Dog trainer Dick Russell died early Thursday morning, in the company of family and friends.

Dick Russell’s Yielding article has been an essential handout for new students at See Spot Run for a number of years. I know it almost by heart, and I knew Dick Russell as many did, as a renowned dog man and passionate teacher. But apart from his writing and reputation, I didn’t know him.

I never saw him work his magic on a dog, command the rapt attention of his students, nor conduct his famous Large Field Socialization. I never helped him tend his vegetable garden, nor his chickens, nor his kennels.

I never shared a meal with him, nor a bottle of sherry. We never exchanged stories, never stayed up late. I never tasted his cooking.

I also never finished the letter to him I began writing one evening, in the wake of one of his more colorful and lunatic posts to a certain trainer list, in which I meant to ask if the invitation (to anyone interested in seeing LFS in action) to visit him in Louisiana, was in fact still open. I never mailed that letter, never made that pilgrimage.

I wish I had.

They say that in the end, you mainly regret what you didn’t do, and I believe it. My guess is, Mr. Russell had very few such regrets.

He did have near limitless confidence and generosity, and as true an understanding of dogs as any man is likely to achieve in one lifetime, by the testimony of those who knew him best, and as evidenced in the following guarantee published on his website.

The World Famous
Dick Russell
” Whatever It Takes For The Life Of Your Dog”
Training Guarantee

When you and your dog enroll in my obedience classes, I make a lifetime commitment to your desire that he become an enjoyable pet.  Within the confines of the class setting, I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to achieve this and it will never cost you another cent. 

That’s the guarantee.  It’s simple, straightforward and I mean it.  My reputation depends on your success with your dog.

There are some things I would like for you to do to make this guarantee work.

Should you encounter problems with your dog while you are training, telephone me.  We will discuss the problem and I will advise you.  If this does not solve the problem, I will come to your home and help you.  If we can’t schedule a time for this, I will meet you before class, either at your class site or at one of the other locations.  If this should prove impossible, you can come to my home for individual help.

Should you miss a class, telephone me.  It is not fair to either you or your dog to come to class having missed the foundation for that night’s lesson.  We will somehow schedule a makeup lesson for you.

Should you find it necessary, for any reason, to drop out of classes before you have completed them, you can, at any later time, re-enroll at no cost.

You can repeat the basic class as many times as you wish.

You can bring your dog back for refresher training whenever you wish.

You can train in the advance class at no charge.

You can participate in the Socialization class at no charge.

Should another family member wish to bring the dog to classes at a later time, there will be no charge.

Should you need to give your dog away, the new owners can bring him to class at no charge.

All the dogs in your household can come for the price of one.  This applies only to the dogs you have when you enroll.  There will be a full charge for later acquisitions.

This is not the limit of my guarantee.  If these things do not get the job done, we will improvise.  When I say that I am committed to you owning a wonderful pet, I am as serious as a heart attack.