80-year-old 'Dog Whisperer' greets 38 pooches per day
SIDNEY -- The man, surrounded by more than half-a-dozen dogs, doesn't recall exactly how it began.
Terry says it probably just started one day, greeting just one dog. Perhaps the next day, there were two. What the 80-year-old knows for sure is that – more than five years later – he greets up to 38 dogs a day.
"I just happen to like dogs," Terry says with a smile. "And dogs happen to like me."
Terry says he can't have dogs in his condo, so seven days a week, he begins his mornings on the street. His first stop is a bench beside the Sidney waterfront at 8 a.m., where other people's pets run up to him for treats and cuddles. The little dogs jump on his lap, the big dogs wait at his feet. Some offer kisses. All wag tails.
I ask how this morning routine effects the rest of his day. His answer: "How would your day be if you started out cheerful every day?"
While the dogs may come for treats, their owners say they stay for Terry.
"He's just an amazing guy!" one owner says. "It's just love unconditional," says another. They say Terry can make the rowdiest dog calm, and the most shy confident. "Somebody once said [I'm] the 'Dog Whisperer,'" Terry says.
Before he retired, Terry was a professional driver. "I was a chauffeur for the rich and famous.," he says. Now, he takes the dogs for daily rides in his mobility scooter.
"Ok!" he says with a little dog on his lap. "Let's go!" Terry drives around a path along the water.
Along the way, he may gush to them about his wife of almost 40 years ("She's still my best friend"), or his foster son with multiple disabilities ("You learn a lot about loving").
And loving – Terry says – is what he's learned life is all about. "It's going to go on whether you like it or not, so you might as well like it," he says. "You'll find a whole bunch of people who also like it, if you keep your mind open."
If you keep your ear open? You never know who might jump in. And then, the four-month-old puppy who had been napping in Terry's lap during the interview, leaps up and covers him with kisses. "Oh yeah!" Terry laughs. "This is pure love!"