Archive for July, 2008

Dallas Dog Legislation

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

City of Dallas Flags

For those of you who are not aware of it, the City of Dallas recently passed some pretty disturbing legislation regarding dog ownership, and I feel compelled to address it. I’m not going to list the specifics of what it entails - there is already a ton of info out there explaining that. What I would like to speak to however, is how alarming the whole matter is.

While there are a couple of rational and even logical threads running through it, the sad part of the new legislation is that it will punish the descent, responsible dog owners along with the worthless ones. Those of us who HAVE an ounce of common sense, and are law-abiding citizens, will be caught in the crossfire of those who would have you believe that this legislation is just about decreasing the number of unwanted strays and dangerous dogs. Of course, who wouldn’t be for that? Ahhh - that’s the rational and logical thread. The “gotcha” thread, that any sane person would agree with.

But those of us who would like to choose when to neuter our pets will no longer have that luxury. That decision has been made for us. Apparently we aren’t capable of making those decisions. To those owners and vets who believe that it’s healthier to neuter after a certain stage of maturity - tough. That’s no longer an option.

Seems to me that this is truly big brother in action. It gives me a little shiver to think about it. HOWEVER - if you’re a pet store, buying pups from a puppy mill, early neutering will not be required. Makes total sense to me - how about you?

Those of us who ARE conscientious: who take excellent care of our pets, who aren t having unplanned litters, and who don’t have dogs running amuck and terrorizing people on the streets, will be punished for the sins of the few. (Actually, more than a few, but you get my drift). I didn’t know our legal system worked that way. I didn’t think you could be punished for something that someone THINKS you are going to do. Hummm. Interesting.

These people need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Just like anyone else who breaks the law.

I understand the frustration of the folks in the line of fire, who have to explain to angry citizens why they can’t take their kids for a walk in a neighborhood riddled with vicious strays. Honestly I do. I think there’s enough frustration here to go around. If that were my neighborhood I would be up in arms. But I just don’t think this particular piece of legislation is going to solve the problem. Not even close. Ask San Antonio how it’s working for them! And who will be there to enforce these new laws? The same people that didn’t enforce the old ones? Seriously?

I am VERY concerned that many surrounding cities will be jumping on the bad legislation bandwagon. Please, dog lovers, stay informed. You may not think this will affect you, but if you are a dog owner, I can almost assure you - it will!!

BEWARE!!! “Unreasonable Dog Legislation” - coming soon to a city near you!!!

Stay vs. Wait

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Since I AM a dog trainer, I thought my blog should have a few posts about training. Just some little tips and blurbs for those of you who might be interested. I thought I would start with getting your dog to “stay” in a particular position or place.

First of all, I believe all training needs to be done in “baby steps”. When we train in small increments, we make it easier for the dog to be successful, and it is our JOB to help the dog be successful. They don’t learn anything from failure - they learn from success.

Before you start to train a duration exercise (sit/stay, or down/stay) you will need to decide on a release word for your dog. That will be what lets him know that the exercise is over, and he is no longer required to “stay”. The word you use doesn’t matter, as long as it’s easy for you to remember, and you can use it consistently. (I generally recommend not using “OK” as your release; use something a little more unique, that you wouldn’t typically use in your everyday language).

Often when people start to train this exercise, I will see them put their dog on a “stay”, back away a few steps and then call the dog to them. This is very confusing for him. Pretty soon the dog anticipates being called, and thinks, “Well, I’ll just go ahead and get up now because they’re going to call me in a minute anyway”. Seems like a perfectly logical and rational thought to me.

To help clarify to the dog what you want, I recommend using two different commands: Stay vs. Wait

When I use the word “stay”, I mean “plop your butt down and don’t move until I come back to you”. Train the stay so that your dog NEVER gets up until you are next to him, and release him. That makes the command pretty clear. He is NEVER to move on his own from a “stay”.

Once your stay is really solid, THEN you can start working on the “wait” command. “Wait” means, “plop your butt down and don’t move until I call you”. (And don’t forget to use your release word first). It is a totally different exercise from “stay”.

Using these two different commands will help your dog to distinguish between when he can get up and when he can’t.

Happy Training!


Oops! I meant THIS!!


On Turning Ten (from May 7th)

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Today is a big day for my Great Dane, Tessa. She has endured me for 10 glorious years. And she’s been (knock on wood) pretty darned healthy throughout. You may have read a little of her history on my web site, and what a remarkable transformation she made with the help of clicker training. She is truly a joy at this point - with the exception of her early morning yodel-fest for food. She’s just absolutely sure that she will expire if she hasn’t eaten by 5:30, or possibly 6:00. (Sometimes even 5:00 a.m.). But it’s a small price to pay for such an otherwise wonderful and devoted companion.

