Our carefree British Lab, Polly, developed some anxieties at about 18 months of age. Our vet referred us to Alicea Howell for evaluation. For about a year Alicea worked with Polly. Alicea was a keen observer of the dog’s fears and approached training with patience, canine behavioral knowledge, kindness and, when it was not fun for Polly, Alicea stepped back and reevaluated. As a result, Polly has far fewer anxieties. The ones Polly does have are minimal and we, her owners, respect and accept them always working to minimize those things that might challenge her. Alicea “trained” both the dog and her owners——and it was fun! - Tracey Green
I have been doing behavior classes with my eight year old boxer/lab mix, Matilda for a year now. The difference I have seen is absolutely amazing. We started out just doing nail trimming classes. Matilda was very skittish and easily traumatized with getting her nails trimmed. When she would get worked up after her vet visits it seemed to trigger little tremor spells. This always worried me after her visits. One day Matilda was so worked up that the vet suggested giving her a sedation shot. The shot worked, but how she reacted to it later sent me in a panic. Matilda is not just a pet to me. She is family and my little girl. Alicea reached out to me and suggested doing some nail trimming behavior with her. After that first session I was all in. Matilda and I started seeing Alicea twice a week. To watch how much her body language and temperament changed shocked me. Matilda has become a rockstar with getting her nails trimmed. Alicea has worked with Matilda on blood draws, receiving vaccines and recently taking x-rays. It still amazes me how much Alicea has accomplished with Matilda. I firmly believe that every vet should have an Alicea! A vet-tech that specializes in animal behavior. Treating the issue and not just doing a temporary fix. Thanks to Alicea and her behavior training, I no longer worry about Matilda being panic-stricken. - Leah Solenberg
Dexter, our temperamental terrier mix, came to us at a year old with some troubling behaviors. Dexter had aggression issues towards other animals that made family walks very stressful and nearly impossible. He also was fiercely protective of our yard.
After several years of trying to manage his behaviors ourselves, we were lucky to find Alicea. She was awesome at determining the reasons behind his behaviors and strategizing with us on how to solve them. She also helped us to set up our home environment to promote Dexter’s success. One of the things we loved most about working with her is that she empowered US with how to handle Dexter (when so many of the trainers out there just train the dog) - we were the ones that needed the teaching! Dexter will always be a bit quirky (he’s a terrier, after-all), but our time with Alicea helped make life with Dexter a whole lot less stressful!
Trembling. Cowering. snipping. SCRATCHING. Biting. Symptoms all too familiar to veterinary staff and pet owners alike at those necessary trips to the clinic. RESTRAINT. SEDATION. CONFINEMENT. FRUSTRATION. GUILT. Reactions to those symptoms, and also familiar to veterinary staff and pet owners.
But what if there were a different approach? What if the fear was met with anxiety-reducing responses? What if the veterinary staff and the pet owners shared these strategies and our pets not only became less threatened by clinic visits, but bounded out of the car to rush to them?
We found that new approach with Alicea Howell at Barks and Rec. Our rescue dog Charley was 7 months when he began to exhibit some unusual behaviors in certain situations. Alicea described his behaviors as anxiety-related and quickly began her strategies to decrease his fears, many she believed to be extreme. Charley’s sessions were consistent and frequent, initially using her desensitizing and behavioral techniques and more recently evolving into happy sessions to maintain his trust and accomplishments. Charley is now 6 years old. While some fears linger and will no doubt remain, his journey with Alicea has been a huge success. He continues to be a trusting, social, happy dog. This could not have happened without the procedures implemented by Alicea and the caring staff that adopted her approach.
Diane and Greg Warner
That’s what working with Alicea has done for Kylie, my Dalmatian and Pitbull mix.
An easy, friendly dog, Kylie was becoming a nightmare when it came time for a nail trim or vet visit. The whining and shaking would start as soon as the clinic came into view. Once inside, she would lean against me cowering and shaking. Becoming so stressed out, I was afraid she would eventually snap at or bite the vet or one of the techs. It would take days for us both to recover from the experience.
Flash forward to Now!
As soon as Kylie sees her travel treat bag, she starts dancing and bouncing around, knowing we are going to the vet clinic to see Alicea. She sits up in the car, watching for the clinic to come into view. And in the reception area, Kylie will sit at the end of her leash, waiting for Alicea. She actually quivers with excitement! She greets everyone there like they are old friends. Through the whole visit, her head is up, tail is wagging and that wonderful Pitbull grin is in place! Life Changing!...
Carol Blackwell (Kylie’s mom)