Whole Dog Journal Blog

Do You Have a Backup-Plan for Your Pet-Care Needs?

January 11, 2017 - I woke up this morning with a blinding migraine headache. It hurt to open my eyes, it hurt to sit up, and getting dressed made tears start running down my face. This doesn't happen very often, and I have medication that I can take that will bring relief in an hour or so. But lying in bed was not an option, because I'm currently fostering another litter of puppies, and they don't care whether my head hurts or not: they are hungry, and their pen needs cleaning. That's a responsibility I took on, and so, weepy or not, I got up and dressed, took my migraine med, and got rolling. My adult dogs can handle a delayed breakfast, and thanks to the recent installation of a dog door - one of those inserts that fits into a sliding glass door frame - they can and will take themselves out to potty if need be. But foster puppies in a pen are a different matter. By the time I got them out of the dirty pen to potty outdoors, fed them, cleaned the pen and changed the water, and put them back in the pen with some fresh toys, the throbbing in my head was abating a bit.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:01PM Comments (21)

Resolutions . . . for your dog?

January 4, 2017 - Looking for an idea for a blog post, I just looked through my oldest posts, wondering just how long I have been doing this. The answer stunned me: since mid-2010. I got lost for a bit, reading through musings from years past. I came across one written at precisely this time of year in 2011, about making new year's resolutions for our dogs.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:28PM Comments (14)

Mixed-Breed Puppies Are Like a Box of Chocolates

December 28, 2016 - Last summer I fostered a really disparate-looking litter of puppies for my local shelter. Most of the time, whether they are brought in as purportedly "found" puppies or their owners admit that they were accidental and unwanted, the litters of puppies that come to the shelter are fairly uniform, like the litter of 11 Great Dane pups I fostered immediately after the dissimilar group (there were 10 black and white pups, and one fawn-colored one, who nevertheless was the exact same shape and size as his siblings). But this one litter looked like they were from three different families! As a side note, I should mention a fact that surprised many of my friends and family members, but isn't news to experienced dog owners: puppies from the same litter can have different fathers. Each of the mother's egg cells need to be fertilized by individual sperm cells, and if the mother has been bred by a number of males, the eggs can be fertilized by sperm of different males. When the owners of intact females fail to keep them safely separated or sequestered, and they escape and run loose, or loose, intact males are drawn from all over the neighborhood to them, anything can happen!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:13PM Comments (11)

Thankful for Dog Vaccines

December 21, 2016 - My husband and I were talking about childhood dogs for some reason, and he said, "We got a dog when I was little and it died of distemper, and my parents said, 'That's it, no more dogs.'" When he said that, I suddenly remembered that my family, too, had lost a young dog to distemper when I was a child. I have a solid memory of my mother wiping up vomit, and the adolescent pup lying limply nearby, and my mother telling me, "I don't think she's going to make it." I was probably about four or five years old, but I knew that this phrase meant the dog was probably going to die.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:30PM Comments (10)

What is it About Doorbells and Dogs?

December 15, 2016 - Before you jump all over me, I totally understand why MY dogs jump and bark and run in circles when MY doorbell rings; the sound is a reliable predictor of visitors, both strange and wonderful. Most of the time when my doorbell rings, my husband or I get up and things start to happen. But how do you explain that the majority of dogs not only respond to the sound that their own doorbell makes, but also to the sound of doorbells that are CLEARLY not in their home, as when a doorbell rings on TV? You can't tell me they don't know the difference; most dogs can tell the difference between the cellophane on a new sponge versus the new bag of treats - from the middle of a sound sleep!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:08AM Comments (20)

How Would Your Dog Rate You?

December 8, 2016 - I recently saw a video on Facebook that was titled, "How Moms Think of Themselves Versus How Their Kids Think of Them." It was a tad treacly, but bear with me for a moment. In the video, mothers were being interviewed one at a time, and asked, "How would you describe yourself as a mom?" All of them gave themselves fairly harsh assessments.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 05:20AM Comments (13)

Is There Such a Thing as Oldest Dog Syndrome?

November 30, 2016 - My one-year-old dog Woody is maturing into a WDJ model, which is great for me; his ability to quickly learn a new behavior and to stand patiently in place while I change lenses or something gives me an additional option when I need to illustrate something for the magazine, or for a newsletter I sometimes produce (as a volunteer for my local shelter). Plus, he has a nice short coat; when I've had to take photos of collars or harnesses on a dog in the past, I've always had to borrow a friend's (untrained and/or inexperienced) dog rather than use my professional model, nine-year-old Otto, because it's hard to see gear on a fluffy or fuzzy dog model! However, everyone I know is giving me flack about it! Friends, acquaintances, and even Facebook "fans" of WDJ are commenting about the plethora of Woody pics in the magazine lately (Woody modeled with a lot of items for a "gift guide" in the December issue). I've heard "I miss Otto!" from any number of people.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:53PM Comments (18)

Thanksgiving with Dog People

November 23, 2016 - In my family, thanksgiving was always the big annual holiday. We always had the usual family, friends, and food, but also lots of extended family - which includes dogs - and lots of dog-walks in the day and music at night. Happily, my sisters and I have carried on the tradition. My sister Susan has driven over from Colorado - no small feat - and dinner itself is being hosted by our other sister Pamela, who moved with her husband and their dogs to my town about a year and a half ago when her husband retired. Sue is a little sad; she's brought her (adult) daughter's little long-haired Chihuahua, Riot, who is heading to a new home.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:43PM Comments (7)

