The need for space

Beautiful morning for a walk.

Beautiful morning for a walk.

I knew that we'd need space.

Space - the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.

Elsa needs space when she is confronted with dogs that she does already know.  This has evolved being attacked.  The attack on her was from a dog on leash and caught her completely off guard.  So...understandably she does not trust dogs that she does not know.  Dogs can need space just as much as we do.  

The other day I was at HomeGoods doing some shopping when I noticed a guy looking at me about six feet away.  I didn't look at him but just took note.  Then he got closer and asked "do people you for an actress?"  Making small talk I told him that I'd been told that I look like...a certain actress but couldn't remember her name.  He then told me that he would remember the actresses name and let me know.  Before moving off he had some other things to say to me that made me uncomfortable.  Hmmmmmm...time for space. 

The actresses name is Lea Thompson, by the way.  

As I meandered around the store I realized that he was following me around so I picked up what I needed and made a quick exit.  I needed a great deal more space.  The level of threat that we and/or our dogs feel factors in how much space that is needed. 

As Elsa and I walked down the path; the dog coming towards us was a shepherd mix.  He was very large, had a dark face, erect ears and a tail that was held very high.  None of these things bode well for close proximity with Elsa.  I remained completely calm as I always do to let her know that nothing will happen as I plotted my course for space.  

If I had nowhere to go I would simply put her on my safe outside.  She would snort which is what she does when she is stressed and we would keep going.  Unfortunately not everyone keeps their dog under control; often letting them lunge out at us.  I hate when people are so clueless about this very unwanted behavior, but it happens a lot.  

Elsa took things into her own paws.  She knows that space is what she needed so she took it.  With a creek on one side and a hill on the other; she moved methodically albeit calmly up the hill.  Often being on the outside of me is enough for her as we pass unknown dogs but this guy made her a bit nervous with all his body up and alert.  I smiled as we made our way three feet up the hill and she glanced over her shoulder as he went by.  I'm usually in charge of the space but she was ahead of me on this day.  She took what she needed.  She's crazy smart. 

Elsa use to snort every time we passed another dog shortly after the attack.  Since she has learned that we will give her comfort room, space to feel safe.  I have even had to step in a couple of times and physically stop a loose dog from getting to Elsa.  It's my job and I take it very seriously.  If Elsa has no faith in my ability to protect her; she will then feel the need to protect herself.  As the one who is there to make sure that nothing happens to her; she can then let her guard down knowing that I've got her back.  

Space is often all that is needed to feel safe.  Space gives one a chance to think, time to ponder and react.  I don't like surprises myself; being caught off guard is a really bad feeling.  It typically sends adrenaline lose in your body because you didn't have time to respond accordingly.  This is one reason that I prefer to be able to see what is out ahead of us on our walks.  A heads up gives us the ability to react calmly and appropriately instead of an adrenaline induced response. 


T'is the season

A huge ball given to the wolves at the California Wolf Center for entertainment.  Great idea!

A huge ball given to the wolves at the California Wolf Center for entertainment.  Great idea!

The season is upon us and for many of us it is time to think about holiday gifts for our canines.  I love giving, isn't that what the season is all about?  Of course receiving is nice but giving is much more rewarding.  So when it comes to our canine companions, what should we give them this season?  

When I give gifts to humans and canines alike; I go for things that will make the receiver happy.  The whole act of giving is the givers reward, right?  So for my dogs I have always tried to focus on things that will make me happy to give to them.  That means thinking about them.  Elsa and the extended family canines will be receiving stuffed toys.  They all LOVE them to bits so a stuffed thing is a must.  I purchased all my stuffed things months ago; it is an easy gift to cross off the list.  Sure to please all the recipients.  :)

But what else would be a good gift?  A new comfortable bed would be a great idea.  Although it won't be something that I buy.  I've got a stock of them in storage because other than my office Elsa is on the furniture.  A new harness would be a great idea; get that collar off their neck and put them into a comfy harness.

How about some yummy cookies?  I'm really fussy in this department.  Ever taste a dog cookie before?  Most are horrible and taste pretty much like cardboard.  I like to make my own and just happen to have our Just Dogs with Sherri 2017 cookie club here on the website.  That would be a wonderful gift to give your dog; a promise to make healthy treats for them this year.  I like to taste what I'm giving Elsa as far as cookies go.  I feel very strongly that if we should not eat them then we shouldn't be giving them to our dogs.  

How about something to chew?  Safe and healthy chews are out there, you just have to look for them.  How about a bag of raw oxtails?  Mmmmmmm, nothing says I love you like a cow tail to chew on.  

What about a new coat?  As most of my long time readers know; I'm not a fan of clothing for dogs unless of course they need it for warmth, then I'm all over it.  Comfort is huge so I like the really stretchy coats for extended use and the big fluffy ones for real warmth.  

How about some obedience classes?  Agility, scenting, flyball etc etc?  

Whatever you're thinking about giving your dog this season; think about your dog first.  And the best gift of all for human or canine is always your time.  Promising to give the gift of yourself is never a bad idea.  

Happy Holidays

Dragonluck's Red Ruby

The canine world has lost another angel.

                  Dragonluck's Red Ruby August 27, 2002 - November 21, 2017

                  Dragonluck's Red Ruby August 27, 2002 - November 21, 2017

Peacefully, surrounded by her family, Ruby passed in the wee hours this morning.  She will be missed desperately by her family and anyone who had the chance to meet her.  Ruby was one of the most devoted canine girls that I've ever had the privilege of meeting.  She liked people in general but her family... well there was none like them and I have to agree.  The life they shared with this girl was one that most dogs would dream of.  


