Angela Adan is traveling the country to share her dog (and human) training techniques.
Sometime all the planets align and a series of events leads you down a path of perfect timing. Sometimes they lead you to a hero.
One such day of perfect alignment and timing, I was on Facebook and one of my pit bull advocate friends had shared a post of Angela Adan’s. The picture attached to the post was of Angela walking several dogs all at once. Not only were the dogs walking calmly but more striking to me, Angela wasn’t even holding a single leash. All the dogs were attached to her waist and I just started to cry.
Now I will acknowledge that I can be a bit emotional sometimes (I have been known to cry at Hallmark commercials) but my emotional response to Angela’s picture caught me off guard. I have never been able to calmly walk even two of my dogs together, let alone all three. Now I could make all kinds of excuses about Zora’s health issues, Simon’s high energy level and his knee surgery or Piper being a puppy but the reality is that it comes down to me. My energy is directing the experience and it’s not good.
Soon after we became Facebook friends, Angela announced her latest project, Girl on a Mission. Angela is raising funds to travel through 21 states this spring offering free training for humans and dogs and I am one of the extremely lucky folks who will get to work with and learn from Angela while she is on her journey.
Angela, a vet tech for 13 years, was planning to become a veterinarian. One day she was tagged about a red alert dog on Facebook and that one post changed her life’s direction. She went to the shelter to see about fostering the red alert dog (Peggy Sue was ultimately adopted by a family and is still happily romping with them in Montana J) and got an abrupt introduction to the realities of how many dogs were being euthanized just at that one shelter. She began researching euthanasia rates and realized that she could have a much greater impact if she could figure out a way to reduce the number of dogs in shelters. She determined that one major way would be to reduce the number of dogs being dropped off at or returned to shelters and the best way to do that would be to make sure that dog owners had the support they need to address behavior issues.
[/one_third_last]Angela found herself committed to developing what she calls, “shelter prevention” techniques and launched a foster-only based rescue, Deserving Dogs Rescue and Rehab in 2012. Over the course of three and half years, Angela successfully adopted out more than 350 dogs. During this time, Angela became acutely aware of the importance of understanding and adjusting what is happening on the human end of the leash when addressing dog behavior. “It’s about knowing that your emotions absolutely impact your dog. You have to constantly check in with yourself so you can positively influence your dog. It’s about removing your emotional self from the interaction,” says Angela. “You can’t take your dog’s behavior personally.” Angela emphasizes that the power of your intention is critical. You need to stay calm, know what it is you desire from your interaction with your dog, be confident in what you are doing and how you want to guide them and you must be patient. “Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, phrase everything in the positive.”
Angela coordinated efforts with trainer and behaviorist, Brian Glen and started doing intensive rehab with difficult dogs. She and Brian offered free community training classes where they tried to teach their technique but soon discovered that it was hard to teach their technique in a closed classroom setting. They decided to take to nature and introduced free community pack walks. There were 10 dogs on the first walk. These community pack walks now see upwards of 60 to 70 dogs with several trainers in attendance to help individuals with specific issues. ALL FOR FREE!
“It’s all about helping myself better my life which has the added effect of benefitting the dogs.”
– Angela Adan
Angela works to embody her own philosophy of self-awareness and managing her own energy every day. She absolutely practices what she teaches. This is a woman who has made the choice to fully dedicate herself to her passion of helping dogs and their humans, often at her own expense. Angela currently lives in a trailer with her five rescue dogs while helping everyone she meets, most of them for free. Her Girl on a Mission tour is a labor of love and true generosity of spirit. She is most definitely one of my heroes!
The work “requires getting really honest with yourself” and developing self-awareness. The main focus of the Girl on A Mission tour is on “helping people be aware of when they are getting frustrated and understanding how that frustration impacts their dog. How do you feel when your dog does ‘x’ and what can we do to shift that energy?,” asks Angela. On her upcoming trip, Angela will be working with shelters, rescues and individuals and their dogs but the main focus really is on the human component.
A few months ago, Angela travelled to the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand with Zach Skow of Marley’s Mutts rescue and Robert Villaneda. Soi Dog “helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand, works to end the dog meat trade throughout the region, and responds to animal welfare disasters and emergencies.”
Angela took her techniques to the foundation where she, Zach and Robert were focused on teaching the humans at the foundation how to better read and evaluate the dogs in their care. They also worked with the staff on when, why and how to give affection so as to nurture desired behaviors and avoid reinforcing undesired behaviors.
They found that the dogs they were working with in Thailand, who are used to large pack dynamics and behave in a more instinctual manner, don’t have nearly as many issues as American dogs who are often deprived of necessary socialization and rarely have the opportunity for pack walks.
“There was a 3-legged dog named Brick who kept trying to bully the other dogs in the yard. Since he was pushy and worked his way to the front of the gate when new people would enter he always got affection first which only taught him to continue to push all the other dogs around. He wouldn’t let anyone leash him. He was controlling all the dogs and the humans too. Brick needed someone he could trust and follow, and someone who was determined to get him to walk on leash. Every time he would stop walking the staff would give up on leash training and let Brick go back in his yard when what he really needed was some encouragement to know the outside world is no longer a scary place and that we could help him relax,” Angela shared. Eventually, Angela was able to use her technique to leash Brick and using her calm energy, she was able to teach Brick that he didn’t have to try to run the show. He could follow and be still be safe.
Check out this video from the Thailand Trip
The work Angela is doing is priceless and yet she is embarking on a trip to share what she knows at no cost so if you are so inspired, please consider a donation to support Angela’s Girl on A Mission tour (as of publication, she is just $1100 shy of her $7700 goal.) You can directly donate to her GoFundMe page.
You can also contribute by picking up one of these AWESOME shirts from Okidoggy Pets. $7.00 from each purchase in the Angela Adan Trip Collection will go directly to Angela’s travel expenses for the Girl on a Mission Tour.
(More designs to choose from on the website!)
All of Angela’s dog training slots are full for this trip but she will be reaching out to a couple of schools or teen based non-profits to arrange speaking opportunities. If you know a group that might be a good fit, contact Angela through her Facebook page and follow the tour on Instagram @DeservingDogs and on the Deserving Dogs Facebook Page.