Monday, November 30, 2015

Lisa Edwards & Pinball

photo credit: Jill Ferson
Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Lisa J. Edwards, professional dog trainer, behavioral consultant, and author.

Pinball is the orange and white dog next to me, and the smiling little boy is my son Indigo. I have been a nationally certified dog trainer and behavior consultant for almost 17 years. Five years ago, Pinball was born at one of the shelters where I am the lead trainer. I met him on the day he was born. His mama was a sweet small-medium mix dog and the rumor was the father was a beagle. The rumors are supported by Pinball’s beagle howl. Pinball has snuggled at my feet through the writing of two books to date.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? 

What's brewing? Any treats for you or Pinball on this occasion?

Every morning as I curl up in the red leather chair with a big bowl of French or Colombian roast—made strong, one-and-a-half scoops to every cup, Pinball comes down to hang out with me. The house is quiet because it’s before anyone else gets up and he sits close enough so I can scratch him behind the ears for a while and then he usually asks to go outside. He enjoys lying out on the deck in all weather, so he does need a treat lure to get him to come back in from outside.

When we learned about Pinball in 2012 you said his name fit his energy level. Has that changed much?

Pinball’s energy has become more moderated as he has matured, at least when inside the house unless one of his favorite people comes to visit or I come home. But, he remains the “pinball” energy machine when outside in the yard, zooming over rocks, fallen trees, and flying up the stairs on one side of the deck then over them into the grass on the other side as he continues his whirlwind zoom around the yard. My son loves to watch Pinball zooming from rock, to tree, and then digging in the ferns before he’s off again. And, Pinball seems invigorated by my son’s laughter.

Please tell us about your new book.

My new book is Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs, Keeping Our Kids and Our Dogs Safe and Happy Together is part-memoir and part training-tips. Each chapter is split into memoir followed by a tips section that details the skills, exercises and management techniques I used in that chapter as I balanced three complicated dogs and a newborn baby. My goal was to walk the reader through my quest to keep my son safe in a house with these three loving but issue-filled dogs, then offer pointers on what parents could do in their own home.

Cat, postman, squirrel...? Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

The cat is Pinball’s best animal buddy—they love each other and trust each other to the point that they snuggle together, and when they play, I occasionally interrupt the play wondering if it is too rough on the cat (one third Pinball’s size) but she than comes back (with a typical cat look of disdain) to see why he hasn’t followed her.

Pinball is a tug and chase dog. Part of him loves to be chased when he has something, and another part of him is made very anxious by that—hence his resource guarding. Tug is a game he would play until we all dropped from exhaustion. I usually drop first. He tugs appropriately, drops the toy when asked to and waits patiently to be presented with the toy again. I know he is really having fun when he actually lifts off the ground to become airborne a little bit creating his own canine carnival ride.

Who is Pinball's best pet-pal?

I am Pinball’s first best pal, then he has a couple doggie friends who set up play dates with him. He loves my son, and Auntie Jill is his second or third favorite human (I can’t know what order we all fall into). Pinball loves to be where my son, Indy is. Initially I had to manage the dogs to keep the newborn safe, but now I have to manage the three-year-old boy to keep the dog safe. I am sure it will balance out shortly.

Pinball’s two doggie housemates passed away last year and he was inconsolable for several months. He is getting used to being the only dog while we wait for the house to be safe enough from the long reach of the toddler for another dog to join us.

Where is Pinball's favorite outdoor destination?

There is a huge hole that Pinball has dug under a gigantic collection of ferns in the way back of the yard. He will frequently settle into that hole and fall asleep in all but rainy weather.

If Pinball could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

Pinball would love it if everyone, not just New Yorkers, would always ask before petting or approaching him or any dog. There was a time when he was a leery of strangers and while he is much more comfortable, he wants to be the one to make the invitation for people to pet him, not have them take the liberty.

If Pinball could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Was there any one thing that made you so anxious, or was this just something you were destined to be?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Pinball could speak, who should voice him?

I would have to say Jeff Goldblum because his quote from The Lost World, Jurassic Park, fits Pinball perfectly, “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

What advice would Pinball give if asked?

Always think before you bite.

Visit Lisa J. Edwards's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lisa Edwards & Boo, Porthos, and Pinball (November 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

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