Cambridge-based Monks of New Skete to showcase dog training expertise on Good Morning America Saturday Morning

By PAUL POST
ppost@saratogian.com
3/6/2011

CAMBRIDGE — The Monks of New Skete will be in church, so they won’t get to see themselves on today’s broadcast of Good Morning America.

However, viewers across the country will be tuning in to learn about their highly regarded work as premier dog trainers and breeders.

An ABC film crew, including Good Morning America weekend news anchor Bianna Golodryga, spent more than five hours at the monks’ remote Cambridge monastery on Thursday.

“I believe it’s going to be a six-minute segment, which is huge for that show,” said Brother David (Ferencz) of the New Skete community. “Working with dogs is one of the mainstays of our existence. One of the rules is that as a monastery we always have to work with dogs. It’s an outreach toward nature.”

One monk, Brother Christopher, will be in New York to appear on the show live. Locally, Good Morning America starts at 7 a.m. on WTEN Channel 10.

In addition to breeding, raising and selling puppies — primarily German Shepards — the monks train dogs for people from all over the U.S., including a number of celebrity clients. Canines typically stay for three weeks. Before going home, the monks spend several hours teaching clients what dogs have learned and how they can continue that training.

“We spend a lot of time on socialization,” Brother David said. “They’re exposed to lots of things, like vacuum cleaners, so they don’t run and hide when somebody decides to clean the house.”

“We’ve worked with all kinds of dogs, from a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel — a little lap dog — to Saint Bernards,” he added.

Previously, the monks’ dog training series, “Divine Canine,” aired on the Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet and today’s show coincides with the 20th anniversary of their popular book, “The Art of Raising a Puppy.”

The New Skete Monks have nine members and belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. They have had a monastery near Cambridge for more than 40 years.

A related group, the New Skete Nuns, have their own monastery and are famous for their gourmet cheesecakes that have been featured by food critics including Rachel Ray.

The community also includes Companions of New Skete, married people who work and pray alongside the monks and nuns.

Although Brother David won’t get to see today’s premier viewing of the show, he still expects to watch.

“I’ve gotten about 15 offers from people who said they’d tape it for me,” he said.

For more information, go to the website: http://www.newskete.com/

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