Monday, April 30, 2007

Learning to speak "Dog"

Yesterday I attended a seminar in Portland with Sarah Kalnajs. (pronounced call nice)

It was on how to read dog body language. For anyone working with dogs, this is critical information. I really think this is one of those courses that should be recommended for ALL dog trainers. Training and knowing dog behavior goes hand in hand in my book. Some of the local shelter staff came with me to learn too. It was a wonderfully fun day surrounded by other "dog nuts" learning more about dog behavior. Pretty much a day of Heaven on earth in my book. I also got to see old friends/trainers I know and meet new online friends. I couldn't resist getting this photo of the facility's cat checking out one of Sarah's DVDs, The Language of Dogs. Interested in becoming species bilingual perhaps?

And here is Sarah getting photos of the crowd.

We decided to make it a mutual shot.

She was fantastic. Her videos were excellent and the information is top notch. She also has a great sense of humor. If you ever get a chance to attend one of her seminars, I highly recommend that you do. I also like seminars because even if you think it is a repeat of info you already know, there is always a few other nuggets of info you end up finding as well. Besides, everyone needs refresher courses in stuff they think they know. (Because none of us knows it all when it comes to dogs.)

The hosting facility was My Wonderful Dog. ( ) Please check out their website. They train dogs for disabled people that really benefit from their use and companionship. Go! Look! Donate! It is a fabulous program and needs our continued support.

This is Auden. She is shown relaxing while I talk to her person. She is learning that she doesn't get to demand attention on HER terms. Beautiful isn't she?
Her are some pics I found while looking for some other pics on my computer.

This is Jack on North Haven with Pal, a Portuguese water dog and Squirt, a shelter mix. Taken last spring or fall. (I forget)

Me and my daughter (with Missy) taking the ferry home.

Jack was pretty pooped after all the running and swimming. Pal went in so he figured he had to follow suit. I never thought he would have gone into salt water for a dip. I guess he showed me!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Are we there yet?

I know, I know. I am behind. Posting is tricky when you are so butt kicking busy. Here are a few excellent pics and the news I just had to share though.

THIS cutie patootie is Apollo. Who can resist his baby blues? Well just so you know, and can prepare yourself, he grew into:

THIS handsome Doberman boy. Stunning isn't he? I'll give you a second to catch your breath. He is one of the island pups I am privileged to get to work with. (And some people call this work?)

And this is Surely. (as in, Surely you jest) She is an Irish Wolfhound. She is seen here modeling the latest in fashion, a head collar. This helps remind her not to pull her owner around. She looks great in red doesn't she?

I took my camera with me all week so I could get pics of some more of my clients but I kept forgetting to ask. I'll try to get more to share soon.

Here are some pics of Diamond. He is the shelter dog we put through the K-9 Corrections program. He is seen here with his prisoner handler, myself and the CGC tester Sumac of Leaping Dogs. He didn't pass his test but he did graduate from the program with lots of improved manners, new tricks to show off and he got a great home. He is a gorgeous border collie and it took us awhile to find just the right match for his energy level.

I just loved being able to work with him. He was so smart!

And here is the new prison dog we just started today. His name is Duke. Isn't he beautiful!?

He is a 7 month old husky/german shepherd cross. He was given up because he needed training. A perfect candidate for the program! You can get more info on him at the shelters website: Just click on available dogs.

And finally here is our foster frenchie Dash. He will be going to his new home soon. My son is NOT happy to see him go. Neither is my husband I suspect. Unfortunately the rescue group has a rule against the foster home adopting the dog. This helps prevent people trying to get frenchies quickly trying to bypass the application process. This doesn't give potential adopters a fair chance.

While I understand the rule it is still hard. We never went into this looking for a new dog but he sure did win us over. That is what fostering is about though, temporary housing them until they get a new home all their own. I don't know if hubby will let me foster again. He is not happy about how attached we all got.

Luckily I have some chow puppies coming to stay for some socialization time soon. Nothing like a cute puppy to play with to help heal a heart.

Sunday I am headed to a seminar at It is on "How to Talk Dog" by Sarah Kalnajs. If you are in the area, and are really into dog behavior, consider checking it out.

