Focus on Zawadi


I’m living at Zawadi’s house while he’s on vacation in Montana (as pictured). In honor of his absence, I wanted to put together a lil post about him.

Z (a.k.a. Zawadi a.k.a Zoo Zoo a.k.a. Brad Pit) was “gifted” to his family by being tied to a sign post outside their house at about 9 months old. So he already had much of his personality worked out, and had a pretty good idea of who it was he wanted to be when he grew up. (There’s much more lore to this tale, which you will have to acquire by earning your way into the inner circle. …or by accidentally meeting Zawadi’s parents out in public and asking them. They’re very nice and love their dogs, so I’m sure they’d be happy to share his Origin Story with you.)

Zawadi and I met when he went for training at my old facility. This summer we hooked up again and via a house sit I explored both of their dogs’ obnoxious tendencies (and their super cute ones, but those ones don’t usually require training advice :) ). Now via house sitting, walks, e-mails, and meetings we have been working as a team to curb Z’s Bad Boy persona (when he was 9 months he was like “I’m wanna be a Pretty Boy.. AND a Bad Boy..”). Nipping the public. Crazy reactivity to dogs on the walk. Overall just not listening! But look at that face…


In my personal life I’ve done a lot of work to overcome the whole enchantment-with-the-boi-with-the-pretty-face thing, so when Z tries to kiss up to me or get away with stuff by giving me googly eyes, I am pretty good at not buying it. Instead I’m like “yes, you are conventionally handsome, but your chiseled jawline and pouty lips do not distract me from a clear assessment of your actual behavior.” The difficulties I’ve had with conventional heterosexuality probably are what make me such a great dog trainer. Just kidding (mostly).

The main impetus for putting this post together is an e-mail I got from Z’s mom. She has been putting in a lot of work to learn how to handle her dog so that she can meet her goals that most parents would just manage with a midnight walking schedule. We’ve been taking the dog(s) out together and I also send reflections from when I work with them solo. Our most recent practice centered on taking them on hikes where there will probably be other dogs, without Zawadi trying to overbearingly say hi to them, and then getting frustrated and freaking out. To reach this high goal (high for Zawadi) requires a high dose of resource control, and almost trainer-level handling techniques, which can be very difficult for parents to acquire. But, lucky for Z, so he can go out in the world and explore new smells in new environments, his mom sticks to it! After we practice together, she goes out and practices on her own. It’s a dog trainer’s dream!



Last week I got this email…

Funny thing today on the hike with Z….. we were on the trail, doing a bunch of “sits” & “lets go!” with tight turns (right & left turns) with no one around. At one point mid-turn, he looked up at me with a big smile and wagging his tail. As if to say “Isn’t this fun! Good job Mom!” It was funny, it almost felt like he was proud of me!?! All this time I have struggled with this and felt that is was so controlling and bossy to make him do shit like that just cause. (The last thing I want to be is bossy and controlling.) I’d rather him make choices and decisions. But his smile and tail wag felt as if he was happy to give up the control to me and follow….. A major breakthrough for me. Thanks for your patience! Not to mention all your dedication, commitment and mentoring! I know I’ll need to keep hearing why this is good for Z but today I saw first hand a shift in his demeanor when I had the control. Woot! Woot!

XOXO to Zawadi and his ma. I think probably his parents are more a gift to him than he is a gift to them! With his personality tendencies, he would surely be bored as hell, actually dangerous, or “off to pasture” by now if he was tied to a different pole.

(Zawadi contemplating existentialism and romance with dad in MT.)

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