Shadow: Who Started It All

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Although Shadow (ARCHEX Ewe Are Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt, CGC, CD, TD, TSW, NA, NAJ) passed away on December 24, 2012, he’s still pretty famous, so I thought I would devote this page to video clips of before (before I kind of knew what I was doing), to the middle, to the end. You can see my progress, how I did many different activities with him, in many different contexts. And for those that never met him, you can see him in action and his legacy will continue to live on.

It’s because of Shadow that I work with aggressive and reactive dogs. He taught me so much more than I taught him.

Because in the beginning, I had the old type of video camera that sat on your shoulder, the quality of some of the video clips is less than stellar. Keep watching though and you’ll see an amazing transformation! I’ll be adding more video clips and photos, so check back often!

Random remembrances
Working with Shadow quite literally changed my entire life for the better. I started out my dog training career with my focus being pet classes and competition obedience. The addition of Shadow has enriched my life, and my attention now includes working with aggressive dogs. There are days when I get so many calls for help with aggressive behaviors that it scares me and yet I am grateful that I am now able to help these people. It has made me a better trainer and a better person and I now hold aggressive dog classes and seminars based on my work with Shadow.

Every night, I thank him for coming into my life.

If just one person learns from my successes, I will be pleased. If just one person learns from my errors, I will be overjoyed.
Cynthia and I took the sheep out again for tending. Shadow was stupendous! He has so much sheep sense – much more than I have. (Of course he does! Shadow is a Border Collie and Pam is a primate.) He worked sheep and was relaxed around the flock for about an hour, coming back to me when I called him and working sheep when I asked him to. At one point, Cynthia left me ALONE WITH THE FLOCK OF SHEEP! (VERY SCAREY!) In a quaking voice, I asked her, “What if they go out in the road?” She replied, “They never go into the road – there is no grass there.” So, don’t you know – the instant she left, they started to go for the road! Yikes! Here I am, huffing and puffing, running to bring Shadow to the far side of the flock (he was on a long line) to drive them back into the field. SUCCESS! Good doggie! Whew! Anyone want some fresh road kill lamb???
During a really big storm, I thought I heard someone coming into my house. With no hesitation whatsoever, I screamed “SHADOW HERE!” After a beat, I realized he couldn’t hear me…he had passed away the year before…
This video clip is Ted Turner working with me and Shadow. I’ll have more of that session uploaded soon.

Playing with scent discrimination

Same training session

Shadow’s CGC test
(video to come)

This video clip shows me working with Shadow on brushing and toenail clipping. When I first got him, it took 2 people – my husband (now ex) at his head feeding (“whatever you do, do NOT stop feeding him!”), while I did the grooming. He had a major problem when I touched his rear end. You can see here that he’s doing just fine! If you’re wondering who I was talking to – I was talking to Ted Turner (I made this clip for him) so he could see Shadow’s progress.

Shadow in his first ever Rally trial in 2002. I was a nervous wreck. I coerced my ex husband to come and help me get in and out of the ring. After a few years, I didn’t need any help getting around a show site.

Shadow in his next Rally trial – I wasn’t a bundle of nerves on this one!

Shadow in agility! (2004 and 2005)
agility6-12-04 005 AgilityJumpShad

video to come!

Shadow’s first CD leg. Yes I was very nervous, so much so that I wasn’t breathing, which is why he jumped on me on the first halt. Watch me try to breathe! Keep an eye out for the last few seconds of the video, where the steward was reaching out to hand me the leash. It was one piece I completely forgot to train…so I instantly told Shadow to stay and got the leash and brought it back to him


Shadow’s second CD leg. I was almost breathing in this one :o)

Shadow’s third CD leg and title. OMG, I am completely hyperventilating here. The judge was right in my face, I had to manage Shadow quite a bit here and I was scared to death. Shadow rocked it in spite of me. Sorry it’s not the full clip.

Shadow does Canine Water Sports!

Shadow meets a new person in 2007 and in minutes is in her lap!


I don’t remember when I shot this – maybe around 2007 or 2008. Just a cute trick

2007 I think – Shadow learning how to do a handstand!
(video to come)

Shadow earns his TD title (Tracking Dog) in 2010.

Shadow in 2010 doing a freestyle routine for me. We had virtually no time to practice because Emma was supposed to be my dance partner but she freaked out when the horses kicked their stalls. And I have absolutely no rhythm…There were almost 100! people behind the camera!

