Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The 411 on car sick dogs

A bunch of nice people passed on my foster pup Meggie because she gets car sick. My Collie and his entire litter got car sick for the first few months. Half of the fosters that we have had in the last year got car sick. Finney was easy to deal with, I just gave him Benydryl and a kid's lap to sit on in the car when he was a pup. Stella, formally foster dog Evon, lives quite happily with my cousins. She was adopted out while they were still getting her sickness under control. They had a hard time because they live in Boston and the stop and go traffic made her sick at first.

Are they happy to have adopted a dog that overcame her car issues? Of course! I have never known of a dog who did not get past car sickness.

Meggie' and Stella's car sickness is based in fear. Many of the pups who have been shipped up from the south get car sick. Three days in a van is a pretty scary place, especially if you are not feeling well. In hindsight, I wished I had started with the Benydryl earlier. Once the dogs get sick, then they fear getting sick and that in turn makes them sick. Meggie had been doing really well and taking rides with me that were very short. Picking up a kid down the street, or a ride to an off leash park. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I drove her to Windham to be in class did she get sick both ways io the 30 minute ride that I realized that she was not yet over the hump. Prior to that if I saw that she started to drool, I pulled right over and let her get her sea legs and she was fine for the remainder of the short trip, sans gak. 

So, moving on to finding Meggie her forever home, I have stepped up my plans at helping her overcome her car sickness. Only problem is, I don't have a car at this time. My Kia Sedona van was towed up 95 from York after it overheated. Shout out to tow truck driver Don who took not only my 9 year old kid, but my dog Charlee in his tow truck. Tow truck drivers do not have to take babies in car seats, or dogs due to some sort of liability issues, or so they have told me when I was stuck on the side of a the road in the past No amount of eye lash batting, or bribery changed their mind.

I mention this because while there is nothing you can do at the time, it is something to keep in mind when you take your dogs to various destinations. My daughter and I commented how grateful we were that we didn't have Meggie in the car last night!

Once I get a vehicle back, I am stepping up Meggie's car training. This will involve short trips with Benydrl given a half hour before we leave.  She will get to go  fun places on an empty stomach, we will hang in the car when it is not moving, and she will eat her  meals in the car in the driveway. We will also try ground ginger. You can buy ginger powder in bulk and then put it in your own organic capsules. I will let you know how that goes. I have been accused of not really wanting to place Meggie and undermining her potential homes.

Guilty! But Meggie is just so darn cute and her reactivity is pretty much gone with me, and I worry that it will come back if I am not super careful where she is placed.

By the way, today is national Shelter Dog Appreciation Day. Shout out to my favorite gal pal Charlee who was pulled from a kill shelter in Albany NY after being relinquished when her owner died.

Finney, the day we picked him up.  He didn't gak that day, but did get sick a few times in the begining.  His entire litter got over getting car sick in a few months with just a little effort.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Storm Center Dogs - Commercial # 2

Storm Center Dogs commercial number 2 is just about as cute as the first one. All my friends want to know if I have commercials that their dogs can be in and how I got the job of wrangling. The majority of the Storm Center Dogs belong to staff of WCHS6.

I met the WCVB6 creative director when she took her pup Bandit to puppy class. Karen is a first time dog owner, and we got to know each other as I helped her through Bandit's puppy learning curve. I am happy to report that Karen is now officially a newly confirmed "dog person" Bandit is so so so so cute that I had suggested she put him on TV. One night in class we started tossing around ideas, and Storm Center Dogs was born. While I did have a teeny something to do with it, the creativity was all Karen, and I am impressed with her talents. It was my job to keep the dogs on their marks and get them to do what ever behavior it was that they knew how to do. Most of the dogs excelled at being cute and I think we did a pretty good job at extracting that don't you? I also helped the dogs to feel comfortable in the small white room.

The other question that most people ask is how long did it take to make. Dogs started filming at 7:30 AM and we were done with close to 30 dogs before 1. Each dog had about 10 minutes in the room, give or take.

Here is the first spot in case you missed it, or just wish to revisit the cute. It played during the National Dog Show last Thursday. Cool!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sapphire -ADOPTED!

I am happy and hopeful for Sapphire who left for a new life with a great new Mom and wonderful 10 month old rescue sister dog on Sunday. Lucky Sapphire will be going to lots of training classes and even get to play agility! There are also 4 cats in her new home. That is a lot of new and if it isn't a good fit for her, of course I will take her back. Technically I guess you would call this a trial, although that is not what it looked like when they left.

