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Unlocking Canine Memory For A Happier Pet How Do Dogs Remember? By Victoria Stilwell

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

photo15In her new book, The Secret Language of Dogs, trainer and Animal Planet star Victoria Stilwell explores the ways recent canine studies show us how to better understand the hidden language of dogs.

Memory is crucial for problem solving, hunting of prey, smell recognition, facial recognition, and general learning. Dogs need to memorize environmental landmarks so they can find their way around as well as construct mental maps of where these landmarks are located. Although dogs use visual markers to navigate their surroundings, they rely more heavily on how things smell. This mental mapping is important for remembering territory and territorial boundaries as well as being able to reach a food source or an area of comfort and safety.

Dogs also need to have a good working memory if they have to find food for themselves. They have to remember that if the prey they are chasing goes behind a rock and disappears, it might still be there even though they can’t see it.

It’s believed not only that dogs have good olfactory memory and can remember smells for years afterward, but also that smell is linked to their emotional memory, just as it is in humans. The smell of a veterinary hospital may always elicit negative emotions, whereas the odor of a favored person triggers happiness and joy. Auditory memory is also important and is especially useful when it comes to remembering the sound, tone, and pitch of a human vocal signal that is linked to a certain action or behavior.

Dogs can not only recognize the voices of people they know but also learn and remember that different vocal pitches and tones mean different things. Their physical reading skills can help them determine what human vocalizations mean, and because people tend to speak in higher pitches when they are being affectionate and lower pitches when they are upset or angry, it is easy for dogs to learn the difference and respond accordingly. You can help your dog learn by being consistent with your vocal pitch as well as being aware of how to use tone when talking to your dog or giving cues. In general, the type of cue will determine the type of tone and pitch you use. You can use high energy vocalizations to excite your dog into playing, for example, or to get your dog to come back to you when you call; use medium tones for everyday cues such as “wait” by the food bowl or “stay” by the front door when a guest is entering. You can use lower tones to tell your dog how you feel about a certain behavior, but take care not to frighten him into compliance. The canine memory is so good that he will truly remember and recognize the difference! Dogs that have been raised in positive, stimulating environments tend to have better memory function than dogs that have been raised in social isolation, because the more pleasant experiences a dog has in early life, the more chances its brain has to develop.

Reprinted from THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF DOGS Copyright © 2016 by Victoria Stilwell. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Victoria Stilwell, star of Animal Planet’s popular “It’s Me or the Dog,” is the author of two books and active with international rescue groups.

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Service Dog

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015


Our four legged, tail wagging, friends are many things to us. To some they could be a companion and to others family, but to a select few they are a life long friend that aides them in every day tasks. Service dogs are trained to aid an individual in a situation unique to each owner. While the owner may grow to love the animal it is a working dog and others should respect it as such.
Service Dogs are utilized in a various  ways, but are commonly know for assisting the handicapped. The most iconic handicap is blindness. The service dog is so advanced in training that it aides the owner in tasks an average dog would tilt there head in confusion, like notifying declines in the path, avoiding obstacles, and following advanced commands such as left and right while being able to render and alert if the command can’t be accomplished.
Services less recognized by the public are some of the more outstanding ones. One in particular is the service given by response dogs, while knowing the owners condition, the dog can correctly react when their owner has a change in heart rate or behavior that may be signaling complications that could be related to the owners diabetic status or showing signs of an oncoming seizure. Beyond notification the dog can fetch medication or a beverage to assist. If all else fails the dog is trained to seek medical attention for their owner, after doing so the dog comforts the owner by laying beside them till help arrives.
Remember when a service dog is with their owner they are working pets and they are taking care of their owner just as you would take care of your pets.


Behavior Problems in Pets

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Pets are important members of the family. A good portion of them live inside our homes and as such we have become more aware of their behavior issues- both large and small.  While behavior issues may not be a medical problem per se, we, as vets can help diagnose and treat these issues.

