Adriana Barnes: My Story
I am a dog handler and trainer who has learned that just as our canine friends need training, so too do we. My philosophy is to balance dogs and teach humans. My canine clients include some of the most problematical dogs you’ll ever meet found in shelters, private homes, and training centers. My passion and love for dogs inspires me every day to change their lives and offer them the balance they were born with. There is NO dog that cannot be helped. My human clients include Tom Brady, Giselle, Gloria Estefan, Pink, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Nayib Estefan, and Eva Mendes.
For seven years, I worked as Director of Cesar Milan’s Dog Psychology Center, rehabilitating thousands of dogs. The Center is a “last chance” stop for dogs before they are put down. We not only rescued the dogs and found them the perfect home, but were passionate about getting to the root of their problems and balancing their behaviors. Working with Cesar and learning to handle and train dogs has been one of the greatest blessings of my life, however, I was not always a dog lover – in fact I was downright terrified of them…
Cesar and I originally met as neighbors and soon became good friends. After two years of hanging out at each other’s home, a hiking friend mentioned something about a dog whisperer who lived in our neighborhood. Who? I found out it was Cesar. He had never said a word about his television personality. When I confronted Cesar about who he was, he asked me to leave my job and come work for him. I thought he was nuts. Not only did I have zero knowledge about dogs, they scared me to death. He kept telling me I was “the one” and that he needed me to help run his new psychology center. He would bring his entire pack of dogs into my garage to force the issue, and go for walks at the same time I did. He was relentless.
Finally, Cesar announced while on tour, that his recently deceased dog Daddy told him that I was the one to run his program. I gave in to the pressure and took a three-month leave of absence from my finance job. Through tears, fears, and lots of deep breaths, I took on the care of 60 dogs. I was determined that no dog in the center was going to get sick under my watch. Cesar’s instruction was deliberate, crafty, and totally intriguing to me. At the end of three months, I found a passion within me that I never knew existed. My love for dogs came bursting out from the inside. My desire to teach the canine to live in a human world and respect their leaders was met by an even greater excitement to teach humans to respect the lives of their dogs.
I never imagined that I would branch out on my own to create my personal vision of a canine training center – one with equal parts masculine passion and feminine love. I never thought I would volunteer my time with Sheriff Department K9 units and shelters throughout Southern California, or conduct training for school children in low-income areas.
Over the years, I have learned that any human or canine has the ability to overcome something that has previously held them back in their life. My intense fear of dogs had to be conquered and now I am in love with every dog I meet! I have witnessed firsthand how a dog’s life can change for the better. Understanding the psychology of a dog is truly a gift. I enjoy seeing every dog’s transformation because every one of them can be trained to change their old ways. Dogs are not born with aggression — the world has rooted that into them and they can be taught to return to their true nature.
It’s a great feeling to start your day with a pack of dogs who were recently rehabilitated along with the new dogs whose lives are about to be changed. At the end of the day as I say my goodbyes, my favorite moment is when the dogs look back at me with thankful eyes. Their calming energy makes me feel like a great leader.