Thibodaux dog trainer carries on family tradition

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Working with dogs has taught Eddie Rodrigue a lot about life. He believes the more effort you put into it the more you will get out of it.

“You’ve got to have patience,” the former Thibodaux Police K-9 handler said. “A lot of people want a well-disciplined dog but don’t want to put the time and effort in. You can send the dogs off to any training in the world, but if you don’t spend enough time with them when they get home they just revert back to the way they were. It’s kind of like raising kids. If you don’t put in the time, you never know what you’re going to get at the end of the day.”

Since leaving law enforcement two years ago, the Raceland native now owns and operates his own dog-training service, Rodrigue’s Cajun K-9 in Thibodaux. He offers courses on everything from service dogs to obedience.

Working side-by-side with dogs runs is in Rodrigue’s blood. His father handled K-9s for more than 30 years for the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office and served as his mentor.

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“I learned everything from him,” said Rodrigue, who’s certified by the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association. “I grew up training police service dogs. I ran my first narcotics dog when I was 11 years old.”

Although he grew up surrounded by dogs, Rodrigue became inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps when he was 16 after a burglar broke into a house in Larose and stole a family’s Christmas presents on Christmas day.

Using a K-9, Rodrigue and his father recovered the presents from the real-life Grinch and returned them to a much-relieved family.

“I could not put into words the gratifications I felt when I saw the smiles on those children’s faces when we returned the presents,” Rodrigue said. “From that moment on I always wanted to be a K-9 officer and was truly amazed with what a properly trained K-9 could accomplish.”

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After 19 years in law enforcement, Rodrigue decided to hang up his badge to free himself up for some much-needed family time.

“I don’t train as many police dogs now,” the 38-year-old said. “I kind of cater to the general public, training hunting dogs, obedience dogs and things like that. I wanted to do something so I could spend more time with my kids.”

The extra time has given rise to Rodrigue’s second passion — watching his sons flourish on the national rodeo circuit with his wife, Danielle.

“I grew up rodeoing,” he said. “I rode bulls when I was younger. I got out of it for a while, but then my oldest son (Jay, 11,) decided he wanted to get on a sheep about five years ago. It all started from there. Now he lives for it.”

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Like training K-9s, bull riding amounts to what you put into it, Rodrigue said.

“My oldest son finished as reserve world champion last year,” Rodrigue said. “It takes a lot of practice and coordination. People don’t realize how much practice these boys put in. You’ve got to be tough. Bull riding is different than other sports because when they open that gate, there’s nothing a parent can do to make their kid want to ride. The kid has to have the desire to succeed. He’s got to fight for what he wants.”

Meanwhile, Rodrigue’s other sons, Carson, 8, and Cade, 4, successfully compete on the local rodeo circuit.

Rodrigue is also passing his dog-training skills to his children just as his father had taught him when he was a boy.

“My oldest son is 11 and can work with a bomb-sniffing dog better than anyone else,” Rodrigue said.

The Rodrigue family tradition continues.


Information from: The Courier,