Monday, January 31, 2011

Me and Finn and our mission from doG

Two years ago I was in Boston for the Dodman/Dunbar seminar and that Friday night found me driving around my old stomping grounds, with both my dogs in tow. I just didn't feel comfortable leaving the dogs at my parent's house. My Mom has a habit of stepping over the dogs while they stalk her in the kitchen, instead of asking them to move, or get out, and I was afraid she might fall. My parents were already watching my sister's lovely Golden pup Tallulah, and one pup was one pup a plenty.

No sooner had I left the house when bam, I was pulled over by the police. My dogs didn't even lift their heads when I rolled down the window.

To truly appreciate this story, you have to read the words of the cop with the voice inflections of Dan Aykroyd. Think Blues Brothers.

That is just what he sounded like.

"License and registration Ma'am."

Looks for license, can see friends that I haven't seen in years going in Bill Ash's bar, and I smiled a big smile just as the cop's flashlight shines into my pocketbook.

"What's in the plastic bag ma'am?"

Flashback to high school. Blood pressure shoots up.

"Plastic bag? Huh?"

Looks into pocketbook and sees old cheese from a dog training session the day before. Ok, maybe the day or so before that even.

Showed cop entire contents of bag before pulling out dead cheese and stifled a giggle.

Dogs heard rustling of bag and stood up, looked expectantly at cop.

Cop pointed flashlight on dog's snouts, lingered on Collie's long snouty.

"That is old cheese, I am a dog trainer", I say a bit sheepishly.

After I got the speech about next time use a blinker and questions about if I had moved out of state because my license in MA was revoked the flashlight is again pointed at the Collie.

"People do that you know Ma'am."

No, I didn't know that.

"What kind of dog is that Ma'am?"


"Doesn't look like a Collie Ma'am."

'It's a Collie."

"Doesn't Look like any Collie I have ever seen. What is he mixed with?"

"It is a Collie, a Smooth Collie."

"Did you shave the Collie Ma'am?"

Tried really really hard not to laugh, and at that point I looked in the rear view mirror and both sides of the car for a camera crew. I thought for a sec that maybe I was being filmed for one of those TV shows.

"No, he is a Smooth, they come that way."

Points flashlight back to Collie.

"Are they a nice family dog Ma'am?"

"Yes, pretty nice dog, a little barky though, like a Sheltie."

I am getting a little punchy and looked again for hidden cameras.

"But are they good with the kids Ma'am?"

"Yes, pretty nice, if you don't mind a bit of barking."

Went in for the win and milked the family dog angle.

"I have three kids and the Collie loves them."

"Can I give the Collie a bit of the cheese Ma'am?"

I looked around again for a hidden for camera before saying "sure, here you go."

Then I got a speech about defensive driving and how I needed to take note that I wasn't in Maine anymore, and to please have a safe night and then he asked me to please not keep the dogs out too late.

After I drove off and parked just up the block, I gave the Collie the rest of the cheese before meeting my old friends at the bar.

Then I told the story to everyone I know, and we laughed - a lot.

The awesome photo of Finney was taken by Meredith Purdue, and Unlimited Dogs

This post was published on Maine Today in 2009. I will be taking select favorite posts from my blog on Maine Pets A Dog's Life and putting them here from time to time before  they disappear forever into  the interwebs.

 RIP Maine Pets.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Home is where the heart and stomach are

