I adopted a 9 month old pitbull, Paxton, in the summer of 2005.
I rescued him from the Center for Animal Care & Control in Harlem, NY, where he’d been taken after being abandoned
at an apartment in Brooklyn. He was loving, playful, and incredibly friendly to everyone around him.
first year that is. Then came a pronounced change in him that began slowly, marked by growls, and escalated to lunging at
people, and biting, particularly if someone new entered the home. A friend of mine coming over to visit had to be taken to
the hospital for stitches. I couldn’t understand what had caused Paxton to act this way, or how to communicate
to him not to.
I took him to a dog trainer who claimed to specialize in pitbulls and it was a disaster. His methods
were inane and useless, and he actually seemed afraid of my dog. He told me that I would never be able to re-home Paxton,
and that if I couldn’t handle him he would most likely need to be put down. I knew there had to be another solution,
and I began whole-heartedly looking for it. Finally, after months of research, I stumbled across the K9-1 website and got
in touch with Mike D’Abruzzo. I enrolled Paxton in the seven week aggression program and hoped for the best.
followed was nothing short of a miracle. Within hours of dropping Paxton off, Mike had gained his trust and had the muzzle
off of him. In the weeks that followed, I made a pilgrimage to Peekskill NY once a week to be part of Paxton’s training.
Mike, along with his other trainer Earl, built slowly step-by-step the commands that would manage Paxton’s behavior
and teach him to adopt a submissive position to humans. It was amazing to watch Paxton learn in leaps and bounds through a
program that promoted patience and respect for the animals they were entrusted with. They educated me about the proper way
to give commands so that Paxton would understand and perform consistently, proper diet, and even helped treat Paxton’s
dry skin and coat.
The day that Mike and I took Paxton on an off-leash hike sans muzzle is one that I will never forget.
I was incredibly nervous, but Mike assured me it was safe and he was right. That marked a change in me where I at last believed
that it was possible for Paxton to be an active, social, and safe member of society. Throughout the rest of the training,
Paxton continued to learn quickly and was often used by Mike in demonstrations, in rooms filled with both strangers and other
dogs. That had been an impossibility just a few short weeks before.
Since coming home, Paxton has surpassed all of
our expectations. He is no longer lunging at strangers, and in fact enjoys being pet by them! I often have him off leash running
around with me and I feel completely comfortable, owing to the consistency of Paxton’s training and his performance.
I make it a point to take him everywhere I can with me, and have him interact with as many people and dogs as I can –
always bearing in mind that aggressive behavior is a possibility, and that remaining a responsible owner is non-negotiable.
With the use of a muzzle and a remote collar for correcting behavior, Paxton has become desensitized to things that once caused
aggressive behavior in him.
Paxton and I have both gained a level of freedom I never dreamed possible, thanks to Mike
and Earl. The work that is done at K9-1 is, without question, heroic.
|Mandy and Paxton