A Dog Whisperer is anyone who feels a special connection to mankind’s oldest friend and puts that feeling into action. Our newest feature, Dog Whisperer of the Month, will spotlight these special people, from trainers to rescuers to scientists to veterinarians. You’ll meet our monthly Dog Whisperer, take in their personal life-lessons, and gain rare knowledge and insight from their articles and answers to your Q&A’s.
Our very first Dog Whisperer of the Month has a special significance for us – because she was the very first dog owner to be featured on the very first episode of the Dog Whisperer series!
DOG WHISPERER OF THE MONTH:
TINA MADDEN Owner, “The Distinguished Dog”
Can one tiny dog become the touchstone for a completely transformed life?
Ask Tina Madden. You may remember her from the very first episode of the very first Dog Whisperer TV show, “NuNu the Demon-Chihuahua.” Thanks to her experience transforming the death row dog – dangerously anti-social NuNu – into a loving companion she could take everywhere with, in her late 30’s, Tina decided to make dogs her full-time career. After a two year stint at the famous “Dog Psychology Center” in South Central Los Angeles and 9 appearances on the Dog Whisperer show, Tina made the leap and started her own dog behavior business. In addition to helping people transform their problem dogs and their lives, she integrated dog walking and pet sitting into her business model. When her precious NunNu died in 2010, Tina once again re-evaluated her life, and decided to attempt – and succeed in – her bucket-list dream of singing on stage. This prompted her to add life coaching for living your dreams as a spin-off business. But always, it came back to one tiny dog. “Nunu remains my inspiration for growth and change in life. I am so grateful to live my mission of healing dogs and people, all while experiencing life to its fullest and continuing to find and enjoy my true, authentic self.”
Facebook: The Distinguished Dog
Questions for the Dog Whisperer of the Month: TINA MADDEN
Q: Dog Whisperer audiences all around the world saw what a difficult dog Nunu was when you began. What were his main issues, what did you do to fix them, and how long a process was it?
A: NuNu was so protective of me, he would bite anyone who came near me or tried to touch me in his presence. After being on the show and learning that my insecurities were also feeding into his protective nature, I realized I had to start becoming what NuNu really needed: a secure soul who didn’t require his protection. I also stopped sheltering him from the world, as I thought he must have had such a difficult time in life to have become so aggressive. I needed to do the opposite – teach him the world wasn’t such a scary place, and start to socialize him with people and other dogs. Then I went to work at The Dog Psychology Center which was the icing on the cake so to speak. There I really learned from hands-on interaction with all kinds of dogs, and so did NuNu.
Q: What did Nunu teach you about dogs, and about life?
A: NuNu came into my life to teach me that the only way to be with dogs is to be in the present moment with them. They live in the moment and therefore when their person also lives in the moment they can become balanced, together. NuNu also taught me that he is a dog – and dogs are different than humans. So I learned to treat him and all dogs with a more natural kind of respect and love.
Q: Tina, more and more animal lovers and dog owners are becoming interested in moving into the pet field. How did you prepare for your career change?
A: At a crossroads in my life, I read a book asking me to list a few things I would do if money wasn’t an issue. Watching dogs play was first on that list. I thought well, I should work with dogs. How can I make money working with dogs? I tried animal massage school and a job at a vets office. Two days into working at that vets office, a chihuahua was brought in that was found in wandering in a canyon. It was NuNu. Little did I know his many behavior issues would lead me to the Dog Whisperer show and the path of working with troubled dogs, which developed into dog walking, dog adventures and pet sitting, which I’m currently fortunate to be able to do full time.
Q: What is the most important advice would you give a dog owner who wants to become his or her own “dog whisperer”?
A: The most important thing to do is to learn…read everything you can, watch documentaries, volunteer at a shelter. Be around dogs, and learn to understand their behavior and pack mentality. Remember, our dogs are truly members of our family, but they are also a different species from us, with a different natural history, biology, behaviors, and needs.