Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Christmas wrap up

Not a creature was stirring..............

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I had photos all set for a Christmas blog post and just couldn't bring myself to get online. I probably should have done one up ahead and set it up to post automaticly. As a matter of fact I think I stayed offline, including facebook, for a whole 2 days! It might be a record for me. (sad but true) I admit I am still behind on my e-mail. It was nice to just relax with the family.
Zola is doing great. So great in fact she drives me crazy at times. Clearly she is feeling good. She can play for hours. If you try to ignore her she finds some way to pester you so you have to pay attention to her. She is learning it won't work. At least with me. When she gets pushy she loses her couch privileges. Of course this means I have to put her down a bajillion times. Jack and Jenny cave into her pestering and play with her most of the time. The kids are home on vacation this week so they have been helping out a lot with her and taking her out for potty breaks while I am at work. One day my son got distracted and left her in the living room unattended a little to long. Our new leather couch got a slight make over because of it. Fortunately she chewed the cushion cover in a spot it can be hidden. Hopefully I can order a new cover. I also know how much she has charmed my husband because the text I got about it was "Wait til you see what Schmoopy did today". (Schmoopy is a nickname for a puppy in the house) That or perhaps he has just given up on having nice things. VBG

Jack got a cow trachea for his Christmas nom nom, and Jenny got a wizzle. Zola isn't allowed to have those kinds of treats so she didn't get any. Don't feel to bad for her though. Since she isn't used to getting them she doesn't know what she is missing. All of them got some fabulous gifts from Prudence and The Smiling Frog. A stuffed squeeky Rudolf, a squeeky bone, a denim ball plus they all got their very own stuffed Christmas tree squeekys. I wish I had video of the hilarity that ensued. There is nothing quite so funny as watching multiple dogs try to play with all of their new toys at once.
The Rudolf toy seems to be the favorite at the moment. I think it's because of the antlers. They do love to play tug! Prudences' mom also made them some super yummy, and healthy, dog treats. I did let Zola have a small taste of those. (small bits) They were a big hit.

Today I went and got all the dogs liscensed for the year. I learned the hard way last time that the late fee for forgetting is ridculously high. If you have a dog that doesn't get rabies vaccinations due to health issues you can get your vet to write your dog an exemption letter. I do this for Jenny due to her allergy issues. You can only vaccinate a healthy dog after all. (or that's how it's suppposed to work anyhow)
I appoligise for not getting my holiday post up in time. Maybe next year. Now I need to think about my new years resolutions. Because I am so good at those and all. VBG What do YOU have planned for the new year?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of temperment shots and failing microchip scanners

File this under awkward doctor photos. She's cute tho isn't she?

Something happened at work that I felt was important to blog about. A couple of things actually. The first is that a person said her dog didn't need the temperment shot because she doesn't bite people. After discussing this with some co-workers we realized there are far to many people out there that think a distemper vaccine is actually a "temperment" shot. Um, no. This was not the first time that it was referenced to in that manner and it won't be the last I am sure. I think the word "temper" is throwing some people off. If there were a vaccine that changed a dogs temperment (behavior or demeanor) then aggression cases would be FAR easier to address. That is not the case. Distemper is actually a virus. You can read more about the details of it here. Sadly it can be fatal if not caught soon enough. We had a case at our hospital where a dog had it manifest with neurological symptoms and seizures. You can see video of that dog's "gum chewing" seizures here. Sadly that dog eventually had to be euthanized. So while it seems funny that people think it is a shot to prevent dogs from acting bad, it is much more important than that. While I know my blog readers aren't exactly my target audience for this post, I think we need to educate people on the difference.
The other thing that happened was that our "universal" microchip reader failed to read a microchip we knew a pet had. When the doctor called the company he was told it wasn't the reader but the chip. (made by a different company of course) After doing some research and making more calls to various microchip companies he found out some disturbing information. (one representative even admitted the companies hated each other) It turns out that in the microchip company wars one of the things companies did was the change the frequency of their chips slightly so other companies couldn't read them. I forget the details of why they did it exactly. (tho I'm sure it had to do with money) The disturbing part is that this means that some supposedly "universal" microchip scanners don't actually always work on all microchips. That's right, they don't work on all chips as they say they do. To me this is a BIG problem. If they are saying that their scanner can read all the chips, and it can't, how many pets are being adopted out from shelters who didn't find a chip? Or even worse, how many pets are being euthanized because the scanner didn't work for them? This is horrible.
I find it sad that companies that SAY they are about protecting pets can't freaking work together to help ALL the pets, not just the ones using their companies microchip. It is ridiculous. The company sent us a newer scanner that does pick up the other chips. It's a good thing we knew the pet had that other chip though or we might not have picked up on the problem. So pass this information on so others know. Microchips are NOT always the best protection. A collar with tags is your first line of defense when it comes to a missing pet. When people find a lost pet with a collar and tag they know it is a loved pet and they have the tools they need to find it's home if they chose. I have always recommended microchips in case they lose their collar, or if you need irrefutable proof a dog is yours a microchip works better than a photo. (especially in the case of purebreds who all like similar)
So if you use a microchip scanner in any capacity, please check it frequently with other chips. I think the only way we can try to hold these companies accountable for their "universal" scanner BS is to make sure we check them frequently and CALL them on it when we find it isn't working as advertised. So pass this information on to get the word out. Damn how I hate that money is all some companies care about!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless (kinda) Wednesday

From the vault: My first dog with my first child about 13 years ago.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I take it back!

Maybe I don't want winter after all. Going from 50 degrees, green grass and mud in the yard is suddenly much better than 10 degrees in the middle of the night. Brrrr!! We also got a little snow finally. Jack LOVES it. I have to practically drag him inside now.

The girls, not so much.

