Old dogs

One of the saddest things I see come across my FB feed are senior dogs looking for a home.  There are often small stories that accompany the photo; explaining that the dog is relinquished from a family that couldn't cope and/or didn't want to deal with old dog issues any longer.  What is wrong with people?  

Sometimes things change in life and humans must re-home a dog.  I do not judge people for this, shit happens as they say.  Perhaps they have to move somewhere where there dogs can not live with them; maybe they have dogs that don't get along.  No matter what, finding a new and wonderful home is the thing to do.  But getting rid of an old dog because it is old?  Inexcusable!!!!

You don't have time?  You don't want to clean and pick up after your old dog?  You can't deal with the slow pace and needs of your old dog?  Horrible.  So you took everything that your puppy, young dog and adult dog had to give and then walked away when it was your turn to give?  

I love old dogs. There is nothing like being gifted with the joy of time spent together.  Many people are never lucky enough to have an old dog; their dog passed far before it's time.  Old dogs require patience, kindness and tenderness.  I remember walking slower than a snail pace with my old girl Tilley as she recovered from Vestibular disease.  Patience was required as we barely moved around the park.  I remember hovering over Luke as he hunched to take a poop. I stood in the ready to catch him if his legs gave out as they had often done when he had his morning poop.  He hated being touched when he pooped so I had to help him in his blind spot.  This was done out of love and I felt honored to have been able to give him a helping hand when needed.  

There is nothing like caring for a dog who needs you.  Nothing comes close to giving out of love.  To offer unconditional love and care to a dog who has given their all to you.  

I just don't get how people can dump a senior dog when it is their turn to receive.  It is a horrible kind of person who does this; someone that you don't want to be associated with.  

Old dogs need our caring arms (metaphorically speaking) wrapped around them as they move into their golden years and beyond.  When the time comes for them to leave this world of ours; they should go by our side knowing the love that they deserve.  Giving the gift of your time, love, care and tenderness to an old dogs is where we show our true colors.  

K9 Affairs of the Heart

I sat listening intently.  "I want him to love me the most" he said.  I was at a new client visit and what the male guardian was saying was that he wanted his dog to love him more than his wife.  This was not the first time I'd heard this from a new guardian.  "She doesn't love me at all," one woman said; resulting from her dogs avoidance of her and desire to be with her husband.  

When asked :how can I get them to love me more?" this is what I tell them.

Dogs choose their people; you cannot make a dog love you or want to be with you.  Much like people, they either want to be with you or they do not.  Of course it is much easier to help sway a dog's mind in this department.  Time, time spent with a dog factors in hugely on who they like to spend time with.  It is not gifts, toys, treats or a new soft bed; it is quality time spent with your dog.  

You can say that you spend time with your dog or that you want to but are you really?  Words are just that, words.  Actions speak volumes.  Don't even get me started on words vs. actions.  

Being a great leader can sway a dog's devotion as well.  Kind and patience guidance works wonders.  I often ask the sorrowful guardian "do you spend time with your dog?"  The answer is clear by the look on their face.  "Do you walk, train, feed and groom your dog?"  Once again their face tells the story.  

Dogs are easy, give and you shall receive.  It is all about bonding and connecting.  The minute that a dog enters your life you start the process of building your relationship.  If one party gives more of themselves than the other then the lessor will be the one who misses out on something amazing.  Dogs give their all; they deserve one, two or more guardians to reciprocate.  

Are you doing your part?

Dogs and the unexpected

Life has a way of throwing us a curve ball.  What you may have thought your life was going to look like out in front of you can change drastically in a heartbeat.  Change can come in the form of small uneventful moments or monumentally huge transitions.  The same can happen to our dogs.  

One moment can change everything; and depending on the dog and their age time frame will factor in the lingering effects.  When we see changes in our dog's behavior; it can difficult at times to know what has happened.  We stand pondering and pondering.  What happened?  Sometimes we can figure it out, other time not.  So what do we do?  We live in the moment, deal with what is in front of us.

The first thing you may want to do is get some help.  It is amazing how many people will not reach out to someone in the know.  A little advice can go a long way in helping you dog to get over an unexpected behavior change.  Sometimes it takes someone on the outside who is very experienced in dog behavior to have a look and figure it out.  

If you hire someone to help you; make sure that the behavior specialist listens.  Yes, listens to you.  I hate when I go see a specialist of any sort who doesn't listen to me.  Listening to the person you are trying to help only helps with the diagnosis so if they don't listen, move on to the next.

