Achieving Balance and Harmony



A Walk through the Valley with Shadow

Many months ago, we had the pleasure of introducing you to a very special and somewhat self-involved Schipperke mix named Sheeba. These days, despite being the second of CMI eCommerce Manager Jon's current pack, Sheeba has taken the lead as the Alpha dog (relinquishing ultimate command of the pack to Jon, himself.) But it wasn't always thus!

Just eleven days after the death of Jon's first Westie-American Eskimo mix Daisy, a timid, frightened, and easily carsick white German Shepherd named Shadow was the first of the future pair to join the pack in Valley Village, starting her on the relatively short road to recovery under his care.

When she was first adopted from German Shepherd Rescue in Orange County, Shadow was afraid of everything. She would flinch away from any physical stimuli or any loud sound. She was also easily carsick, an issue which led to one very uncomfortable mess at the dog park. And so, back in the days before Cesar Millan, Jon and Shadow were forced to find their own way together.

"I got her over the car sickness following my vet's advice," says Jon, "... 'take her into the car with one of her favorite toys, but don't drive. Just sit in the car and let her play and feel comfortable.' Sure enough, that did the trick."

Tackling her carsickness left only her timidity and fear to overcome. And what began with an aversion to small noises and sudden movements escalated during her first thunderstorm in Los Angeles, during which she climbed into Jon's lap and began to tremble violently. Jon's initial reaction, though he didn't recognize it at the time, was right in line with Cesar's methodologies - he withheld attention and affection during her fearful behavior and used balanced energy and pleasant experiences to turn her negative associations with fearful stimuli into positive ones - in short, making the sights and sounds of the thunderstorms into a game. With that strategy in place, it wasn't long before her rainy day fears dried up completely!

With the addition of Sheeba to the pack, however, a new problem presented itself. Jon's instinct had been to encourage Shadow to take the alpha role in the pair, and the conflict that resulted perplexed him.

"My natural tendency, of course, was to make Shadow the dominant dog, since she was older and I had her first," says Jon, "However, it finally became obvious to me that Sheeba was naturally dominant, and Shadow didn't have a problem with that... she only had a problem when I tried to break their rules, and make Shadow the 'boss.' I had to let the two of them decide which one was the dominant member of their pack, with me as the pack leader. It was a very interesting lesson -- dogs know their place in the pack, and you cannot turn a follower into a leader, or vice versa."

With their roles established, Shadow and Sheeba have fallen into a natural rhythm. And Shadow's car-sickness has been replaced by a deep and abiding love of road trips! She can often be found in the back seat of Jon's trusty Saturn SL2, her head out the window, happily taking in the sights and sounds of the Valley.

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