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Obituary: Al Younger, Carroll County's Dog Whisperer

After a long battle with cancer, the "Dog Whisperer of Carroll County" passed away on May 31.

I met Al Younger several years ago. I was on assignment for , tasked with writing a story about this man who raised German Shepherds and worked miracles in training dogs of all types.

I first met him at his house in Westminster. Driving down his lane I was greeted by several of his dogs, which for the record looked more like black wolves at first glance. They were large and I had never seen black Shepherds before.

It didn't take long for me to understand some things about Mr. Younger. As he introduced me to his dogs (which he referred to as his children, and treated like a doting parent would treat his children) and candidly shared details about his life--it became clear to me that he was wise. Not wise like he read a lot of books, but wise like life had thrown a lot of lessons at him. Wise like he learned the hard way.

He told me of his childhood -- of biological parents who didn't do a very good job, and foster parents who gave him the upbringing he needed to become a decent person. He told me how he grew to love dogs at a young age, thanks to those supportive foster parents.

He told me stories of he and his wife, Wanda, educating children about interacting with dogs. He said he had a unique understanding of dogs and that dogs and their pack mentality made sense to him. It seemed to me that he could relate to and trust dogs more than he could humans, I concluded that it had something to do with his challenging childhood.

But whatever it was, I learned from talking to people who had hired Al to train their dogs, that he truly was gifted. I spoke to a mom of two autistic children. She said that Al literally changed her life. Al worked with her children and their dog. The result would be a child-dog relationship that truly helped the child evolve in a more confident, secure kid.

More than five years later, I still remember some of the things I learned from Al that day. I think the most poignant thing he said to me was "the most important thing a parent can give a child is self-confidence". I had very young children at the time and as they have grown up over the years, I have often remembered what Al said and I think he was on to something. I think that was one of those things he learned the hard way.

I was sad to hear from a friend that Al passed away at his home Thursday, May 31. When I heard the news, I immediately remembered him at his house, surrounded by eight or 10 large dogs who didn't take their eyes off of him.

Al impacted a lot of lives, including mine. My condolences go out to his wife Wanda and his pack of Shepherds who are surely missing their alpha dog.

Patch ran a video story last year about Younger and his dogs. The video is attached to this post.

Did you know Al Younger? Share your memories of him in the comment section below.

Andie Luchini June 05, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Beautiful story about an amazing man who will truly be missed. Thank you Kim...
Katelyn Helmbright June 05, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I will always miss you al with your kind heart, your wisdom, your life lessons, your friendship and all the tootsie rolls you would supply us girls at Bowmans with. Even if you couldn't come see us you made sure we were takin care of. Miss you al you are a great person and you put a big mark in my book of life that I'm glad to have there.
June Horner June 05, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Thank You......Kym, This is Beautiful. . Sorry I never had an opportunity to meet Al. His words of wisdom are spot on !
Jacque Siimcock June 08, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I also met Al a few years ago, when he came to train my 2 dogs....We spent several hours at that time just talking about the dogs and what I expected from them. He then spent time "training" me to understand my dogs. I now have 2 dogs that loved Al and are much better for having known him. He had a beautiful soul and I miss our chats about dog lore and everything else. He was a font of knowledge and wisdom.
Susie Wetzel June 24, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I'm so sorry I diddn't get to say goodbye, or see you jsut one more time. You never gave up on me or my dog. In your honor, I will make sure she learns! For the 6 or so months that I knew you, I watched you decline, but never complain. I'm grateful that you & Wand came into my life! You were a kind man. I miss you.

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