This is one reason I love my online consults so much, I have to rely on the guardian to help with me what's going on.  This means asking the right questions to get to the bottom of the it all.  It is amazing how many times how just the right question will be all that is needed to draw up a positive and corrective plan of attack.  Listening.

Things can change in life and we have no choice but to deal with that change.  But we can help our situation by hiring help.  After all it is a human world that our dogs live in so we humans need to assist them.  

Dogs and "ah ha" moments

The quiet moment before the fog lifts

The quiet moment before the fog lifts

"Ah ha" moments, the phrase that Oprah made famous.  Most of us have "ah ha" moments throughout our lives and it can be a huge catalyst to change.  As far as our dogs are concerned, they too have "ah ha" moments.  They learn and have huge life altering moments like us.  We also have canine "ah ha" moments when living with dogs and learning from them.

One of my big "ah ha" moments was years ago when I shaved my boy Clyde completely.  You can read about it here in an article that was done on me several years back.  The article was suppose to be about the book that I had just published but they picked up on the "ah ha" moment and loved it.  It was a moment when I realized that I wasn't doing what I loved anymore.  So much time spent on hair, washing, fluffing and clipping, for what?  I knew for sure that Clyde did not enjoy standing for hours at a time being brushed and primped so off it came, all of it; and I never looked back.  

The moment for me was huge; no more poofy poodles for me.  The "ah ha" hey like all other dogs were one in the same; albeit donning a different exterior.  Don't get me wrong, I think that Standard Poodles are unbelievably amazing.  I have lived with one, two or more at a time for over 30 years.  But they are not amazing because they can sport fancy hair; they are amazing for who they are on the inside. This was a turning point in my life.

I have always loved dogs.  I can't remember a time when I wasn't thinking about dogs is some shape or form.  They fascinate me just by being dogs.  

There have been many "ah ha" moments over the years, living with and training dogs.  I love when it happens and sometimes it happens in a big way.  As if someone knocks you on the forehead with education sledgehammer.  If we pay attention to our dogs there is no doubt to be many, many "ah ha" moments.  

Sometimes in training I am perplexed by a behavior; but when I sit and watch quietly, blocking out everything but the dog and environment , the answer can come quickly.  That "ah ha" can be monumental.

Our dogs "ah ha" moments can be just as monumental.  

What is an "ah ha" moment?  A juncture in time when everything becomes clear.  The fog lifts away and you are left with a clear and precise message.  "AH HA!!!"

Dogs and Mental Stress

Is your dog stressed out?  First let's discuss stress and what it actually is.  

Mental Stress - A form of stress that occurs because of how events in one's external or internal environment are perceived, resulting in the psychological experience of distress and anxiety (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Mental stress is often accompanied by physiological responses (Cacioppo, 1994)

Stress can be caused by anything that we or our dogs perceive as an issue that is difficult to deal with.  Stress is a bad thing; it is seriously tasking on the body.  If you have dealt with stress in a big way then you understand what it can do; not only to your mental state but your physical capacity as well.  

So what can cause stress in our dogs?  Anything.  Each and everyone of our dogs is different.  How they deal with the world around them is just as individual as they are.  My man Luke who is now gone was a stress monkey.  Meaning that there was a great deal that he stressed about.  Stress can be triggered by monumental events in life or tiny day to day things.  The important thing is to keep stress away as far as you can.  

I have heard many owners tell me about their dogs and how they have to live separate lives.  Each dog in a different room; alone all day because they don't get a long.   That is most definitely a stressful environment for a dog.  This is a choice that some humans make for their dog but it may not be the best situation for any of these dogs.  Sometimes placing a dog is a much kinder thing to do.

Dogs that are under socialized can lead a very stressful life.  Those who are left alone all day for hours and hours at a time can be stressed.  But like ourselves, each deals with it in their own way.  So what one dog can deal with does not mean that another can.  It is important that we know our dogs and understand what they can deal with.  

Stress was a trigger for Luke's epileptic seizures; I tried very hard to keep stress out of his life as much as possible.  Elsa does not stress about too much although she is a very serious caregiver with a watchful eye over me; so she does worry about my well being and whereabouts.  Any sign of emotional turmoil from me and she kicks into gear.  Once she feels that I am okay then she relaxes once again. She can also become stressful when dogs that she perceives as scary or a threat to her are near; because she was seriously attacked out of nowhere. 

