Winner’s Circle – 2018 thru 2019

Updated April 4, 2022

This area is reserved for animals who have shown dramatic improvement in a short period of time. These animals and their humans are definitely winners! Each member of the winner’s circle gets a winner’s medal and a certificate. Each year 1 or 2 animals are chosen as the most improved of the year.  


Sicily started with CF Behavior as a scared little girl that was very reactive to other dogs. She would growl and snap and lunge towards other dogs that would approach her. Her parents worked very diligently, over time, and helped her gain her confidence! Sicily participated in dog walk outings to a very busy park and walked with other dogs without being fearful of or reactive to them or any other dogs playing throughout the park.

Sicily did so well with her training plan that she became a volunteer demo dog for reactive dog classes and has helped numerous other dogs learn better behaviors and be confident and calm for their families.

Sicily would always greet us by doing the army crawl towards us and promptly roll over for her much loved belly rubs of which there were always plenty to give!

Sicily has gone on to great adventures with her family and has returned to where she was born and now lives in Germany! Her parents sent this update:

“Thank you again for the help with Sicily. We take her to work with us almost everyday and everyone loves her. She brings so much joy to our coworkers and the service members! So, even though she never made it to therapy dog training, everyone says that she makes their day and can’t believe how ell behaved she is.

Here’s a picture of Sicily working hard in her hidey hole under my desk! ”

Tessa: Most Improved Dog June 2019

Tessa started her life as a bait dog for dog fighting. Bait dogs are used to get fighting dogs worked up before a fight. The bait dog is held in the middle of the ring. The fighting dogs are allowed to lunge at the bait dog, but not actually reach it, increasing their frustration and adrenaline levels. Tessa was saved when the fighting ring was broken up. Crystal adopted Tessa knowing that Tessa feared other dogs and tried to work with her. Tessa’s needs were obviously greater than basic socialization. Crystal called us. The first time we tried to walk Tessa out of the house, with another dog within view, Tessa lunged so hard on the leash that she backflipped and nearly strangled herself!

We started Tessa on an anti-anxiety diet and began her on supplementation, so she was able to handle stress more effectively. We rigged a duel-leash system attached to her head collar and body harness, so she could not strangle herself when she panicked. We gradually tried to introduce non-threatening dogs from a great distance, while heavily treating and praising Tessa. After two sessions with little to no improvement, we changed out tactics.

We had Crystal bring Tessa to reactive dog class. Tessa would sit off in the far corner of the yard and watch the other dogs interacting. She would still explode, but at least we could keep her from hurting herself. During the first class she was able to get within 10 fee of Ranger (whom she had seen before at her house). During the second class, Tessa made a boyfriend! She shocked everyone by walking right up to a large American Pit Bull Terrier. She sniffed him and let him sniff her. Tessa followed Hank around the yard. During her third class, she again walked right up to Hank as if they were long-lost buddies.

Tessa still has a long way to go with other dogs, but she will be going on chaperoned dates (walks around the neighborhood) with her new boyfriend, Hank. As long as Hank is with her, she will allow other dogs to pass 10-15 feed away.

Update on Tessa: Tessa has been progressing quickly. She is now walking up to dogs in class to sniff them. She is so excited to come to Miss Marie’s and make new friends in class. We are hopeful that someday she will be able to actually play with other dogs.


Most Improved Dog March 2019! Bruce has a history of barking at strangers, especially men, and other dogs. He would lunge at visitors to his home. With an herbal supplement, acupressure and compression therapy, Bruce started to calm down.

Thanks to help from Ranger, Moira, Buddy and Benji, Bruce learned to not only ignore other dogs walking by, but to actually greet appropriately. Bruce is still working on his “people skills”, but can now walk up to strangers and accept treats. 

In three sessions, and a lot of hard work by his humans, Bruce has come a very long way. He even visited family members and made friends with a little girl. 


Most Improved Dog February 2019! Kiva came from a shelter after having been relinquished by her family that “didn’t have time to work with her”. She was adopted by a wonderful Mom who has plenty of time to work with and lover her.

Kiva was afraid of all people, sounds, and most of the furniture in the house. Slowly she is coming out of her shell, exploring the house and discovering that Marie and her friends bring “cookies” .