If your pet has developed a new behavior or if your pet has a behavior that concerns or bothers you we recommend scheduling a visit.  We will ask you to detail the problem, any surrounding circumstances and changes in the household.  Many behavior problems can be due to a medical problem.  Such as- a urinary tract infection will cause a cat to urinate on the couch, gastric reflux may cause a pet to vomit in the house, arthritis can cause a dog to bite.

Once medical causes are ruled out we will discuss behavior training and the possible use of behavior medications.  There are lots of different options to help with different behaviors.  Examples include treat balls and feliway for stressed cats, thundershirts for dogs with storm fear, distraction training for dogs with OCD, etc.

Within our practice Dr Jill Child has gained a reputation for enjoying the challenge of behavior cases.  She will gladly help solve small issues and work with owners to help manage large issues.  Severe issues sometimes require a referral to a veterinary behaviorist to set up a plan.  Once a plan is set up we will help with maintenance.

We endeavor to improve all aspects of your pet’s health and welcome your behavior questions!

Dr Jill Child

Questions and Answers about Ebola & Pets

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


The ongoing epidemic of Ebola in West Africa has raised several questions about how the disease affects the animal population, and in particular, the risk to household pets. While the information available suggests that the virus may be found in several kinds of animals, CDC, the US Department of Agriculture, and the American Veterinary Medical Association do not believe that pets are at significant risk for Ebola in the United States.

How are animals involved in Ebola outbreaks?

Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola has not yet been confirmed, the way in which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, scientists believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate (apes and monkeys), which is called a spillover event. Person-to-person transmission follows and can lead to large numbers of affected persons. In some past Ebola outbreaks, primates were also affected by Ebola, and multiple spillover events occurred when people touched or ate infected primates. In the current West African epidemic, animals have not been found to be a factor in ongoing Ebola transmission.

How does Ebola spread?

When infection occurs in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.
  • Only a few species of mammals (for example, humans, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus.

Can dogs get infected or sick with Ebola?

At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola. There is limited evidence that dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.

Here in the United States, are our dogs and cats at risk of becoming sick with Ebola?

The risk of an Ebola outbreak affecting multiple people in the United States is very low. Therefore, the risk to pets is also very low, as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a person with Ebola. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola.

Can I get Ebola from my dog or cat?

At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or animals. The chances of a dog or cat being exposed to Ebola virus in the United States is very low as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a symptomatic person sick with Ebola.

Can my pet’s body, fur, or paws spread Ebola to a person?

We do not yet know whether or not a pet’s body, paws, or fur can pick up and spread Ebola to people or other animals. It is important to keep people and animals away from blood or body fluids of a person with symptoms of Ebola infection.

What if there is a pet in the home of an Ebola patient?

CDC recommends that public health officials in collaboration with a veterinarian evaluate the pet’s risk of exposure to the virus (close contact or exposure to blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient). Based on this evaluation as well as the specific situation, local and state human and animal health officials will determine how the pet should be handled.

Can I get my dog or cat tested for Ebola?

There would not be any reason to test a dog or cat for Ebola if there was no exposure to a person infected with Ebola. Currently, routine testing for Ebola is not available for pets.

What are the requirements for bringing pets or other animals into the United States from West Africa?

CDC regulations require that dogs and cats imported into the United States be healthy. Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies before arrival into the United States. Monkeys and African rodents are not allowed to be imported as pets under any circumstances.

Each state and U.S. Territory has its own rules for pet ownership and importation, and these rules may be different from federal regulations. Airlines may have additional requirements.

Can monkeys spread Ebola?

Yes, monkeys are at risk for Ebola. Symptoms of Ebola infection in monkeys include fever, decreased appetite, and sudden death. Monkeys should not be allowed to have contact with anyone who may have Ebola. Healthy monkeys already living in the United States and without exposure to a person infected with Ebola are not at risk for spreading Ebola.

Can bats spread Ebola?