I'm quite sure they are grateful for the new easy on and off coats right about now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank you Nicole Wilde!!

I want to give a huge shout out to Nicole Wilde for a generous donation of books and a video for our K-9 Corrections program. Our program is very small so donations help us greatly and are much appreciated.
The dogs and handlers are doing great. Here are a couple short videos of them doing some pivot work in preparation for one of the rally exercises. This is Erica. She is a little shy with some new people. I think she would do best in a home with no young children because of that.

And this is Blue. He will need a home with an active owner or another dog to play with. He and Erica play together very well but he can be quite rough.

Both dogs are available for adoption through the Humane Society of Knox County. We also got a new set of APDT rally signs made up finally. Our last set somehow got misplaced. It was aggravating because I had made them up myself along with all the sign holders too. And now the fencing I used for those has been discontinued. It is a tough time of year to find any type of garden fencing as well. Thankfully I think I may have found a solution using PVC pipe pieces with slots cut into them. I'll keep you posted on how it works.
Thanks again to Nicole Wilde for her donation. We couldn't do this without the support of our community, the facility, our facebook fans, and other trainers like her. I just cannot express my appreciation enough. Thank you.

Is winter ever coming?

Not that I'm complaining actually. It is nice to not have to shovel to take the puppy out. However green grass and high 40 degree weather in December is NOT the norm for Maine! I am a person who does like snow on the ground for Christmas however. I wouldn't mind some frozen ground either. At least then the mud would go away.
Today while I was at The Salty Dog Salon getting the girls nails dremeled, I picked up new coats for them both. They each have a Fido Fleece but I wanted something easier to get on and off that might not be quite so warm. They were made by Ooodles of Poodles who also happens to be a client at the vet I work for. She and her husband are always taking in older poodles in need of homes. They are wonderful people. I picked an Argyle design for Zola.

This is her in profile. Between the lack of nose and her underbite she has quite the look! Thankfully she breathes really well in spite of her extreme flat face. (of which as I've mentioned before I am not a fan of breeding this trait: &

For Jenny I picked the Plaid. I thought it made a great mis-matched set between the two of them. I'd say we are ready to walk even the most uppity big city streets now!

Zola has been full of zip lately. She played so much the other night she was panting at the end of the session. Jack knows how to wear a puppy out! They finally graduated from just tug games to include the classic "bitey face" game.

I also happened upon a cute decoration at the Hallmark store that I just had to buy.

You can see why of course.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A cute video and a puppy update

OK this time I have a good excuse for not posting lately. I am exhausted! The good news is that Zola is feeling pretty good. Her eye has healed so we are done with the daily drops. She will still have a small scar on her left eye but that is minor. It doesn't hurt her anymore. Even though I am not normally a big fan of the Science Diet foods, I have her on their prescription L/D formula. I am just to paranoid to try something else. I have to admit she has improved since she started eating it. She wasn't eating the dry very well until I started soaking it so it was soft. I think the kibble was just to big for her tiny mouth. (and her questionable under bite)

She has a bad knee so I am not teaching her to sit on cue. Because she is a resource guarder of food I am also not teaching her to love a kong toy. Normally I use kongs for crate training as a classical conditioning response. However since Jenny is already obsessed with Kongs I thought that might just make things tense between them. Zola has already learned to stay away from Jenny when she has one. Because of Zola's special diet she hasn't learned how to beg for table food either. Jack and Jenny both sit and watch us eat because I haven't been able to stop my husband from feeding them from the table! Thankfully he understands how serious Zola's problem is so he isn't slipping her any extras.

We have been working on crate training and she is getting better. She sleeps in her crate at night as well as she is crated for part of the day while I work. (when she doesn't come to work with me) She likes her crate and runs into it for her treat now. She was fine the first week but she slept all the time so it wasn't a problem. (because she wasn't feeling so good) Once she started feeling better that wasn't the case. She is still getting up very early in the morning but I have just adjusted my own schedule for now. I have to admit it wasn't easy. I am NOT a morning person! Thankfully the few times she is wakes up in the middle of the night she goes back to sleep after I take her out for a potty break. Housebreaking is taking a bit longer with her because I do not withhold water like I would with a normal health puppy.

One thing I found that was a help was the Molly Mutt Armor bedcover. She had a couple accidents in her crate which meant extra laundry for me. The waterproof armour cover goes over the bedding so you don't need to wash everything when it gets wet. I put a towel on top of it so the urine had somewhere to go (to keep it off her) and because a wet towel is easier to wash than the whole bed. I can just wipe the armour cover down with Natures Miracle and put in a clean towel. Ironically after getting the waterproof cover she has only had once accident since. (Maybe it's a magic cover?) I also use a towel because they don't make a Molly Mutt cover small enough for her crate. (I fold the armor cover in half to make it fit.)

She is learning not to resource guard her toys. Thankfully Jack and Jenny both could care less about hoarding toys. Jack just wants to play tug but he won't challenge her for it. If she growls to loudly/intensely he backs off. She is learning that if she wants him to play with her she needs to be nicer about it. It isn't as much fun to guard when the other dogs walk away!

I cannot stress enough how much easier this whole process has been with 2 already trained dogs in the house. Zola goes outside on leash but Jack and Jenny can be off leash. If I needed to have all 3 on leash it would be so much more work for me. Jack and Jenny don't need to go out as much as the puppy either. Dogs that don't guard their toys and that listen when I tell them to leave something has also helped a lot. The puppy was intimidated by Jack the first couple of weeks so I just told him to leave her alone. So he ignored her until she approached him. I knew she would eventually. He really is the perfect uncle dog with puppies.

Jenny has also been far more tolerant with some of her antics than I imagined she would be. She does tell Zola off when she is getting to big for her britches and so far Zola has responded well. I am keeping a close eye on them though because 2 females in a home can be tricky if they don't have a good give and take relationship between them.

