10/19 2021

SO happy to meet you!

By |2021-10-19T16:26:40-04:0010/19/2021|

I recently picked up a magazine at my local CVS called, Inside Your Dog’s Mind, not expecting to find much besides some great photos, but I was pleasantly surprised. The very first article was How to Make Your Dog Happy, by Dr. Zazie Todd and was excerpted from her fabulous book Wag, The Science of Making Your Dog Happy.

Among the other interesting articles were a couple on the canine sense of smell, a guide to body language from Lili Chin’s book, Doggie Language, preparing for the death of a beloved pet, and one I found particularly interesting, Wired for Warmth, about a genetic component to friendliness that our dogs have, and share with us!

The article interviews Princeton evolutionary biologist Bridgett vonHoldt PhD, who has found a genetic complex in dogs that is “akin to the Williams genetic syndrome in humans, […]

8/20 2021

Food: a gift from the Gods to you and your dog!

By |2021-08-20T11:49:49-04:0008/20/2021|

Dr. Zazie Todd has long advocated that food is the most effective and efficient way to motivate and train a dog (See: The Importance of Food in Dog Training and Why You Need To Reward Your Dog In Training, According To The Experts) and she has scientific studies to back up her claims. When I saw Food Is Your Friend!, by Kathy Callahan, CPDT-KA in the August 2021 issue of the Whole Dog Journal, I was ecstatic to see a concise, helpful, and practical guide to using food to train your dog.

Here’s the opening volley by Ms. Callahan:

Take a moment to ponder a miracle: We can reach across the great species divide and convince a dog to do something utterly unnatural – like walking slowly at our side, with a weird thing around his neck. Even more […]

7/28 2021

Literary pursuits and good books!

By |2021-07-28T10:34:31-04:0007/28/2021|

For a variety of reasons, including another edit on my novel, I have fallen behind in blogging. I have been told that I should just write the darn thing and get it out there, but that is not how I tend to do things. If I am going to write something, I figure it has to have a least a modicum of thought…

So, I sat staring at my computer this morning daring it to give me a topic!  In the process of answering some emails and other social media things, the computer suggested that I could list some of the books I have been reading or reviewing lately. Great idea Aquinas (the name of my computer)!

This list comprises titles about canines as well as other books, and I would love to hear from all of you what’s on your reading list!

I had the opportunity recently to revisit Designer […]

6/26 2021

Flea prevention is critical for your dog’s health.

By |2021-06-29T12:47:44-04:0006/26/2021|

The ever informative Whole Dog Journal arrived this past week packed with great information about dog bites, scabies, how to pick up your dog, toothpaste and fleas. Those yucky purveyors of disease (including bubonic plague, tapeworms, and typhus to name but three…) are a real menace to you and to your dog’s health. If you see a flea on your dog, you need to act quickly to eradicate the problem, as one flea can quickly become thousands! Here’s how Dr. Eileen Fatcheric, (veterinarian and author of the article on fleas) describes the life cycle of the flea:

The adult fleas you see on your dog are not the biggest issue. They make up less than 5% of the problem. The more important 95% lives in your home environment in the form of adult fleas and pre-adult flea stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae). Each adult […]

6/6 2021

Your Puppy’s Brain

By |2021-06-02T16:04:03-04:0006/06/2021|

Puppies are designed to soak up information, a lot of information during the critical socialization period between three and twelve (to fourteen) weeks of age. It is during this period that their brains are very very busy making connections and building millions of synapses between neurons in order to “support the puppy’s ability to rapidly learn about the world,” according to Dr. Jessica Hekman (in her chapter on puppy socialization in the the free e-book, Growing up FDSA: Surviving Your Dog Sports Puppy). She goes on to say:

 “Connections are everywhere! This is chaos, to have everybody trying to connect to everybody else, and ultimately can’t be sustained in an adult brain. Therefore, as the socialization period begins to close, synapses that are used infrequently are removed, while those that are used frequently are kept, through a process called pruning.”

