Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This adorable Maltese is staying with us for a few days.  The kids and I have decided that she is the perfect little dog and we must have her for our very own.

When the owners come to get her tomorrow, we will  tell them  the truth.

 "We were just putting on her dress and she spontaneously combusted.".  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Product Review: Kurgo Back Pack from In Style Dog

A few weeks ago I  was contacted by newcomer In Style Dog, and asked if I would like to test a few of their products. Of course I said yes!  My kids and I loved our shopping spree.  The web site is easy to navigate, prices are good, shipping is free, and the product quality is excellent.

I wrote about the crate insert that Beck took out of the crate and brought to my king size bed.  Not one to be left out,  Finney, our Smooth Collie did a great job product testing the Kurgo  Wander Pack.  One of the things I love about this product is that it fits dogs from 30 to 80 pounds, which is  the majority of dogs that I work with.  The back pack fit both of my dogs well, along with all several fosters, and friend's  dogs that we tried it on, with easy,  minor adjustments to the straps.

Of all the dogs who have worn it, Finn seemed to thrive the most.  Maybe it because  he is after all bred to work, but he did seem filled with pride when he wore the pack and had a job to do.   Many  people use back packs for dogs who need a little extra work, but Finn's needs are all pretty much met.

He just likes wearing it.

Finn wore the back pack this weekend to Spay ME's event Pet Rock at  Deering Oaks Park.  The event raised money for free and low cost spay and neuter for the state of Maine, and Finn loved that people stopped and told him how handsome he was, and admired his back pack  all day long.   He carried pick up bags, extra treats and my daughters stuffed toy that she got at the event.

Here is Finn waiting patiently for me to come out.

Finn carried pick up bags, a long line,
 two bags of treats and my kid's stuff toy.

Finn found the back pack comfy
even when laying down and jonesin' for treats
 from the nice folks at the Spay ME booth.  

Rolling Stones tribute band Sticky Fingers with Bobbie  Keys on Sax,
 brought a good size  crowd to the event
 even though it was s FREEZING out.

The Kurgo Wander Pack is well worth the sale price of $29.95 with free shipping from In Style Dog.  Since our shopping spree last month, In Style Dog has  added lots of new products.

Check them out! 

4 paws up! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

A perk of having a sweet dog loving kiddo

Purple just happens to be both Heather and Starrie's color!
And no they didn't check with each other first to see what the other was wearing. 

My youngest came to Rally-O class with me this past Saturday.  She loves to come to work with me on any given day, but she loved this past weekend.   That's Starrie in her lap. Her young Italian Greyhound brother  trains with me most Saturdays, and their owner didn't feel right about leaving Starrie home, as she had been a bit under the weather.  Nothing contagious, no worries there.
 Eleven year old super sweet  Starrie had stopped eating for just a short time, but dropped over a pound. That is a lot for a dog who doesn't weigh very much.   Starrie had been to the vet and seemed to be slowly on the mend, but her human just didn't feel right leaving her home.

I offered my youngest to sit,( literally)  for Starrie.  For close to the full hour.  Starrie and Heather snuggled on that chair and  had a mega love fest.  Heather offered bits of Natural Balance that Starrie  accepted and  the great news that when Starrie got home, she ate!

Heather reports that Starrie is one of her favorite dog ever.

We all think Starrie ate because she was happy and that Heather helped to stimulate the  healing  process.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When a King size bed just isn't enough

Beck made his bed and did lie in it.
I went out for a few hours this morning and I came home to find that Beck had been doing a little product testing all on his own.   We have  several new  products  from  InStyleDog.com , a new web  site,   and we have  loved every thing we have gotten.  Prices are good, quality is excellent and shipping is free.
Look for more posts on In Style Dog  products soon.

Apparently Beck  has a clear  favorite product and it is our  new soft and comfy Berber crate insert.  Beck  hauled it from  inside the crate by the fire place, across the house to my bedroom, where he proceeded to make his bed!

Now I am pretty sure it started out as a toy to him, and that most likely while I was blissfully unaware there was  joyous gallivanting about the house and maybe Finn joined in for a round of tug.  But  I can't find any   rips or tooth marks on the mat.   Beside the mat on my bed, nothing was out of place, so add this to one of life's many mysteries.

Soon after I got home,  Beck hoped on the mat and took himself a riotious snooze.   I had to laugh not only at my new dog's smarts but at the fact that in up until January Beck had lived in a shelter for nearly 7 months, and apparently a king size bed just  wasn't enough.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Do you know the subtle cues you are giving your dogs?