Ruby was the first dog for my sister's family.  She joined their family when my niece and nephews were very young.  The kids (now grown) spent most of their lives with her by their side.  Ruby watched them grow and kept them in order.  She had a very different relationship with each member of her family and liked it that way until the end.  

I met Ruby when she was just a youngster; full of beans and raring to go.  Her absolute favorite thing in the world was balls and water.  A true Nova Scotia Tolling Retriever, Ruby excelled at water and land retrieval.  She went through life never far from a tennis ball.  


As part of Ruby's extended family, I was one of the lucky ones.  I got to spend hours photographing her as a youngster, in her prime, golden years and beyond.  I loved shooting her in high gear; leaping into the water for her ball and bringing it back.  She could often be seen sitting on the front of the kayak as my sister paddled around the lake.  

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Ruby graced the cover back in 2005

Ruby graced the cover back in 2005

Ruby also snuck into the hearts of Grandma and Grandpa where she was a special spot for her alone.  They adored her and she them.  It was a very special connection.  

Ruby spent enviable time at my parent's (Grandma and Grandpa's) cottage.  Whether she was diving in the water, retrieving on land, kayaking, swimming, sleeping by the fire or just enjoying the great Canadian outdoors, she loved life to the max.  


Just two weeks ago I headed home to visit my sister and her family.  I captured some great moments of Ruby enjoying her golden years.  


But my absolute favorite thing about seeing Ruby again just weeks ago was watching her care team.   Observing her family dote on her every move; help her up and down the stairs, tag team feed her and care for her was heartwarming.  She was as loved as any dog could ever be loved, if not more.  There is now a huge hole in many hearts today.  But soon those holes will be filled with loving memories.  The memories that our dogs leave with us that can never go away.  They are stored away in a special place in our heart until needed.  


Ruby leaves a legacy.  As the first dog she has set the ground work for those to follow in her footsteps.  She has instilled the love, care and connection between human and canine.  She will be deeply missed by many.  Rest now sweet girl.  



Ruptured Liver Tumor - a final decision


We need to stop the bleeding.  "If this was your dog, what would you do?" I asked.  The Veterinarian explained with tears filling her eyes; "I'd take him home and spend another day with him."  I was filled with questions; I felt like I was reliving Tilley's medical emergency only three years earlier.  

"I'll give you something to stop the bleeding; it will give him and you time," she said.  Luke had a massive tumor on his liver that had ruptured causing him to fail really quickly.  Knowing that we wanted to do a home euthanasia but wanting to do what was right for Luke; I looked to the Vet for solid advice.  She told me to take him home and give him whatever he wanted.  But this was not a long extension; it was only for a day or two.  That allowed us time to give Luke his "last day."  

I was given Aminocaproic Acid and Yunnan Baiyao to dose to Luke.  The results were amazing and I wanted to share this because it gave us time without causing Luke to suffer further bleeding.  It was unbelievable when I gave it to him; he was able to get to his feet and even go out to pee.  I could not believe how fast it worked.  It also made Luke feel better of course because he was not losing blood at the rate that he had been.  

The first, Aminocaproic is a pharmaceutical and the second, Yunnan Baiyao is a Chinese Herb.  I don't know if one worked better than the other or if it was the combination; but these pills gave Luke and us the time we needed.  The time to make plans, the time to avoid euthanasia at the Vets.  We'd had no time with Tilley and had to make the decision right then and there.  I already knew that I'd wanted Luke put to rest at home and this allowed us to do just that. 

We spent the next day giving Luke his favorites; cold meat smoked turkey and potato chips, that's it.  That's all he wanted and that is what he got.  I lay beside him for hours and followed him around the yard when he wanted out.  It was a wonderful but sad day; a day we could not have had without these two drugs.

The drugs actually worked so well that it gave me a false sense of no more urgency.  But it was short lived and I knew what we had to do.  I didn't want Luke's last moments with us to be suffering and perhaps an emergency situation.  I knew the facts and what had to be done; the drug had just given him and us extra time.  

I was going through closets the other day and found these two bottles of pills stashed away.  I couldn't look at them when it happened but did know that I wanted to write about them in the future.  I'm glad I came across them because hopefully others in this situation will be aware of this wonder drug.  

RAW food and much more


I was in the Toronto area recently for a visit with my sister and her family.  When we were there she thought that I'd enjoy a trip to the local Raw food supplier just around the corner from her.  Boy did I.  

Upon entering the building, this is who we were greeted by.  

An eight month old Leonberger with her Great Grandmother.

An eight month old Leonberger with her Great Grandmother.

The place was bustling.  People coming and going; employees filling freezers and customers leaving with boxes of fresh meat products.  Canine guardian clents were chatting with the owner and handing over lists to the staff to fill.  

As my sister and I wandered around looking at the stacked shelves a very knowledgeable employee asked us if she could help.  Bonnie (my sister) explained her 15 year old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers medical issues.  We were then told that the owner would help us as she had a wealth of knowledge and experience about such issues.  

Lori and Ed Dzingala own Heronview Raw and Natural Pet Foods.  Their website can be found at

Lori finished up with another customer and came over to talk with my sister.  She is a wealth of knowledge with regards to feeding and using natural supplements.  I wish I had a place like this down the street from me, I'd be a regular.  


My sister who is taller than me is easily dwarfed by this eight month old.  



I was alternating between watching the staff fill orders; boxes overflowing with bones, frozen cubes of raw food, supplements, chews and the three Leonbergers wandering about.  You can't miss a Leonberger, they are HUGE.  As a canine behavior specialist I loved watching the young eight month old interacting with the older dogs and people.  She had an amazing temperament but was clearly a puppy as she tried to nibble on my down jacket and pestered her elders.  She was adorable.  

