Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

This is one of our puppy clients at the animal clinic I also work at. Is he not the most adorable puppy you have ever seen? OK so I may be biased since he is a pug. But seriously, the smile is 100% real, no photo shop needed. How can you not love that face? It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside so in the spirit of the New Year and happy thoughts I thought I should try passing that feeling on to as many people as possible.

I suppose I should share some thoughts about my plans and resolutions for the new year. In light of how the second part of this year went for my crew, I have decided to keep them fairly easy. I find simplicity helps one stay on task. And not knowing what tomorrow will bring with our Missy has me wanting to keep things flexible as much as possible too.

First I vow to finish more of my dog related reading. No more starting another book until the last one started has been finished. This means that I will not buy another dog training or behavior book (gasp!) until I am all caught up. This one might take some discipline on my part since I have a slight book addiction to battle here.

Second I vow to finally start on my project of working through the 101 dog tricks book with Jenny and Jack. January is a good time to start since it is . Things with Missy got me side tracked but we are in a holding pattern now so I think it is safe to buckle down and begin. It may be slow going but anything is better than nothing right? (and yes I plan on sharing video of our progress)

Third I vow to get Jack out more. I feel like he has drawn the short straw lately and he is bored. One of the things I plan to do with him is participate in It is a fund raiser for youth programs and has the added benefit of promoting exercise for dogs and their people. And I have a thing for the real Iditarod dog sled race so it will be my mental connection to those dogs and racers. (With much less hardships to face on my end for sure - for others with a similar interest in dog sledding I can highly recommend the book "Winterdance" by Gary Paulsen. It is laugh-out-loud good and one of my all time favorite dog books.)

Fourth I vow to make more time for tracking and fun with my own dogs. The downside to training other peoples dogs regularly is that is sometimes sucks the energy out of me for my own crew. It's much like the carpenter that lives in the unfinished house. We know there is work there to be done, but we can live with it the way it is and only do what we can fit in during our spare time. If we feel like it. I just need to make a better effort to create more of that spare time for my dogs. They deserve it after all.

As to goals for the business they are about the same, continue to provide excellent training and behavior information to all my clients. I do need to look over and possibly update a few of my hand outs. Sometimes as I learn new things the information I provide changes. I will also continue to attend seminars as they come up. I believe a good trainers learning never stops. I also need to start rattling the cage at the prison to get K-9 Corrections up and running again. They still haven't gotten me any handlers but I heard they have a new warden that is interested in continuing the program. I have to admit I love sharing my knowledge in that forum and have been pleasantly surprised at some of the handlers I have had in the past. They have done a great job. I only hope they continue sharing the knowledge when they get released. I also hope to get them to accept pitbulls in the program this time around too. I think it is long overdue.

Last but not least, I vow to not let myself expend any more energy on unproductive endeavors. Life is to short to waste anymore of it. Nuff said.

So Happy New Year from my house to yours. May it be a good one for all of us.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

"Can we go in now?" The girls aren't into the cold that winter brings.

An adjustment of Missy's meds have her feeling great. She is back to playing with the other dogs and even chewing her bones again. I am very grateful she had a comfortable Christmas.

Jack on the other hand loves the winter weather and snow and would stay outside all day if I let him.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some family dogs

A couple of photos I snapped at a family gathering on Christmas eve.

This is LuLu, my aunts yorkie. She has a great "Bang, play dead" trick under her belt.

Here is Logan (far right-malamute lab x) my cousins dog, and Buck (on left-lab siberian husky x) my uncles dog doing their sit pretty trick together. How cute are they?

