Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

This post had nothing whatsoever to do with dogs

Fun on the Colorado River. I spent 15 days paddling the Colorado River with a group of women over 40.

You can still make a donation to help animals at the Nebraska Humane Society. I have been part of Blogathon2011. 24 hours of blogging every hour.



I figured I’d start the new day, for those of you who went to bed, with a video showing fairly typical behavior for a dog who did not experience novelty as a pup. Sunny has lived in our house for 6 years. The behavior you see in this video is caused by a change in the environment. In this case a leather bag I am drying by the fire. His tolerance to changes like this has improved by early deprivation is often irreparable.

Puppies need exposure to non-threatening novelty in order to develop the resiliency to cope with all that the world will throw at them.

I am now passing the plate and inviting you to make a donation to help an animal you’ll never meet.

Says who?

One of the statements I often hear in regard to training both fearful and non-fearful dogs is that someone used a particular technique with their dog and it ‘worked’. I have to assume that what they mean is that they were able to change their dog’s behavior to meet their needs. ‘Their’ being the owner’s. This is important of course, dogs won’t last long in a home if they are not able to meet their owner’s expectations, but I usually have two questions.

1. Did it also ‘work’ for the dog?

2. What does ‘working’ look like?

I may be able to get a fearful dog to sit while a child comes over and pets him/her. This may work for me, but if the dog is afraid, it sure isn’t ‘working’ for them. It may tragically end up not working for the child if I’m not careful.

If merely getting compliance from a dog is what counts as success, I may disagree with the assessment that something has ‘worked’. A dog who appears to be calm and nonplussed by a situation may in actuality be stressed and zoning out. This doesn’t qualify as ‘working’ in my opinion.

When I want to know if a training method worked I don’t just ask the owner, I ask the dog.

I’m participating in Blog-a-thon 2011 to help raise money for homeless animals at the Nebraska Humane Society.

Commercial break

This blog is part of Blogathon2011. 24 hours of hourly blogging to help raise money for animal related causes. You can help by making a donation to the Nebraska Humane Society. All donation are tax deductible and will be matched in kind. So your money doubles itself. It’s the best investment around. Click here to make your contribution. No amount too small!

Stay tuned! I’ll be back in an hour after this commercial break.

Make mine a double!

I’m participating in Blog-a-thon 2011 to help raise money for homeless animals at the Nebraska Humane Society

It’s getting late. I’m fading. How about a double medium latte! If you donate the $3.50 to buy me a virtual high caffeine drink I may be able to push through to morning. Anyone?

Click here to buy me that latte!


black & white drawing of a man spraying on deodorant Ok, so it’s getting late and as I was flipping through my catalog of clip art I came upon this image. Never in my life could I imagine ever needing to use it, and that made me want to come up with an excuse to include a black & white drawing of a man with superman hair spraying on deodorant, in a blog post. There are some other gems in this collection of 250,000 images. And I suppose that to come up with 250,000 images you may very well need to include at least one of someone spraying on deodorant.

I am drawn to how peaceful he seems, serious yet a small smile seems to be playing at the corner of his lips. Not even a smidgeon of embarrassment being drawn as a man doing what should be left to the privacy of one’s bathroom. And how about those cheek bones and that jaw! Not only is he ruggedly flawless, he cares about personal hygiene.

Could I, with any semblance of legitimacy, come up with a post about dogs that would warrant the use of this image? Give me a minute, I’m still thinking….. I could go with something about smell, dogs having much finer tuned sense of smell than we do, but I prefer metaphor. So before my hour runs out and I need to get another post up, I guess I can’t do it. How about you? Can you ‘throw me a bone’ and help me come up with ideas?

At this point they may be regretting inviting me to the party but this post was written for Blog-a-thon 2011 to help raise money for homeless animals at the Nebraska Humane Society. Click here to donate!

Dogs go crazy too

Donate to help the people helping the animals.

Crazy may not be the clinical term for it, but dogs can also go from being normal, healthy, high functioning dogs to behavioral car wrecks (also not the clinical term). Henry David Thoreau wrote-

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Many dogs refuse to go quietly, barking their discontent until they are silenced with shocks, sprays, and other threats. Others break. The dog in the following video was sent to a ‘sanctuary’ after the hurricanes of 2005. He, along with others, did not get out of the travel cages they were transported in for 5 weeks. That’s 5 weeks stuck in a cage barely big enough to stand up and turn around in. Food and water were inconsistent or nonexistent. I can’t imagine the fear and desperation these dogs experienced. When he was ‘freed’ he had developed this bowl pushing OCD.

This post is part of Blogathon2011. 24 hours of hourly blogging.

Dogs I have loved

It’s time for a bit nostalgia, which is way better than 2am angst.

I was born into a household with a dog, a black mongrel with brown spotted eye brows. I heard once that Native Americans had a name for these markings on a dog, but damned if I can remember what it was. When I was around 7 years old he went missing on the 4th of July. I cried for days. I got a stye in my eye and thought it was called a ‘pig stye’ which was confusing because that was also what my room was called. Blackie was found a week later miles and miles away living on someone’s porch. I remember my father using a pliers with a coffee can of alcohol on the ground next to him, to pull off the hundreds of tablet sized ticks on him. I had to go off because I couldn’t bear the sound of the dog’s yelping. Blackie lived a few more years and one night he didn’t come home. I found him dead under the bushes in front of our house. He was a gentle dog who I wish I could meet again now that I’m an adult and might see him for the magnificent friend he was.

girl sitting on floor with dog jumping over her legAfter Blackie we adopted Samantha, an untrained smooth coat fox terrier that had been forced to live in my cousin’s basement. The first day I tried to take her for a walk when I came home from school at lunch she ran away from me. I remember crying, my fish net stocking puddling around my ankles. I also remember being so mad when she came home. I had a flash of understanding that she didn’t know why I was yelling at her, but I yelled anyway. She died from complications caused by eating stockings. During the summer she did accompany me on walks through the cranberry bogs. My mother always told me to ‘take the dog’. I think she believed that Sam would protect me from evil doers. But this was over 40 years ago and kids still did things like go for walks by themselves and could be protected by fat little dogs.