Heronview Pet Foods is what we need more of.  They fill a much needed market for canine guardians who want to feed better food to their dogs.  My sister purchased several supplements for Ruby along with a frozen cube of organs and bone meal after speaking extensively with the owner, Lori. 

I LOVE how they sell many of their products in frozen cubes.  Just pop one in the fridge to thaw and it's ready to use.  Along with their huge variety of raw food they also sell dehydrated treats, supplements, soaps and toys.  

I was super impressed with Heronview and highly recommend a visit today if you are in the area. 

Beholder of beauty

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, truly. Have you ever met someone who instantly became more or less attractive as soon as they opened their mouth?  Perhaps it took a bit longer to get to know them before it happened, but it does.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people exclaim to me "omg I would love that dog," when glancing at a canine that they would deem as beautiful.   I say to that  "do you know what those dogs are like to live with?"  "No," is the answer probably 99% of the time.  Do you want to live with a dog that wants to swim all day?  Do you want to live with a natural guard dog who may not accept your neighbors with open arms?  How about a dog that wants to catch rats 24/7?  No? then look deeper than exterior beauty.

Like us, dogs are all different.  That said there are some natural traits that typically appear  within each breed.  Sure there are times when a Labrador doesn't want to swim; a Doberman who opens the front door for burglars or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that does not want to sit in your lap.  But generally you can research a breed to know what you might be looking at as far as living day to day with this dog.  Even if you are looking at a mix, there is temperament testing.  

If you really want to know what you might be living with in particular dogs; then choose a breeder, rescuers or shelter that does temperament testing.  I am a HUGE advocate of temperament testing.  It is something that I offer as one of my services within Just dogs with Sherri and it is something that I look for when choosing my own or client dogs.  Why not choose the best match that you can?  It doesn't make sense to do any less.  

I know breeders, rescuers and shelters that just leave it to "luck of the draw."  There are also people within these groups who think that they know the temperament of there puppies.  But there is knowing your puppies and "knowing your puppies."  It is very hard to know how a puppy will deal with life beyond litter life if they have not been out on their own and introduced to a great deal of different environments, surfaces, weather, people and dogs.  How each will deal with socializing within the pack will be entirely different from the individual response to stimulus.  

It is absolutely fascinating to me how each puppy in a litter can be so different.  I have tested litters who were very similar; others could not have been more different.  It is so interesting to see the depth difference in each puppy.  Why not get the dog that will match you, your family and lifestyle?  

Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.  I happen to think all dogs are beautiful; which is one reason that I hate the "Ugliest Dog Contest" that is held every year.  Superficial beauty is only skin deep; true beauty comes from within.  

Whispering to dogs

Watching and listening

Watching and listening

Luke stood in the middle of the living room and let out a couple of deep alarm barks.  Both Jessie and Tilley dropped their bones as their ears shot back and flat.  They listened for another moment and then charged the front door.  Both had jumped to the conclusion that someone had knocked at the door.  Luke smiled and grabbed one of the bones that had been dropped in the confusion.  Smart boy.

Loud can be confusing.  Unfortunately many humans feel the need to "get loud" when asking their dog to do something.  Loud is better, right? Not with dogs it's not. 

Have you ever whispered to your dog?  If not, try it.  You will see how much better they listen.  Even when you remain completely silent yet use your body language, your dog gets it.  Dogs are all about body language; so when someone shows off to you how their dog can use hand signals alone for their obedience, it's not so impressive although it is cool when someone gives this knowledge to their dog.  Dogs actually learn had signals before they learn the verbal cue for anything.

Why dogs hear better than we do -

Using your body alone enables you to get a glimpse at how our dogs communicate at the level in which they do.  Watching for those tiny signals can be a difficult task if you have never watched for them before.  Once you start to see them, you can't stop seeing them.  

When we talk quietly to our dogs they actually listen more carefully.  Don't you find that when someone yells at you or has a very loud and obnoxious voice, you shut off your listening?  Same goes for your dog, less is more.  I often chat away to Elsa (yes I do talk to my dog) while I am in the kitchen or even watching a t.v. show.  The words don't have a great deal of importance to her but she does listen for those specific words that might.  Perhaps I'll say "cookie" in a long and drawn out sentence.  Her ears at attention hoping that a meaningful word like "food" will be spoken.  

The smarter the dog, or I should say, a dog who is accustom to learning will have a large retention for verbal cues.  They can also learn to anticipate words through tone and our body language.  So if I stand in the middle of a room remaining completely still and say "'cookie," Elsa will raise her ears with anticipation.  She will then wait for my follow up movement.  But, if I move towards the kitchen and say "Elsa do you want a cookie?"  I will receive a much more significant response from her.  

I remember waaaaaay back when I was a young'n just learning about conventional obedience.  You know the yank and choke type from back in the 70s and 80s?  Makes me shudder now but there was nothing else back then.  We would have our dogs down by belting out DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!  As if somehow yelling the word would make our dogs perform better.  It actually has quiet the opposite impact.  Nowadays I simply point to the ground and Elsa will down.  She often goes half down and waits to see if I really mean it; and my still body lets her know that I am serious.  

I love to whisper to my dogs.  Of course as they age, whispering goes out the window with many.  All of my dogs but Luke lost most of their hearing in the very senior years.  This was when body language and signals became imperative.  

Dogs can hear far better than we mere humans.  Why then do we feel the need to yell out to them?  Who knows, humans are weird.  


Heartbreak, loss

The canine love of my life, Luke.  

The canine love of my life, Luke.  

There are many things in life that will leave you with a broken heart; one of those things is the loss of your canine companion.  

After losing Luke, my canine companion of 14 1/4 years I was devastated.  His loss was by far the worst I had ever suffered; leaving me  compelled to write a book on canine loss.  The sadness can come before the loss and after; lingering for months or years even.  Often the best help can be in the form of an understanding ear; someone who's been through it and clearly grasps your sadness and pain.  

