ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA – November 2014
Claudia Brooks knew a long time before enrolling at Animal Behavior College that she wanted to work with animals. She grew up in a household that raised all sorts of animals, including dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, birds, cattle and fish. Growing up in such a manner provided her with some unique experiences. Claudia helped her father maintain 35 tropical aquariums, in which they raised fish for the local shop. She raised countless kittens and puppies, and even helped birth a breached calf. While Claudia loves working with animals of all kinds, dogs are her favorite. As she explained, “They have been the best teachers I have ever had. They have taught me patience, kindness, forgiveness, perseverance, tolerance, how to handle stress, and unconditional love. Though I have had a number of jobs in my life, working with dogs is my passion.” Claudia’s passion for working with dogs eventually led her to enroll with Animal Behavior College where she graduated with honors and was hired by her Mentor Trainer, Kelly Legaretta of Healing Pawsabilities.
What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?
There are several. Working with the shelter dogs at Gulf Coast Humane Society, and seeing them adopted is definitely near the top. Watching shy and fearful dogs become much more confident would be another. However, the most rewarding moments are when you see the relationship between the owner and her dog change from one of frustration to one of mutual respect.
Describe one pet story that touched you the most during your volunteer hours. Do you plan on continuing your volunteer work? If yes, how/where?
The one pet story that touched me the most would be Rosie. She was a purebred Rottweiler who came in with some other dogs, and was afraid of everyone. She was difficult to get close to and almost impossible to touch. One day when I got to the shelter, I went into her kennel, which was divided down the middle with partial concrete wall and cutout door. When I opened the door, she dashed to the other side and wouldn’t come out. It took me nearly 20 minutes of just sitting on the floor, tossing her treats and kibble, letting her get closer and closer, until she finally came up to me. She was still scared, but every time I went back I did the same thing and she gradually got better. I found out one of the other volunteers was also working with her and she was adopted in just a couple of months.
I plan to start back with my volunteer work at the shelter in January once I am no longer working at my current job. I found out recently that Gulf Coast Humane Society is building a new shelter very close to my house and I plan to volunteer again with them. At one of the GCHS fundraisers, I met two members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department who work at the Cell Dogs program, a joint program with their department and GCHS. I have been asked to work with the Cell Dog program starting in January and I can’t wait for that.
How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?
Once when I was taking classes with Kelly Legaretta, she had three ABC students doing their externship. I spoke with them and really liked what they told me about the program. Kelly was (and still is) a great mentor/teacher so I couldn’t have asked for a better program.
Which dog breed best describes you and why?
I am a cross between a Labrador and a Border Collie. I have the energy of a Border Collie but the temperament of a Lab.