Stress is serious.  We hear this all the time don't we?  

5 Signs that your dog is stressed

10 Human behaviors that stress out dogs

Know your dog and what they can deal with.  Actually as I finish this blog, Elsa and I are now heading to the harbor for a walk.  There will be feathers there and they most definitely stress you out, yep feathers.  

 

 

Are you strangling your dog?

I was driving down the street today when I noticed a large but young Siberian Husky out of the corner of my eye.  I stopped at the red light and had a better look at the big boy.  He was with a young girl and he was very literally dragging her down the street.  They got to a section where there was some construction on the sidewalk and had to veer around it.  

The Siberian had other plans; he wanted to visit with the guys working on the sidewalk.  The young girl yanked and pulled until he finally followed along unhappily.  He was being strangled while on his walk.  I could see the chain and how tight it was around his neck.  Why do we strangled dogs and think nothing of it?  

I've stopped people to try to educate them on strangling and choking their dog and all but a few have been very angry with me.  "Mind your own business," is what I am usually told.  Isn't it the strangest thing?  If we put a chain around our neck and someone pulled on it we would most definitely freak out; yet people to it all the time without a second thought.  

Dogs are being strangled; some slowly, other very abruptly.  But if you throw a chain, nylon or leather choke collar on your dog and apply pressure, strangling.  

Strangulation - to compress or constrict

This needs to be stopped.  Almost all dogs should wear a harness in my opinion.  Why not?  It's comfortable and there is little chance of injury from it.  

Putting a thin choke collar on your dog and then putting pressure on it is damaging.  There is no question.  Why do we continue?  Because we tend to be a society of non thinkers.  

What is your dog afraid of?

I captured this image shortly after the first feather incident.  She is clearly not herself and very concerned and other feathers in the area.  Poor girl.  

I captured this image shortly after the first feather incident.  She is clearly not herself and very concerned and other feathers in the area.  Poor girl.  

The other day I was discussing fears with my husband.  I thought long and hard about what I'm afraid of and came up with sharks, bears and alligators.  Other than that, there aren't a whole lot of things that would send me running the other way like Fred Flintstone.  

Fear - a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil pain, etc.  

Our dogs have fears as well.  Like us they are all different and what one might fear another will not.  Elsa has a very strange fear; although when I dissect it I can figure it out.  Nonetheless it is a fear and it is most definitely real to her.  Elsa is afraid of feathers, but not just any old feathers.  She is afraid of ones that have recently come off of birds that are lying around outside.

Today I tried to capture a video of her when she first sees or scents a feather, but I missed it.  Just about a week ago when we were out walking at the harbor, she had the biggest reaction that I have ever seen.  The height and distance that she jumped after locating the feather had me laughing, I couldn't help it.  She had to jump 3.5 feet in the air and about 7 feet in distance.  All in her attempt to get away from the feather.  

Once she has seen and labelled it a rogue feather then she is skittish on the rest of her walk. Luke had the same huge recoil when he saw or scented a snake skin which was also something I had not seen before in any of my dogs.

So what can or should you do about a fear?  React the way that you want your dog to react.  In other words, pretend like it is no big deal at all.  Our dogs watch us to see how we respond to things; so if you coddle your dog when they are fearful, the fear grows.  If you ignore the fearful trigger then you will be helping them to conquer their fear.  

The feather fear of Elsa's is a strange one.  I assume it is because it smells like a real creature yet just sits there frozen.  Frozen posture is a bad thing.  Feathers from a pillow or craft bag do not instill the fear, only fresh from a bird feathers do it.  So when it happens I just keep walking as if nothing happened.  Although I am probably snickering, which is a good thing as far as vocal feedback.  

Show your dog how you want them to react by reacting calmly in response.  Even if you have to fake it big time.     

Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

This is my newest book.  It was published in August of last year and was a work from my heart.  This little book covers so many things in it; far more than just the actual loss.  My hope is that every dog lover will read it; no matter where you are in your relationship with your dog.  

We all know only too well that our dogs do not live nearly as long as we would like them to.  So, at some point everyone is going to have to go through loss.  I wish that all dogs who leave us are old and have had a great life but sadly that is not reality.  

The book is a step by step through the entire process.  It begins with the very first and most important question of "when?"  It explains everything from the very start of the end, through to the healing of grief and everything that it brings.  