Sadly, most of us will have to deal with the loss of our companion at least once in our life if not over and over again.  Dogs do not live long enough; although they fill their short life with so much giving.  The amount of joy and love that they bring to us makes it easy to see how they leave such a massive hole in our hearts when they are gone.  Sometimes it is more than we can bear, and we need help to move on.

Knowing when to let our beloved canines go can be the starting point of a downward spiral.  No one ever wants to make that type of decision but it is often ours alone to make and we must.  The last act of love that we can ever give to our much loved dog.  A step to help them to skip over pain and suffering, moving onto what comes next in peace.  This stage can also call for an understanding ear, someone who has been there before.  

The end is all about our dogs.  It brings with it much suffering for us but it is their life that is ending.  It should be all about them and that is how the best decision are made.  When you can step away and see what your dogs life truly entails.  Then it can be clear and easier to do what you must.  

Just the mention of Luke often brings a tear to my eye; but it is now accompanied by a smile.  A memory that has been left in my heart to draw upon when needed.  Sure I'm still sad but there are so many great memories to sift through; that there are far more smiles now than tears.  

"Moving Through The Loss Of Your Canine Companion" was written out of a need to share.  I know that there are so many others who have suffered like I did with his loss.  And, I wanted to help those who have yet to deal with loss; are dealing with it now or will be soon.  The book is written for anyone with a dog; because we all will face loss one day.   

We will all have to deal with the sadness that comes with losing a canine companion.   Moving through it to where the happy memories are stored is the goal.  That is where they spend the rest of our lives with us, our heart.

click here for Luke's memorial

click here to see Moving Through The Loss of Your Canine Companion

Canine emotions and body language

Lots being said here. 

Lots being said here. 

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology. ... People have also routinely attributed human emotions and behavioral traits to wild as well as domestic animals. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Yes, people do put human emotions onto dogs BUT...

There is a huge difference between putting a human emotion onto a dog and explaining canine emotions in human terminology.  We have to use our human terms but we should not put human emotions on dogs.  Why?  Because herein lies the injustice to our dogs. 

Dogs most definitely have emotions.  

- an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.

Elsa is a very emotional dog, her emotions run deep although she is not overly sensitive.  Each and every dog is vastly different from one another just like us.  Some dogs are not emotional at all and just go through life sort of scratching the surface of everything; never letting anything bother them either good or bad.  There are dogs that are so emotional that it becomes a real task in our learning how to deal with them correctly.

Knowing your dog is essential to connected at a higher level.  Sure there are folks who will never connect with their dog, simply because they do not have the desire.  There are also people who think they know their dog but they don't really understand "dog."  Everything they understand about their dog is from a human point of view.  This is a huge problem with many canine guardians.  

Wouldn't it be great if everyone had to take a crash course in "dog" before adding a canine to their family?  I think it is a wonderful idea and wish that it was mandatory.  So many people I talk to have no idea how dogs work or think.  Even people who have had dogs all their lives astound me with how they think about dogs.  

Watching your dog is the key to understanding dogs.  They are master communicators, often giving so many signals of communication in a minute that we can't keep up.  If you are not watching for the signs you are never going to see them; meaning that you are never going to understand what your dog is saying.  The slightest of body movement contains so much information.  

When I temperament test a litter, I watch for the little signs.  Sure there are lots of big signs but the small ones are often missed and can be more important.  Ears are a huge indicator as are tails and the rest of the body.  But the ears and tails are the easiest to see when you are first learning "dog."  1/4" movements of the body can communicate huge amounts of information and emotion.  But we must understand dogs to know what our dogs are feeling.  Otherwise we simply put our human emotions onto them.  

Dogs are simple and extremely complicated.  Their emotions should be understood in dog, not human.  


Ball dog. Golf day?

Elsa left the balls in front of her only licking them occasionally.  She enjoyed being surrounded.  

Elsa left the balls in front of her only licking them occasionally.  She enjoyed being surrounded.  

I'm a newbie, a golf newbie that is.  I've just recently taken up golf with the gift of a great bag of clubs.  This is something I never thought that I would enjoy but I have a very competitive spirit; I love nothing more than a challenge to improve at new activities.  I've yet to play a round, but visit the driving range a couple of times a week.  The atmosphere is casual and relaxed with people even bringing their dogs sometimes.

While observing others with their dogs, sitting quietly watching; I wondered if I could bring Elsa to the range.  Although Elsa is amazingly well behaved; she is a ball dog beyond all else.  She has a very difficult time not interacting when a ball is involved.  Even when my Grandbabies hit foam pucks around the house with their little hockey sticks (hey, we're Canadian) Elsa can barely contain herself.  She's driven to say the least.

Stalking, chasing and acquisition is her game.  She is excellent at sharing her prize and has never guarded any ball.  She prefers to share and invites her friends to join in the game of chase and tussle over a ball.  She loves balls, all balls.  Small, big, weird shaped and everything in between.  Knowing this I decided to try.

I knew it would be tough.  Just getting to my spot on the range would be a challenge being so new to the sport.  My golf bag is almost as big as I am.  Carrying the bag, holding onto Elsa, getting my basket of balls and bringing water for both of us.  I had more than my hands full.

The first shock for Elsa was the ball delivery machine.  Without doubt, Elsa would love one of these at her house filled with large tennis balls.  :)  The golf balls shot out at high speed as Elsa took a step back and watched.  It is loud when the balls come out but by the third fill she was fine and just observed.  Next was the task of getting to our spot.  I must have looked like a someone in a comedy movie.  But I managed and we found our spot. 

