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Tag: animal planet

Animal Planet probes dogfighting culture

dogfightingexposedAnimal Planet will kick off a new series of investigative specials Monday night with a no-holds-barred look into the underground culture of dogfighting.

“Animal Planet Investigates: Dog Fighting Exposed”  will probe the secretive world of organized dogfighting, with rare footage and commentary from law enforcement officers and former dogfighters.  The special examines cases across the United States, including Ohio, Texas, Georgia, Michigan and New York.

“By bringing viewers the true and uncensored reality behind dog fighting, we intend to raise public awareness about this cruel and inhumane practice,” says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet.

“The brave men and women working tirelessly to expose and dismantle these fighting rings are using daring tactics and thanks in large part to their efforts we were able to share this powerful story with our viewers in an in-depth and unprecedented way. Some of the images might be tough to take, but it’s vitally important that these stories are told.

The hour-long show is the first in a quarterly series of specials on the network that will investigate animal issues.

It premieres Monday at 10 p.m.

Pit Boss: Little people tackle big job

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With the rescue of pit bulls and other abused and neglected pets having proven a popular reality TV show formula — with everything from burly tattooed guys to prison parolees doing the rescuing — you might be wondering what they’ll think of next.

Turns out they’ve already thought of it, and it’s little people.

“Pit Boss” premieres January 16, starring Shorty Rossi, who runs a Hollywood talent agency for little people and a pit bull rescue.

The show features Rossi and his fellow little people — including Maryland’s own Ashley Brooks — as they rescue and rehabilitate what the show’s press material points out is a frequently looked down upon breed.

Brooks, 23, who was raised in Elkton, Md., is the receptionist for Shortywood Productions, the company Rossi formed to ”manage little people entertainers for all types of shows, private parties and corporate events,” according to a network press release.

Its staff also forms the nucleus of Shorty’s Pit Bull Rescue, which was formed in 2001 and has worked since then to rehabilitate pit bulls — both individual dogs and the breed’s image.

“Pit bulls have a bad rap, though they don’t deserve it at all,” says Rossi. “It’s what people have done to these pits or how they have trained them that caused this horrible misperception. Pit bulls are beautiful and energetic dogs that make wonderful companions and have the ability to bring out the best in just about any one – the elderly, children, the handicapped, and yes… even the little people of this world.”

“Pit Boss” follows Rossi and his crew as they rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for dogs, all while working to fight stereotypes — both those faced by pit bulls and those faced by little people.

The show will air Saturdays at 10 p.m on Animal Planet.

Rossi, 35, grew up in Los Angeles, and pit bulls have been part of his life since 14. He left home by the age of 15, and by 18 had been involved in a gang-related shooting and convicted of several felonies. He served 10 years in prison, and upon his release turned to entertainment jobs, landing his first role at Universal Studios Hollywood as “Alvin” for an Alvin and the Chipmunks stage show.

Since then, he has appeared in several commercials, dozens of TV shows and worked on several movies. He started his own company in 2000, and formed Shorty’s Pit Bull Rescue the following year.

Here’s a trailer for the show:

(Photo: Courtesy of Animal Planet)

Company for Christmas: The Dog Shouter

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I am not a professional dog trainer; nor do I play one on TV. But this week — with my cast of visiting holiday dogs — I’ve been forced to call upon the techniques of Cesar Millan, Victoria Stilwell and all the other dog trainers whose books I have read and whose television programs I have viewed.

I have employed their methods, and experimented with a few of my own. (Don’t worry, friends who have left their dogs with me — none of those involve electrical shocks.)

While I am a strong proponent of quietly and patiently addressing bad canine habits, of redirecting a misbehaving dog’s energies elsewhere, I’m also trying to get some work done during the holidays. So I can’t devote full time to the task. Also, I’m just providing room and board, and — even if some of my wards may be exhibiting behavior in need of correcting — it would be presumptuous of me to take on the role of dog trainer.

satire sigNevertheless, to avoid total chaos, I have had to enforce some discipline, and being as I’m often in the next room, there are times a simple “tsssst” just won’t cut it.

Instead, after four days working with my visiting dogs, I have become … (insert theme song here) …

“The Dog Shouter.”

It will probably be a few months before my Dog Shouter* (trademark pending) books, videos and magazine hit the market, but for now I will share with you what I have found to be the singlemost effective tool in my dog training arsenal: yelling at the top of my lungs.

My most miraculous results — and I regret that I didn’t videotape this – came with Lucas, the barker.

DSC07717Lucas goes into barking sprees for no apparent reason. Sometimes, he will stare at me and bark for three minutes or more, not stopping when I pet him, or talk to him, or try and soothe him, or even when I shout No!” But when I screamed no, as loud as I could, I mean really, really loud, he immediately went silent, and stayed that way. I don’t know if my scream established my dominance, or just scared him. But it worked.

My techniques also met with astonishing success in dealing with Darcy, the visiting Boston terrier who has taken to leaving reminders of herself about the house. She knows better, and I’m pretty sure she’s doing it to assert herself amid all the larger dogs. Twice, she has pooped within minutes of coming back in the house from outside.

