My Name is Jess and I am a 16-year-old girl from Massachusetts. I watch your show religiously and have read your books along with many articles about you. Although many people probably tell you this, I wanted to let you know how much you have unknowingly changed my life. There really is too much to say to fit into a 500 word email, but I will do my best!
As a seventh grader I was, in my mother's own words, "disturbingly shy." I am not exactly sure what had made me so unsure of myself, but I was in a constant cloud of negativity and self-doubt. I believe that I took pride in the fact that I probably would have been considered a "tomboy," and I believed that in order to be proud of myself I had to have more masculine characteristics (if that makes any sense). Even in classical literature females who were considered mavericks were given masculine physical and personality traits. As I came into high school, I realized that being a woman gave me a unique power as a leader. Your methods - especially the "acknowledgements" section of your book Be the Pack Leader, which sincerely made me cry - have absolutely reaffirmed what I should have known to begin with. I was meant to be a leader, and I do not have to lead in a loud, domineering way to be respected.
I am now a senior in high school, and I am known as a leader because of the way that I lead with calm, assertive energy, and not because I am the cockiest or the loudest. I have finally realized that those people are often the most insecure and unbalanced because they do not work for the good of the "pack" or the group, they are simply in it to win the accolades of the teacher or for other convoluted reasons. I owe that invaluable revelation solely to you. My dogs and the horses that I work with have also benefited greatly from my calm, assertive energy, and I have been able to connect with them much more profoundly than I ever could have on my own. Although one of my dogs still has "issues" that need to be worked out, it only means that I have to search more deeply within myself to see how I am nurturing or contributing to these behaviors, and I can only learn more from it.
I am eternally grateful for the gift that you have given me, and I don't think that there are words strong enough to describe my gratitude. Through whatever I do in life I will carry with me and hone these incredible skills to tap into something once beyond my reach - the ability to lead like a dog.