I will keep saying this so it doesn't get lost. Make SURE you stay current on the food recall info. It just keeps expanding. and and PLEASE don't take a chance. Keep your pets safe!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Sunday Walk

Yesterday was another beautiful dog walking day. My camera sucks so the pics and video aren't the greatest. I also should have waited and gotten some in the woods pics. The trail is beautifully scenic through the wooded parts. That is aside from all the leftover mud pits we had to navigate along the way. Doing the videos I ran out of space on my camera. I'll try to grab hubbys camera the next time. Jack was MUCH better behaved this time. Hardly any shenanigans from him. Of course I watched him pretty close and reminded him a couple of times TO behave.

I was trying to get a shot of everyone. Besides my Jack we had Jefferson and Bristol, leonbergers. Sanford, a terrier mix. And Salo, a yellow lab.

This sign says something about the area being sprayed. Jack used the post as a potty and I thought it was funny. (or would have been had I gotten a closer view of the sign and caught him in action. )

I wish I knew how to post the video directly on here. I know it can be done because I've seen it on other blogs. For now I can do direct links instead. There is no sound. (again, thanks to my crappy camera) Here they are.

And in this one I was trying to catch Jefferson laying in the mud. I was to slow though.

It gives you an idea of how "clean" they are after the walk. Jack got a good hose down when we got home.

On another note, the food recall is still going strong and seems to keep expanding. Make sure you keep checking these websites for updates: and

IMPORTANT note: Not all the stores are taking recalled food off the shelves. So just because it is IN the stores doesn't mean it is safe food for your pets. Stick to the lists.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Off the Chain - A breed problem

As much as I try, and as long as I let this set in my head today, it has still come out as a bit of a rant. That is bound to happen here on occasion. I get passionate about some topics. Consider yourself forewarned.

I began my day by watching a dog DVD. It is a very normal beginning to many of my days being that I am so entrenched in dogs. Today it may have been a mistake. Not because it was dog related, but because the material was so disturbing I am finding it hard to shake. I suppose that was the point though. It SHOULD be hard to shake. It was a brutal look at something we don't like to think about, yet it happens every single day in this country, with deadly results.

The DVD in question is called "Off the Chain". It is about how we, the American dog loving public, have helped ruin and are continuing to betray a great breed. We are not alone in it though. There are other countries ruining them as well. Japan and Italy are even worse than us in some ways since dog fighting is legal in those countries. It is even a public spectator sport there.

Yes I said public.

Makes you want to vomit doesn't it?

These monsters, lets not sugar coat this issue, say they love their fighting dogs. Hmmm seems to me love means keeping that animal you claim to love from being seriously hurt. Or from being at risk of a horribly painful death. No, they love money, they may even love the prestige they get in fighting circles, but they do NOT love their dogs. That is quite clear to anyone with even two brain cells to rub together. Criminals are obviously not the smart group on our planet.

Because of breed bans in this country, thousands of pitbulls are put to death every day because they were unlucky enough to be born. I wish people that hate them so much would do some actual research of their own on the breed. I'm not saying they need to love them and want one of their own. That wouldn't be good either. I just wish they would understand that it is people that have made this problem and see how. They could learn why breed banning is so misguided and doesn't work. It doesn't work because the idiots fighting them move to a different place. Or they hide them. It certainly doesn't stop the fighting. Then all the poor reputable owners get their dogs seized and killed. Can you imagine the local animal control coming into your home to take YOUR dog away to be killed? With NO way to save them? How unbelievably sad is that?

If you were targeting a specific group of people to hate, it would be considered prejudice and certainly not politically correct. It would be considered racial profiling to say all (insert type of person here) are thieves. So why is it ok to do with dogs? Because people fear what they do not know. How sad that the fear and ignorance causes so much death for so many dogs.

That is one reason I am so eager to try to educate the masses. Breed banning isn't the answer. And if you think breed bans will stop with just pits, you are sadly mistaken. Once that door is open many other breeds will be sure to follow. Would you believe my little 25 pound french bulldog is illegal to have in some parts of Canada already? That is because she is one of the "bully" breeds. It doesn't matter that she isn't a pitbull. To them, she is close enough. If I drive though their area they can seize her and kill her just because she looks similar to a pitbull. I have no plans on taking any of my dogs to Canada EVER.