The end of year vent post

I have a blog stalker.
But some of you already knew that. It is most of the time simply an annoyance. I try to not acknowledge that she is there but she is. She reads my blog regularly and likes to comment on occasion. (check out the last few post comments to see for yourself) Sometimes I let the comments through because it shows how she acts. Perhaps I shouldn't but she keeps accusing me of things so I find it is my only defense. Let everyone see the stuff she says to me and judge for themselves.
She even has a link to this blog on hers under "worrisome" so that others know what she thinks of me. A fact I find pretty funny since this gives people the opportunity to read about positive methods. (Thank you for this BTW!) But I am in good company there since she also thinks Jean Donaldson and Patricia McConnell PhD are also on the worrisome list. She also routinely attacks others in the positive training field as well. People like Dr. Ian Dunbar and Dr. Nicholas Dodman. You know, people who have no clue about dog behavior. (insert eye roll here)
I find it odd that she wastes her time attacking me. I am not in direct competition with her, we do not share an area at all. We don't even share training interests! (She shows in competition obedience, I do not nor is it my goal as I have admitted in past posts.) I guess being online makes is in the same area to her however. We do seem to use different methods in training from what I gather from her training posts and from videos I have watched with her doing e-collar training. (cringe-worthy in my opinion) I admit that there are many ways to train a dog. I've even used some of those methods in the past. She has accused me of "drinking the kool-aid of the positive reinforcement cult" in response to my thoughts on positive training vs the other methods. Guilty on that count I suppose, though I don't remember any Kool-Aid at our secret meetings. I'm sure it must be from the brain washing.
Guess what people, I prefer positive training. I don't keep it a secret. I try to explain why I like it and why people should use it over the alternative because NEWS FLASH, this is MY blog! It is where I get to talk about things I know and love. If you don't like these methods, or my thoughts, DON'T READ IT! I'm sure there are many other blogs you can find with like minded people out there. Go read them and jump on their wagon. Please. I'm sure they will enjoy your company. (unless they already gave you the boot too)
What I also find hard to understand is the need to tear me down at every turn. She accuses me of doing this to her but all my comments directed to her (on another blog-Maine Pets link found on right) were only in response to things she has said to me first. I simply made the mistake of disagreeing with her about the availability of dog training seminars in the area. (Seriously, that is what started the whole thing in October of 08, silly no? My kingdom for a time machine.) Sadly she got booted from that blog recently for her unprofessional conduct and all my proof in the form of those posts are now gone for the general public to find. She made it personal instead of simply disagreeing with the training methods and just keeps coming back at me.
She didn't just target me either, she also came after people who's blogs I read and comment on as well. (Sorry Katie!) Apparently anyone she disagrees with she likes to attack. There is no such thing as an adult dialogue with her where you agree to disagree. I know because in the beginning I tried. She is a master of twisting words and intentions.
I have to say this is seriously pissing me off.
And before she screams "libel" at me once again and threatens to sue me, again, I ask you to find just ONE reference to her by name on this blog. I even have a nice search option to help with that. Go ahead, look her up. You won't find it because it isn't there. Never happened. She shows herself with her comments to me instead.
As to her claim that I tear down other trainers, the only one I can think of is Cesar Millan who is a public figure and yes I disagree with him and his methods. I do not however, attack him personally, just the method he uses. See that part about this being MY blog?? Yup. My blog, my opinion. It lets me say what I want just like she does when she references other trainers (mostly negatively) on her other blog routinely. (Including myself who she HAS named as an example of a bad trainer. Hmm maybe I am the one who has cause for a libel suit??) The only other trainer I have referred to stayed anonymous as trainer X so I could get correct information out there in rebuttal to bad info being given out in the first place.
I do not name trainers nor tear them down. You know why? Because I believe in my methods and the training I do. I do not need to tear others down in order to look better. I am confident in the services I provide. Talking about others is so high school and unprofessional that it astounds me that someone who claims to be a professional in the business is doing it.
It also annoys me greatly that I am once again having to post about said blog stalker. I feel it is unprofessional for me to do. However I am determined to not simply roll over and take it any longer. This is however the very last time she-who-shall-not-be-named is ever referred to again. Her comments will all be blocked and NOT even read in the future. I do love my delete button. Wait, strike that. I may keep them for my files so I have proof of the idiocy if ever needed in the future. (She keeps threatening these lawsuits, I say bring it on.) I am no longer going to continue to waste one more second of my life on this childish crap if I can help it.
So this is my end of the year vent. No more reinforcing what clearly to her is positive attention. To some people even negative attention is positive after all. (this applies to dog behavior as well) Enough is enough and though she may find some fun in it I do not. Nor do I find it productive in any way. If she wants to present herself in that way to the general public she can have at it.
There is a saying that seems to apply here: "There is no sense in fighting with a pig. You both get dirty but the pig likes it."

Passing on a great article.

The winter issue of Off Lead & Animal Behavior is out. Go to the website to read the whole magazine. (I LOVE that feature BTW.) Now while I can't say I agree with all the articles in the mag, I LOVE the one at the very back "The rules of the pack and other tales" by Gary Wilkes. Here is a direct link:
I do find it odd that such a great article shares magazine space with other fodder advocating pack leadership and the like, all which go against this brilliant tidbit. Kinda confusing to the average dog owner if you ask me. Perhaps this will shed some light on the subject to some of the other contributors and readers however. One can only hope.

Follow up on the akita movie

According to this website, the akita movie I was gearing up may be going straight to DVD instead: I had spoken to my local movie theater manager and he said it was listed as a limited release. I see the DVD release date is March so maybe they will still show it in some theaters first. It looks like those flyers may need to go to the movie rental store as my plan B if it doesn't come here to the boonies.

Kinda wishing they would do a special edition, the original Japanese version (was black and white and subtitled in English) along with the new Americanized version. It would make a great two pack set. I would be even more excited if they let Akita Rescue do an educational blip at the beginning or end of the movie.

Hey I can dream can't I??

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Me with my crew

When my sister was over yesterday I pressed her into service as my photographer. Aside from my shirt needing some straightening I think it came out great. The dogs look fabulous and this was only the second shot. I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A walk in the woods

Minos is way faster than he looks.
We saw lots of deer tracks.

