Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy endings

This time I have happy news to share. Here is Diamond and some of his new family members. Diamond was the second dog we put through the K-9 Corrections program. He is a border collie that had lived most of his life on the end of a chain. Walking him was like flying a kite! He had so much untapped energy to burn. He learned the basics plus alot of cute tricks. He is super smart and working with him was a heck of alot of fun. We had a hard time finding just the right home for him and his energy level. As you can see by the happy faces it all paid off with a super successful adoption. Yay for Diamond!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A dog named Worf

I've been talking alot about pitbulls this week for various reasons. Whenever that happens I find myself thinking of Worf, a pit that stole my heart. This is his story as I remember it. Reader alert, not all stories have a happy ending.

He was a beautiful red pitbull that needed a home. I don't remember all the details, like how he came to be at our shelter, just that he was there and had been for a long time, waiting. This was about 9 years ago and I had started working at the shelter part time. Back then I didn't know as much about dog behavior, just what I had picked up from my years of owning akitas.
I had been warned about going into his kennel because he liked to grab arms and sleeves in his mouth and pull you around. No one knew how to get him to stop, but they recognised he wasn't trying to hurt anyone. "Wear a coat" was the advice I was given. The first time I entered the kennel to take him out into the play yard he grabbed me and started tugging. I admit it scared me, more than a little. "Holy crap, a pitbull is yanking me around!" He was very strong.
After I realized he was just playing and got him out where he needed to be, I noticed just how beautiful he was. He was a deep red color with a large blocky head. His eyes were a light brown and matched his coat almost to closely. He wasn't small, probably about 70lbs of solid muscle. He moved like electricity through water, fast, fluid and intense.
I knew we had to find a way to stop his inappropriate play. A rough playing pitbull was just to intimidating for people to consider adopting, and it was getting hard on the staffs wardrobe. We came up with the idea of taking toys into his kennel to stick in his mouth to redirect him. It worked like a charm. He stopped looking for arms and sleeves and started playing with balls and tug toys.
I remember him as a quiet dog, rarely barking in his kennel. Ignoring other dogs as they passed by on their way outside. He had been there for a long time, more than a year when I began there. There was little interest in him, or interest by people that were turned away for being inappropriate matches. It was a different time then. In our defense, we didn't know what we know now.
I began my training apprenticeship and took him with me to some of the group classes I was required to attend. He did fabulous. He learned quickly and was very attentive. I worked him wearing just a regular slip collar. He ignored all the other dogs in the class and I believe won over some of the other owners in the class to the breed. I was well on my way to falling in love with him. We was sweet and loved attention from anyone. He was what we called a "people slut" whos tail never stopped wagging.
I don't remember if he was allowed to play with other dogs in the play yard. We didn't use play groups or pairs back then like they do there today. I do remember an incident where the shelter manager (at the time) had one of her dogs get loose, a doberman, and charged Worf when I had him out for a walk. Worf just stopped and waited for the dog to get to him, they sniffed noses and the dobie walked off. I remember being grateful there hadn't been a fight. I also remember being proud of Worf for it. "Good boy!"
Adopting him myself just wasn't an option. I had cats at home, and a male akita at the time that was not tolerant of other male dogs. Worf's brief known past had him labeled as a cat killer. The situation wasn't a good match for all involved.
One day a woman came and took him home. She lived alone in the woods and had been looking for a companion. Joy!!! Progress reports were good. Then I came in one day and he had been returned. "What happened?" I asked. This is the story I got back:
One day the woman got an oil delivery and Worf ran out to say hello to the oil man. (He was allowed to run off leash in the yard because he didn't run off.) Happy wags, tail in gear, man pats dog, all is good. "What a great dog, he's beautiful." he says. "Thanks" says the woman "He's my new dog from the shelter." "What kind of dog is he?" asks the oil man. "They said he was a pitbull" replies the woman. "Oh I would never own a pitbull" says the man and pulls away from the dog.
The woman was sad about how others would perceive her dog as being a "bad breed" and decided she didn't want to live with that, so she brought him back. Not because of his behavior, but because of how he looked to others. I felt ill.
Worf doesn't seem to mind being back at first but then begins changing. He begins barking at the other dogs. He seems more fustrated in his kennel. He hurts a dog in the kennel next to him, badly. Meetings are held. What are we going to do with this dog?
I called a pitbull rescue. "If he has killed a cat and hurt another dog we can't take him either. The liability for us as a group is to great. There are to many pits without issues filling our rescue group already. We have no space. I am sorry."
The decision is made. Worf will be euthanised. We have no choices. I have no choices. I can't bring myself to take him to the vet. Someone else does. He is gone. No more playing ball in the yard, no more rubbing his soft ear leather between my fingers, no more smelling his big goofy head as I kiss it. He is gone. My heart, my heart. I loved him. I just couldn't save him.
I keep his photo on my wall because though he was never adopted, he is claimed. I claim him and will look for him at the bridge one day. He is mine. It is also a reminder. A reminder that ignorance kills. What we didn't know as a shelter, as a student trainer, as ignorant of so many things, killed this beautiful boy. I will not let it happen again. I cannot. The price on my heart is to high.
What could we have done different? Now I have some answers. Now we have some answers. Environmental enrichment, foster homes, health testing, diet changes, medication options, knowing more about breed traits, not being so judgemental of potential adopters. What we did not know then will not kill another dog now. This is why education is so important. For all the Worf's out there. There are many, and to many are dying because of ignorance and fear. We cannot forget the lessons we learned. We cannot forget what he taught us with his death.

