Last week, my dog Oliver and I were treated to a session with a dog trainer by the name of Julie Strauss. She was amazing! No other word to describe her, really.

Here’s a little background on Oliver the dog. He’s a purebred cocker spaniel I adopted in January. He is the sweetest guy in the world. There are really only three things he wants to do: cuddle, slobber, and play fetch. But in order to let guests and other innocent bystanders know that he wants to do those things, he jumps on them. Incessantly. When it’s just he and I, he’s a dream, but throw someone else into the mix, and Oliver must tell his new buddy how happy he is to make his or her acquaintance.

And so, I finally relented and agreed to have Julie come over to my place to give Oliver a lesson. To be honest I wasn’t really expecting much. I mean, if I as a filmmaker and TV producer couldn’t teach a dog to sit, how was a professional dog trainer going to do any better? Yes, these are, in fact, the thoughts that go through my mind daily. But I digress.

Anyway, Julie walked into my apartment, observed Oliver, and then went to work. She looked down at him as he ran around jumping up and down on her and the furniture, tail flying back and forth like a humming bird wing, and slobber flying everywhere. Finally, she stood upright, held her hand out like a crossing guard and said calmly and firmly, “Oliver.”

He stopped, sat down immediately, and looked at her, like, “Yes, Miss Julie!” It was as if she had an instant psychic connection with him. His eyes did not waver from hers, and he listened to every word she said with the fixed attention of a tween at a Jonas Brothers concert. It was uncanny.

She worked with Oliver and I, and in less than two hours, she had us both trained!  Him not to jump on people, not to jump on the furniture unless invited, and, my personal favorite, to sit and stay in the same position until told to “release.”  And me to be the leader of our pack of two.

Today, he is a different dog. All the same sweetness and enthusiasm without the crazy kamikaze attacks! Thank you, Julie :)

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