It was a great walk until a loose male siberian husky decided to join us. With no owner in sight we fortunately saw him rushing down the hill towards us targeting Jack before he reached us. Once upon a time this would have given me heart failure. This time I calmly stepped in front of him, to be between him and Jack, and started yelling NO! so he at least slowed down. (A dog charging up to another dog to say hello is considered very rude in dog language so never let your dog do this if possible.) He still came up to Jack and there was a small scuffle until I gave Jack a "leave it" command and Jack backed off. Then it was a more normal greeting with the sibe deferring to Jack but then targeting Minos.
We tried catching him so we could read his tags but he growled at us so we ended up shooing him off instead. I hated doing that but our options in the middle of the woods with a growling unknown dog were limited. We scrapped the rest of our walk not knowing if he would come back. Once we got back to our vehicles we noticed an unattended van nearby with a dog related license plate. Maybe the owner? Of course I didn't think to take a photo of the dog at the time. (I was clearly thinking about other things in the moment.) Hopefully they found their dog if he was missing or at least caught up to him on their own walk. It was somewhat aggravating.
On the upside Jack and Minos had a great time before that happened. I was also very proud at how well Jack listened to me. Normally an unknown male dog being pushy with a male akita won't have the best outcome. Akitas can be known for same sex aggression towards other dogs if not super socialized when they are young. Even then some will not get along with all other dogs. Jack is actually pretty good if introductions are done properly. I wouldn't walk him off leash otherwise.
If it happens again I will try to think to take a photo of the dog. Or even video of him in action. At the very least this can be proof of the problems he was causing if the owner won't be responsible. (and maybe they are and the dog simply got loose) I sincerely hope there won't be a next time. It takes the fun out of the walk for me.

My new obsession

The new collar I ordered for Jenny arrived the other day. It is so beautiful I wish I needed to wear a collar so I could have one too! Check it out:
It is called Retro Flower in Strawberry Mousse. Isn't it yummy?

I bought it from the same company that sent me the Freedom No Pull Harness to try out. Their collars are drool worthy and must be seen to be believed. I am in love with all the options they have including a martingale style with an on and off snap buckle. I have never seen that before. (love it!) All collars are custom order. You can get exactly what you want. Oh and with a matching leash too if you like. (I am such an enabler!)
It may be to big for Jenny though because I bought larger than they recommend on the website. In my defense I ordered it after an incident with a choke collar and was in an emotional "that will never happen again!" state. To make a long story short I fell while she was on leash and wearing a nylon choke collar and thought I had cut off her airway to long in my uncoordinated attempts to get myself right side up. (I am a true klutz.) After discussing with friends we think I probably didn't but it freaked me out anyhow. She certainly didn't act different after the incident or was scared in any way. (thankfully) At the time of ordering I wanted the brass hardwear to be able to touch at it's tightest to avoid that in the future. And I wanted it wide to avoid injury to her trachea.
She still rocks it.

I'll probably just order another one in her recommended size if this doesn't work for us. (heck I'll probably order another one anyhow just because they are so beautiful) The other dogs need their own as well. Great, now I have another new addiction. Dog collars!!
Speaking off addictions, I added some books to my bookshelf. Check out my book blog if interested in finding out more about them.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the gang!

Jenny says, "I ain't wearing no stinkin bow!" How about a photo in front of the tree instead?

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I can't believe I have to write this post

Some of my readers know that I was targeted awhile back by another trainer and online "stalked" so to speak by her. I had simply put forth another viewpoint on training and education and instead of simply disagreeing and attempting an adult dialogue about it, she got insulted and started attacking me. This happened through this site, another site and through e-mail. It was online bullying at it's best. She is the reason I, and others in my bloglist, had to go to moderated comment status.

Sadly it wasn't just myself either, she routinely attacks other positive method trainers, and pet owners, as well. Basically anyone she disagreed with. Now she has been banned from a public pet site due to her conduct there. This is a professional trainer mind you. (Remember how I said anyone can hang a shingle due to this being an unregulated field?) Part of me is bummed about it because in all her posts there people could see for themselves how this all started. It was proof of my own actions as well as hers. I had reached the point of realization that an adult conversation wasn't possible so I had stopped interactions with her. (Don't reinforce what you do not want for behavior after all.)

But that is not the reason for this post. This is instead an open message to her: Be aware that posting comments under another trainers name on other websites IS traceable!! Your ISP can be tracked. That means my own ISP will be the same as well. So I can also prove when something is sent by me or not. Online pretending can only go so far. So it is easy to prove the area (at the very least) that something gets posted from. Because apparently you are unaware of this fact.

Now how ridiculous is it that I have to write this post at all. But this is what we, the people she has targeted, are dealing with. I just do not know another way to address the issue. I find the whole thing repulsive that I am forced to sink to this level as a way to protect myself. (and speak up for others)

It is mindboggling that this is an issue at all. If this trainer believes in her training program so strongly why is she wasting time with this other stuff? Heck I am not even in her area! I just don't get it. And I find it all very sad. I am sad to waste readers time on this but I have no other way to get this info out to her because I refuse to e-mail her and do NOT want any more e-mails from her. I have had enough.

So if ANYONE gets a message from me, or other trainers that seem hateful or unprofessional, check it out. It may not be from the actual trainer in question, but a part of a this woman's attack plan.

Sad, sad, sad.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day!

Missy is not impressed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Score 1 for us.

This is one very lucky cat.