We did run some more bloodwork and other tests. They weren't as good as I'd hoped. It looks like the 8 months of no treatment for her shunt caused some damage. The general consensus at work is that if I hadn't started her meds when I did she might not have made it this far. We will retest her again later and see if maybe the current diet and medications have helped her levels. (L/D food in 3 meals a day, Lactulose after every meal, Denamarin every evening.) I don't want to get more specific because I have found not everyone agrees with my choices when it comes to how to handle her treatment. I refuse to feel guilty for doing what I am able and that is not up for discussion. The good news is that she has a good quality of life for now and is a happy puppy.

I know I have been slacking with the blogging but to be honest it takes more effort to blog than post on facebook. (especially when blogger doesn't cooperate) I do try to post daily there so check out my page if you want more recent info and updates. I will try to post more here when I can. I know I promised to post more Christmas gift ideas but I haven't been surfing sites very much. Here is a post by my friend Prudence with some great ideas instead. I also highly reccomend The Smiling Frog Pets handmade dog (and cat) toys. The bunny in the video is one of theirs. They make great stuff!

Happy gift hunting!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Torturing Jack for a good cause

Saturday evening was the Festival of lights parade in Rockland. I decided to take Jack and walk with the local shelters float as support. Of course this meant doggy torture before hand for poor Jack. First he needed his feet trimmed, a nail trim, a brush out and then a bath. (followed by more brushing out) He is shedding so the brush out before and after the bath is definitely a must. Even his muzzle sheds! I am SO grateful we have a self serve dog wash at the Loyal Biscuit Co. in town. My own bathroom just wouldn't be the same after a Jack bath. Not only do I not have to clean anything afterwards but the raised tubs, and ladders to get the dogs in and out, save my poor back. They also have a dog blow dryer which also makes life easier. For him to dry all on his own takes HOURS!

He got a nice walk after the bath to burn off the pent up energy. That's when I snapped the pics at one of our local art museums. I didn't get any photos from the parade because I am still learning how to use my camera. Thankfully the weather was perfect for a night parade, cool as expected but not freezing. Tho Jack would have been fine with freezing with his coat. We were one of the "reindeer" pulling the "sleigh". If I come across photos of our float entry later I'll be sure to share them. The good news is that we won the "Spirit Award" for the parade. The shelter also collected a lot of canned goods and toys for the animals. After the parade we stopped by the biscuit for a quick rest before our trek back to the car. Check out store dog Chuck over seeing the crowds. He's such a good boy!!

Our friend Prudence was also there as a reindeer decked out in a cute lighted collar. She LOVED the attention from the crowd. She wanted to say hello to everyone who was cheering for us. She has peeps you know. For some reason I always forget how much attention Jack gets in a crowd. I answer a LOT of questions about him. Thankfully he loves the attention most of the time. I do watch him though to make sure he isn't overwhelmed. (and he wears his head collar so I don't stress about people getting into his face which some seem to be determined to do) He got to see one of his favorite people there as well, Monica who has known him since he stepped off the plane. He gets SO excited to see her that he jumps around and acts like a puppy again. It is always cute to see.
It was a fabulous night and I'm glad it went so well. Hopefully we can do it again next year.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for the 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep I got last night. Having this puppy has jettisoned me back to the days my children were infants! There has been a lot of trips to potty in the middle of the night. I am also thankful that Zola is feeling better. She started acting odd so I switched her over to the Hills L/D prescription food as recommended by the doctors,*and the people on the canine liver e-mail discussion list I joined. (e-mail lists are great support when you have a dog with a chronic illness) Odd behavior in a liver shunt dog is serious because they can have hepatic encephalopathy.  (*it should be noted that I don't always listen to the doctors)
We also conquered the hurdle of "yes you have to potty outside even when it is snowy and yucky".  THAT wasn't easy! Luckily I had gotten her a new Fido Fleece jacket before the snow hit which I think helped. For awhile I thought I might have to cave and get her boooties as well. She didn't want to walk in the snow! She figured it out tho I do carry her to the yard to save her feet from getting to cold to quickly. One of the things I have been working on with Jenny is trying to get her nails shorter. Frequent nail trims just wan't doing it. Thanks to Jillian at Salty Dog grooming who has been dremeling them. This past tuesday was week two. I'm told both she and Zola are very cooperative and it looks like with a few more weeks we can reach our goal.

Her eye is also looking much better. We discontinued the ointment she was on and started using autologous serum instead. That is where they take some of her blood, spin it down, and use the serum on top (white blood cells) as eye drops. She will likely always have the dot scar but it isn't painful anymore.
Since she is feeling so much better now she is getting feisty. She has initiated play with Jenny a couple of times but her play skills lack some finesse. Jenny seemed to tolerate her antics though. I inturrupt them if I think it is getting to intense. One of the lessons I forgot to mention the last time was that co-workers get as attached and worry about my dogs as much as me. Sometimes more. I never thought about that when I decided to take on a sick dog. I feel a little bad about that. At least my family got to have a say in it. It is nice to work with people that care that much tho.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy your friends and family and pets!! Try not to overdo the food treats. Well at least for your pets. An extra piece of pie for you isn't the worst thing that can happen. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Puppy video and lessons learned

OK I got a few videos so you can see the true cuteness of Zola. Hopefully blogger cooperates and they load ok. The first one is her at dinner time last night. She is currently getting the Honest Kitchen Keen formula so I have to wait for it to hydrate. She didn't want to wait. If you listen close you can also hear Jenny doing her "OMG it's time to eat!" whine.

This is her being aggressive with the leash. At the time I had no idea why she was having a temper tantrum. I just knew it wasn't normal so I turned on the camera. It turns out dogs with liver shunts can have aggressive episodes when the toxins build up in their system. Thankfully at only 10 lbs it is easy to deal with when it happens.