Charlee checked  in to Kelly's Roast Beef. Revere, Ma
I had business to take care of in my home town of Revere Massachusetts yesterday and brought Charlee in the car for company. Being with me in the car, or just in the car, is pretty much Charlee's favorite thing after food. Finney has also decided that he loves the car, or just being any where I am, but like any good Mom , I have to spread my time and love around, and it was Charlee's turn. Charlee is putting up with 2 young male foster  dogs, acting foolish all over her house a good portion of every day. Today is Finney's turn to come to work with me, and with the amount of humping and violating that has been going on here, he to has earned some time off for great behavior.
Revere is the original GTL town. That's stands for gym, tan, laundry, ala Jersey Shore in case you are out of the loop.  Revere has changed quite a bit since I was a kid, but one thing that hasn't changed is Kelly's Roast Beef, and I had a craving. Both my daughter's are vegetarians and I rarely cook or eat meat. I was a vegetarian for nearly 6 years, but got horribly anemic and no amount of iron pills and spinach helped me. When the doctor told me to try to eating meat or give up some blood for a leukemia test,Kelly's roast beef was my first meal.

I have to say I still have some guilt about eating animals, and I nearly asked them where and how the beef was raised, ala Portlandia, but decided that I would take a leap of faith for my gullet's sake, and just hope the cows were treated well.

For the first time ever I have had something positive happen when I tweeted my location on Four Square, and 40 minutes later I got to meet up with my cousins and former foster Stella (Evon). My cousin mentioned that she thought the dog would be nervous and think that I had come to whisk her away from her new life. I had never heard of that. When I have re-met former foster dogs, they either collapse in a puddle of happy mush, or greet me and the kids like anyone else, then after a few minutes a light bulb seems to go off and then they collapse in a puddle of happy mush.

Before I go on, let me say that Stella hit the Jackpot. She got a great home complete with lots of trips to her grandparents house, which is where I met up with everyone yesterday. Stella is genius smart. This is the dog who figured out how to get out of a crate that no other dog has figured out. She had hit the latch with her paws, then pick it up and hold it with her  teeth and BACK UP.  That required a major amount of reasoning power.

When she met me outside, she hid behind her Mom like a little kid going to school for the first time. She absolutely knew who I was. No question. And her Mom was right. The dog thought I had come to take her. She did warm up to me, and gave me lots of gentle kisses, but the dog never took her eyes off my cousin. In this photo, she settled near me, but she is still giving me the stink eye. After I got over my slightly bruised feelings, I was thrilled for the dog and my cousin.

Kind of looks like she is saying "oh no you won't."

In case you never saw it, here is Stella and I on Good Day Maine teaching hand targeting.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meet the fosters, Beck and Kingsley

Our two new foster dogs arrived on schedule  this past weekend. These two dogs are heart stealing super nice dogs ,and I have to admit, that either would fit in here. My girls know that no dogs can stay unless it can be a working dog.  Both dogs are sweet and smart and fun to be around, and both have big brains and either (or both!)  would love to stay here forever.

It is hard for me to pick a favorite, but my daughters had "their" dogs picked out before the dogs  even left Mississippi.

There has been no waffling, although both will admit to me in private that they do like the other dog.

Leaving the kennel, both lucky dogs already had "their"  kid. 

My youngest is square in camp Beck. Beck is about 1 years old and clearly some sort of Border Collie mix What he is mixed with is anyone's guess. Best guess is a wee bit of English Setter mixed in to the   un spayed around town wandering mutt. Beck has been in the CARA shelter since September. He is a bit goofy and has already been taken down more than a notch by my dogs. He has some growing up and maturing to do. Beck is a clean slate as far as training goes and does not even know sit. I have been hand feeding him and I expect him to know lots by the end of next week. Beck has a nice toy drive and is quite biddable. He is an excellent jumper on people. You can tell the dog spent a lot of time jumping on the kennel bars to be noticed. He can walk on his hind legs and would most likely make a nice agility prospect and fun Freestyle/obedience dog, or super cool active pet dog. As the saying goes, he is all boy, even though he is not all boy if you get my drift. Beck's signature and endearing move is to come up to you, place his back on your legs, melt into your feet in a puddle of adorable after he sits up and begs to kiss you.

Charlee tolerated Beck on her deck,
 but evil eyed him to jump off the other side,
instead of letting him  down the stairs.

