Introducing Flick


Welcome to the new look of A Better Pet LLC. Let me take a moment from the freneticism of web design to introduce you to Flick (nee Chipper), the black and white dog that graces the top of the website.

Flick’s earliest months are unknown. He was found wandering in a metropark as an approximately 3 month old wide eyed stray pup by a lovely  South Euclid professional couple, Patricia and Jim, out for an innocent walk back in the early spring 2002.

Patricia wrote recently in her own memory of the events of 8 years ago:

“My husband and I found Chipper one rainy night when we were looking for salamanders in a park.  He was standing by the side of the road – first we thought he was a cat, then a Boston Terrier – because of his markings.  But then we realized he was just a cold, wet puppy.  No one was anywhere nearby and we couldn’t just leave him there, so we took him home.  On the way home he threw up over & over.   When we took him to the vet the next day his weight was 7 pounds – same as a newborn human.  He was very small.  Small as he was, he was lively, and pretty quickly we realized we had a busy baby on our hands.  Chipper loved attention, but hated being alone and my husband and I both had full time jobs.  He was eager to play and cuddly when he was tired, but he was seriously destructive when he was by himself or penned.  We signed up for a puppy training class and I asked Rachel to help us individually with him too.  He learned fast with the clicker and did great when he was in training.  Rachel said he was just about the smartest dog she’d ever worked with.  The problem was the second we weren’t training him, he was training us (biting my leg or barking furiously if he wasn’t getting clicks & treats).  There wasn’t a second that he didn’t want to be manipulating something (including us) in his environment – and he wasn’t learning good habits when he was by himself.  We tried, but he was really a challenge for 2 working people.  Rachel heard our distress and offered to take him for training.  Much as we hated to see him go, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse – it meant people around all the time, the best training for him, and an opportunity to be a wonderful dog for someone.  Rachel told us later that he went to a woman with an active family who made a perfect match for the boy .  It’s nice to know that rescuing him and fostering him turned out well for him.”

On May 7, 2002, when I arrived to do a private in home, I was flabbergasted by this young dog’s unbelievable ability to grasp concepts as fast as I could think to throw them out. I told his owners minutes after first working with him, “This is the smartest dog I’ve ever met!” They looked at each other with pride. I quickly added. “This will never work. Your lifestyle and environment are not going to meet this dog’s needs.”

They assured me I was wrong, they would make it work. I said when they changed their mind, to let me know. I would take him under wing. Three weeks later Chipper came to live with me. I renamed him Flick. For as fast as I could think of things to teach him, he would learn them. A clicker training  genius, a happy spirit, a beautiful medium sized cattle dog probable border collie mix. But busy doesn’t begin to define this young pup.

Fortunately I had 3 other dogs, multiple cats, a slew of kids and a large fenced in backyard with a lot of activities and it was summer. Flick wore all of us out with his “what can we do now” gung ho attitude. But he sure taught me a lot of creative ways of keeping an active puppy busy AND safe!

He remained in my care from May until September of that year, learning many wonderful skills over the summer. He helped me hone my own clicker timing and helped me over and over again to think outside of the box on building from the foundation that he brought to the table.

Having Flick watch over A Better Pet as we expand into our second decade seemed like the right idea. And even now, 8 years later, I haven’t met another dog smarter than Flick.