independent

Thursday 21 August 2014

The leader of the pack

David Tucker

Published 26/11/2013 | 05:42

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Liam Boggan walking his five Japanese Spitz dogs and his dog Rusty with his 'doggie' driving licence.

LIAM Boggan is Wexford's very own Dog Whisperer.

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LIAM Boggan is Wexford's very own Dog Whisperer.

In fact you might even say he's gone to the dogs, but Liam doesn't mind the appellation because he's very definitely the leader of the pack.

The Rathaspeck man is frequently to be seen walking his five beautiful Japanese Spitz dogs in and around Wexford.

However, what most people don't know is that the bundles of fluff are all rescue dogs, abandoned and discarded by their previous owners.

The dogs – Jack, Dusty, Rocky, Rusty and Chico – have certainly landed on their paws with Liam rehoming them in a purpose-built shelter in their own section of the garden.

And while it might be a step too far to say they are living in the lap of luxury, their insulated dog house has its own heating system and even doggy pins-ups on its walls.

One of the dogs even has his own driving license, a facsimile of Liam's own.

Liam jokes that when he was stopped at a garda checkpoint he showed the guard Jack's licence, warning him 'don't try to breathalyse him, he'll take the hand off you'.

'I told him that if he wanted a sample, there was a lamp-post nearby.'

On a more serious note, Liam, who works at Irish Pride in Taghmon, says everyone should consider rehoming a rescue dog.

Jack was the first of the five with the others arriving at various times over the past three and a half years, thanks to Brigid Cullen from the WSPCA who is always on the lookout for a good home for the increasing numbers of animals being abandoned as the recession bites deeper.

Liam's mother Cecelia has two dogs as well, a Shih Tzu called Tega and 'a smaller version of Jack', called Lacey.

'We have two cats as well who do not get on the dogs' side of the fence...the dogs are very quick to tell them "sorry lads this is our side of the fence",' said Liam.

He said that taking the five dogs for a walk at the same time was 'no bother at all'.

'I have people asking me how do you walk with five dogs but once they know whose in charge, who is their pack leader, there is no problem,' said Liam, who has drawn heavily on the skillls of dog behaviourist Cesar Millan, through watching his DVDs and reading his many books.

Liam says the dog whisperer's techniques have worked like a charm for him.

'I understand dogs now. What dogs are looking for is leadership. They all have the same instinct from their ancestor the grey wolf, which would always have had a smart, calm leader who could show them where to get food from.

'Anyone who is good with dogs should never be shouting and roaring or losing the head with them,' citing as an example the story of a beagle which led a pack of wild and much more ferocious dogs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

'He was much smarter than they were and they knew it, they went back on their instincts.'

'To understand dogs, humans need to become part dog...to set rules and boundaries and limitations and to be a calm and assertive leader, as would the pack leader,' he said. Liam said people were often surprised to find that his five very well-behaved dogs were abandoned and unwanted, given the impeccable manners they now display.

'I would encourage anyone thinking about getting a dog to think about rehoming one and to get the right energy level dog.

'If you are athletic, something like an Alsatian may suit, but if you don't go out a lot something smaller and less active may suit,' he said.

'I really want to learn as much as I can about training dogs and also to be able to rehabilitate dogs that have been mistreated to hopefully find them a forever home with someone who does understand them and give them a long happy and fulfilled life.

'It keeps me going and gives me something to do and I'm the lead dog.'

Wexford People

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