Fruit bats in Africa are considered to be a natural reservoir for Ebola. Bats in North America are not known to carry Ebola and so CDC considers the risk of an Ebola outbreak from bats occurring in the United States to be very low. However, bats are known to carry rabies and other diseases here in the United States. To reduce the risk of disease transmission, never attempt to touch a bat, living or dead.

Where can I find more information about Ebola and pet dogs and cats?

CDC is currently working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and many other partners to develop additional guidance for the U.S. pet population. Additional information and guidance will be posted on this website as well as partner websites as soon as it becomes available.

For additional information on Ebola visit ( 

Is Your New Puppy from a Puppy Mill?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

So you are looking for a puppy, maybe you’re a first time dog owner. You have heard about puppy mills and know they are bad. But what you don’t know is how to make sure you don’t accidentally buy from one. Here are 10 signs to help you determine if the puppy you are looking at is from a puppy mill or not as listed in site.

Puppy mill

#1 – Out-of-State

You really should just stay away from pet stores when buying a puppy. Be especially worried if those puppies are coming from out-of-state, particularly Midwest states (Missouri and Illinois are two of the biggest).

#2 – No Parents

If the breeder cannot let you meet the parents, you should walk away. Not meeting the parents is like buying a car without knowing the make. Don’t do it. For all you know, these people did not even breed the puppy, but are selling him secondhand for unknown reasons.

#3 – Let’s Meet

If you call a breeder and they say “let’s meet somewhere” when you ask to visit their kennel, it’s a puppy mill. Usually they will try to get you to meet in a store parking lot or a park. Unless there are extreme circumstances, there is no reason why should not see where your puppy was born..

Puppy Blog 2

#4 – Several Breeds

Reputable breeders focus on one breed, maybe two, MAX. If you find a site offering five different breeds (and their mixes!), it’s a puppy mill.

#5 – Multiple Litters

When you call the breeder and ask if they have puppies, do they respond with “I have one litter coming, but there is already a waiting list” or “oh yes, I have 3 litters on the ground and 2 more on the way”? If the breeder has 30 puppies, that is definitely a puppy mill.

#6 – Vaccinations

Puppy mills don’t like to spend money, it deters from profits. So the parents may not be vaccinated (you should ask!) and the puppies probably are not. Or, conversely, they have so many puppies they lost track and your pup got vaccinated twice.

Puppy Blog

#7 – Extreme Promises

Dr. Kathryn Primm DVM, owner and chief veterinarian of Applebrook A.H., says to be wary about the breeder promising a certain size, temperament, or characteristic that seems extreme. For example, a dog came into her clinic that was supposed to be a Pomeranian and Husky mix that the breeder had promised would never grow lover than 7 pounds. She was 42 pounds!

#8 – Cleanliness

This goes for the dog and the breeder’s home or kennel. Dr. Primm says puppies from puppy mills are more likely to smell like a kennel and have poor coat quality.

#9 – Contract

Your breeder should care enough about what happens to the puppy that she has a contract protecting both you and her. Reputable breeders have a spay/neuter agreement, breed papers, health contract, and a request that you return the dog to them if it doesn’t work out (rather than dumping him at the shelter.)

#10 – Too Young

Another way they can cut their costs is by giving you the puppy early, because they do not have to feed them, give them shots, etc. Question any breeder wanting to give you the puppy before they are eight weeks old. This is the minimum age you should be taking a puppy from their mother and litter-mates.

Our Doctors at Town & Country A.H. can give you plenty of information about breeds, maintenance, nutrition, training and much more. If you are in the market for a new four legged addition to your family, know we can assist in helping you choose the right breed and help you avoid puppy mills!

We are available anytime at or contact us at (305) 238-2222.

A Very Special Boy and His Very Special Dog…

Monday, August 25th, 2014


Owen Howkins and Haatchi both know what it means to be dealt a tough hand. Owen was born with a rare genetic disease called Schwartz-Jampel Syndrome which means his muscles are always tensed. Haatchi, a beautiful Anatolian Shepherd was just ten months old when a barbaric human tied him to a railroad track and left him to die.

