Translated from German, Zeitgeist means "the spirit of the moment", and is the key principle underpinning AYANA's service philosophy. Here, we share our inside tips and favorite haunts to help you experience the AYANA Zeitgeist.
How long have you been a dog-handler at AYANA and has this always been your dream job?
Ten years in total. Dream job? Not at first as I used to be afraid of dogs. I started at AYANA as a helper at the kennel, just to do cleaning. Then a K9 squad chief started to train me in a few basic skills about handling dogs. And I fell in love. First with the dogs, then with the job. So I went from being the trained one to being the trainer!
How many dogs in total do AYANA and RIMBA have now at the kennel? Are they all trained in security?
We have a total of 19 active Retrievers (16 Labrador Retrievers and 3 Golden Retrievers). Most hotels will use security dogs that belong to the K9 squad of the local Police Department. We breed our own and let the K9 squad come here to train them.
What’s their training schedule like?
The K9 squad from the Police Department comes here to train the dogs every day. As we have so many dogs, they have to take turns. The training is done on a lawn behind the kennels. Our dogs specialize in detecting explosive substances, so they are likely to be calmer, focused and less agressivve.
What role do you take part in training the dogs?
The chief of the Police Department’s K9 unit personally trained me for years to have the same level of handler skills as he had, because I am here every day along with my six colleagues. We know each dog’s personality, their ups and downs, the vitamins they need, their grooming schedule and of course, the mating season. I also know the best vet on the island as we only trust our dogs to be handled by the best vets.
In your opinion, what is the benefit for hotels having their own kennel?
A lot. We know our dogs really well and they know the area very well too. Their health is easier to monitor and control, too. We had a new litter this year, they are now six months old and will join basic training in a few more months. In the last 10 years, AYANA has bred six litters.
What do you love about dogs? Do you have a favorite from the entire pack?
You know that unconditional love? Dogs are an expert in that. I work with Retrievers, they are working dogs with the warmest character ever so it is impossible not to fall for them. But other breeds are just as loving. It is us humans who define what kind of a dog they will be.
I love them all but Adam (yellow lab) has been here longer than the rest so I have a strong connection with that smart boy. I helped Yessy and Olin (black lab) give birth, I took care of Nacha since he was the weakest puppy who has now become the strongest, so that also creates a special bond.
What advice would you give to a dog owner?
1. Commitment and patience to train them and to let them know you are boss. 2. Take them for walks, this allows you to create a close connection with them. 3. Never bail on them; they will never do that to you. 4. Longer walks :)