Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue.

Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles two of the many animals from the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving homes.

The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of  Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer and partners with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal. And there is no better place to park your pup than Cottonwood should you be heading our hills for a few turns in the new pow pow.

The Spoiled Dog is not Always the Happy Dog:

The best things in life are not necessarily free – not even treats or strokes. And at least as far as a well-behaved dog goes, they shouldn’t be. Chances are if your dog gets whatever he wants when he wants it (which is usually always), then your pet isn’t as well behaved as you’d like.

To determine whether or not your pet is spoiled let’s review this short check list. Does he get on “off-limits” furniture and refuse to get off?  Does he nudge your hand, insisting on being petted or played with? Refuse to come when called? Defend his food bowl or toys from you?  If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, I suggest you keep reading…

Animals who live in groups, and dogs are social animals, establish a social structure within a “dominance hierarchy.” The hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict, and promote cooperation among pack members. In order for your home to be a safe and happy place for pets and your pet’s people, it’s best for the humans in the household to assume the highest positions in the dominance hierarchy.

Practicing the “Nothing in Life is Free” (NLF) approach effectively and gently communicates to your dog that his position in the hierarchy is subordinate to yours. Please note that NLF is not a magic pill that will solve a specific behavior problem. (To fix persistent issues, call our dear friend and supporter at Cottonwood Ranch & Kennels, Ted Hoff.) NFL is a way of living with your dog that will help him behave better because he trusts and accepts you as his leader and is confident knowing his place in your family.

So how do you practice NLF? Using positive reinforcement methods, start by teaching your dog a few commands and/or tricks. “Sit,” “Down” and “Stay” are useful commands and “Shake,” “Speak” and “Rollover” are just good clean fun.. All help to establish your superior position in the pack. Once your dog knows even a few commands, you can begin to practice NLF.

Before you give your dog anything – food, a treat, a walk, a pat on the head – he must first demonstrate a willingness to do as you wish. When you go to put on your dog’s leash for a walk, he must sit until the leash is secure. When you go to feed your dog, he must lie down and stay until you’ve put down the bowl. When playing fetch, he must sit and shake hands each time you throw a toy.

Once you’ve given the command, don’t give your dog what he wants until he does what you want.  If he refuses to perform the command, walk away, come back a few minutes later and start again. If your dog still refuses to obey, be patient. However be sure he knows the command well and if you are not sure, review it. But know that he will figure it out sooner or later because dogs are determined to get what they want. Or what they need. (Gosh, I am sounding like the Rolling Stones.)

Dogs who never display aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping can still manipulate their owners. Those dogs use affection as a tool to manipulate: nudging your hand to be petted or “worming” his way onto the furniture in order to get close. The NLF technique gently reminds a“pushy” dog that he must play by the rules or no soap. Or treats.

Obeying commands helps build a fearful dog’s confidence. Having a strong leader that allows a pet to know its place in the hierarchy helps make the submissive dog feel more secure.

So give it a try – and remember that applying the NFL approach consistently generates that best results.





Sunny Days Keeping the Clouds Away…Oops hi there – you caught me singing my favorite Sesame Street Song. For some reason I can’t keep it out of my head.

My name is Ernie and my brother Bert and I were found abandoned, very cold and quite hungry.  No one would treat the dogs on Sesame Street that way, but I am happy to say the staff and volunteers here at Second Chance are sure making up for the shortfall. As a result of our early trauma – we are just cute little puppies – Bert and I are a bit shy around people. But I am sure once we get a good home where there are people are around to play with us for hours and hours, that will change quickly. I promise I will let you cuddle me in your lap for as long as you’d like if you consider being my Valentine…





Yeah, well, Bert can get his Sesame Street on, but there is a classic song written about me: Some people call me the space cowboy. Yeah! Some call me the gangster of love. Some people call me Maurice, Cause I speak of the Pompatus of love.

Yes, people call me Maurice. I am a large, lovable male tabby cat, with a new year’s resolution to find a forever home. I’ve already taken the first step: finding a temporary home here at Second Chance. The second step is making sure everyone notices me. Nailed that. The third step, of course, is finding the perfect human who enjoys being loved, as I am a heart-stealing affectionate love gansta.
Are you my perfect human who can speak the Pompatus of Love with me?

Note: Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs.  View our shelter pets and services

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