This poor cutie was delivered to us by a local animal control officer to be euthanized. She was a stray that the shelter couldn't take in due to space issues. Well it turns out she is also quite pregnant. We took pity on her since she is friendly, healthy and very adoptable. Fortunately for her there is a cat rescue in the area that specializes in pregnant homeless mothers that made space for her when we plead her case. As a hat tip to the season we named her Holly. It was a great team effort by our staff and it makes me happy that I work at such a place. The rescue promised us an update after delivery.

I do love a happy ending.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

So sayith the Moo.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taming dogs with a mean streak

Reposting an article on a man who rescues aggressive dogs. I find his observations very interesting.
Hat tip to Andrea Arden for the FaceBook link.

Minos the snowbunny

My sisters bulldog Minos is seriously loving the snow. He keeps asking to go outside so he can eat it and play. Kinda funny considering he isn't exactly what people think of as a winter weather breed. Just goes to show that the dogs don't read the books we write about them. They simply live.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"I want a dog just like the one I saw in that movie!"

“I want a dog just like the one I saw in that movie”.

These are words that rescue groups cringe upon hearing. Dogs in movies are typically beautiful and attract a lot of attention. This is why they get used so frequently. Unfortunately their onscreen portrayals are rarely realistic when it comes to day to day life with those same dogs. Here are a few things to keep in mind when falling in love with a movie star dog.

The dog or dogs you saw were all trained for the part they played. This typically means they do not act like your average pet dog would in your home. Breed characteristics need to be considered. Just like all Saint Bernards are not really aggressive like “Cujo” and all Jack Russell Terriers are not sedentary like “Eddie” was on Frasier.

Popularity is not helpful to any pure breed of dog. When a dog gets popular due to being featured in a movie, there are always unscrupulous breeders looking to make a fast buck on them. This can mean many are available to buy but they haven’t had the genetic testing a reputable breeder requires. This can mean serious health issues are being passed on in their lines. It also may mean there will be dogs out there with poor temperaments as well. Back yard breeders only care about getting your money, not producing a quality product. (Which is how they are looking at those puppies they are selling.)

Over breeding of any breed also means many end up in shelters or rescue. (all purebreds have a rescue group specifically for them) People get them not knowing about the breed and sometimes it is a bad match. The Disney movie 101 Dalmatians is a great example of this in action. Dalmatians were originally developed as a guarding breed that ran beside horse drawn coaches to keep thieves away. This made them a very high energy dog that can be territorial, something many families weren’t prepared to deal with.

Please do some research before committing to the movie star dog you fell in love with. Find out more about the breed like why it was developed in the first place and the health issues the breed is known to have. This will help you know the lifestyle the dog will need to be happiest, and teach you what questions to ask breeders to find one breeding healthy dogs.

For more information on specific breeds you can go to and Breed rescues are also a great resource for finding out the negatives for each breed as well. Not every breed is a good fit into every home.

Feel free to print this and pass it on. I thought it would make a great back to the "Are akitas right for you" handout for the Hachi movie. See previous post here:

Doggy diaper 101

At first I wasn't sure I wanted to share photos of our Missy in her "anti ninja suit" because I didn't think it was fair to poor Moo. I mean it isn't the most dignified thing for a dog to have to wear a diaper. But then I realized it is information that might help someone else with a similar issue. So here it is, my doggy diaper 101.

I am using this brand from Wal-Mart because they are cheap and easy to get. 9 bucks for a bag of 14 diapers. Missy is 27 lbs which makes her a medium by the size chart.

Originally they weren't staying on her very well. I think it is because she lacks a tail (to speak of) to help hold them up. Dog diapers typically come with a hole for the tail to be inserted through. The tabs are just like regular baby diapers and can be unstuck and restuck as needed. If they won't stick well due to reusing one several times, I found masking tape to hold it on works well to salvage more uses out of it. Also note that the pad goes underneath the dog. One of my children put one on upside down so it is possible to get it wrong.

Since her tail is super short it might as well not exist as far as helping to hold the diaper on. So to fix this issue I came up with the idea of adding a toddler onesie. I wasn't sure what size to get but settled on 9-12 months. It worked. She wears it with the tag (back) side under her chest to accomodate her broad chest and shoulders. This also means any front design on the shirt is on her back where you can see it. The best part is that the snaps make it super easy to get a wet diaper off quickly.

She only has to wear "the suit" when she has gone out but hasn't urinated and I know she is overdue. The walking in circles for a half an hour and not being productive was killing me. Especially when we came back in and then she did the deed on my floor instead. When she goes out now and is unsuccessful I bring her in and put on the suit. I check it frequently so as soon as she uses it I can take it all off and clean her up and dry her off. I want to avoid her getting a urinary tract infection or irritation that sitting in a wet diaper can cause. I also do not put it on if she hasn't had a bowel movement. That is not something I want to clean out of a diaper if possible. So far the timing has worked out in my favor on this.

So this is my solution to manage the issue for the moment. It isn't a perfect system. The suit has to be on the dog for it to work for instance. And if she walks around it it alot it sometimes slips down as well. The onesie just keeps it from falling off completely. If I had an active dog I would probably solve this with more masking tape along the back legs where the diaper sticks out taping it to the onesie itself. I also do not leave it on her when I am gone. I figure if she pees in her crate I can just wash the bedding. This is also to avoid the irritation of a wet diaper issue.

