This is where we shine a light and recognize the hard work and dedication it takes to create a confident happy well mannered dog. The dogs and their handlers on this page have done the work, and we congratulate you on a job well done!
Gordon is a 3-month-old English Mastiff. We acquired him from a family in Northern California, he has been apart of our family about 12 weeks now.
His personality matches his growing size! His favorite activity is meeting new people especially when there are children involved. When he hears kids on the television he watches and wags his tail!
He has finished Puppy Socialization Class and is now starting Leadership and Obedience Class.
Our bond and respect for each other is so much stronger from this 1st class. We are excited to continue our lifelong training and the classes with Brandy and Steve at EVK9.
Our goal for Gordon is to be a Therapy dog at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, specifically on the oncology floors. Hoping he can bring these children as much joy and love as he brings us!
Gordon is truly a gentle giant and has brought us so much love and happiness!
Brandy and Steve have not only given us the proper tools in raising Gordon through these puppy stages but also us as handlers the confidence and skills to attain these goals.
Sam and Amber
Leia (pronounced like the Star Wars Princess) came to us from the Valley of the Sun Dog Rescue. She’s only been with us for 6 months. But it feels like Leia has been ours forever.
We had been without a pet for too many years. And the time had come for us to welcome a furry kid into our home. I spent a lot of time searching for a dog to rescue. I saw Leia for the first time at a Petco available-dog day in January 2021.
Leia’s Valley of the Sun Dog Rescue foster mom walked our shy girl around the store and outside a little with us. Everything about Leia called to my son and me to take her home. Leia’s a good-sized dog, part German Shepherd and part Labrador, likely Yellow Lab. Leia is beautiful, she has very soulful amber eyes, and she glances up at you from a bit of a lowered head, the way Princess Diana looked in photos during her most popular times. Leia is very quiet, her extreme shyness and anxious behavior seemed to, maybe, result from the life she had lived until Valley of the Sun rescued her.
We so much wanted to get Leia over her fearful reticence with people, men particularly. Her nervousness has gradually diminished over the several weeks we have spent attending Brandy and Steve’s classes. Steve has just the right approach; he had Leia liking him very early in our training. That was a very big deal. And Brandy’s consistent reminders that I could make a difference in Leia’s reticent demeanor kept me on course with my very reserved girl-dog’s progress.
East Valley K-9’s training builds well-mannered, confident and happy dogs. Leia comes easily to the well-mannered part because of her naturally quiet and, I think, elegant disposition. The girl comes across quite queenly: good manners are not a problem for her. But that confident, happy part that we want for her is where Brandy and Steve’s training makes the rewarding difference to me as Leia’s person.
We would love for Leia to be a Paws to Read service dog. Reading with children would suit her quiet, gentle personality very well. Plus, Leia adores to be petted!
Jesse is a 6-month-old German Shepherd that has absolutely stolen my heart. He is so incredibly smart, responsive, and just such a good boy. A big reason I wanted a German Shepherd is the loyalty and dedication they show to their owner and Jesse has proven that he has that trait in spades.
I can’t even begin to calculate the amount of research and time and practice that has gone into training Jesse. Jesse is my first young puppy and, honestly, I was terrified I was going to mess something up and turn this sweet little fluff ball into a terrifying stereotype of the breed. Having class every week and learning from Steve and Brandy has given me the confidence and skills I needed to be the best leader and trainer I can be for Jesse.
The one thing that has seemed to have the biggest impact in Jesse’s training has been learning impulse control. Jesse sits and waits for his meals as well as waits to come out of his crate, go out the front door, or out of the car. There have even been a couple of times where I’ve been distracted, opened his crate and walked off, only to turn around and see him waiting for me to tell him he can come out! My end goal has always been just to have a well-mannered, happy companion and I would say we are well on our way to that point.
At times, it has been exhausting, but it has proven to be so incredibly rewarding.