So now he stands upon my wall, along with my others who have passed before us, a happy slice of time forever frozen and kept. His tail still wagging. He will be forever in my heart, I have promised him. He is mine and he was a pitbull.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There will be a test

Todays post contribution link was sent to me by Noah, a local shelter volunteer. I've seen other versions before but I love this set up.

Can YOU pass the test?

Thanks Noah.
Now how about we all pass it on for the sake of ALL dogs. Because if you think BSL will stop with pits and other already targeted breeds, you are sadly mistaken. I think the following sums it up quite well.
~Why you must stay and fight~
"When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out."
~Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A bully stick warning from Pooka

Thank you everyone for the well wishes. I really appreciate it. Today I am feeling a little better on the eye front. (so far) I only want to gouge them out sporadicly instead of continually now. Of course now my throat is starting to hurt and DD is home with Strep. What are the odds I can avoid that particular bullet? I swear some weeks the good news doesn't end.

From Nanook and Pooka the Newfies Blog a bully stick warning:

A photo of the hook found IN the bully stick.

Be sure to check out the rest of their blog too. Nanook and Pooka are Beeuuuutiful dogs with lots of great photos to share. ** Alert ~ It is photo heavy so may take some time to upload. (or is that download? I am not very computer savey.) It is well worth the wait though so be patient.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I spy with my little eye

something that is pink, and gooey, and itchy. Oh wait that is MY eye! My pinkeye. And when the feeling of wanting to gouge one eye out isn't enough fun, it travels to the other eye as well. Oh the joy! I know what you're thinking, WHY am I touching the computer! No worries. Steps are being taken. Germs were killed before I touched it and germs will be killed when I am finished. Thanks to hand sanitizer and clorox wipes I am a regular germ assassin today. Please send healing vibes my way for saturday. I do NOT want to miss out on the seminar!

Because I am down for the count I have other blog fare to share for todays post. First I have a beautiful photo of Boomer. This handsome boy is a local drug dog I have had the pleasure of working with. I admit I have a soft spot for working dogs. I so love to watch dogs enjoying what they are good at.

Check out this interesting and educational post about Jon Katz and his border collies from the Lassie Get Help blog: Be sure to read the comments for more discussion as well.
And more on the same topic from Pet Connections blog:

Then a thought provoking post from Dolittler on basket muzzles:

To finish up, a shared photo from a pug rescue friend of her beloved crew. I hope everyone had a great holiday.