Medicate Your Dogs One at a Time

November 16, 2016 - Back in June I wrote a blog post about how many ways I screwed up when having to medicate more than a dozen dogs at the same time (http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/Problems-with-Pills-for-Dogs-21494-1.html). Some of you generously offered your own mistakes and tips for preventing them. One of the things I goofed on was giving one dog her pills in the presence of another dog. I was dog-sitting my friendís two Chihuahuas: 10-pound SíMores, who needs blood pressure medication and a diuretic, and Samson, who weighed less than four pounds and was about six months old at the time. SíMores spit out one of her pills, and Samson dived for it, swallowing it faster than I could grab him.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:40PM Comments (18)

Listen to Your Gut When It Comes to Your Dog - and Act on It!

November 9, 2016 - Last week, I was stressed with too many demands on my time, and trying to finish the December issue in time to travel to Florida for a dog trainer's conference (the Pet Professional Guild). But Woody (my adolescent dog) and even Otto, my 9-year-old solid (canine) citizen, were both telling me they needed a run. So, instead of taking them out for an hours-long hike, as I prefer to do, I headed for a school field I know, to throw a ball for them for a while, instead. A friend called a little while before I left and asked if I was walking that evening. When I told her my alternative plan, she asked if she could meet me with her dogs. Sure, why not?
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:22AM Comments (21)

A New Dog for Ava

November 2, 2016 - My close friends know that I have been looking for the perfect dog for my dog-crazy seven-year-old niece Ava and her mom for some time - and that this is in contrast to my usual stance in opposition to the whole concept of the "perfect" dog. I don't believe that dogs should be expected to come into a home that may not meet their needs very well and yet not cause a single ripple in the fabric (literal and figurative) of that home, any more than one would expect a new baby or adopted child or even an elderly relative to fit in seamlessly to a new home. In my view, adjustments and accommodations should be made on all sides, with respect for all the parties' needs considered, in order to make the relationships and living situation work for everyone. So, for example, when you bring home a Border Collie or German Shepherd Dog, you'd better accept - nay, embrace - the exercise and mental stimulation needs of that dog, if you want him to be happy, and you can be happy with him. At a minimum, you will likely have to carve out a significant chunk of time in your day to devote to physical and mental exercise for the dog, and you may well have to do some problem-solving if it turns out that the dog develops problem behavior/s, such as separation anxiety, counter-surfing, urine marking, barking, chewing, over-excitement with guests, etc., etc.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:53PM Comments (13)

Replacement Parts for a Useful Dog Accessory

October 26, 2016 - Well, here is a pleasant surprise: A company that offers support for dog-related products that were purchased years ago - even more than a decade ago! I bought this gate a long time ago. It was for sure more than 10 years, because I have been living in my current northern California town for more than 10 years, and I bought it (and used it for at least a few years) in my old rental home in the San Francisco Bay area. And it's easily the best dog or baby gate Iíve ever had, which is why I brought it with me when I moved.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:11PM Comments (8)

Dogs Really Can Sniff Out Cancer

October 19, 2016 - Recently, a trainer friend asked me if I would be interested in volunteering my adolescent dog, Woody, to be a participant in some sort of nose work workshop. My friend was asking on behalf of another trainer she knew, and she vouched for her friend, saying that Woody would have a good time and that she thought it would be interesting for me. I didnít have time to get the details on what the workshop was, but quickly I agreed to the date Ė a week away, on a day when I would have ample time. It could not have been more fascinating. I attended just a few hours that one day, which was part of a six-day certification program for people who were learning how to teach dogs to detect cancer in noninvasive medical samples: blood, urine, and breath.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:19PM Comments (10)

Resting Pit Face

October 12, 2016 - So, there's an expression that was coined in 2013, and which is defined by Wikipedia as "a term for a facial expression (or lack thereof) which unintentionally appears angry, annoyed, or irritated." More to the point, it's usually used to describe a woman who looks annoyed, and is sometimes shortened to its initials, "RBF." You can guess what the "B" is for. It rhymes (more or less) with the headline. The thing is, the usual defense against being accused of having or making a Resting B**** Face is, "It's just my FACE! I'm not doing anything!" In other words, sometimes people (often women) are accused of looking irritated, but, in fact, they may be completely un-irritated, just spacing out. It's just their face.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:07PM Comments (25)

There’s no upside to a dog's nuisance barking

October 6, 2016 - Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Aroo! Aroo! Aroo! This is how I know it's Wednesday. I know it's Wednesday because every Wednesday there is a gardener who comes to service a property that is occupied by a neighborhood church across my back fence and one lot to the side. The gardener brings his dog, a hound, with him to work, and while the gardener works, trimming and raking and blowing leaves, the hound roams the church property. Well, not the whole property; he pretty much confines himself to running up and down the back fence of the church property, where three other big dogs live. He bays, and they bark. For an hour. Every Wednesday morning. "Singing the song of their people" is how many hound owners describe the baying of their beloved dogs. I get it - and I love hounds, too! - but I can't say I love baying. Or barking.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:31AM Comments (23)