Queen Creek AZ
Rin is a 6-month old Malinois GSD mix. We adopted her 4 months ago from a breeder in Kingman who is well-known for breeding them.
From the very first day, Rin has been the sweetest little girl with so much character and energy! Everyone absolutely loves her and she returns the love to everyone she meets! She is always happy and smiling! It's the perfect personality for a service dog in public.
One of my favorite things with Rin is when you ask if she wants to go for a ride. She just gets so excited, jumping and crying until she's in the car with us exploring the outside world!
One of our training goals with Rin is to train her as a service dog. We want her to be able to go everywhere with us and are ensuring her training and manners are up to par!
With East Valley's K9 Services, we have been focused on Rin's social manners in public. On our walks, we are using the prong collar to help with control and focus. We can already see wonderful results with Rin's training and how it is has created a much stronger bond and relationship of respect, trust and communication between us.
We are excited to continue training with Brandy/Steve and see what's next with our sweet Rin!
Also known as Coop, Walter (our husband wanted to name him this but he lost the battle with our kids), Coopie, or pup dog.
After losing our dog in July we decided to go with a Goldendoodle. We found Cooper through a friend. Cooper is an amazing and smart dog. He is so sweet yet so silly and training him has been easier than expected. Cooper loves to be involved with everything we do. He loves to “help” with yard work, cleaning, cooking, etc. and enjoys bringing his squeaky toys to us.
Cooper loves to take his daily walks and visit with his neighborhood friends Hurley, Rex and Maebe. He’s a joy to be around and is loved by many.
We are looking forward to further training with Steve and Brandy and cannot wait to see how far he goes
Mike, Kathi, Ryan and Nathan Greer
Note From Brandy:
Cooper and his mom are going to make a wonderful therapy dog team!
Spike is a 5-month-old German Shepherd puppy. He’s quite a smart puppy, and even more so when it comes to being manipulative to get yummy treats! It has been quite easy to train him to do several commands, and he has never given us much trouble at all.
He began training from the minute he got home to potty outside the house, and he’s only had a few accidents when he was very young. I think for every dog owner, two of the biggest training goals is to be able to potty and crate train their dog. Luckily, he took to both very well, as he proved to be a natural den animal that loves his crate. Our main goals were for him to socialize with other dogs, learn basic commands, and get the AKC S.T.A.R. puppy certification.
We must say that the East Valley K9 puppy socialization class accomplished all of those goals for him and us! He won first place twice for recall and leave it! We are so proud of him!
His personality has changed quite a lot when dealing with other dogs. He realizes now that he’s not a human, but in fact a dog! Surprise! He was initially very skittish around other dogs, but has gradually come out of his shell and become quite playful with other dogs through his puppy classes. Besides that, he absolutely loves playing fetch and could do that the whole day! He also enjoys playing tug, and when he gets too excited he loves running around the house or chasing his tail. I think he doesn’t realize that it’s his own tail yet.
All in all, he is a well-mannered dog, and we are so lucky to have him. He is just an adorable bundle of joy, and we absolutely love him! We plan to introduce him to agility courses, while continuing obedience training in the hopes to earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification one day. Our only complaint is that he’s growing up too fast.
Lewis is very smart, almost too smart for his own good, lol! He loves to pay tug with any and all of his millions of toys, He will run in circles around the house as if he is in the fast and furious movies. He is named after Lewis Hamilton who is a Formula 1 racecar driver.
Aside from all that energy I'm pretty sure he sleeps more than Adam and I combined, and sleeps in the weirdest places and positions. Training has helped us TREMENDOUSLY, This is our first dog we have raised as a puppy and hands down would recommend starting as early as possible.
Lewis used to pee and poop inside and outside his crate and within the first month of training Lewis sits by the front door every time he needs to go outside, or will whine in his crate telling us he needs to go. He has become more responsive to what we have taught him. Training him in a positive manner has definitely not only helped us but encourages Lewis to want to do it (but that’s probably just because he gets a treat). It has relieved stress off of our backs knowing what we learned has benefited for the better.