Haatchi was hit by a train and lay suffering for days before he was rescued. His severely damaged leg had to be amputated and he lost part of his tail. With his injuries it was hard to find a home for Haatchi but then Will Howkins, Owen’s dad, adopted him.

Whatever he may be missing in limbs he makes up for with heart. And he has transformed 7-year-old Owen’s life.

Owen became self conscious about his appearance and realized he was different when he was quite young. Soon he no longer wanted to leave the house. But since Haatchi came into his life he can’t wait to go outside and take him for walks.

Dad Will, who is an engineer in the British air force, said boy and dog hate to be apart. Haatchi has now completed a Pets as Therapy training course and will visit military amputees injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The famous Crufts dog show in England honored Haatchi this year with its Friends for Life award — but the real reward is the special bond he has with Owen.

From the June 2013 issue of Cesar’s Way magazine.

Read more:

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Into the WATER!

The dog paddle doesn’t always come naturally; sometimes you have to teach a dog to swim

swimming dogs

It’s a dog owner’s dream: a hot summer afternoon, a lovely lake and you, swinging off a rope into the local watering hole. Then splash! Good old Rover dives in and paddles after you. Sounds great except for one thing: Are you sure your dog can actually swim?

Some pups don’t instinctively paddle, and physical traits of some breeds limit their ability to tread water and float. Pugs, who can have trouble breathing, shouldn’t be presumed to be natural swimmers. Bulldogs have been knows to just sink, because of the densely compact bodies they’re prized for. Beyond that, some dogs just freeze when faced with the unknown. The point is, if you don’t know, you don’t just throw him im.

If your pooch is nervous around the pool, he can learn to swim. Doggie swim schools offer classes in the range of $50 to $70 for roughly a half hour lesson. And dozens have sprung up across the country in recent years. Enroll him.

Or, if you decide to gently teach your dog yourself, follow these rules to keep the swimming lessons safe and fun:


Forcing an unwilling dog to swim is just as dangerous as forcing a child. They’ll panic, experts say. So help him by easing him in calmly.


Even if your pal is wearing a flotation device, it’s always best to support his midsection and hindquarters until he’s relaxed and paddling. Then you can let go.


If you’ve led him gently down the steps, remember to walk him through reaching them again to exit. It’s like any new environment; he needs to know how to return to a safe place.


That way you cut down distractions. Keeping calm is a huge part of staying focused on the training lesson, just like it is on land.


A good swimmer may leap into a large body of water- like a lake- and swim until he’s lost. Dogs wander, so watch him,


Invest in a personal flotation vest.












Like all the brachycephalic breeds, they can experience breathing difficulties: risky in water.


Their densely compact bodies can cause them to sink.


Those stubby legs make them somewhat inadequate paddlers.

Basset Hounds

Dense bone structures and short legs make swimming a challenge. They were bred for land activities.


They paddle just fine, but prolonged exposure to wetness and cold can give them chills and arthritis.

Ringworm in Dogs

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

dog running - morguefile




Dermatophytosis in Dogs

Dermatophytosis is the medical term for a parasitic fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and/or nails (claws). The most commonly isolated fungal organisms are Microsporum canis (more commonly referred to as ringworm), Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Microsporum gypseum. This disease occurs in dogs, cats, and other mammals. It is diagnosed more commonly in young animals than in old.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of dermatophytosis include accumulations of surface skin cells, such as seen in dandruff (scales); poor hair coat; reddened skin (erythema); darkened skin (hyperpigmentation); itchiness (pruritus); and hair loss (alopecia), which may be patchy or circular. Other indications of dermatophytosis that are readily apparent on the skin are raised, rounded, knotty (nodular) lesions known as granulomatous lesions, or boils, and raised nodular lesions that frequently ooze (kerions), the result of ringworm infection. There may also be inflammation of the claw folds — the folds of skin bordering the nail, and medically referred to as paronychia.

