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Teaching Dogs New Tricks-Mike Pind

Referred to as Cape’s Dog Whisperer by those who know him, Mike Pind has been helping dog lovers from all across the country for the last 41 years to bond and build strong, healthy relationships with their furry friends.

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” – Mark Twain

Dogs really are amazing. They’re loyal, fun and capable of feeling and inspiring boundless love and pure joy. They really are one of the best companions you can find—they’re truly Man’s Best Friend! But what does it take to live up to our end of that deal? How do you truly become Dog's Best Friend? 573 was honored to have this opportunity to find out, and we were excited to spend a day with some very unique new friends.

Meet Mike Pind...

“Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job.” – Franklin P. Jones

Referred to as Cape’s Dog Whisperer by those who know him, Mike Pind has been helping dog lovers from all across the country for the last 41 years to bond and build strong, healthy relationships with their furry friends.

In his early twenties, Mike moved down to Houston, Texas, where he worked for dog trainer Joe Schomer. Mike learned a lot about the kennel business and the relationship between dog and man during his time there, and he brought that knowledge back with him when returned to Cape Girardeau five years later. “Another one worth mentioning that I had the pleasure of working with is Bill Hillmann,” Mike said. “He’s a great trainer, and we worked together a lot, and became good friends over the last 18 years or so.”

Upon returning to the area, Mike opened his own business here in Cape Girardeau, where he met and married his lovely wife Jan. After some time here, they decided to move back to Houston, Texas, where they opened their own kennel. Mike loved overseeing his kennel and working with the dogs. They enjoyed living in Texas and building their life there—that is, until Jan became ill.

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Jan’s health quickly deteriorated. Because of the rapid progression, Mike and Jan moved back to Cape Girardeau to be closer to family. In 1998, Jan lost her battle with MS. Since then, Mike has remained in Missouri training the dogs. He continues to pour his heart and soul into the creatures he and his wife devoted their lives to.

“I just love training,” Mike said as he reached down to scratch a beautiful black lab behind the ears. “This is Cinder,” he said, introducing the beautiful girl at his side. “She’s gonna play in the water for you today,” he promised, smiling down at her. As we walked to the water’s edge, Mike told us all about his life with dogs. “I’m very selective about the dogs I train,” he professed. “All dogs taken in are in the house. I train them in the house and in the field. I’ll usually have about 14 dogs at a time.”

Mike stood on the bank with Cinder at attention. She stood as still as a soldier as he whooped and hawed, whipping the water toy back and forth in the air. I watched in amazement as she just sat and stared, still as a statue, when he launched the toy out into the lake. She didn’t make a move until he raised his hand and gave her the order to retrieve it. Then, with as much enthusiasm as I’ve ever seen come out of the most lively and excited small child, Cinder dove off the bank and swam out to retrieve her toy. She brought it right back to Mike’s waiting hand and immediately returned to a state of attention, waiting obediently and loyally at his side.

When the water play was over, Mike and Cinder walked back to the field. “I gotta throw her a few happy bumpers. It’s kind of a reward, but it helps her dry off too.”

“I specialize in retrievers, but I teach obedience to all breeds,” Mike explained as he threw the toy. Cinder stood still waiting for her cue, and as soon as she had it she raced across the field. “Watch this,” Mike said with a slight grin. He blew his whistle and made a hand motion which drew Cinder to a full stop mid-sprint, turn to face him and sit. He then hollered and raised his arm, signalling Cinder to carry on. She quickly turned to continue her run, retrieved the toy and brought it back. What a good girl!

“So you mentioned a moment ago about specializing in retrievers and training in the field,” I asked. “Does that mean you train for hunting also?”

“Yep,” Mike said, “I’ve trained quite a few dogs for hunting.”

After throwing her a few “happy bumpers,” Mike walked back to the truck and opened Cinder’s kennel door. She hopped up into it like it was nothing at all and got comfortable. He closed the door and opened the one next to it to allow an older blond male out. “Hey Buddy!” He cooed at the old boy, scratching his head and around the neck. “This is Hunter.”

We heard the booming voice of retired Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder come up behind us. “Is that the grand champion?” He asked as he walked with his Australian Shepherd Retriever, Lucy.

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” – Harry S Truman

As we watched Hunter run through all his exercises without falter, Peter raved about Mike and his methods. He praised him for all his progress with Lucy. He even thanked Mike for training him to be a better master and friend to her.

After giving Hunter lots of praise and head scratches, Mike led him back to his kennel and began Lucy and Peter’s exercises.

As he corrected both Lucy and Peter on their form and instructed them on each training exercise, Mike exuded a coach-like quality that only comes with decades of experience. He possessed a consistent aura of confidence, know-how, and ethics that one can only get from years of self discipline, hard-work, and a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. He wore this character on his sleeve so openly that all who know him, both dog and man alike, can’t help but feel a deep respect for him within the first few seconds of introduction

I observed the joy on Lucy’s face as she ran back and forth between Mike and Peter during her exercises. She basked in both their praises. It was evident that Mike was not only doing what he loved—he was doing what he was meant to do.

As Lucy and Mike finished up, his next client eagerly squirmed and wiggled around the legs of her human, Rock Wilferth. “Mike had trained my last dog, so when we got Fritzi here, we knew just where to go,” he explained as he looked down at his very excited chocolate lab.

When Fritzi’s exercises were completed, Mike looked at us and asked, “You guys have time for one more? I got a puppy I’m working with next…” I mean, who could say no to that?! LOL.

“This pretty little girl is Melody,” he declared proudly as a beautiful, silky black lab pup came bounding out of her kennel. She wriggled and wrapped herself all around Mike’s legs, completely unable to keep her happy little tail still. “This little beauty is about four months old. She belongs to a friend of mine down in Houston, Texas, Dr. Mary Tatum. Mary’s a veterinarian, one of the top lab breeders in the country, and a hell of a trainer herself.”

Despite Melody’s excitement, she did surprisingly well for such a young and energetic lab pup. She obeyed every command and completed each task. The only difference between her and the older dogs was her level of uncontainable enthusiasm, which inspired the very contagious feeling of overwhelming joy that was radiating from her big, happy puppy grin.

“Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach.” – Moby

Between their loyalty, their joy, and their boundless love for their family, there’s much we can learn from our four-legged friends. No one tries harder to show love and friendship than a dog. Maybe it’s time we take a lesson from them and step up our game as Dog’s Best Friend. Until then, 573, be happy, be healthy and be well. Continue striving to be the best friend your canine companion deserves.

pics t. smugala - words aj. koehler


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