Adopt for the Holidays! Give a Forever Home

Actress Pauley Perrette, of the TV show, "NCIS", awarded the Linda Michaels/Victoria Stilwell gift package to the Halloween costume contest winner at a recent Amanda Foundation event on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Adopt for the Holidays!  Wherever I travel, I visit the dogs. I’ve toured numerous humane societies, shelter facilities, and wolf rescue sanctuaries. In Beverly Hills, Rancho Santa Fe, and online worldwide, dog adoption is becoming not only the humanitarian but also the fashionable thing to do. Celebrities often have “pet projects”.

Why not start a new holiday family tradition sharing the joy with a rescue group? It’s the perfect opportunity for pet lovers to give back to the animals-- adopt, foster, volunteer, or donate skills, equipment or money...whatever you can do is appreciated. You'll not only provide a much needed service to our community, but it will fill your heart to overflowing.

My education as a dog trainer began as a local shelter volunteer while researching my master’s thesis. I cleaned kennels, trained hard-to-adopt dogs, and appeared in TV spots with ready-to-go dogs, showing off their innate ability to melt hearts. I fell in love again and again and again and again, and sometimes my heart got broken. The shelter experience shaped the development of my non-aversive training method and I promised to speak out for those who can't speak for themselves.

Animal Planet's smash hit show, It's Me or the Dog star, Victoria Stilwell (exciting new season airs in January) is an outspoken advocate for the adoption of shelter dogs as a first-choice. Dogs are often relinquished, orphaned and abandoned when pet parents find their adolescent dog’s behavior unacceptable as a result of insufficient socialization and solid basic obedience training.

Today there are more dogs than ever in need of help with as many as 8 million deserving, orphaned pets looking for a family to love, and nearly 1/2 of those are euthanized each year due to shelter overcrowding.

Rancho Santa Fe's Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC) has one of the world's most successful holiday pet adoption drives, Home 4 the Holidays. They partner with over 3,500 animal organizations in 21 countries with a goal this year to place at least 1.5 million pets into homes from October 1, 2010 - January 4, 2011. HWAC created a variety of fun, interactive online features for pet lovers’ websites and blogs. Visit for ways to help a shelter in your area.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center also provides free, 3-day seminars that teach shelter workers and animal lovers more effective ways to increase adoptions and lower euthanasia.

Animal Planet’s, is the #1 facilitator for pet adoption posts ads for 13,574 animal shelters and rescue groups across North America. They have 176,936 adoptable dogs online to date. You can search for any breed or animal welfare group by zip code.

More than 25% of dogs at rescues are purebreds. You’ll find Bedlington Terriers, Borzoi, Bull Terriers et al. There are 31 breeds to choose from that start with the letter B! also provides spot-on, non-aversive training articles from the likes of Pat Miller, editor of the Whole Dog Journal, and the ASPCA.

Very importantly, plan to look for the right dog to fit your family. Please see a previous edition of my column available on my website on the My Articles page for tips.

Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: [email protected] for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at

Originally published RanchCoastNews, Lorine Wright, Executive Editor.  All rights reserved.

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Positively Expert: Linda Michaels, MA

Linda Michaels is a VSPDT trainer, dog training columnist, and owner of Dog Psychologist On Call in Del Mar, CA. Linda holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology with research experience in Behavioral Neurobiology. She is a Behavioral Advisor for the Wolf Education Project (WEP) in Julian, CA and Art for Barks in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.


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