You may have noticed by now that Beck  is black and white and has heavy ticking like Charlee. That is all they have in common and they do not actually look alike.

Why don't you believe me?

Who doesn't like a dog who loves a good car ride?

Middle daughter changed Buck's name to Kingsley and we think it fits him perfect. He has a wonderful temperament with people and especially other dogs -which will be really hard for me to pass up! I can't even tell you how I love to watch him be mauled by Beck one second, and then watch him turn it around to play. When he is evil eyed by Charlee, Kingsley will offer all sorts of appeasement and please let's just be pals displays. Charlee really likes him, which is not something I can say for the other rude boy. An adorable, smart dog who gets along well with kids, and dogs? I have been looking for such an animal for quite a while. Kingsley is about 2 years old and his (puke) people moved and left him outside where he sat for 2 days loyally waiting for them to come home. Today I will work on the rasta mats behind his ears.

Diamond in the ruff

Rescue dogs do not show their true selves for quite a while, so I am sure my initial assessments will evolve, but I know what I like and I really like both these guys.  Kingsley seems he would fit in to any active home, while Mr Beck (the rock and roll Becks, not the other one) will need a more careful placement. Kingsley has already generated interest, and my older daughter has already pleaded for him, which has led to "that's not fair" tears from the younger sister. Who tells me "what kind of dog trainer only has 2 dogs. You need more dogs and it has to be an even number."
Hello young daughter, we are committed to a puppy in the fall, how could you forget?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lucy and the Potty Detective

Did you know that a large portion of any dog trainer's week consists of helping people figure out how to potty train their dogs? Once I helped a couple whose two small dogs had been pottying in the house for nearly 9 years. They woke up one day and said "time to train the dogs." And we did.

While the two most important concepts: schedule, schedule, schedule, and, management, management, management, apply to all dogs, it does not apply equally because, well let's face it, people are people and  all our lives have idiosyncrasies.

I consider myself a potty expert and when I was privy to information about Lucy, our foster dog who was ADOPTED this past weekend, I was mentally prepared to schedule schedule, scedule, and manage, manage, manage.  By the way, manage means supervise or confine. Lucy's family work schedule had changed and the dog had  found herself alone a large portion of every day. This was an important puzzle piece in figuring out was what going on with her.

Here is the thing. When you have an adult dog who is having accidents in the house, you need play potty detective. It's Dog Trainer 101 to learn to ask questions and look at things from the dog's point of view.

Whether it is aggression, barking, jumping, or whatever, finding the dog's motivation is the first step in solving any problem. It is a dog trainer's job to figure out what is going on. First we rule out physical.   Dogs may have a urinary tract infection, or possibly something more serious.

Even with schedule, schedule, schedule, and management , management, management, Lucy peed in my house in the first week. Just as the family had shared, Lucy found a pile of dirty laundry and eliminated there.. Ok, in the big scene of things, not so bad. I made a mental note of all the circumstances of that day. What she ate and drank and when, how much exercise she had, who was home etc. It is a great idea if your dog is having potty issues to keep a potty journal with as many factors written down as you can. Sometimes patterns are not clear without one. Right away the fact that I came home after being out for 2 hours, combined with the  fact that I saw the dog eliminate outside and then she came in and peed again  inside was a red flag. These are the times that owners often think their dogs pottied "out of spite".
There is no such thing as a dog who goes to  the bathroom out of spite.

I was quite sure the dog was anxious that I left, and had not totally eliminated  outside becasue she wanted to be back in with me. Plus, it was one of the coldest days of the year.

The following week, we had a poop accident in my laundry room. This time, I had been out teaching at night for the first time since Lucy had been in my house.  Same thing, I came home, the dog was excited to see me, she went outside , eliminated and came back and did it again right in front of me.

I knew my first inclination was right, and that Lucy  was stressed and  anxious that I had left her. The next day when I called Victoria from  the rescue to pass on how wonderful Lucy was and how well the dog was doing, she listened to my potty hypothesis, agreed with me and exclaimed;

"Of course, she gave you an I love you shit.  It was an I love you shit!"

