Our Town: Long Island’s own dog whisperer

Dr Tom Ferraro

Statistics show that 60 percent of households have dogs and the average vet visit will cost you about $248. So yes indeed, people love dogs. But let me be honest, I’m not a real dog lover. 

I did enjoy the essay on the dog whisperer by Malcolm Gladwell but that’ about it. I can admire their beauty however. I remember seeing a pure breed cocker spaniel being walked about 10 years ago and how great it looked. 

To learn more about man’s best friend I got in touch with Long Island’s own dog whisperer, Anthony Gerome. He owns the Anthony Gerome School of Dog Training. I can see that people need help in training a dog. In every relationship between couples or between man and animal one is the dominant one and one the submissive one. 

I recall an essay by some journalist years ago who described the meeting between Tiger Woods and a real tiger during a magazine photo shoot and how the animal immediately became submissive when Tiger Woods came into the room. Tiger Woods is the ultimate alpha male. When I met him I remember that his charisma practically knocks you over.  

But back to dogs. Gerome told me that dogs are smart creatures and often control their owners. He told me that dealing with dogs is all about body language and if you spoil the dog they will rule the roost. He said that you can always tell the alpha dog in a litter because that’s the one that will approach you first so they may be ones who will be most difficult to train. 

He said that border collies are the smartest breed of all. Because of all these dynamics owners sometimes need a little help in training their dogs. Owners must learn to be the leader. Gerome has trained dogs since his days in the military. He trains with a combination of praise and correction. Praise comes with treats, petting and soothing words and correction comes with the training collar which reminds the dog of the mother’s teeth. 

In order to interview a dog owner I got very lucky by running into Patti and Alan Kantro of East Williston who were out walking Soonie and Princess, their cute little Maltese dogs. Maltese dogs are an ancient breed originating in China and then landing on the island of Malta. This is a mother and daughter pair given to them by a Korean couple who raised them both very well. 

Pattie told me that the daughter has a happy naïve quality since the mother has always been so watchful and protective of her. I asked the Kantro’s why they liked dogs so much and they said that they add liveliness to the home, are good company, offer unconditional love and best of all they never talk back. And even if you have to send your dogs to training school it’s a lot cheaper than sending your kids to Harvard.

Well it’s still true that I am not a dog person but here is my little secret. I’m planning on developing a cartoon strip called Williston Park and I’ve decided that my main character is going to be a Weimaraner named Johnnie. Johnnie the Weimaraner. It has a ring to it don’t you think?

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