When I opened up the Dog Psychology Center, it was located in a very bad neighborhood in South Central LA. There was graffiti all over the place. There were drug users hanging around.
Believe it or not, my neighbors credit me with cleaning it up! People were intimidated by a guy walking around with so many big dogs off-leash – Rottweilers and pit bulls. I didn’t set out to do that, but it was good for my business too. People want to feel safe about the place they leave their dogs, and when we first moved in, the area did not inspire confidence.
The lot was being offered to me temporarily free of charge. The owners of the property needed someone to take care of what was essentially an empty parking lot, and I needed space to train my dogs. Back then, my rate to work with a dog was $10 a day per dog. I couldn’t afford rent, so the arrangement worked out perfectly for both of us. I am sure to many the area looked like a dump, but to me, it was a palace!
I had so much time with my pack back then. I used to walk more, be in the mountains more, and challenge the pack more. We used to take trips to the store together. One of our favorite destinations was this small Mexican meat market a few blocks away. I would walk the pack there and buy them huge hunks of raw meat. Then, for the entire twenty minute walk back, they had to hold those pieces in their mouth – without eating them! When they got back to the warehouse, they’d find a place to cool down and enjoy their treat. It was a great challenge, but what a scene we must have made – a pack of Rottweilers off-leash running with meat hanging out of their mouths following that Mexican guy. It was amazing, just beautiful!
That was a very legendary pack. Those guys become an incredible group of Rottweilers. They participated in a movie premiere for Scream 2 with Jada Pinkett Smith, went to a rally for the Lakers wearing basketball jerseys, and, of course, helped raise my children!