About Dr. Marcie

Marcie and Yogi sitting on the back porch (Canton, IL ~1965)

When I was a kid, I was extremely bored. There were no sports, birthday parties, or other social functions for a kid in the town where I lived, so I decided to train my 3.5 year old ChowChow mix, Yogi. Of course, I had no idea about how to train my dog, and I was informed by many that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I did not listen (a trait I have honed over the years), and since the library was close to my home, and I checked out multiple books about dogs and how to train them. Using those books, I then taught my dog 36 tricks, using both verbal commands and hand signals, eventually using just hand signals. As an adult, I went on to train many other dogs, and eventually I earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Psychology, and my experience with Yogi led me to the study of behavior, learning and memory. I like using my knowledge for this common good.

Yogi was my best friend, and from him I learned just how smart dogs really are, and how eager they are to please their handlers. The love they give is endless. Between then and now, I have had many dogs, and all of them were easy to train, but only easy because I knew what to do. Like other dog researchers, I observe that we have only begun to tap dogs’ potential. They are masters of reading your moods, tone of voice, body language, etc. They will use those things to figure out what you want, but make no mistake–they do not understand any language though they do come to know discrete words, such as “sit.” Since we humans sometimes do not say the same things the same way, however, it is easy for them to miss our intent, so hand signals are by far the best way.

Subsequently and later in my life, I was diagnosed with my various medical problems, and like most of you, went through multiple adjustments, getting used to the limitations of the diseases. Then, in 2012 I adopted Lennie from the local Petsmart, just because I wanted a dog. Of course, there are a wide variety of places to adopt a pet, and the folks who give their lives to these homeless dogs and cats are all incredible people. For Lennie, it turned out that he had been taken to a no-kill shelter by a breeder who was breeding Poodles with Jack Russell Terriers, hence the Jack-A-Poo name. That shelter brought the dogs to PetSmart every other Saturday for adoption. I just thought he was cute and wanted a dog, but about a year after I adopted him, it occurred to me that I could use my dog training skills to train him to do specific things that would help me with my illness. Now, Lennie is a huge part of my life. He sleeps with me and is with me nearly all of the time. He looks out for me, following me everywhere and always ready to help. The training has definitely created a bond, one that is more special than simply having a pet. Lennie is always learning new things, some my idea, some his.

Because of my positive experiences with Lennie, I decided to post this site to help people train their own dogs. Trained service dogs are very expensive and therefore not available to most of us with any disability. Most of us with disabilities, like myself, do not have a good income. Also, dog training is not difficult, but it does take some knowledge that you may not necessarily have at this time. Remember that I read many books about dogs, all of them relevant in some way. I want to help you with training your own dog, and assure you that your dog can be trained to help you. If you do not have a dog, or your current dog is too small or perhaps disabled, fairly old, etc., you can visit the local shelters and adopt a dog who needs a home. You can then use the advice on this site to begin training your dog. Your dog will be your new best friend.

I sincerely hope this works for you. Thank you for visiting Lennie’s site!

Dr. Marcie  for Lennie Dawg Zinn