Pat Miller Was Here


I’ve been working with Pat Miller for the past 17 years. She’s had an article in all but one issue of WDJ in that span of time – and that one issue that was published without an article from her was my mistake, not due to her missing a deadline. She’s a gifted trainer, a lifelong learner who continues to read research articles and pay attention to new discoveries in animal behavior and animal cognition, and she has a consistent, calm, compassionate voice that advocates for well-reasoned training methods applied with kindness and patience.

I met Pat when she wrote some articles for the publication I worked for prior to WDJ, a little magazine called The Whole Horse Journal! She wrote an article about clicker training for horses with extreme fear-based behaviors, and used her off-the-track Thoroughbred mare as a model for the article. When our publisher asked me to be the founding editor of WDJ, and I was rounding up writers to form the nucleus of our core contributors, someone mentioned to me that Pat, whom I knew only as “that clicker horse trainer,” was actually a dog trainer. I didn’t know much about dog training at the time, or maybe I would have known that already. I contacted Pat and asked if she’d be interested in writing for WDJ, she said yes, and she’s been writing for us ever since. Further, she was absolutely instrumental in helping me develop WDJ’s all-positive voice and mission statement – and completely convincing me of the countless benefits of force-free training.

In the 17 years that I’ve known her, however, I think I’ve actually spent time with her * in person * maybe three or four times. I’m sure about three of those times, because I have photographic evidence: The first time was at her last home in California, ages ago. That was fun, because I got to meet and photograph her whole pack of dogs. I got to hang out with her a little at an APDT conference in upstate New York in 2000, and she had two of her dogs with her, so we took photos for future WDJ articles. And two years ago I was able to squeeze in a visit to Peaceable Paws and Pastures, the dog training and horse boarding facility she and her husband run in Fairplay, Maryland. When I was there, we didn’t take photos for any specific future articles, but I spent a couple of hours shadowing her around her beautiful facility, taking pictures of her interacting with her dogs, barn cat, horses (boarders and her own), and Sturgis, the family’s potbellied pig.

There’s a first time for everything, though, and Pat Miller was recently HERE, at my house! For only about 90 minutes, but it was a treat even so! Pat recently presented some workshops in Placerville, California, for the Hangtown Kennel Club, and was spending another day visiting a relative about seven hours from there. Oroville, California, where my home and office are located, is right on the way! She was able to stop just long enough to meet my dogs, for me to prepare a nice vegetarian lunch for us to share, and for me to take a few pictures of Pat with my little pack. I was so happy for her to meet Otto! — and happy to report he was a perfect gentleman, even treating her to a performance he usually reserves for his long-time friends, a sustained “Wooooooooo!” of greeting.