METROPOLIS | CLASSIFIEDS | PERSONALS | JOBS
LIFE IN JAPAN
Maggie Tai Tucker
Maggie Tai Tucker
Photo by Maki Nibayashi

Occupation:
Animal trainer

Time in Japan:
One year



Where are you from?
New York City.

What brought you to Japan?
I came here to learn Japanese. My father is Japanese and my mother is American, but I grew up in the States speaking English. A few years ago I began to make a career change from journalism to dog training. I use the clicker method of training, which is still rather rare in Japan, and I thought I might be able to popularize it here.

What is a clicker?
It' a small metal box that goes "click-click" when you push the tab on it. In training we use it to mark a piece of behavior, such as the dog making eye contact or his body hitting the floor when he lies down. The dog learns quickly that the click sound is always followed by something good, whether a toy or a food treat. This is how all dolphins and most movie animals are trained. Good traditional dog trainers can do the same thing with their voice, but it is easier for beginners to be precise and neutral using a clicker. Another trainer I know says it took her nine years and four minutes to teach her Golden Retriever to shake paws. Nine years trying the traditional way and four minutes using the clicker!

How did you come to change your career?
As a child I always wanted to be a trainer. I taught our house cats tricks and also had a circus of bugs. Later I went to a serious East Coast university and became editor of the campus newspaper, which got me into journalism after I graduated. I still do some work as an editor here. But in journalism I never felt engaged the way I do when training. Before making this switch I studied with more experienced trainers and also worked at an animal shelter training several hundred dogs in all. This was a kill-free shelter, and it was really rewarding to see dogs that I had trained get adopted quickly. I am still learning more all the time, especially about teaching people. The dogs are the easy part!

What sort of classes do you teach?
Group classes are taught outdoors in the fall and spring, but I do private lessons throughout the year. Mostly we teach puppies, but we have had dogs as old as eight in class. I have one assistant but we try to keep classes small, about six dogs at a time. The method works best with a lot of individual attention.

What do you like best about Japan?
The takuhaibin and postal systems. I receive a lot of packages for my business and the efficiency and convenience still impresses me every time. I think it's unique in the world. Also, the seasons, and the way people mark them, such as putting lilac leaves in the bath on a certain day.

What was the weirdest thing you have ever seen or experienced here?
Canine meishi. I've met people who have given me a business card on behalf of their dog. They have the dog's photo, phone number, etc. printed on the front.

What's your recipe for a happy life in Japan?
Try everything at least once!

Contact Maggie at 03-5351-6829, email stardog@gol.com or see her website: www.koinuza.com

Maggie Tai Tucker spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at maki@tokyoclassified.com

LIFE IN JAPAN:
360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
Filmmaker
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
Advocate
345: Chris Chavez
Dancer/Singer
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
Musician
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
Drummer
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
Cellist
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
Researcher
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel
Bartender

Issues 300-360
Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199
Issues 138-149