For my 16th birthday I was gifted with an 8 week old puppy I named Treble. We were in love. She was beautiful, a bit sensitive and when I left her with my parents when I went away to college I suspect I broke her heart. She broke mine when I had to euthanize her after she was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. One winter we slept in a rickety cabin above a shed that had a ramp she had to climb to get up into it. Her waterbowl froze next to an ineffective woodstove. After I buried her a friend’s dog followed me around and slept with me, uninvited. To date it was probably the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.

BC, a cute spaniel mix showed up at the summer camp where I was working when I buried Treble. I called him BC because he was wearing a blue collar. I think that collar is still lying around somewhere. BC had a better social life than I did. Counselors at the camp would take him for rides into town, he’d join them on mountain bike rides and jogs. Someone once told me they found him and another dog named Whitefield, who lived with us briefly, hanging out on an island they would have had to swim to. They swam back home too. BC moved to Vermont with my husband and I (we wouldn’t marry for another 17 years, and I always thought that the only reason John was spending time with me was because he loved BC and BC loved me). We had a dog door and BC’s dog friends in the neighborhood would come in, get him out of our bed and they’d go roaming the woods around our house. Rosie, our neighbor’s dog was such a regular visitor that we sent her home with a note on her collar that said ‘send cookies’ and the next morning she arrived with a bag of sugar cookies tied to her neck. I dug BC’s grave years before he died, always expecting that he’d never make it another year.

woman & cocker spaniel on agility courseMy friend John Farrar developed a brain tumor and when he died I was bequeathed his 2 female cocker spaniels, a mother/daughter pair, a red and a buff. These girls were the cutest, sweetest, easiest dogs I’ve ever lived with. Aside from stealing sandwiches from people picnicking when we went on hikes, they were dream dogs. I keep looking for them to have them back in my life again. Though they lived long lives, both their deaths were tragic and I cry even thinking about it, so there’s no way I’m going to write about it.

For a few years Spanky, a cute terrier mix lived with us. Spanky had been my sister’s dog but when he started to refuse to go outside and began pooping in closets he came to live with me. It turns out that a malfunctioning electric fence collar had burned him. No one thought to consider it as a cause for his behavior. I only found out about it years later and put 2 & 2 together. Spanky was a good dog, who refused to sleep at the foot of the bed and took up too much room. He had to be put to sleep after rupturing a disk. Our last day together was spent cross country skiing and Spanky was in the lead.

Finn our border collie came to live with us after the older of our cockers died. He is sweet boy who deserves better than what he has with me. He deserves a flock of his own sheep.2 black dogs holding the same frisbee We are his 7th home and he has never met a person he didn’t think could throw a frisbee for him. He is probably the main reason my fearful dog Sunny has done as well as he has. Sunny is ruthless about stealing frisbees from Finn, but Finn only grumbles a bit and goes and finds another.

buff cocker faceAnnie was suppose to be my beloved buff cocker Sabu. I knew she wasn’t but I so missed having a cuddly little cocker snuggled up against me under the covers that when I saw her face on Petfinder, and she was nearby, I had to give her a chance. She’s easily aroused, has piss poor social skills when it comes to meeting new dogs, and she barks at people way too much, but under it all she’s a sweet dog. She lived for 6 years with the same family and then had her life upended. I have tried to make her happy.

Honor the memory of a dog you have loved by making a donation to support a humane society struggling to meet the needs of homeless pets. Click here to make your tax deductible donation. All donations will be matched in kind.

Incompatible behaviors

This post was written for Blog-a-thon 2011 to help raise money for homeless animals at the Nebraska Humane Society. Click here to donate! If you have appreciated learning about fearful dogs on this blog you can pay it forward by making a donation. Remember any amount is appreciated, is tax deductible, and will be doubled. A $10 donation will be matched and earn the shelter $20. It’s a pretty good deal and donating money to help others help animals is incompatible with complacency.

Instead of just trying to stop behaviors you don’t like, give your dog something else to do instead and make that a habit! Incompatible behaviors are behaviors that are impossible to perform along with the behavior you don’t like. Teach a dog to sit and they won’t be jumping on you. Teach a dog to go get a ball and they won’t be charging the people walking by the fence.

You can use the same principle in regard to emotions. If a dog can learn to feel good around the things that scare them, they won’t be feeling bad! It’s hard to be sad when you are eating a hot fudge sundae (I prefer mine with peppermint stick ice cream).

In this video you’ll see how play & performing tricks helps my fearful dog feel better about being around people. Make no doubt about it, Sunny remains fearful of most people. He was not socialized to people early in his life and that’s what happens to a dog. He’ll never be a ‘gee I think you’re swell’ kind of dog with people, though he is with me, his primary caregiver. However he had learned skills for coping around people.

Bedtime story

Here’s the scariest story I know. You can lie down if you like, but leave the lights on. You’ll probably sleep better if you make a donation to help animals sleeping in shelters.