It's fun, but it's serious fun, and the results are astounding.

On the Sunday before the first day of school, the worst possible time to get a new dog, my husband brought home a stray puppy who had apparently been dumped along New Road, not far from our home. It is a busy country road, and quite dangerous for a clueless six- month old puppy, so the goal was only to ensure his safety. We didn't intend to keep him, but you know how that goes ...

Ozzy turned out to be unlike any dog we have ever owned. We thought we were experienced and responsible dog owners, but we just couldn't communicate with this guy. It was obvious that he had never been in a house before. He was hesitant at doorways and didn't know how to go up or down stairs, although he learned these things all too quickly. He jumped on us and anyone else who entered our home, and he was a terror to walk on a leash, pulling and choking himself the whole time. Although he quickly learned the basic commands, he performed them only when he felt like it. He pestered our two cats, although, thankfully, he never exhibited any aggression toward them, and he annoyed us to distraction by nipping at our feet, poking us with his nose, or picking up some "forbidden" article and challenging us to chase him. He nipped at our heels when we walked up or down the stairs. He was absolutely tireless. In his defense, there were some good things about him. Housebreaking was a breeze. He had one or two accidents, tops. And he was awfully cute and basically good- natured.

My friend Sue told me about Midwest K9 Training after she heard about it from a place where she had boarded her dog, so we both decided to take our newly acquired pets to be trained together, envisioning some nice walks at nearby Potato Creek this summer.

It turned out to be the best decision I could have made as a pet owner. I still can't believe how much I have learned. I thought that I was fairly knowledgeable about the concept of pack leadership, but Jeff explained it in a slightly different way that made everything we did in class crystal clear. Negative reinforcement with the E-Collar was explained as just another method to mimic the way leader dogs behave in packs. It was highly efficient, and, in my estimation, far more humane than yanking on a dog's neck with a choker chain, the only other training method I had ever learned.

Each dog will behave differently. Ozzy was very sensitive to the E-Collar and quickly became aware of it. But with time-actually very little time-he has become accustomed to it and even welcomes it. He knows that when we bring out his collar something good, like a walk or a game, is going to happen. The bottom line is that our dog is happier and we are happier. It is such a joy to take him for long walks in the park on or off leash. He keeps an eye on us the whole time, recognizing us as his pack leaders as he never did before, and it is hardly ever necessary to correct him. We have gone from speaking two different languages to being on the same wave length. If he gets stubborn or ornery at home, as dogs (and people) sometimes do, all we have to do is reach for the collar and he snaps into shape. In no way, however, has the negative reinforcement turned our dog into a robot or a machine that responds mechanically to stimulation. It has, in fact, deepened the relationship between us, and the knowledge and confidence that training has given him have allowed his personality to blossom. He is still Ozzy, but calmer and happier than ever before. Ironically, it seems as though the restrictions imposed upon him

through training have given him a freedom that he did not previously possess-the freedom to be a good dog!

I can't recommend Midwest K9 Training and the E-Collar highly enough. It's fun, but it's serious fun, and the results are astounding. I wish that all of the dogs from my past could have had this opportunity.

Of course, it isn't the tool alone that works such wonders. Without capable and experienced trainers, the E-Collar could easily be misused or ineffective, and I feel that the trainers were the best. We had the pleasure of working with both Jeff and Steve, and their commitment to dogs is obviously passionate. Remember, my dog was astray, but both Jeff and Steve treated him with all of the respect, professionalism, and affection with which I am sure they treat the valuable police dogs they train. I always felt that Ozzy's well being was as important to them as it is to me.

We learned that it is not enough just to provide food, water, shelter, or even love. The structure of the pack must be firm for a dog to truly flourish, and many well-meaning people (like us) don't really know how to provide that structure. Thanks to our experience at Midwest K9 Training, we feel confident that we are fInally giving 0zzy exactly what he needs, and he, in turn, is rewarding us with the best in canine companionship.

Sheryl and Larry M.