Not a lot of people will know this. Travis Browne once was beaten up by a dog, 6 inches tall. It raked his nose with its snout. Browne tapped out.
But dog whispering’s loss was MMA’s gain when Travis Browne packed his walking leads, whistles and chains, and left canine training for jiu-jitsu classes.
Over to Travis: “I owned a dog training business and it was a very fast transition to a successful business. I did really well as a dog trainer and I made a lot of money… in the meantime I found MMA.”
In conversation with the big man not long after he’d dispatched a huge rival in Josh Barnett with those brutal elbows of his, Browne told me of his love for dog training. It seemed a bizarre juxtaposition as we transitioned from cage to "dog rage."
He’d been asleep and they handed him over to me kind of like a football. I held him in my hands, and that little dog reached up, clamped on to my nose, pretty much pierced my nose in front of the owners.
But it was too good a revelation not to pursue. Thoughts of Werdum, returns against Bigfoot Silva and a possible world title fight with Cain Velasquez faded, paled into insignificance as Browne talked furry mutts.
He cajoled, controlled and tamed the mutts who were wrecking homes and the psyches of their "owners."
“The one that always comes to mind is this little Jack Russell Terrier that was always so aggressive. He was 10 weeks old and I remember showing up to this house and leaving these people’s house afterwards and my hands were all tore up from him biting them and going nuts on them… this little dog was 10 weeks old so he wasn’t going to kill me but it hurt, they stung.”
“So I went back to the house about three days later and I picked him up because sometimes I would do a boarding training where I would take the dog for about four weeks. I would retrain the dog and then place it back in the home and then give the owners instructions on what to do.
“So, I went back to pick up the dog. He’d been asleep and they handed him over to me kind of like a football. I held him in my hands, and that little dog reached up, clamped on to my nose, pretty much pierced my nose in front of the owners and there I am … my eyes are watering, I have tears coming out of my eyes, blood running out of my nose in front of the owners and they’re like ‘Are you OK?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, it’s not a problem.’"
No. Not in reality. There was a happy ending.
“’We’ll see you in about four weeks,’ I said, and I turned around and walked away and I was like oh my God, it’s like getting a punch with a needle straight to the nose. That dog tore me up big time. He had so much energy.”
“It was challenging but when you understand dogs and their behaviors and what motivates them, it’s a waiting game, it’s about patience, and that’s something that dogs will definitely teach you.”
Over four weeks, the relationship changed. “We were mates, we were buddies, he was the dog I will never forget, he went everywhere with me during those four weeks. He rode in the car so by the end of the four weeks and when I went to drop him off, it was like saying goodbye to a friend.
“The Jack Russell is a working dog; people have those dogs out on farms to take care of rodents and critters, and people don’t understand that.
We were mates, we were buddies, he was the dog I will never forget, he went everywhere with me during those four weeks.
“They take these dogs into the city, to an apartment, and wonder why they tear the apartment up. If you put me in a little space and give me nothing to do, I’m going to go nuts. These little dogs, in sporting terms, are not baseball players, they are more like fighters."
And the moral of this story… you can bloody Browne’s nose, tear him up, rip him apart, but he’ll tame you. And after the fight, he’ll be your friend.
Or, put another way, big men should fight big men, and let small sleeping dogs lie.