It took me a while to get settled and place Elsa in her spot.  She was already amped.  So many people to talk to; Elsa adores people and is very cat like in her greetings, wrapping herself around people.  She draws people in and they come in droves.  This alone is an issue to deal with while I am trying to get her to settle and stay in her spot.  Of course it is a good problem, having a dog who loves people so much. 

I grabbed a club and walked onto the green.  Elsa's pupils dilated and I prepared to drive.  Elsa came unglued.  There were balls flying everywhere but it was my ball that hit hardest.  Mom was hitting balls and she could not go get them.  This is horrifically difficult for a ball dog.  Elsa whined and stomped her little chase feet.  I returned to her mat and placed her back.  Back to the green to try again.  Elsa barked in complaint but she stayed on her mat.  I quickly brought her a treat.

This went on for a half hour.  She had bouts of jaw trembling and whining with the occasional defiant high pitch bark.  She spotted a flag flapping in the wind behind her and sounded off with her howl barking.  Something typically saved for when she sees horses.  What a girl. 

I was determined to get some balls driven with Elsa under control.  This was far more a dog training session vs. a golf training session.  Getting in some positive reinforcement was a quick step dance.  One ball, back to reward her for settling on her spot.  Back and forth, back and forth with continual interruptions of people greeting.  People can't not come visit and talk to Elsa, everyone loves her.  

As Elsa and I worked through it, the man beside us was smitten.  I smiled watching him talk to Elsa.  His golf game had taken a back seat as he watched us work.  As I walked to the green again I could hear him saying "just stay there Elsa" to her.  He wanted her to get her treat.  It made me smile again, this was regular life.  

Nearing half my basket of balls, Elsa was getting it but needed more help.  I decided to place the basket of balls right in front of her; giving her something to focus on other than my flying balls.  Then I uped the game placing a line of golf balls on her mat in front of her.  Getting back to the green I checked in on her and she was checking out all of her balls.  Then I told her to leave them, she had a job to do now.  This was the help she needed.  Lots of treats for Elsa for remaining in her spot.  I didn't care if she stood, sat or lay down, as long as she stayed in her place.  

The green stand to the right side is the ball wash thing that came down.  Geeesh

The green stand to the right side is the ball wash thing that came down.  Geeesh

"Quit while you're ahead" one of my steadfast quotes about life.  I was about to leave at the success we had achieved and then decided to push it.  I shouldn't have, I should have left but I didn't listen to myself so we went past the "ahead" stage.  A man walked down the isle headed straight for Elsa.  Something about this guy made her lose it.  She started her hinged in the middle routine and pulled to get to him.  She had been tied to the ball wash stand (something I thought had been concreted into the ground) when it started to move.  I ran to grab her, the leash and the stand but missed it by a millisecond.  Down came the stand full of water, the basket of balls and my clubs.  

Elsa was only slightly phased by the event and continued her greeting to the man who had unglued her.  For some reason she really, really had to meet him.  He was a super nice guy as he helped me gather Elsa, the balls, her now soaked mat and clubs.  We laughed for a bit at the mess and craziness before he went off; leaving me in my "I knew I should have quit" moment.  

Will I bring Elsa back to the range, darn right I will.  I like a challenge.  Control is everything regarding drive and dogs.  I clearly remember trying to teach Tilley to wait off leash while I threw her frisbee for Luke.  She was a bundle of tension but managed to control herself.  Elsa will get it but it will not be easy.  Balls are her thing and being surrounded by flying, rolling and sitting balls everywhere is no easy task.  But we're up for it.   

Next time I will bring one club, not my whole bag when dog training at the range.   ;)




Canine behavior - a true passion

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Attending my first "official" canine behavior college course.  I believe I'm 16 in the photo taken by a very good friend.  A very long time ago.  

I can't remember when I wasn't drawn to dogs.  As a very young child I just loved them.  At nine years old I had no idea how involved the species was, it was just a love that I had for them.  Now at fifty five my love for them has grown and changed.  I am passionate about canine behavior as I always write about, I could watch it from sun up to sunset and beyond. 

From just wanting to be around the canine species to loving the aspect of communication of dogs.  It has always been there, even when I didn't know what it all meant.  The more I learn about dogs; the more I want to know.  

Canine interactions with the same or different species is where my heart is.  How dogs interact with their own kind, humans, cats, horses or anything else.  Knowing what the smallest of head tilts, tail swing, visual glance or vocalization allows me a glimpse inside the dog.  

I love the outside of dogs, but it is the inside where my passion lies.  I care not about the size, color, coat type or body structure when it comes to my passion for dogs.  I wish that humans had not ruined so many breeds (but that's a whole other blog) giving them their functional body back.  I have a keen eye for proper body structure which I can't seem to shut off.  Look at a wolf to see the true resemblance of structure that dogs should possess. 

It is their mind and amazing ability to communicate without any or very little vocalization that intrigues me.  Each and every dog has this ability, some more than others of course just like humans.  Dogs do not lie; that alone makes them far superior to humans.  A dog will always communicate what they are feeling unless they have somehow been broken.   Humans tend to misread dogs, putting our human understanding of emotion onto them.  This is our downfall as humans, not the dogs who are communicating incorrectly.   

Dogs fascinate and amaze me.  From the most minimal of body gestures to a full blowout of behavior they are communicating.  If you are not watching for behavior then most miss the really subtle parts.  These slight movements make the canine an exquisite communicator.  Can anyone learn to see these faint communications?  Yes, most definitely.  But not everyone  on has a passion for it, like anything else.  Dogs are my spirit, they are not everyone's zest of life and there in lies the difference.  

Researching a new canine family member

Photos prove nothing.  People steal photos all the time.  

Photos prove nothing.  People steal photos all the time.  

