Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's not always a rose garden

Some cases just break my heart. I had one of those the other day. For the record I do not work with serious aggression cases. (My general classification on that is a dog that has purposely bitten a person and broken the skin. This is depending on circumstances as well. When in doubt contact me for clarification on your dogs issue.) For me it is about liability. Some owners that don't follow through with the behavior work needed for those cases, and then have continuing issues, like to find a person to blame when they get sued because their dog seriously hurt someone. Sorry but that isn't going to be me.

I still attend seminars on the subject so I keep current with the info about aggression however. Personally I love learning about ALL dog behavior and find that having as much info as possible helps me know what is going on, even if I can't help a particular owner. It also helps me to know specifically who to refer those people I can't help to as well. I do work with some reactive dogs depending on the situation.

What I saw the other day was a very sad case. A cross bred puppy, 14 weeks old, with what appeared to be actual dominance aggression. I wasn't there for 10 minutes before I got to see him in action. He was even challenging me right away over the box I carry with all my handouts and paperwork. I removed that from his reach and he started on me specifically, would not be redirected, and we have to remove him to his crate. Not your normal pushy puppy behavior by any means either.

There are many different types of aggression. There is resource guarding, also known as possessive aggression. There is inter-dog aggression, or dogs that are aggressive with other dogs. There is fear aggression, a reactive response based on the dogs fear of a situation. There is redirected aggression, if you can't bite the one you want, bite the one you're with, also known as frustration aggression. This isn't a complete list of aggression in dogs but you get the idea.

Dominance aggression is (thankfully) less seen. These are dogs that are truly seeking status over and trying to control people. They will use any means necessary to do so as well. In dog language teeth are allowed to be used in corrections after all. The owners told me that this puppy was absolutely fine unless you tried to get him to do something he didn't want to, or tried to distract him from something he wanted. Then he turned into a shredder. (After giving really fast warning signals. He left no time for anyone to back down from his warnings. I saw this in action as well.) In a puppy that young this is really scary behavior. Add living with kids to the mix and you have a disaster waiting to happen. All kids have friends, so even if you can manage an aggressive dog in a home situation, you have to consider the other people coming into the home as well.

True dominance aggression in a puppy that young is a horrible thing to see. Heartbreaking for me because I know that the chances for rehabbing are darn small. Dominance aggression tends to get worse upon sexual maturity and it is rare to see it in a puppy so young. It usually doesn't even show up until sexual maturity so to see at this age makes you wonder about genetic predisposition. Is it possible to rehab this behavior? Perhaps, but not without a lot of behavior modification work and management and with no guarantees. It is very stressful to live with a situation like that daily. This family already knew the they had a serious problem on their hands and didn't sign on for this with a new puppy. He will be headed back to the breeder he came from. Hopefully the breeder will act appropriately for this pup.

The worse part of the day for me was after we had spoken at length about options and dog behavior when the 12 year old daughter asked me point blank what I would do with the puppy if he were mine. The 9 year old son was also in attendance. For the record I have a 12 year old daughter and a 10 year old son myself and they aren't stupid at that age. You can't talk down to them. So after taking a deep breath, I looked them straight in the eyes and I told the truth straight out. I wouldn't keep this puppy if he were mine. There were tears all around. I barely managed to keep it together and stay professional. To say it sucked would be the understatement of the year. And this was just before Christmas which only added insult to injury.

I did give them the names of some other reputable trainers and behavior people to get a second opinion from or to consider behavior modification with. I also left the behavior worksheets I had on the subject for them so they could see what it would involve. I did not charge them for the session. I know that might not be great business practice, time is valuable, but it just didn't feel right for me to do. I felt crappy enough already thank you very much.

After a melt down in my car on the way home I called a canine behaviorist friend and vented. She is a great understanding shoulder and in this case was great for me to have to chew over what I had seen and confirm my diagnoses. Second guessing yourself is much more productive if you have a second person in the mix to help. As upset as I was, it cannot possibly match the feelings of the poor family dealing with the puppy and all that entails.

So for anyone thinking dog training is all fun and games let this be a look at the other side. The realities can sometimes be much more harsh. You're not just working with the dogs, but their people too. People that can have their hearts broken when things don't work out. People skills are just as important as your training skills. Not every trainer thinks this but I have found it to be true. I have also found that sometimes, nothing can replace a good old fashioned crying jag when fustrated by the things you cannot fix.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stories to share

I just ran across two stories I had to share. The first is about the baseball that won us (The Red Sox) this years World Series. It seems that Pappelbon's french bulldog Boss has chewed up the historical ball. Even famously owned dogs love a good chew now and then.

The second is about a B&B shaped like a beagle.

To find out how you can stay at this "unique" place in Idaho check out the info here: Personally I get a kick out of the stair placement.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays

Excuse the short hiatus. I went on a family vacation to warmer climes. It was fabulous. Now I am back and freezing my keister off. I don't like to advertise when I will be gone because I don't want people to know when my house might be unoccupied. My sister stayed here with the dogs for most of it since it was longer than normal for us to be away. I'm not against kenneling the dogs, and do and have one I trust, but prefer to keep it to a minimum as much as possible so I don't disturb their normal routine.

