December 31, 2006
December 28, 2006
How much pain is Brewster in?
Brewster's lymph nodes are larger than golf balls and he is well passed his projected 2-6 months to live. Two nights ago he brought my son a tennis ball and played tug-o-war with him, wagging his tail and barking in delight, and basically acting like a normal and very happy dog.
Yet there have been mornings when he didn't go outside until nearly lunch time.
I am well aware, as you all should be, that animals are often stoic about pain. The more pain, the more stoic. It is a built in defense mechanism. I am quite sure that Brewster has a very high pain threshold, and I am questioning just how much pain he is actually in.
For the first time this morning I started him on pain medication, and not because of any one thing.
Last night, while I was watching a movie with the girls ,he asked to come up on the bed and cuddle for a little while. He was all snuggles and sweetness and he had a good roll about the bed , obviously loving every minute of it. He isn't usually allowed on furniture and I can't help but think he came up to thank us for being his buddy, or maybe it was just to ask for a good scratch.
December 27, 2006
Where's Charlee # 13-Brew's turn
Brewster really laid it on thick this morning when I was on the way out the door to go to a private session. He won himself a car ride with his sweet brown eyes. Mid session I took a break and took him for a little walk. Do you know where?
First person to post the correct location in the comment section wins a MaineToday.com Frisbee.
December 26, 2006
Can't take it any more!
If you don't want to read today's blog, no worries. Today's entire blog is summed up right here. Just click this link, and check out 1 dozen articles written by
pet columnists, top trainers and behaviorists concerning the training methods of Cesar Milan. I am in agreement with all 12.
Two years ago when I started writing this blog (Happy Birthday A Dog's Life!) I spoke to the previous editor of Maine Today and asked him if I could write an article on why I was appalled at the National Geographic show The Dog Whisperer. This was two years ago and well before anyone had come publicly forward to do so. At first the answer was yes, but when we spoke again and I told him that the network would not be pleased and may sue us, he said he had to think about it. I worked hard on the article, and sent it to many friends and trainers to review and they all told me it needed to be read by the masses. But in the end, I chickened out. Although I do have freedom of the press, the risk of a law suit was overwhelming, and I was still a neebie at writing. While my blog on Mr Milan was still in the discussion phase, Pat Miller wrote an article on the subject for Bark magazine, that pretty much mirrored everything I had written so I decided to drop it. Just for the record, I do not have an editor as such and Maine Today never actually did forbid it, but the whole thing was just so dicey at that time, I took the easy way out, with my tail firmly tucked between my legs. There was also the chance that my blog would be canceled because of the article, and I bowed out for the greater good. In the last two years I have helped a lot of people and a lot of dogs and I wasn't ready to take that kind of risk.
So here it is two years later and I fell asleep last night watching (and cringing) to Dog Whisperer week on the National Geographic Channel. Oh brother, an entire week,of people sitting home playing arm chair trainer!
Some trainers think the show is good for the training biz industry. It shows the public that hiring a trainer can help them. Not me! Many force trainers embraced Cesar as a sort of second coming and dog training took a step back 20 years as more and more owners and trainers once again accepted force methods in training their dogs. People you do not have to use force and intimidation to train a dog. You relationship will ultimately suffer for it .
I am seeing fall out from the show. Lots of fall out. While we (trainer types) all universally agree that many of what Milan says is good info, there is nothing earth shattering about exercise, consistency and treating your dog as a canine and not a child. You can find this info in any training book or article.
What I do object to is the use of the force. I object to making force look so easy. Can you say EDIT? What I object strongest to is the use of force in working with shy and fearful dogs and the over use of force in showing electric shock, alpha rolls, and hanging on TV. All three of things would have gotten me fired when I taught at a Chain Pet Store many moons ago. Yet here it is on TV with Joe America trying it at home.
Guess what, I am seeing fall out and Dead dogs. You read right dead dogs. In the last 6 months alone, I have been called to homes where the owners or even worse, well meaning friends of the owners have practiced some of this and guess what, they got bit, or inadvertently got a child bit or a visitor not well known to the dog.