My dogs always get a little party on their Birthday. I used to give them sloppy joes, and cupcakes. Before you gasp, know that I scrape most of the frosting off the cupcakes, and I always buy vanilla. I’m not a TOTAL idiot. But in an effort to be healthier (sigh), I have switched to fake veggie meat instead of sloppy joes. They seem to like it almost as much.

This year I made Tessa pose with a boa for her birthday pic. I tried a crown too, but it kept falling off. She didn’t like it much, but agreed, it was a small price to pay for cupcakes!!! :-)

Happy Birthday Big Girl!!!


The Rescue Wagon Train - Part I

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

I have come to realize that rescues come in not only all ages, shapes and sizes, but varying states of mental stability, intelligence, drive, and just plain smoochie-ness.

Ruby is one of those extra-smoochie dogs. Just a little peanut of a thing, sweet as can be, she was a Rat Terrier trying to have puppies. She had been in labor for more than 24 hours, but to no avail. It just wasn’t working. She was pale and exhausted, and either needed a C-Section NOW, or needed to go see Jesus. We opted for the C-Section.

It was too late for her 3 pups - labor was much too long. However, SHE came through with flying colors; sore and worn out, but otherwise OK. She came to my house to recover, and never left. We found out later that she also had heartworms. This girl had been through it.

As she dropped some of her pregnancy weight, I was hopeful that she might become my next agility dog. However, as time went on I learned that she had a bad back, so agility was out for her. But that was OK - she would just have to be the house princess, and she IS, usually occupying one of the coveted spots on the bed. She has never met a person she didn’t love, and she steals the hearts of everyone she meets.

Although Ruby and Tessa (the Great Dane) get along well, Ruby is not really a dog’s dog. She prefers people. Doggie daycare doesn’t interest her. Just give her a lap of someone friendly, and she’ll be a happy camper.

We don’t require much of the Rubinator. Since she doesn’t get around quite as well as she used to, we have settled on a dual role for her: 1) to bring sweetness and light to all who enter, and 2) to serve as the “play police” for the other dogs; tattling whenever they get wound-up and out of control. She does both jobs quite nicely!

Yes, she absolutely is the house Princess, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Is There Anything More Fun?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Agility is ABSOLUTELY the most fun you can have with your clothes on. That is, when it goes right. When you and your dog are in “the zone”, moving as a well-oiled machine.

My Great Dane Tessa is my first agility dog. I had never even heard of agility until we went to a “clicker training” class, and there was agility equipment in the room. We started very late in the agility training game. I think she was 4 years old - not exactly young for a Dane, but she liked it, so we continued.

No, we have not earned any of the BIG agility titles (MACH, ATCH, etc) but that was never my goal. I just wanted something fun that she and I could enjoy together. And agility certainly has been that!!

Tessa is one of those dogs that truly wants to give me whatever I want. She aims to please. She doesn’t get the “zoomies” and run circles in the ring. She doesn’t decide to take the A-frame when I’ve told her to take the tunnel. She is THERE, in the moment, working with ME! Always striving to do her best for me. She really loves it, and it shows!

She is getting older now, and slowing down significantly. Tunnels are pretty hard for her, and wrapping her large body around and through the weave poles is just too much. But she still LOVES jumping, and continues to compete in the Jumpers class.

What she lacks in speed, she certainly makes up for with enthusiasm and heart. You go my good girlie!!

(My upcoming agility dog will be a whole other story! Stay tuned!)

photo by Lunendogs Photography
Tessa Jumping

Rough Beginnings

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

One night while working at the emergency clinic, a man walked in with something cupped in his hand. He said, “I found this, and don’t know what to do with it.” There, in his hand, was a newly born puppy. He was a little black thing and was colder than he should be. Damn it!!! Another 10 minutes and my shift would have been over - I would have been gone. Wouldn’t have been any need to weigh the life or death issue on this little guy. Damn it!!!

I had never raised a bottle baby before, but finally decided to give it a shot. After getting instructions on how to care for the little critter, we headed home. I had NO intention of keeping the scrawny thing, but would at least give him a chance at life. He’s a male. Another reason not to keep him. (I’m a bitch girl).

Over the next couple of months, he went with me everywhere. He had to be fed every 3-4 hours, so he really NEEDED to be with me. That first weekend we had an agility trial and I snuck him in. He clocked a lot of miles over the next few weeks. We went to agility trials, obedience trials, rally trials, hotels, my job, etc. He was a lot of work, and kind of a pain in the butt actually! But I did sort of enjoy seeing him grow from a squirmy little blob into a funny puppy with a personality. Sort of. He was still too young to determine what breed he might be.

Then one day while I was doing something to him (one of the many chores involved with a bottle baby) he made a kind of purring noise. When I finally realized that he was growling at me, I almost fell on the floor laughing. Was there anything more absurd than this tiny, totally “at my mercy” pup giving me the proverbial finger? Talk about attitude!!! OMG! How dare he?

Good thing I’m not keeping him.


Happy 4th of July Everyone!!

Friday, July 4th, 2008