WINDHOEK – They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. Youth Corner spoke to 29-year-old Matthew Ipinge, a dog handler/trainer who has 14 dogs of his own. “My love for dogs goes way back when I was young. It’s just unfortunate that I couldn’t keep them because of the responsibilities associated with keeping a dog while still young,” he said.
Ipinge gave up his full-time corporate job to fully dedicate his time to the canines. “I quit my job at Standard Bank, where I was a consultant for five years because my heart was simply not in it,” he explained. Ipinge highlighted the importance of listening to one’s gut feelings. “I went to university for three months and I felt the same, my heart wasn’t in it,” he added.
With two failed ventures, the corporate world and education, the only entity that kept calling him was his canine friends. “Work felt like work, studying felt like work but being around the dogs felt natural and I could handle them effortlessly,” he detailed. Ipinge told the Youth Corner that for him to be sure whether it was what he wanted, he took a break from the rest of the world to think things through. “I isolated myself from everybody for a good six months to think about my life and the direction it was heading. It was a constant inner battle between going back to university and pulling through with this,” reminisced Ipinge.
He saw the need to harness his passion and realised there is a demand for dog trainers in the country. But Ipinge is not only a dog trainer. “I have a special touch, saw the niche and started looking at dog food. If you have an emergency and whatever time of the day, we are there. I am an all-rounder, almost like a relationship counsellor but between dogs and their owners,” he stated. He caters to every dog’s needs through his company “PawsRUs”. “Whether it’s walking the dog, taking it to the vet, we do it all,” said Ipinge.
The company in total is in charge of harnessing the relationship of more than 30 dogs and their owners. Like most parents who deny they have a favourite child, Ipinge defied this norm and pointed out his favourite breed. “Ever since I could afford to have a dog, I decided to get myself a Pitbull Terrier. His name is Kratos and that’s my pride and joy; mainly because of its loyalty which is high, they are easy to work with,” he said.
With many misconceptions around pitbulls, Ipinge wanted to prove a point that the breed is not as bad as people describe it to be. “The reason why I got Kratos is to show that it’s not about the dog or the breed, it’s what you do with the dog,” pointed out Ipinge.
Ipinge deliberately trained Kratos in Oshiwambo to prove this point and to strengthen the relationship. “I started working with Kratos when he was a month old, just talking to him with zero training experience and he caught up fast,” he said.
Ipinge shared some insight on how owners should be handling their dogs during winter. “Get your dog a wooden dog house, make sure it’s warm and insulated, it’s very important. The nature of the dog is to guard, so make sure the dog house is situated where there is a lot of movement, be it the sitting room or kitchen entrance,” he advised. He further explained that if the doghouse is put at the back of the house, the dog won’t sleep in there because it would want to guard the main house and that explains why dogs always want to sleep at the sitting room or kitchen door, depending on the entrance mostly used. “Some dogs have a tendency of tearing the blanket, so feed and bulk them more during winter, that’s what I do to mine, only if you are open to the idea,” he said.
Ipinge says there are things that annoy him about dog owners. “I hate it when owners feed their dogs scorpions and gun powder to make it more aggressive; it’s always best to do research about your type of breed before you venture into unconfirmed practices to enhance your dog, ” he highlighted.
Five years from now Ipinge hopes to go countrywide if not continental. “I don’t want to reveal much but I am planning on branching out in the city and reaching more people,” he concluded.