B is for Baseball Caps

Baseball caps?

What does that have to do with positive training — or dogs, for that matter?

Baseball caps are great accessories between hair washes. They also keep the sun out of my eyes and add an extra layer of SPF protection.

Even more useful in the Pacific Northwest, they keep the rain out of my eyes. I like to wear them when I go on boats or into the woods for work, though that results in rather close quarters between my camera and the brim of the hat, especially when the pop-up flash enters the equation.

The past several months, my collection of caps has gotten a lot of use during dog walks. In addition to giving raindrops a platform to bounce off a few inches from my face, the brim shields my eyes from the headlamp I wear after dark to illuminate the street and assist in poop pickup. The hat itself cushions my forehead from the lamp as well.

headlamp

Most importantly, they make me happy.

Here’s an assortment of images of me wearing baseball caps with my beloved babies.

B

For more about my journey to discovering the benefits of positive reinforcement, read my book, Bark and Lunge!

Heart Like a Dog

 

Also, join the fun in the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog.

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Speaking up for positive training

Several of us in the positive training community were distressed a few months ago when a company that sells shock collars courted dog bloggers to convince them of the virtues of aversive training. It felt like we were backsliding. Were these methods coming back into style?

I’m happy to tell you that at least one organization is moving in the other direction. Amazing Pet Expos, which has put on nearly 100 events across the country since 2009, is now an all-positive event.

In 2013, Sheila Rilenge, president of show development for the expo, announced:

… we made a major change this year by prohibiting companies and trainers who use aversive techniques from participating in our event. Trainers or behaviorists (or any other type of exhibitor), may no longer sell or demonstrate pinch collars, choke collars, heavy chain collars/leads or electric/shock collars at the (St. Louis) Pet Expo; this also includes invisible fence products. We also won’t tolerate Alpha rolls, hard neck or body ‘pokes’ and leash jerks.

I met Sheila last year at BarkWorld, and upon hearing their policy, knew I wanted to participate. On Feb. 21, I will take the stage at the SoCal Pet Expo at 1:45 to speak about positive training.

My Pet Naturally

Reading at My Pet … Naturally in Los Angeles

 

For this installment of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, I’d like to share a bit of my presentation for the SoCal Pet Expo… except I haven’t prepared it yet.

Since Bark and Lunge came out last summer, I’ve had four readings where I talked about aversive training, the damage it did to my dog, and why I now advocate for force-free training. I tailored my speech for each group: at the Humane Society and Village Books, I spoke about my first failures with chain and prong collars and the realization that the “corrections” were exacerbating Isis’s reactivity to other dogs. At My Pet … Naturally in Los Angeles, I sprinkled in a bit of our experience with raw feeding. My most recent reading was at Sunny Lane, one of my positive trainers’ facilities, where I read the first scene that took place there.

The SoCal Pet Expo will be the first audience that isn’t there specifically to see me. I only have 30 minutes. I’ll have to introduce myself and explain that I’m not a dog professional, just a regular ol’ dog guardian. (I hope no one walks away at that point, thinking “Why should I listen to what this chick has to say?”) At my other events, I’ve started out by reading the prologue from my book, then skipped ahead to some training scenes. This time, maybe I won’t read at all, but instead summarize the overall experience and lessons learned.

I remember how inspiring Victoria Stilwell was at BarkWorld 2013. Here’s an article about her talk there a few years earlier. That’s what I’m going for. I may not have a TV show, or an accent, and I won’t be wearing boots, because I’ll also be standing at a booth the rest of the day. But I know I can match her passion.

Positive TrainingFebruary is Responsible Pet Owners Month, and this is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and My Rubicon Days. You’re invited to share your posts about how responsibility relates to training, or any other positive training topic!

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Keeping my senior dog spry

meezyballsmile pt

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month.

We didn’t set out to adopt a senior, but Mia fell into our laps three years ago and I have nothing but good things to say about adopting seniors. I’d do it again (and probably will). You should too.

With younger dogs, I’ve been guilty of not taking them to the vet for regular check-ups when they seem perfectly fine, but I decided to be more proactive with Mia.

It’s odd to have no idea what your dog’s medical history is. When we first got Mia, we tested her blood, and learned that she had high antibody levels for parvo, distemper and rabies. As far as I’m concerned, that means she never needs to be vaccinated again. And I’m lucky that my local licensing agency accepts titers as proof of rabies immunity.

On the first anniversary of her life with us, I had Mia’s hips X-rayed. She had some arthritis in her right hip, but nothing serious or unusual.