The above pic is one I "borrowed" from the Dognabbit blog. Go check out the rest of the cute photos there. (link at right) For more meaty reading, head on over to BadRap, Dolittler or The Terriermans daily dose.

I am still trying to decompress and readjust from the trip. A canceled flight due to the storm put us overnight in DC. Of course that one night put our whole re-entry to the real world off schedule so I am behind in a few things and trying to catch up. Add the rapid approach of Christmas and you have a slightly stressed out and very tired mom at the keyboard. I had hoped to get a great pic of the kids and dogs for my Christmas cards but it looks like that may not happen until after the holiday this year. Better late than never I suppose.

One good bit of news is that we have a potential adopter interested in Grizz. The home sounds perfect so keep those fingers crossed. He is a special boy and really needs to find that special home to make it a good match. (Zebra got adopted by husky knowledgeable people thankfully.)

When I am feeling more human I'll try to put a much better post together. Until then have a great and safe holiday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

All the pretty dogs

Ever try to get a headshot photo of a really fast dog? This is what you get.

Pretty eyes though huh?

This is Zebra. She is a young female spayed Siberian husky available for adoption at my local shelter. ( ) Here she is on a playdate with the prison dog Grizz. While she is ok with some dogs, she can be quite pushy, plays rough and needs to be introduced properly for it to go smoothly. She is also very energetic, and loves to run and she came to the shelter as a stray. Quite common in the breed. Huskys love to run and not pay attention to where they are going. Miles later they are far from home and completely lost. Unfortunately she did not get claimed by her family so now she needs a new home. She knows sit and shake so she has had some previous training. We have been working on down, off, and come when she comes along for playdates.

This was the only way I could get a pic of her being somewhat still. She rides very well and jumps right into the crate to go.


Grizzly is also available for adoption. He is a very shy dog that needs a home with at least one other dog to help him be his most comfortable. He has had some basic obedience training and some behavior modification while at the prison, but he will probably never be a totally normal dog. Thankfully he is not aggressive and prefers to run away then fight when approached by someone that scares him. Once he gets to know you he is trusting and very sweet. He was not treated very well in his last home which didn't help his lack of social skills with people. He is housebroken and crate trained. We were told he is a malamute/lab cross and not quite a year old. Because of his issues he will be available at the normal dog adoption fee. E-mail me directly for more information at Be sure to put Grizzly in the subject line.

This is a pic of our pug Jenny. I thought it was cute the way she was demanding lap time even though her "subject" was busy with other things.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's a lot of work

It appears the blogger has ironed out some kinks and my photo uplinks on the other computer are working again. (not that I always remember to take the pics!)

This is Annabelle. A sweet 6 month old dachshund puppy learning some basic manners.

This is Chip. He is also learning some basics. Chip is a rescue from They host dogs that are on the list to be euthanised if they don't find a home quickly. There are so many great dogs out there killed simply because they don't have a home. Chip is certainly one of those great dogs. He is just over a year old. To young to die simply for being there.

Here is my guy Jack. He made himself comfortable on my sister when she stopped in for a quick visit. Perhaps he didn't want her to leave?

And the girls relaxing with some nylabones.

Not shown are the new pet steps I have going up to the couch so that Missy can easily get up without straining her back in the future. Today we are headed back to the vet with Jenny to get her skin checked. She has been very itchy lately. With skin issues I have found that it's better to get it nipped in the bud before it snowballs into something much bigger and nastier.

Yesterday I took Jack to the shelter and borrowed their tub to give him a bath. (I take my own towels and shampoo) Normally he goes to the groomer but funds are tight this time of year for us. (Christmas is coming, vacation funds set aside and of course those lovely unexpected oral surgery bills) So I got to do it myself. All 120 pounds of him. That is why I used their tub. It is raised which prevents a trip to the chiropractor for me. (not that I don't like my chiropractor) The girls got their baths at home the other day, a much easier process considering their size. Everyone now smells as pretty as they look.

My next project is making a couple of wool coats for the girls. They will be boarding during some cold weather and I want to make sure they stay warm. (Tip: Wool retains heat even when wet unlike cotton.)

Dog care really is a never ending job around here.

Check out these other dog blogs I came across and wanted to share: The training of a hearing ear service dog and Raising awareness of autism service dogs. I added their links to my bloglist as well.

Tail wags!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bad blogger-update pics

I know, I know, I am a bad blogger. Sometimes life just gets REALLY busy, and then you catch a cold. (which makes everything SO much easier!) Here is a small update though.

Check out the pic of Hope, the last prison program graduate, with her new family. Aren't they adorable together? Eberything is going great for them and they are all very happy.

Here is a pic of Dash, our previous foster frenchie, with his brother Ivan all dressed up at a Halloween parade. He is the scarecrow. Thanks to his mom for sending the great pics to share.

