A Celebrity Speaks

April 7, 2011  

Trainer-to-the-stars Ashley Borden shares her passion for pit bulls

By Micaela Myers

When Ashley Borden isn’t acting as a wellness consultant to her celebrity clients (including Natasha Bedingfield, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and Mandy Moore), she’s often spending time with pit bulls.

Author of the book Your Perfect Fit: What to Wear to Show Off Your Assets / What to Do to Tone Up your Trouble Spots, Ashley adopted her first pit bull, Jesse, nearly 20 years ago. “He was the best dog ever – an absolute love,” she says.

Ashley’s love for Jessie led her to learn about pit bull-type dogs. “I learned about how much abuse and mistreatment and wrong information was out there,” she says. “People think that, because [pit bulls] are so big and tough, they don’t have any feelings. It became my mission to adopt these dogs to help dispel the myths about them.”

What drew her to pit bulls? “I’ve always been attracted to adopting the animals that won’t get adopted,” Ashley says. “I couldn’t believe how many pit bulls were in the shelters.”

But more than that, Ashley is also drawn to the special traits that all pittie lovers know and appreciate. “I feel like I can see their souls in their little almond eyes,” she comments. “They are very aware and very sensitive. I love how loyal and super affectionate and smart they are.”

Ashley’s second adopted pit bull, McCartney, had been locked in a garage for five years. Ashley got help rehabilitating McCartney from Cesar Millan before his hit TV show. “He taught me how to walk with the pack,” she recalls. “To this day I implement all that he taught me on how to integrate a dog into the family.”

In addition to two cats and a rescued Chinese crested dog, Ashley currently has an adopted pit bull and a pit bull mix. Her pit bull mix Pedro was rescued from a hoarding situation and had spent several years locked in a crate. “He was born there and had never left his cage,” Ashley explains. “He didn’t know how to walk. He had emaciated back legs. … People don’t want to get involved [in rescue work] because they don’t want to see how awful it is,” she says. “But when you see it, you see how important it is to spay and neuter your animal.”

When Ashley met her white pit bull, William, he suffered from inverted eyelashes, sometimes known as entropion. “He was on death row,” she says. But after surgery, he was good as new and has played an integral role in rehabilitating fearful Pedro and in Ashley’s own rehabilitation.

Rescuing and Being Rescued

As many of us know, when we adopt a pet, that animal has as much potential to help us as we do to help him or her. That has certainly been the case for Ashley.

“That’s why I’m so attracted to pit bulls because someone has to be there for them.”

“I had been on Paxil for 17 years and I finally decided to get off it,” she says of her personal journey. “The only things I could be around were my animals. Walking them I swear was like my healing therapy during the two months that I detoxed off that.

“In some ways, I love them more than I love myself,” she adds. “So being forced to take care of them helps me take care of myself. Putting my music on and walking the dogs is my therapy.”

Ashley’s deep relationship with her rescued animals motivates her to get involved wherever she can, even if it’s just stopping to educate people on the street. “I never hesitate to get involved,” she says, relating a story of talking to several young men with unneutered pit bulls on chains at Venice Beach. “A lot of it is that people don’t have the information. They don’t know,” she says.

“You don’t have to be an activist,” Ashley comments. Making a difference “can just be where you adopt and [avoiding pet stores that sell puppy mill animals].I just try and do my own part.”

Sometimes, Ashley takes her passion to the streets, protesting against cruelty to animals. “I protested with Last Chance for Animals. We protested the circus. We protested vivisection,” she says. “It’s surprising to see how angry people get that you are protesting for an animal and not for people. But somebody has to be the voice for animals. They can’t hold signs. They don’t have the Internet. They can’t protest for themselves.

“I always try and root for the underdog,” she adds. “That’s why I’m so attracted to pit bulls because someone has to be there for them.”

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5 Responses to “A Celebrity Speaks”
  1. pupper says:

    I’ve been gobbling up every StubbyDog article so far, but I have to say, you guys dropped the ball mentioning Cesar Milan. He has no qualifications as a dog trainer or animal behaviorist other than a reality TV show contract (and we all know how much that’s worth), and he advocates a strong-handed, unscientific, made up, outdated “method” of “training” that may work for a television show, but has no grounding in reality. It is dangerous to broadcast “methods” like alpha-rolling, “energies,” and poking a dog into submission to people who may know absolutely nothing about real dog behavior and will end up being bitten or further damaging their dogs. While I appreciate his support for pitbull-type dogs and rescue of all kinds, he is not a trainer, and it is irresponsible to paint him as such.

  2. micaela says:

    Hi pupper,

    I understand your concerns with some of Cesar’s methods. However, in this article Ashley it talking about using the focused walk. No where in this article do we advocate alpha rolling or poking.

    Thanks for reading the article and for your support of StubbyDog.


  3. Anne says:

    In my 73 years of living, one thing I am certain of – we animal lovers need to band together to make a difference. I doubt that Stubby Dog dropped the ball by allowing Cesar Milan’s name to be mentioned in this article; if he helped rehabilitate McCartney and integrate him into Ashley’s family, then let’s give him credit for that. Kudos to Ashley for her work in being “the voice for animals”. I am an avid fan of Stubby Dog and all the good you are doing.

  4. JessDolce says:

    The article isn’t endorsing his methods (it doesn’t refer to his methods or even call him a trainer), but simply tells the story of one woman’s personal experience with her pit bulls. According to Ashley, Milan helped her with her dogs years ago and, regardless of whether or not we agree with his techniques, (none of which are specifically mentioned or promoted) that’s her story and it is truthfully retold here. It would be a shame not to share this positive pit bull experience because of that one detail, not to mention bad journalism to edit it, so that it does not reflect the acutal experience of those involved.

  5. ashleyborden says:

    <!– p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px} –>
    <p>&nbsp;I read peoples posts about it and I was very surprised at how many anti- cesar milan people there were!!??</p>
    <p>I wanted to reply with my PERSONAL experience I had with cesar. I don’t think many people get to actually work with him now…in 2005 i was at his center with all 40 of the dogs he had at the time. it was like being with someone who was on another level with the&nbsp;animals. i saw him break up a dog fight in 5 seconds. No violence, no “aggressive” dominance. Just calm assertive energy.</p>
    <p>Cesar had his center for YEARS in run down east LA before he became a “star”.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>In the 2 weeks my black pit, Mccartney, lived at the Dog Psychology Center (in 2005 When The Dog Psychology Center was running on a shoestring budget, there was no Dog Whisperer show…and the center gave me a VERY steep discount because I had rescued my dog!) Cesar rehabed my AGRESSIVE, attacking pit pull into a dog that could live with another member of his own kind (he would try to kill another dog before) and live out the rest of his life relaxed, loved and social with other dogs.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>I don’t “roll” my dogs or “poke” them. But I am the pack leader, I don’t let them walk in or out of the house before me, bark&nbsp;aggressively or pull ahead of me in the leash.&nbsp;When being fed, they are calm, sit and make eye contact with me before anyone gets their food. I walk, feed and live with 3 dogs and 2 cats. At home, we have peace, order, love and nice long walks thanks to ALL of Cesar’s teachings.</p>
    <p>Its very short sited to lump all of his fantastic work into those 2 negative statements. He is an advocate for aggressive and problem dogs. He is a believer in not giving up on them, putting them to sleep or giving them away (unless to a better suited family with the right tools). Try to see the great positive tools he teaches…he has changed my life and the lives of all my animals.</p>
    <p>He has always been down for the animals, and so am I!!</p>