Stella, our Chesador (Lab/Chesapeake Bay mix), celebrated her first birthday recently. The fact that she did that as part of our family is a credit to Ted and Amy at Mango Dogs. Before seeking Ted’s help, we were struggling with Stella’s many issues, which included constant nipping, counter-surfing, lunging, etc. The most serious of these, her resource guarding, made her very unpredictable. Stella guarded everything. It started with her food bowl, but grew to include: furniture, pens, pieces of paper towel, socks, a paring knife, eye glasses, mail and even her own vomit. It was a vicious cycle, as much of what she guarded, she also ate, and that would upset her stomach, causing her to vomit, which she would then guard and eat. Our lives revolved around trying to avoid situations where Stella could steal things to guard.

We lived in constant fear that she would hurt us or someone else. Twice she was literally trapped in her own crate for several hours, as she guarded vomit, and wouldn’t allow us to release her. On one of those occasions, she was sick with a bladder infection. Before Mango Dogs, we tried to stick to our positivity training, rewarding Stella with treats. But that strategy just led to her manipulating us to get more treats. Everything we tried, Stella seemed to be one step ahead of us. We were at a point early last fall where we had few options. We interviewed a number of other trainers. Two of the trainers we spoke to recommended that we put her down, without even meeting her. But we couldn’t help but think that there must be a good dog in there worth saving. In November, we put a call into Mango Dogs, and, from day one, Ted and Amy gave us back control of the situation.

Within three or four weeks, the majority of the everyday behaviours were corrected. We had dreaded the approaching Christmas season, sure that there was little chance we could have a tree, presents – anything that would resemble a normal Christmas. The transformation was startling. We’re a lot happier now, and so is Stella. We still have some work to do. But we’re enjoying the weekly group sessions, and Ted is never more than a phone call or email away. He is clearly passionate about what he does, and we would have no hesitation in recommending him. With his continued support, we have no doubt that Stella will celebrate many more birthdays as part of our family!

Kim & Dave Claremont

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