Dear Linn,

I just brought Penelope home from boarding and she is so happy. I just want to tell everyone her whole story.

Penelope is an eight year old Shepherd mix dog. She was rescued from the median strip on the Hollywood Freeway at night by a close friend. Why they weren’t both killed I have no idea but I imagine she has a special place on this earth. She was only about 10 weeks old at the time. She was covered with mange, no hair on her face at all. She also had every parasite imaginable and a cord had been tied around her neck. While I accepted her skittish nature and fearfulness, I didn’t know what was to come. Her anxiety turned to aggression and she would attempt to bite anyone with white shoes or white socks. I made excuses that she had been abused in the past.

The first time she bit me, I mentioned it to the vet and he advised putting her down. I could not do that. The second vet prescribed medication and she began a life long “diet:" of anti-anxiety medication, which never really worked. She never viciously attacked anyone, just a bite and run situation. Again, I was always justifying her behavior.

I tried a “heel” training class, which we flunked. Then an in home trainer taught her to sit with cheese treats. She already knew how to sit, and certainly was familiar with cheese. After all she was 20 lbs overweight. I was reluctant to take her out for long walks because I never knew what we would encounter. No one addressed her aggressive behavior.

And then I heard Cesar’s Way and realized that the problem was me. She was not a “little person in a fur suit”, of course I had given her a person name and was attaching human emotions to her. Just because I presumed she was abused eight years ago I had probably programmed her to be fearful. I realized that I needed help. As you know, I got your name from his web site and I am forever grateful that I did.

It was difficult at first, I had to endure “tough love” when you told me that Penelope was not the dog for me. I weaned her off the medication, as you pointed out I could not ask her how the drug was making her feel. With your help, I was committed to changing my ways, and no longer let her be the pack leader. Her experience at the ZEN4K9S Rehabilitation Center allowed her to come back a well adjusted dog, something other trainers and books could not do for us. I think your methods are unique and special. She waits until permission is given and I focus on the “moment”. We walk with the Halti lead which allows me to be in control. We never have problems with other dogs. She has lost weight and continues to go on long walks. The pictures you sent from her recent stay truly tell the story; she is a happy dog who likes to be around other dogs. And all the dogs know you are the pack leader.

The last vacation I had was the most restful I have ever had since Penelope came to live with me. I knew she was in a safe place that she truly loves to be and I did not have to worry about her at all. Thank you so much


Margot S. Throne