FAST FIVE with VICTORIA SCHADE
- What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
The best writing advice I’ve ever received was keep going! I quit writing my first book at about 10,000 words, probably due to a massive case of Imposter Syndrome. Years later I was lucky enough to have a dog training client who also happened to be a NYT bestselling author. She agreed to take a peek at what I’d written and she said those two words to me … keep going … and it was enough to get me to finish the book. I credit her with my writing career. If she hadn’t given me that boost, I wouldn’t be here!
- The pandemic has sucked, but not everything has been misery. Tell us the best thing about the pandemic and/or quarantine for you.
As someone who works from home, the pandemic didn’t change my daily life much at all. However, my husband’s changed considerably: he went from either being in the office or on various job sites to working exclusively from home. And I loved it! We’re lucky enough that we have some separation between our offices so we were able to stay focused when we needed to, but we were also able to visit, goof around and get mid-day hugs when we needed a break. I discovered I liked having him as a “colleague”!
- Your book is about a dog who ought to be in pictures and a dog custody battle. As a real-life dog trainer, what’s the weirdest thing you ever encountered with your people clients?
I have oh-so many stories about strange things I’ve encountered with clients. I was an in-home trainer so I got to be up close and personal with my clients in their natural habitats around Washington DC … I’ve gotten locked out of the house with clients and had to climb in the window because I was the only one tall enough to reach it, I’ve worked with hoarders, a presidential great grandson (you’d definitely recognize his name!) and a high ranking presidential advisor who took me to lunch in the private White House dining room!
- You also got to be an official dog trainer for the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl! Get OUT—how fun was THAT? What is the numero uno training tip for dog owners, novice or (ahem) experienced owners with a dog who does what he wants and is afraid of clouds? Or maybe just your number one tip?
Puppy Bowl is everything – I’ve been a part of the show for fifteen years now! I have so many training tips that it’s hard to choose one, but I guess my top suggestion is to learn more about canine body language. Our dogs work so hard to understand us but we don’t do them the same honor, and that leads to misunderstandings and worse. Knowing what your dog is truly saying (and not just making assumptions, like a wagging tail means he’s happy) makes you a better advocate for him and strengthens the bond between you. Want to become a student of “doglish”? The illustrator Lili Chin has an adorable body language book that’s a great overview. And then there’s the OG of body language books, Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas – it changed the way I look at dogs. (Oh, and one more tip? Use better treats when you’re training your dog, like cheese, hot dogs or freeze dried chicken!)
- What book did you read in the last year that really let you escape from the Year of our Lord, Hellscape?
Present company excluded? (Hiii, You Lucky Dog!) During the pandemic I got wrapped up in Pretty Things by Janelle Brown and got my dog-fix from Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy by Zazie Todd. Good stuff!
(side note: take it from me, you will love her book).