Occasionally, dogs are classified as inapparent carriers — harboring the disease-causing fungus, but presenting no visible signs of the condition. However, even these dogs are contagious to humans and other animals.


Dogs most commonly develop dermatophytosis because of infections with the fungi Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. The incidence of each fungus varies according to your geographical location.

Diseases or medications that decrease the body’s ability to develop a normal immune response (known as immunocompromising diseases, or immunosuppressive medications, respectively) can increase the likelihood that your dog will be susceptible to a fungal infection of the skin, hair, and/or nails, as well as increase the potential for a more severe infection. Environments that are densely populated with animals (for example, in an animal shelter or kennel), or where there is poor nutrition, poor management practices, and lack of adequate quarantine period, will also increase risk of infection.


Your veterinarian will perform a fungal culture of skin clippings, a microscopic examination of a sample of hair, and possibly a skin biopsy.


Most dogs can be treated on an outpatient basis, but quarantine procedures should be considered due to the infective and zoonotic (transmittable to humans) nature of some types of dermatophytosis. If your veterinarian needs to prescribe antifungal medications, the use of an Elizabethan collar (a wide collar placed around the neck) is recommended to prevent ingestion of antifungal medications applied to the dog’s skin.

Living and Management

A fungal culture is the only means of truly monitoring your dog’s response to treatment. Many animals will improve clinically, but remain fungal culture positive. It is advisable to repeat fungal cultures toward the end of treatment, and continue treatment until at least one culture result is negative. In resistant cases, fungal cultures may be repeated on a weekly basis, and treatment continued until two to three consecutive negative results are obtained. Complete blood counts should be performed weekly or biweekly for animals receiving griseofulvin, an anti-fungous antibiotic. Also, blood work to monitor the liver may be indicated for dogs receiving ketoconazole or itraconazole, two types of anti-fungal medications.


To prevent reinfection from other animals, the use of a quarantine period, and fungal (dermatophyte) cultures of all animals living in the household are necessary. Treatment of exposed animals should be considered to prevent repeated development of infection. The possibility of rodents aiding in the spread of the disease should be considered. If you suspect that your dog has access to rodents, or that rodents are in your immediate environment, it is highly advised that you take the necessary steps to eliminate the pests.


SOURCE: Veterinary Team Brief

Dog Training: Dealing with excessive barking

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 Dealing with excessive barking


Dogs bark for different reasons: There’s watchdog barking, request barking, “spooky” barking, and boredom barking. Though people find barking annoying, it isn’t annoying to dogs. Rather, it’s one of a variety of ways that dogs express themselves. To other dogs, each bark has a tone that communicates something specific and significant. Controlling excessive barking with training is more than possible. In fact, it can and should be fun. Here’s how to keep each type of barking to a minimum:

Watchdog barking. Many dogs consider it their job to warn you that someone dangerous is at the door. Rather than trying to take your dog’s job away, you can teach her to bark just once (with a cue like “bark” or “who’s there?”), and then leave it for something more fun. Practice by stationing a helper outside to knock on the door. After one bark comes out of the dog’s mouth, give another cue (like “enough” or “OK”), then get her involved in fetching a favorite toy, which you can keep near the door. If your dog does not enjoy retrieving, use food rewards. Here’s how to do it:

1 Give the cue: “Who’s there?”

2 Have the person knock on the door.

3 When the dog barks, give the next cue (“enough” or “OK”) and show the dog the toy or treat.

4 Start playing with the toy or give the dog the treat.

Repeat many times until the dog knows the game. The toy you pick should be used exclusively for practicing this behavior. Soon, the dog will bark with the cue “Who’s there?” (no knock needed) and she will stop on the cue “OK” and wait for you to play or offer a treat. If she starts to bark again after you use the “OK” cue, do not reward her. Practice this routine many times to reinforce the desired behavior. Real life situations, of course, are the real test. You might want to put a note on your door explaining that you will answer after a short delay.

