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Who: Donald and Lisa Pliner, Bel Air, California

Goal: Healthy, happy, house broken puppy that is outgoing, flexible and able to handle travel and public events with ease.

Service: Perfect Puppy Program

 

THE CHALLENGE


Not so long ago, Moonlite celebrated her first birthday. Photographed on that day, the beautiful, silky-haired Maltese lounges on a velvety dog bed joined by Babydoll, the matron of the household. It’s so difficult to tell the girls apart that Donald and Lisa Pliner dye a tuft of hair on Moonlite’s bangs and the tip of Babydoll’s tail so outsiders can tell them apart.

The dogs’ similarities were part of the challenge Donald and Lisa presented to Brad when they approached him about adding the “perfect puppy” to their family. They wanted another Maltese but more important they wanted another Babydoll. They wanted a clone of her slight build, delightful temperament and quirky personality, even her unusual almost-brown eyes. But they wanted to spare their new dog the periodontal disease they discovered too late when they brought Babydoll home from the breeder some 12 years ago. Most of all, they wanted a thoroughly well behaved and polite dog. Limitless as their love for Babydoll was, even her doting parents could see that her manners could be improved. Although too late for this sweet, spoiled girl approaching her dotage, a new dog offered new opportunities for a fresh behavior start.

The problem, of course, is that raising, training, and housebreaking a puppy—especially a toy– is a lot of work. The first six months of a puppy’s life are especially taxing and time-consuming. In addition to basic manners and potty and chew training, puppies need to be thoroughly socialized to all kinds of people, animals, and circumstances to make certain the puppy grows into a friendly dog who is unfazed by new experiences. Like all busy families, the Pliners (who run a well-known luxury shoe design business) and their 9-year-old daughter, simply did not have the time nor the skills to train a puppy. The Donald J Pliner Company requires unavoidably long hours and a great deal of travel. The Pliners realized they could not assume the responsibilities associated with teaching a new puppy how the world works.

 

THE PROPOSAL AND STRATEGY


The Pliners met with Brad and explained their dilemma. They wanted someone who could, not only find them another Babytdoll, but raise and train the puppy from day one until she was ready to join her new family. Their relationship began with a long talk about what the Pliners wanted in a dog. They sent photos of Babydoll, described her to a tee, and shared their hopes for and concerns about their new family member.

Step one was an extensive breeder search among Brad’s show dog contacts, After Brad located the right litter, he visited the breeder, evaluated each puppy for health and behavior, and narrowed the choices down to three that the Pliners could choose from. They picked Moonlite, a charmer already with the same aristocratic looks as her soon-to-be big sister. According to Donald, “The resemblance is uncanny. Bradley may have actually cloned Babydoll.”

When Moonlite was eight weeks old, Bradley picked her up and took her home. For the next six months, this adorable, little powder-puff lived with Brad and six other dogs, including Basenjis, an Afghan, Ibizan Hounds, and visiting Briards. She was homeschooled, everyday learning polite manners and practicing them with Brad’s guests in the house or out and about. Every week, she went on socialization trips. She cuddled with kids in wheelchairs, greeted people at cafés and in parks, learned to enjoy grooming, got cozy with seniors at a local retirement home, even went shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, pet supply shops, a Lowes Home Improvement Store to name a few. In other words, she got the everyday stimulation, special attention, and the kind of custom-tailored training that is usually reserved for service dogs. She got the super-girl treatment.

Throughout the program, the Pliner family monitored Moonlite’s progress. Brad sent photos, videos, and updates every few days, along with health reports from Moonlite’s monthly checkups. By the time she was ready to move to Bel Air, they knew her almost as well as Brad did. Donald said, “We had some concerns about bonding at first.  Six months is a long time. But Bradley assured us it wouldn’t be a problem that dogs adapt well to new situations. Plus, at his house, she was one of many dogs and she met so many people. Well, he was right. She became part of our family in no time.”

 

THE RESULT


The outcome surpassed even the Pliners exceedingly high expectations. Moonlite was everything they had hoped for and more. Funny, confident, adorable, friendly, full of puppy antics—yet fabulously well behaved, according to Donald. “It was absolutely amazing how well trained she was. She would even ring a little bell if she needed to go potty. Of course, she adjusted to our routines so fast, she barely ever did ring it.” And where Babydoll was always mostly Donald’s dog, Moonlite is a family dog. A social butterfly who travels with ease, she is the perfect companion for the Pliners. “I can’t recommend Bradley enough,” says Donald. “For anyone who wants a wonderful dog but doesn’t have the time or expertise to search through breeders and do all the training and socializing, this is the ideal solution.”

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