Why I Want To Be Michael Vick's Dog Trainer

I am, first and foremost, a person that loves dogs.  And like every animal lover, I was absolutely horrified by the events that led to NFL quarterback Michael Vick serving 18 months at Leavenworth Penitentiary for conspiracy related to his dogfighting ring.  What he did to those dogs was cruel and unthinkable and nothing can make that go away.  Recently, Michael Vick made news when he mentioned that he would someday like to get a dog for his children and I’ve been inundated with opinions from all sides.

As a professional dog trainer and a Tellington TTouch Practitioner, I believe that Michael Vick and his children should be able to adopt a dog. I know there are many that disagree and probably many more that aren’t sure how to feel about it. The reality is that no matter how passionately one might feel about Michael Vick, with his career on the upswing, he has the spotlight shining on his every move and he is seemingly making the best of his second chance in the NFL.

Over the past year, Michael Vick has been voluntarily speaking to at-risk youths all around the country since his release from prison with this message: Don't be like me. Don't follow the rest of the crowd. Exercise good judgment. Be a compassionate person. (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/dogfighting/michael_vick_events.html).  Many say his words are too little, too late and he doesn’t deserve to be listened to or acknowledged for any of his present or future actions, just reminded of his past, which he will probably never atone for.

Who does it serve to continue to hold him in such contempt? Not that it isn’t warranted, but aren’t we all missing the boat on what could be the most visible platform for the power of reward-based training that might ever happen.  If and when Michael Vick gets a dog, he will be the most scrutinized pet owner on the planet.  What better opportunity for him to prove that he is worthy of the remarkable second chance that he has than to align himself with the reward-based training methodology and community.  Even the possibility to demonstrate that someone capable of such cruelty can learn, can change, can come away a better man. 

We, the reward-based training community, compassionate people that use compassionate methods, should make every effort to rally behind the Vick family in choosing, training and raising a companion dog (before a dominance based trainer does).

I, for one, would step up and welcome that opportunity.  As a dog trainer, I can think of nothing more rewarding or satisfying than working with Michael Vick and his children on lure reward exercises with a dog, showing them that gentle, consistent training and the Tellington TTouch Method not only get the best results, but profoundly foster the dog/human bond.   That would be the best form of redemption that anyone could hope for.