Yes, I do believe it was! An I love you shit. Why had I never thought of that?

Lucy problem was based in insecurity, and she did not have any more accidents in my care. I just slightly changed my routine. The next times I came home, we just stayed out longer.
Case closed. Dog adopted! Can't wait to share that diagnosis with a future client.

Lucy is doing great in her new home.
She has  her very own boy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Foster Poem

I am posting this poem for every person who ever fostered a homeless animal, and for every person who ever helped an animal find it's way.  I am posting this poem for every person who wonders how I can  give them up, how I can do this to my kids, and for every person who may foster an animal one day. 

I am the bridge,
Between what was and what can be.
...I am the pathway to a new life.
I am made of mush,
Because my heart melted when I saw you,
Matted and sore, limping, depressed
Lonely, unwanted, afraid to love.
For one little time you are mine.
I will feed you with my own hand.
I will love you with my whole heart.
I will make you whole.
I am made of steel.
Because when the time comes,
When you are well, and sleek,
when your eyes shine,
And your tail wags with joy
Then comes the hard part.
I will let you go-not without a tear,
But without a regret.
For you are safe forever--
A new dog needs me now.

…Author unknown…

Former foster dog Jonas.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog the Change. We are the change.

Blog the Change

It seemed to me that when  Blog Paws, a pet bloggers conference had it's first few conferences, the bloggers who attended came back refreshed, recharged, enthused and ready to change the world.  Blog Paws is sponsored by Pedigree pet food and I had to stop and think about that for while.

Can one company's really great marketing campaign change the world? Is this not marketing at it's finest? For a comparatively  small  (ad campaign)  fee, Pedigree does good and makes them selves look good at the same time.

Pedigree took a group of intelligent, passionate people with enormous potential to reach their target market audience, and motivated them to save more animals  while softly promoting their company. This was all done  in a feel good we saved a puppy kind of way.

That didn't sit right with me for a long time and I have  had quite a few heated email exchanges with friends of mine who attended Blog Paws as guests of  Pedigree. These sponsored bloggers had a contract and they had to promote Pedigree dog food in their follow up posts about the conference.   At first I thought it was "selling out, in the purest most rock and rock sense", but after much back and forth, I have tipped over onto the other side of the fence.

Animals are being helped, important messages are being heard,and  pet bloggers have a bigger platform. Not only that, but the word has spread. Those blogger told someone. And they told someone, and they told someone, and so on and so and so on.  I can get behind this.

Ok, enough drivel. Today is one of several Be the Change  pet blogger challenge days. These writing propts have been  insprired from  Blog Paws. I am not exactly sure if there is a direct link, but flaming the fire of change goes back to Pedigree, so a some what reluctant hat tip to their marketing department is in order.

My  round about point is that those attendees are reaching a wider audience and bottom line, that is a good thing.

Today's writing prompt is to:

Make a fresh commitment to act on behalf of animals

Inspire others to do the same

Spread the word

So here goes.

I plan on continuing to support my local rescue Canine Commitment (see I really do, they even have me on their web site!) and to continue fostering. Currently I have one foster dog Lucy and we are committed to taking two young males in the very near future. I plan to continue evaluating dogs for them and continue to give free advice to all adopters via the phone and email.

Hey world, I am already dancing as fast as I can, and these Challenge vows are nothing new here. I am already part of the solution.

Are you?

Lucy our foster dog, shown here during the  recent blizzard.
 Pity the dogs who are fostered at our house.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Storm Center Dogs - win Shaggy's sweater

Tomorrow on the morning report, WCSH6 will be announcing  the winner of the hand knit sweater worn by Shaggy  in the Storm Center commercials I wrangled. It is super cute and suitable for a "wee" dog. That sweater was the toughest part of an other wise easy and fun job. Every time Shaggy moved, the letter T in the word  Storm would disappear.