Looked like one happy family to me!

That is a far cry from a being what is refereed to as a "lifer" dog In Mississippi, where Sapphire had little to any chance of being adopted once she past puppyhood.

Wasn't sure how Meggie would do without her BFF, but I have managed to give Meggie a lot more of my time with one less here and she seems totally fine with getting more human interaction and attention. I just re wrote Meggie's bio and I think she is very close to moving on to her new life as well.


I will miss them both.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Smooch your Pooch" children's book review

My head exploded at the Scholastic book fair Friday morning at precisely 8:52 AM. Well it didn't explode per say, but I was seen acting a bit like a crazy person. A few kiddos close to me may even had heard me mutter the H E double hockey stick word. There I was with my 9 year old daughter sleepily picking out a few books when I opened what appeared to be a cute dog book and BAM! The very first page of Smooch your Pooch is a dog bite waiting to happen.

The book is geared for 4 and up! Four and ups! Certainly it could understood by kids as young as 2.

What were the words that made my head explode? What were the words aimed at children that could with no exaggeration result in them getting bit by a dog square in the face?

Smooch your pooch to show you care, give him a hug anytime, anywhere.

Holy Hell!
Dogs do not understand hugs. Dogs do not hug each other. Teach your kids not to hug dogs, especially strange dogs that they do not live with. Many dogs will tolerate hugs from their own family, but will not tolerate hugs from strangers. Besides which what about if the dog is sleeping, or eating or any number of other things?  That is bad advice for a child for any animal.  Animals are not hanging around just hoping  we will come and disturb them.

Applied Animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell explains it this way in her book The Other End of the Leash.

"Dogs don't hug...and often they don't react kindly to those who do. Your own dog may benevolently put up with it , but I've seen hundreds of dogs who growled or bit when someone hugged them."

Personally I have had many dog bite training cases where the kid's were bit in the face after they put their faces right up to the dog's and kissed and hugged it. Often times the dogs gave clear warning signs that were missed. In many of these cases the dogs were inadvertently hurt by the child, were already over stimulated, or just plain had enough.

Starting in my puppy classes I show owners how to teach restraint and to teach pups to accept and tolerate hugs, but this lesson always comes with a caveat.

Dogs are canines and we are primates. Being of different species we are bound to misunderstand each other .Humans hug to show affection and to comfort, while the closest thing a dog has to a hug is mounting, which can be interpreted as aggression. While it is true that most dogs learn that we don't really mean any harm, some remain uncomfortable and won't tolerate it.

So I ask you, even if your own personal dog loves any and all attention, is it not negligence to teach the opposite of safe dog behavior via a very cute picture book?

I have been giving my  Kids and Dog safety demo  free to qualifying groups going on 15 years, and I have been a presenter for  the national program Dogs And Storks   going on three years and I  sure think so.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Commercial revealed! Channel 6 Weather Center Dogs

 The  commercial that I wrangled was for Channel 6 Storm Center and they will start to air starting this coming Monday. In case you don't live in Maine, or never noticed, the Channel 6 anchors all wear sweaters in bad weather. In the commercial, all the dogs are wearing theirs.

It pretty much speaks for itself --- just a whole lotta cute.

Be sure to watch for my two dogs Finney and Charlee. Charlee has been on borrowed time since 2006, and just a few days before the shoot she suffered yet another bout of panceatitis. I am extra happy with her 5 seconds of frame.

 Finney, just sits there looking good, which is what he does best.

This is a first of a series, and I can't wait to see the others. There were about 25 dogs and all of them will be featured. Most of the dogs belong to staff from Channel 6.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Four plus 1

I have been meaning to post this photo as a wordless Wednesday shot, but I kept forgetting, so consider it a scatter brained Thursday post. A few weeks back I took care of my friend's adorable just turned 5 year old (he was 4 on this day) and we took a walk to Evergreen to feed the ducks.

Great kid, great day, great dogs.

And yes, I did tie the the fosters to a tree. They were only there for a second. Had to,  Meggie and Sapphire kept trying to kiss Oywn.
So who wants to adopt my super foster pups? They are getting too comfy here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Salmon Puppy Pizza Bites

In preparation for my first time wrangling of about 25 dogs for a Television commercial, I baked a batch of Salmon Puppy Pizza Bites. Humans were told to bring treats, but I wanted to be sure we had a super high value treats just in case.

