Category Archives: Funny Stories

867 dog training lessons in 2013!

At the end of every year I run some reports from my systems that we use to find out exactly how many lessons and whatnot I did for the previous year. 2013 was sort of a banner year.

In total last year I did 867 lessons. That comes out to about 2.5 lessons every single day of the year and that is just the lessons that I did, it doesn’t include board and train or any of the sessions that Lisa did for the company. That is a lot of dog training! When you look at something like that, and the experience that comes from working with that many clients and that many dogs every year, it makes you realize what you’re paying for. Most of the other dog trainers out there do this business as a hobby, that’s not the case here at Fidelio. This is what we do all day every day, and it’s what we’ve done all day every day for the past 14 years.

The past year has also brought pretty dramatic changes in Austin. I heard recently that Austin is the fastest-growing city in America at this point, and I can certainly tell that from the amount of traffic that were seeing. In the last 14 years I can honestly say that I have never been late to an appointment because of traffic until 2013. Things of changed traffic has gotten far more complicated to deal with, and it’s got much more difficult for us to predict how long it will take to get from one client to another. This is painful for me, because as most of you know I have always been on time to appointments in the past. Unfortunately I’ve had to resort to the tactic that most service people deal with, in that I will always call you if traffic is a problem and I am forced to be late. I apologize to any of those clients in the future that may have this happen to them, but it looks like traffic like this is going to be a fact of life in Austin from now on.

The good news is, that we still come to you. You do not have to pile your dog in the car and fight afternoon traffic to get to some group class with a bunch of other yapping and ill behaved dogs. We come to you and we work in the area of your neighborhood that’s important for your dog to behave. Part of what you pay for is that convenience. We fight the traffic for you while you get dinner ready for the kids, get rested up, and prepare for your training lesson with your dog.

So, in closing, I like to thank all of my clients for everything they did last year. Thank you for each and every one of those 867 lessons that I worked with you on, and thank you for the time and attention you gave me during them. We appreciate you more than you know.


Steve Haynes

Austin dog trainer

Fidelio Dog Works

Dog Training, Art, and the patron…

Andy Goldsworthy, Pebbles around a hole, Kinagashima-Cho, Japan (1987)


Any of my clients that know me even a little bit, know that I have a wide ranging set of interests and I just LOVE it when those interests collide with a clients’ interests and the world in general.

Far to often I have clients call me an artist.  I’m not sure I would go along with that statement in general, and certainly not where the dogs are concerned.  I do have a grand appreciation for art in many forms from paintings to sculpture to…Stone walls!  Yesterday I had one of those lovely collisions of serendipity where mind, work, and art collide and make for an amazingly enjoyable day and conversation with one of my clients.

I was working with one of my long time clients and dare I say Patron of the dog training arts on Wednesday.  This client happens to be a major art collector  and has a stunning collection of works that always delight me when I get to visit her home and work with her dogs.  She always takes the time to show me her new acquisitions and for some reason her tastes are right along the lines of mine.  Granted, being a dog trainer precludes me from collecting things like Richard Serra’s or Theaster Gates’, but during our visit yesterday I noticed a piece of art at her next door neighbors that looked like an Andy Goldsworthy .  That piece wasn’t actually a Goldsworthy, it was a knockoff, but she said that she had commissioned a number of pieces by Mr. Goldsworthy at her vacation home.  I got chill bumps right away as Mr. Goldsworty is one of my favorite contemporary artists.

Mr. Goldsworthy has fascinated me for years because he incorporates stone walls into his work.  I have been a student of stone walls for many many years and I very much admire the artistry and work it takes to build dry stack walls.  I’m so much a fanatic of stone walls that I’ve been known to write to authors of books on walling in the past.  These letters usually lead to puzzled responses from the authors but I guess this shows the depth of my interest.

This is where things get interesting with the conversation, because I would suspect that the wallers that do the work don’t actually think of their work as Art with a capital A either.

