Celebrity Dog Row–Strut Your Mutt LA a Success!

Celebrity Row--Strut Your Mutt LA, Best Friends Animal Society's (BFAS) first Coast to Coast dog walk-a-thon was a big success, raising more than $200,00 for homeless pets. I decided to attend just for the fun of it, to network, and to let Hollywood know that Victoria Stilwell dog trainers are "in the (dog) house" and support fund-raising and awareness for homeless animal adoptions. It was exciting to be at a "first annual" event, and to informally debut Positively Victoria non-aversive training presence in the LA area.

I left before dawn driving up the coast, and arrived at the Santa Monica Pier starting line to join the John Garcia pack. John is just the nicest, most unpretentious guy and was pleased to have a Positively Victoria behavioral consultant and trainer walk for the BFAS event.

The excitement was "positively" infectious as groups of fund-raising organizations and their faithful mutt ambassadors and pure-bred supporters prepared, just after sunrise, for the one-mile promenade along the gorgeous beach boardwalk.

So many dogs to pet, so many people to talk to. John looks just like he does on TV and I was struck by how positively both he and Victoria relate to the average person and to professionals as well. They're virtual magnets to our cause. I met a former dominance trainer who bumped into Victoria in the bathroom at an airport who now raves about how warm and wonderful Victoria was to her at the brief chance meeting!

The dogs were very well behaved and I didn't see any scuffles. Some feathers got ruffled, to be sure, but not one dog got out of line. Each time I attend a festival gathering of dogs and people, I am once again in awe of the well-socialized dogs and people who attend.

Many of my behavioral consultations revolve around other-dog aggression and reactivity, so observing, and taking note of dog body language and on-leash behavior in crowded areas fascinates me, as do all learning experiences that involve dogs. It's essential to socialize our dogs early in life, frequently and regularly if we want them to be dog-friendly. It's very likely that because the attendees take their dogs to so many of these events from as early age as possible, that they can take their dogs to these events.

As the first-line of paraders turned the corner on the home-stretch, the second-line starters could be seen four blocks away. It made my heart leap to see so many dog-lovers show up to walk for the homeless dogs. We also had doggie strollers, carts, wagons, back-packs and hand-helds.

The event was well attended with much to do following the walk at the mutt festival including: doggy massages, a doga yoga class led onstage from the very talented, charming and calming Ursula Vari, training tips from John Garcia, ask the veterinarian, Dr. Annie Harvilicz of the Animal Wellness Centers, paw-print painting, gentle dentals, pooch spa featuring blow-outs and nail trims, boutique, Canine Cafe, a wide array of vendors, onstage doggie first-aid demonstration, look-a-like, fastest tail wag, best kisser and best trick contests, plus special guest celebrity appearances such as, Joanna Krupa (above right) with four of her dogs. Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society.

We did it all and had a ball. I talked to so many wonderful pet parents and was very well received, although I did note a host of prong and choke collars. I gently discussed the advantages and control achievable with a harness or head collar to any pet parent willing to listen and consider an alternative leash-walking concept, based on the design used to lead horses. I've demonstrated the beauty of these harnesses onstage at our Ugly Dog Contest and the First Annual Doggies Street Festival in San Diego and received a warm reception.

In Best Friends own words, "At the very core of all the work of BFAS is the dream that one day kindness will replace cruelty, and animals will no longer be destroyed because they are unwanted or imperfect. Spaying and neutering will become commonplace, and adoption will be the first choice for everyone. Shelters will have the knowledge and resources to help rehabilitate special-needs animals and find the right family for every animal. Making this dream a reality is the mission we call No More Homeless Pets®." (BFAS, 2010).

We are all ambassadors, yet it was the fur-faces that were, as always, the best advertisement for why they too deserve to have a forever home. They are heart-warmers--what joy, what love! What a hoot! Next stop New York City, September 26, 2010!

Wags Galore,

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 DogPsychologistOnCall.com  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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