I want to write about what I've been experiencing lately.  With new canine companion acquisition for our family on my "to do list;" I've been looking and looking.  Along with breeder research I have begun to check out rescues and re-homes.  I want to discuss what I have discovered while looking for a second hand dog via private re-home.  

Researching canines looking for a new home; I have learned that not all are on the up and up.  Expanding my search, I landed on many different sites that listed re-home dogs.  After contacting several listing that caught my attention, I was once again disappointed.  People.  Money, money is what it came down to.  Did the dog even actually exist?  I will never know, because I will not send money to these people. 

I contacted a few via email; asking all the right questions with regard to the dog that they had listed.  A young puppy, older puppy and young adult were listed on separate sites but they all revealed the same results.  Sketchy answers.  No real information was shared but a clear request for funds was demanded.

Two people that I spoke to wanted to just send me the puppy once I'd paid.  They started out with a seemingly heartfelt need to find a great home; someone who would love the puppy that they needed to re-home.  Before long, a few back and forth emails, and they were willing to ship to me site unseen.  When I pushed to go visit the puppy and meet them I was given a story that they were busy, busy, too busy. If I wanted the puppy they would ship to me.  Anymore pushing from me to see the dog ended the conversation, done.  

Another person I contacted only contacted through a few word sentences.  They would not disclose any real information about the dog or why it was being re-homed.  If I wanted the dog, send money.  Hmmmmmm?

Intrigued and dismayed by my discovery I dug in further.  I searched for more alleged re-homes.  What I found was more of the same.  Yes there are unscrupulous people out there.  Folks who are looking to get your money with nothing in return.  I do know that there is a big criminal aspects now in stolen dogs being resold.  Were these stolen dogs or did the dogs even exist?

Just a few weeks ago my son had someone try to scam him out of money.  A common scam when selling things online.  Luckily I'd read about the scam and let him know.  This puppy/dog re-home seems to be the same sort of scam.  Send money and then wait for your puppy to arrive...

Do your research.  There are legitimate re-homes out there; sadly there seems to be far more scams.  Research, research, research.  


Memories of my first dog


Mandy, what a great girl she was.  Mandy was my first dog; that is my first very own dog.  I had a toy poodle growing up that was the family dog but Mandy was mine alone.  I met Mandy when she was only six weeks of age.  Yes, far too early to have been taken away from the litter but that was forty years ago.  She was a crazy little devil on four legs; but matured into a wonderful, kind and gentle adult.  

Mandy and I started our life together when she was 4 years of age.  I was 18, had just graduated, got a job and an apartment.  It was just Mandy and I.  I have the greatest memories of our long walks along the parkways, our peacheful walks at The Pits (before it was known as the place to be,) and anytime we could be around water. 

Living in Canada at the time, swimming was definitely saved for the summer.  Although Mandy was game anytime she could get into anything without ice on it.  She was a sporty dog and loved to retrieve, even though she was a terrier.  But her favorite activity by far was swimming and bringing up huge boulders from the depths below.  She would somehow get her mouth around something that was truly far too large to remove, but she would figure it out.  She'd bring it out, put in on the beach, clean it for a bit and go get another.  

Our enjoying the Canadian waters with my girl.

Our enjoying the Canadian waters with my girl.

By the time our girl was an old girl, her canine teeth were completely flattened out from the rocks.  She also loved to pull out small logs that had sunk to the bottom.  The logs were brought onto the beach where she would dig on each side of it, turn it and dig some more. 

Her obedience education was very little when we were first together but in no time she was the perfect canine companion.  She went from running every time I'd say "come," to being one of the most reliable recall dogs I've ever lived with.  

Only a few years after being together, the two of us were joined by my husband and Mandy's new Dad.  We were a family of three then, but not for long.  It was less than a year when we had our first baby who Mandy welcomed and then the second and third.  By then she was an old lady sleeping most of the day away.  

As the years caught up on her, her legs grew weaker.  Canadian winters are brutal for the healthiest of dogs so the old and feebly can really have a time of it.  I clearly remember her trying to get up the front steps; often running out to carry her up or just take the weight off of her back legs.  She was a trooper in every sense of the word.

She was an amazing dog and my very first.  The first plays a huge roll in the dogs to come.  You learn so much from the first; make many mistakes and take with you lessons learned for the next.  All of the dogs who came after Mandy benefitted from the gifts that she gave me as we shared our lives together.  I will always remember her with a smile in my heart.  My first.  

Dog's recognizing their friends

This photo was taken in July, the rest in the blog are from yesterday.  Atticus's size difference is immense.  

This photo was taken in July, the rest in the blog are from yesterday.  Atticus's size difference is immense.  

Dogs amaze me, especially Miss Elsa.  She has the ability to remember anyone she has met in the past.  This includes humans and other dogs.  She has a huge number of "friends" who are on a list of great playmates.  Elsa use to love all other dogs even if she had never met them before; but after being attacked she is very particular with whom she plays with.  Friends are always welcome; that is until yesterday.

Elsa has a fairly new friend; if you follow my instagram or Facebook then you have already seen him.  His name is Atticus and he is a Great Dane puppy.  Elsa met him at eight weeks of age and at that point in time he was placed on her "friend" list.  She adores puppies because she knows that they are non-threatening.  So Atticus was in.  

July of this year we took care of Atticus for a week which was wonderful.  A live-in playmate for Elsa, what could be better?  They had a great time, playing all day long.  But since then she had not seen Atticus.  With a very busy summer schedule we just did not get together again, until yesterday.  

Elsa ran down the stairs when Atticus along with his Mom and Dad came in.  She was thrilled to see him, that is for the first few minutes.  Being that Atticus is only 6 months of age he is still a bit apprehensive when they first get together.  Elsa is a force to be reckoned with when you are her friend.  Playing is her absolute favorite thing so as soon as you get here, it's game on.  