German Shepherds, Dobermans, Boxers and probably Rottweilers will be sure to follow. All of the breeds we developed to work for us or to be guard dogs. Then once they are "all gone" we'll move on to the other breeds with teeth: poodles, goldens, labs, well you know, the list there is endless. ALL dogs have teeth! ALL dogs are capable of biting! If you think all (insert name of breed you love here) are fabulous dogs with NO aggression issues then you need to shadow a dog trainer for about a week. They are out there, trust me. The "bad dog" issue is an irresponsible OWNER problem! Responsible owners do NOT allow their dogs to hurt other animals or people. Especially if they realize their dog has issues. Target the jerks that are perpetuating the problem. Not those trying to raise well socialized, well trained, healthy dogs as wonderful loving family companions.

I say make having a dog contingent on testing. ANY dog. That way people have to earn the privilege by being knowledgable enough. If they screw it up by not treating the dog properly or letting it hurt someone, no more dogs for them. It is so simple it is crazy. EVERY reputable owner would gladly do this if it meant no more breed bans. That and crack down on those fighting them. Make it more than a slap on the wrist for those caught with ANY fighting related paraphernalia. Sure seize the dogs, but how about we test them prior to euthanasia? Some of them are bait dogs and do NOT fight with other dogs. (Check out the DVD. Even some of the "fighting dogs" can be seen trying to climb out of the ring. Bursting the theory that they ALL want to fight.) Seems a shame we have to kill those poor dogs too after living such a horrible existence already.

Pit bulls are NOT bred to be aggressive to people. Even those jerks that fight them do not tolerate aggression to people and will not breed a human aggressive pit. (And they will put down the ones that are.) Those dogs would be to hard for them to handle in the fighting ring. People are routinely in the ring with the dogs as the fight is happening. (Don't just take my word for it, check out the video or do some of your own research.)

So the photos I chose to display today are from a law enforcement website. They CHOOSE to use pitbulls in detection work because they are such a great breed. They are friendly, TRUSTWORTHY, easy to train and love to work. Check out their site for even more great info: (For my readers who are pit lovers they have some great stuff in their store. BTW)

Now to be clear, I'm not saying they are the breed for everyone. There is no breed that is right for everyone. We all have different quirks and lifestyles. Some owners are very laid back and don't want to do much training. That is fine, there are so many different breeds out there, as well as mixed breeds in shelters that need homes too, that there is a dog for just about every situation. Pitbulls need someone who will spend time with them and train them properly. They need a responsible owner that understands that not everyone will welcome their dog with open arms, and can also handle their energy level. (Though admittedly some pits are gold medalists in the couch potato Olympics.) Pitbulls are smart. They need training to guide them in the proper direction and keep them out of trouble. (Smart dogs are alot of fun to train but can get bored easily. A bored smart dog will find it's OWN fun. )

And am I saying that all pitbulls are great dogs? No, there are individuals in every breed that are bad examples. But lets stop using the few bad apples as the representitives for all of that breed. It just isn't fair. The media loves to sell papers. Sensational stories sell those papers. How many stories do they do on the therapy dog pitbulls? Statistically more toy dogs bite people each year than large dogs. (And it's not usually their first or last bite to a person.) But they don't do as much physical damage so it doesn't make the news.

The video was excellent as a teaching tool with some wonderful information about pit bulls including some historical footage. It is very graphic however and not for everyone. Definatly not for kids or even most young teens. (I had been warned.) There were a couple of times I had to turn away. (And I'm not normally very squeamish.) It does show actual fighting and some severely wounded dogs. It also shows the fighting handlers being very cruel to the dogs. It is a very upsetting video but unfortunately a necessary one to help show the real world of dog fighting and the ruination of what used to be a very loved breed in this country. Some people need to see it before they will acknowledge it as a very real issue that needs to be stopped. Sad it should take such a video to open those peoples eyes.