Enter to win Shaggy's sweater here.

WCSH6 is asking for pictures of your dogs in sweaters.
Upload your dog's picture in their winter wear here.

Your dogs may just  get on TV!

Neither of my dogs need to wear sweaters. Charlee tolerated wearing a cute pink sweater for 10 mintues for the shoot in the hot lights, but she would much prefer to wear the cold Atlantic ocean.

Enjoy the storm, and stay safe.

Here are the commercials again, in case you missed them.  They make me smile,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WTH! Who stole 3 dogs from Maine Shelters ?

First  Selena, a red and white Pekingnese mix, was stolen on Saturday from the Kennebunkport Shelter.  Selena had not yet been spayed!

Monday afternoon, Candy a Black lab mix who needs  meds for lyme desease was snatched from Augusta, and the a Red and white pittie from Bangor? What the hell?  Police suspect  they are related.

Ya think?

Click the channel 6 link for pictures and more information.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pet Blogger Challenge

Pet Blogger Challenge

1. When did you begin your blog?

I was asked to blog for in 04 by the editor who was a student in one of my classes. This last year I branched out to Raising and to my own blog on blogger.

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

We moved to Maine from Massachusetts in the fall of 2001 with 3 kids. My youngest was only 2 weeks old. In Mass I had an established business, but it took me quite a while to get my name and dog training business known in Maine. As a rule people in Maine don't embrace outsiders coming in --especially from Massachusetts, where we are all known collectively as Massholes. Blogging I hoped, would be a back door, way for people to learn about me and my positive training philosophies.

3. Is your current purpose the same?

Pretty much but over the years I have really learned to love sharing stories and photos and I do it for my soul now as well as the frying pan.

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

Free spirit here!

5. Are you generating income from your blog?

I blogged for years and years for free, but became a  featured blogger on Maine Today about 2 years ago.  I am  paid a small fee. It is unlikely I will host ads on the blogger site, but I would never say never.

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)?

Blogging has rescued me from "Mommie brain." Blogging has been a great source of connections. The Internet is powerful tool.

7. What do you like least?

Fruit cakes and trolls and Animal rights extremists and spam.

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2011?

I have been toying with the idea of give aways for quite some time, and plan to host a few contests this year with way cool prizes. More photos!

Thanks to Amy at for the concept.  Click the badge FMI

one up

See a pattern?
Tears were streaming  here last night. Tears cascaded down the cheeks of my sweet 9 year old's face. The cause of her tears, was our adorable bunny she named Cotton. When I gave her the bunny for her 9th birthday in September Cotton was just 8 weeks old and too young to tell her sex. My daughter gave the bunny a name suitable for a male or female. To be honest, I didn't give the bunnie's sex another thought for a good (and happy!) solid 4 months. We all kind of assumed that Cotton was a she because of the adorable factor.

Well listen up folks, she is a he. The reason for the tears?

"Boys are icky, boys are gross."

Cotton only has one ball. He has an undescended testicle. At 6 months, it still may be on it's way, but I kind of doubt it judging by the whopper of a right nut this little guy is sporting.  Upon this revelation

tears then morphed to -

"What kind of Mother gets her kid a birthday present that will die."

"We need to find Cotton another home, I don't want him to die here."


"How will we get the other ball get out, what does the ball do, why does he need it, and will it hurt, how much does it cost, will he die at the vet, and you need to call the vet right now."

Then more

*sob. sob. sob. *

These very serious questions were peppered with the over the top smart ass comments of my 17 year old son, who could not contain the flood of bad bunny wiener jokes. Each one pushing my poor kiddo closer and closer to the brink.

He gave our bunny the new name of .....

"Cotton Ball."

"Peter Cotton Peter"



"Little Bunny Foo Ball."