Atticus ran around a little unsure and Elsa stopped with any interest in him.  I assumed it was her normal reaction to his apprehension but when he pounced at her; she gave him a very serious warning.  Of course this caught my attention and I watched.  Elsa picked up a ball and got heavily into her retrieving; she wanted nothing to do with Atticus.  

Elsa had clearly recognized him the second they arrived; this is all done through scent.  We went inside after a bit as it was so hot out and things got worse.  Elsa was very obviously not thrilled with Atticus's presence, strange.  She always loves her friends; she has never turned a friend away, EVER.  I watched with great interest as she let Atticus know that he was not to come near her.  She was very clear with her warnings and made them more intense if he did not heed them.  


What was going on?  This was very strange indeed, and I wish that I had thought to video some of the warnings but I was so enthralled with watching that I forgot until it was over.  I would say that her negative feelings towards our guest lasted about 20 minutes until Atticus helped her.  The only thing that I can think that changed how Elsa felt about Atticus was his sheer size.  He had been smaller than her when they last met and he was much, much bigger than her yesterday.  Although he smelled like Atticus, he did not look or sound like Atticus anymore which through Elsa.  


Both Atticus and Elsa offered amazing canine communications.  She let him know how she felt and he understood without a doubt; keeping his distance and looking at her from around the corner of the couch.  When he got a little more confident he stood staring at her; she starred back with a clear message.  He inched towards her seeing how far she would let him come.  Elsa gave him a warning bark but the intensity had changed and he knew it.  He got closer and then play bowed, AMAZING.  She dove off the couch and was wagging at him relaxed.

Atticus took his time, he was very careful about approaching her.  Her greeting had been very serious and she had lay down the law with a heavy hammer.  It was like a dance as they spoke back and forth with very little barking; that is until all was good again and Elsa got into her high pitched "I love playing with my friends" barking.  


Elsa has never, ever had to deal with such growth with a friend.  She clearly knew that it was Atticus but due to his sheer size felt the need to set new ground rules.  Everything changed in two months; in her eyes he was no longer the goofy little puppy that could get away with anything.  For twenty minutes things were very tense; poor Atticus didn't know what had changed but he had new rules to learn and abide by.

After Atticus did his play bow, things got happy, crazy very fast.  From "don't touch me or come close," from Elsa to lets brawl only minutes later.  It was quite fascinating and I was pretty much in dog behavior heaven.  :) It was very important to let Elsa speak her peace.  She was by no means going overboard with her warnings and Atticus got her message very clearly.  It was amazing to witness.  

Atticus is going to continue to grow; I could not believe his size yesterday either.  His head and feet are giant, but the difference will not be as much as the last two months.  Plus we plan on continuing to get together more often.  I'm sure Elsa was just as shocked as we were to see the size growth in Atticus; but it meant something different to her than it did to us.  

By the time they left she couldn't get enough of him and all was back to normal.  :)

Do's and don'ts with dogs

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Don't leave your dog in a hot car, EVER!  The above photo played out in a parking lot when I was leaving a vineyard.  On one hand I was happy to see this dog who had very clearly not been left inside the car.  His owners had thought out their plan before leaving the dog as they hit the wine tasting room.  But, I was still not happy at what I saw and here is why. 

As we were at a quiet vineyard out in the country; the traffic was much less than a high traffic area, but... Leaving a dog tied out while you go inside always puts your dog at risk to be taken.  I never, EVER like to see a dog tied out while the owners go inside.  Along with the risk of your dog going missing is the fact that if you are not there supervising your dog; who knows what could happen in your absence.  

It was also a parking lot which can be dangerous for other cars, let alone your dog.  What if someone didn't see him and backed right into him?  People back into cars all the time while parked in lots.  It is not the place to leave your dog tied up.  

I am extremely nervous when I see things like this.  Even though the owner had good intentions, not leaving their dog in the car; they put their dog at risk for injury or theft.  It can be a tough situation to deal with if you have your dog with you when you are partaking in activities that will not involve your dog.  I would leave my dog at home if possible.  If not I would keep my dog with me at the outdoor patio or wherever we could stand together safely.  

If you are not with your dog, you do not know what could or is happening to or with them.  Think safety!


Feedback for you and your dog - (BOOK GIVEAWAY)


The book, the one that anyone with a new dog or puppy truly needs.   It is my first training book and it is written for those with a new canine in their life.  W. Jean Dodds DVM wrote the foreword for my book which I was and am beyond excited about.  

Feedback for you and your dog focuses on everyday issues that can arise with the addition of a new dog to your home.  It is written so that it is easily understandable and has a quick reference section in each chapter.  This enables you to get quick answers when you are in a hurry to get them. 

The book is written in easy to understand language that can open the door to quick learning for you and your dog.    Walking through the doors to understanding the canine/human relation and how it can thrive with education on both sides is truly enlightening. 

This little book is packed with information for any and all new canine guardians.  Each and every new guardian client will receive a copy of their own as a reference manual through our training course.  Having trained dogs and their people for over 15 years gave me the experience and knowledge of what should be covered in a book for a new canine guardian.

If you have a new dog or puppy, you need this book.  

I will be giving away a free copy to one canine guardian.  Leave a comment on this blog and I will choose someone to send a signed copy to.  Ask a question or leave a comment about you and your dog/puppy for your chance to win.  

Dog training in Orange County, California

Good morning, it's been a while.  Life has been pretty hectic as of late and many things have had to take a back seat for a bit.  But I'm revving up with a new beginning and new start.  Training.  Yep I'm getting back to my roots and training again.  My in-home, private training will start up in mid September and I'm stoked.  

