Some men and women measure themselves by the work they do. This trait may apply to some of man’s best friends too.
Many people think dogs care only about food and fun, but those people never met Woofie. He accomplished more in his decade of dog training than some people do in three or four decades of a career. Here are some of the best moments of his career as a working dog.
Claude’s Woofgang Pakis was a Giant Schnauzer and, more importantly, a staple in the Central Ohio community. He led parades down Franklin Street, and he sat patiently to read with local school children. Since he was 6 months old, he worked as the Demonstration Dog at Acme Canine alongside me, its owner and founder, Laura Pakis. Before he even grew into his paws, he was teaching fellow dogs and their owners.
It took Woofie several months to understand that I work with dogs. He would intensely smell me and give me a confused look after each lesson. Later, when we started taking in residencies, he was jealous that other dogs would spend time in our home. Woofie eventually adjusted, but he always considered himself head honcho.
Even as a young pup, Woofie felt that Acme Canine was his to keep in order. After realizing his position in the Acme pack, Woofie could have easily become the class bully. Instead, he chose to be the peacekeeper, diffusing tense situations before they could get ugly. He was often seen stepping between two snarling parties and making it clear they’d have to go through him first. He basically functioned as another chaperone to watch over the boarding and daycare dogs.
Woofie had some credentials under his belt by age 2. He was certified as a therapy dog and an AKC Canine Good Citizen. He was trained in basic and advanced obedience, search and rescue, and support work. He made appearances on NBC4 Columbus and Ohio News Network as well as in Acme Canine commercials. He also turned up in Business First and Dog Magazine.
Woofie’s life was full. He put on demonstrations and shows at Huntington Park, WagFest, FidoFest, the New Albany Classic, and many other events. Of course, Acme regulars would recognize him from his business cards or the various paintings and photographs hanging around the facility.
Woofie’s work took him through all types of precarious situations like sitting patiently alongside both school children and highly aggressive dogs (at different times) simply to help both groups improve their behavior. In reality, it’s obvious his dedication was as much to me as to his work.
We had a special relationship. It could sometimes get very stressful in certain types of lessons. I could just feel the tension in the air. That’s when he would look to me to block out the stress and focus on my confidence in him.
He trusted and respected me at a very high level. I truly felt he understood that when I ask something of him, I was telling him to bypass his instincts and follow through with what was being asked of him. This level of respect is what really set Woofie apart. He was so eager to please that he was willing to risk downing next to an aggressive dog or letting rambunctious puppies climb all over him if that’s what I asked of him.
When Woofie and I first began Acme Canine in 2004, he would work alongside me seven long days a week. He usually traveled with me, acting as a distraction for excitable dogs. Every once in awhile, however, he was forced to wait patiently to inspect all the scents I brought back at the end of the day.
It takes a special dog to handle the demands of performing commands at a high-level day in and day out. It’s not only physically demanding but also mentally stressing.
Despite Woofie’s dedication to both me and his work, every dog has their day. He rounded out his first decade and began to slow a bit. Some ailments and close calls made me realize it was time for him to take it easy and just enjoy life as he sees fit.
Woofie enjoyed two years of retirement before crossing the rainbow bridge. He spent years helping countless hundreds of dogs and their families build healthier, happier lives together. In return, he asked for nothing except the love and respect from me and the joy in the act itself. Imagine if more people would live and work the way Woofie has. Now that’s a dog’s life.