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- The Top Of The Mountain
- From ‘Poor Man’s Feast’ To ‘Treyf,’ Discover The Next Nourishing Chapter For Elissa Altman
Occupation: I’m retired from the medical field. Now I’m doing my passion, which is working with dogs. I work with several different rescue organizations, both locally and down in Manhattan. Through my Sirius Positive Dog Training I help dogs with behavioral issues and help them become adoptable. I also work with families and their own dogs. I’ve studied with several amazing mentors, including James French in the UK and Suzanne Clothier. I work on a positive training model; that does not mean a permissive model where the dog runs the house. It’s about positive leadership and engaging the dogs so they are your partner and are not behaving out of fear. They are motivated to want to do whatever they can to be your best companion. It’s a relationship on both ends of the leash.
Family: I grew up in California, and my family is still out there. I have a 25-year-old daughter, Lara, who just graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a degree in classics.
Pets: I have a very smart rescue thoroughbred/quarter horse cross named Ranger, who was on his way to the meat market when I got him. I have a lovely rescue donkey named Chica, who’s Ranger’s pasture buddy. I have a young Andalusian gelding named Nepote, who’s very sweet. I have a beautiful barn cat named Sammy, who had been from a feral kitten litter that couldn’t be socialized, so I took him as a barn cat from The Animal Center. My two indoor cats are my sweet quiet Drewbery and my blind cat, Ray Charles. He’s completely unaware of the fact that he is blind and is the first to explore new things. I’m fostering Tyler for Best Friends Animal Society, who is looking for his forever home. He loves the water, and I’ve started taking him to the beach in West Haven and to Deep Brook. I have a cute golden in my house named Chewie, who I’m training to be an emotional support dog for a 10-year-old autistic boy. It’s a full house, but it is a very happy home.
How long have you lived in Newtown? After I finished college at Berkley and moved out in ‘85 with some friends to New England for “a year.” I fell in love with the East Coast and decided to stay for medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. I moved to Newtown in 2004 when my daughter and I had been looking for a small property where we could have our horses on the premises. We bought a little five-and-a-half-acre farm, which we call Rainbow’s End Farm, and it’s been a wonderful adventure. Lara and I got to realize our dream together here in Newtown.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love spending time with the dogs, training and going to new places with them. Also, I’m in the process of finishing my CPDT, one of the most highly respected dog certification programs.
Do you have a favorite book? Suzanne Clothier’s book, If Dog’s Prayers Were Answered, Bones Would Rain From The Sky. I also love The Art of Racing In The Rain.
What is your favorite travel destination? I just got back this fall from a month in the UK. I was in England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. My ancient heritage is from the Isle of Skye, so I finally got to see the Dunvegan Castle, which is the ancestral castle of the McLeod family.
What is the best part about Newtown? From the very first day we moved here, people were friendly. The day we had our closing for the farm, our realtor directed us to Big Y so we could get our groceries, and we found people smiled and said hello. It was so different than where we’d been living. We also like that people can participate and contribute to the town. I was on the Tickborn Disease Action Committee and after that worked on the Conservation Commission.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My father. That’s where I learned how precious life is and to appreciate it.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? Suzanne Clothier. She’s brilliant. She’s an amazing behavior dog trainer, who has an incredible depth of knowledge.
Who are your favorite musical artists? Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sloan Wainwright.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? Don’t look back or dwell on things. Always stay positive and appreciate everyday.