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What are the Chances? March 6, 2012

What are the Chances?

Alot of people think that most English Bulldogs can skateboard. But, this is a myth. And, while many of these low center of gravity dogs can (to some degree) move the board - none can do it with the skill and speed of Tillman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQzUsTFqtW0.

Tillman is our 4-legged mentor who holds the Guiness record for "World's Fastest Skateboarding Dog". He has a grace and force that is inspirational because it seems to be a super-canine gift from God. He can pump for speed, restrain his own strength when necessary, turn the board with precise control, and skate ANYWHERE. When you watch him, you'll see the difference between
"what seperates the men from the boys".

I fell into this crazy business of traning English bulldogs by a random twist of fate, and if you've read the rest of this blog, you already know that story. So, what are the chances that my second English Bulldog, Wally, would actually learn to skateboard? The first time, with Lyle, I never set out to train him to skate. He discovered and perfected his craft on his own. And, while he was AMAZING, he had a different style than Tillman. Lyle was a long boarder. His nick name was Biggie, and this was in part because he had a gansta swagger and a low slug gait, which he brought with him where ever he went - even on his skateboard. Because he was a little slower when he cruised, he never got the media attention that Tillman gets; but, he did win himself a full-time sponsor and job with http://www.naturalbalance.net/ which is no small feat.

Needless to say, when my boss, bought me Wally and said "teach him to skate", I had a few concerns (not all bulldogs skate!!). But, being as persistant as a bulldog, I knew I would try my best to teach Wally everything that Lyle taught me. And, so, at 3 months old, I began skate training Wally. The most important thing that MUST occur in early board training, is indentifying and nurturing raw passion for the sport. This is a very tricky and fine line. One mis-step and a young puppy could become terrified of all boards - forever. Or, err on the otherside - over stimulation - could create boredom, and there is NO bouncing back from boredome - it's worse than kryptonite.

After the first 3 months of short, treat and prey-drive motivated sessions, Wally got lesson number 1 - Passion. I didn't over-do it with the treats, but, rather made the board itself the treat. And, just when his interest and excitment for the board would peak, I would take the board away...leave him wanting more. The activity itself must be the motivation!! So, this went on for months and months, until he started learning simple commands like "On the board", "Stay", "Push", "Skate" and "No Chew". As each day went on, Wally, seemed to combine his moves like a puzzle, to the point where he began pushing, and hopping from side to side, AMAZING. But, could I build up his confidence enough so he could take the final leap of faith and hop on with all 4's.

Confidence. That was the last and final step. And, how would I build this precious dog's confidence to the point where he would trust that if he hopped on the fast moving object, he wouldn't crash and burn. So, I did what I always do, and talked him through it. You see, I believe that dogs understand me. And, they do (listen here)  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/palm-springs-savant/2012/02/18/palm-springs-savant-co-behind-the-scenes-lexi-beermannThat's how Lyle and I were successful together, so, I figured it's gotta work again. Wally already trusted me and our language, so, I knew that by being his #1 cheerleader, he would get it soon enough.  I gave him daily pep talks, and goodnight stories, and even worked on a visualization method showing him in mind images of him skating like Tillman.

And, it was yesterday, when the miracle happened. I took him to the big park. Lyle's favorite! And, I told him, that, and how this was his big shot to NAIL IT. And, that he did. He had more space than usual, and he'd been working so hard for 9 months. And, as i yelled out his commands, and cheered him on, it happened. He pushed and pumped on both sides, and then POPPED UP ON ALL 4'S. OMG - he's skating. I ran and cheered and as I looked up in the sky to give props to my co-trainer, Lyle, a rainbow appeared through the sun and clouds. And, I knew, Lyle and I had helped push Wally into championhood. I am proud and happy Mom, and can't for everyone to see him shred!!!

Meet Wally  Puppy in Training! February 7, 2012

Meet Wally Puppy in Training!

Wally was born on February 2nd, 2011 – Groundhogs Day. I knew I wanted a boy – apparently boy bulldogs are more cuddly and dependent, as opposed to the females, who run independent and more aloof, according to the experts. And, in my experience growing up with bulldogs, that in fact was true. I knew I wanted a white and fawn little boy, and as I searched throughout California, it became apparent that there weren’t many male pups available in the time frame necessary. You see, life took a very unexpected twist of fate the week prior.
One of the most underrated and shocking events that can happen in a person’s life, is losing a pet. Pets are our children. We nurture and love them from the ground up. We develop a language and a way of life, and for Lyle and I, our bond had become our livelihood. Not only did we love each other deeply, but, we worked together on a daily basis. Almost as random as Lyle learning (on his own) to skateboard, he passed away April 6th, 2011, just as randomly. He had a very rare disease that showed no symptoms, and snuck up on the both of us, out of the blue. There was no cause, there was no rhyme, and there certainly was no reason. Losing a best friend is the ultimate lesson that life is going to occur – whether we like it or not. But, what I learned through Lyle, the incredibly enlightened and gifted soul, was that the blessing and the curse are often the same thing. Call it what you will – God, Universe, Synchronicity, Fate, or Nothing at all – sometimes there is a plan or path that unfolds before us, and we either choose to step onto it or not. I surrendered to the forces that be and with love realized that the miracle was Lyle. The miracle was that Lyle lived his passion to skateboard. He lived with peace, love, and happiness. And, when his time came – he proved himself to be the champion he was. Stoic, Zen, Grace, Purity, and Love – qualities that Lyle represented always. And, as my heart broke into a million little pieces, I had an awakening. I saw the gifts and blessings swirling around me. I was the lucky one living and loving Lyle on a daily basis. He was a true miracle, and will forever be my guiding light. For through his talents, I learned to be a trainer. I see crystal clear now - although Lyle isn't with me anymore on earth, he is with me in spirit. He brought me back to the most pure understanding that I am not alone. I am taken care of, and the proof is all around me. We can’t always see where this magical path will lead us, but, I knew that if Lyle brought me onto that path, everything would turn out ok. I could trust that the best possible outcome would occur. And, that it did!
Natural Balance Pet Foods our employer were beyond supportive during this time. And, if I had ever questioned my place as a trainer in this incredible family of pet lovers, I no longer did, when a new Puppy arrived at my door step just one week later. Some people thought it was too soon. But, I was ecstatic. I yearned to care for another bulldog, and needed my daily routine as a dog Mom to continue once again. Nothing heals a heart like a new puppy. And, I will forever be grateful that my dedicated and wise employer knew this before I did.
Wally traveled far and wide from Sedona, AZ to come to my side. We were about to head to NYC for a solid month of filming our new Reality TV Show “Who Let The Dogs Out” www.wholetthedogsouttv.com slated to air on Animal Planet this February 18th, at 10:00am on Animal Planet. So, we needed a puppy quickly. As, I mentioned, California didn’t have any pups that fit the bill – though cute – I really wanted a male. So, from one of the most healing cities on earth, Sedona, the next miracle appeared right before my eyes. As I opened the door and saw Jimmy Van Patten holding young Wally, I cried with joy. I put my hands out to take in my new baby, and low and behold, Wally hugged me with his paws. A real hug and a twinkle in his eye. He was delicious. And, I knew he would be real good to his new Mamma who was fragile from the loss. I count my blessings every day that I am this lucky. Wally seemed to be hand selected by Lyle himself, and I knew that together, Wally would help me heal. And, I also knew, we now had a secret weapon - Lyle our guardian – watching over Wally and whispering wonderful stories about how to become the next skateboarding champion directly into his ear. We weren’t alone at all; we had a team of unexpected canine athletes on earth and in the sky supporting us as we stepped into our new life, officially.

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