The photo of Finnegan looking at me was taken while I was walking off leash. One minute the dog was running with the other dogs, the next minute he was glued to my side in a near perfect heel.  What I did to get my dog to me at heel was totally unintentional.  Can you guess what  it may have been?
I will give you a moment to think it over.

Lets go on to  Beck for a second.  Last weekend Beck met my parents for the first time.  They both put him through his paces.
"Sit." Sure no problem.
"Paw".  Nope I am saving that for when he is a little older and wiser. Although I have taught him to paw an object like the Easy Button.  Give paw can be a really obnoxious default behavior, so I often stay away from it with immature dogs.
"Beck lay down".  Nothing. They both then  pointed  to the ground, then dropped their hand all the way to the ground.  I stopped them before they lured him with a cookie.
They both gave me the I thought you were a dog trainer look.  Dropping their hand  to the ground got Beck's nose on their hand. They told him to hand target!

As a trainer, I should hope I have learned and evolved over time. Beck's down has been shaped.  I am thinking ahead to agility and being able to send him to the table and having him do a flying down stay.  Beck's cue for down is the cue  "down" said while looking at he ground. Parents were duly impressed I think.  With my new dog I am trying really hard to stay out of "Lurer's Anonymous." When we teach with lures and don't fade them  straight away, it is a hard fix. So much easier to teach it right from  the get go. We don't want to inadvertently teach our dogs to be "relurant" That is a sniglet I invented by the way. It means reliant on a lure.

When I taught Finney to lay down, it took me months of frustration. Dog would lay down fine at home and often it took quite a while to get a down in public.  I had it all wrong. At home I was saying "Finney, ready Down." In public, it turns out I was skipping the "ready" and he thought it was one big game of Nancy says. No "ready", no down for my Collie.  He doesn't like to be  wrong, and will choose a default watch me over taking risks.  Lesson learned for me.

I catch people in class giving subtle cues all the time without realizing it. Think your dog knows sit? Try asking while sitting down, or turned around, or from across a room using no hand gestures. Think your dog is downing just from your verbal cue?. Try your hands at your side, your eyes straight ahead and no bending at the waist.  Can you tell your dog to stay and pick something up off the floor, or will your dog think that is a cue for "come"?  I could go on, and I am sure you can think of a few that you have observed in yourself and in others.  \

Did you guess why Finney came to heel in the woods?  I was cold and I put my  hand in my pocket.  His heel cue is my left hand in my belly.

cartoon from   http://www.cafepress.co.uk/+lured_postcards_package_of_8,22286767

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -If looks could kill

Missing my queen of the doggie spa

Truth is, I  don't miss that Charlee  NEVER missed an opportunity to lay down in a  mud puddle, and only a few times in her life, even in the most  frigid weather, did she opt out of laying down a pond, lake or  ocean.

Old Orchard Beach January 2011

 I don't miss that as she got older and her coat grew thicker, it sometimes took 2 days for Charlee  to dry.  I don't miss the extra muck that Charlee brought into my life, my home,
 my car and my bed. I don't miss that forever wet dog smell that used to permeate our lives.   I don't miss that I was  almost never successful at calling her off something if she wanted to cool off it in bad enough.  She sometimes lulled me into a false sense of security and then would sneak back at the first chance.    Nope don't miss that. Not really.

February 2010 Dundee Pond - seconds before laying down

Beck and Finney both have lovely smooth coats and I highly recommend them.  Finn's double Collie coat  is made for work.  His coat is like a car with a new coat of wax.  Water beads up and it rarely gets through to  his undercoat.   Even if Finney is out in  pelting rain, the rain beads up and falls off and he  dries in a heartbeat.  Beck plays hard in the muddy woods, but his lovely soft single coat is the easiest of any dog I ever had to clean . He is usually dry and all the dirt/mud that turned him brown is usually gone by the end of a hike.  What doesn't flake comes off with a few wipes from the small  towel I keep in the car.  

I wish I had a video of the very first time we took Charlee to Belle Island Marsh in Revere MA .  She went under the bridge that leads to the fire tower at dead low tide and basically played slip and slide. She ran, frapped (frantic rapid activity period) ,  lay down and wallowed. .  Charlee  drew a squealing, laughing crowd  that ran from one side of the bridge watching her.They  muttered  things like "OMG how will get hat dog home?"  "Glad that's not my dog!" 
When Charlee  did come out, she was basically black from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail.  She was covered in sludge (basically sewage) that even after half dozen baths never washed out. She had to shed that coat out to get her whites white again.  Ah memories. 


