The sun is shining, and the mockingbirds are warbling but it’s a sad day for me and my parents. We awoke to news that our friend, the amazing dog trainer and Malibu fixture, Tony Rollins, had passed away due to complications from diabetes. A popular cable network likes to boast, ‘Characters Welcome’. Well, Tony was a character with character, a loving, patient guy who overcame his tough Brooklyn childhood and some early scrapes with the law to build a devoted following working with dogs, and their equally unruly, neurotic humans, at Bluffs Park obedience classes. Fans of GIMME SHELTER might recall how he ‘coaxed’ me into following the rules and helped bring my relationship with mom and dad to a new level of trust and commitment. In time some new trainer will come along and fill the vacancy left by our friend. But for us, Tony will always be ‘the man’ and the Bluffs his place. RIP Tony. 

Tony Rollins

In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes “When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.” That was the case today. We no sooner heard about Tony when Lou received an email saying that my longtime pal, and all-round fabulous dog, Ceba, had moved on to the big dog park in the sky. Ceba was a tiny Shih Tzu but he had the heart of a lion, the rollicking good nature of an Irish bartender, and a sweet loving souL that no dog, or human, could resist. I met him when I first came to live with Lou & Eugenie. I love dogs, and I didn’t think twice about lunging to greet Ceba. But Lou and Ceba’s dad, Doug, saw it a tad differently ; “Watching Tanner drag me across the road, Doug was wary of greeting the new stud. Ceba wasn’t. He held his ground and sniffed Tanner from stem-to-stern. Having made his point, he hoisted his tail and led us down the sidewalk, pimp-rolling like a 4-legged gangsta, posse in tow. Whenever Ceba stopped to mark the bushes, Tanner followed suit. It was their version of social networking, where dogs friend each other by peeing on walls instead of writing on them.” (from GIMME SHELTER) For the past few months, Ceba, Doug and Jean have been living in San Jose so I didn’t get to say a proper ‘goodbye’. I guess I’ll take a quiet moment and toast him with a few extra treats – Lou always had a goodie for the little guy – and then go out and mark some bushes in his honor. 


Lou says ‘never end on a negative’ and I’m going to follow his advice and urge all of our friends and followers to help us do just that and find a home for REX, an amazing pit bull who’s been marking time in the Santa Maria animal shelter for nearly 16 months! We’ve posted about him before and two potential adopters stepped up, only to run into snags with landlords that refused to let them shelter a pit bull. I know what it’s like to live behind bars and, while it’s better than scuffling along on the street, it’s no substitute for a loving family. So…let’s get back to work, spread the word, and get this boy a home. Now. 


Rex is about 3 1/2 years, weighs between 55-60 lbs. He is potty trained and leash trained, gets along extremely well with other dogs but we’re not sure about cats. He loves his toys so he’d be okay as an only dog as long as he gets some love and play time. He was a loved domestic pet who slept in the bed was used to help assess & train other shelter dogs’ temperaments. If you know anyone who would love to share their life with this bundle of love, please contact CONNIE KRUSE, 805-878-801, If not, please pass this to your contacts and/or post on your social media.


Lots of you know from firsthand experience that dogs have wonderful spirits, terrific instincts and delicate, accurate emotional radar. Amazing as they are, when interacting with people and other animals, they rely on us, their human partners, to keep them out of harm’s way and help them become canine ‘good citizens’. As my wife, Eugenie, says, “We have to be their brains.” Socializing and training are important for all dogs but especially for ‘dominant breed’ dogs (Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Jindos, Shar Peis, Dogo Argentino, Cane Corso, Presa Canario and any breed with a history of fighting) that too often find themselves unfairly targeted by the media and misguided legislators. Tanner was already a sweet, docile well-behaved dog but working with trainer Tony Rollins helped make him even more responsive and fun to be with. 

7-year-old Jasmine East relaxes with Tanner, our rescue Pit Bull, at last week’s book signing

If your canine buddy exhibits unwanted behavior like barking, biting, carsickness, aggression towards other animals or humans, separation anxiety, or overly rough play, first check with your vet to make sure he or she isn’t sick. Once your vet rules out health problems, you might want to get help from a qualified trainer, behaviorist, or a veterinarian with behavioral training. Here are some tips about finding professional help from GIMME SHELTER.
      TRAINERS – Education, hands-on experience and methods can vary greatly from trainer to trainer. “Certified” trainers should be recognized by an independent body, not merely by a school or program they paid to attend. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (ADPT) offers certification through the Certification Council for Profession Dog Trainers. The Professional Dog Trainer’s Council,, offers a list of certified dog trainers. 
     BEHAVIORISTS – Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs) and Associate Applied Animal Behaviorists (ACAABs) are professionals with supervised graduate training in animal behavior, biology and zoology at accredited universities.  As experts with both academic and hands-on knowledge, they can determine how and why your pet’s behavior is abnormal and help teach you how to alter the unwanted behavior. For a list of behaviorists, visit
        VETERINARIANS WITH BEHAVIORAL TRAINING – Some CAABs are veterinarians who have completed a residency in animal behavior and earned certification from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. 
     Before Committing to A Trainer or Training Facility ask your veterinarian and fellow dog owners for recommendations. Interview several trainers or facilities. In addition to comparing prices, inquire about their methods, training and experience. Many cities offer basic obedience classes through their Parks and Recreation Departments. If you are considering group training, ask to monitor a class before signing up. Check to see if the trainer works well with both people and dogs. Look for trainers who treat you and your dog with respect and who reward positive behavior, and avoid those who prefer aversion and intimidation. Cross off any trainer who refuses to provide references.
[Sources: Tony Rollins, Tony Rollins K-9 Academy, Rob Lerner CPDT-KSAASPCA, “Finding Professional Help”]