I am going to end it here and post a list from Dr. Rolan Tripp's web page listing a dozen articles written by educated people in the know of why force training is not the end all. Did you know that Cesar calls himself a dog behaviorist, but in order to actually be one you need to go to Vet school and get a PHD??? That is one of many things that burns trainers and behaviorists who have spent years studying their craft. Force training takes dog training back 20 years. No it is not still around because it works, it is still around, because people like to dominate, and get quick results. Guess what? Quick results are just that, quick results, They are not ultimate solutions and most people are not capable of doing things the Cesar Way. He has impeccable timing and how many times have you seen him bit on TV? What do you think that does for the dog owner's insurance policy by the way?
There is a big push by parents and trainer groups to add a P G-13 rating to the show because kids are rolling and correcting their dogs and putting themselves at risk using techniques seen on TV. I have seen this first hand as well. I don't let my own kids watch the show.
Dog training has evolved with the use of science! We clicker trainers actually use scientific data to back up what we teach. Did you know that? Did you know that most positive trainers and clicker trainers are cross over trainers? That means that we USED to use force and have found a much better way to teach our animals. It has been many years since I recommend a choke or a pinch collar to a client and it was only because the owners were infirm and weak.
about the photo
Thank you Suzan Morris for emailing me pictures from the Freestyle clinic. Take a look at my dogs face, expression and overall demeanor. I think this picture illustrates a dog who is a willing partner enjoying her work. Can any one name a Dog Whisperer episode where a dog looks this happy and willing to work? Come to think of it, have you ever seen him teach the Come command?
Just a reminder that Charlee is a rescue dog with deep routed fears of other dogs, and she can be reactive. Yet here she is working happily in a room with about 40 other dogs.
How did this come about? It took a lot of time, patience and positive reinforcement. It took science and classical and operant conditioning.
December 24, 2006
Where's Charlee # 12 the Season's Greetings from the Uvula Tree edition
My kids insisted that we drive on over to what my daughter has named the uvula
tree to take a Where's Charlee ( and Finney!) picture tonight. Unfortunately the lightning was not something that my camera understood. It looks much more like a uvula tree in person, and we can't drive past it without laughing.
First person to post a correct comment in the comment section wins a Maine Today Frisbee. In the possible event that there are no more Maine Today Frisbees, I will figure something else out!
You can look forward to many more Where's Charlee blogs to take place over this vacation week. My kids are full of new ideas!
December 21, 2006
On Christmas Morning
I don't usually post forwarded email poems, but I really liked this one. Thanks Donna!
On Christmas Morning
For every dog
searching trash cans for breakfast,
a filled bowl with his name printed in bright letters.
For every dog
who slept fitfully last night,
chained in a frozen yard,
a soft, warm bed
with a person snoring gently nearby.
For every shelter dog,
spending Christmas morning in an ugly, soiled run,
a forever home,
filled with sounds and smells of a loving family.
For every "Christmas" puppy
a tolerant, caring owner
who won't abandon you
as you grow into an adult dog.
For every ailing pet,
enough money for your owner
to pay the bills to make you well.
For every lost dog,
a clear, safe road,
and well marked path,
to lead you home.
For every old and tired friend,
a warm fire, and a soft bed,
to ease your aches and pains.
For every Heart Dog at Rainbow Bridge,
a moment when you know that you
are remembered today,
and loved forever.
Brewster trucks on
Brewster went home for a long weekend and he is back with us until after the new year. I have already spoken to the Vet about giving him pain pills if needed so we hopefully won't have to rush off the ER during the holidays. He is doing great, but it seemed a wise precaution given that he is on his seventh month of his predicated 2-6 months to live. His lymph nodes are bigger than golf balls.
A lot of people have asked me WHY I have taken this sick dog into my home at this time. Simple. We love him and he needs us. People have asked me how can I do this to the kids, and the answer is not so simple, but I don't feel I have a choice. My kids grew up with Brew and Brewster grew up with us.
Take a look at what middle school child drew in Kindergarten.
It almost physically hurts to look at it.
I noticed signs of him failing this morning, but before I could panic he snapped out of it. I would say his quality of life is excellent, but I am certain it won't be for long.
And that does physically hurt.
I take care of a dog named Brewster.
he is fat
he lost pounds
he is a Golden Retriever
December 20, 2006
Downward facing Doodle
"Rose" does Doga
Best Trick of the week. No make make that best trick of the month.