Note from Brandy:
Lewis is a wonderful example of how beneficial puppy class is!
Ralphie Quentin (or as we like to call him "Quenteenie") is a Chorkie I adopted from Maricopa County at the onset of the COVID-19 quarantine. He was just over 1 year old at the time and was found as a stray. County shelter employees weren't sure how well he would behave around small kids because he was so timid. After a meet-and-greet session, I knew he just needed a loving home and some much-needed care and training.
Ralphie quickly became a new dog with a COVID-19 home grooming routine, and he had already found my kids, 10 year old Fritz and 9-year-old Vada, to be his best friends. However, Ralphie had some behavioral issues that seemed to need professional help. On his last visit to the vet, I asked for a recommendation for some 1-on-1 training that might curb some of Ralphie's negative behaviors including food aggression, jumping and chewing on people, and overall lack of respect for our property. The vet referred me to Steve Mark of East Valley K9 Services.
At the first session with Steve in our home, we were able to let Ralphie show his usual behavior and talk about what improvements we were looking for. Steve worked with me and the kids to clearly define some new rules we needed to implement in order to ensure Ralphie understood his role in the house and his boundaries. Over the next couple of weeks, I made some drastic changes to Ralphie's usual day, including defined feeding times and feeding procedures, limitations on access to furniture and areas of the house, and deterring jumping and biting in a clear way. Almost immediately, Ralphie responded to the new rules and training.
By the time Steve returned for the follow-up session, Ralphie had improved significantly, was used to his new limitations, less aggressive, responsive to commands, and happier to behave for petting, play time, and praise. Fritz, Vada, and I couldn't be happier with the professional guidance we received from East Valley K9 Services and consider it a great investment in our lives with Ralphie for many years ahead.
Ralphie welcomes Instagram followers @ralphiequentin where he hopes to raise awareness of chronic dry eye in dogs. He's now looking forward to 2021 when he will be allowed on the couch by permission only and celebrate his 1st adoption anniversary.
My son had been begging for an emotional support animal all summer long. We already had one 5-year-old chow mix and one 7-year-old cat. I was not a fan of the idea. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized he really could benefit from having a companion. However, before committing we had a long discussion about the responsibilities of bringing in another dog and how this dog would be trained and need to bond with him.
Of course, my son promised to pick up all the poop, take the dog on walks, feed her and do all the training. Hesitantly, I agreed we could start looking. Within weeks my husband had found Mia, a 6-month-old terrier mix. It was love at first site.
The first day we brought Mia home she slept all day and we thought we’d found the perfect dog. Within a few days, though she had broken out of her shell. She was barking at everyone and every animal. She was biting and pulling on the leash like crazy. Then began the internet search for a dog trainer.
We were so thankful to have found Brandy and East Valley K9 Services. She came to our home for two private sessions and as promised, my son took the lead on training. It was so encouraging to watch their relationship grow as Mia learned to sit, stay and even do some fancy between the legs trick. We could not get enough of Brandy’s advice. We were able to kennel train Mia and curb the biting with her help, too.
We are now in the leadership and obedience class and Mia is learning to “leave it”, walk on a leash better, release, and so much more. More importantly, my son has developed confidence through training Mia and found a companion and friend. I still have to pick up poop every now and then, but it’s worth it seeing the developing relationship between the two of them.
A word from Brandy:
I have been SO impressed by this young man and the way he has worked with this dog. The dog was very shy and fearful when I first met them, I could not even touch her. That makes this duos story even better, because those of us with experience know what can happen when a dog presents with this temperament.
Kudos to this amazing pair, this has been a very rewarding experience for me as a dog trainer, and I look forward to seeing them progress even further to their CGC certification and beyond.