Now to be CLEAR this isn't about housetraining at all. She is ill (possible brain tumor) and some of the medication she is on makes her drink alot. Add this to the fact her decision making skills have drasticly changed. But her good days are still pretty good and she does have moments where she is clearly happy and playful. Her incidents of falling are increasing however so the slippery steps and ramp have become a bit of a concern. So far we have managed to navigate all the obstacles ok. This is one winter where I wish I could avoid the frosty weather. I hope the diaper info helps someone that may be going through anything similar. I know every little bit helps when living with a sick dog.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Christmas Card

I love getting updates and photos of our former foster frenchie Dash. It lets me know he is doing well and that I chose a great home where he is much loved. Considering how attached we got to him while he was with us this is a real relief. Here is his Christmas card to us this year. The adorable boston on the right is his brother Ivan.

Seriously, how cute are they? Don't they make a great pair?

He may not belong to us but we will always love our Dashman!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


At last we have snow here in Maine. I can't quite remember ever having to wait this long for it to show up in the past.
Snow is one of Jack's favorite things. And he sure looks pretty in it.
Missy on the other hand isn't nearly as impressed. She was annoyed that a spot needed to be shoveled for her before I took her out this morning.

I have started using doggy diapers on Moo due to her condition. Her pee schedule has become super erratic within the last few days and trying to out wait her stopped working. She would walk in circles for half an hour and then sit as if she forgot what we were doing. I only put one on her when an outside potty time hasn't been productive. It isn't a perfect solution but nothing really is at this point. It's all management. Because she is an odd shape the size diapers I bought fall off her if she walks to much in them. I need to go buy a toddler onsie to add to see if that helps keep it in place. She's had a few falling episodes lately but seems to be feeling ok. It is interesting that she doesn't panic when they happen. She has her good days and off days. I'm just grateful that the good days still outweigh the off ones at this point.

(for anyone else using doggy diapers make sure you remove a wet one as soon as possible and then wipe clean and dry their potty area to prevent infection and irritation)

Does the end justify the means?

My husband taped an episode of a certain dog show for me recently because there was going to be an akita on it. It is not a show I normally watch anymore because of the frustration level it causes me. Apparently I am either a slow learner or a glutton for punishment because it had the effect I thought it might and I just have to vent a little now.

The akita in question was a 2 and half year old named Roscoe. Here is the episode on Hulu so you can watch for yourselves: The dog was scared of strangers and was to afraid of many things to go for walks off the property on leash. Their other dog Jupiter was fine.

First I hate that they show the owner doing stuff to the dog with the stupid music in the beginning. You can see that the dog is trying to avoid a problem and is super tolerant of bad handling. Many dogs would have at least growled a warning or maybe even snapped or bitten by that point.

So said behavior expert tries giving some treats which the dog doesn't take while near his doghouse. He then climbs into the dog house with the fearful dog. (and thankfully does say not to try this at home verbally out loud as he is doing it) He starts explaining how we need the dogs brain to be forward and not backward. Ok I understand english isn't his first language but what I am hoping he meant was that when a dog is in a reactive state they are not learning so we need them to NOT be in that state when we are teaching them something. But watching the dogs body language I am not sure he totally understands the concept himself.

Now one of the first things I noticed and that he also mentions is that the dog walks with an odd gait and has muscle atrophy. He says it was probably from the dog having distemper as a puppy. (so now he is a vet too) Clearly something is going on with the dogs hind end and should be checked out by a vet and probably x-rayed. If my dog walked like that I would definitely want to know why and if it caused pain in any way so I could address it. If I were there as a trainer I would insist they get it checked out before any real training could be done. If there is any pain happening at all it NEEDS to be addressed first! Certainly before any physical manipulation is done to the dog.

Next he uses a leash as a makeshift collar and lead and tries forcing the dog to go for a walk. This is considered flooding when you force a dog to do something they are afraid of. Most times all you will get is a compliant but mentally shut down dog because they go into what is called learned helplessness. It does NOT change the emotion of the event for the dog! The dog clearly was in panic mode and stressed and while he said that "you need to hold the leash a certain way so you don't hurt the dog", I only saw the dog being choked by the leash which certainly looked like it was painful.

Sidenote: There are other collar options out there that could have been used, can he not afford to take the correct tools along with him? A martingale would have been a good choice because it tightens so the dog can't escape but doesn't cut off their airway if adjusted properly. Or even a harness would have been a better choice. Nothing that cuts off the dogs airway. (Tho some trainers do that because it makes the dog give up sooner. When you can't breathe you can't fight.) Also he kept patting the dog on the head with hand tapping which dogs typically do not enjoy. Someone needs some dog communication language lessons.

When dragging the dog for a walk didn't work, because the dogs nails started bleeding from clawing at the pavement, he loaded the dog (muzzled) into a car to take to the park where the ground was softer. When the dog got to the park (unmuzzled) he refused to walk. So the expert lifted his back end up and did a wheelbarrow move to force the dog to start walking on his own. Once he did he acted like he had cured the dog of his fear. (see it only took 4 minutes to get him to walk!) Uh ok.