My budget for dog's treats breaks the bank some weeks. When I saw my trainer friend  Tracy Haskell's  blog on  salmon brownies that she baked and brought to a Rally-O trial, I took a look at the recipe and couldn't wait to give it a try. I already had a pack of seven 7 oz cans of Salmon my mother bought me at Costco (for human fish chowder , but Mom I still have enough for fish chowder) and all the other ingredients on hand.
While I realize that was not technically free, it sure seemed like it last week! A comparable dog treat if purchased in a store, would not be nearly as healthy and would cost about 10 dollars for less than half a pound. I estimate this made the equivalent of perhaps a dozen store sized  bags, but my guestimate math is weak at best . What I do know is that I had enough for all the dogs at the shoot, and for training treats for my 4 dogs, and my client's dogs for another week. Only a few dogs turned their noses up at it. Most of the dogs including mine, acted like it was doggie crack.
Now that is some guestimate math that I can get behind!

For Charlee who is on a very restricted diet due to pancreatitis, I stored the treats in with her regular food to make her own food tastier and of course smellier. She still has a small bag of  salmon trail mix left.

Tracy's recipe is for Salmon Brownies, but I ended up using my pizza pan, which is how I ended up making Salmon Puppy Pizza Bites. 

Copy and pasted below is Tracy's recipe. I will be making them again, and next time I am going to add shredded sweet potato. I will let you all know how that turns out. If you have a  tried and true high value dog treat recipe (not biscuits) please share in the comment section. My baking time was closer to 50 minutes.

FYI, I froze leftovers in small baggies and used them as needed. I have no idea how long you can freeze these for, but at my house that is not ever an issue.

Bandit liked them so much his Mom asked for the recipe.  I wish they had told me that you can't wear shoes in the studio, guess who wasn't wearing any socks that day?

Tracy's Chewy Salmon Brownies

The Basic Recipe
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix All together:

14 to 18 oz. canned fish- do not drain (salmon, tuna)
2 or 3 eggs
1/2 cup cheese finely grated
1 1/2 cups flour (oat, wheat...)
Spread onto an oiled 9 x 13 inch baking sheet.
Bake about 20 minutes.
A large chef's knife works well to cut them. After cutting remove from pan to cool.

Makes about a bazillion training size treats!

Feed to your dog- who hopefully relishes them- woof, woof woof!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ready for his close-up

I am lucky that I love my job. One of my jobs anyway, that would be the one with dogs. Recently I picked a job in retail for holiday help. My hope is that they keep me on and I get benefits. The "other" job is not so bad and it is nice getting a discount on clothes for the kids and I. Better than the 15 % discount, is being aware of special sales that pop up now and again. If you pay attention, things can be obtained much cheaper, and that goes for all retail, to include some great bargain shopping at the supermarkets. Yesterday I saved a hundred bucks at Shaw's! Being in retail these last few weeks has given me insight into ways to save when I shop for other items to, so hopefully even if the job doesn't pan out, there will be that.

The most fun and exciting thing of late in the good job, the dog job, was that I wrangled a commercial last week. I am sworn to secrecy until it airs on Saturday, but check out how handsome my dog Finney looks. Both my dogs are in it along with a few of my client's dogs. Not sure of the total of dogs that I handled that day, but I think it was about 25. They were all sweet and adorable and the hardest thing about movie or print work with animals is working from a distance and not being in the shot yourself. If you think your dog has what it takes to be a superstar, I can tell you right now that is where you need to start.

Distance, distance, distance! Target training where you can send your dog to a place is the thing you should be working on.

Next week all will be revealed. Can't wait to see the commercials and share!

By the way, the new retail job has VPI pet insurance as a bennie. How cool would that be? Pet insurance in the work place sure seems like a wave of the future to me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you got the teen, I got the perfect dog

People have been asking about my two foster dogs. Yup, they are still here. Sapphire met a lovely family with a two year old daughter last weekend and the dog was perfect. I was all mush watching her interact with the family in such a sweet and appropriate way. Saffi, was the first dog they met, and the family plans to meet and greet quite a few more dogs before deciding which dog will join their family. That is wise and I am sure whatever dog they get will be well taken care of (come back nice people!!)