Where as I then had to

*physically restrain her so she didn't injure her brother.*

By the way, for those of you who know us in real life, please don't mention this to my kid, she would be very angry at me for sharing.

Sharing private information on blogs can get prickly.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looking ahead to the New Year

If you stopped by to see what my dog's New Years Resolutions are, forgetaboutit. Not gonna happen.

My kids and I have resolved to take in more dogs in 2011. We as a family are in give back mode. Cheers to our 8 fosters of last year, Donner, Toller, Stella (Evon), Marti and Rosebud, Mango,  Meggie and Sapphire. It is a pleasure working with Canine Commitment and CARA and we  look forward to helping many more dogs in 2011.

Meet new foster dog Lucy. Lucy is a 3 year old Beagle x Fox Terrier -most likely. We are still getting to know her, but first impression is that she is a sweet heart and highly adoptable. She lived with 3 kids as young as 2 years old and also with 2 cats. Her family adopted her from CC at 10 weeks old,  and relinquished her back to rescue.  Lucy's family  was overwhelmed with a new job and extended work hours. Now before you all go jumping on other people for choosing to give up a "family member" please pause to remind yourselves that these folks made a difficult choice and chose what was best for the dog. I have clients facing a life changing event who are returning one of their two dogs to the ARL (as per contract). Isn't it best that we are not selfish and stop and ask ourselves, what is best for the dog as well as ourselves?

I don't often tell people, but I gave up a dog when I was pregnant. It was heart wrenching and it was awful and sad, but I don't regret it. As it turned out, my son was born with a heart defect and if I had not done my homework and relinquished Rollo when I did, my family would have dumped him somewhere when we were in the hospital, and lord knows where he would have ended up. Now before you all go judging me to, let me say that he was my boy friends's dog who became mine over time. I trained Rollo to be a therapy dog,  but he was not cut out for life in East Boston with  no yard. No judging.

And to be clear, I am not saying it is ok for people to just "dump" dogs, but there are plenty of real life circumstances that justify  dogs being better off living elsewhere. When we add dogs to our families we are then responsible for them. That does not mean, until death do we part. It means doing right by the dog, even if it is hard on the humans.

So enough of a lecture. I am sure Lucy will be moving on to her new home soon. Except for her uncanny ability to nose whistle show tunes, she has no behavior issues that I have seen.

I will try to get some better photos of Lucy  soon and we will be updating her Petfinder bio as soon as I get to know her a bit better. 
 In the photo taken yesterday on my Crackberry , I am pretty sure she is searching  for her family.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's nice to be wrong sometimes

My friend Mary, of (check it out...go now!) is on the cusp of joining the failed foster club. She called me in July and we spoke at length about the dog she saw on the Internet in a high kill shelter in Arkansas. This dog reached off the Internet page and spoke to her. His soulful eyes haunted her.

Mary got an earful from me about how I felt bad, but that there was no way I would pull a dog from the middle of no where, where I had no inside friends or contacts, and especially not one who looked as messed up as (soon to be) Aaron did in the his shelter photo. Mary got the "we can't save them all" speech from me and then she was delicately redirected to try to help a local dog . I told her about all the resources it would take to save this one dog, and how many other dogs she could save with that time and money.  I told her how there were no guarantees, and how "rescue sucks", and how I personally did not like the look in his eyes, or his tucked up fearful body posture.

"No way, don't do it!!" I told her and gave her a few horror stories to mull over.

Mary was gracious and appreciative of my time, and thanked me for my views, then she went and pulled the dog anyway.  :)
 If you have not followed his story,  go to She is a great writer, and she has woven together a great story.
I  me up with Mary yesterday at Old Orchard Beach and  got to meet Aaron in person.
It is nice to be wrong sometimes.

Aaron checks out the ocean for the first time


Dogs don't understand the concept of luck. 

Good boy Aaron,  Good girl Jazzy.

Finney and Aaron had a  beach "bromance"

Charlee says "Every day is polar dip day."