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Dogs, Owners Join Forces For Bone-A-Fide Training
Instructor Amy Lou Rhoten works with Zoe, one of the dogs in the Saturday morning Bone-a-Fide Dog Training class staged in the city’s Main Street Park. Looking on in the background are Alex and Laurence Peters with the family dog Taz. Marg Jackson/The Times

Hosted through the City of Escalon Parks and Recreation Department, a new five-week session of dog training classes has just gotten underway.

The program, which runs several times a year, is offered by Bone-a-Fide Dog Training and gives dogs and their owners a chance to learn how to work together.

“It runs for five weeks,” instructor Amy Lou Rhoten of Escalon explained as the small group of dogs and their humans assembled at the Main Street Park in front of the stage on Saturday morning, Feb. 27. “Week one is pretty busy.”

Helping the owners learn several commands and how to instruct their dogs in responding to them, Rhoten and assistant Chrissy Rodieck were both on hand at the first session in the five-week program. The class runs from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with a half hour following the class used for an informal question and answer session.

Bone-a-Fide has been putting the classes on in Escalon for the past couple of years and Rhoten said they enjoy working with recreation officials to offer the training.

“It’s basic obedience,” added Rhoten.

She said there were a couple of ‘no shows’ for the first class but they will follow up to encourage the owners to bring their dogs to the remaining classes. By the end, the owners typically have better behaved, more responsive dogs.

Those attending on Saturday included Laurence Peters and daughter Alex with their dog Taz; Trish Young with her dog Kai; mom Kim Caton and sons Thomas and Lucas with their dog Zoe; and Amanda Tarantino and her dog Bentley.

“He’s pretty good,” Tarantino, of Valley Springs, said of her American Staffordshire terrier, who is about three-years-old.

He is taking well to the training, which is good for Tarantino, as she hopes to pursue this line of work.

“I’m actually in school for training and doing this as my externship,” she said.

Kim Caton was eager to work with Zoe, in hopes of her new skills getting passed along at home.

“She’s only a puppy, about 20 weeks old so this will be good for her,” Caton said. “Our second one (dog) is not trained.”

That eight-year-old canine companion stayed home, but perhaps will learn by seeing the change in Zoe.

Alex Peters said their dog Taz, an Australian kelpie, is almost two years old and can definitely benefit from training.

She said the family dog isn’t necessarily one that misbehaves, but who he responds to is “whoever he’s listening to that day,” Alex noted.

Kai, a year-old mix of Australian cattle dog and German shepherd was keeping owner Trish Young busy as well, and all the dogs had to contend with frequent trains passing by the park.

Rhoten said that’s when they do some individual work on ‘puppy push-ups’ – having the dogs sit and stand on command.

“We take all dogs, we’ve had from puppies up to a 12-year-old,” Rhoten added of the canine clientele. “We accept all ages.”

She also had her own dog, Gus, with her to demonstrate some of the commands as well as using the dogs from the class to illustrate a number of points during the training.

Along with the five-week dog training classes, Rhoten said Bone-a-Fide is also starting a new indoor class specifically for young puppies, eight weeks old and up, which will be inside at the Escalon Community Center. The Tuesday night, 6 p.m. classes, will start on March 22 and more information is available by visiting the website, and click on the ‘classes’ tab.

Making the trip from Valley Springs for the dog training were Amanda Tarantino and her three-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, Bentley, happy to be part of the class. Marg Jackson/The Times
Mom Kim Caton works with Zoe on some commands while young sons Lucas, 7, and Thomas, 8, look on during the Saturday morning class in Escalon’s Main Street Park. Marg Jackson/The Times