A few months ago, the vet made Mia squeak when he checked her right hip. I didn’t even notice, because she squeaks a lot, especially at the vet. He suggested I consider putting her on arthritis medication, and I said I’d give it some thought. I’d gotten pretty lax about adding the K9 Glucosamine to Mia’s meals; maybe I should try that first. And add salmon oil to the cocktail.

No need to rush into drugs since Mia hadn’t shown any signs of discomfort in her right hip.

She could still keep up with Leo in the yard and leapt on the couch easily as always. Until the one day when I watched her hop down from the couch favoring her right leg. I followed her around the house and outside, watching her. She was clearly limping, not putting weight on her right leg.

The limp went away a couple of days later, but my decision had been made. I googled all the side effects of NSAIDs for dogs and no question, the benefits of easing Mia’s pain outweigh any potential risks. We’ll have her blood checked regularly to make sure there’s no liver toxicity.

On the way home from picking up her prescription, I asked, “Mia, how would you like to take your pill? With peanut butter or cheese?” She voted cheese.

Three weeks later, we had our first blood test. The doctor said the levels in her liver were fine, low even. He asked how she was doing. I said, “She’s running faster.”

I expect that sooner or later, she’s going to figure out to swallow the cheese and spit out the pill, so to make life easier and save money, both on the pills and the string cheese, I mail-ordered meat-flavored generic Quellin chewables. I can’t wait for them to get here.

fitDogFridayThis post is part of the FitDog Friday Blog Hop hosted by SlimDoggy, To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life.

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It’s also Pet Health Awareness Month!

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WOOF! Holiday Challenges

Welcome to the latest WOOF Blog Hop. We’re Working Out Our Fears about holiday challenges!
bug hut.jpg

We put our presents on top of Leo’s hut instead of under the tree. He’d open them otherwise.

My biggest challenge is leaving the dogs behind. My preference is to spend every single second with Mia and Leo. They’ve gotten so well-behaved when we take them to Rob’s parents’ house. As long as we put the butter in the microwave and out of Leo’s reach, he doesn’t get in any trouble at all. Not since last Thanksgiving, when he made off with a turkey drumstick after we finished eating.

Leo gets his own couch at the grandparents'.

Leo gets his own couch at the grandparents’.

This year, Rob and I are going to see my family in Southern California. Fortunately, Rob’s dad, Jerry, is the best ever dog sitter and stays at our house. Even though his own TV is twice as big, I think Jerry enjoys spending quiet evenings here with Mia and Leo, watching Netflix on our 40-inch TV.

I was feeling kind of guilty for making him stay here Thanksgiving eve and Thanksgiving night, but actually, maybe he’s happy to get out of whatever Black Thursday shopping Rob’s mom has in store.

We’re a little too reliant on Jerry when we go out of town, which became clear last month. We had two weekend trips planned for October and I had just purchased our Thanksgiving plane tickets when we learned that Jerry had to have surgery on one of the weekends we planned to be gone.

At first, Rob’s mom, Alice, said she’d stay at our house that weekend, but that quickly became ridiculous. We decided to board Leo at a place he’s stayed before where dogs get to play outside during the day. I’d hate for him to be kenneled all day. Leo is such a live-in-the-moment kind of guy, I think boarding him is harder on me than it is on him.

Because we had to leave early for the airport, we imposed on Alice to drive Leo to and from the boarding facility. This worked out great for me, because I didn’t have to suffer the agony of leaving him in the play yard and driving away.

I knew Leo would be fine. Leo is always fine. Still, I fretted. I called Alice as soon as we landed to make sure she didn’t forget to take him. And then I waited, expecting her to call me after she dropped him off. I knew she had a lot on her mind. Jerry’s surgery was the next day! When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I called their house again. Jerry answered again. I think this was the third time I’d called, the day before his surgery, to ask something about my dog. I had to. My chest was in knots. The last time I’d seen Leo was at 5 am and his big brown eyes looked so sad as he watched us load our suitcases in the car. (Rob said Leo was just sleepy.)

When Alice came to the phone, she described Leo sitting on the front seat of the truck. “He’s so tall!” I pictured long, lean Leo, head almost touching the car roof, smiling out the window, and that image replaced the lonesome one I’d been holding onto since we left the house. My chest relaxed. I actually shed a little tear.

That left Mia, once believed to be our perfect dog, but lately revealed to be a house-destroyer. It’s possible that Mia would be fine if she were boarded with Leo, but more likely she’d squeak and whistle and cry, and possibly tear apart the walls of the kennel.

Lucky for us, Joyce, the pet sitter who stayed with Mia when Rob’s parents took us to Hawaii (the last time we boarded Leo) agreed to take Mia to her house. I said, “If you have to leave her alone, probably you want to put her in the backyard.” And lovely Joyce said, “She won’t be left alone.”

