Tips for Successful New Adventures


Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered – Gilbert K. Chesterton

This weekend we met with potential landlords. And, as can be expected, they asked to meet Porter as well. Now, Porter is a great dog. I will not deny that, but he’s also still a dog. Which means I can’t expect him to act perfectly in every situation, especially when new locations and people are involved. Which means I have to set him up for as much success as possible. When we put our dogs into new situations and are hoping for the best behavior from our dogs, it’s our responsibility to put them into a position that makes it possible. Here are some steps I took to ensure Porter was able to show off his best self.

1. Getting Used to the New Location

If you’re going to be somewhere new, this automatically means that it will be more exciting for your dog. New smells and new areas to check out. If you can get to the new location a little early and let your dog settle in you’ll be amazed at the difference. It’s unrealistic to expect your dog to act the same in a new place as he would at home. He’s used to home. He knows the rules and what to expect there. New locations have a lot of unknowns attached to them. If you’re able to get their earlier to let your dog settle in the better. Bring an item or two that would be at their favorite familiar location as well. A toy or a blanket. Bringing something that smells familiar will make them more comfortable.

2. Pilot Right Away

When you get to the new location, don’t short on your Piloting. Just because it’s a new location doesn’t mean your dog should have no guidance on what is acceptable or not. The faster you can start Piloting in a new location the sooner your dog will settle in. He’ll realize that not everything in this marvelous new place is a threat and that you have everything under control so he can settle in. And maybe sniff a few more new things.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

3. Activity

Make sure your dog can get out some excess energy with some activity. It can be a walk with you and if you’re in a place where your dog can run safely, let him go get some energy out after a walk without you. Play some fetch or let them run. Anything to get out some of that anxious energy. If you’re going to let your dog get some energy out on his own though, make sure that once they’re done, you go back into a short walk. Something to let them regroup into a calm state and finish up with some Piloting.

4. Expect the Unexpected

No situation is going to go as exactly as planned. Our little curve ball was that there would be a 2 year old meeting Porter as well. Porter does not have much contact with children. I can count on one hand how many times he’s met a kid. But, there was no point in panicking. That was the situation, so we could only react to it and answer Porter’s questions: Is this small little being that’s my size a threat? Nope, not at all. There’s no reason to worry about why they asked the question as long as you answer it!

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

5. Trust Your Skills

You know how to Pilot your dog and you’ve done a lot of work so far. So, trust your skills. If you start to get nervous, realize that your dog will pick up on the energy that you are exuding. Remember: Fake it until you make it. If you’re not feeling confident, take some deep breaths and think about all of the times you’ve Piloted your dog through new situations before. Making sure your energy is confident and calm is key. If you don’t seem concerned or worried your dog won’t either. I know, it’s hard. There may be times where your dog doesn’t act perfect, but don’t get frustrated. Just deal with the situation at hand. Don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking. Quite honestly, if you’re able to handle a situation quickly and calmly everyone will be impressed.

If you keep this tips in mind you’ll set you and your dog up for a great new adventure. Don’t stress new situations because you have the tools to make them successful! And just to let you know, Porter did great and made a new friend that’s about his height.

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH


The Human Victims of Breed Specific Legislation

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

Helen Keller


About a week ago I received a voicemail from a thoroughly exhausted woman named Liz, asking me for help.  I listened to her story with growing outrage at the situation they had all been placed into.

Liz’s granddaughter, 4-year old Aleeah, has cystic fibrosis, and Liz’s son, who had just gained full custody of his daughter, was forced to move in with Liz so as to facilitate Aleeah’s constant medical care.  Part of Aleeah’s care includes wearing a compression vest for fifteen minute treatments, twice a day.  The vest is designed to help break up the mucous that is constricting her breathing, and it shakes her, starting with moderate vibration and ending with violent shakes. Needless to say, it can be traumatic for the child, and they had difficulties getting her to sit calmly through the twice-daily ordeal.

That’s where this little guy came into play.

Meet Scrappy, the

Meet Scrappy

The thought was that a puppy might be able to keep Aleeah’s mind off of the treatments.  And guess what?  It worked.  Aleeah was sitting still for the treatments, and Scrappy was right by her side, comforting her throughout the ordeal.

A hero to Aleeah

A hero to Aleeah

He hears the machine go on, and he’s right by her, ready to do his job. No, he wasn’t trained to do this.  He’s not a service dog, nor even a therapy dog.  He’s a dog who knows he has a job.  Unfortunately, according to a few, he’s something else.  A pit bull.  At least that’s what the City of Lakewood believes.  And since Aleeah and best friend moved into Lakewood, a city that still has outdated Breed Specific Legislation (“BSL”), this dynamic duo is about to be broken up.

Scrappy was forced to do a blood test to prove whether or not he actually is actually “pit bull”.  According to the City of Lakewood’s 2008 legislation, a “pit bull” is:

“any Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds, any dog commonly known as a pit bull, pit bull dog or pit bull terrier; or a combination of any of these breeds.”

Scrappy’s blood test is still pending. He has a hearing on February 23 pending the outcome of his blood test. If he proves to be “pit bull” by DNA, the hearing will go forward, most likely resulting in his being seized by the city.

Meanwhile, a little girl sits at her breathing machine, wondering if this will be the last time Scrappy will be there with her though it all.


I, personally, refuse to allow Scrappy to be taken away purely because of misguided and outdated legislation.  Aleeah needs Scrappy, and Scrappy needs Aleeah.  But even more so, we need to examine the nature of legislation such as this.  With so many cities overturning their breed specific legislation and welcoming all dogs into their cities, why do we still have such antiquated legislation in effect in such an otherwise tolerant city as Lakewood, Ohio?  Even Lakewood City Council is divided on the issue, which was decided eight years ago, with different members on the council at the time.  Council President Sam O’Leary had this to say to reporter Bruce Geiselman in a recent article:

“I don’t speak for all of council, but I have heard from other council members they would be open to revisiting the topic this year,” O’Leary said. “Personally, I don’t think this is a policy that has support in science, and I think there have been a number of reports, studies and other information provided from groups ranging from the American Bar Association to the ASPCA that show from a public policy and public safety standpoint there are more effective and comprehensive ways to address this issue than breed-specific language.”

Aleeah’s grandmother and I attended Lakewood City Council’s meeting this past week, along with many supporters, to plead with council to revisit the archaic legislation.  Let’s hope that our words do not fall on deaf ears.  We ask that you join with our voices, not only with regard to Aleeah and Scrappy, but also in support of those dogs who didn’t garner as much attention as Scrappy has. For those victims of BSL who never make it out of a shelters.  Only 1 in 600 pit bulls will make it out of a shelter alive. Most are euthanized through no fault of their own.   Be a voice for those families who are unable to keep their beloved pets because of misguided notions about who pit bulls really are. Be a voice for Aleeah and Scrappy.

I’ve already added my voice, and will continue to do so.  Please consider adding yours.

As of publication, we are just shy of 40,000 signatures in support of Aleeah and Scrappy.  Please click here to add your name and allow your voice to be heard.  We are also asking that you directly contact City of Lakewood, Ohio - Municipal Government, either on their Facebook page or via snail mail:
City of Lakewood, Ohio
Attn:  Mayor Mike Summers
12650 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, Ohio
Keep calm and pilot on
Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Lakewood, Ohio