I will be holding a FREE Webinar on February 02-2017 to discuss the subject of losing a canine and the book itself.  

Click here to register for the Webinar - Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

If you are the guardian of a canine now, have lost a heart dog or want to know how to deal when the time comes, join us.  

My greatest wish is that this book and now the Webinar will help even just a few.  Join us and share your stories; as I will be sharing mine.  

If you are interested in reading the book before the Webinar you can find it here.  

Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

If you would like to join the email list at Just Dogs with Sherri to find out what's new, up and coming and exciting, fill out the form below.  

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Your Best Friend has the Answers

Ever wonder what's going on in your relationship?  That relationship you have with your canine?  If you really want to know, ask your best friend.  Typically our best friend can tell us what is really going on.  

Are you in a strong relationship?  Or are there holes that need filling or fixing?  

Trust - reliance on the integrity, strength, ability etc., of a person.  Trust is a huge part of a strong relationship.  Are you a trustworthy guardian?  Trust for a dog is huge; your dog should trust that they can lean on you in times of need.  

Reliability - the ability to be relied on or depended on, for accuracy, honesty. Are you reliable?  A guardian who does not fly off the handle?  Someone who is there when your dog needs you, without a doubt?

Honesty - the quality or face of being honest; uprightness and fairness.  Are you honest about your relationship?  Does it need work?  Is one member more of a giver than the other?  Do you meet in the middle with a pure respect for one another. 

Canine/human relationships can be wonderful; but they can also be awful.  In this New Year, take a hard look at your relationship.  Ask your best friend how things are going.  Be honest with yourself when you sit down to dissect your relationship.  

Make 2017 the year to turn any negatives into positives.  Here's to a magical relationship in your future.  

Join our Just Dogs with Sherri - Cookie Club

Dog Cookies Anyone?

I've been baking cookies for years, somewhere around 35 to be exact.  I started out making cookies for my family and then grew to selling at a local Farmers Market.  I loved the whole market scene each weekend and had a large list of regulars wanting their favorite.  

I had made dog cookies over the years as well but when my boy Luke seemed to have a problem keeping weight on I looked into making some really healthy and substantial cookies that he could eat on a regular basis.  So the Dog Cookie mission began.  I've now been  making dog/human cookies for years.  These cookies are not only good for your dog but you as well.  No wheat products or refined sugar go into my cookies.  They are high in protein and the dogs and people LOVE them.  

The birth of the Cookie Club.  So many people ask for my recipes all the time so I am working on a Cookie Book.  But once I was well into the book I thought about a fun and interactive Cookie Club.  Ta Daaaaa.  Just Dogs with Sherri - Cookie Club.  

A new and healthy dog/human cookie recipe each month; along with video, baking tips and training tips with each recipe.  Interactions about the cookies will be done on my Just Dogs with Sherri FB group.  You will receive a favorite recipe instantly after signing up and the Cookie Club itself will begin January 14th.  

I'm very excited about this and look forward to talking Cookies with you all.  Let me know what your dog's favorite flavor is and I will try to work it into the 2017 roster.  Each recipe has been developed by me, and of course my taste testers.   

Exciting new stuff at Just Dogs

Things have been quiet on here for a while; but that's because there is lots of exciting stuff happening at Just Dogs with Sherri for 2017.  My new website was started and got up and running this year, we got a Poodle Grooming at Home with Sherri video course done and released for purchase, published my eighth and favorite of all of my books - Moving Through The Loss Of Your Canine Companion.  

We added skype consultations to the email consults which were already available on the old site.  I love the skype consults because it is so much more personal.  Plus there is a new click and get help immediately video on House training.  

So even though it's been quiet, I've been busy behind the scenes getting stuff ready for more releases.  I don't want to let the cat (or I should say "dog") out of the bag yet but there is lots coming in 2017.

If you'd like to know what's new and coming up for the near future at Just Dogs with Sherri, please feel free to join my email list to be one of the first to know by clicking here.  Go to the bottom of the page to join the email list.  

As always I love to hear from you all.  Please feel free to leave comments and/or email me.  

Holiday Gifts for Your Dog

While surfing through Amazon this morning (the joy of shopping in bed) I stumbled upon Oprah's favorite list.  Curious, I scrolled down the list; stopping on a few things that caught my eye.  Honestly, what sort of list is this?  I stopped on a cute dog blanket that was a whopping 395.00.  A list made for the the folks who have excess in the lives.  Who buys this stuff?  Not me.  

