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Bash & Friends
 
by
Elizabeth Hayt
 
He has cured a springer spaniel of what he diagnosed as "rage without reason." He has helped a Great Dane overcome sibling rivalry after the birth of its ownersí first baby. At the moment, he is ministering to a bulldog with a compulsive appetite for its masterís Gucci belts and Hermés bags.
 
This 'top dog' of
trainers has worked
with the pets of
Henry Kissinger
and Alec Bladwin.
  Bashkim Dibra, a dog trainer who has such a cult following among Manhattan pet owners that he is known simply as Bash, like a rock star, charges $200 an hour to go to your apartment and bang on pots to quiet your barking schnauzer.
 
His clients have included Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ronald O. Perelman, Linda Wachner and Henry A. Kissinger. Heís the "top dog" o trainers, said Georgette Mosbacher, the society figure.

Bash said: "Everything I do, I think of the dogís point of view. I actually think like a dog."

He said that it usually takes six to eight lessons for him to "city train" a pet on a leash, and another seven lessons to "county train" it off the leash. Given the life styles of many of his clients, a "town and country" dog, as he calls it, is a must.

In April, Bash flew to Paris for an emergency visit to a Jack Russell terrier that had forgotten its table manners. Although the dog had been trained to lie quietly under outdoor restaurant tables along Madison Avenue, once away from home, it lunged at other dogs. Bash spent two days going from bistro to bistro, teaching the dog to nibble baguette crumbs peacefully off the cobblestones at its ownerís feet.

"Bash is as much a dog psychiatrist as a trainer," said Victoria Newhouse, the wife of S. O. Newhouse Jr., the owner of Condé Nast Publications.

"My dog, Nero, at 12, started to withdraw," she said. "Bash came up with the idea of teaching him a new trick every year. It would revitalize him. The challenge of learning something new made it not true that you canít teach an old dog new tricks."

Bash, who is 46 and was born in Albania, has accompanied dogs to their ownersí interviews with co-op boards on the Upper East Side. While the people try top prove their own good breeding, Bash shows off the dogsí. After one such appearance at 1185 Park Avenue, he said, a board member told him, "I wish the kids who lived here could be so well mannered."

Bash and his family came to America in 1963, settling in Riverdale in the Bronx. Bash is still based there, operating his private training service through Fieldstone Pets, a grooming and pet supply shop owned by his sister, Mereut. He has a degree in animal behavior from City University and is the author of "Dog Training by Bash" (Dutton, 1993).

In 1975, he was hired to train and domesticate a wolf pup for a television movie, "A Boy Who Cried Wolf." He named the pup Mariah. "This was my greatest teacher, the rearing and training of her," Bash said. "The wolf is the ancestor of the dog. Itís the primal part of the dog that exists. It gave me insight into the mind of the dog."

When he is not making house calls (all of his lessons are private), Bash is a bog kahuna on the pet charity circuit. In 1992 he started the Dog Walk, to benefit shelter programs sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and in 1993 he created Paws for Cause, a dog walk for the American Cancer Society to promote awareness that animals can also get cancer. He has been on the board of the Delta Society, which brings dogs together with people with disabilities. Earlier this year he created Canine Court in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the first dog playground in the city. And he is creating Starpet.com, an on-line animal talent agency for advertising and entertainment.

With an average of 50 clients a week, Bash logs 14-hour days, but he doesnít mind the schedule. "Iím a good barometer of the economy," he said. "Thereís a new wealth of people- -young Wall Street people living in Scarsdale, Greenwich, Pound Ridge. Itís hot to have a dog trainer, just like itís hot to have a personal trainer. Iím like the dogís personal trainer."

 
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