And this is from the first day she was here.

I'm sorry that some of the videos aren't great. I know they are very "Blair Witch Project" at times. It's hard to video something so fast!
Things I've learned this week: A 10 pound pug who doesn't want to take a pill is stronger than they look. Don't put medication into a dogs food. If they don't eat you you've wasted both the medication AND the meal. You can lead a pug to lunch but you can't make them eat. The goal for a dog with a liver shunt on lactulose is a nice soft stool. (and 3 to 4 small meals a day) Lactulose is very sticky. A boot covered in deer blood is a target for resource guarding.
I think she is feeling better. Last night and today she even chewed on a bone for a long time like a normal dog. Jenny wasn't as thrilled about that as I was. I'm going to have to increase the amount of bones around for awhile so that doesn't become a problem. Her eye also looks better to me with her on the serum. The only downside to her feeling better is that she is becoming feisty with Jenny. Jenny is not one to back down so I'll need to watch that closely. So far so good though. Fingers still crossed.
Sidenote: liver shunt dogs need a low protein diet with NO red meat. It is also better if they have a dairy source protein. Keen is turkey but it is working for her for now. She wouldn't eat the Preference but I may try it again later with some cottage cheese. I am still learning so stand by for more info on diet in the future.

Friday, November 18, 2011

And her name is.......

......... drum roll please..........................Zola! I tried coming up with a good J name to go along with Jack and Jenny but none of them sounded right. She just seemed like a Zola to me. I know a human Zola who is simply fabulous. I think she will find my choice amusing. Now I need to get her a tag with her name on it.

It turns out she is sicker than the shelter realized. She is now on a couple of medications to help push the toxins out of her body and support her liver function. Based on her bile acid test she has a serious shunt. The good news is that the medications aren't expensive. They should help her feel better and want to play more. It should also help her coordination so she stops bumping into things. She has moments where she seems very normal and others where you think, wow she isn't right! Her eye is also not healing as well as it should. We are going to try something new tomorrow involving serum that sounds interesting. Hopefully it works. She has to hold off on breakfast until after we can get some blood drawn for tests. She isn't going to be happy with me in the morning I am sure! But we gotta do what we gotta do to make her feel better. Tonight I learned that if you wake her for her pill she will yawn which makes the task easier. Has anyone ever tried to pry open a pugs mouth that didn't cooperate? It's not easy!
I am so grateful that Jenny and Jack seem to be doing ok with her. Jenny is interested yet respectful. Tho she did have to school the puppy in "stay the hell away from me with my kong!". Thankfully puppy backed off. Jack is also keeping his distance for the most part. They did have a short game of tug the other day that was cute. She got pushy over the toy so he walked away. He was raised by a fiesty frenchie so he knows when it is prudent to end a game.
The day I picked her up we also started 2 new dogs at the prison. The first is Erica. She is listed as a pit mix but honestly I don't see it. I see hound and maybe mountain cur. I have a friend with a cur and one of the traits I noticed was that they both have the same hairy belly. (I have photos of this on my camera but you can see my previous post here: Birdie was identified as a mountain cur when she was traveling through West Virginia on a road trip after this post was written.)

 The other is Blue. You can see why he got his name. He is a husky lab mix though in person his muzzle looks very shepherd to me.

So with the puppy and new dogs AND two new handlers, on top of my regular work and clients, you can see I have had a very busy week. Puppies don't sleep in very late you know.
Because I have been a "blogging slacker" todays post will be long since I'm not finished yet. Since Christmas is coming I am keeping my eye out for interesting dog items that might fit the "perfect gift" bill.  My co-worker is drooling over this snazzy new product. It is called the release and run collar. It is a collar with a retractable leash included. She regularly runs with her dogs and has to loop her leash over her while she runs. (with the dog off leash) With this product instead of having to carry the leash the dog does it for you! It coils up inside the dogs own collar. I think it is pretty brilliant.
I personally am lusting over this jacket: It's a little pricey but look how perfect it is for someone like me! It would be even better with my new logo embroidered on the back and left breast. I wonder if I could write it off as a training expense? Hmmm
Want something not as practical but beautiful? Well slide on over here: I have a pawprint ring from him that I love. I used to be very into jewelry in my younger days and I can tell you that their stuff is amazing.
Looking for something for your dog? Or maybe a different kind of jewelry piece? Try this site: I LOVE their tags! I just get hung up trying to think of the perfect word or saying for my own dogs. And check out their blog for their awesome bracelets.
Those are just a few things I've seen lately that look interesting. I'll try to post more potential treasures as I find them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Living on the edge