All I did was "capture" her stretch and then "lure" her head back. Now she "offers" Doga to the delight of everyone at the hosptial where she is in training to be a therapy dog for children.
DOGA, DOGA, DOGA
December 19, 2006
so I caved
Last month I wrote that I wouldn't buy the dogs anything for the holidays. In lieu of presents, I vowed to donate money to The Rabies Challenge Fund, and I did.
And it felt really really good.
I will always suspect that Dina, my last Border Collie died from over exposure to vaccines.
If I knew then what I know now....sigh.
If you haven't sent in a donation to the fund yet, maybe a reminder that tax time is coming will help get you running for your wallet.
Ok, so I caved. The dogs are getting presents after all. Really was there ever a doubt?
I bought 1/2 dozen extra large Natural Balance Rolls, and, 1/2 dozen Bully sticks
for my dogs and for a few of my wonderful, super, extra special clients. Nothing says I love you to a dog like meat and bull's penis right?
I have been relentlessly surfing for 2 new Pet beds. Heads up that the LL Bean Outlet in Portlland has the extra large beds for a great price. About 90 dollars with the covers. Had it in my hand. Put it back. A good friend and I have decided to try to make our own. Click here for DIY info. Basically you buy shredded memory foam in bulk and Kate will sew it. (right Kate? lol) Great idea no? Or you could re stuff an existing cover. I plan to put a Chucks pads on top of the foam as well. Much easier to keep clean and dry that way. By the way, I love chucks pads. Cotton on top, waterproof underneath. Great as a crate pad to.
Easy to clean. Easy to steal.
Oopps! Did I just write that? Like mother like daughter I guess. Right Mom?
Finney is starting agility in a few weeks and he is getting a few jackpot toys. Like most Collies, Finney is a bit cautious and these toys should help to get him motivated!
This just in! An email confirming that my FURminator has been shipped. (insert large cheers!) Check back soon for before and after pictures. Right now Charlee looks like she is wearing poofy brown dead fur pants...
And in case you were wondering, my youngest daughter is NOT getting the new pooper scooping Barbie.
Is it just me, or is Tanner eating his own crap?
What's next? Doggie Doolie Ken?
Bought 2 extra large beds at Mardens for $21!
December 17, 2006
Featured adoptable dog- Festus - from Almost Home Rescue
Don't you love Almost Home's new logo!
While I don't believe in giving dogs as gifts, especially during the holiday season, rescue dogs still need rescuing all year round. This blog is happy to feature dogs that may need a little extra exposure in order to find their person.
Meet Festus, a senoir Collie mix
Senior dogs like Festus, break the heart of any animal lover. Start the adoption process now and you can have Festus home in time for Festivus! Please accept apologies for bad joke. Couldn't help it!
Read more about Festus on the Almost Home Pet finder page here.
Top Ten Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog*
from the Senoir Dogs Project
1. Older dogs are housetrained. You won't have to go through the difficult stage(s) of teaching a puppy house manners and mopping/cleaning up after accidents.
Won't chew inappropriate items
2. Older dogs are not teething puppies, and won't chew your shoes and furniture while growing up.
Focus to learn
3. Older dogs can focus well because they've mellowed. Therefore, they learn quickly.
Knows what no means
4. Older dogs have learned what "no" means. If they hadn't learned it, they wouldn't have gotten to be "older" dogs.
Settle in with the "pack"
5. Older dogs settle in easily, because they've learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack.
Good at giving love
6. Older dogs are good at giving love, once they get into their new, loving home. They are grateful for the second chance they've been given.
7. What You See Is What You Get: Unlike puppies, older dogs have grown into their shape and personality. Puppies can grow up to be quite different from what they seemed at first.
8. Older dogs are instant companions -- ready for hiking, car trips, and other things you like to do.
Time for yourself
9. Older dogs leave you time for yourself, because they don't make the kinds of demands on your time and attention that puppies and young dogs do.
A good night's sleep
10. Older dogs let you get a good night's sleep because they're accustomed to human schedules and don't generally need nighttime feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.
May be slow to load, but oh so elfing worth it!