When my sister and I brought Zeke home at 2 months of age, we knew he was going to be a handful and that there would never be a dull moment. With two older rescue dogs in the home, we expected a little bit of battling for dominance and sibling “scuffles.” We had also done some research on Zeke’s breed (Corgi/Heeler) and thought we knew what was required for the level and type of play we needed to provide.
Wow! We definitely underestimated how much extra play, attention, care, and discipline Zeke would need. As Zeke started getting a little older (between 8m – 1yr), we started having issues with more than just scuffles but bouts of fights that would leave us feeling like horrible pet parents. We were also having issues with him pulling during walks and being “extra” when there were other dogs/distractions around.
The little quirks with noises and issues with walks were things we thought we could handle, but as soon as he started being a bully and picking fights with our two other dogs, we knew we needed help.
It’s definitely putting it lightly when I say Brandy helped improve so many different aspects of our lives and really made it so that we weren’t questioning ourselves (as much). We knew we had a lot to learn and were like a perpetual sponge – just constantly soaking up every tip and advice she had to offer. Between utilizing a kennel, having better play activities, implementing structured feeding times, and becoming better leaders – our household has undergone quite the positive change.
With Brandy’s help and hard work, we are better prepared to handle any “triggers,” control the walks, and provide quality play time. That’s not to say everything is perfect – far from it, but perfection is overrated and we’ll continue to learn/apply as much as we can.
Trixie is 1 of 5 rescue Pugs that I have. They were all adopted at different times and lived together without any issues until recently when Trixie started attacking one of the other Pugs. She would attack without being provoked, and twice I was bitten while trying to intervene. My poor Pug was terrified and had several minor injuries from the attacks. I had no idea what to do, I tried everything I could think of to fix the problem, but nothing worked.
The situation got worse over time and was very upsetting, not only because I had a dog being attacked, but we love Trixie dearly and didn't know what to do. I considered re-homing her and called the Pug rescue to explain the situation and ask if they would take her if needed.
My last hope was getting a dog trainer and praying it would work. I hired Steve Mark from East Valley K9 Services and he was outstanding! He was very thorough and spent a lot of time getting to know my home routine and all the dogs’ personalities. He gave lots of specific instructions that were reasonable and comfortable to me. After the first visit and following his recommendations, there was a HUGE difference in my dogs. I finally know how to be a leader and have my dogs respect me.
My house and my dogs are now calm and NO FIGHTS, even in the first week!
I am so grateful to Steve and beyond happy that we can keep Trixie and live in harmony. I can't thank Steve enough!
It was 10 years without a dog, we were settled in Arizona, and I thought it was time. So for my birthday, I decided I wanted a puppy. Researching and observing, I thought a smaller dog would be the way to go, since that birthday was my 75th. But then I went to see a friend’s litter of golden retrievers and you know what happened. That sneaky little puppy picked me, and that was that.
COVID hit at the time we should have been in training and we were stuck. Sydney grew to more than 50 pounds of exuberance and was the most rambunctious puppy I’d ever had. I didn’t know how to work with her. We would be walking down the street with her lunging ahead of me and jumping up on me and neighbors. And what I thought were cute puppy things that she’d grow out of became unacceptable as she grew quite unruly. Thankfully, someone told me about Brandy. After two sessions at our home, we were on our way to working through some bad habits.
Now after those sessions and four leadership and obedience classes, through my training on how to train, learning and practicing consistency and patience, we are making progress. That’s not to say everything is perfect. We have had a few lapses in who’s the alpha. But we trudge along and work through it, while making it fun for both of us. Neighbors we meet comment on our progress and what a difference they see in her behavior. So thank you, Brandy and Steve. My puppy parenthood is easier and so much fun.
There were four puppies available and we chose Sherlock because, although he was the youngest of the bunch, he was the feistiest and had the strongest personality. And after a few weeks of dealing with his confident and willful personality, including the mouthiness and resistance to correction, we reached out to Brandy for some help. We had trained German Shepherds before, but none with such stubbornness.