While the dog was sniffing around after starting to walk he peed, and the expert said the dog was owning this new area which showed he was comfortable. (Maybe he just had to pee.) Back at the house he then addressed the dog not wanting to jump into or out of the back of their pick up truck. (remember those hips?) He lifts the dogs front end up and gets the dog to pull himself up the rest of the way. "Make him do 50% of the work" he tells the owner. To get him out of the truck he PUSHES him out, using his special wheelbarrow technique again when the dog refuses to jump down. He did this at least 3 times I think. (You don't want to check his mobility issues first, seriously?? Please kick me in the head now.) The dog clearly wasn't comfortable jumping down from the truck.

They discuss the fact that the dog hasn't been to the vet because it was to hard to get him there. The expert says that this should be the goal for the dog. The next step the expert decides is to take the dog to his "center" for some pool therapy. He doesn't explain why this is needed. Again more flooding as he carries the dog into the pool and down the steps all the while the dog is defecating. (If you watch the episode yourself watch the beginning of the pool scene closely. The camera man tries to cut that out of the shot.) One wonders why he doesn't have a dog ramp into his DOG pool. The dog swims because he has to and you can see him try to escape when he gets the chance.

A couple weeks later they go to the experts new dog center and they take the dogs for an off leash walk and to meet some of his dogs. (Not sure why this was done other than to show off the new place being constructed.) The dog does jump out of the truck but lands oddly. (and I swear I heard him yelp) They don't show much of the dog on this other than when they were trying to locate him because the two dogs took off ahead of them. They didn't really show any interactions with his other dogs that I remember. When it was time to go the akita TRIES to jump in the truck and can't make it. (It's his HIPS people for crying out loud!!!)

TWO MONTHS LATER they take the dog for a bath at a local self serve dog wash and the dog screams while they are carrying him in. He refused to walk in himself. (Perhaps those hips that were never checked hurt when he is being carried?) The bath itself looks like it goes without incident tho he recovers a little slow afterward when they put him down but he does walk out. Then they take him to the vet.

The vet visit looks like it lasts about the time it takes you to read this post. A rabies vax and I think a distemper shot and he walks out. NO check of the hips AT ALL. No mention of the odd mobility by owner or the expert. No real exam that I can see. No mention of the muscle atrophy. The dog walks on the floor oddly as he leaves but it has the look of scary floor walk which a lot of dogs do at the vet which may be why the vets don't notice the odd gait. I cannot believe this was not addressed. What. The. Hell.

Overall the ending of the story was that the owners could take the dog to the park for walks and the dog was getting out more and getting more attention. So the dog did get some help, regardless of the methods used. My daughter who was watching mentioned she was angry that they never seemed to praise the dog at all. (by either owner or expert) She is 14 and figured that out on her own.

What do you think? Does the end justify the means? Or is this just another case of how lucky we are that some dogs are very tolerant of our species idiocy and ignorance? Should we only care about the results and concentrate on the silver lining? Could there be some fallout hiding in that cloud? The things we do to dogs in the name of training or changing behavior sometimes makes me sad. This was definitely one of those times.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy that the dog has an improved quality of life now. It was just hard to watch knowing there is a better way to get there than what that sweet dog had to go through.

***This would bother me so much less if he were just another trainer doing what he does to his own local dogs, which would be bad enough, but he isn't. He has a worldwide audience who assumes he knows what he is doing simply because he is on a TV show. And unknowledgeable people imitate his stuff. The disclaimer only means they can't then sue the show when their own dog bites them for trying that malarkey on them with disastrous results. He isn't wrong about everything: dogs need exercise, rules, and to be treated like dogs, but he is wrong about a lot of other stuff like how to properly handle them. Just my opinion as a professionally trained dog trainer. Do some research before you let someone handle your dog. Anyone can hang a shingle and claim to be a professional. Anyone. ***

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Meet Zelda, an akita in need of a home

This beautiful girl is at my local shelter and will be available for adoption soon.

She was taken away from her owner for neglect. They weren't feeding her regularly and left her to live outside 24/7. (Seriously, WHY do people get dogs and then make them live outside on a chain?? Why have a dog then?) She had been part of a court case and has been at the shelter waiting to legally become theirs. That finally happened this week. They will now spay her and get her vaccinated before she becomes available to the public. I have met her and she is super sweet. Great on leash and very gentle. I think she is about 2 to 3 years old. I will post more about her SAFER test and status as it updates. I will be helping the shelter find her an appropriate home.
She will most likely need to go to into a cat free zone. They will test her with other dogs but many akitas do best only with dogs of the opposite sex or as an only dog in a home.

As you can see from the clip the presence of the other dogs had her a little worried but not in a reactive way. She is a sweet girl that loves attention. We she first came in she was a little standoffish, as akitas can be with strangers, but she warmed up to staff quickly. She has a super thick coat from being outside and I think she is simply stunning. I just wanted to post her info so that other akita people looking could be aware of her situation.

Check out the auction for Akita Rescue of Western New York: Even though it is a New York based group they do help cover akitas in need for the New England area. ALL akita rescue groups are in need of funds right now so if this isn't a group that covers your area, and you want to help akita rescue, find the one closest to you and donate today. They are already in need of help and with the akita movie coming out soon are bracing themselves for the potential kick that may create. When a movie makes a breed popular there is always fallout later.

