Once upon a time, long, long ago there was a land where all dogs lived. It was a wonderful land filled with large meadows, many ponds, barns with hay, lots of cows and sheep, and no dog was ever yelled at for rolling in anything.
The country was called ‘This-porch’ and was ruled by a good fairy queen. Her name was ‘Big Dog’ and all the dogs in the land of This-porch wanted to be Big Dog’s. Now the Queen realized that the dogs in her realm were missing something very important: families. She knew that all the dogs would be happier if they were loved and cared for and all dogs were valued members of families. So she magically created families. Families of people that walked with dogs, worked with them, little boys with fishing poles and little girls with tea sets that played with them and old aunts that let dogs sit on their couches and beds.
Each year the Queen would call all dogs without families to come to her, regardless of size or age, and one-by-one they would tell her what they had learned in that year. If the dogs showed that they had learned to be helpful, well-mannered and were caring towards all in This-porch, then the Queen was proud and told them they had done well and they were now Big Dog’s and gave them a family of their own. And all dogs were happy. They were content to be Big Dog’s and have families that they could love and help in return.
Sometimes dogs and their families had problems because they spoke different languages. Because there were so many dogs in This-porch the Queen couldn’t help teach human language to each dog individually. So she gathered a group of fairies that had always had the respect of the dogs and were able to solve any kind of problem. This special group became known as Big Dog Handlers and they handled all the problems of dogs and families. Because the Handlers taught both the dogs and families, communication was restored, so were trust, freedom and love. Everyone was happy once again.
The land next to This-porch was not as happy, nor pretty. It was called ‘Trainers’ and was ruled over by an evil, wicked, nasty, fairy princess who had been dropped on her head as a baby and couldn’t think very well and had bad eyes and couldn’t see much, either. Her name was Princess Certified.
The Princess had divided her kingdom into small, fenced areas and dogs were assigned an area and were not allowed to leave them and the law said if a dog had to move to another area he had to move on a restraint. The dogs did not like this. She assigned each dog a guard, whose title was Owner and it was printed on a jacket, and who was responsible for teaching the dog all the laws he needed to learn. If the dog didn’t learn the laws, the Owner was blamed.
Princess Certified had always been jealous of Queen Big Dog. The Princess didn’t like the fact that all the dogs of Trainers would rather live in This-porch and often ran away. When Princess Certified called her subjects to come and tell her how things were going, they ignored her. This made her very, very angry.
Her chief counselor, Lotta Treats, told Princess Certified that in order to get the dogs of Trainers to come, they should issue an edict to the Owners to bribe them. So Princess Certified, with the help of Lotta Treats, got Owners to bribe dogs to come, sit and stay long enough to hear what she had to say. Several dogs refused to come at all and so the Princess sent out the Army of Trainers and had the Owners bring the dogs on long leashes, or collars that pinched or choked the dog if argued about coming. It made many of the Owners uncomfortable as they knew the dogs were unhappy.
Once in front of Princess Certified of Trainers, the dogs refused to sit or listen. Lotta Treats quickly whispered to the Princess and she said, “I shall create an open area where all dogs may play.” She encouraged the Owners to take the problem dogs to this area, which she dubbed ‘The Dog Park’, so that they could see how good life was in the land of Trainers. But fights broke out and dogs and Owners were still not happy.
The Army of Trainers went to Princess Certified and said, “The dogs won’t listen. They won’t do what we tell them. What should we do?”
Princess Certified screamed, “Focus—all of you! I want you to be as good as Big Dog’s Handlers. Get smaller dogs. Only use willing dogs for public demonstrations of how we live in the land of Trainers. Invent a new way to work with the dogs. I don’t care, but I don’t want to lose any more money trying to fix these problems. Now find a way!”
The Army of Trainers went away and tried many different things, all of which failed. Dogs kept running away, wouldn’t come to the yearly meeting. The Owners were told to go to special schools, but nothing worked. The Army of Trainers blamed the Owners. The Owners blamed the dogs. The dogs were not happy.
One day a few members of the Army of Trainers saw some owners with their head close together, their dogs sitting quietly. “What is going on here?” demanded one of Princess Certified of Trainers minions.
“We have talked to one of Big Dog’s Handlers and she has helped us and our dogs are now happy. We are not going to do it your way anymore. We are leaving,” said one of the Owners.
“You can’t leave. The Handlers lie. They don’t know your dog. They can’t help you. WE teach you what you need to know to work with the dogs. Don’t listen to that Handler!” cried out one of Princess Certified’s panicked instructors.
The Owners threw their leashes at the feet of the instructors and crossed the border into the land of Big Dog. The owners and dogs were happy at last.
The Instructor of the Army of Trainers ran to Princess Certified and cried out, “They are taking your people and dogs!”
“What?” screamed Certified. “Get them back now! Promise those Owners anything. Threaten them. Denounce any Handler you see!! Go, NOW! Bring me those dogs!” Certified’s face was a mask of fear and fury. Her eyelid twitched rapidly, she had a small amount of spittle in the corner of her mouth. “Don’t think, go now and get them back here!”
The Army of Trainers turned as one and marched to the border between the two countries, a gathering crowd following them. There they all hesitated and watched as the dogs and families of This-porch played off-leash in open fields, walked together, worked together and all people and dogs were happy and getting along nicely.
“Come,” yelled Certified’s Instructor, “there are more of us in the Army of Trainers than there are of Big Dog’s Handlers. We must crush them or lose our status!” The group crossed the border into This-porch as Trainers’ Owners watched.
“Give back Trainers’ Owners and dogs,” demanded an Instructor.
“Are any of you Owners?” questioned a Handler to the crowd.
“No! We are families,” replied the group.
“There’s your answer,” said the Handler to the Trainer, “it is only people and the dogs they love and respect here.”
Many of the crowd, standing on the border between the two lands, suddenly crossed over, quickly unsnapping leashes and handing them to Trainers’ Instructors and were greeted by a Handler who made them feel welcome and at ease.
“Those are OUR dogs and Owners,” complained the Instructor. “Why won’t you come back to us?”
“Because we now understand what we were missing and what you could not teach us,” said a lady stripping off her Owner jacket and walking away.
Two of the Instructors sidled up to the Handler and asked if they could come live in This-porch.
“Are you ready to give up being Trainers? Learn new ways of living and working with dogs?” asked the Handler.
One Trainer looked with frightened eyes towards the Army, bowed his head, and whispered, “I’d lose everything I’ve worked for,” then slunk back to his group. The other Trainer replied, “Yes, I am ready.”
“Then come learn and perhaps you’ll become a Handler,” was the warm reply.
The Army of Trainers returned to the Princess and fearfully explained that the Owners had willingly turned to the Handlers so their dogs could lead better-behaved, freer, more satisfying lives with families that loved them.
Princess Certified screamed, tore at her hair, and shook with anger while her three dogs jumped, barked, got into little fights, and acted like total idiots around her.
The Duke of Vet quietly said, “Princess?”
“What?!?” she snarled.
“Your dog is peeing on the throne.”
To help dogs be well-behaved and happy you’ll have to give up being Certified’s Trainers because there are only Big Dog Handlers of This-porch.