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Mr. & Miss March 2020 - Pete and Maggie
Two Australians Home In Oriental

long the waterfront, steps away from Lou Mac Park live Pete and Maggie. Their home is situated along one of the better walking routes in the village, near treat giving shop owners.

Pete and Maggie are two Australian Shepherds living with Stan and Ellen Aeschelman. They, along with Stan, walk around the village at least twice a day. Off leash, they pay close attention to Stan, complying with his commands.

For their good behavior and observance of off-leash social niceties, TownDock.net names Pete and Maggie the March Pets of the Month.

Pete & Maggie
Pete and Maggie may not be water dogs, but walks by the water are part of their routine.
Pete & Maggie
The service Pete received in Oriental restaurants prompted his humans to choose Oriental as their retirement community.

The Aeschelmans had been living in Boone, NC for the last few decades, Stan as provost for Appalachian University and Ellen as a Pediatric Physician’s Assistant. Pete had been their companion for several years, purchased from a breeder in Virginia. When retirement came, the Aeschelmans were looking for something new. “After 28 years in the mountains,” Ellen said, “I wanted warm and flat.”

They’d been auditioning coastal towns, looking for a small town with urban flavor. Their first visit to Oriental coincided with Silospalooza, an annual music festival. The Aeschelmans were delighted to see the Pete was welcomed there and throughout town. River Neuse Suites had pet friendly rooms. Local restaurants brought Pete water. Some even brought him bacon.

Pete & Maggie
Whether seated on a porch or on a walk along Oriental avenues, voice control from their humans, Stan and Ellen Aeschleman, serves as a leash for Pete and Maggie.
Pete & Maggie
Pete plays the role of the dignified elder of the Pete and Maggie duo.

It appeared to the Aeschelmans that Oriental was the perfect place for dog lovers. After checking local ordinances and finding no leash law, the deal was sealed. Stan, Ellen, and Pete retired to Oriental.

Pete was quick to established a walking routine, one that revolved around treats. He found treats at Marsha’s Cottage, and then at Village Hardware where he learned to ‘speak’ for his reward. Garland Fulcher’s Seafood Market was added to the routine as was a stop for water at the Provision Company. Before long, Stan and Pete roamed across to Midyette St, up to Lupton Park, and down to Minuscule Beach for the occasional dip in the water. Pete made friends – human and canine – along the way.

Pete & Maggie
Maggie joined the family three years ago and quickly adopted Pete as her adored big brother. (Stan Aeschleman photo)
Pete & Maggie
Training by a trained behavioral psychologist set the stage for the two dogs to obey human voice instructions.

Life was good. And then about three years ago, after several long discussion, the Aeschelmans decided Pete needed a playmate. Visiting the website of Pete’s breeder, they found two females. They chose to get another Australian Shepherd as Stan had wanted a smart dog breed, like a Border Collie. But they’re very active dogs, indoors and out. “He was told,” said Ellen, “an Australian Shepherd was like a Border Collie with an off switch.”

They set up a playdate for the dogs. “We had a little trepidation about adding another dog,” Ellen said.

Pete & Maggie
Ellen Aeschleman says that when you see one of the shepherds, the other is close by as they play together when they are not sleeping or eating.
Pete & Maggie
Younger and lighter, Maggie is out of the gate first.

Pete and the Aeschelmans met Maggie in a park near her kennel. Pete loved playing with Maggie in the park, but seemed to have second thoughts when Stan and Ellen placed her in the car to go home. When they stopped at a hotel for the night, Maggie tried to eat out of Pete’s bowl. He growled and snapped at her.

But by the time they were back in Oriental, the two were snuggled up together in the car.

Back in Oriental, Maggie began to learn her brother’s walking route. But walks around the village became more challenging while teaching a puppy not to run up to every person she saw.

Pete & Maggie
It’s canine rest time in the Aeschleman house.
Pete & Maggie
Maggie has energy & speed.

As he had with Pete, Stan put his experience as a professor of Behavioral Psychology to work. He began to train Maggie using voice commands. “When the dog does something you wish to build into their repertoire, you positively reinforce, give them a treat and a ‘good dog’,” he said. “When they do something you wish to eliminate, you positively punish, “bad dog” in your best dog voice.” Stan said the dog voice also worked well on their kids.

He added, “Most importantly, don’t anthropomorphize; don’t attribute human emotional characteristics as a cause for your dog’s misbehavior. That is counterproductive. And remember, the dog is always right; he’s doing what his evolutionary history selected and what you’ve either intentionally or unintentionally taught him.”

Pete & Maggie
Every play period involves a roll in the hay, or grass.
Pete & Maggie
This is as close as Maggie is allowed to the furniture (although she gets to sleep in the bed).

Now, when Pete and Maggie hear a command, they act in unison to the sound of Stan’s voice. “In thousands of hours of walking around the Village, I have encountered perhaps two people who took exception to Maggie coming over and being friendly,” he said. “As long as I am vigilant, and monitor traffic, I can anticipate how friendly people are going to be toward the dogs.”

Pete has taken the role of patient, older mentor, but Maggie is young and full of energy. “Maggie likes to watch basketball on TV,” says Stan. “She will watch the ball go up and down the court and when the ball is shot toward the basket, she jumps up to try and get it.”

Pete & Maggie
Waiting patiently for breakfast while the human makes her coffee first. (Ellen Aeschleman photo)

That energy is mostly on display outside the home; inside the two are quieter. Unless they hear Stan say the word ‘walk’. If he tries to tell Ellen his plans, he has to spell it out or Pete and Maggie immediately start barking and jumping. Unless it is raining; neither dog likes the water, though Pete will occasionally go for a dip at Minuscule Beach.

Pete and Maggie always have great fun with all their dog friends: Max, Gus, two Gracies, Bandit, Leo, Claire’s Maggie, Banjo, Titan, River, plus any out-of-town visitors with tails.  They all do the mutual smell test of private parts.

After all, they are dogs. 

At least twice a day, you can see Stan, Pete, and Maggie on their leashless walks around the village, stopping along the way for treats or playing in the parks. For their camaraderie with each other and their loyalty to Stan’s commands, Pete and Maggie are the March Pets of the Month.

Pete & Maggie
Maggie guards either her toy or one picked up from a nearby yard.

Celebrity most resembles: Batman & Robin

Likes: Live basketball, walks by the water
Dislikes: Rain
Wants: To be allowed on the furniture
Secret Talent: Synchronized sitting
Words to live by Listen, and be rewarded

photos and story by Ben Casey

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Know a pet that is a standout? Send in some details and a photo to info@towndock.net. Tell why that pet deserves the coveted TownDock.net Pet of the Month Prize Package --- accolades, a pat on the head (snakes excluded) and a box of Milk Bones ( or snack suitable for the species).

We regret that we cannot offer a college scholarship to Pet Of The Month winners.

Animals caught near the HarborCam attempting to suck up to the judges will be disqualified.