Life has a funny way of giving you things you didn't know you wanted. I got word of a pug puppy with a liver shunt in need of a home in my area. Things got busy after the death in the family and I didn't get a chance to follow up. I heard that the pug ended up in a foster home for my shelter and I was relieved. Then I ran into her foster mom and we made plans for me just to meet her. That was my downfall. As you can see she is now here and we are fostering her. To be honest it is just a formality to make sure my two don't have any major problems with her. I've seen some behavior issues that I can hopefully continue to manage. She resource guards her toys when she gets wound up and she has shown some aggression at odd times. I was told today that can go along with liver problems.
Liver shunts are tricky things. There are so many unknowns at this point. She might have a long life or it might be very short. So much depends on what kind of shunt it is and if she can stay regulated through diet. (I don't have all her paperwork yet so I am not privy to all the details like how it was diagnosed.) We had a family meeting so I could tell everyone that I wasn't sure how long we might have her if we did adopt her. True to form my family said they didn't care. Of course she had to stay! (And what was I even thinking to consider otherwise!)
I can tell you that she is 8 months old, already spayed and is only 10lbs. She has no nose it is so flat. (Seriously, wait til I get a profile photo to share.) Luckily she breathes very well even after running. I've yet to see her pant. She has a scratch on one eye and has ointment for that. (if you see a blurry eye in photos you'll know why) Her head is also slightly lopsided which may show in some photos as well She has a serious underbite. Even for a pug she is a great example of really poor breeding. But she has personality plus and charms everyone she meets. She is a little clown for sure.
I know I may be headed for heartbreak. But seriously, aren't we all? I mean we share our lives with dogs (and other animals) knowing that we will most likely outlive them. We refuse to think about it on a day to day basis but we all know it is true. Someday we will have to say goodbye to them. In this little ones case we just know it might be sooner than later. Hopefully this doesn't go terribly awry for us but I am aware it could. The "chit" can hit the fan at any time. I waffle between thinking: "Of course I have to do this, she needs us." to "What the hell am I doing? She is going to get sick and it will be awful and you will hate yourself for putting your family through it." to "I can do this, I work at a vet, who better to try?" to "You needed a 3rd dog like another hole in the head."
But at the end of the day I feel good about it. She is a lovely little puppy who makes us laugh and deserves a chance at a normal life. I think we can give that to her. Now we just need to find her a name.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Just when I thought I was safe

Fleas!! Those insidious bastards! I found one on Jenny the other night which prompted an emergency trip into the tub. Flea fighting tip: you don't need a shampoo that is for fleas to kill the suckers. Any shampoo that lathers up will work. Just be sure to start lathering around the neck and down so they don't all run up to the head and become harder to get. (I don't lather the face, I use a washcloth instead so soap doesn't get in the eyes.)
Fortunately I had some awesome new shampoo from Mutt Nose Best to try. I won a gift bag of goodies at the "Pints for Paws" event my favorite local store the Loyal Biscuit Co. held as a fundraiser for our local animal shelter.

I got a large bottle of the green tea formula, a small bottle of the lavender formula with a matching bottle of conditioner. We also got ear wipes, nose balm and a bottle of lavender formula deodorant and calming spray. Oh and a cool frisbee. I give the lavender shampoo and conditioner a two thumbs up! Not only did it lather up well she smelled fabulous afterwards.

The best part? Mutt Nose Best is a Maine based company that supports various charities! So not only are you buying a quality product, you are helping them help others. You can read more about that here on my friend Prudence's blog. So if you haven't tried their product already, please do. It is another win/win for you. And who doesn't love those??

Calendar girl!

A couple months ago I submitted some photos of Jenny to the Owned by Pugs calendar contest. I am slightly addicted to their blog and saw that the calendar raises money for pug rescue. The photo shown here got chosen! She is just one of many cute pugs seen in "September". Go check it out! Oh and while you are there BUY A CALENDAR!!! You even get to chose which pug rescue group, or memorial fund, you want your donation to go to. Talk about a win/win!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Never say never

I had a pretty busy weekend with a lot of clients. So yesterday afternoon I treated myself to some fun for me. There was a Flyball tournament in the area that friends were attending to sell their awesome toys at. (Check out The Smiling Frog Pets for some super cute Christmas toys!!) Since I had never been to a flyball event before I decided to swing in. In case you have never seen flyball in person I have a warning, it is LOUD!! I took ear plugs with me because chaos is not my thing. Even with ear plugs it is a noisy place to be. I nabbed a few photos but most of them look like this:

Yup, lots of blurry fast dogs. So I grabbed a video so you can get a better idea:

I can honestly say I highly doubt I will ever be a flyball person. I just can't deal with the noise. Avoidance of chaos is one reason I prefer to see clients one on one privately instead of doing group classes. However I can see why people do flyball. All of the dogs I saw were deliriously joyful. I missed seeing one of my friends dog run. She is called a height dog. (the shortest dog on a team which is who they base the jump height on) She is the cutest terrier mix named Xena adopted from a shelter. That is something I do like about the sport, all types of dogs are welcome. You can see many other photos from the event on The Smiling Frog Pets facebook page. (Xena is there too!)
From there I took Jenny to the big city of Portland for a Freestyle clinic. I joined a group called Dancing Paws that my training friend Nancy Freedman-Smith of GoodDogz Training is a member of. Remember that demo I helped with at Woofstock? Yeah that was my gateway moment. Now I have to admit, I never thought I would be interested in freestyle. Dancing with dogs? No way, I am way to serious for that. Well it turns out freestyle is really just tricks strung together. I love the challenge trick training can offer. Jenny loves to work and I don't always get to walk her as much as she needs so this is a great way to prevent boredom for her. And you know what? It is FUN!!!
It is a great group of people with an interesting mix of dogs! We had a golden, a standard poodle (I think), a smooth collie, a border collie mix, a frenchie, a doberman, an italian greyhound and a terrier. I'm not sure who our official leader is but the clinic was taught by Diana Logan CPDT of  (you can find her freestyle videos on youtube at Clickerdoodles and she has a facebook page as well)
The clinic was on lateral moves specifically and Jenny and I made a nice break through. I have some tweaking to do but we've made a great start. Here is a video of it. I got greedy trainer syndrome though and didn't stop when I should of and we both got frustrated. You can see how her first couple of passes were excellent. I am using body language "pressure" to get her to move so I will need to fade that out eventually. It turns out that pivot work I did for Rally had other uses!

Here is another trick we have been working on. She goes around a prop on one direction and I go in the other. I freeshaped this after seeing it on Pam Dennisons shaping video. Every once in awhile she would start going around and then come around into a heel position at my left making a figure 8 move. To fix it I rewarded it anyway BUT when she went around the pole all the way correctly I gave her two rewards. It worked. She stopped giving me the figure 8. Tonight I upped the criteria so she had to go around it twice.

