Congratulations to our Pet Lover of the Year Contest Winner, Louise Guiney!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Pet Lover of the Year contest! We would like to congratulate Dr. Willard’s® Pet Lover of The Year contest winner, Louise Guiney! Our Pet Lover of the Year contest ran March 1-31st. We encouraged people to share their pet adoption stories for a chance to win a trip to the Best Friends conference in Atlantic City this summer ( http://bestfriends.org/events/best-friends-national-conference). We are thankful for all the participation and most of all for the inspiration we all received by reading your heartfelt stories..

The voting process was tough so we asked a team of experts to help us pick the winner.  Our team of experts included Wendy Volhard, author, trainer and innovator of the Volhard Motivational Method of Dog Training; Julia Henriques Managing Editor with Dog’s Naturally Magazine; and my lovely wife, Christine Gorrell Willard.  They all read through the submissions, picked their favorite and now we would like to share Louise Guiney’s, Dr. Willard’s® Pet Lover of the Year Story! Congratulations Loise we hope you have fun on your expense paid trip to the Atlantic City this summer!

Please meet Louise and rescue pup, Conner! “Back in late 2011 I had finally moved on from the loss of my pit bull/jack russell mix – Kelly. Yes and she looked as odd as you could imagine but no better girl could you wish for. Honoring my promise to all my rescue pets over the years, I went on PetFinder looking for a dog to adopt. I would see Connor, a Jack Russell, appear, then he would disappear, then back, then gone, over the next several months. In March 2012 he reappeared and I immediately reached out to his rescue group “Ready For Rescue”, a Manhattan based “last hope” rescue, meaning they rescue from shelters those cats and dogs who have been deemed unadoptable and are on the “kill” list. Doug – who ran Ready For Rescue – was very open with me. Connor had been adopted out several times and returned each time within days, due to his biting. But Doug had a vested interest in him, and I, as an experienced dog owner with no kids and a big yard, was a great candidate, maybe the only candidate, as Connor was now meeting the owners of sanctuaries, so poor was his prognosis. In April 2012 Connor came to live with me. Within 48 hours I was in the emergency room being treated for severe dog bites. I had learned the boundaries. And also about Connor from his paperwork – he had been found wandering a desolate area of Queens – obviously dumped, as I would come to know him as such a loyal boy. He must have had an owner who loved him, but never trained him, and maybe something happened to that owner, because Connor was not the type to run away, my concluding he had been dumped because he was impossible to handle. My long time vet, upon meeting him, warned me if I kept this dog (while she observed from a distance) that I would live a modified lifestyle, and never be able to trust his actions. Pooh said I – 25 years of rescues under my belt and never a bad incident. So I started training. He was very food-motivated but that Jack Russell stubbornness was a hurdle. Instead of walking on his hind legs like a circus act to get treats, he learned to sit. As long as he could. We are still perfecting this command! After he attacked my dog walker Barbara for the second time, I had to give her up. My other boy Beau the flat coat retriever rescue was heartbroken, but at the same time, the best brother Connor could have. He was playful not bossy, and Connor accepted him as a comrade in arms. They consistently looked out for each other although Beau liked to wind Connor up! We socialized freely with other dogs (he is great with dogs) but he continued to have issues with people. Including me. He had this huge personal space you could not cross.He’s like Jekyll and Hyde, or the Incredible Hulk. A trigger would drive him into a blind age. Ever seem a Jack Russell in a blind rage? It’s not good. I tried the most expensive trainers and behaviorists to work with Connor. The first trainer showed me how to brush him into a corner with a broom. Fired. The next one was bitten upon introduction. Fired. I have to admit I was in despair by now and afraid that I had bitten off more than I myself could chew, and discussed with Doug the options should I not keep him. They were not good. The third behaviorist (Fern Dog – deserves a mention) came armed with roast chicken, met us on neutral ground, and within 30 minutes had Connor lying calmly at his feet in the living room, a poster boy for good behavior. But it was of course not Connor who was being trained – it was me. I learned to change my perspective, not expect perfection and just accept him and his faults, and to love him unconditionally. This he responded to, and reciprocated. Today he is the love of my life. Yes he has to be muzzled when guests come by, and when I travel only one kennel in NJ will accept him for boarding. But under that brittle shell is a soft sweet boy who now lets me into his space (although I don’t push it!), kisses me madly and is a real cuddle bunny. I don’t cross his boundaries (no dog attire, no picking up, no petting in certain areas ) and he appreciates that. He is older than his paperwork states – he is now half blind and half deaf, but he is fully Jack Russell and what a personality. He is respectful of the cats and is a true brother to Beau, he has a very loving home, and we have a very good life. in fact, my vet was right – I have modified my life to accommodate this broken boy. And I would do it all over again every time, given the chance. I had a good friend Nancy (since passed from cancer) and Connor was totally in love with her Lab Retriever, Stella. Now Stella was more interested in her tennis ball, but when Nancy was too ill to come out walking the trails we would go over to visit. I remember Connor jumping up on the couch next to Nancy, pretending to look out the window, then surprisingly turning to Nancy, climbing on her lap and giving her a kiss. We were astonished. This was the boy I warned everyone to be careful around and here he was making me look like a liar. I captured that moment with my camera. Later visits Connor would loll about on Nancy’s lap like a cat wanting to be petted, all the while looking at me. But he connected with Nancy at her lowest point, as if he knew she needed that doggy love. She went to meet her Maker knowing she was The Dog Whisperer. That’s what makes Connor truly special. He’s whining at me as I type. Time to go. Don’t want to waste a minute of the time we have together. A rescue dog will change your life for the better. A special dog will change it in a special way. Fondest regards, Louise (and her owner – Connor).”

As always, I thank you for taking time to read our blogs.

John Willard III

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