I walk my two dogs to all of Charlee's favorite haunts. It is like walking down Charlee memory lane daily.   Last week we were at Hinkley Pond. You know the bridge that leads to the waterfall?  Charlee would lay down  to spa at the top,   in the green slippery algae and look like she was about to plummet to her death.  We have visited Capisic Pond. Did Charlee lay in the pond? No she always chose the muddy run off.  I could go on, but I  won't.  What's a little a dirt anyway? What I  wouldn't give to have her back -wet, dirty,  stink and all.     

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Walking it -Red neck agility

Beck starts formal agility today and I am excited!  He dropped into a class last week and did really well, but that class was over his baby head a bit, so we  are starting at the beginning and taking Foundations.  Beck has taken to agility quite easily and we have started foundation work at home already. He  has been walking through ladders on the ground, nose targeting lids, playing 101 things to do with a  box, and banging  wobble boards. Beck has jumps in the yard and we are working on  the  table obstacle on beds.  But my most favorite place to play agility is in the woods.

Yee haa! It's red neck agility! 

Beck knows the term "walk it" means just that - get on and go. He has learned to shift his weight down, back,  and low and has no trouble turning around. Turning around is an important skill so dogs don't jump off and get hurt. The fact that he nailed turning around easily and willingly shows that yup, my dog is  agile!   Beck gets a lot of treats on the logs  and quickly developed a love of walk it.  If you try it, be sure to use a log that is  low to the ground so your dog doesn't get hurt if they jump off.  First thing to teach is to get on and off safely.

Foster pup DeeDee (Delilah from Canine Commitment), has earned her off leash privledge.

See why we call her "Bowling Ball Head?" 
 Think it looks like she is having a good time with us?

Beck says, "ya baby good times!"

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all

Computer issues have been plaguing me for months now. My kids seem to be like moths to flames in terms of acquiring  new computer  viruses these days.  I am told Facebook and You Tube are the culprits but who knows really.  The last crash was caused by a new anti virus program I installed, and it took a real computer person  aka good friend, to fix it.  The anti virus program  messed up the start load program.  My computer was down and out this last time for quite a while  and even after it was fixed it, it wasn't working properly.  Key features were lost.
*waves goodbye to cut and paste and photo upload on this blog*

I was sad on Mother's Day that I could not share the present that I made my kids give me.  When I say made, I mean it.  I   literally dragged them out of bed, down to the park that is filled with tulips on Brighton Ave. I made them pose like we did in 08 with and without the dogs, ran to CVS to print, off to another store to buy frames for my self my Mom and my sister and made it to Revere for a lovely lunch with the family.  You can't tell looking at these photos that they are not one big happy family.  Let's just say that my middle daughter made on of the photos her FB profile pic and cut her brother out,and I had to threaten them and triple guilt them to get them  not look miserable.   I was met with sentiments that went something like "I can't wait until 12:01 when Mother's Day is over. When is kid's day anyway?"

In other news, we can now stream  Netflix. I was very late to this party and I had to up load Google Chrome to get it,  which duh, gave me features that I lost on Internet Explorer.  I may have figured out to download IE again, but we have been so busy, I didn't give it much thought.
So without further delay, here is a little photo essay from Mother's Day.  I think we did pretty good for a 5 minute shoot. The flowers are still peak. Go take some of your own!

First the photo from 08

I framed those two together.

We also did a few with the dogs.

                             Beck met my family for the first time. They loved him and he loved them more.

The meeting was bittersweet because Charlee's absence was palpable.  *sniff*  I knew my Dad would love Beck. I just knew it.  My Dad spent most of the afternoon petting him telling him "do you know how lucky you are?  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Way back edition

Finally the DA's office speaks about Buxton Puppy Mill plea

Let us pretend for a minute that I am the new District Attorney for York county.

I go to work.
It is wicked hard.

Hmm, what's this?
Gigantic file for the Buxton Puppy Mill case.
Well that is going to be a lot of work. 
No way am I going to read that. I am not even going to skim through it. 

Whatever will I do?
Oh! I have an idea. I will make this old shit go away, because there is so much new shit, I can't keep up.
This job is wicked hard, and well I have some staff and paralegals, but they are wicked busy to.
We are all wicked busy and this job is wicked hard.
Those crazy animal rights people  are going to be wicked pissed. So after I give the owners of the kennel a plea, I will go on vacation.
Whew, glad that's over. That case looked like a wicked pain in the ass. 


District Attorney Slattery should be fired.  Seriously, we are supposed to buy that there are now policies in place so this won't happen again?  Next time when there is a super wicked big file, the DA's office will speak to cops?
What about the policies that were in place before this happened?
Like the policy of actually READING a case file and you know - doing the job you are being paid to do. Isn't that called work?
Correct me if I am wrong, but don't they still teach READING in law school?
Every single action that the state took was documented. Quoting once again someone who worked the case "We made it simple so that anyone could understand. It was prosecution for dummies."