P.S. An open letter to those who like to post in my comment field with a link to something they are selling. Knock it off. Sneaky ads get deleted so don't waste your time. (Viral marketing is the name for this according to Pet Connections Blog) Yes I see them even in older posts. (I got one just this morning thinly disguised.) To my readers, PLEASE ignore them and their links should they be there before I have the chance to delete them. If I believe in a product or site they will be added to my blogroll or mentioned in a post. Sorry for any inconvenience or annoyance.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Today I got an e-mail about a former clients passing. I have to admit that while I enjoy most of my clients, Harvey was one of the special ones. He was sweet and funny and made me laugh. I enjoyed the time we shared and I learned alot from my time spent at his home. His positive presence will be missed from this planet by many people. Here are some photos of his cocker Sprungli when she came for a stay during one of his business trips. She was also very sweet, super smart, and made me laugh with her antics. Isn't she cute?

She loved to play tug with Jack.

And had no qualms about using him as a pillow afterwards.

So here's to remembering Harvey and a life well lived. May he be enjoying his next adventure, whatever that may be.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I am not repeating myself

These two photos are related to a post I made on the blog today. Because I STRONGLY believe in their website, and don't like to repeat myself, I thought I would stop posting things I write to both sites. So to read my other dog related articles, check out Click on the blog to read new posts. The site has EXCELLENT training articles and videos by wonderful top names in the field. I feel honored to have been included among them. Go, click, read! Good reader! (Get yourself a treat.) FMI on Victoria and the show.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fun for me!

Sunday I got to attend a couple of training seminars. The first was a beginners Rally class. I have always wanted to show in Rally since it seems like so much more fun than regular obedience. I have shown our frenchie Missy a couple of times in regular obedience but we have yet to get a qualifying score. My fault each time. In Rally you get to use hand signals and talk to, praise and encourage your dog. Think more realistic real world obedience.

My birds eye view of Missy.
A little bit of one of the courses. As a trainer it is always fun to get to attend training for a change. No stress of running the class, just the fun of participating and watching others.

For other dogs in the Rally class we had this cutie who belongs to my apprentice Jen. (Please excuse my HORRIBLE camera. I had the flash off so as not to disturb others so it was using caveman slow shutter speed. There will be lots of unintentional blurriness in these pics.) Other dogs included a Briard, a Sheltie, a yellow Lab, a Norweigan Elkhound, and two Belgian Turverns. All gorgeous of course. I wish I had taken more pics. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. Now that I did the class I need to dig out my signs, buy some sign holders and start practicing. No excuses now!
Then after Rally there was a handling seminar with a UKC judge. I am thinking about showing our frenchie in the Veterans class since she turns 8 in April. Since she is already spayed that is the only class she qualifies for in conformation. (plus they have to be 8 or older) This is a way to dip my toe in the show world and see if I like it without having an intact dog on my hands. Why oh why won't AKC have alter classes? They have them at cat shows and they are VERY competitive. I know they use the, "We use shows to prove breed quality blah blah blah" as their reasoning. However I think that alter classes would be a great way to show progeny of a breeding program AND help addict others into the show world. If it is all about money I think AKC would love to hear of ways to get new people into the show rings. (statisticly entries are down the past few years hence the addition of Rally) Of course I also wish there were more UKC shows around. I love the critiquing of the dogs they do and the fact it is much more laid back. No professional handlers!!! But I digress.

I have actually been going to handling classes in the past as a way to practice Missy's stand for the exam in regular obedience. It worked wonders for her getting used to people bending over her. She loves handling class now because it means lots of treats just for standing and looking pretty. She can do that very well. All I need to do is walk a straight line. Hey it's harder than it looks!

I have also taken my akita Jack in the past just as a way to get him out to do something around other dogs. Many handling classes are drop in so you don't need to set a certain amount of weeks aside to be somewhere specific. Perhaps when Jack hits 8 I will try him in veterans as well just for fun.