How comforting is that?

Joyce picked up Mia after we left, and brought her back after Alice had retrieved Leo on the day we returned, which meant that our pups were waiting for us when we got home! Alice reported that Joyce and her sister and her little dog had “fallen in love with Mia. She can stay with them any time.”

I know how lucky we are to have such wonderful dog sitters. My chest doesn’t have to be in knots the whole time I’m away from them. Still, I always feel most relaxed and safe when we’re all home together.

What do you do with your dogs when you have to be away? Does it break your heart to leave them behind? Is it harder on you than it is on them?

Oz the TerrierDo you have a reactive or fearful dog? Please join us and share your story. The Blog Hop is open through Sunday, November 16, hosted by Oz the Terrier and Wag ‘n Woof Pets.

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Rethinking dog cloning

Several weeks ago, I glibly asked if you’d clone your dog. Because who wouldn’t want to have a second and third and fourth lifetime with their bestest friend?

I was surprised how many commenters said they’d never do it. In my fantasy, scientists could mix up a little cocktail of Isis DNA in a petri dish and boom, another baby Isis is born. I had not thought about the number of laboratory dogs involved in the process. First, an egg must be harvested from a dog, and then a surrogate dog must carry the embryo. Hundreds of dogs have been experimented on, and hundreds of mutant puppies born and killed in the quest to bring dead pets back to life. It’s a gruesome business, and sure, maybe acceptable if the end goal is curing cancer, but not for our amusement.

In Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend, John Woestendiek writes:

That dog cloning would go commercial is exactly what animal welfare groups feared most. It would mean more animals being used for their eggs and as surrogates, more capitalizing on the grief of pet owners. And in a world already overpopulated with dogs — where millions a year are put down in America alone — coming up with a new way to create them, factory style, seemed disingenuous, if not irresponsible.

Woestendiek makes a point, but overall, I found his narrative tiresome. He follows the stories of the cloning pioneers, spending more time on the politics and peculiar life histories of the players than what actually happens to the animals, perhaps because that information is not available.

How many trials and errors and eggs and surrogates it took to produce Missy’s clone isn’t known. With the work being conducted at a private institute in Korea, that data remained secret…

Another issue is that the people who could afford to pay for their dogs to be cloned are complete weirdos.

I’d said I would pay any amount to have Isis back … for science (and a book deal). Again, this is a fantasy where no dogs are harmed in the making of another Isis. My book would be about how alike or dissimilar the Isis clone baby was to the original, based on my having learned from all the mistakes I made the first time around.

Now that I know the cost to other dogs, I don’t want to tell that story anymore.

Maybe as science fiction…

Instead of spending time and money on cloning, let’s find homes for dogs in shelters, like Gibson here! He’s available at the Humane Society of Skagit Valley, and he loves to play!

Gibson

TuesdaysTailsBlogHopOfficialBadge_zpsb5025ffeThe Tuesday’s Tails blog hop is hosted by Dogs N Pawz and Talking Dogs, featuring shelter pets. Find a pet at your local animal shelter or rescue and join in!

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Things that go blink in the night

What do dedicated dog owners do when the sun goes down?

Walk their dogs anyway!

To a degree, it can be easier for us to walk Leo when it’s dark and cold, because there are fewer joggers and cyclists.

We took our first afterdark walk of the season on Saturday, and realized that one of our blinky reflector collar clip-on things is broken and the other is lost.

Good thing Rob’s sister sent me a PetSmart gift card for my birthday!

The salesgirl sheepishly told me that the only light-up thingies they had were on the Halloween display. Thinking I was going to have to choose between a candycorn headband and a pumpkin bandanna with one blinky light, I was delighted to discover a selection of Dog-e-Glow collars and leashes. Some of them had Halloween patterns, yes, but you can see from the company’s website that their collars and leashes aren’t novelty items. They’re exactly what I was looking for!

The collars were on sale for $15.99 from $19.99, and although the choices was limited, they happened to have patterns that suit our doggies (and us) perfectly.

*I wasn’t compensated for this post, but if PetSmart or Dog-e-Glow want to send me matching leashes, I wouldn’t send them back!

And now, I present to you a video of the Dog-e-Glow collars in action. Perhaps not my most visually slick production, since darkness is required to appreciate the glory of the collars’ two settings: steady glow and blinky. It has a ’70s horror film feel to it, right?

 

5811656This post is a follow-up to the National Walk Your Dog Week Blog Hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads and My GBGV Life.

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Fit Dog Friday

My GBGV Life also co-hosts FitDog Friday with SlimDoggy, and To Dog With Love.

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