If your dog starts barking the minute someone pulls into the driveway, use the same sequence as above, except have your helper drive up in a car (instead of knocking at the door).

Request barking. Dogs often bark when they are excited, perhaps anticipating a walk or meal. If your dog does too much of this request barking, do not reward her until after the barking has stopped. Ignore all barking as though you have lost your hearing. Then, when the dog has been quiet for a decent interval, give her what she wants — food or a walk. In so doing, you teach your dog that being quiet has its rewards. To reinforce this behavior, you can give her praise or something to chew on if she is lying down quietly.

“Spooky” barking. This type of barking is provoked by fear and it normally comes with some body language. To scare off the source of her fear, your dog may have her hair up and her tail between her legs. She may be very rigid and bounce on her front legs. Your dog may be fearful if she is under-socialized; the solution may be more positive exposure to the world. A dog training class can be a helpful way to introduce her to new people, places and sounds. Make socializing fun: New people can offer treats and trips to town can include treats for being brave. Remember not to reward your dog while she is barking; reward her only when she has relaxed. This strategy may take some time, but a happy, well-adjusted dog is a joy to be around.

Boredom barking. This kind of barking is common when dogs are not receiving enough interaction with their family. Because dogs are such social animals, it is stressful for them to be alone for long periods of time. If your dog is alone all day, she will need a significant amount of attention once you come home. To help relieve her boredom during the day, supply her with durable rubber and nylon toys to chew on, like Kongs and Nylabones. Also, consider bringing her to doggie daycare a few days a week or asking someone to come by your house during your work week to take her for walks.

Source: Best Friends Magazine

How to Handle a Territorial Dog

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

How to Handle a Territorial Dog


A Territorial Dog Bit My Cousin

Dear Cesar,

I would like to know how to properly handle a situation in which a territorial dog came after me when I was walking in my neighborhood. This situation arose yesterday when my cousin and I were walking. A dog who is usually confined behind a fence suddenly charged across the yard at us.

The territorial dog nipped my cousin on the back of her leg and then proceeded to circle around us. The owner was nowhere in sight. I knew from watching your show that I should remain calm and assertive, but my cousin was terrified. As the dog circled around us trying to get at my cousin, I kept turning to face the territorial dog and would periodically make the “shh” noise I’ve heard you make. I wanted to keep him in sight, but I thought I shouldn’t be making eye contact either. I just imagined a bubble around me and in my mind said, “This is my space.” Eventually, the dog left us alone and wandered off. Even though the dog backed off, I’m not sure I handled the situation the best way. My question is, what are the proper steps to take when faced with a territorial dog off its leash?

Thanks for your help,

Trena Cox

Cesar’s Advice on How to Handle a Territorial Dog

Dear Trena,

First of all I want to tell you what you did was exactly what I would have done in a situation like that with a territorial dog. I couldn’t be more proud of a person who I don’t know, I’ve never seen, and to whom I’ve never given a personal consultation! And you didn’t do anything wrong. Here’s what you did right: you controlled the environment; you controlled the momentum; you controlled yourself; you controlled the dog, and you took over for your frightened cousin. You actually controlled your cousin with your stronger energy. If you had been by yourself, you would have accomplished the exercise in a much shorter period of time. Because of your cousin’s weak energy, it took a little longer for you to make the territorial dog understand that you were not going to back away.

The great thing is that the dog did back away—and that means you won; that means you are the pack leader; that means that you should hold on to that moment for the rest of your life and feel like you just won a purple heart or some kind of medal. I am very proud and if you keep it up – keep the pack leader mentality and stay calm and assertive no matter what, which I always teach on the show—you will always succeed. I’ll say it again: I am very, very, very proud of you.

Stay calm and assertive,

Ceaser Milan

SOURCE: Ceaser Millan

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