We had quite a variety of breeds in the handling class. Irish wolfhounds, labs, turverns, a beagle, a briard, a norweigan elkhound, a cardigan welsh corgi and even a chihuaha. It was fun being around so many other dog people all at once. No worries about to much dog conversation there!

The facility was wonderful. Fabulous skid free flooring. It is a new building owned by She was off at a seminar herself but had rented out the space for the classes by other instructors. I admit I had facility envy. I would love to have the space to practice my own stuff inside nice and warm and mud free.
My next doggy trip is March 29th. I am headed to Portland for an aggression seminar with Dr. Nicholas Dodman at HappyTails. I love behavior seminars so it should be alot of fun.

Jake update and news

Jake's training is going very well. He is still learning how not to play quite so roughly with people, he can be quite exuberant at times, but has caught on to the basics very quickly. Jake can now be visited by potential adopters at the shelter on saturdays from 11:30 to 3:00. The rest of the time he will be at the prison facility continuing his training until he graduates the program.

He had a bout of hives last week and had to see the vet but seems to be fine now. We switched his food just in case that was the culprit. Boxers can have sensitive skin problems along with breathing issues so do your breed research before considering adoption to be sure it is something you can handle financially and emotionally.

Extreme close up anyone?

Typical of other short faced breeds Jake also has bouts of, shall we say gassyness. If your sense of smell is delicate you may want to consider another breed. (A great product I have found to combat it in my own frenchie is Old Mother Hubbards Char tar biscuits. One a day works wonders in our house.)

Is that a treat I see? He is definatly very popular already. If interested get your adoption application in now. It won't take us very long to place this lovely boy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A cartoon with heart

and some brains too.

Keep hitting the next day button to see the next strip in the story.

Micheal Fry and T. Lewis, I love you guys!!!!! The Steve's of this planet, and their people, thank you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cruelty and pet ownership

There is a story in the news about a woman in Colorado who is getting fined for dying her poodle pink. Pink was chosen to raise awareness for breast cancer. This blog link sums it up quite nicely:

What astounds me is that this is considered cruel treatment of the dog.

First, poodles are NOT rabbits and chicks which is why the law there was created in the first place. Apparently people were dying bunnies and chicks them to sell around Easter time. Using gimmick to push product because that is the spirit of Easter after all. Let's forget that a few weeks later the kids get tired of the blue/green/yellow holiday pet and mom or dad dumps them off at their local rescue. But I digress.

I agree that bathing a rabbit or chick is a cruel thing to to to color them. They are not animals that are normally bathed so they do not take to it well. A rabbit that is over stressed can easily have a heart attack and die. Chicks can overheat which can also cause them to die. Dogs on the other hand, especially a highly groomed breed such as a poodle, have no such issue. Poodles are groomed more than many humans are in some cases! So to say staining the dogs fur with vegetable juice or other dye as cruel is quite bizarre to me.

How about we concentrate on the dogs living on the end of tie out chains 24/7 or dogs being used in fighting rings. What about the hoarders that are taking in dogs and not feeding them or getting them medical care? What about the people moving out of their homes leaving behind their dogs abandoning them to starve to death? How about we find REAL cruelty to fine an owner for? I have a hard time believing this town has none of those other issues going on within their jurisdiction.

Dogs do not care what color their fur is. Some might even like it if it gets them extra attention. Dogs care about food, attention and good care. Unless the dying process includes using acid or product harmful to a dogs skin I see no cruelty here. I think the people need to consider the intent of this law, not just the letter of it.

As to the issue of guardianship vs ownership here are my personal thoughts on the subject. I own my dogs because I either bought them or paid an adoption fee for them. One I was given as a gift. While they are not objects, because they are living beings, they are something we can acquire similarly. Because of this I consider myself their owner. However I also consider them companions to me because we spend time together having fun or just relaxing with each other. Their presence is comforting and entertaining to me as I hope I am to them as well. I am also their guardian because I provide care for them. I feed them, exercise them, train them and oversee their medical care. I guard them from danger.

Owner. Companion. Guardian.