I (Sherri from Just dogs with Sherri) am a minimalist.  I admit that I LOVE new cool stuff to make life with Elsa more fun, easy or enjoyable but excessive stuff?  No thank you.  I much prefer to spend time rather than money on our relationship.  So what is Elsa getting for Christmas?  

Sherri's Best Gift List

Toys that I use and/or recommend

Beds and comfy stuff

Elsa will be receiving a new plush toy and package of her favorite toy in the entire world, large sized tennis balls and a new batch of Mom's homemade cookies made especially for her.  She will also enjoy extra time spent with the family as we will as well.  Sitting here in bed, with Elsa by my side we have enjoyed our morning snack.  We've kissed and snuggled and now her head is bobbling as she drifts back to dream land.  This is what it is about.

I'm not saying that gifts aren't wonderful; who doesn't love getting gifts?  But the best gift you can ever give anyone is your time and that includes our dogs.  Putting time spent together first and foremost is never, ever a bad idea.  

Have a wonderful Holiday Season and put time together up there on the top of your list.  

 

 

Dogs and the Holiday Season

It's that time of year again.  Time for gift giving, food preparation and consumption, lots of family and visitors coming and going and everything that makes the holidays wonderful.  All of the things that we love about the holidays can stress out our dogs and cause dangerous situations.  You may be all Holly Jolly and ready for the holidays, but is your dog ready?  

Got a counter surfer?  This could lead to all sorts of troubles over the holidays.  Extra precautions need to be taken so that your dog does not consume something that they shouldn't.  Many counter surfers are not picky about where they steal from; it doesn't always have to be a counter.  A coffee table, dresser, shelf, Christmas tree or purse are can be fair game.  Always be aware.  When in doubt, opt for safety.  Keep anything and everything that could be dangerous to your dog, away.

Got a dog who is not a social butterfly?  Save them the stress of having to deal with your loud and obnoxious neighbor who is sure that every dog loves him.  Keep grabby and wild children away from your dog if your dog is not comfortable around them.  Too many people put their dog in harms way as far as having to tolerate inappropriate behavior from other people and/or children.  It is mind boggling how many people just expect their dogs to deal with everything.  This often leads to owners being outraged and shocked that their dog snapped or bit someone who crossed a line.  

Take charge of each and every situation that your dog will be immersed into.  If you know they are not going to be comfortable then put them into a safe and quiet area for their own good.  Just because you want to make Merry does not mean that your dog does.

Got a high energy dog?  Make sure that your dog has a normal outlet for their energy.  We often overlook our dog's needs during the holidays and then are dismayed their unusually bad behavior.  Elsa is a very high energy dog; she needs a daily outlet for her need to run and retrieve.  So even during this magical time of year, Missy Elsa must run.  I love that I can now run her morning, noon or night because of the cooler temps so we head and run.  Keep up the normal energy release routine.  

Got a puppy?  This can be a rough time with puppies and many people forget that their little ones are very little and inexperienced.  Watch for signs of stress.  Make sure that your little one has an ample amount of time to sleep.  Puppies need to sleep a lot and if they are not given the opportunity to do so they can run into problems.  Being overtired is never good for a puppy; especially around the holiday season.  

Introduce anything new in a positive manner and bit by bit.  Socializing is great, too much is not better.  Too much socializing can backfire and lead to behavior problems down the road for your puppy.  Baby steps to success.

Got an old dog?   Old dogs need and deserve "Peace on Earth," for Christmas.  Like puppies, they are easily overwhelmed, grow tired quickly and don't have the patience of a young dog.  There is nothing like living with an old dog.  Being given the gift of an old dog is something very special.  It is our time to care, tend and give to them.  I have cared for many old dogs over the years and it is always a wonderfully significant stage of the life that you share.  The holidays call for extra care, love, patience and vigilance for precious old ones.  

This is my favorite time of year.  I hope that you have a wonderful Holiday Season.  

 

Long haired Basset Hound, I never knew!

Last week I was away on a small vacation.  Picture beautiful rain forests, chilly weather, misting rain and a walk.  Everything was glorious in my books.  Having escaped the hot temperatures in Southern California we head up to British Columbia.  If you've never been, go.  This was our second trip back and it was even better this time.