DSC07664Yesterday, though, I was watching her — again just a minute after coming back in — as she squatted down, looked at me defiantly, and, pardon my vividness, began to open the gate to drop her load. Immediately, I screamed a really deafening “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!.” Amazingly, the package that visibly was on its way out reversed direction, returning home for delivery at a later date.

Apparently my sphincter-sealing roar had lasting effects. Normally, she won’t go outside on her own, only on a leash. But this morning when I saw her trot into the next room, I inquired — not in a shout — what she was doing. She trotted back in, ran to the door, actually stepped outside when I opened it, and pooped in the yard.

Yet more proof that my Dog Shouter* techniques really, really work.

There is a downside to using the Dog Shouter* techniques with multiple dogs. While it manages to correct, or at least forestall, bad behavior in the dog being shouted at, the other dogs all end up feeling wrongly accused. When you shout at one — say the one chewing into tiny bits the hard rubber things the sofa wheels sit on — the others all  assume “hey what’d I do?” looks and start sulking. My own highly sensitive dog Ace heads upstairs and climbs in the futon. It has to be even more confusing to Cheyenne, my blind guest, who has no way of knowing who my mouth is pointed at when I shout a blood curdling “NOOOOOO!!!!!”

Thus, employing Dog Shouter* techniques when there are multiple dogs in the household requires one to spend a lot of time comforting and reassuring the dogs to whom the screams were not directed.

I tried to specify the dog I was shouting at, saying their name before roaring, but I’d get their names confused in the heat of the moment — much like my mother used to when scolding me and my two siblings.

To be a proper Dog Shouter* – especially if one’s full attention is being devoted to their writing or, say,  watching a Scrubs marathon –  one must learn to identify suspicious sounds from the next room, perhaps a blanket being shredded, correctly assume who the perpetrator is, and tailor the shout to that dog: “DARCY! NOOOOOOO!

Similarly, when things get too quiet in the next room, a good Dog Shouter* — much like a good parent — will assume something is up and issue a precautionary shout: “Hey! What’s going on in there!” Or perhaps, even something more specific, even if it’s just a guess: “Darcy, you better not be humping my pillow!”  The Dog Shouter* knows that, while it’s best to shout during the actual misbehavior, an out-of-the-blue shout — even if all three are  peacefully resting — will serve to bring a quick halt to the hijinks and indiscretions they are  most assuredly quietly planning.

I’m sure you want to know more about by Dog Shouter* techniques, but you’ll just have to wait until the books, magazine, infomercials and DVDs come out. I figure the best way of establishing my Dog Shouter* empire is to send out an audition tape of me, The Dog Shouter*, in action:

“WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU DOING? DROP THAT, DROP IT AT ONCE!! BAD DOG. SHAME ON YOU! WHO SAID YOU COULD PLAY WITH THAT? NO NO NO! STOP CHEWING ON THAT, WHATEVER IT IS!!! DON”T EVER TOUCH THAT AGAIN!!! DON”T MAKE ME COME IN THAT ROOM!!! I MEAN IT!!! OK, HERE I COME!!! YOU’RE IN TROUBLE NOW!!! Oh … It’s just your bone … never mind.”

Who wouldn’t want to watch 30 minutes of that? Granted, it could get a little repetitious, but then so do all those other doggie discipline shows.

Animal Planet, my lines are open.

(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)

Orange you glad your dog is yellow?

DSC06055Dog trainer Joel Silverman’s brought his road show to Columbia, Maryland last night, where he took some jabs at TV trainers who see dominating a dog as a cure-all for behavior problems.

“When people talk about being the leader right off the bat, you’ve just opened the door to jeopardizing your relationship with your animal,” Silverman told a crowd at Camp Bow Wow in Columbia.

How a dog is trained should be tailored to the dog’s personality, Silverman maintains, and trying to dominate a new dog in the first 30 days — before you’ve earned its trust — can easily backfire.

Silverman’s appearance was part of a tour to promote his book, released this summer, “What Color is Your Dog?”

While Silverman’s dog, Foster, stole the show — that’s him above delivering a letter to the mailbox — the Hollywood dog trainer and author stressed that getting to know a new dog and establishing a trusting relationship is the key to good training.DSC06056

In ”What Color is Your Dog?” Silverman breaks canine personalities into five groups — red (off the wall), orange (high strung), yellow (mellow), green  (timid) and blue (overly fearful). One type of training, he says, does not fit all. “All dogs are different,” he noted. “What works with one won’t work with the other.”

Silverman is a career animal trainer, having started at Sea World in San Diego, where he trained dolphins, sea lions and killer whales. He worked for more than 25 years training animals for movies, TV shows and commercials. He was host, of ”Good Dog U” on Animal Planet.

Silverman said 90 percent of dogs fall into the orange, yellow and green ranges of his color spectrum. About 5 percentof dogs can be classified as red, and 5 percent as blue.

Dogs in the blue and green categories need to be motivated, while those in the red and orange range need to be calmed down.

The goal is to move the dog through training practices individualized for each type of dog and reach the middle (yellow) level.