Aside from the breed rescue groups local shelters are also in need this year. Consider giving a gift to them with a donation as well. I am a big fan of think globally and act locally. Can't afford a monetary donation? Consider giving your time. Dogs always need to be walked and poop always needs to be scooped. They welcome able bodied volunteers to take some of the burden off of their staff when possible.

I will keep you posted on Zelda. Please think good thoughts for her. She deserves to live in a home inside with a family to love.

Jack gets his turn

One problem with having multiple dogs is making sure they all get good one on one time with their owners. Lately this has been a challenge for me.

Jack finally got his turn to try the bloodtracking. I've done a little regular tracking with him but he isn't the most driven dog and didn't seem that interested. He even earned the nickname "One Track Jack" for that reason. I am not into forcing a dog to do something they don't enjoy so we just stopped. I figured I'd try him on bloodtracking because he does like his deer meat and I thought that might be a bigger motivator. I was right, he definatly stayed with it for the short bit of track I gave him. Normally when he lost a corner he would be done but this time he kept searching. I did notice that he started air scenting though so maybe he is just better at that and asking him to track actual steps is not his thing. I need to experiment abit more with it.

I feel that Jack has gotten the short end of the stick lately. With Missy being sick and needing extra attention, and Jenny being the high energy dog and needs to be kept busy, Jack is always the one left last to do stuff. I need to make more of an effort to get him out and have fun with him too. It is a classic case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Jack is such an easy dog that he gets overlooked. I need to stop taking him for granted and challenge him more to enrich his life daily.

I think I have finally figured out how to embed video here now. Here is my most recent attempt with Jacks track.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Behold the Ninja Pissah!

So Missy earned herself a new nickname. The medication she is on causes her to drink alot and in response pee more. (prednisone) She was dubbed so by my husband after an incident earlier today. It seems he only saw her walk across the floor to her spot on the couch. However when my son came into the room a couple of minutes later he saw a substantial puddle along her travel route to said couch. Since my husband never saw her squat or stop to pee along the way he came up with the new nickname. Then to cap it off she peed again while I was standing in the next room. She was in the kitchen and I was in the living room and there is no wall in between. I never saw a thing.

Really considering the why of it all I only have two choices, laugh about it or cry. Thankfully she has been choosing the hardwood flooring for her ninja incidents. She is also having some crate accidents as well so I have been keeping extra easily washable bedding there for those times. I have noticed that sometimes when she goes out she seems to forget why we are there. I have to keep reminding her to "go potty" and then she starts walking in circles. (always to the left) I have gone back to rewarding her everytime she is successful outside to see if that helps. (I don't think it does but she seems to like it since food is involved.) It is slightly fustrating as she used to do her business within seconds of going out before she got sick. Now it takes her 20 minutes at a minimum for a successsful potty break. Sometimes I need to bring her in and go back out 10 minutes later to try again. Add to that the steady approach of cold and snowy weather and this is going to make for a really long winter.

We added phenobarbital to her medications recently and that seems to be helping her feel a little better. I even caught a play moment on film recently. She hasn't shown much interest in playing as of late (and in her case most playing involves just stealing and hoarding the toys) or chewing on her bones. Fortunatly she does still like getting her stuffed kongs when she is crated.

She has also become super touch sensitive and hates being picked up or messed with in any way. This has brought a screetching halt to her regular nail trims. This is starting to be a problem since they keep growing (so inconsiderate of them!) so I have taken to triming single nails during her frequent naps. I hate the sneakyness of it but it is the only way I can do it without stressing her out. Holding her or her paws is no longer and option. She either screams a protest or acts as if she might bite me. Something I never thought would be a worry with her. But I know she isn't herself so she gets a pass. (as long as I can keep everyone safe)

All in all earning a nickname, doing extra laundry, covering the couch cushions in protective plastic and manuvering around a nail trim isn't all that bad in the grand scheme of things. She is still eating well and seems comfortable so we'll keep on keeping on for now.

I saw this on facebook....

and just had to share it here. As a trainer I am appaled at how many times people ask me about training for their pet dog so it can "go everywhere with them". Not because they need a service dog, but because they want one. One dog in question was a 3 legged geriatric (that owner called me twice) and another was a yorkie puppy the owner didn't want to leave home because "he has seperation anxiety". Are you kidding me?? I am less nice in my answers to these people than I used to be. The first thing I say is that they are considering misuse of a service dog and go from there. After reading the article I can see the issue is widespread.
The following article is written by Carla Jackson and is presented here in it's original form:
A word about service dogs: you probably don’t have one.

Want to drive me crazy? Just ask, “Where can I get one of those vests so I can take my dog everywhere?” This question is almost always asked by someone without a disability and followed with the explanation that “I just don’t like being alone in public” or “I want to take her with me into the store” or “He’s with me all the time anyway…everyone loves him.”

Many of us enjoy and are comforted by our dog’s continuous company. With their loyal dispositions and eagerness to participate in whatever we’re doing, dogs provide us with fun and emotional support. The notion that these naturally occurring qualities of the pet dog somehow entitle him to the appellation “service dog” is both na├»ve and inappropriate.