As we were out on one of our many coastal walks we ran into a dog named Boomer, Boomer the Basset Hound to be precise.  As we stood chatting to the couple who belonged to Boomer I wondered; was he a mix Basset.  You see Boomer looked very much like a perfect specimen except that he had long hair and a gorgeous plumed tail, much like a Golden Retriever tail.  

We met Boomer and is Guardians several times during our walks and each time he sounded off a wonderful greeting.  :)

We met Boomer and is Guardians several times during our walks and each time he sounded off a wonderful greeting.  :)

 

So I had to ask "is he a mix?"  "No, he's a long haired Basset" his Dad explained.  ?????? In all my years of shooting dogs, showing in the conformation ring and just day to day out there around dogs I'd never seen a long haired Basset.  Boomer's guardians explained that the long hair is produced by a recessive gene that can show up in a litter.  Although it is very rare. 

I thought that he was absolutely gorgeous.  I like different, I'm not a cookie cutter fan and Boomer most definitely did not fit the Basset mold that I knew.  His long hair was perfect, with the leg feathering and plumed tail; he couldn't look anymore handsome than he was.  

I love when nature takes over and gives us something different.  This was a "wow, I never knew" moment for me.  I've photographed dogs for big dog magazines for years.  I've even done several Basset Hound shoots and never met a single long hair.  Very cool and very handsome.  

Talking to your dog

Do you?  Do you talk to your dog?  I most certainly do.  If you were to spend a day in my home, hidden away so that you could just listen; you would hear a lot of one sided conversation. What you would not hear is Elsa's response to my words.

Hear - to perceive by the ear.

You would hear me speaking all day long but you would not hear Elsa say much of anything.  She will on occasion speak back to me in growls or barks but for the most part she is a quiet listener and communicates via body language.

I talk to her all day long.  Just yesterday as we prepared to head out back for a retrieve; we stood in the kitchen getting ready.  I poured a glass of wine and a bowl of water then looked at Elsa.  She was more than ready but there was no ball present.  I asked her where the ball was and she looked around her very close vicinity.  Then I spotted one in the dining room and said "there's one" to her as her excitement went up.  She looked at me when I spoke and followed my pointing hand.  Off she ran to get her ball.  She's a great listener and has a huge list of words that she fully understands.  

Dogs are amazing listeners, most are.  What they listen for when you speak is tone and familiarity.  But Elsa didn't need to hear words to know that we were heading out for ball.  She knew what time it was and watched as all the visual cues fell into place.  

I love that Elsa understands so many words.  She is an intense girl and doesn't miss a thing; so even if I wasn't talking she still knows whats going on.  The more you talk to your dog and repeat words, their capacity for learning grows.  I have worked with dogs who were never talked to, never guided or taught verbal cues.  These dogs do not look to humans for guidance but learn their own cues to pay attention to.  

I remember someone asking me a longtime ago if I was talking to my dog.  "Yes, of course" was my response.  Like children, the more you talk to your dog the smarter they are.  Of course your words need to have meaning for a good percentage; but even when you talk nonsense to a dog who is highly aware of verbal cues, they listen.  

I am always teaching Elsa new words; especially when it is something that is regularly in her world.  They are far smarter than we can even comprehend.  So talk to your dog and teach them as many words as you can and they will amaze you. 

Runaway Dogs

"Is she a bolter?" the sitter that I was interviewing asked.  I probably turned my head much like Elsa does at the question, what?  "Will she take off out an open door?" she asked, rephrasing her question.  "Oh no, no" I replied.  "But you'd want to be careful anyway," I said.  The whole idea of dogs that run away is so strange to me.  I've never had one that would, just take off.  Jessie was probably the closest thing to a runaway but it was just her terrier trigger that got the best of her sometimes.  

My dogs have always seemed to have a magnetic pull to our home.  Let out of the car and the door is where they head.  I remember a very long time ago someone left a gate open at the side of the house.  Luke was a youngster at the time so he went out and around to the front door.  My neighbor saw him standing at the front door and rang the bell for him.  I opened it up and there he was, wagging to come in.  What a guy.

There are things that will draw a dog away, a distraction, something interesting to go see; but taking off and running away is entirely different.  Why do dogs run away?  There are many reasons that a dog will runaway.  Being scared is a big one; they are often not even in a normal state of mind when this happens, they are just running.  A lack of exercise.  It feels good to run free and let out all your ya ya's.  A positive reinforcement can fuel your dog to run.  If they get out, have a great run around, maybe meet someone else or find some food along the way, presto...you have the desire to run.  

