Doers: Ted Hoff

Doers: Ted Hoff

[click”Play” button to hear Susan’s interview with Ted Hoff]

IMG_0793 In 2000, Telluride audiences saw the (now departed) Lizard Head Theatre Company’s production of “Sylvia”,  A.R. Gurney’s hit comedy. The play is about a talking dog, part Lab, part poodle and entirely femme fatale. The comedy’s all too familiar barbs about marriage, unspoken needs for connection, a sense of why we are here and feelings about out pets hit never failed to hit their mark: We have met the nut cases and they are us.

“Sylvia” was perfect for a town like Telluride which long ago went to the dogs. I personally know many grown-ups, including some of my friends, who get down on the floor with their canine darlings and shower them with terms of endearment such  as “sugar,” “my beautiful angel,””pumpkin,” and “sweetheart.” They – okay, mea culpa, we –  spoil our furry friends with treats and marrow bones from Clark’s. (A few – and don’t ask me who – even stuff them with peanut butter once the marrow is gone, and stick them in the freezer to make doggie popsicles, guilt bones for when we leave them alone in the house.)

When we have to say good-by to our pampered pets for trips out of town, some of us hire house sitters, others, like us, turn to Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch and Kennels.

Ted is many things. One of them an intoxicating combination of testotosterone and smarts. In other words, he is a hunk. But don’t hold that against him. He is also very, very nice. (According the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times nice is the new snarky.) And Ted is a dog whisperer, the Cesar Millan of the Western Slope, compassionate, non-violent and effective.

Ted saved our dog Gina, a rescue who had trouble playing nice with other dogs, when another trainer had her on the way to the doggy cemetery. Today, even when we are still 20 minutes away from Ted’s place, Gina starts howling for joy. She levitates when she sees him.

At his 400 acre ranch in Crawford, Ted trains all breeds and all ages of dogs for basic obedience and behavioral issues, including hunting dogs – and not just the perennial favorites, the Labrador retriever and flushing dogs.

Ted’s training philosophy is based positive reinforcement and repetition. He earns the dog’s trust using praise and his ability to read a dog’s body language. The goal: create a complete healthy dog day through exercise, multiple training sessions, socialization/healthy play with other dogs. He also builds in plenty of down time to prepare for the next round of training. On an average day at “camp,” a dog generally gets five or six sessions.

Hang around him and you know, Ted loves all dogs, large or small, young and old. After nearly 39 years of dog training –  19 professionally –  he has a wealth of information, adventures, and funny stories to tell, and that’s exactly what he will do in an ongoing series in “Telluride Inside…and Out.”

For locals who are counting, Ted is Doer #466.To hear more about Ted’s life, press the “play” button and listen to his podcast.

DOERS: Ted Hoff

Time in Town: 19 Years

Age/Place of Birth: Minneapolis /49

Marital Status: 23 years to my beautiful wife Vanessa   

Philosophy of Life: Hard work and years of focus make fantastic dreams come true

Favorite Books: “Water Dog” by Richard Walters

Favorite Movies: “Papillon”

Favorite Music/Musicians: Blues, Jazz, Rock and Roll, my buddy Joe Cocker

Favorite Animals: Dogs for sure

My Last Meal Would Be: French toast

Tragic Flaw /If I Could Change One Thing About Myself: I love music but I can’t play an instrument

Favorite Hangout/Retreat: Wednesday night Schnooker Game

A Really Perfect Day: Christmas Day last year powder skiing with my wife, and two teenagers

Most Influenced By: My wife, son David, 18, and daughter Lilly, 16

Favorite Childhood Memory: Sailing with my grandfather on Rainy Lake in the summer

Friends in School Thought I Was: A guppy

Growing Up I Wanted To Be:  An Olympic ski racer

If I Could Be Something/Someone Else: No thanks

Person I’d Like to Meet the Most: Barack Obama’s dog

Actor Who Would Play Me: Robert Redford

When I Grow Up I Want to Be: Healthy enough to enjoy traveling with my wife

I Would Never: Be mean to animals

What I Can’t Bear to Throw Out: Kids toys from when they were little; breaks my heart

Last Purchase: New iPod

Greatest Indulgence: Skipping work for a great powder day

Most Prized Possession: My family

Weirdest Artifact Collected: Candleholder with a circle of Dogs playing instruments

Favorite Phrase/ Least Favorite Word/Phrase: “In the depths of winter I learned there was in me an endless summer” Albert Camus/ Wake up and see which way I have to run

Fitness Routine: In the winter, it is cross-country skiing and in summer, daily mountain bike ride

Proudest Accomplishment: Raising two great teenagers, Lilly 17, David 19   

Wildest Dream: All the dogs in the world would find a good home

Biggest Challenge: Keeping it “balanced”                                                                                

Bottom Line: There are no bad dogs

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