Unfortunately from doing rally her default is to sit at the heel position. I need to work on getting her to stand as a default instead. This is another trick we are working on. She puts her feet on mine and then I move forward or back. It is a bad angle but you get the idea.

Will I ever compete in this sport? I dunno. I would say probably not but as I've learned sometimes you don't know where a journey is going to take you. At the very least I will be having fun with Jenny and maybe even entertain people along the way. It will certainly help keep my training skills fresh and challenge me. What's not good about that?
Have you ever done something you never thought you would? If so how did it turn out?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And the winner is............

For those who like suspense don't scoll down to far. Instead watch the video to see who the winner of the prize package is. Remember, the package includes: The new "Dog Sence" book by John Bradshaw, the most recent APDT Chronicle newsletter, a new 4 foot leather leash, a metal "WOOF" leash holder and a sample of ALL the Honest Kitchen food formulas! To make the contest fair I let Jenny pick the name. And the winner is..........

Pixel Williams!!! Please e-mail me at your mailing address so I can send your package of goodies. Congratulations!!! For all those who entered and did not win I will be having more give-a-ways in the future so stay tuned. (we are working on Jenny's picking skills and hopefully she will be able to pass me the winners name next time)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Howl-O-Ween!!

Queeen Jenny was not impressed but tolerant of todays photo session. However she always cooperates since it means earning some treats. I'm sure she thinks I am crazy though.

Jack was even less thrilled. He could not even be bribed into posing so I gave up. I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dog books and pug parties and giveaways, oh my!

I really hate it when I get behind in my blogging. Unfortunately sometimes it just can't be helped. This silly family of mine needs attention now and then. Not to mention sometimes I'm just to tired to write after work. (blasphemy right?) I long for the good old days when bartering was a bigger part of day to day life. ~sigh~ I did finish the Dog Sense book. I kinda had to seeing as I have a deadline. (OK why haven't more of you entered my give away!?!) 

I know I need to write a review but it feels to much like doing a book report. I love reading. Writing reports, not so much. I will say this much, it is good. While I did find it dry in places, (which I attribute to it having been written by a scientist) it had some excellent info about where dogs come from and why that matters when it comes to training and behavior. It goes beyond that explaining canine sight, their sense of smell, emotions and brain functions. Then there is a discussion of breeding in this era and the problems that stem from it, (small gene pools contributing to limited genetic diversity for instance) as well as info pertaining to breed specific aggression. The information on raising a sound puppy was fascinating and explained why the first 3 to 4 months of a dogs life is so important. I think anyone interested in learning more about dog behavior will find the book valuable. It's a good thing I said I would give it away publicly or I'd be tempted to change my mind!
Another thing I did was to attend a pug meet up. It was about a 2 hour drive from me at Carden Kennels in Bangor. I went so I could meet Jenny's former foster mom. Not to mention it was a Halloween Pug Party. Who can resist that? Despite the long drive it was fun. We ended up with a slight detour to find Jenny had another urinary tract infection. Thankfully she was feeling well enough to go anyway. I'm still getting used to my new camera so I ended up with a lot of bad photos. Sorry. Here are a few of the OK photos:

There were over 30 pugs in attendance. It was a blast to watch them all together.
Some really got into the costume part of the party.
This tiny girl (in the middle) was the reason Jenny couldn't stay with the foster home. Her name is Sophie and both she and Jenny (formerly Hannah to them) couldn't agree on who was the bigger bitch. Ironically Sophie is a tiny thing! She is like a mini Jenny! They did fine with each other at the party. Sophie also loves to work for food. I can see why they might not gel well together.
One really funny thing that happened was that I noticed Jenny begs for food, from MEN! She ignored the women there but two of the men were her preferred targets. I can only assume it is because my husband caves in to her charming ways when he eats and shares his dinner with her. BTW she is shown in costume but missing the crown that completed her princess ensemble. Yes, I have become one of those people I used to make fun of! Meh, I decided that life is to short to worry about what other people think. Besides there was a prize to win!

There were cute pugs everywhere. Check out the Pillsbury Dough Pug!

I gave away some Honest Kitchen samples and got to answer a couple training questions too. I also won a super cute framed pug art piece in one of the raffles. (to raise money for rescue of course) I'll have to try getting a good photo of it to share. Another thing I noticed is that none of the pugs played with each other. There was a lot of running around sniffing, and some chasing, but no wrestling. I just thought Jenny was to serious to play with dogs she doesn't know well. It turns out it is a common pug thing. A great example of how some breeds can have a specific play style. (which can also vary by individual certainly)
On my way home I hit a Mr. Paperback and stumbled onto this gem:

I can't wait to dig into it. It blends my love of biographies with canine history which I'm expecting to be amazing. I have a black and white Rin Tin Tin movie on a VHS tape so I've seen him in action. (unlike some of my younger readers I'm sure) 
I also finally finished the DVD by Pamela Dennison called "The magic of shaping".

It is wonderful. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about using clicker training to shape behaviors. I admit I am limited by my lack of imagination when it comes to training in some respects. This helped me see a few more options. I even picked up a cool freestyle move I've started working Jenny on. I'm sure I'll share video once it's polished up.
Remember, the drawing for the give away is November 1st. Don't forget to enter!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Jack Jack!!

Today my Jack is 7 years old. I can't believe how time flies by. He got a new squeeky pheasant tug toy from the Loyal Biscuit Co. and one of his favorite treats, a cow trachea. (Nom, Nom, Nom) Since I am working today, and they were forcasting rain for today then, I took him for his special walk yesterday so he wouldn't miss out.

I also got to play with my new camera. I should have tried it on a few different settings to make the colors pop a bit more. It has so many more options than my last camera did. It might take me awhile to figure it all out.

