer.” He had his own dog, a German Shepherd there who he said hadn’t had one of their collars on in a long time, as well as a lovely Pit Bull in for training. When he started to put the collar on his dog, the dog tried to get away, and rightly so. When he finally got the collar on and the dog’s head went down, there was no question that the dog’s entire body language changed. His head and tail went down, he drooped, he looked defeated. I could have cried. Then the “trainer” said he was using “positive” training while he used the collar and threw treats at the dog! This is NOT positive training. He really has no understanding of the basics. It was gut-wrenching to watch.
That said, it’s not all bad news and I hope you will stick with me through this post because I have much to say.
The people who work at PetSafe are lovely and the positive products deserve our attention. Why? Because they are doing the right thing with the Premier line and we need to encourage the good. If the company sees that we find the positive in their positive line, they will give it more attention – that’s just good business sense. And they do have some wonderful things for our companions. The familiar Premier clicker is still there. They have created something called Lickety Sticks, a very low calorie treat that you can use for rewarding your pet. YOU hold it and allow the dog to lick it. It comes in several flavors.
Premier’s safe cat harness with the great bungee leash is still there, they have an assortment of positive cat and dog toys. They have oral care biscuits and treats.
The company’s president and founder, Randy Boyd, sees much good in putting back into the community, along with the communities in other countries where his company has an office. They create dog parks with rules for safety, they contribute to The University of Tennessee’s Veterinary School where we toured the hospitals. The University has the ultimate training program for people who want to learn physical therapy for pets, among other wonderful programs. Some of the company’s products are in a new house on the Home and Garden Network based at Scripps, which we also toured. That’s also the home of DIY Network and The Food Network, among others.
The company gives money to animal welfare and youth organization education. Returned products that aren’t defective are given to local shelters in a 7 county radius. They donate to the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, support local dog and cat shelters in Shenzhen, China and they support Tennessee Achieves wherein mentors support kids through college admissions and staying in school and they pay for kids to go through community college. They also have a contest to put a dog park into a community in the. U.S. They are helping to increase the number of dog parks in the U.S.
I’ll be revisiting PetSafe periodically with reviews of positive products, some tested by my Aimee, others tested by pets who can give these items the challenge that they need.
While we got to visit Knoxville’s highlights, our last night was spent at the home of singer/composer, Jay Clark who also has a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. His wife, also a Ph.D. works for the forestry service. Both were laid-back and charming. We were treated to a concert beside a bonfire, which followed a wonderful catered barbecue with real down-home food. The stars were many in the clear sky. It was a nice way to end our few days in Knoxville.
|Jay Clark and his Group|
Now, for those of you who have stuck with me through this entire post, and most of you should know by now that my blog is content-rich, I have a contest for you. PetSafe has agreed to put together a PetSafe Positive Package for my readers! You will receive one of their nice new Bait Bags, Lickety Sticks, a Clicker and a species-appropriate toy, so whether you have a cat or a dog you are eligible to win! Just comment on this post and tell me why you want to win! The contest ends on November 7th. That gives you plenty of time to enter!
And let’s all remember to reward the positive!
NOTE: PetSafe paid for my airfare, hotel and meals. The opinions expressed are, however, entirely my own.