Although we've never actually met, I feel that Victoria Stillwell and I have gotten close since I began watching her dog training show on Animal Planet a few months ago.
In her tall black boots, belted overcoat and hair up in a no-nonsense bun, she expertly handled her shiny stick-shift ride, a stern British headmistress with a dash of feisty dominatrix racing throughout England to help families with their problem pooches.
Now It's Me or the Dog has moved to the States, and her appearance has mellowed a bit in our more laid-back culture. She'll frequently wear jeans and a vest or a sweater, but her posture is still tall and strong and you know she means business.
When it comes to dealing with animal owners, she is quick to point out mistakes and blunt in her delivery - no sugar coating here. Is your dog a dinnertime beggar? A bed hog? A jumper? It's probably your fault. Victoria asks questions and observes the family dynamic, then delivers her verdict during the aptly named "confrontation" portion of each show.
But she's not all strict and stern. When it comes to dealing with dogs Victoria is frequently light, cheery and beaming pleasant energy. She uses positive, reward-based training to motivate dogs to want to please their owners, and teaches owners how to effectively communicate what they want in a way their dogs can understand.
Since watching the show, I've picked up a few things. Among others, Victoria's methods keep my dog from begging while I'm eating dinner, helped me train a reliable recall, given us ideas for new games to play, and have aided us in understanding each other. Al loves all the fun training, and I love the results.
Here is a sampling of some memorable clips: Cupcake Temptation; Diet; Tone; Play, but you really need to view the whole episodes to learn what's going on with each family and how Victoria handles it. Check out the show, it's well worth it.