A huge shout out to Jack's breeders Donna and Mike Bennett of Liberty Akitas for gifting me such a sweet boy. If only more breeders could be like them the world of dogs would be a better place for it. I hope to share many more birthdays with my beautiful boy. Happy Birthday Jack!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A celebratory give-a-way!!!!

Today is the official 10 year anniversary of my graduation from my dog trainers apprenticeship. Yay me! I honestly can't believe it has been that long. Of course when I remember back to how young my kids were at the time I see it must be possible. Time does fly! I have to thank the Mid-Coast Kennel Club of Maine and The Humane Society of Knox County. Both of them sponsored my training so I could be a resource for each of them. I think it turned out to be a pretty good deal for all involved. Of course I can't forget my fabulous teacher Lloyd Williams of Bear Brook Kennels. I am grateful he accepted me into his program. I wish everyone could have a mentor as patient and knowledgeable as he was.
To celebrate I am going to do a give away. I haven't ironed out all the details yet but I hope to have Jenny able to perform a trick to help pick the winner. If it works I will video it and post the video here. The prizes are as follows:

First a very cute leash holder I found today in my travels to T.J.Maxx. Included is a 4 foot by 1/4 inch leather leash. I only use leather or cotton leashes because nylon hurts my hands. While 1/4 inch sounds small to some people, leather is very strong. Unless your dog is a leash chewer this is an acceptable size for both large and small dogs. Also:

The September/October issue of The APDT Chronicle of the dog magazine AND the new hardcover book Dog Sense by John Bradshaw. (disclaimer, I am actually reading it now so it will be slightly used) While it sometimes reads like a book written by a scientist (it can be dry) it has some really great information included. I am just over halfway through it now. I wish it were required reading by anyone who works with dogs and dog owners alike. It would make my job so much easier!
And that's not all!! (imagine that in an infomercial voice for effect) I will also include a sample of EACH diet that The Honest Kitchen makes, including the two newest; Love and Grace. This HK package will include their booklet on pet nutrition as well. I love THK because they use QUALITY real food ingredients, DON'T sell their products to pet stores that sell puppies AND they support rescues and responsible breeders. Now that is a company I can stand behind!!
Entering is easy. Either leave a comment that says "I want to win!" in the comment section of this post, e-mail me with "I want to win!" in the subject line, or go to my facebook page and leave your "I want to win!"comment there. I won't need your personal info unless you win so don't worry about that just yet. I will draw the winner on November 1st. Oh and EVERYBODY can enter!! So go tell a friend. :-) Happy Anniversary to me!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Puppymills and how YOU can help stop them!

Today is the day bloggers all over are trying to spread the word about puppymills and Petland. It seems the Canadian Petland, tired of the protests over puppy sales in front of their stores, stopped selling puppies. Sadly Petland stores in the states have not followed suit. We really want them to follow suit.

Ironically I started my day by watching the ending of the movie "Hotel for Dogs" while eating my breakfast. It of course made me cry like a baby. But then again I have always been a sucker for a happy ending and music that swells creating emotional moments. Hotel for Dogs is a very cute movie if not almost entirely unrealistic. Except for the part about the horrifically large number of dogs in need of homes of course. That part is sadly very realistic.

I find it interesting that people still need to be educated about why it is a bad idea to buy a puppy from a pet store (or an online puppymill) in this age of the internet. But then I remember that kids grow into teens, that grow into adults that might not know any better. Or that not everyone lives on facebook. Sadly petstore puppies are most often bought by people who just don't know any better. (or they are drunk, the newest phenomenon to be seen in petstores) And online puppymills are very slick in how they sell dogs. "Oh the puppy you wanted isn't available anymore, but we have this other one....." Don't get me started about how they steal photos from responsible breeders websites to bait their buyers with.

So here are a few reason why I, and most other dog trainers, are against puppymills and pet store puppies.

The dogs at a high volume breeding facility are treated like product, not like pets. This can mean extreme stress for the mother dog during her pregnancy which can cause damage to unborn puppies. It has been proven that hormonal changes can cause learning disabilities in the pups they produce. This is also usually a very awful life for the dogs at the facility. Little to no human contact and sleeping in small cramped cages with no bedding day after day listening to all the other dogs bark their frustration. Wouldn't this drive you crazy?

Most puppies from these high volume breeders are taken away from their mother and siblings to early to keep them small and cute for the pet shop window. The stores need them tiny and cute as long as possible to bring in the impulse puppy buyer. If they don't sell fast they cost more to feed after all and may outgrow their "sales cages".  A puppy taken away to soon is prone to behavioral problems down the road including separation anxiety, fear of people, aggression to other dogs and lack of bite inhibition. Oh but they forget to tell you that part. Of course most workers in pet stores don't know this either.

No responsible breeder would EVER sell their pups to someone else to sell for them. No matter what a pet store tells you. "Our pups come from good breeders and are raised in a local home". I call shenanigans! A responsible breeder cares where those pups go to and screen those potential homes. Not everyone should own a _______. (insert breed here) Responsible breeds do health testing and will even take back a puppy should something not work out in the new home. (or help the owner place the dog) They will even be there as a resource for training and health questions. Try getting a pet store to help you with that 2 months past the sale!

Some people would say that I shouldn't care where people get their dogs. People with dogs that have behavior problems are my bread and butter after all. But there's the thing, I love dogs. I don't want dogs to be mistreated. Dogs in puppymills are mistreated every day. If by no other fact than as companion animals they suffer being in those kennels day after day and not being in a real home with daily contact from people. It is cruel. It is cruelty done in the name of making money. Remember those dogs are being raised to be product after all.

So to help shut down puppymills we can do a few things. One is to go to Be The Change for Animals and sign the petition. This will let Petland know what we think about their practice of selling puppies. The other is to NEVER shop in a pet store that sells animals. Why support them with any of your money if they support puppymills? And the last, but the hardest for some people, is to NEVER buy a puppy from a petstore. (or online website) Buying just means you are part of the supply and demand chain. If they can't sell their puppies and make money then there is no reason for them to keep breeding. Breaking the chain is the only way to end the cycle.

