BILLY — Billy came to the Humane Society at almost 1 year old. He is another example of people making uneducated, bad decisions and going by looks. He is a Border Collie / Australian Shepherd mix, purchased too young at a pet store (always a mistake) and then left for the next 7 months in the garage and/or back yard. He was given no training, no time, and he kept getting bigger and more out of control. Then he was dumped at the shelter. He was adopted out 2 more times to the wrong owner — people who chose him for his looks, without understanding his needs — and was returned for being “too overwhelming and hyper”. Martina knows how the herding breeds function and despite Billy’s initial lack of good manners and now separation anxiety, she will turn this project pup into yet another perfect dog. Billy’s sheer teenage exuberance and energy will keep his devoted new owner on her toes and (hopefully!) in shape. Here’s looking forward to another long Border Collie success story!

LISA — Just seven months old, Lisa was found running in traffic in a tough part of town. Obviously Martina couldn’t just ignore that— so now little Lisa is part of the family. She has learned to leave the senior dog Jeffrey alone, but the other 3 boy dogs adore her now. Having to care for an exuberant young puppy for the first time in 13 years is a sobering experience for Martina, and a little refresher course in understanding frustrated new dog owners! But Lisa is already working with the rest of the gang during Martina’s evaluations of new dogs.

RAY — Who can resist one blue and one brown eye, all in one dog?? Meet Ray, a border collie mix with a strong herding drive, who joined our family in August 2006. Found as an emaciated skittish stray in Yuba County, Ray is very afraid of humans in general and men in particular. After being with a rescue group and then a well meaning family who couldn’t fix his problems he ended up with Patrick, Jeffrey and Jimmy who are trying to convince him on our daily outings that the world isn’t such a bad place after all. Even Bonnie, our senior cat, took a liking to Ray as he’s very gentle and polite around her. Currently Martina is working very hard to get him acquainted with humans, situations and new things in general besides the actual training. The progress is slow but promising. Stay tuned…

…after 6 years, Ray has improved greatly and can now handle most new situations. While he will never be 100% secure around crowds, children, and (he thinks) scary new men, he has made great strides and is now also part of Martina’s “inventory” when it comes to evaluating clients’ dogs. He has turned into a great teacher for young puppies and is especially tolerant towards toy breeds.

Early in the morning on Tuesday June 11, 2019 our Ray died peacefully in his sleep. He was about 14 years 7 months. He started having some stiffness from arthritis over the last year, which progressed to the point that he had real trouble walking. He had apparently very little discomfort from this though, he still tried to chase after bicycles just a couple of weeks before his death! His appetite was pretty good as well, especially when it came to high value treats 🙂

Ray was a big success story in rehabilitating. From his very sad beginnings he improved so much over the 11 years he lived with us. For Martina, his development was a study to learn from a lot. It shows how resilient animals are and how much they can overcome if one is willing to put in the time, effort, patience—and lots of love.

Ray was the prime example for Martina’s clients to demonstrate what can be achieved in behavior modification and training, if done right. Everybody who knew Ray over the years can testify to this.

Ray was extremely attached to Martina, almost too much. His absence will be a sad reminder for a long time to come.

JIMMY, a 1-year-old, 12-pound Chihuahua mix, was roaming the neighborhood for several days before Martina picked him up. He was an intact male, underweight, scared and prone to snapping at people. Under Martina’s tutelage, he’s still working on a tendency to bark at strangers, but in a matter of minutes he’ll be curled up in your lap, sleeping happily. He has learned that polite dogs are fun to be around and that Bonnie, Martina’s cat, has the right to groom him… to his dismay. Jimmy is now part of the dog evaluation team when it comes to testing other dogs’ social skills. Martina on the other hand has learned how easy it can be to let cute little guys get away with double standards if you’re not careful 🙂 Seeing a small dog being trained and socialized just like the bigger breeds shows Martina’s clients the importance of taking behavior problems seriously even in a small package.

On November 2, 2015 we had to say goodbye to our little Jimmy. He’d had a severe heart murmur for many years, so making it to 13 years is a good thing. During the last few months he went into congestive heart failure and coped with it quite well for a while. But then he became weaker and weaker, and even though there wasn’t any pain we had to let him go peacefully when he didn’t have any strength left. Jimmy was a very mellow gentle dog who simply wanted to hang out with us and go for leisurely walks. He’s been a joy to be around, and just like with all our other dogs, he taught Martina so much about behavior and doggie language. Despite his very small size he leaves a big hole in our hearts.

PATRICK was brought to a local shelter where Martina volunteered by a group of children. At only three weeks old, he was little more than a ball of fluff, and much too young to be away from his mother already. Martina became his foster mother, raising him until he was old enough for adoption. Many people visited Patrick and expressed interest in adopting him. Unfortunately, none of the potential families was knowledgable about or equipped to handle the enormous responsibility of having a Border Collie. Interest in the breed was high after the release of the movie Babe, but few people realized the amount of work, exercise and stimulation Patrick would require for his physical and emotional health, and no suitable adopter was found. Luckily for Patrick, Martina has put in the hard work required to successfully raise such a breed. He now enjoys playing with Jimmy, agility training, very long walks and a never-ending game of catch!

