Meet the Feathers and Fur Family

JENNA

Jenna McDonald Feathers & Fur

Jenna started training various types of animals in her teens, and what started as a hobby became a profession in her early twenties. At 20 years old, while working toward a BA in psychology at the University of Guelph, Canada, she was introduced to a human-aggressive dog. With what little knowledge she had at that time she re-trained him and, upon learning that no one in that area would work with human aggression, she became a "professional" dog trainer. (Which is to say: she got paid!)

After gaining her BA, Jenna went on to study with other dog trainers and learn what she could. Each of those trainers said they could work with any dog. What she found was that, invariably, a few dogs and owners walked away dissatisfied; no one method worked for everyone. Jenna proceeded to learn as many methods as possible, pairing techniques that were most likely to work with appropriate dogs and owners.

Jenna learned dog training the old fashioned way: research, practice, mentoring, and lots of hands-on experience. She is now based in the bay area and loves what she does, from training puppies to giving aggressive dogs another shot at life.


LILY

Lily, Jennas Dog

Lily came into Jenna's life in 2006, after Jenna moved home to Southern California. Jenna's neighbors had adopted Lily, told she was a Great Dane cross, and when they found out she was a pit bull with extreme separation anxiety, they did everything they could: hired trainers, took her to classes, even put her on anxiety medication. Nothing worked. They were trying to re-home her when Jenna took her in, and Jenna was able to turn her around within thirty days. Lily was Jenna's first extreme anxiety case, and taught her a great deal.

A year into working with Lily (and insisting she never show dog aggression; a minor problem Lily had), Lily was attacked by a loose dog with aggression issues. Lily, upon command, dropped. That act of submission and trust in Jenna stopped the dog fight. Lily remained on her back, and consequently the other dog didn't bite down, until Jenna could get there and pull the other dog off. Shortly thereafter, Lily began working with Jenna, acting as provocation for dog-aggressive dogs and trusting Jenna to keep her safe.

As of 2015 Lily is 11 years old and mostly retired from working with aggression cases. Now she uses her calm stability to provide comfort and a good role model for young dogs and dogs with anxiety.


CASH

Cash, Jennas Dog

Jenna bought Cash as a puppy when she started training puppies. Like all good trainers, Jenna had learned theories on raising puppies, and decided it was time to try it herself: if she can't do something, she certainly can't expect someone who isn't a dog trainer to do it, after all!

Cash forced her to throw some theories right out the window, and to embrace others. It was one of the best things she'd ever done, and added to her learned experiences.

As Cash grew, Jenna worked extensively with him to build trust, confidence, and ensure she could put him in any situation. Combined with his natural happy-go-lucky nature, he now works with her with many dog-aggression cases, remaining cheerful and carefree even when other dogs are lunging at him. Eventually, he becomes all the aggressive dogs' best friend!

Jenna never neutered Cash; first he was supposed to be a show dog (but never grew big enough), and then she discovered he was very handy working with dogs who were aggressive specifically toward other dogs who hadn't been fixed. He is also her walking proof that just because a dog hasn't been fixed doesn't mean they're going to be aggressive, pee on things, or be otherwise problematic. Though some things can be solved by neutering or spaying, it isn't an excuse for bad behavior!

Cash plays "daddy" whenever younger dogs come to board, and he's an excellent "father figure"! Most dogs end up cuddling with him... though he gets hot, and looks awfully mournful about it!


QUIN

Quin, Jennas Assistant

Quin started apprenticing under Jenna in 2011 so that when Jenna needs an extra set of hands, she has a reliable set. He lives in the East Bay area and helps mostly when Jenna is boarding dogs. He has an instinctive touch with dogs and he and Jenna have been adding knowledge, experience, and practice to that rare talent. He's become a formidable trainer in his own right, and Jenna is glad to have him on the Feathers and Fur side!

If you do enough reading on Lily and Cash's Facebook page or the Feathers and Fur blog, you might notice that Quin is also Jenna's relationship partner, though the pronouns used to refer to him over time have changed. Yes, it's the same Quin!


TANGO

Tango, Jenna's Timneh African Grey parrot

Tango came into Jenna's life in 2013, bringing the feathers back into "Feathers and Fur." He's a great help desensitizing the dogs who board to funny noises and beeps, and he teaches them to behave around birds by giving his "naughty dog" cry whenever they get too interested!

But mostly, he provides endless entertainment for Jenna and her clients via Lily and Cash's Facebook page, and cuddles with Jenna after a long day. He is a Timneh African Grey parrot with an already extensive vocabulary, especially when it comes to asking for kisses or whistling either country music or Beethoven. Greys live to be somewhere between fifty and a hundred years old, so he's learning excellent social manners in case he outlives Jenna. Occasionally, he joins her training dogs. Sometimes it's more fun to ride in the car than to stay at home! If you ask, you might just get to visit with him.

OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGE

Before this particular team, there were other members who helped train Jenna, or who helped Jenna train. Though these animals have gone across the Rainbow Bridge, they are remembered as an important part of Feathers and Fur.

Bobby

Bobby, Jennas Bird 2005 - "Feathers and Fur" has always had birds and dogs in the house, and Bobby was the most recent incarnation of the "feathers." Jenna inherited Bobby from her younger sister back in 2005. At the time he screamed, bit, and was otherwise a nuisance. They spent the next several years butting heads over just that behavior, but eventually Bobby saw things from Jenna's point of view; the biting became almost non-existent and the screaming diminished greatly. Bobby did a great job teaching many dogs to leave birds alone, pulling the whiskers of any cats that got too close, and trusting Jenna to deal with it when any hunter-type dogs became too interested.

Bobby's bravery was legendary; no dog was too big for him to play chicken with. (This did, occasionally, give Jenna heart attacks.) In 2007 Bobby was diagnosed with APV (avian papilloma virus -- intestinal warts), and started medication twice a day shortly thereafter. He continued happily (if increasingly more medicated) until July of 2012, when the warts grew worse and he had to be put down. For the time being, Bobby was the last of the "feathers" of Feathers and Fur, and he will be greatly missed.

Sam

Sam, Jennas dog

2001 - Sam was the final boost Jenna needed to became a professional dog trainer. When he and Jenna first met, he was so aggressive towards humans that other trainers, pet sitters, neighbors and even family refused to go near him. Jenna re-trained him (without knowing much about what she was doing; looking back on it, she's lucky she wasn't hurt!), and gave him a new lease on life.

Years later, when he started to struggle in the snowy climes of Canada, Sam's owners sent him to live with Jenna in Southern California. A friend built a dog wheelchair for him when he started to limp too badly (a neighbor donated a bike for parts), and this formerly aggressive dog went strutting around city events, carnivals, fireworks, and festivals. Children fell on him, strangers petted him, and he smiled happily. There are videos of Sam in his wheelchair on the Feathers and Fur blog.

He and Lily also conspired. Lily (who was only supposed to be in training and then headed home) played gently with Sam, bringing him his toys, and even nudging his food closer so he could eat more easily. Sam taught Lily how to patrol at night, and became happily relaxed around her.

In Dec of 2006, at the age of 10, Sam was beginning to struggle even in his wheelchair. He'd lived a hard life, had a good retirement, and was ready to go. He left Jenna with one parting gift, though: by then, Jenna had broken down and adopted Lily. (Lily's former owners were thrilled.)


Katie

Katie

1999 - Katie came to live with Jenna when Jenna was eighteen, and sparked a life-long interest in helping animals with behavioral problems. Katie was a six-year-old African Gray parrot who had anxiety, phobias, and feather-biting issues. Bird advice at the time said that these were issues one could not resolve: Jenna wasn't happy with that prognosis!

Within six months Katie could safely and happily be taken away from her cage, carried around the neighborhood, and handled by strangers. Within two years she traveled across the country and into Canada with Jenna, starting a new life as a university student and soon-to-be dog trainer's companion. By the end of that year Katie was going to work with Jenna, and had nearly stopped breaking her feathers. Though Jenna had been training animals to do basic obedience for years, it was this exposure to Katie and overcoming so-called impossible problems that truly steered Jenna down the path of looking for other animals with "impossible" problems to overcome.

Katie contracted a terminal illness and died in Jenna's arms in 2003. She was a quite the character, and is still the star of many stories.



Hogan

Hogan

1997 - When Jenna was sixteen, her neighbors (who would later adopt Lily) bought a deaf Rhodesian Ridgeback. Jenna, who had a fascination with large dogs, asked if she could walk him. Every night for months (and then years) she took Hogan out, trying different things to see if he had any range of hearing, teaching him leash manners and hand signals (he'd failed puppy school due to his deafness), and playing.

As other neighbors saw Hogan's manners improve, they started asking Jenna for advice and help. Using mostly what she'd observed from dogs and horses and what Hogan had taught her, Jenna started working with other neighbors' dogs. This was the start of her dog training career.

Hogan had a problem with anyone trimming his nails except Jenna. When Jenna moved to Canada for school, his "dad" took him to the vet to get his nails clipped. They sent him home unclipped after a five-man team failed, with sedatives for the next trip. Hogan's "mom" called Jenna in Canada and explained the problem. Much to her husband's disbelief, the next time Jenna was home she sat on the floor and clipped Hogan's nails in under ten minutes. At the end, Jenna laughingly told Hogan's "dad," "No more vet trips for nail trimming. You let me know, I'll take care of it." Hogan's "dad" shook his head in amazement and agreed.

Hogan died of natural causes after Jenna moved to Northern California in 2009. He is still her first love.

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