Residents in Welgemoed call John Nhube the “Dog Whisperer” because when he starts running in the streets, he is like the Pied Piper of Hamlin – dogs simply follow him.
“Running with the dogs is part of my daily training. I am a marathon runner and run between 80 and 90 kilometres per week. I’ve participated in all the major marathons in and around Cape Town, but my dream is to run the Comrades next year, God willing,” says John.
He belongs to the Multi-Sports Club in Tyger Valley and trains on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I am in my mid-fifties and am one of the fittest marathon athletes at the club. I don’t actually want to say it out loud in case I demotivate the other athletes, because they all believe I am an old man,” jokes John.
He says he can still run a 10km in 34 minutes, which isn’t bad for a runner his age.
Initially some of the residents were complaining because he was walking/running with the dogs without a leash, but when they saw how the dogs listened to his instructions, all their animosity disappeared.
John starts walking/running with the dogs at 04:30 every day before he starts his day job at 08:00, and his afternoon jogs with the dogs start at 16:30.
“I am originally from Zimbabwe and from an early age I worked with animals at an entertainment centre. I discovered that I have a gift to train dogs and I wanted to pursue this as a career, so I came to South Africa. When I came to Bellville, my boss, who wants to stay anonymous, saw my gift and took me to the Durbanville Dog Training Centre where I observed how they were handling and training the dogs.
“In Zimbabwe I travelled the country and even trained security dogs,” says John.
He learned from an early age that animals are the best friends to have – not like human beings “that disappoint you when you least expect it”.
“The secret of the friendship between you and any animal is understanding. The tone of your voice and the affection that you show towards the animal are all factors contributing to this understanding. Once that understanding is established between the two of you, it is easy to train the dog and get results. They would bark at your command, do tricks and be friendly towards other human beings whilst you are around,” says he.
He’s worked with many dogs over the years and in the beginning he loved sheep dogs and German shepherds, but currently he is fond of labradors. In Welgemoed there are many breeds and he is not choosy because all the dogs get his attention when they run/walk through the streets.
“I can only walk dogs early in the morning or late in the afternoon as I also work as a handyman. If there are residents who want me to walk their dogs, they are welcome to contact me. I want to thank Eula Loftus, who stopped me in Hofmeyer Street and started chatting to me about my passion for dogs. She was house sitting dogs and after our first chat she said she was going to ‘make me famous’. I just laughed and thanked her, but could never imagine that my early morning or late afternoon training would land me in the newspaper,” laughed John.
When TygerBurger spoke to Eula, she joked and said she didn’t make empty promises and that John “is famous now”.
“I met him when I went to feed the dogs that I was looking after and I was surprised at how easily he handled the five dogs that were with him. One of the dogs even greeted me with his one paw and I decided to put the picture of John and his dogs first on the website of Welgemoed Residents’ Association and then on my social media to show residents the amazing job he is doing with dogs. Now he is everyone’s favourite ‘Dog Whisperer’, the name that I gave him,” she said.
“I hope he will fulfil his dream of becoming a qualified dog trainer,” said Eula.
V Readers who need John’s help with their dogs, can contact him on 078 940 1382.
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