The vest-seekers never want to know how to actually train an authentic service dog. On occasion, they might inquire about “certification,” but their eyes quickly glaze over at the complexity of the task. No, no, no. Just give me the vest.

I’ve seen the service dog moniker subjected to a full spectrum of abuse: from the housewife who wants to keep a poodle in her purse while shopping, to the inebriated man belligerently insisting he and his dog be admitted to the county fair. In the latter case, not only was the man drunk, but his dog was off-leash, hiking his leg on everything and growling at passersby. His homemade “service dog” vest had been cut from an old shirt.

Service dogs perform actual, specific tasks for people with disabilities: signal dogs for the deaf, guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for those in wheelchairs, alert dogs for insulin-dependent type 1 diabetics, seizure response dogs, assistance dogs for persons with certain psychiatric disabilities, and medical alert dogs. These are not pets - they are highly trained, working partners that have been liberating people with disabilities since World War 1.

The homemade “vesters,” claiming bogus disorders while masquerading their untrained pets as service dogs are no different from those who fake a condition in order to park in handicapped zones. Bolstered by phony websites professing that any dog can be declared a service dog - hey, all you need is a doctor’s note! - they threaten to erode the access to public places legitimate service dog organizations have fought so hard to earn.

Most real service dogs have been carefully selected by professionals for their suitable temperament, health and aptitude for their necessary work. They have received intensive training, often completing a 2-year training program before being assigned to their person. It is a painstakingly sophisticated process and it’s unconscionable to think one can simply slap a T-shirt on the family dog and stride through any public place with impunity. It devalues the work of true service dogs.

Can you train your own service dog? Yes. Maybe. I respect anyone with a genuine need for a service dog who seeks to legitimately elevate their dog’s status from pet to service animal. Contact the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) for information.

The process outlined by the IAADP is extensive and time-consuming. Dogs must have a solid temperament, impeccable manners and be proficient in basic obedience. They must receive a minimum of 120 hours of schooling with 30 hours dedicated to working in public places under the supervision of a program’s qualified trainer and perform at least three identifiable physical tasks Click Here for the benefit of the disabled partner.

See also:
Traditional Tasks performed by Guide, Hearing and Service Dogs,
Tasks for Service Dogs for Persons with a Psychiatric Disability
The Delta Society’s Minimum Standards for Service Dogs

I’m not the only one plagued by the vest-seeking crowd. People with real service dogs are regularly tormented with “You’re so lucky, I wish I could take my dog everywhere,” “Can I pet your dog?” and of course the dreaded, “where do I get one of those vests?”

What’s behind this casual and intrusive attitude toward service dogs? Thirty years ago, the only service dogs most of us encountered were Guide Dogs assisting the blind. We instinctively knew it might be rude or even harmful to distract a blind person with questions about his or her dog and back then, predominant service dog breeds were impressive, formidable-looking German shepherds and Labradors whose sheer size often commanded respect.

Not so anymore. With the advent of innovative organizations like Dogs for the Deaf who evaluate and adopt shelter dogs into their training programs, the service dog field now employs all manner of breeds. It is common in public and social arenas to see “Everydogs” performing a wide range of tasks and assisting people with a much larger variety of disabilities. Hence they frequently look like the pets we have at home. Since not all disabilities are obvious, the public has developed a false sense of familiarity, even entitlement, regarding service dogs.

This new attitude is aggravating. Yes, a modern-day service dog might resemble “Benji,” but when you stop to consider his skill level, he’s no less impressive and formidable than his heroic predecessors. Although his human partner may not be blind, it is still impolite and sometimes dangerous to interfere with the pair’s routine. Those relying on service dogs for their freedom often find themselves forced to run the gauntlet of curious strangers every time they leave the house. As a side note, while many people with disabilities find constant overtures exhausting, the opposite may be true of “vesters,” who seem to crave the attention generated by being in public with their pets.

If you’re smitten by the sight of someone with a working service dog, offer the team a smile and keep moving. Play with your own dog and be thankful you have the luxury of enjoying her as a delightful companion.

As a dog fanatic, I’d love to see pet dogs welcome in more places throughout the community. If you agree, then take steps to change public opinion about dogs by training your own, picking up after him, teaching him the skills to be a good canine citizen and courteous neighbor. And please, don’t call him a service dog if he isn’t one.

Resources: Canine Companions for Independence -
Dogs for the Deaf -
Guide Dogs for the Blind
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners -

Carla Jackson is a certified pet dog trainer who owns and operates Jackson Ranch for Dogs, a kennel-free dog boarding and training facility. Carla specializes in private training/behavior consultations for the family dog.

For a complete introduction to dog training, check out Cari Bowe’s and Carla’s DVD, “Your Family Dog, Leadership and Training,” an interactive DVD featuring over 60 locally owned dogs learning new behaviors in beautiful Shasta County locations. The DVD provides valuable tips for daily living, guidelines for solving common behavior problems and the essential skills needed to teach your dog basic commands.

The DVD is now available at many local veterinarian offices and through or

This link to the original article is here: