Milo was my first dog, who inspired me to become a dog trainer. He passed away in February 2018.
Milo was born in Finland in 2006, and my parents purchased him as an 8 week old puppy brought him home to St.Petersburg (Russia). I was still living with my parents then, but being busy studying at university and just being an 18 year old, I wasn’t very interested in getting involved with a dog. He wasn’t my dog to begin with, but he became a huge part of my life in less than a year.
Milo was a troubled dog from the start. I knew little about canine behaviour then, but even I could tell something had to be done. He was stealing and chewing on shoes, wires, books and even a laptop – that’s within the norm, but he would guard the things he stole. He would growl and bite when we attempted to clean his ears. He would get into a tight space or a corner and refuse to come out, again growling and biting. It was clearly out of control, so my parents hired a dog trainer. Or a “dog trainer”. As we found out later, she was more than unprofessional.
She told them to hang Milo on a choking chain to “punish” him and to spray water on him when he was guarding things and tight corners. Unfortunately, neither I nor my parents knew much about dog training at the moment. We trusted this “trainer”, and regretted it later. Obviously, her methods only made things worse. Milo became unmanageable.
Milo was my parents’ dog until the age of 8 months, when my younger sister developed a severe allergy to him. At the same time I was getting ready to move in with my boyfriend, and we decided to take Milo since we wanted to get a dog anyway.
Milo became our dog in January 2007, and this is when our long and difficult journey towards trust, love, friendship and good behaviour had begun.
Later that year all three of us moved to California, where Milo spent countless hours enjoying the beach (he wasn’t keen on water) and where I received my dog training certification. During our time in America, Milo had to endure his fair share of long-haul flights, welcome two puppies into our home (one sadly passed away at 11 months and the other dog now lives with my parents in Russia) and to act as a guinea pig while I studied dog training.
Then both my then fiancee and I had graduated from our Master’s programmes and decided it was time to move somewhere else. So on the first day of 2012 we arrived in England, immediately fell in love with this country and decided to settle here for good. Shortly after I founded “Milo’s Dog Training”, where Milo sometimes helped out. I can say for sure that Milo had spent his happiest years living in Fleet, where he had access to so many open spaces with smells of wild animals and plenty of fox poo to use as perfume.
We got married in 2013, and although Milo didn’t get to act as a ring boy (since the wedding was in France), he was featured on the invitation.
In September 2015 we welcomed the arrival of our daughter Sonya. She loved Milo so much that we had to set up a play pen around his bed to give him a chance to rest.
Unfortunately, age has taken its toll on Milo. His life-long skin condition (caused by unspecified allergy) was getting worse and he probably had arthritis in the last couple of years of his life. He was also diagnosed with canine dementia in 2015, which had been progressing quite quickly and at some point we knew we were very close to the point, when he was becoming dangerous. However, Milo took matters into his own paws: he stole some plastic toys (we did our best with keeping everything out of his reach, but it is impossible with a two year old) and didn’t recover after the operation intended to take them out. He died in hospital the next day.
We will always remember Milo. He was a very important part of our life. He taught us how to be patient, how to put someone’s needs above our own and how to love unconditionally. We had been growing together: we grew up and he grew old.