Our wonderful Patrick passed away on August 28, 2014. He was almost 16 years old. The arthritis finally became too severe even for such a driven dog. Until 6 months ago Patrick still played ball and retrieved anything from toys to sticks to rocks. He had obviously slowed down in this last year but still had such a zest for life! His mind was sharp until the end, he almost seemed surprised when his legs didn’t run as fast and jump as high as they used to. By far the most athletic dog we ever had, your quintessential Border Collie who couldn’t sit still or get bored. From running companion, to sheep herder, to agility enthusiast, he was all that and so much more. He required a lot of exercise and attention which he repaid many times over by being the perfect tester dog for clients. Especially the kids in the neighborhood will miss him, he couldn’t wait for them to come and play with for all these years.

Martina’s days are quite empty right now without this force of nature around. By now he is exhausting St. Francis in heaven, I’m sure!

JEFFREY was lucky he was left behind when the police showed up; a group of people training pit bulls to fight fled, abandoning the four-week-old Jeffrey and sparing him a gruesome fate. The police delivered him to an animal shelter, and Martina took him in to train as a foster puppy. Unfortunately, Jeffrey was so traumatized by his first weeks of life that he couldn’t be adopted out because of the risk he would bite someone out of fear. It took Martina 18 months to socialize Jeffrey to people and other dogs. Now he is a gentle, loving member of the family. Even though he has finally learned to stand his ground somewhat with puppies and adolescents, Martina still needs to come to his rescue if other dogs take away his toy.

Our gentle soul Jeffrey passed away on April 11, 2013. He was 16 years old, without any illness or injury, but his body simply became too frail to go on. It’s always a heart wrenching decision to put your dog to sleep, even more so when there is no obvious reason for it. We struggled over this decision back and forth over the last few weeks of his life. Sweet Jeffrey passed away in our home and our arms. To look at his empty bed is very depressing but Patrick, who took Jeffrey’s passing very hard, is taking some comfort resting on it now.

Jeffrey has been the perfect dog from the first day on, incapable of doing anything wrong, and there will never be another dog so neutral and non-threatening as him. He helped countless clients’ dogs overcome their fear and suspicion of other dogs due to his wonderful calm personality. Words can’t express how much we all miss him.

SABRINA was 11 months old when she was found loose on a freeway and taken to Peninsula Humane Society. Martina took her in and discovered that Sabrina suffered from an extreme case of separation anxiety– an emotional disorder in which the dog cannot tolerate being separated from their owner even briefly. Sabrina’s case was so severe that she would mutilate herself by chewing on her own feet, and once crashed through a window in her distress. She has taught Martina a great deal about separation anxiety, including how rewarding your relationship with your dog can be when you’re able to help them overcome their fears. More than 15 years later, Sabrina is a calm, loving companion, and the undisputed matriarch of the pack.

Sabrina lived to the very old age of 16 1/2 years before her body finally reached its limit. She passed away peacefully on May 11, 2006 at home. It left a huge void in our pack, she was such a strong old lady never wanting to give up. Her spirit lives on forever.

KELSIE came to Martina at 6 months of age when a neighbor couldn’t keep her anymore. She was an over-sized puppy with no training and only fun on her mind. She had dug under the neighbor’s fence into Martina’s yard and played with Sabrina several times, so the two of them together in the end was a good thing! Like your typical lab, she eats everything in sight that doesn’t bite her first, so they watched her closely and kick-started her training right away.
Kelsie turned out to be marvelous, extremely well natured, sweet and loving. Martina has fostered many puppies over the years, and they all took to Kelsie as the foster mom. She had ever-lasting patience with them, and everyone liked her. Kelsie was the perfect demo-dog for the kids’ workshops; even kids afraid of dogs would usually overcome their fear when they saw how gentle and easy-going Kelsie was, with the softest, velvety coat of any dog.

Her favorite place was definitely the beach. Running in and out of the waves, rolling in the sand (and decomposing fish 🙂 was the highlight of her outings.

When she was 10 years old Kelsie was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. The outlook was bleak, and the oncologist gave Kelsie 5-6 months. Against all odds the cancer never came back and she was the miracle patient! Kelsie also ruptured a ligament in her hind leg a couple of years ago, and when she showed up for surgery to put an artificial ligament in, she was sent home–it had started to heal just nicely all by itself, and 8 weeks later Kelsie was as good as new!

At age 13, after having had a serious breathing problem for over a year, Kelsie also began suffering from vestibular disease, which got worse over a few days due to her being so dizzy and disoriented and therefore closing off her throat even more. On September 20, 2004, we made the very difficult decision to have our beloved Kelsie put to sleep. With no hope of improvement in sight we couldn’t let her suffer any longer. Our household has not been the same since. We miss Kelsie very, very much.