Dear Maine, tax payers,  animals lovers everywhere,   people who believe in justice, and people with brains and hearts, you should be angry.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

more video-Beck's 5th jumping lesson and the sweetest pic evah

On the heels of my last post, I didn't want you thinking Beck is  partyboy/wild child/caveman dog all the time,  So I am posting something quick showing the dog's awesome. 

This video shows his 5th jumping lesson.  We have done some foundation work without jumps first to teach wraps.  As you can see, the dog is very (very very very)  easy to work with.  Although I am quite sure that in a regular pet home, Beck would have been a disaster.  His jumping style needs  work, and we will be working on distance soon, but I am sure proud of my guy who we adopted 2 months ago tomorrow.

Beck plays hard and he snuggles even harder. Took this next shot in the dark. Wasn't so sure I liked my new camera, but this shot has impressed me, and I am digging having  decent video capability.

Can I have an awwwwwww?

From May 3, 2011

click to embiggen

Dogs playing video. Check out Beck!

Here is a short video of dogs playing in my yard.  Thankfully they don't play this hard all the time,  but this YEE HA! play  is not unusual either.  The players are -

Beck-leader of the band, Finney-all in, Valli- foster dog who was adopted Friday, and our new foster dog Delilah (DD) who actually did really well.  DD  spent some time fostered at Camp Bow Wow and she is a pretty great player once she knows the dogs.   Camp Bow Wow was to much for her after a few weeks and she landed here to destress a bit. 
Mission accomplished.  

You can just skip over to about the 1 minute mark  to see "the move" and why I posted this.   Feel free to console me that my dog will in deed be ok and that he won't get hurt playing and acting the fool. 
Things like "Nancy he is so wiry and fit that he can do contorsions like that without getting hurt"
and "He's a dog, get over it"  are appreciated.  I am worried he will hurt himself.  By the way, I have seen Beck run 2x as fast as he is in this video. 
My new dog could use a large dose of  some common sense and a bit of time to grow a brain, but I love his overall approach to life. If he stays sound, he will be a force.

Wouldn't you like to have a fraction of this energy and joi de vie?

More info on adopting DD is here  http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/19002186.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good news --Pictures telling their stories

We had a good size computer malfunction here. Not really sure what caused it, but I think I am just going to go ahead and blame the kids. Why not right?  After all they break everything else. 

A lot has happened during  that time -too much to write about, but still I want to share, so I will tell the story in pictures  with  little wording.

Most important is that after spending a week or so with Poppy during April vacation, she was cleared by myself and Greely Middle School to go back to school with her boy Jack.

In other news, Valli was adopted by a wonderful family who are totally committed to helping her with her skin issues.  Looks like they will be feeding her raw even.  Valli was a joy to foster. I will miss her gorgeous eyes, expressive ears and her overall wonderfulness.  She is a super lucky dog!!   It does feel good to know that the dog would have lived a life of misery without my help.  However, I am done "trolling" for dogs. There are enough needy dogs out there already without picking needles in hay stacks.

My son went to his girlfriend's prom.  While that is a big deal and a milestone for any family, my son has a complex cardiac defect (CHD) and had 5 heart surgeries before he was 2 and a half years old . He is a walking miracle of medical science and let me tell you it was a really big deal.  18 years ago I never saw this day coming.  He has had a Fontan operation and basically only has 2 chambers in his heart. 
Can I have a big WOOT for medical science? 

And yet there's more!

After a harsh winter, lots and lots and lots of rain, spring finally showed up at my house. It brought a shitload of mud to, but we are trying to stay in our a happy place today. So we won't mention that.

Meet Friday!!!  Hopefully Friday will by my friend Suzan's new service dog.

New kid on the block Beck is a blast.  That dog is learning everything so fast.  In between learning new tricks and agility, Beck is giving me a run for my money and pushing my training skills to the limit.
Wouldn't have it any other way.

I have not had the chance to get many pics of our new foster dog Delilah.  DD  loves my composted compost  pile and thinks it is her own personal sand box.    She is a  6 month old American Shelter dog with a high toy drive. Mostly likley she has some Shepherd in there.  DD and Beck play rough and tumble dog games really  well and she is a sweetheart of a dog. 

Oh and one last thing Osama Bin Laden is dead. Last night was one of those historical moments where we will all look back and remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news.  I like many many people heard it on  first on Tweet Deck .

 Social Media is here to stay.

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