By Latrishka Thomas
Several animals from the Dogs and Cats of Antigua foundation have spent about a week interacting with a dog counsellor who was able to bring them “out of their shell”.
Dog Counsellor Dean Miller fell in love with Antigua when he visited years ago and was determined to return.
This time, Miller returned with a cause in mind — helping dogs on the island.
He therefore donated his time to Dogs and Cats of Antigua, founded by Joy Farrel.
Miller told Observer that “they had a couple of dogs that have had trouble connecting with humans and had been mistreated, so I just tried to help bring some of them out of their shell”.
He said that they also “captured injured dogs and those in need of help”.
“Dogs, sometimes have a hard life in the Caribbean and I just wanted to come down and help with that,” the dog lover added.
Miller, a musician, singer and songwriter, shared that dogs are complex creatures who need to be treated with respect just as humans.
“A lot of people don’t realise that dogs are very deep emotionally; they communicate all the time. They just don’t use words. They are communicating with their body language, their eye movements, their tail movements, their barks. They are communicating very complicated messages all the time with each other,” he said.
“They are very advanced. They smell and understand things on a level we can’t even comprehend.”
Miller, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, explained how he came to develop empathy for dogs.
“As I got older I wanted something different for my life and I’ve always loved dogs, I’ve always had kind of an affinity for dogs and a natural knack for working with them, so when I was in my 30s, I started saying ‘I wanna make a shift in my life’, so I started treating myself to train dogs, working with dogs.
“And then I realised I wasn’t agreeing with a lot of the training methods I was seeing and I thought I had some better ideas on how to train and rehabilitate dogs. So, I started my own business and I started helping people one by one and it just grew into something really big,” he shared.
Thus, Miller started visiting the homes of clients and in about an hour he was able to change their dogs.
Now, “my life is split between music and dogs so it’s kind of a heaven for me,” Miller said contently.
In addition to working with the animals at the foundation, Miller said that he also taught the staff some of his methods to dealing with dogs.
Furthermore, he is now helping transport some dogs to the US for adoption and is adopting two puppies for himself.
Miller, who is also the author of a book called ‘A dog’s Way’, encouraged residents to do the same especially since dogs are great companions for trying times such as these.
“I can tell you that especially during the time of the pandemic and being closed in at home to have a partner, a dog and a friend is a beautiful thing. The more you open your heart to a dog the more you realise how much they have to offer in return. During this time, especially, so many dogs are available and are need and wanted,” he stated.
The dog counsellor can be contacted via his website: thedogcounsellor.com