We had to start with Zoom meetings, due to Covid restrictions, but even with the limitations, her suggestions made a huge difference. We began structured feedings and he learned right away to wait for his food. We increased our active play time a lot. He was already sleeping in a crate at night, but we purchased a second crate for the living room and began using it for “puppy time outs”. He gets two chances to stop biting, jumping or any unwanted behaviour and then it’s right into the crate until he calms himself – and it worked wonders. For him and for us. It allows everyone a break, and with such a headstrong, active, stubborn dog, it made all the difference in the world.
And then, the Covid restrictions were lifted and we could begin puppy classes! (with social distancing of course). We had started with the basic “sit” and “down” at home and that was going well, but the opportunity to socialize and practice with other dogs was HUGE for us. Our first class showed us how far Sherlock had to go and I’m sure it was a lot of work for Brandy and Steve too. Sherlock was one of the youngest in the class and there was much barking and pulling and not paying attention. But we saw the power of the apple cider vinegar and water spray bottle – another useful tool we’ve adopted at home for corrections, since noise alone seems not to affect our strong willed dog.
We are practicing our exercises and doing lots of swimming for exercise – thank you to Brandy for teaching us some good techniques for introducing our furry fish to the pool – and Sherlock is making good progress. We are teaching impulse control with our “leave it/take it” exercises and he is working hard at his leash manners with one-on-one walks with me and with my husband. We have a lot of work ahead of us – he is only four months old and will likely be about 100 lbs when fully grown – but we are looking forward to the next steps in training.
We started basic obedience and training with East Valley K9 when Lucy was 8 months old. I knew I wanted a quality training program for her because I didn’t want an out of control dog that didn’t listen. Our family treated Lucy like a cute, fluffy baby she is and we had some bad habits to break.
After our first lesson with Brandy and Steve we started practicing at home throughout the day. Lucy responded beautifully and was on her way to be a well behaved puppy. She is now 15 months old and is so much fun.
She knows basic obedience commands and we are also on the way to becoming a therapy dog team. She loves to cuddle, play fetch, and tug .
Lucy loves to go to her brother's baseball games and visit all of the people watching. She behaves so nicely and everyone loves her. Her love of people will make her a wonderful therapy dog and an awesome member of our family for years to come.
Meet Faith, our one-year old Belgian Malinois. Faith came to us as a rescue. My service dog, Harley, was a 13 year old male Belgian Malinois. He had been diagnosed with kidney disease. We started talking about finding a canine to take over when Harley could no longer work when Faith found us. With Harley’s health failing, Faith started training at 10 weeks. Normally the training would not start until she was at least a year old. Time was running short. We lost Harley on December 30, 2019. At 11 months old Faith was going to have to step up and fill a big set of paws.
My wife is an engineer and athlete who in the past had German Shepherds. She does a lot of biking and running and was looking forward to taking Faith with her. I’m a disabled first responder and have had a “retrieval” service dog since 2009. Previously, I had trained several dogs, including a 110 pound German Shepherd K-9, helped train Harley as a therapy AND service dog, and served on the Board of Directors for American Therapy Pets in San Diego. My wife and I felt confident in our abilities to raise and train Faith.
As Faith began to grow, she became stronger willed and more determined – very characteristic of a Malinois. Despite our backgrounds, my wife and I reached a point where our training abilities were challenged. No matter what we tried, we simply could not get over the hump. We needed help and that’s when we turned to Brandy and Steve. After the second class my wife and I noticed significant changes in Faith. By the end of the third week Faith was a different dog. By the fourth week, she was on her game. If it wasn’t for Brandy and Steve, we would have seriously began looking for a different canine to be my service dog. Going forward, Faith will continue with her training and fine tuning. If we run into any challenges, we know we have Brandy and Steve to fall back on.
If you would like to talk about our training experience, feel free to ask Brandy or Steve to connect us. I’m more than willing to share our story.