My client went on to describe the pieces that Mr. Goldsworthy had created for her and how he brought a team of wallers from Scotland over with him to do the grunt and grind walling work.  They stayed at her house all summer for 3 summers and worked away on the project so she had quite a bit of time to meet him and discuss his work.  I was fascinated with the idea that these guys can build such work and do the day to day lifting of rocks, have sore knees and backs, and basically do what is a workaday job while creating such lovely art.  Mr. Goldsworthy’s work is big, heavy, and takes a lot of time and a lot of clear vision of what it should look like when it’s completed and it’s made from big piles of chaotic stone when they start.  A lovely thought for me.

So, back to dog training, is it art? Does the skill technique and grind of doing things over and over create a sort of “art” with the dogs. Does starting with a big huge pile of chaotic behaviors and fitting pieces together until the dog understands what you want and “sees” your vision for him count as art?  I’m going to have to ponder that for a while, but the the mere fact that I could have such a beautiful conversation with one of my clients about her art collection and how it relates to work in general as well as mine in specific, is one of the reasons I love what I do and doubly love the people that I meet.

In closing, here is a video of Andy Goldsworthy doing some of his “thing”.

Dogs Dogs Dogs and Jim Buck’s School for Dogs

Mr. Buck on his daily route in 1964

Mr. Buck on his daily route in 1964

Mr. Buck passed away last week.  It’s a sad day for my NY City clients who utilized his company’s services for dog walking.

To say that Mr. Buck was a legend would be a serious understatement.  I mean, have you ever been profiled by Gay Telese in the Times or been profiled in the New Yorker?  Or how about completely creating a business where there actually was none before?  Mr. Buck created the profession of professional dog walker.  That’s nothing small and it’s a very important job.  I think that all of us that hire a dog walker should sit back for a minute and silently thank Mr. Buck for what he did, even if you never knew him.  He made dog walking a valid profession and gave it a bit of Penache and dignity with how he did it.

So, if you have a minute take a look at his obituary in the Times and give thanks that your pups are being taken out today in the rain by someone who followed in Mr. Buck’s footsteps.

Farewell Mr. Buck….the pups will miss you.

Steve Haynes

Fidelio in the Press.

Image by:  Bill Sallans

Image by: Bill Sallans

Fidelio Dog Works has always been a word of mouth business. I’ve kept it like that for a host of reasons over the last 13 years. In fact, a lot of my clientele really doesn’t like ‘publicity’ at all and they’ve always appreciated that we are discrete with stories about corporate jets, estates, horse ranches, hunting lodges, and the other goodies that goes along with that clientele.  But recently we’ve been getting a bit more exposure and it’s nice to be appreciated in a more public way than we have sought for the last 13 years.

Tribeza, the super glossy Austin magazine just did a piece on us and it was so nice to see that the journalist really ‘got’ what we do here at Fidelio. I particularly liked how she described what we do and the way we train as artisanal and very specific to the clients.  That’s true: we are, and we always will be.  She also notes that we stay small for a reason, which is also true. The article gives the feel of Fidelio — we like what we do and we do it very very well.

So while not every one of our clients has President Obama, or former President Bush, over for dinner on a regular basis, we’ve been there, done that. And if we can deal with the intricacies of handling their dog during presidential visits, we’re more than likely able to help you with your pup too.

We’re grateful for the recognition.

Steve Haynes

Austin Dog Trainer

Fidelio Dog Works

Proper lifestyle with a Vizsla

Vizslas have for some reason gotten pretty popular as pet dogs recently, and I just don’t get it.  Yes they are beautiful, Yes they are sleek, Yes they are sexy (as far as dogs can be sexy), but they also demand a HUGE amount of exercise to keep them sane and happy.

To that end, one of my clients sent me a link to a video of a downhill mountain biker who takes is Viszla out with him while training.  Now THIS is a very very good Vizsla owner.  You don’t have to watch the whole thing but at least watch it until you see they dog chasing this guy going down the hill at full tilt speed.  Then, sit back and figure out how you are going to get that new Vizsla pup you just brought home that much exercise every day.

Think you can come up with something similar while working 12 hours a day.  I doubt it.