Sam is the most beautiful purebred German Shepherd you have ever seen. I adopted him when he was just 10 months old, back in 2002.

Whenever I walk him, people always comment on how incredible he is, and I have been stopped several times by policemen, asking me where I got him.

Sam was fine. He was well behaved, easy to potty train, liked his puppy classes, had a great time at the dog park, and got along famously with my other dog. He loved people and children.

But then at some point he changed. Maybe he was getting confident as he got older. Maybe he didn’t like my new boyfriend. I don’t know. I noticed it was getting more and more difficult and more and more stressful whenever I walked my 2 dogs together. Sam was going one way, and Briley was going another way. Sam was pulling us all over creation. Then one day we rounded a corner in our quiet neighborhood, when my 2 Shepherds and two little tiny dogs came face to face. All I remember is a lot of screaming, and this poor girl scooping up her two little dogs, while Sam was in full attack mode. Luckily, her dogs weren’t hurt, but she did have a couple nasty puncture wounds in her leg.

I apologized profusely, cried like a baby, and begged her not to sue me. I told her again and again that Sam had never done anything like this before, and he really was sweet and lovely. She didn’t sue me, but she did cross the street whenever she saw us from that point on.

Sam continued to get more and more out of control. He dragged me on his walks. He lunged at other dogs. He went ballistic at the sight of a cat or squirrel. His 90 pounds was no match for my mere 105 pounds, and so his walks went from 20 or 30 minutes to 5 or 10 minutes. I dreaded taking him for a walk and I dreaded being on the walk. It was time to do something.

I had three trainers come, and they all gave me different ways of “harnessing his pent up energy”. They told me about different leads and harnesses, or new and more fabulous treats, all of which worked for about a week and then Sam would revert back to his out-of-control self.

One night I was taking him out for a walk, and as soon as I opened the gate on my porch, he broke away from me and went after my neighbors puppy, who was doing nothing except practicing his best puppy sit. Once again, he was saved from becoming Sam’s dinner as my neighbor scooped him out of harm’s way. I apologized, said I didn’t know what came over him, etc. The next day my neighbor informed me that she did see a puncture wound on her puppy, and she made it clear that she was extremely upset and angry. A few days later, Sam went after another dog. This time it was an elderly and practically blind Dalmatian.

I knew I was in big trouble. I figured it was time to give Sam up. Send him back to the rescue facility. But I loved him. And my other dog loved him. It was time to get very serious. I placed a tearful call to Cesar Millan’s office. A nice woman told me Cesar was booked for the next 6 months, and it sounded like I needed immediate assistance. She referred me to Linn Boyke.

Linn came a few days later, and within 2 minutes of him being with Sam, Sam was a changed dog. Seriously. Within 2 minutes! Linn put him on this little lead - despite my skepticism - and off they went. With a simple “shhh”, Linn had complete control over Sam. We walked him for 30 minutes, OFF LEASH, and Sam didn’t move from Linn’s side. He didn’t blink when a squirrel ran up a tree next to him. He didn’t turn his head as he passed house after house with cats lounging on porches. He simply walked calmly and nonchalantly next to Linn. All the while, Linn was telling me how I was going to handle Sam from that day forward. He counseled me on being calm, and showed me how to show Sam that I was in control of any and all situations. And he also gave me instruction on how Sam needed more rules and boundaries, but also needed an outlet for mental exercise.

Then Linn brought out one of his dogs. And I began to panic. But Linn was firm. “You can do this Vicki”, he reminded me, and suddenly there I was, walking confidently between Sam and Linn’s dog. The three of us were like a calm little pack, and we walked for many blocks with Linn watching and coaching from behind.

After our two hour lesson, I felt like I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel…finally. I knew Sam and I would have much better days, and that we would both be happier in the process.

Three years later, Sam is still doing great. I can walk him for miles and he is a pleasure to have at my side. Other dogs don’t even phase him anymore. Just this month I had Linn come to our house to help me with Sam and our new baby. Once again, Linn gave me instant, easy tools to help Sam understand his boundaries and how to interact with his new “sister”. And I can put them into place immediately, creating a stress free and calm home.

Linn changed Sam. And Linn changed me. I can tell that Sam is so much happier and much less anxious. And so am I!

A thousand thanks Linn,
Vicki Tripp