In Memory of Tony Knight the Dog Listener: The Positive Difference He Made

This picture here is from 2013 when I invited Tony Knight to run one of his 3-day classes in Chiswick, West London.  We began on the Friday evening at a local pub where Tony introduced the method to the participants, gave some homework and set up the next two days which were to be held outdoors, for a couple of hours each.

Those two outdoor days were incredibly useful for nervous dogs and their (nervous?) people as we formed a circle of people and dogs, getting closer together when their dogs were ready, moving further away if the dog couldn’t cope with the proximity of another.  It was a lovely couple of days with some lightbulb moments for many, really nice results, happy people and relaxed dogs at the end of it, however, there were some elements that were memorable for interesting reasons…. Firstly, we needed to deal with an irate elderly lady walking into the circle and threatening to call the police…  For what, we weren’t sure, but she was very insistent!  And secondly, another woman was walking her pig, yes I did say pig, yes this was West London, not the Cotswolds, and was in distress when another unsuspecting dog walker’s dog starting rounding on the pig!

In true Tony fashion, he remained perfectly calm and polite, diffused the irate woman, and rescued the pig and his walker, managing to offer sage advice to her at the same time AND to the other dog walker, both of whom were grateful and happy as they walked off in opposite directions. And this was one of Tony’s most inspiring skills – he could communicate with people without patronising, without lecturing, without judgement.  He just had a way that allowed him to spread widely the word of the life changing effects of the method he and his mum brought to the world in the late 1990s.

During lunch at my house, where he also met my mum and my dogs (“Be good, Chili, Kenny, Tony Knight is coming for lunch!”), I remember lamenting the change in the wind direction so the aeroplane noise was quite loud and he had to really project his voice for the participants, and also about having him faced with the irate lady and a pig!  Tony was not phased at all, he had enjoyed it all, relished the new experiences and I’m sure, stored it up for his comedy routines.  If anyone ever heard him relate a West-London-pig joke, this was that time!

During our CCC* monthly Zoom meetings, over the last 3 years I can only remember one time when he was ever so slightly frustrated with another person (he was, after all, only human).  Aside from that time, he seemed never to focus on any negative and he simply got on with his job… which as he saw it, was delivering this information to help the dogs AND delivering it with humour to help their people.

A few weeks ago Tony and I were in the process of organising a stand up comedy show in August this year, in London, and he had generously offered to donate profits to the boxer rescues that I support.  He had two gigs lined up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this Summer, too, and I feel sad that he will have been looking forward to these. 

I will miss his calm, confident, consistent leadership.  So will the rest of the international Dog Listening world.  I haven’t come across one single person who has learnt with him and been disappointed, or uninspired.  And I will forever strive to live up to his positivity, his teaching and his trust in me to deliver this incredibly important, effective information that changes the lives of dogs and their humans. 

*the Calmer Canine Cooperative, was formed by a group of certified Dog Listeners, in many countries, with the aim of a. supporting each other in our work with clients, and b. establishing an area on social media where non-judgmental, compassionate dog listening conversations with the public could take place, free of charge.  There was no other place where this was done, and with Tony as our inspiration, it will continue to be our passion to widen the reach of this beautiful method in order to improve the lives of dogs and their people. 

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