There are many other options for getting a puppy. Check your local shelters, purebred rescue groups, and responsible breeders. You just might need to be a little more patient for those options. But don't you think saving dogs from a life of misery and hell of living just to produce puppies is worth waiting for?? I do. Now go sign that petition and spread the word. It's important.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The memorial of an old friend

Todays post was written by a friend of mine about her dog Buster. I found it to be a wonderful tribute and thought it should be shared. So many people discount adopting older pets but they need homes too. This is also the story of how an older dog touched one families heart, and an example of how they can bring so much love into a home.

My beloved dog Buster went to Heaven today at the age of 16. He was, and always will be, the best dog ever. His contribution to our lives is so significant that his story needs to be told, and I will try my best to do him justice.
We adopted Buster from the Knox County Humane Society when he was 11 years old. We had no plans to adopt a dog that day, or even to visit the shelter. But as the kids and I were on our way home from shopping, the Spirit moved me to stop there and “just look”. That’s what I told the shelter attendant when she greeted us; that we were “just looking”. She immediately pointed out the dog in the lobby with her, Buster, who she explained was like the shelter mascot. Everyone loved him, she said. Visibly, it was obvious he had come in as a mistreated and neglected animal. He had a skin condition and was missing fur in a number of places. He had warts on his face and body, his teeth were rotten, his ears were infected. And there were two baseball-sized growths on the front of his chest. Then she tells me he is 11 years old. Well I can tell you that if I had no intention of adopting when I came in, I certainly didn’t plan on adopting an elderly dog with a laundry list of health issues. She must have sensed my skepticism and quickly pointed out that he acted very young for his age, that the growths were only fatty tumors, that his other conditions would resolve with time and care, and that he really was a very sweet dog.

We decided we would just check out the other dogs. As the kids and I walked through the kennel, it was surprising how few dogs they had that day. And all of them seemed aggressive and unsuitable for our home. So we headed back to the lobby thinking we would leave, and Buster greeted us there. He looked up at me as if to say, are we going home now? Before I knew it, I was filling out paperwork to take him home on their “slumber party” program, where you can bring the dog back within a week if things don’t work out. He hopped into the car like he’d done it a hundred times. Since we had no plans to adopt that day, we needed to buy dog food. Not knowing how he would act in the car, I waited with him while the kids went in the store. Buster went on high alert, watching them go into the store and never taking his eyes of the entrance until they came back out. I was amazed that he had become so protective so quickly. But they were “his boy” and “his girl” from the moment he got into the car. And before we got back home, there was no question that he was our forever dog. I finalized the adoption right away.

The shelter gave me Buster’s file at the adoption. His history was shocking to me. He original owners had him for 10 years when they relinquished him to a shelter in southern Maine. The dog they described was not the dog I knew. They said he was aggressive, didn’t like children, and that the wife wanted him gone. But he was the sweetest, smartest dog I had ever met. To this day, I can not fathom how anyone who owned Buster for 10 minutes - let alone 10 years - could give him away. But based on his condition, they obviously didn’t love him. After that Buster was transferred in and out of shelters for over a year, and was adopted out for a 3 month period during that time. The people who relinquished him to KCHS cited the reason because he had a “bladder problem”. They also said he was left alone for 13 hours a day. That’s not a bladder problem, that’s a neglect problem. From this and other things we observed in his initial behavior, it was clear he had lived 11 years of abuse and neglect.

Even after we adopted him, he faced more struggles. We had Buster scheduled for surgery as soon as we could. He needed the large fatty tumors removed from his chest, as they were making it difficult for him to breath, and he needed many rotten teeth extracted. Surgery for an 11 year old dog can be rough, but he came through it with flying colors. In the few years that followed he was attacked by a neighborhood dog, and was practically ripped apart. But he completely recovered from that too. Then he suffered from canine vestibular syndrome, which is like a stroke. It was so bad that neither the doctors nor I thought he would survive. But not only did he survive, but he completely recovered again. He is the bravest, toughest dog ever!

God brought Buster and I together at one of the lowest points of my life. He gave me hope and peace and a joy that helped me face the trials of life. He understood me and cared for me and offered me companionship and comfort whenever I needed it. Some people say I rescued him. But the truth is that Buster saved me! And he taught me so many life lessons. For example, how to stop worrying about what people think of your appearances. Most people looked at Buster and saw his warts or tumors. But I saw his beautiful spirit. And so I learned not to be so critical of myself, and that what’s on the inside matters far more than what is on the outside. And he gave that unconditional love to my children too. It is entirely possible that without Buster, I might never have even met my husband. Buster also taught me how to slow down and look at life through kinder eyes. And especially in this past year as his body began to succumb to the ravages of old age, he helped me to cope with and accept my own physical disabilities. I took a lot of criticism from family and friends when I adopted “such an old dog”. But these years with Buster have been the best of my life and I wouldn’t trade my time with him for anything. My compassion for the struggles of the elderly has grown, as there is such a great need for people to open their hearts to the aged - both people and pets.

A friend shared this quote with me: “The magnitude of our grief when we lose someone special from our life is a measure of the magnitude of the love and blessings we have received from them.” This is true. However, there is no way to fully express all the joy and love he brought to my life. No way to truly honor what an amazing dog and friend he was. And there is equally no way to convey the grief our family is experiencing. We will miss him always and he will never be forgotten. What I pray for now is that his story will touch someone’s heart in a way that inspires them to advocate for animals and the elderly.

I believe with all my heart that God has taken Buster home with Him. I look forward to the day when he greets me at the gates of Heaven.
Buster: Best dog ever!