Shadow with my family in 2011


To see “Bringing Light to Shadow,” as well as the other books and DVDs that he inspired me to write and produce, based on what he taught me, click here

Reviewer: Nicoline Mann
This book surprised me as it is much more than just a book about working with an ‘aggressive’ dog. The amount of effort Pam put into working with Shadow is beyond impressive. More than that, was her honesty about the mistakes and setbacks she made. It gives hope to those of us who feel at times that we, and our dogs are beyond help. I have never known a dog as lost as Shadow was when Mrs. Dennison got him and she does have resources most of us don’t (regular access to a training field, myriads of helping friends & her own training center), however there is still very helpful information in this book that almost anyone could put to excellent use. It is also enthralling and captivating and reads like a novel.

Reviewer: Lindsay
This book is excellent – I love that the author details everything she did with Shadow, including the mistakes she made. Wonderful resource for anyone with a reactive dog.

Reviewer: Stacey Modica
This book is an absolute must read for anyone who has an aggressive or even mildly reactive dog. It is very well written from the owner’s perspective as well as comments and thoughts from the trainer’s perspective. Knowing Pam and Shadow personally, as I was reading I was so drawn into the story that I forgot that I know him. I was so moved by the events written in this book, that it brought tears to my eyes and parts made me so sad. Then I stopped and realized, hey I know how this ends! But I was still riveted until the absolute end of the book. Pam has to add another book telling us more of Shadow’s story after the CGC.

Reviewer: Erica
My first impression was how the book was written. I could not put it down. It was an easy read and it was beautifully written. The author’s humor keeps the book moving and the story keeps you interested to find out how the next day will be for this humbled trainer and fearful dog. You are drawn into their lives and with every sentence you hope they succeed. The author included valuable training tips that are useful for anyone with either an aggressive dog or not. Not only is this a wonderful story, but there are valuable lessons that any dog owner can take away from this book. I know I did!

Reviewer: Elise G.
I cried when I got the book in the mail… I have waited SO long for something that would relate to what I am going through with my dog and also give me help. And Pam’s book hits ALL the issues of working with a shy/reactive dog head on! For anyone that has an aggressive dog, this book should be with you at ALL times. It is a complete work – it will help you with facts and helpful info, inspire you when you feel hopeless about ever making progress, and entertain you when the work seems so tedious. It is intelligent, compassionate, and pragmatic. So, even with the numerous times it made me cry, it’s always been the good type of tears… and it still teaches me and helps me stay focused on my work with a reactive pup! I am SO thankful that Pam was willing to write about her experience with Shadow – it is a gift to all dog people who train or just live with (and love) dogs!

Reviewer: Eve Cutter
Pam Dennison’s book should be in every dog trainer’s library. These days, with the problem of agressive dogs growing by leaps and bounds, this story is an inspiration. With care and concern, Pam takes a dog who might otherwise be put to sleep, and turns him into a model K-9 citizen.

Unlike some training books which only mention methods that worked, Pam tells about the things that she did wrong, as well as what proved useful. The book is written in the form of a diary so that one can truly understand how much daily work this undertaking involved. Pam’s sense of humor and writing style make this an educational and awe inspiring read.

Reviewer: Katrina Pearthree
I was trying to think of the kind of person who buys this book – a person who wants a great relationship with their new dog and then comes to experience all the confusion, sadness, ambivalance, fear and sometimes anger, that they can’t understand their new companion who sees the world in a fearful way.

I cried all the way through Shadow’s book – because I finally learned what I could do with my own fearful dog and my fear too. I was able to learn how to ‘read,’ my dog’s level of stress by simply being aware of tension in his mouth. I learned about ‘protected contact,’ and how to use this technique to advance to ‘accepting a friendly stranger.’ And I love the ‘go visit command!’ The special notations on your own internal dialogue helped me reframe what I was feeling about our sometimes ‘slow progress,’ or even the ‘step backward.’

Until I read ‘Shadow,’ I never saw the gift and the wonder of how smart my special boy really is. Our walks together have become moments of enjoyment for us, using the lessons I have taken from your work with Shadow. It is a great big world out there – and after five fearful years, my dog Zorro is finally stepping into it – with me.

Reviewer: Bobby Joe Crayton
An extraordinary celebration of human potential, family ties, and personal excellence that not only reveals the philosophy behind her own personal success but the reasons why it can work for anyone. Pam conducts a clinic on communication, earning trust, dealing with adversity, and bringing out the best in her dogs, especially Shadow!

Her message is clear, strong, and useful … capturing the essence of building a dog’s ‘will to serve’ and decreasing a dog’s ‘will to power’ and relating it to some real-life concepts. An excellent book on teaching and leadership principles. Her breezy approach is direct and simple: What’s most important is working as a team toward a common goal — not necessarily to ‘win the prize’, but to play the best possible game in life.

Pam (like me) is a strong advocate for the use of non-confrontational ways of establishing and maintaining leadership and CONSISTENT teaching from the moment Shadow becomes a part of a family, and observing and assessing just what the problem is, how bad it is, what are possible causes, and then teach and monitor an appropriate intervention technique to handle the problem!

Now, in BRINGING LIGHT TO SHADOW, Pam talks about leadership — how you earn it, how you practice it, and how you use it to move from an aggressive rescue dog to CGC. From the importance of trust, communication, and pride, to the commitment a leader must make to his/her dog, this insiring book is a must-read for anyone who loves dogs — or who simply wants to win in any competitive environment today.

Reviewer: Nancy Freedman-Smith
Kudos to Pam for a writing a book about her experiences with rehabbing her aggressive dog Shadow. It is concise and easy to follow.

My favorite part was the hindsight section peppered throughout, where we learn along with her, from her mistakes. The mistake we all tend to make is moving too fast, and Pam’s book clearly shows the reader how to take your cues from your dog – learning when to move on and when to back off. I loved that about the book!
The reader gets a very good education on learning theory and behavior, while we see first hand that positive reinforcement training works!
For the dog owner and trainer alike, this book is a gem.

Shadow is one lucky dog!

Nancy Freedman-Smith
Gooddogz Training
New England Border Collie Rescue

Reviewer: Niki Lamproplos
Pam Dennison’s new book about the rehabilitation of an aggressive dog, ‘Bringing Light to Shadow: A Dog Trainer’s Diary,’ kept me reading long past my bedtime.

Each dog who enters our lives has something to teach us, if we are open to learning. Shadow taught Pam a great deal about the mechanics and art of training. Most important, he taught her to really see what was before her eyes with a minimum of the ego we all bring to the table when we negotiate for change with another being.

To paraphrase a gifted trainer who mentored Pam, if we want better dogs we must become better human beings. I deeply admire and value Pam’s ability to acknowledge her doubts, frustration, and mistakes. She is unflinchingly honest about her own journey to become a better human being.

Pam’s growing commitment to Shadow and her determination to modify his behavior using exclusively positive reinforcement is certainly laudable. I especially appreciate the diary format, which gives you a real-time picture of both the depth and breadth of the work involved in Shadow’s rehabilitation.

As a dog behavior consultant, I know that many families I work with do not have the time or the emotional resources to pursue this kind of rehabilitation program. Reading Pam’s diary, I myself am boggled that she managed to maintain a business, a marriage, and strong relationships with her other dogs while working intensively with Shadow. However, for those who do want to attempt this work, Pam’s book provides a window into the commitment that is involved, including the inevitable but disheartening regression that is part of the learning process, and the triumph that can be achieved.

Reviewer: Michele Yon
Bringing Light to Shadow: A Dog Trainer’s Diary is the story of Shadow, and his transformation from a seriously human-aggressive dog into a Canine Good Citizen. Pam brought Shadow home without fully understanding the extent of the problems he harbored, or the lengths to which she would need to go to fix this broken boy. Through tedious observations, conveyed to the reader in diary format, we learn both what worked for Shadow and aided in his rehab, and what failed. Yes, this dog trainer actually tells us about her failures and Shadow’s regressions! By sharing such information with her readers, she provides valuable lessons not often available in the pages of a training manual. Additionally, this book contains a few very useful features. When the author introduces new concepts, they are highlighted in a concept box, so that the reader may fully understand the passage. Similar technique is used for hindsights (remember, this book is a diary that Pam kept as life with Shadow was unfolding before her). It is tempting to the animal lover in some of us to fantasize of turning an aggressive dog into a happy family pet. If this describes you, this book will wake you up from your daydream, yet at the same time will help you understand that it is possible for an aggressive dog to become a good citizen. Before you think of saving the animal at the shelter that nobody wants, read this book. If you find yourself living with an aggressive dog, read this book. If you want to be inspired by the very very difficult work of others, or by one black and white dog’s resiliency and willingness to trust again, read this book!