By Writing the Eagle
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Severine Gastelais-Marie is a self-employed trainer at the Watchmen of Saint-Michel in Tillières-sur-Avre (Eure). Its domain is made up of a boarding house for dogs but also a place of education or activity such as an agility park available to customers.
She welcomes and takes care of dogs, each with their own identity: like Texas, a four-month-old Rottweiler from the Rotts de la Baronnie, or Foggia, a 12-year-old Cane Corso Italiano. She also runs her business with Anne Sophie, former soldier very invested and and voluntary.
From an early age, Séverine was attached to dogs. She is studying in an agricultural college and initially wants to take over the family farm or become a veterinarian.
From 2013, she began working as a breeder and dog trainer. Shortly after, she set up on her own and opened the watchmen of Saint-Michel in Tillières. It is then a “professional but family breeding of Cane Corso and Beauceron”.
But “after ten fine years”, she withdrew her breeding activity. She says she is “disgusted” to see dogs, often poorly adapted to their master’s lifestyle and sometimes in poor condition, being sold. This is particularly the case of relatives of Séverine who adopted a dog on a show, proving to be deaf and having scabies.
Today, she has “several hats” because she manages the family farm with her husband, but her primary activities remain mediation and canine education.
Séverine goes against these breeders and trainers, emphasizing listening to the animal. Above all, we must “understand the body language of the animal”, that is to say know what it wants to tell us and how it feels. Raising an animal “requires work” and adopting a dog is above all a responsibility and an investment of his person.
Adopting a dog is not “like choosing a rug”. He should not be taken for his physical appearance but rather according to his behavior and his adequacy with the life of the master. “So, before choosing a race for its beauty, or its intelligence; advice should be sought from an educator”.
Not to take these criteria into consideration is to risk missing the education of your dog”. This encourages “abandonment, giving it away, or finding excuses to leave it at the SPA or, worse, to ask the veterinarian to euthanize it” often powerless in the face of the demands of the masters.
Séverine has opened a “puppy school” on her estate. This school consists of welcoming puppies, in order to best support their masters in their education. “This allows the puppy to evolve in different situations or scenes, using paths, small obstacles, to understand everyday life”.
The lessons last 1h30 with the puppies and Zabou. This is a Visigoth spitz, one of Séverine’s dogs, which “reframes” the puppies by giving them confidence to tackle obstacles. Thus, “depending on his age, he will start with kindergarten, then, when I feel he is ready, he will continue with primary school”.
This school is essential for Séverine, who considers that the dog must be educated from an early age so as not to adopt bad attitudes while growing up. “It should be mandatory” claims Séverine.
Hounds not ferocious
Séverine welcomes and takes care of imposing dogs such as Cane Corso Italiano or even Beaucerons and Rottweilers. She wants to change the negative image that we give to big mastiffs, known to be more ferocious and especially biting.
She affirms that “there is no bad dog, only bad masters”. According to her, small dogs can be so biting and fierce because it is not the size of the dog that matters, it is mainly a question of education.
Workshops to launch
This is why she also wants to hold workshops with young people, in schools, to raise awareness of these issues.
Being a woman in this environment does not seem to be shocking for Séverine, it is above all a “story of charisma”: you have to know how to stand up to even the biggest dogs. And she doesn’t want to hear about animal abuse in her home. If she lets certain dogs sleep in a cage, it is never against their will, on the contrary: she even describes one of her dogs as “gaga of her cage”.
Séverine’s activities also focus on animal mediation. She travels or brings in the elderly and disabled to meet “farm animals”. She can thus present her dogs but also rabbits, horses, a peacock, a parakeet…
Orus, his cane corso, is an expert in the field. He has “tremendous empathy” and naturally goes to those who need it most. The operation is always a success because the beasts have a tranquilizing effect and bring happiness.
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