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I recently returned from visiting Radio Systems Corp in Knoxville, TN. Radio Systems is the parent company for a number of electronic dog training product manufacturers. One of their brands is PetSafe, whose name was recently in the news in association with attempting to challenge the ban on electronic training aids in Wales.
I certainly recognize that people in the anti-Static correction campaigns are likely jumping for joy at the upheld ban and this will be touted as a feather in the cap on their quest to limit the choices of pet owners world-wide…I would like to share another side of the story that some may not be aware of.
In fact, even I, being the outspoken advocate that I am for proper remote collar training didn’t know a fraction of what this company was all about.
I was greeted and toured around the facility by Randy Boyd, the Radio Systems Corp founder. While we initially chatted about our commonality of interest in the electronic training aid industry, Randy was more eager to show me other aspects of the company he was obviously proud of. One of the first stops on the tour was a large wall at the facility entrance that lays out the companies core values.
There were a few quotes that caught my eye.
Words like: Win-Win-Win Solutions. We believe in finding Win-Win-Win solutions to every problem or opportunity.
Or: Improvement: Continuing improvement in our company, our products and ourselves is fundamental to our culture.
But the one I liked the most was Try. Try a lot of stuff and keep what works. Mistakes are recognized as a part of the learning and growing process. The only failure is failure to try.
All the great achievers in the world live by this rule, very cool to see it listed on the entrance wall of a company.
Randy showed me his desk, which interestingly was right smack in the midst of everyone else, in a big open floor plan with low divider walls that you could easily see over as you walked through the room. He told me he moves the desk location every year. In fact all managers are spread around the various floors and intermingled with the rest of the employees. No big corner offices. He talked about how they pipe in Pink Noise to help soften the noise associated with a large office environment. This is a tip I plan on stealing for my new training center to lessen the impact we have from phones ringing and people working with their dogs during classes!
Of course there were dog’s pretty much everywhere. Some sleeping on beds under their owner’s desk, some stretched and came out to greet us. Everyone is allowed to bring their dog to work. I saw dog’s on the elevator, dogs in the PetSafe dog park across the street (oh, did I mention Randy’s mission to make Knoxville, TN the most pet friendly city in the US?) Seems the dogs all knew when Randy was walking by as they came up to greet him…and he wasn’t carrying a cattle prod around either he had (are you ready anti shock crowd?) TREATS in his pockets. Gasp, how revolutionary that someone of his stature believed in and knew about the value of positive reinforcement.
Okay, I will try to stop being a wise-ass. Well, on second thought…maybe just bit more. Radio Systems also employs over 500 people world wide. They are adding an in building health clinic and physician and providing free wellness care to their employees and families.
In the mission to make Knoxville, TN the most pet friendly city in the US they have; created a new animal adoption center, built 4 public dog parks with plans for 2 more in the coming year and successfully lobbied for a state bill that allows cities and counties in TN to permit dogs on restaurant patios.
And it is not just the dogs that Randy cares about. He is a major donor to the University of TN Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Randy is a founding member of KnoxAchieves, a program that provides college funding for underprivileged kids. In the past two years they have paid full tuition to community college for 625 students. They have over 1100 applicants for next years enrollment.
In addition to the containment systems and remote training equipment they manufacture other electronic equipment like heated dogs beds, automated dog doors, water and feeding systems.
And here is an interesting kicker, Radio Systems is the parent corp for Premier, the makers of the Gentle Leader. The Gentle Leader for those readers unaware is the revered tool of choice for many in the No Shock ranks. I found it somewhat amusing that the supposed anti-christ also makes the hallowed tool….hmmm, can the story get any sticker? Well, yes, actually it can. I got to see a prototype training aid coming out for next year and just let me say it is yummy and many trainers are going to LOVE this nifty tool, no matter which side of the training methodology war they side with.
There is more, quit a bit actually but I think my message is clear. There is so much more to every story. Perhaps we really open our eyes and our minds and look at all angles before casting stones?
I do truly understand the emotion that surrounds the mystery and fear regarding electronic training aids. When these things first came on the market 50 plus years ago they were not kind nor gentle creations. But the technology has changed. The people behind the advancements are dog lovers. (There are other quality companies out there too, but this happened to be my recent visit)
Let me leave you with a few thoughts as you weigh the pros and cons of banning remote collars and electronic training aids.
The following are words taken from the UK story linked above:
Prohibition of the collars attracted strong opposition from pet owners. Did you catch that? The actual pet owners don’t have a problem with the equipment. So who exactly are the Welsh assembly getting pressure from then?
Again from the story: “A number of groups, including the Kennel Club, have been campaigning for some time to ban them because they have the potential to have adverse consequences for animals, and are cruel and unnecessary.
I embolden the word potential because that is what these arguments are based on. The potential adverse effects, yet the public complains of no actual adverse effects. There is not a lick of good science that supports the position of adverse effects. If you take a look you will find that real science is even finding positive effects with the use of electricity in humans.
So if the Kennel Club was one of the major groups campaigning for this ban, one has to question why? Could it be that by removing tools that create quick and easy results for the average pet owner they can dominate the training industry with their methodologies of choice? Could it all boil down to who’s making the money somewhere down the line? If so, I’m curious, is the Kennel Club busy building any dog parks, sending kids to college or advocating for less restrictive access for dog lovers?
Maybe these are just my wild minded speculations….What do you think? Where do the dots lead you?