Chaplain Joel Kordis, PhD
When we first met Madeline, she was an unruly dog. She counter surfed, had to be separated from the other dogs in the house, chased the cat and her owners could not even watch TV in their family room.
It had become the dog’s property.
There were chairs and obstacles every where trying to keep her off the counters. Madeline also was not crate trained and was a nightmare on leash.
Ann & Morgan were ready to re-home Madeline. We started with private sessions and then they came and took classes. It is very evident that the work has been done with Madeline, with rules and boundaries the whole family has come a long way. We are so happy to spotlight this bunch! It always shows when owners do the work.
“Madeline is a wonderful member of the family. She is full of life and energy and thanks to East Valley K9 training (for both human and dog), Madeline’s loving disposition has shown through!”
Ann & Morgan
Logan and I are both first time dog parents and had no idea how much Zeus would teach us, not only about raising a puppy, but also how much he would teach us about ourselves.
To say that Zeus has been helping us prepare for parenthood is a serious understatement. Zeus has brought so much joy into our lives and puts a smile on the faces of everyone who meets him. Zeus has such a strong personality, and sometimes we truly think that he is a human trapped in a golden doodle body.
We certainly would not have the dog we have or be the pet parents we are today without the guidance and instruction of Steve and Brandy. They taught us, which I believe is the most important lesson, that training a dog is all about leadership, and if a dog does not have a strong leader to learn from, it makes it harder for the dog to succeed. Steve and Brandy shaped us into leaders that would allow Zeus to become a confident, well socialized, and well mannered dog. They have turned training from a stressful and frustrating experience into an enjoyable, rewarding one.
Marissa & Logan R.
I first heard about Tristan in my work group chat at Family VetCare. Steve, of East valley K9 Services, told one of our doctors, Dr. Nemeth, about a sweet male puppy about 4 months old who needed a home. He had been dumped in a neighborhood along with a female littermate and both were taken in and fostered by a lady in the neighborhood, Pat. The girl had found a home, but the boy still needed a forever home. Steve told Dr. Nemeth that he has a gentle demeanor and has a lot of potential to become a therapy dog.
All it took was one look at his picture and I knew he was meant to be a part of my family. I contacted Steve, and he set up a date and time for us to meet Tristan. I knew Tristan was special when I met him. He is just the right amount of goofy to offset his intelligence. When I first met him, Pat had already started training him, and I was surprised by his focus and skill. He knew his name, to come to Pat when she called him, sit, look at me, and off. She explained to me that training him is a piece of cake, he learned so fast. I know it was hard for her to let him go, it was clear how much she cared for him, through her actions and through her words. When we agreed to take Tristan home, we also agreed to attend more obedience classes with Steve and Brandy.
Some of my best bonding time with Tristan since bringing him home has been through training, playing, and cuddle time. In class, Steve and Brandy taught us how to continue Tristan's training and help mold him into the dog we could all clearly see he could become. Training Tristan sometimes seems too easy; we would work on something new, and he would pick it up in a matter of minutes. Out on walks he is everyone's best friend, whether they are another dog or person big or small. He genuinely just wants attention and to be loved. He especially loves kids though. I was worried that with his puppy energy he would get too excited and knock them over or play too rough, but it seems he knows how to scale his energy to be the perfect friend. I was over at my grandma's house with Tristan and she had a friend over who had her four-year-old grandson with her, and they became inseparable. Tristan followed him everywhere he went, it was so precious. Oliver would run around the yard, and Tristan would run right alongside him, hoping he would pet him or pick up a toy and play with him. They ran and played in the yard for about an hour, and in that entire time he never once knocked him over or played too rough. I was so impressed.