This is why it is incredibly important to pay attention […]

5/29 2021

Why doesn’t Rover love the new puppy?

By |2021-07-20T00:23:23-04:0005/29/2021|

“I don’t understand why Bruno doesn’t like the puppy. I thought he’d welcome a new playmate.”

I hear this lament from clients who are saddened, confused, and sometimes unnerved or scared by the reaction that their current dog has over the addition of a new dog, especially a puppy. Certain that their dog, “who loves other dogs” would enthusiastically embrace the addition of another dog, they can’t understand what went wrong.

In the June 2021 edition of The Whole Dog Journal, Kathy Callahan, CPDT-KA has five tips for introducing a new puppy to your older dog. She reminds us that a puppy is not a full grown dog, and while your dog may indeed enjoy other adult dogs, Bruno may not be all that enthusiastic about having a biting, climbing, toy stealing, toddler, who totally disrupts his normal routine, takes up his peoples’ time, and is there 24/7! When […]

5/22 2021

Rehoming: never easy, always traumatic, sometimes the only option.

By |2021-05-22T22:43:36-04:0005/22/2021|

A link to this opinion piece in the Washington Post, about people rehoming the pets they got during the pandemic, popped into my twitter feed this week. At Your Family Dog podcast, we found this subject to be so important that we covered it twice: Wrestling With Rehoming, and Rehoming: Sometimes It Is The Best Option.

It’s all too easy to assume that those who relinquish an animal are heartless, selfish individuals who, if they are so willing to abandon it, don’t deserve the companionship of a pet. But, before you jump on that moral high horse, named I would never do that!, remember that you do not know all the facts of the situation, nor do you have to live with that particular animal on a daily basis.

Rehoming a pet is not easy. I have been training dogs for eighteen years […]

5/9 2021

An unlikely friendship…

By |2021-05-10T23:55:12-04:0005/09/2021|

As I was tidying up old emails and looking for inspiration for my next blog, I found this video in an old email from my sister-in-law. I was in delete mode and nearly tossed the email without looking at the video, but Connie never sends me gratuitous stuff, so I clicked. I am so glad I did and I hope you will be too!

(But, please note that for us sappier sorts, it might be wise to have a tissue on hand!)

The joy expressed by Bella from doing what labs were built to do (retrieve), is enough to make me happy for the rest of the day, but add to that the companionship of an elephant and I am besotted with joy. Why, I asked myself, does this make me so very, very happy?

I think there are two main reasons. The first has to do with being free to be oneself. […]

4/24 2021

How old should the kids be before we get a dog?

By |2021-04-27T09:21:53-04:0004/24/2021|

In the April 2021 edition of the Whole Dog Journal, Kathy Callahan, CPDT-KA has an article titled: When Are Kids the “Right Age” to Get a Dog? This one page gem points out that it is less about the age of the kids, than it is about the adults in the household, and whether they “are ready to manage the situation.”

Ms Callahan lists five important questions that every family thinking about a dog might want to consider. Honest answers to these questions will help families decide if now is the right time to bring home a canine companion.

Here are the questions:

1. Is at least one adult in the household truly excited about owning a dog? Experience has shown me that, if the dog is being considered “for the kids” without an adult being genuinely excited by the prospect, then […]

4/16 2021

What do opossums and meatballs have in common?

By |2021-04-17T19:41:22-04:0004/16/2021|

Last night around 11 pm I opened the front door of our cottage to let Zuzu, the Flat Coated Retriever, and Clementine, our Clumber Spaniel, out one last time before bed. 99.9% of the time, this three minute ritual consists of them trotting out, doing their duty, and coming right back inside. Needless to say, last night was the .1% exception to this rule. Before I get to that .1%, however, I should probably mention that I had minor surgery on my right foot this week and though I can walk, I am not able to run or move quickly. This, as you will see, is an important element in the story.

So, to continue…

When I opened the door, instead of sauntering to the grass, Zuzu took off like a heat seeking missile into the night. Clementine was still meandering her way up the […]


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