Which word is more important depends on the individual. Sadly some are using the words to push an animal rights agenda. Unfortunatly not all that is labled animal rights is all that helpful for the animals in question. Peta is just one poster child for animal rights gone awry. In some cases or places, legally it may be better for us to be their owners. Because in court, should something happen, they are considered worth more if they are our property. So legally it can be a bit of a sticky wicket depending on your own local legislation.

I wish it wasn't about the terms, and more about the expectations of what proper care is. Good food, clean water, warm comfortable housing, regular medical care, basic training, daily attention. That is my basic list of what every dog (and pet) should receive to be considered properly taken care of. It is unfortunate that so many pets fall short of that list because of the apathy of it's human owner. Perhaps those are who we need to target, instead of the pink poodle owners. Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's worse than I thought.

Apparently I talk about dogs alot. Maybe abit to much according to my family. They don't walk around saying, "Hey you're talking about dogs to much". No that would be nice, (blunt but nice) instead they bust on me by saying "And there she goes bringing it back to the dogs" if I happen to mention dogs during a conversation about another topic. Hey sometimes it IS related! Besides, I can't help it if I know lot of dog related stories or tidbits.
OK maybe they have a point. It happens. Frequently. Not everyone is as enamored by dogs as me. I get that. I didn't realize quite how bad it was until this weekend when there was a function at my grandmothers house. (She is 86 and Fabulous!!!) While seated at the kids table, (a great way to feed denial about my true age) I was the brunt of some jokes regarding my doggy "speech impediment". We all laughed alot and it was fun. It did however make me realize just how often it happens. I guess I need to try harder to stay on topic when dogs aren't the actual subject of the conversation. Yeah, you better wish me luck with that.
Of course this is a dog blog where I CAN talk all I want about dogs and not get made fun of. Thank goodness for the small things. :-)
If it is possible to be in love with a book, this is my new love.

Dog Man by Martha Sherrill. It is a story about a man that helped save the akita breed when it was in danger of extinction during WWII. Now I admit I was prepared to like the book for the topic alone. I have had akitas for 16 years so far and I am a fan. (ALERT: Not every breed is appropriate for every home so research BEFORE you buy the cute puppy or beautiful dog you see. PLEASE!!!) I have to say however that my expectations of the book were far exceeded. It is beautifully written with fantastic photos and is about more than the history of a breed. The life lived by Morie and his convictions are astounding. Not to say he was perfect either. Some of his decisions weren't always in the best interests of his family life. It was also interesting to read about another person who loved to talk "dogs". The observations about this from his family were also a bit of a wake up to my own tunnel vision at times regarding the subject. I highly recommend the book to other bibliophiles or dog lovers with an interest in history. It is well worth the time.

*Another book I found that I love is this one put out by Phaidon. Simply titled "dogs" it is antique photos of dogs sprinkled with a few fitting quotes through out. Again another good book for dog and history buffs.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 7, 2008

What is WRONG with people?

My husband originally told me about his story since I usually avoid the news as to depressing. It is about a Marine caught on video throwing a puppy off a cliff. News link:

If I were the comandant I would throw his ass is the brig and give him an dishonorable discharge to boot. You can't control what a former Marine does, but you sure as hell can punish those under your command and send a message to others.

**Earlier Tuesday, the base's public affairs director issued a statement denouncing the vignette.
"The video is shocking and deplorable and is contrary to the high standards we expect of every Marine," said Major Chris Perrine. "This video came to our attention this morning, and we have initiated an investigation. We do not tolerate this type of behavior and will take appropriate action." **

I really hope they mean that. Personally I think his ass should be flung off the nearest cliff. Let's see how he likes the same treatment. For those that would say but it was just a puppy and he is a person, yeah that kind of makes it worse doesn't it? Because HE could defend himself, unlike the puppy. As a former Marine myself I am appaled and horrified that this is the type of individual in todays Corps.

If that isn't enough to ruin your day check out this story about a golfer killing a hawk because it was annoying him, by being to loud:,2933,335774,00.html

It all just turns my stomach.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Iditarod fever begins!