A lack of bonding can also cause a runaway.  Is everything out there better than you?  Does your dog think that the grass is greener elsewhere?  Maybe it is, you need to look at your relationship if you have a runaway.  You should be the most important thing in your dog's life.  This takes time, commitment, trust building and fun.  Even if you have a couple or more dogs; you should still be the most important thing to all of them individually.  

How do you become the most important thing in your dog's life?  Bonding.  Time spent together, training, feeding, grooming and trust building.  All of these things make you important.  In the beginning it is food, treat rewards that are worth hanging around you for.  Then with time comes the connection that grows.  You need to be present in your dog's life to become that special someone.  The one that your dog turns to for everything.  

Runaway dogs are no fun.  If you have one you need to figure out why they are running and fix it. 

Puppy training

I love training puppies.  There is nothing better than starting with a nice clean slate.  That said, each and every puppy is an individual.  Plus, where and how they were raised will factor into how they behave at a young age.  

Training puppies can seem very easy but we humans can also get it very wrong if we don't know what we are doing.  I LOVE PUPPY APPOINTMENTS.  Being able to get in and educate new puppy guardians so that they better understand their puppy and how to communicate with them is amazing.  I love it.  

Puppies are not little people; in fact they are much further away from us in the beginning of their life than they will be.  They have yet to learn the ins and outs of living in our human world.  Hopefully they had lots of time with Mom to learn the ropes on how to be a dog.  They may have been given great life experience from their breeder, maybe not.  

What you have standing there before you is a baby dog, not a baby human.  One that has maybe only been on this earth of ours for 8 weeks.  Crazy.  So you need to learn to speak dog, or at least understand how they communicate, learn and understand.  

No one way of training works for all.  Of course it should be positive training but there are many techniques to get a message across under the blanket of positive training.  If you have a new puppy and are just venturing into the world of education with them, do your research.  Buy books, read, research and find out how best to communicate with that little furry bundle.  

Find a positive trainer, one that doesn't use the yank and choke method of training.  I have had to rehabilitate many dogs after being abused by yank and choke trainers.  It is a very sad thing to see a puppy wince in fear from experience.  If you ever feel like you shouldn't do something that a trainer tells you to do with your puppy, don't.  

Puppies know nothing about our human world; we need to take the time, patience and tenderness to show them what it's all about.  

Dog problems - asking for help

One of my many covers over the years. 

One of my many covers over the years. 

Imagine for a second...your dog is chasing cars, you hang on tight and hope not to be taken for a ride as you brace yourself.  Maybe your dog is systematically clearing off the counter each and every time you turn your back.  You sit with your head in your hands wondering "how am I suppose to fix this?"  

So many people go so long living with issues before asking for help.  Humans are not born with the ins and outs of the canine brain.  Yet somehow we think that we should know how to fix it; after all it is our dog who we live with day to day.  I have been called for help with so many "canine problems" that are actually easy fixes.  But if you don't know the solution to a problem then it is not easy.  

Dog brains do not work the way that our brains do.  The ideology that we can fix it with our human specific remedy is part of the problem.  We often see a canine "issue" as very human, we put it into human terms and human reasoning; this is call anthropomorphism.  

Anthropomorphism - the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object.  

When our dogs act out we  understand it in human terms unless we are experience in canine behavior.  It has to be talked about in human vocabulary but the actions that they are displaying are far from human.

I remember standing in a dog park hearing a woman say "oh look he's hugging that dog."  As I turn to see what is going on it is very clear that there is a fight just around the corner if a human does not intervene.  One paw up on the back of another strange male and there could be a problem.  The woman saw this as a loving hug, but dogs do not hug like humans do.  That is unless you have pack members that like to lay together so close that they appear to be hugging.  ;)  A hug in human terms is usually a nice thing, not in dog terms. (Which is why you should NEVER hug a strange dog)

Asking for help is not a weakness but a strength.  When you do not know the answer to something is always a great thing to ask.  How many people feel that by asking a question they are somehow lesser of a canine guardian.  I wish that there was a mandatory Canine Guardian course that everyone had to take before adding a dog to their family, but there is not.  

Anyone and everyone can get a dog.  Sadly a fraction of people who are canine guardians know nothing about dogs.  Even people who have had dogs for years can know little about them if they have not taken the time to learn how dogs work.  

