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Sharing A Passion For People, Public Service And Animals: Spending Time With Jim Warden
Tuesday April 14, 2009
By Cookie Steponaitis
Sitting down with Jim Warden is an experience in itself for the simple fact that he is actually sitting down. A man who is known for always being in perpetual motion, Jim, Chief Warden or Jimmy to a few does not seem to know what spare time is nor is he ever at a loss for projects to complete. Moving to Vermont in 1975 from Pennsylvania and later to Addison County in 1987, Jim has been involved with the state of Vermont and its people at many different levels for years.
One of Jim’s passions involves the raising, training and care of dogs. Jim is known around the state and New England for his training skills that range from obedience skills to police dog training. Jim has owned and worked with many unique dogs. He actually began his work with dogs in 1965 as an apprentice under nationally known trainer John Kellogg. Working with tracking and drug dogs in the law enforcement side, Jim has also always maintained open classes in obedience work for dog owners of varying levels of experiences and goals through the recreation departments. “In working with dogs for so long,” Jim commented, “I have learned that a dog is the only animal that loves you more than it loves itself. When I first started the Standard Poodles were considered the smartest breed and there was a national push for the breed. While there are certified schools you can attend to be a dog trainer, what most people need to realize is that each dog is an individual and must be taught accordingly. While there are certain breeds that have certain characteristics, each one is unique.”
Raised by his grandparents on a small farm in Pennsylvania, Jim also grew up around horses. “I learned by doing,” he remarked. “My grandparents were into five gaited horses, and we always were being asked to take on different horses. I rode by the seat of my pants and learned western riding as well as English seat. We brought horses with us to Vermont and there has been at least one horse at the Warden house since I was a child. Sometimes we cared for other people’s horses and provided training. Sometimes we rescued animals and got them good homes. But always we worked to improve the skills and relationship between each horse and its owner.”
Training animals is a family project and wife Gloria, and daughters Lindsay and Shannon have followed suit. His current project involves working with his daughter Shannon raising and training some quarter horses and at least five problem horses that have been brought to them to be worked with also. Both Jim and Shannon work with these animals that no one else seems to be able to reach and can daily be found in the ring, round pen or working one on one with both the horse and its owner. Jim sees the educational process as double sided and commented, “Shannon gets the harder ones now. I have stepped back into the role of an assistant. She not only builds up the animal, but works with the owner to correct or implement new skills to strengthen the bond with the horse.”
While most people in Chittenden County know Jim in his role as the Chief of Police in Shelburne, a role that Jim takes very seriously, others see him in his public service role as a selectman from Ferrisburgh, member of the Vermont Quarter Horse Association, or any of his numerous horse clinics, or dog training classes, or just out in the neighborhood being helpful to his neighbors. What makes Jim tick is a commitment to his family, his career in public service and his passion for working with people and animals. While it was important to sit down for a spell and have a formal interview, the best way to learn about Jim is to follow in his wake and see the perpetual motion of a man working with his passions to better the communities that he calls home.
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