DAVE Teoh is the kind of 19-year-old who forces you to look back and reconsider all your life choices.
At 19, he’s already a certified dog trainer, a licensed private pilot, a diploma student at Sunway College and now, a (young) man who has made his dreams a reality.
When R.AGE last spoke to him a year ago, Teoh had been tossing around the idea of possibly one day opening up his very own canine training centre, just like his mentor and third-generation dog trainer Juergen Knobel from Germany.
Little did he know that those dreams would become reality so much sooner than he originally thought.
Today, Teoh is the proud and ambitious managing director of Knine, a professional dog training academy, alongside his partner Poven Kumaresan.
Teoh’s life story so far is less of a linear upward progression, and more of a young boy’s obsession with dogs coming full circle.
Even during childhood, Teoh found himself surrounded by dogs of all shapes and sizes.
He grew up with three German Shepherds which he dedicated his time to training and loving.
Whilst other boys his age were worrying about girls and grades, Teoh found himself trying to find a way to combine his love for dogs with a financially sustainable career. Thus, the first seeds for Knine were sown.
“I love handling aggressive dogs,” he said during the small launching event he held last week. “I love being able to train them, work with them and discipline them.”
According to Teoh, working with dogs will always be ten times better than working with people.
“Dogs are the most loyal, understanding, obedient companions we can have,” he said while smiling fondly.
And no one agrees with him more than Poven, his managing partner in Knine. The two met at a kennel one day and hit it off instantly. Together, they began brainstorming ideas for a training academy – a place where private owners and security companies could send their dogs in for obedience and protection training.
With funds from dog food brand Eukanuba, their dream slowly began to unfold into reality.
The 32-year-old Poven looks more like a big brother to Teoh than just a friend. He lets Teoh answer most of the questions, lets him take centre stage during their dog demonstration drills, and is content to spend his holidays at home, surrounded by his dogs.
“I get anxious if I’m away from them for too long,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I am with my dogs.”
Poven’s dreams are simple – he wants to one day be able to live comfortably by the countryside, surrounded by dogs.
Poven carries a gentle air about him that complements Teoh’s youthful exuberance. Even their relationships with dogs are different. Whilst Teoh sees his dogs as his best and most trustworthy personal bodyguards, Poven treats them as part of his family.
During the demonstration drills they performed at the launch, you could see a quiet sort of connection between the two men, seconds before Teoh cracks his whip and the dog comes flying towards him, intent on taking a chunk out of his arm. Poven stands by as the dog’s jaws clamp down on Teoh’s protected arm and gives a safe word that instantly gets the dog off Teoh’s arm and back into its starting position.
Their demonstrations and training sessions are being conducted in a private compound at Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, Kuala Lumpur. The house is well furnished, but neither Teoh nor Poven stays there.
“The house is for our trainees who come from outstation,” Dave said.
By trainees he means The Men Kai and Aw Wai Yen, who are 15 and 26 respectively. Like Poven and Teoh, the two grew up surrounded by dogs and have a desire to understand their canine friends better.
They undergo mental as well as physical training, to be better prepared when handling dogs that are sometimes twice their weight. Guard dogs are usually hefty breeds such as Rottweilers, Dobermans and German Shepherds, and these breeds, whilst not necessarily vicious, are capable of taking down targets with ease.
This might be one of the reasons why some people have misconceptions about dogs being dangerous creatures when in reality, they are usually loving, kind and loyal.
No one sees this better than Teoh and Poven, who said: “We don’t just want to train dogs. In a sense, we also want to train people.”