And here they are with the whole Oz crew. How cute are they? They even made it into the Boston newspaper (page 2!) the day after the Red Sox won the World Series. Dash's mom sent me the pic but I can't figure out how to put it on here.

This is (right to left) Me, (Star Trek Geek) Hubby (Klingon) and a friend Jen (Bow Hunter) on our way to the Halloween Dance party that was the fundraiser for the prison dog program on the 27th. (it was a multi-fund event also benefiting Meals on Wheels and a Toy Library) Jen is mom to a cute pug named Maddie I need to get pics of to share.

The party was alot of fun and you can see more pics under News on their website at

Aparently the blog will let me upload pics off my husbands laptop but not off our other computer. As soon as I fix the bugs I will be sure to post more client pics and those of Jack as promised. Until then I am at the mercy of pics I can get off the internet or that are sent to me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to my Jack!

(Updated 11-13-07)

3 years ago today (October 19th) my little Jack was born. He's not so little anymore at 120 lbs though! He is my 3rd akita and I have to admit probably the most perfect. Not that I am biased or anything. VBG His temperment is just fabulous, thanks to the hard work of his breeders. (Thank you Donna and Mike!!!!) I cannot put into words how much I love this dog. Here are just some of my favorite pics of him. Be warned, this post is VERY photo heavy.

Here he was at 6 weeks at the breeders. How cute is that?

With my first akita Kuma who was 13 years old at the time.

At his first playgroup meeting trying to coax a lab out to play.

Back when he could still fit in Missys crate. (she was none to thrilled with sharing it either)

He got big really fast. I just love the diva look he has in this shot.

Another playdate with Tomo and Nani, other akita friends.

Showing off his beautiful wollie coat.

Yard time with a chow friend.
Oh to be young and flexible!

He loves the snow.

Together at tracking practice.

He surprised me by going for a dip in the ocean during a playdate walk. I didn't think he would go in on his own. He saw the other dog and played monkey see,monkey do though.

Cuddle time with DD.
I wish I had more pics of him with his cat. Sadly he passed away.
With a sleepover friend Izzy.He seems to make a great pillow.

A family pic. Notice his paw over Missy.
Another chow chow playtime.
With some dog walk buddies.

These chows are like parasites around here! (I work with a reputable chow breeder friend so we get alot of puppies through for socialization.)

Another cuddle time.

And more pillow time too.

The patient boy. You can see how he fits the stereotype of the vicious akita can't you?

Happy Birthday Jack! May there be many, many more.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Of dogs and commenting

This is Sadie. She is learning how to walk calmly past other dogs when on walks. Sadie is 6, so yes you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. It just might take a little longer since they have had all that previous time to practice the inappropriate behavior.

Unfortunatly I forgot to post Sadie the week I saw her. Better late than never though!

I have to point out that someone has decided to use my comment section to advertise products. This is NOT something I welcome. I find them doing this without permission offensive and akin to an assault on this site. If you see ads and website links in my comment section PLEASE ignore them. If I believe in a product then I will mention it here personally. I WILL delete comments I do not wish in my comment section. Again, ads for ANYTHING are not welcome here. If you would like to e-mail me directly to recommend a product feel free to do so. I will then decide if it is something I want to mention. I still welcome all other comments from my readers, but I am hoping that this will stop any advertising these people are attempting. If it continues to be a problem I may have to turn off my comment area which I am loathe to do.

Sorry for any inconvience!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Grizz enjoys a visitor

This is my first try at uploading a blogger video clip. Hopefully it works.

Here are Grizzly the new prison dog and Holly one of the shelters pit bulls playing today. Griz is much more at ease with another dog around so I decided to add some play sessions as much as possible to the mix. My girls like to get to know a dog well before they will play and Jack can be a brat with other male dogs at times. So I decided to bring a dog that I knew loved to play to give him some one on one doggy playtime that would be stress free. The only dog that fit the bill at the shelter today was Holly. As you will see she did the job quite nicely. (and she is available for adoption by the way @

And here are my feeble attempts at some regular camera pics with the two of them racing by at breakneck speeds.

Saying hello.

Some action shots.

It got easier to get pics once they were tired.

Did someone say treats?

Holly decides she is done.

She is such a lovely girl. Very friendly to everyone and loves to rub up against people whenever possible for hugs. Unfortunately she was slightly stinky from rolling in something in the shelter play yard earlier. I'm sure Grizz appreciated her fragrance much more than us. Dogs seem to really love stinky things. I on the other hand had to change my clothes upon returning home.

Have I mentioned she is available for adoption? Grizz will be too as soon as we get him more comfortable with people. At this point I think his ideal home would be with another dog in residence. I think it would really help to keep his stress levels down.

I hope you enjoy the video. Who couldn't use some play therapy now and then?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Just pics

A few cute pics to share. Jenny likes her perch.

Notice she has wedged herself in between her boys pillows.

Jack wants to play tug!
Jenny takes up the challenge.

Even Missy gets in on the game.