Being a canine photographer I have been out to many "big breeder" homes.  I use to shoot for all of the big dog magazines out there (all of which are not gone); so I was always on the hunt for breeders.  When I put on my photographer hat in lieu of my trainer hat, it was hard work.  I had to turn all of the "trainer/behaviorist" in me, off.  Some of the moments I spent at these "breeder" houses were the most eye opening.  I assumed that if you've had many dogs over many years that you would understand dog, wrong. 

Learning dog takes time and if you aren't interested to understand then you will not learn.  If you do want to learn then do some research.  If you are having problems that you cannot figure out, ask.  Asking for help is always a good idea.  

 

Heart Dog - The Love Of Your Life

I love this image.  An senior Labrador surveying his vineyard.  

I love this image.  An senior Labrador surveying his vineyard.  

We all love our dogs, or most of us do; but over our lives there is usually "that one" or if you are lucky, two or three, who is or was the love of your life?  

When I sit and think about all of the dogs I have loved.  Each one holds a special place in my heart; one by one they have wriggled their way in.  Single moments stand out with each.  So many lessons learned over the years; essential lessons to get me to where I am today.  

Mandy, was my number one dog.  There is nothing like a first.  Over a lifetime there were more dogs who stand by our side, along with more lessons.  Life is all about experiences and each individual brings with them a plethora of them.  

I often sit quiet, just sit with Elsa and realize the power in sitting silent.  I love to watch her as she reacts to our "moments."  She is special, very, very special.  But they are all special aren't they?  "My dog is the best," literally thousand exclaim, as they should.  

Each and every dog is the best.  Relationships with all, without exception, are what make our up life our memories of them.

The stages of our lives are precisely different.  Each experience with a new dog is genuine.  No two are alike, just like us.  We are all different, life is ever changing and each of our dogs brings to our shared life, a newness. 

For me, a heart dog is one who has touched my life.  Every single dog I have shared my life with has done that.  

 

Intact Tail

When the shutter snapped on my cell phone, I hoped that I'd caught it, and I did.  I was so happy to see this shot as I filed through the images of Elsa, Yogi and Lucy on their play date.  Shooting with my cell phone is far different than using my big Canon Camera.  My Samsung is not fast, has a lag time and can't shoot at the speed of my big one; so when I actually capture something that I hoped that I had, I'm stoked.  

I am also stoked over the number of breeders leaving tails intact these days. 

Stoked - exhilarated; excited.

This was the shot I was hoping for.  Elsa using her tail to the max.  She scoops her friends in and keeps them close.  I have many photos of her doing the same thing to Luke over the years.  Below is just one.

It is happening.  Many breeders are stopping, thinking and choosing what is best for our dogs.  There really is no other option if you are honestly doing what is best for our dogs.  Amputating tails because someone in the dark ages said it should be done is...well, stupid.  

Years ago when I began my life with Standard Poodles, I hated the idea of their tails being amputated.  Back then there really was no option, they are chopped at three days old and there were no breeders not doing it.  But things are changing baby, big time.  I am so happy to see all the tails and nails being left intact.  That's right, they are keeping their parts.  More and more are seeing the light.  :)  

There are definitely options now; you can seek out breeders who leave tails intact.  This is not just about Standard Poodles either, all dogs, breeds and mixes need their tails.  

I often sit and ponder the idea of amputating tails these days.  I do not breed and I never intend on breeding dogs but if I did!  I cannot imagine seeing all those puppies with their little tails and then chopping them off; it truly is barbaric.  I can't stand seeing day old puppies and then the follow up day 3 or 4 with tails removed.  I can't even.  

I am seeing Rottweillers, Boxers and Springer Spaniels with full tails.  I LOVE IT.  Leave them the way they were meant to be.  They are popping up everywhere.  And if you've never seen a particular breed with it's tail left as it should be, simply google the breed in Europe.  You'll see lots of examples of breeds who have their tail left as they were born.  

I love all dogs.  If their tail has been removed then it it sad for them and has nothing to do with the dog.  It is the humans who do this, and this is what I am against.  Many people have asked "what if I was going to rescue and the rescue had it's tail docked?"  Well, that has nothing to do with what I stand for as long as intact tails.  A rescue is just that, a rescue.  Finding a breeder who believes in leaving dogs the way that they are meant to be is something entirely different.  

No dog should have it's tail removed unless there is a medical reason for it.  Bottom line.