Sapphire is a super dog and she will be placed soon no doubt, because she can fit in just about anywhere. Sapphire could be a super wonderful pet for just about any family, or she could be a competition dog in a varity of sports.  She is  a nice,  smart and super athletic dog!

Anyone notice the time? It is 4:00 AM. Sapphire woke me up barking a while ago and I have had a hard time getting back to sleep.

Sapphire comes with a teen meter feature not found in many dogs. It is the if your teenager tries to sneak in after curfew, the dog will bark and wake you all up feature.

Thanks Saffi!

Good dog.
http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/17718179 Sapphire

http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/17400115 Meggie

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some simple rescue rules for adopters

Here is a short and I mean short how to article on how to find the right rescue dog  that I wrote for November's Raising Maine Magazine.  You can't say a whole lot in 500 words but I tried to fit in as much as possible. 
Reprinted with permission.

Do you have a forever home for a dog?

If you are looking for a dog to add to your family, you’ll likely start your search on the Internet. Petfinder.com is the virtual home of 347,259 adoptable pets from 13,439 adoption groups, proving that the Internet has changed the way we rescue dogs and make them part of our families.

It is estimated that three to four million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year.

Many homeless dogs end up in shelters through no fault of their own. And the Humane Society of the United States estimates that 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebred.

If your family has it’s heart set on a particular breed, be sure to get in touch with your local breed rescue. As a general rule, breed rescues do an excellent job of matching dogs with forever homes because those families know and love the breed. Always keep in mind a dog breed’s intended use when deciding if a particular dog is a good match for your family.

But beware: Not all rescues are created equal and the shuffling of dogs from state to state has given rise to unscrupulous practices, some for money, but others stemming from misguided good intentions. Rescue dogs can be the perfect addition to your family, but do not “buy” a rescue puppy, sight unseen from an unknown, online source.

Rules of rescue

1. Don’t fall in love with a photo. Rescues, foster homes, shelters and breed rescues evaluate dogs that are in their care and can be an invaluable match making source. Listen to them!

2. Don’t over estimate your skills in training your new addition or the time that you have to devote to a dog.

3. Never adopt a dog off a truck (see No. 1). Due to quarantine laws and behavior evaluation issues, dogs should be in foster care first.

4. Be prepared for extensive screening and a home visit.

5. If you are turned down for a dog, don’t take it personally.

People who work in animal adoptions are trying to find the best matches they can. Get to know area rescues so they understand what you are looking for and can help pick the right dog for you.

6. While it is true that some rescue dogs come with baggage, not all do. With proper training and guidance you can change that baggage to a small carry-on in no time.

7. Be prepared to wait – sometimes for a very long time – for the right dog to come along.

An extensive list of local shelters and rescues can be found on Petfinder.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hand Targeting on Good Day Maine

The end of August I took my fabulous foster pup Stella (formally Evon) on Good Day  Maine to demonstrate how to teach hand targeting. If you watch closely you can see that I lost the news casters in the beginning. It takes them a little bit to be on board as to why one would bother teaching a pup to touch their nose to your hand. I used to save hand targeting for my advanced classes, but now I teach it in all puppy K, and manners classes and it is the first thing I teach my foster dogs. It is a wonderful foundation exercise. In the video I explain why targeting is a must teach.

For fearful and problem dogs, hand targeting is a MUST.

I was flattered to wake up this morning to a mention on my friend Mary's blog. Mary is a first time foster and she has taken on a very fearful, dog from death row. Aaron would have been a goner without Mary's intervention. Her entire blog is  worthy of a read.  Not only is it packed with wonderful training insights, but Mary is a wonderful writer and she really knows how to weave a tale.

Included in Mary's blog latest post  is a 5 minute clip showing her using hand targeting to get Aaron used to the car that he once feared. Of note, the dog really doesn't look that fearful anymore. Great job Mary! The dog who is jumping in and out of the car is the same dog who would not even leave her house not that long ago.

Aaron is available for adoption by the way, but don't forget I still have two special pups at my house and they are darn good targeters in their own right, although, not quite as great as Stella in the video. In hindsight, when the news casters ask me if they can try it, I should have said no, since I really had no idea if she would work for them.  Live TV takes some getting used to.

Good Girl Stella!

By the way, Stella is thriving in Boston with my cousin. Here she is at the Head of the Charles Regatta where my cousin reports she was perfect!