Last week, Kiva made her first foray into the dreaded basement and discovered it was pretty cool (literally) place to hang out with Mom.


 Most Improved Dog  January 2019! Louie began his education with CF Behavior after trying to bite his vet. He thought that biting and growling were the best way to get out of doing what he didn’t want to do.

Then he met Miss Marie! At their first meeting he lunged at her, and another trainer pulled him and had him lie down in front of her.  He learned quickly to respect Miss Marie, and more slowly his humans.

With persistence and lots of treats, Louie slowly accepted that walking with a head collar was not so horrible, and he could even make other doggy friends.   

Listening to the humans actually got him a lot of unexpected rewards. At his last vet visit, Louie was a perfect gentleman! 



Duke has the dubious honor of being the youngest dog we have ever seen for aggression, and the youngest in the winner’s circle.

Duke was found as a stray at a very young age, possibly as young as 3-4 weeks. He was adopted by a loving family, but was not exposed to other dogs. Duke not only had no manners and no knowledge of how to interact with other dogs, but no bite inhibition.

Whenever Duke was upset, frightened, or not getting his own way, he would bite full mouth and full pressure, leaving bruises and drawing blood. Duke was fitted with a head collar, to control his head and bite depth. His humans were taught appropriate correction methods.

Duke came to a special socialization class and worked closely with Loch (another rescue puppy) under the strict supervision of Moira. Duke gradually learned not to bite humans or other dogs, but also learned how to play appropriately. Duke even learned to play gently with Henry (the cat).


Most improved for 2018!

When Miss Marie first met Oliver, he was not only biting his children but tried to bite Miss Marie several times. Oliver lived his life running and hiding. He never knew how good petting and snuggling could be.

With the help of aromatherapy, some herbs (temporary), and lots of hard work with his family, Oliver slowly learned that gentle handling can be pretty good. Oliver continues to relax more with enrollment in Canine Socialization. He is even making many new friends – dogs, humans and even a cat.

Ellie Mae

Elected Most Improved Puppy, May 2018!

Ellie Mae has come a long way from a stray puppy to a loving home with Nan and her slightly spoiled Chihuahua “brother”.

Nan and Ellie have worked very hard learning how to work together. Ellie, being an only young child did not know how to play with others. She learned from Moira and got lots of practice from her friend Loch.


Meet Cleopatra, our most improved dog for May 2018.

Cleo grew up with her “big sister” Sweet Pea. When Sweet Pea passed on, cleo became the bully at doggy daycare. She grabbed and injured more than one dog. After a private session with Marie, Tyson, Buddy, Benji and Moira, Cleo learned that she is not the boss even if she is physically the biggest dog in the room.

Cleo then came to reactive dog class to practice saying hello and interacting with other dogs politely. Cleo says “Boy were those classes super intense. Dogs everywhere: in my face, behind my tail, circling around me…”

Miss Cleo was able to return to doggy daycare last week and did not pick a single fight.

Patrick and Avalanche

Most improved First Quarter 2018! Avalanche was a rescue dog from Georgia. He never liked strangers and tended to challenge his “grandparents”.

In February, he decided the plumber did not belong in his house. He bit the plumber repeatedly and drug him into the garage! Patrick called Marie and Tyson.

With dietary management, consistent leadership, and LOTS of work/practice by Patrick and his family, Avalanche calmed down. He was able to stop wearing his muzzle and go walking with “grandma” with a head collar.

Mr. Matt helped Avalanche learn that guys “dressed like the unabomber” actually came equipped with lots of treats. Benji, Buddy, Moira and Ranger taught Avalanche that other dogs were allowed to walk by on leash and did not need to be eaten. We think that Avalanche is a little sweet on Moira!  


Dana and Gracie June

Gracie came to us in August of 2017 being fearful of strangers, especially men and children, and very leash reactive to other dogs. We worked with her at home, including changing her medication and diet.  Gracie learned to wear a head collar She learned how to focus and turn away from things that frightened her, and that other dogs did not greet each other in the face. She came to leash reactive class to practice her new skills, and then socialization class to learn how to make human and dog friends. Gracie continues to practice her new skills and make new friends.