Follow the link --- make your own greeting --- and share it here!
December 13, 2006
FURminator you will be mine!
All this shopping shopping, shopping! Here is what I just ordered for myself.
The FURminator, A miracle of modern dog grooming!
I have no idea why FURmintors work so well, but they are amazing! Charlee has a thick undercoat and she sheds sheds shed. The last time I used one on her at a groomers, it looked like she dropped about 10 pounds. At the time they cost 60 bucks and I was too cheap (and broke!) to splurge and continued with the usual brushes, curry combs and shedding blades. But at 31 bucks including shipping from Amazon.com, I just ordered two! One for us and a gift for my sister.
Between the FURminator and the Ocean Omega Fish Oil, maybe I won't need a new vacuum (again!) this year!
December 11, 2006
Like the rest of the world, I have been busy.
Really really busy.
I won't bore you all with the minute details, but in between all the extra holiday stuff, and raising three kids, and keeping up the house, and caring for the dogs, I work! I love my job, but it is still work and still time spent away from my family. But yesterday I had the opportunity to combine work and family and it was a feel good job for all.
It is easy to loose sight of what is truly important in this world. Ask any happy family and they will tell you that the main thing to strive for is balance between work and family. Sounds much easier than it actually is. I can't stand the looks on my children's faces when they beg and plead with me to spend time with them instead of working. I am lucky because I love my job, and make my own hours, but I still have to leave the kids more often than I would like to.
Today was just a bit different. After school today all three of my kids came along on a job.
Help a five month old puppy at a busy shop in downtown Portland overcome his fear of little kids. Today was all about making great positive associations for the puppy with kids. By using my kids who know how to interact with dogs and have no fear, things progressed at a rapid pace.
Dogs and puppies who like kids are good with kids, and this was a job tailor made for us!
I started with 9 year old middle child. We entered dropping lots goodies on the floor and while the puppy was hesitant at first, he warmed up quickly once we added a tennis ball. Next we added the 5 year old and puppy loved her. My 13 year old son joined us shortly there after and the puppy barely even noticed him.
We stayed much longer than the usual allotted time and by the time we were getting ready to go, both my girls were nearly crying and begging to take the puppy home with us as they rolled around on the floor with him. When customers came in the 5 year old proudly announced to any one who would listen that she was the dog trainer.
When it was time to settle up my bill, I took the shop owner aside and we discussed letting the kids pick out a few things on barter. After all they did all the work. Spending a few hours with my kids, a great puppy and a wonderful owner, sure didn't much feel like work anyway. My kids were beaming with pride as they left the shop with their new acquisitions.
Money isn't everything!
December 10, 2006
Volhard Canine Personality Profile (aka CPP)
I got a lot of positive feedback about how much you all enjoyed taking the Penn State Behavior questionnaire yesterday. If you liked that one, here is another much shorter one to try. This one does not distinguish between human and canine elicited responses. There is an on line version, just scroll down to the middle of the page. At the end of the test you will get the results of your dog's drive. Drive being what motivates your dog, such as...
The test will help you to distinguish the following:
Prey drive, pack drive, defense fight, and defense flight.
Your dog's natural drive will influence how you train them, ie toys, food, play, work. When I attended the Carolyn Scott Freestyle clinic she had us do an interesting test. We had to put our treats and toys away and we had one minute to find other ways to motivate our dogs to work for us. In competition of any dog sport there is no food and no toys allowed. Some people ran, and jumped and changed directions. Others blew in their dogs face, and some played a gentle shoving type game to name a few. I played a very successful mouth oriented got your feet game that Charlee and I often play. Originally I worked with her on that to help her to learn bite inhibition, since she didn't have it when we adopted her at 9 months. By the way it is not proven that bite inhibition can be taught after puppy hood, but I have given it my best shot and believe that she is much improved with the exercises we have done over the years and I no longer have bruises to prove it!
Click here to take the Volhard Canine personality Profile (aka CPP).
Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire
Penn State is conducting a very interesting on line canine behavior study. The more dogs that participate in the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, the more accurate the results will be.
At the end of the 5 minute survey, you will receive your dogs results.
I think it is a very worthwhile way to spend 5 mintues.
Click here to take the test.