Tristan has the purest heart and just seems to excel at whatever he puts his mind to. We recently had to say goodbye to our other beloved dog, Beau. Since Beau’s passing, Tristan has been my little angel. He has comforted me when I cry, snuggled when I needed a hug, and played when I needed a distraction. He is everything I need him to be right now and a blessing I didn't know I needed. It is going to take us a long time to recover from letting Beau go, but having Tristan makes our days bearable. Tristan has truly made a difference for us, and his compassion and heart are just part of what makes him so special.
Poppy’s Story I adopted Poppy from a local dog rescue in July 2019. She was just 18 months old and had been surrendered twice. She was surrendered first at 9 months old and again just a week before I adopted her. Poppy is a Maltese/Poodle mix, or Maltipoo. She is as cute as can be, and loves to play with toys, especially ones with squeakers. She can be very affectionate, but had some major behavioral problems, the main one being biting. She was also not house-broken and could be very aggressive towards other dogs. In addition, she was blind due to genetic cataracts. I decided to adopt her because upon reading her history I felt that since she had already been surrendered twice, her chances of adoption were slim. I felt that I had the time to devote to her to try and correct the behavioral problems that she had developed over her short life. Immediately after adoption, I scheduled appointments with a regular veterinarian at Family VetCare of Chandler and with an ophthalmology vet at Eye Care for Animals in Gilbert, AZ. Both veterinarians felt that she was a good candidate for surgery. However, it would be almost two months before the surgery could be scheduled so I asked the veterinarians for a recommendation about where I could receive some private in-home training for Poppy and me. As a previous dog owner, I was aware that I would need as much training, if not more, than Poppy. I was attached to her from almost the first day and the adoption was final in my mind. Now it was up to me to re-train both of us so she could be the companion she was meant to be. The veterinarian at Family VetCare of Chandler recommended East Valley K9 Services and that is how I first met Steve. We started weekly training sessions in my home within the first week that I had Poppy and the change was immediate. I was right in my first assumption; I needed the training as much, if not more, than Poppy. With Steve’s simple and direct guidance, we started making progress. Steve’s comment at the end of the first session was something like, “Poppy is not really an aggressive dog, she is just very smart and has learned to control most of the humans in her life through her behavior.” Thus, I had to work very hard to become the leader in our relationship. At first, I had to use bite gloves to work with her while trying some of the handling exercises that Steve showed me and at other times when she was out of control. Riding in a car was a real experience for both of us; she barked continuously and did everything to get out of any restraints I placed on her. At the beginning, I still got bitten occasionally but after the first few days her attempts to bite became less aggressive and became more of a threat than a real physical attack. It was difficult to tell if she had been abused or if her lack of eyesight caused her to over-react to situations. However, Steve kept reminding me not to dwell on her past or feel sorry for her, but to concentrate on the “now” and the “future”. We worked with Steve for 5 weeks and the progress was amazing. By the time that she was scheduled to have her surgery about 4 weeks into the training, the ophthalmologist was amazed at the change in her behavior. When she went to the regular vet for her shots and annual check-up in October, they said that she was like a totally different dog. They no longer needed to muzzle her to examine her and administer shots. Although her blindness was certainly not the only cause of her behavior, it had obviously contributed to it. Immediately upon being able to see, the aggressive behavior diminished even more. She now loves to ride in the car and greets people and dogs in a much friendlier manner. She is almost too friendly towards some people so now we are working on how to properly greet people. She does not get to jump up and lick people to death upon meeting them. In November, we joined a group obedience class at East Valley K9 Services taught by Brandy and Steve. During that class we worked on basic commands and Poppy is making progress. She still reacts to other dogs with a growl at times but she continues to be less aggressive and I am going to enroll in their Walkabout Class after the first of the year to work on more socialization skills. The most important part of this story is how Poppy has had such a positive impact on my life; she is becoming a true companion. As I become trained, she becomes an even better companion. The big problem I have is that she is so cute that I sometimes forget what my job is and then we backslide a little. I know that we are both going to continue to improve our skills and I am looking forward to a lot of years with Poppy by my side.
Susan M. Sun Lakes, AZ
therapy dog training