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Heeling Power Matthew Margolis says it's not the breed but the personality of a dog

that makes it suitable as a pet.


It's possible to turn a snarling dog into a docile pussycat, figuratively speaking. Learn how from Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis, host of the PBS television series "Woof! It's a Dog's Life."

He will be at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble at 3 p.m. today to demonstrate some of his training techniques.

"You should never hit a dog, never yell at a dog, never say 'bad dog' and you never say his name with the word 'no,' " Margolis said.

Margolis, coauthor of "GRRR! The Complete Guide to Understanding and Preventing Aggressive Behavior in Dogs" (Little Brown, $23.95), is founder and president of the National Institute of Dog Training in Los Angeles. He has trained more than 30,000 dogs, including those owned by Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and Drew Carey.

According to Margolis, there is no best breed for a family pet.

"With 150 registered [breeds of] dogs in the United States, not including mixed breeds and mutts, it's not about the breed but about the personality of the dog," he said.

Dogs have six personality types he labels as responsive, aggressive, nervous, shy, sedate or stubborn. He recommends learning about these personalities before getting a dog. He has also developed a test to determine the dog's rate of learning. It takes out the guesswork for the owner, he said. After all, he asked, would you ever buy a used car over the phone?

"They should do some kind of licensing to own a dog," he said. "Too many dogs are winding up in shelters because of simple problems."

A lifelong animal lover, Margolis said he brought his fourth dog home when he was 15. His parents told him that either the dog went or he did. He told them goodbye and lived in Central Park for three days, he said.

For more information about Margolis or his training program, call (310) 445-4671, Ext. 225.



Most authors are published before their book is available on tape. Ojai native Jim Williams hit the audio market first with his collection of short stories, "The Old West: Tales of Gold Diggers, Gunfighters and Horse Thieves" (Sunset Productions, $16.95).

He will discuss breaking into the audio book market at the monthly meeting of the Gold Coast Fiction Writers at Nona's Cafe in downtown Ventura at 1 p.m. today.

Williams' voice is familiar to longtime radio fans in Ventura County--he subbed at KVEN for 12 years.

Since retiring after 23 years as public information officer for Santa Barbara City College, he can be heard over KZBN, a Santa Barbara station owned by Bob Newhart, where he does history features twice daily. Ironically, he didn't get to narrate his stories, but plans to negotiate to narrate the next one.

Because the western genre is popular among truckers, Sunset has distributed his audio at 2,000 major truck stops across the country.

They are also included in a five-package set along with authors Jack London and Louis L'Amour under the title "Best of Westerns," available at Costco for $18.95.

"To be in the company of L'Amour and London is quite humbling," Williams said. Although he always wanted to write, his other talents include cartooning, sculpting and acting.

"I would just like to be a success at one of them," he said, laughing.

Categorized as action-adventure or humor--sometimes both--one of his stories, "Buckshot Thanksgiving," was published in a regional anthology in 1998. Meanwhile, he is working on another collection of short stories. He doesn't know what writer's block is--he has more ideas than time, he said.


* Sunday: 1 p.m. Gold Coast Fiction Writers meet at Nona's Cafe, 67 S. California St., Ventura, to hear Jim Williams speak on breaking into the audio book market. Open to nonmembers. Brunch at your own expense. For more information, contact Carol Givner at or (310) 454-6264.

* Sunday: 3 p.m. Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis will discuss and sign "GRRR!", coauthored by Mordecai Siegal, at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Tuesday: noon. Four authors will discuss and sign their mysteries: Lee Harris, "The Mothers Day Murder"; Valerie Walzien, "Student Body"; Lori Roberts, "Murder Follows Money"; and Jonnie Jacobs, "Murder Among Strangers." Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. The monthly American Girls Club meeting will focus on Kirsten. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Thursday: 11 a.m. Lise McClendon will discuss and sign "Nordic Nights," followed at noon by Donna Houston Murray, who will discuss and sign "Farewell Performance." Mysteries to Die For, 384-0084.

* Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Scandinavian Festival, with recipes from the book "Favorite Swedish Recipes" by S.E. Widenfelt. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Saturday: 7 p.m. Pajamamania features stories from African American children's literature. Borders, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Saturday: 7 p.m. Discussion with Paula Barone on the California SIDS program. Learn from "The SIDS Survival Guide," primarily for grieving families, but also a primer for prospective parents. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Saturday: 7 p.m. Editor Linda Sunshine will sign "Stuart Little: The Art, the Artists and the Story Behind the Amazing Movie." There will also be a visual presentation on the making of the film based on the book by E.B. White. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

(Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to or faxed to 647-5649).

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