Silverman and Foster are traveling the country in a large bus for the book tour, to which he’s added stops at pet expos, dog training centers and doggie day care facilities.

He said he and his dog have traveled 20,000 miles since March, visiting 60 cities.

Author Joel Silverman at Camp Bow Wow

WhatColorCoverWebDog trainer and author Joel Silverman, author of “What Color is Your Dog?”, will conduct a one-hour seminar next week at Camp Bow Wow in Columbia, Md.

Silverman’s appearance, Sept. 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will include a question and answer session and book signing.

Silverman is a career animal trainer, having worked for more than 25 years training animals for movies, TV shows and commercials. He was host, for nearly 10 years of ”Good Dog U” on Animal Planet.

In “What Color Is Your Dog?”  Silverman presents his color-coding technique to recognize and and enhance dog behavior based on the dog’s personality.

Silverman coaches readers on how to develop a strong relationship with new pets in their first 30 days of ownership to observe their dog’s temperament and behavior. The author then teaches readers to label their dogs temperament by color, starting at one of three behavioral levels from shy (blue) to yellow (mellow) to highly strung (red). The goal is to move the dog through training practices individualized for each type of dog to inevitably reach the middle (yellow) level.

Camp Bow Wow, at 7165 Oakland Mills Rd. in Columbia, asks that, because a large crowd is expected, you keep your dogs home for this event.

Camp Bow Wow is also offering a class on pet first aid and CPR training on Sept. 20. Visit our Doggie Doings page for more information.

Pit bulls and parolees on Animal Planet

tiatorresandfriend1What do you get when you bring together 225 pit bulls, 204 volunteers, the woman to your left in the flowing white dress and six recent prison parolees on a ranch in the canyons of southern California?

A reality show, of course.

Tia Maria Torres, 49, started Villalobos Rescue Center – the largest pit bull rescue in the United States – 14 years ago. Three years ago, she began taking in ex-cons, including her prison pen pal Aren Marcus Jackson, a tattoo artist who would become her second husband.

According to an Associated Press report, the rescue has tried some novel fund-raising approaches in the past, including opening a brothel — a legal, Nevada one –  but it burned down. Now Torres, it seems, is turning to an even shadier source for funding — the reality show.

Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees” will debut next month.

Producer Michael “MikeyD” Dinco was a student in a pit bull class Torres taught years ago. Intrigued by the combination of pit bulls and parolees, he decided to pitch the reality show idea to the network. 

Torres said the show will help cover the $20,000 in monthly bills, including a ton of dog food a week, as well as its $25,000 vet tab. The rescue is located on 17 acres of rugged terrain in Canyon Country.

The television show will focus on the interaction of the dogs and men. “The dogs bring out the best in these guys,” Torres said. 

Torres grew up a in an a upper-middle class family, but fell into the gang life. That led to six years in the Army, followed by work as a youth counselor in Los Angeles. After 13 years in social services, she started training animals for the film industry before opening the shelter.

Canine disarming: One family’s experience

One family’s experience with “canine disarming” — a controversial last resort for dogs who haven’t been able to lick the biting habit — was the subject of a first person account in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times.

Dog owner Diane R. Krieger wrote about her dog, Cotton, a six-year-old American Eskimo dog who even ”Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan couldn’t help,

“I had tried everything. Puppy classes and basic-training at the neighborhood PetSmart. A library of self-help books and videos. Even a pricey dog-aggression expert whose Israeli accent made me want to stand at attention. He ordered counter-conditioning and desensitization drills, supplemented by a low-protein diet and a doggie herbal remedy akin to St. John’s Wort…

“I tried clicker training, high-pitched electronic tones, pepper spray, throwing soda cans filled with rocks. I considered an electric shock collar but worried that in the hands of an amateur … it might do more harm than good.

“Finally, I appealed to the fabled Dog Whisperer.”

Krieger writes that Cotton became calm and submissive — until Millan left.

Running out of options, she considered surrendering the dog, and even euthanasia.

Then she saw an Animal Planet program featuring Dr. David Nielsen, a veterinary dentist based in Manhattan Beach, talking about a miracle fix: “canine disarming.”

Instead of extracting the four canine teeth, Nielsen cuts away 4 millimeters of tooth, then blunts the extra set of pointy incisors. Nielsen says he has “disarmed” some 300 animals in the last dozen years, not all of them dogs.

Kireger notes that Nielsen may be something of a maverick. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that disarming dogs, once fairly common, fell out of favor several years ago as behavioral modification techniques improved. The association is opposed to either tooth removal or disarming.

The American Veterinary Dental College agrees that disarming is controversial, but in a position statement adopted in 2005 it endorsed the procedure in “selected cases.”

Cotton’s reconfigured choppers cost Krieger $1,600, and led to no lasting physical side effects.

Nielsen told Krieger canine disarming does have psychological effects, though. “You can see it in their eyes almost the moment they wake up from the anesthesia. It’s like they’re wondering, ‘who took away my knives?’”

Cotton still bites, Krieger wrote, but inflicts little damage.

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