I almost forgot that today was the official start of the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. (Talk about getting sidetracked!) Being a wanna be musher myself, yet without the actual drive to get off the couch into the cold and participate in sledding, I love tunning in every year. I even got to interview a musher from Maine that did the race with a team of all siberian huskies a few years ago. (Shawn Sidelinger-Back when I hosted a local cable access show called Reigning Cats and Dogs.) Most teams are a mix of sledding breeds with alaskan huskies being the most popular.
I think part of why I love to watch the race, is that I love watching dogs do what they love, and that comes natural to them. I also think huskies are beautiful dogs. We had a beautiful and sweet siberian when I was a kid. I'm sure that is where my love of northern breeds started.

Here is the official website for anyone else interested:
For a great inside look at the training it takes, and the love for the sport and dogs you need to run the race, the book "Winterdance" by Gary Paulsen is fabulous. Well worth reading for any fan of sled dogs too.
For a great movie about a sled dog race, "Iron Will" gets my vote. A touching movie that showcases some truely beautiful dogs. Even the "bad guys" dogs are beautiful in the sledding scenes. (malamute and samoyed teams are used too)
I hope everyone, men, women and dogs, stay safe in this years race. Godspeed!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Exciting news & play time too

I keep forgetting that I have some REALLY exciting news for me to share. (I get sidetracked easily sometimes. To much blog post material and so little time!) I have been invited to become a regular contributor to 's blog. Dog Star Daily is a fabulous site that has all kinds of great FREE training articles and videos of positive reward method training. I am joining the ranks of some of my favorite peers like Dr. Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell PhD and Dr. Nicolas Dodman just to name a few. They have MANY fantastic knowledgeable contributors. I am very excited to be part of such a wonderful site. Please check it out and pass it on to anyone in need of good training advice. Remember it's FREE!
This sweet face belongs to Louisa. She is one of the shelter dogs we worked with today.

When I say we I mean my apprentice Jen and I. Jen is studying to be a dog trainer through the Animal Behavior College and I am her Mentor Trainer. ( ) It is an online program for people that want to learn to become dog trainers. I really like the fact they require a hands on portion and it isn't just a home study course. Everyone learns differently, but I think working under another trainers supervision is very important when starting out in the training field. I like the fact that it is a positive method based program as well.
The school also requires their students to do time at an animal shelter as a volunteer. Shelters are always looking for warm bodies to help out so it is a win/win for everyone as I see it. Especially the dogs who need the hands on time. There are many ways to become a dog trainer, this is just one option. Whatever your choice I believe it is important to get hands on training under your belt with another trainer before hanging your business shingle. It is unfortunate that anyone can say they are a dog trainer with no actual experience beyond training their own dogs. It is an unregulated field remember. This is why finding out more about your trainer before you trust your dogs training to them is very important.
Jen also runs a rescue shelter in Kentucky out of an elementary school she and a friend bought off ebay. Yes you really can find ANYTHING on ebay. Here is their website: She is also studying animal nutrition. Here is a link to her dog blog: She is an incredible person and I am having alot of fun working with her.
Louisa says "Wanna play?"

A snippet of her playing on video. Thankfully our shelter is pit bull friendly.

Another shelter dog Fizzy.

She also loves to play. I don't know about you but I could watch dogs playing all day long.

For more info on them go to:
Here is Missy and Jenny during some couch time.

Can't see Jenny you say? Here is a close up.

She does this ALL the time. Yes it is a wonder she doesn't suffocate. Fortunately for her we watch out where we sit now. Silly girl!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Very sad news

When I posted the link to Munchies blog he was still alive. Or at least I thought he was. Sadly that is not the case anymore. Read some very interesting details of the case at Caveat here:
Let's not let Munchies death be in vain. SPEAK UP and be counted. This will keep happening if we don't band together and stop the idiocy of it all.
Go to the blog to find out how you can be counted. For the memory of Munchie, and the countless others whos names we do not know that we are losing in this BSL war.