DAILY NEWS 7/2/2001
SPOTLIGHT ON GREAT PEOPLE
by Clem Richardson
DOGGING IT IS TRAINER'S WAY
Dog training by Anthony Jerone's description, is mostly a
matter of will power.
You have to show'em who's boss.
"A dog's natural instinct is to be part of a pack, and there can only be one leader in a pack, the
alpha male," said Jerone. "The trainer has to be that alpha male. Once the dog recognizes you as
the alpha male, he has no choice but to obey.
"The hardest thing to do is to train the owner. We have 60,000 dogs put to sleep in New York City
every year, a lot of them because their owners could not handle them."
Jerone, 52 of Fresh Meadows, Queens, has been working professionally with dogs for more than
40 years, since he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968. He estimates he's trained thousand of
dogs, turning many an unruly cur into a better house pet and even productive members of society.
It was Jerone's idea-make that Jerone's campaign- that started a canine corps for the city transit
police back when the subway cops were a separate department. It was the first canine unit in
regular duty in the city, one that was soon copied by other law enforcement agencies.
Anthony Jerone's School of Dog Training & Career Inc., run by Jerone, holds a "doggy boot camp"
each weekend in Queens' Crocheron Park. It is a popular stop for people looking for help
handling animals with discipline and behavioral problems.
(The Jerones' 1998 wedding made the papers and several TV news shows because it featured
50 dogs in the wedding party, some dressed in tuxedos.)
Jerone is also a state-certified teacher of dog trainers. Professionals from as far as Germany,
Greece, China and Korea have taken his 200-hour course.
Jerone has had dogs in his life since he was 5. He liked them so much that when he was drafted
into the Army in 1968, his mother, Mauricette Lencenes, suggested he tell his commanding officer
about his affinity for canines.
That landed him in infantry training school in Fort Benning, Ga., where he met Lobo, a German
shepherd, who would be the first of several dogs Jerone would handle during his time in Vietnam.
They trained together for six months before being shipped overseas.
Some 4,000 dogs served in Vietnam, Jerone said, some as guard dogs but many to detect
ambushes, booby traps, mines and tunnels. Several fascinating books have been written about
Viet Cong's use of tunnels in the war, some of which were large enough to house hospitals and
kitchens. Lobo was a tunnel dog, which suited Jerone just fine.
"I thought about what could happen if a mine dog woke up with a cold one day and decided
against them," Jerone said with a laugh.
Tunnel dogs were "taught to sit down if they smelled more than 12 inches of space underground,"
Jerone said. "The Viet Cong hated them. They put a $100 bounty on a pair of ears, which was a lot
of money. They added another $50 for the emblem the dog handler wore on their sleeves. The
dog was worth more than the man."
Jerone and Lobo served for six months before Lobo died of a bleeding disease. In fact, all of the
dogs stationed in Vietnam died there, Jerone said, largely because of the fear that returning them
home would mean the importation of some dreaded tropical ailment.
Jerone's next charge was Willie, another shepherd, who was his companion until Jerone was
shipped home in 1972. It is mainly because of Lobo and Willie that shepherds remain Jerone's
favorite breed. Framed pictures of both animals hang in the basement of Jerone's home.
In 1973, Jerone landed a job as a subway conductor. His Army training-and the then rampant
crime that plagued the system- led him to speculate about a Transit Authority canine corps and
how it might be used to fight crime.
"Dogs have a remarkable effect on humans," Jerone said. "A man will attack an officer with a gun,
but he won't attack an officer with a dog."
Jerone approached the TA brass with his idea " and got nowhere. They literally threw me out of the
It took seven years of letter writing, personal lobbying and some pushing by several City Council
members to get the TA to implement Jerone's idea- and a lawsuit for him to be acknowledged as
the person who came up with the idea once the city canine corps became a reality.
Jerone, who despite his army training cannot be a police dog handler because he is not a police
officer, has since received a letter of commendation for his ideas from every city mayor since Ed
Koch, as well as recognition from Gov. Pataki and former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Jerone had been helping friends train their animal free since he had returned from the Army. His
first wife suggested he consider charging- and the clients started coming in. He and second wife
Mary started the academy four years ago, He accepts about five or six students for his certified
training class each semester, though he still works with regular owners all week long.
He retired from the Transit Authority in February.
ETIQUETTE MADE EASY
Here are some tips Anthony Jerone gives people such as postal workers, who are in constant
contact with unpredictable dogs:
Never enter any property where there is a dog without the owner being present.
Always ask permission before petting a dog.
Never pet a dog before letting it smell you first.
Never approach a strange dog. Always assume a strange dog is unfriendly.
Always keep body movements, body language and tone of voice relaxed and calm. No sudden
Never run past or run from a dog.
Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
Never stare into a dog's eyes.
Never touch or hand an individual anything when his dog is present.
Never put your face near a dog's mouth.