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I have always had a dog and every dog I've had has been raised from a puppy. When my last dog Axel passed it took me about a year to consider filling the void. To this day all of my dogs are such a vivid imprint in my heart and mind. A testimony to the relationship you can build with an animal. Mike and I were ready but this time we decided to adopt.

We felt a strong need to rescue a dog and we visited the shelter a couple of times without really finding a fit. So I set out on an internet search. We didn't really have any specific breed mix in mind I was just worried about being able to carry my dog if needed so i was aiming for 40 lbs or less. As Axel got closer to her last days we were getting up with her in the middle of the night and carrying her up and down the stairs. She had always slept by my bed and she wasn’t about to change that no sir she was bound and determined to get up those steps! Stairs had always been a part of her life so I was her personal elevator. She weighed every bit of 65 lbs with a barrel chest so you can understand my desire for a smaller dog. After weeks of searching I found some good candidates. Baxter was a cute pup past the puppy age but what a handsome boy! We liked the idea that he was with a foster home so we could get a lot better feel on his habits and personality. So correspondence began we almost missed getting him another couple had taken him home for a test run but he is a Boxer/Staffy mix and not allowed in their apartment complex. We had a video conference first then off to meet him. He was just as cute in person and was very well mannered in the house, knew basic commands and house trained.

Now for the challenges: Spencer focuses in on moving cars when out for a walk and wants to chase them, and he still needed work walking on the leash, this boy has a lot of energy. He got along great with his 2 larger housemates and had been around a small child around age 7. Hey remember I have been round dogs all my life I thought these would be easy to overcome. When we got him home we made it a point to have a few days off to acclimate him to his new environment. Our daughter's dog is named Dexter and much too close to Baxter so a name change was in order and Spencer it was.

So far so good! He is really fitting in - except...the walk, we went through a choke chain, a Murphy collar and ended up with a harness. As it turned out Spencer didn't really care too much for some other dogs walking with their owners and he did like cars day or night he just wanted to go after it - not chase it but acted like he wanted to attack it. I think his reaction was to lash out when he didn’t care for something like the size and noise of the car.

I needed help the things that worked for prior puppies was not working for Spencer and my shoulders were so tight after our nightly walks from his constant pulling, my level of irritation was starting to grow. On top of that we have a 1 year old granddaughter and while Spencer has never touched her he did appear to just be shy of giving her a correction and we were concerned, So I started searching first with referrals A highly recommended referral told me I had a bad dog and I should put him down. Heartbroken I reached out to his foster parent and told him I might need to give him back - he had offered to take him if for some reason things didn’t work out, he encouraged me to keep looking.

I found another trainer but they recommend I leave Spencer there, I had taken him with me, but I got the distinct feeling Spencer was uncomfortable so we left and then I found Ralf through ThumbTack! He came to the house for a mutual interview and he made sense with everything he said. He was very educational, explaining the behavioral aspect, why, and how to overcome. We decided he was the right one for all of us. Ralf has helped us soo much! Showing us the correct tools (proper training collar, better leash, reading material) working with us through routine sessions.

We were seeing results almost immediately. The focusing in on, and bolting for moving cars ceased within a couple of weeks.Spencer still wants to pull a little but he is no longer dragging me down the sidewalk. He lets me go first out the door (this happened after the first training session and 3rd attempt). His anxiety level has dropped significantly. Every once in a while we run into a dog with high energy and we go back to some basic steps but the amount of time it takes for him to calm down has improved 10 fold.

Even our family that stayed with us 6 months ago, recently made a return visit and commented on his improvement. All three of the kids were competing for his attention and Spencer was loving every minute! He’s a wonderful dog and great addition to our family and thanks to Ralf we are all loving life!

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Julia K.,