I have trained for years and years; beginning with group classes an evolving into private, in-home only.  Why in-home?  I like one on one, I enjoy addressing real life behavior issues in the dog and their guardian's home; where it all happens.  

Private training is time consuming but very rewarding.  There is so much progress that takes place with the ability to tackle very personal problems head on.  Each client has their own problems and this is how my training is geared, very personal. 

I also have my online training consults available; which is another very personal and easy way to work through dog behavior issues.  There are many different packages so you can pick and choose what best fits you and your dog/dogs. 

Another great side effect of getting back to training is the plethora of subjects that it gives me to write and share about.  I'm really excited to get back and it and will be sharing many stories and dog behavior issues with you all.  Wooot!



These are a few of our favorite things

Good morning, I hope that everyone had a wonderful July 1st and 4th weekend; and that you and your dog/s made it through safe and sound.  Elsa and I watched television through the fireworks and she did pretty well.  There was no shaking, trembling or dilated pupils; although when we went to bed she had to deal with a few residual boomers.  She hopped on and off the bed a couple of times but then settled down once they all FINALLY stopped.  

I'm often stumped about a topic to write about so this morning as I pondered what to write about; I thought I'd list some of Elsa and my favorite things to do.  I think it is really important to do things that you love and offer our dogs the things that they love to do as well.  Like us, they are all different so what one dog finds fun to do another may not at all.  What one person loves to do, another may not.  

Elsa's favorite things.

  • without a doubt, meeting up or playing with her dog friends is number one
  • retrieving her ball, she is rarely seen or photographed without her ball
  • going for a walk/run anywhere
  • lounging in the sun on some of her comfy patio furniture
  • getting her toes in the sand, it brings out the puppy in her
  • her family
  • scenting, sometimes it's nearly impossible to get her nose off of the ground
  • lizard hunting

These are activities that make me happy and I have a passion for.  Some of these things involve Elsa, some start out on my own and then I add Elsa and some are Elsaless.  

  • spending time with my family and friends
  • DOGS, training, watching them etc.
  • walks in nature - the beach, forest, field etc.
  • weight lifting
  • bouldering (rock wall climbing)
  • cooking and baking
  • writing
  • photography
  • wine tasting 
  • dining out at great restaurants
  • paddle boarding will soon be on the list.  It is something I have always wanted to do and hope to include Elsa once I get a handle on it.  

Life is short, too short not to do the things that you love to do.  The same goes for our dogs.  Enjoying life is important.  Each and every dog is an individual; what they love to do will be a very personal choice.  Allowing our dogs to partake in something that they love to do is typically something that we dog lovers love to do as well.  Seeing Elsa enjoy herself is something that I love.  Making her happy makes me happy.  

I would love to hear what you and your dog love to do.  

Crate training 101 - location

Not a great photo because it was dark out but you can see how big this 14 week old boy is already.  

If you are a long time blog follower then you know how much I love crates.  I love crates because they offer safety, security and freedom.  Crates offer you a chance to skip the moments when you regret ever getting a puppy. Instances when a puppy with too much freedom wreaks havoc on your home.  Coming home to a hole in your new couch, a leg chewed off of your antique dining room chair or poop from wall to wall can challenge the most seasoned canine guardian.  A crate can eliminate it all and offer your puppy a nice little cave to call their own.

Crate training is not for the weak.  It can be a challenge, when many people throw in the towel far too soon.  "They hate it," "he screams his fool head off," yep.  Yes most puppies aren't thrilled with the idea of a crate in the beginning; but it's not the crate per-say, it is the "lonesomeness." They don't want to be away from you, hence the screaming.  Given the option of a nice comfy crate with the door open so that they can come and go, most would opt to use it on their own.  

We have a house guest for a week, Atticus.  He is a about 14 weeks old and almost the size of Elsa already.  He is crate trained and for that I am thankful.  Last night was our first overnight so I knew it might be a little rough.  The two played for a good long hour outside before bedtime.  I have Atticus's crate with his bed stuff inside to make him feel at home.  He was not keen on going in the crate at first; heck their's too much new stuff to check out.  So with a little push, in he went and he wasn't thrilled about it.  

I crawled into bed and waited, listening...  Then it started, it started out low and it started to grow.  He whined, barked, pawed at the crate door and full on howled.  He hasn't got his adult voice yet (thankfully) but he is loud enough.  The commotion was not desperate or frantic; he was just complaining and throwing a tantrum.  The crate is what he is used to sleeping in, so I'd just put him in his bedroom for the night.  

I closed my eyes and waited for silence.  When it didn't come, I thought about the location of the crate.  Being that he was already crate trained I'd placed his bed away from mine.   In need of a solution I got up out of bed, dragged the crate over close to my bed and stuck my toes into the side of the crate. There was instant silence.  He let out a few final objections in the form of heavy sighs and then finally lay down.  Success!!!!!!

This is how I have always crate trained.  Of course there are a lot of steps to get to this place but the importance of crate location is one of the biggest factors.  By having the crate close to your bed, you can easily make a puppy feel like they are sleeping right beside you.  With my toes in the side grill of the crate; Atticus felt like he was with the pack.  Once he fell asleep I quietly slipped my toes out and back under my covers. 

He let out one objection around 4 am but went right back to sleep after venting.  This morning we were up bright and early at 5:20 for a pee and he is now back in the crate for a little bit while I blog.  He has complained a bit but is calm and fairly quiet.  

Some folks have issues with crates, stating "I'm not putting my dog in a cage, that's cruel."  What's cruel is the dread, danger and regret that can form from not using a crate.   Just think about wolves in the wild; Momma wolf does not leave her puppies running free when she goes out to hunt.  They are left in the den and fully understanad that they need to stay there until she returns.  Think of your dog's crate as their den; a safe place to leave them when you are not supervising.    



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.