OK I have rambled enough for tonight. I hope I made a few good points without being to preachy. If only you could have seen what was on the DVD though. You would understand my upset. For those interested in more pitbull info check out

Relinquishing my soapbox for tonight. Now go hug your dog.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My response to Breed Specific Legislation

Sweden does it right! (taken from Bouvier Dog Blog-link at right)

Government to ban unsuitable dog owners
Published: 19th March 2007 08:49 CETOnline:
The government is to propose banning certain individuals from owning dogs.
In a proposal to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs, Agriculture Minister Eskil Erlandsson has made a four-step recommendation.
Any dogs that show signs of posing a danger must be kept on a leash at all times. If this does not prove sufficient, a muzzle is to be used.
A third step involves removing the dog from its owner. Finally, any owners deemed inappropriate are to be barred from owning dogs in the future.
Despite the fact that fighting dogs are over-represented in dog-bite statistics, a ban on individual breeds is not under consideration.
While fighting dogs make up just one percent of all dogs registered in Sweden, ten percent of attacks reported to police involve these breeds. According to Eskil Erlandsson, however, the problem lies with individual owners rather than specific breeds.
The government is to put forwards its bill on the responsibilities of dog-owners before the summer

Friday, April 13, 2007

My addiction

In case you haven't noticed by the list on the side of my blog, I am a book addict. I'm not one of those collectors that just has them to improve the looks of my home, or to trick people into thinking I am smart, I actually read them. Read may be an oversimplification. I devour them. Books are a serious weakness for me. My "mad" money usually goes into shopping for books. Our next house will have a library for them all. Seriously. I read them but I also really like to own them too. The best part of books is that you can read them AND keep them afterwards, unlike cake. (insert evil sounding laugh here)

So you can imagine my delight when a friend (a wonderful GENEROUS friend!) gave me these gems:

Dogs: A startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior and evolution by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger

Dog Behavior Problems - The Counselors Handbook by William Campbell

The Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training. Volume One: Adaptation and Learning by Steven R. Lindsay


The Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training. Volume two: Etiology and Assessment of Behavior Problems. By Steven R. Lindsay

Be still my beating heart. Not only are they books, but they are DOG books. Really GREAT dog books! Books I can USE!!! (insert sound of grateful weeping here) Thank you my friend from the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate the gift and will use them well. :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A trip to the island

One of the cool things about living on the coast of Maine is that there are many islands near us we can visit. Some of them are even populated year round. I have a few island clients and regularly go out to see new people and their dogs. The ferry ride is just over an hour long. I love the great views it gives me. I have seen many sea birds, seals and once even a porpoise! If it is cold I stay inside the seating area. I rarely bother to take my car as it costs more and entails waiting in line with no guarantee of it getting aboard, or back aboard for the return trip. I do not go on the ferry if it is windy. I admit I don't have great sea legs so I get seasick easily. To share my trip this time I took just a few pics specificly for the blog. I felt like a tourist. :-) This is my trip to Vinalhaven.

The view from where I was sitting. They do also have some longer seats you can share if you are traveling in a group or as a couple. I always bring some books to read as a back up plan to avoid boredom. (which never happens) I have on occasion taken a nap during the return trip. The fresh sea air wears me out! (and napping can help avoid sea sickness if needed)

One of the lighthouses we pass on the way. This is the Owls Head light. There is another one on the other side but I missed getting the pic. (The Rockland Lighthouse and breakwater.)

UPS really DOES go everywhere! The front of the ferry.

This is Zuzu and her owner Web. She is a 12 week old chihauha. Isn't she adorable? Dogs are frequently on board and ARE allowed in one of the seating areas. (They must be well behaved or have to ride in the owners car if available.) There are two seating areas, one on each side of the boat. There is also an upstairs outside seating area for those nice warm days.

And this is the cutie I went out to see and work with. Her name is Molly and she is a 4 month old wheaton terrier. What a face!

And leaving the ferry dock headed home.

My photo doesn't do this view justice. The lobster boats were all over the harbor. I wish I had a better camera with a nice zoom. This isn't the best photo tutorial ever but it gives you some idea of the trip.

Here is a very short video clip of my sisters dog Zeus. He is a bulldog and was adopted from the shelter. He has all of the typical bulldog issues, bad skin, breathing problems, allergies and his weight tends to fluctuate. He is also one of the absolute sweetest dogs I know. He was with us at my moms during the kids egg hunt when I got this clip. It's not the best quality but I wanted to share.

Also - PLEASE keep checking out the pet food recall info at and There is ALOT still happening folks. More foods and even treats have been added to the bad list. Click on the link to A Dogs Life blog in my sidebar as well. She also has alot of great info listed.

Friday, April 6, 2007

More trouble and a some rants

Now there are pet treats being affected by the recall. Here is the current list:

PLEASE check your pets food and treats. This recall is much more involved than originally thought and many more pets are dying that just the 16 as quoted by the original company involved. Also please spread the word to family and friends who may not be getting all the info from the news.
Now a couple of rants.

