When the time came for me to search for my next puppy, I knew in my heart that finding an experienced trainer would be an essential step in beginning a good life for me and my pup.
After doing some online research, I was disappointed to learn that most places that train dogs are also breeders. Breeding and training dogs are completely different skills. I wanted a trainer who could help select the right puppy for me simply based on the dog that was right for my personality. There had to be another way.
And there was. I took a leap of faith and rang up Natalie Allred at Happy Tails Obedience Training in Mona, Utah (close to Orem). Natalie is a trainer, not a breeder. Working with breeders throughout the US, she uses temperament testing to ensure the puppy you’re adopting will serve as a loving, emotionally stable companion ( Gabby’s Temperament Test )
As a Goldendoodle lover, I told Natalie I wanted a female puppy that I could take home by Valentine’s day- one that would not be more than 35 pounds, a dog that I could take everywhere with me, and one that could grow up by my side and represent me in the world I care about. That’s why I selected the name Gabby, short for Gabriel, God’s Bravest Woman. I also wanted to respect Natalie’s home of Salt Lake City where the mountains truly impart the feeling of being close to God.
In early November 2017, I boarded a plane for Salt Lake City to meet the breeder and Natalie for the first time. Natalie immediately struck me as an insightful “old soul,” warm, naturally kind, and confident in her knowledge of puppies. There was no doubt I had made the right choice, both for myself and for Gabby. This was the beginning of our journey together, one that will last a lifetime.
When Natalie first started her business in 2014, she worked with owners that wanted to train their dogs, not puppies. Natalie soon realized that this was actually more difficult, requiring her to train the owner as well as the dog. Training owners proved to be a challenge she was up to, but one that took a lot of time, and was neither fun nor financially viable. She realized that if this was going to be a full-time business, it would be better to train puppies and deliver them to owners like myself, ready to go home with all the skills we both needed. Mind you, Natalie still trains other people’s dogs, and while it isn’t as much fun or as rewarding she will accept clients on request.
So how did Natalie get into this business? Her cousin, Christopher Allred, is HR Director of Quality Craft Woodworks. Part of Christopher’s job involves helping all employees realize their dreams. So when he learned about Natalie’s dream to be a full-time puppy trainer he gave her a mutt (I captured more about Christopher and Natalie’s journey in these video Dream Makers and Impact on Natalie’s Dream – Set Goals and Achieve Objectives
Natalie trained that mutt puppy for $2000. That was seed money to help her take her first big step forward in launching Happy Tails Obedience Training in 2016. Today Happy Tails Obedience Training is a full service company, with customers in over 8 states with puppies placed with owners who want anything from Frenchies, Britannies, Yorkies, Goldens, Poodles, and of course, Goldendoodles. She interviews the owner, contacts the breeder, temperament tests the dog, selects and trains them, and most importantly, delivers it to the owner with a complete set of guidelines, manuals and on-going lifetime training. LOVE IT!
Gabby is now my constant companion, traveling with me on my many trips around the globe. I recently brought her to NYC over the July 4th holiday. With weather delays, a 6 hour trip was almost 10 hours. She stayed calm, boarded the flight, sat by my feet and when it was time to get off, she waited and found a lovely patch of grass by the car rental location.
While in NYC, we played fetch on the hotel stairway. Sometimes we sneaked into the long corridor or by some stairs and we raced around like two children, smiling and laughing with the guests that walked by our side.
After returning home, a dear friend of mine shared the story of losing his own fur baby and asked if Gabby could stay with his family for a couple of weeks while I headed off to London. Who could refuse! However, I soon found out my friend Zahid completely spoiled her, with slippers, garden munching, sleeping in their bed and who knows what else.
But that’s okay- it was like going to one’s grandparents house… Gabby is now back with Natalie in SLC with her sweet dog Willow and Ruby the poodle, learning her manners in time for me to pick her up at the end of the summer.
A puppy is so impressionable. They love you, and they will be your life companion. They are happiest when they learn to be calm by your side, and know what you want from them. Training a puppy is hard work. They speak dog language, not human language. Rewarding them for cute behavior when they are young will not be so cute when they get older. Jumping up, barking, eating your clothes seems cute, but gets old. Learn from your trainer, be consistent, and create a world together that will build a lifelong relationship.
I am confident today that the best decision I ever made was trusting Natalie to find a puppy for my lifestyle and personality. The better decision was recognizing that Natalie would teach me to be the best dog owner and fur baby mom. My hope is that every person in the world who wants a puppy appreciates the commitment that is required and can find a Natalie in their world to make their dreams (and those of their pups’) come true.