Rachel Ray had a search dog on her show this morning. It was a Shiloh shepherd. He was gorgeous. The owner/trainer said she has had him since he was 6 weeks old. ~big sigh~ I always cringe when I hears people say this. PLEASE do not get a puppy at this age if you can help it. In Maine it is a state law that they be at least 8 weeks old. There is a very good reason for this. Puppies learn many lessons about how to be a dog from their mother and siblings. They need the FULL 8 weeks minimum for these lessons to be complete. Think about it. This is an animal that is born blind and helpless and can eat on it's own and run in only 8 weeks time. 2 weeks doesn't sound like a long time to us, but to a dog that 2 weeks is a HUGE chunk of developmental time. Very important developmental time at that. This is when they learn bite inhibition. (that means learning not to bite hard during play, a critical lesson) This doesn't mean that raising an orphaned puppy means it will be a problem, it might be ok with proper socialization during puppy-hood, but why take the chance if we can prevent it?

One of the reasons trainers and reputable breeders are so against puppy mills and pet stores is that these puppies are taken to young from it's litter and mother which can cause serious behavior problems later. (taken young to ensure they stay cute while in those cages in the window) Buying a puppy from a pet store only keeps the supply and demand going for them. Please don't support them. If enough people stop buying they will eventually go out of business.

My other rant is about the so called "fat drug" for dogs. Would you believe there is a new medication for overweight dogs now available? (again, something I saw on Rachel Ray this morning) I think this is pretty ridiculous. They showed an owner that said she spoiled her dogs and fed them bacon and other treats because (get this) the dog was always hungry. Now she wants to have them on the miracle drug. OK first off dogs do behavior that works for them. If he has learned that "acting hungry" gets him bacon then of course he is going to do that. He is a dog, bacon is yummy. Keep in mind also that dogs descended from animals that had to hunt and scrounge for their food all day long, never knowing when the next meal was coming from. They are opportunistic eaters. Some dogs will even eat until they die! It is up to US as responsible owners to limit their intake of food and to exercise them to keep them healthy. Do some pets need this new drug? Maybe, but I think the majority do not.

What do YOU think?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Snowed in!

It is April 5th and we just got the most snow we have seen all winter in one snowstorm. This should make for a lovely mud season. (oh the joy) As soon as I figure out how, I will add a lovely video of the dogs enjoying the snow as only they can do.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Happy Birthday to Missy Moo

Today is Missy's 7th birthday. (Officially known as Shur Paws Miss America CGC ) Even though she is 7 she has only lived with us for 3 years. We celebrated by doing a "spa" day. She got her nails done and a bath. I also picked her up a new nyla bone which she loves. She has always been a hardy chewer. Then for supper she got some yummy canned food mixed in her kibble. (she was nice enough to share some with Jack and Dash too) A rare treat. To celebrate I thought it appropriate to share a few favorite pics of her.

Here she is with Jack being a typical puppy and invading her space. He is no longer able to accomplish this particular feat.

This pic is one of my favorites. She never did really acknowledge Kuma's presence in the house. That was the closest she came pretending he didn't exist. (What big dog?) He completely ignored her as well.

Of course we needed some family shots with her girl.

During her spa treatment. Dash looked concerned. (rightly so since he was next)

All clean and pretty. Are we done now?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A walk in the woods

Today was a perfect day for a long overdue group dog walk in the woods. It was sort of last minute but we had: Jack, my akita. Bristol, and Jefferson, two Leonbergers. Sanford, a terrier mix. & Salo, a yellow lab. All males and one intact show dog. (a leo) I'd love to say Jack was a perfect angel but he wasn't. He was the butthead of the walk today. Taking potshots at some of the other dogs and being a pushy brat. Fortunatly he is out of shape and slow so he didn't have the energy for any real trouble. Hopefully it was just spring fever. I'll have to be on top of him next time to prevent it becoming a pattern. Here are some pics from the walk. (shown out of order-still getting the hang of how picture posting works)

At the top of the hill near the end of the walk.

Jefferson and Sanford still not tired.

Something smells good enough to roll in perhaps?

And here is my cute pic of the week: My son has become very attached to our foster frenchie Dash. Here they are hanging out on the couch together.