January 22, 2018 - WDJís review of dry dog food appears in the February issue, every year. And, every February, we try to share new information with WDJís readers about how to differentiate between dry dog foods of varying quality, and how to go about selecting the best foods for their dogs. Some of our readers have been with us for a long time; we donít want to repeat the same information year after year, but strive to share information that is new and interesting, even to people who know a LOT about canine nutrition. But neither do we want to ďloseĒ dog owners who are new to the publication by assuming a level of knowledge of the pet food industry that they donít yet have.
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January 17, 2018 - Warning: This post talks about dog poop. If you are sensitive regarding discussions about dog poop...maybe you don't actually have a dog, and shouldn't be reading this blog at all! Just kidding. Not about the poop, just about the dog-owning part.
Have you ever found a dog poop that has been out in the rain for a while, and observed (as you were picking it up) that it looked like it was full of what looked like bits of white sand? Only, the "grains of sand" were slightly bigger than actual grains of sand? It might take a good week or so of rain, or a poop that started out on the soft side, for you to see this. I found a few in this condition the other day, and it surprised me, because I hadn't seen it for a while - but I knew why that was.
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January 10, 2018 - As I described in the editorial in the January issue of WDJ, my husband and I recently bought a new house, about four miles from where we currently live. Before, we were living in the center of a little 1850s Gold Rush-era town; now we live on its outskirts, in a 1950s ranch house on two acres.
In the category of loving the new house are three of the four voting members of the family (me, my husband, 10-year-old mixed-breed Otto and two-year-old pit/Lab Woody; cats and chickens don't vote).
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December 28, 2017 - I promise to stop talking about my foster puppies soon. Especially since I'm down to just two of them; soon enough, I won't have anything to say. But today's adventure made me yearn for the day they will all be gone.
I agreed to transport two puppies to meet with a woman who was adopting one of the pups. She was going to transport the second puppy to the base of the West Coast coordinator of the breed rescue who has sponsored this litter (and their heartworm-positive mom); the pup will catch a ride with yet another volunteer in a few days to her new home in southern California - about a 10-hour drive from my house to the puppyís new home, all in all.
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December 20, 2017 - The breed rescue Iím fostering for has a policy that they use for naming the dogs in their care: All the dogs rescued in a given year are assigned a name that starts with a certain letter (or, in the case of the letters with few names, a few letters, like X, Y, or Z). In contrast, puppies in a litter (like the ones I have) are assigned names taken from songs from a favorite album. One of the rescue coordinators is a big Jimmy Buffett fan, so all the pups Iím fostering have been given names from a certain Jimmy Buffett record. These are generally temporary names, used just to market the dogs and pups on the rescue website and Facebook page. Most people end up re-naming the dogs once they are adopted.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:34PM Comments (30)
December 13, 2017 - Usually, when I foster, I choose a smart and cute wayward adolescent who needs some training and guidance, and I actively participate in the search for an appropriate home for the dog, and then provide guidance and advice to the new owner. Or, I foster a litter of puppies who are going to be adopted lickety-split. Either way, I usually feel great about the whole thing - getting to help a dog become more likely to succeed in his or her happy new home. Today, though, I'm sort of miserable and sad. As you may have read here before, my most recent fostering project is a heartworm-positive mama hound and her seven puppies. The puppies, as ever, are going to fly off the shelves - that is, they are certain to elicit an ample number of applications from the website of the coonhound rescue responsible for taking on the whole mess and finding the family appropriate homes. But the mama - who is going to take the mother hound?
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December 6, 2017 - It's simply astonishing how fast puppies grow. Three weeks ago I wrote a post about the then-four-week-old puppies I'm fostering. Three weeks ago, they were just starting to show little bits of grown-up dog behavior: adorable little growls and barks, playing with each other, and running toward me when I call them for a meal or to go outside (or come inside). Today, the seven Treeing Walker Coonhound puppies are seven weeks old and just the most amazing, perfectly formed little dogs. They (unfortunately) remember things they learned days ago - like how exactly they got through the barriers I erected in the kitchen to keep them out of the recycling bin, where there are crushed aluminum cans and plastic bottles just waiting to be strewn about the kitchen (so, for a while, the recycling bin will have to be relocated to a table top). Fortunately, they also remember good things, like how they can get attention and petting if they sit in front of me, rather than jumping up or biting my bare ankles (ouch!).
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November 30, 2017 - WDJ contributor/freelance writer Barbara Dobbins sent me a text from the waiting room of a busy veterinary practice the other day: "Sitting at the veterinary specialist and watching all the traditional cones go by. Why don't they offer or even discuss alternatives? Sigh." The classic cone offered at most veterinary practices is made of very heavy, stiff , opaque plastic. Most dogs suffer more from the cones than whatever wound they have that is being protected. They are often bigger than they have to be to protect the dogís wound site, and because the plastic is opaque, the wearer often bashes into doorways and table legs, trying to move around his house.
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November 22, 2017 - Ack! As I type these words, it's the day before Thanksgiving, and I have less than an hour to write this. I had a different topic in mind for this week's blog post, but it's going to take more time to write it, and I've run out of time.
I overslept this morning. My husband and I were up too late, tidying up the house, getting ready to have houseguests for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Ordinarily, I would put them up at the house where I have my office, two blocks away, where they would probably be more comfortable, with their own bathroom, but the comfort Iím working to preserve is that of - you guessed it - dogs!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:38PM Comments (5)
November 16, 2017 - I'm fostering a (heartworm-positive) mama hound and her seven puppies for one of my favorite breed rescues, the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue. It's my first foray back into puppy-fostering since the epic Great Dane mama and litter of 11 fostering experience, which wiped me out in terms of time, energy, and even spare cash for a while. After that litter, which came to me underweight and sickly, and had to undergo treatment for coccidia and giardia, I took a break from fostering puppy litters for a while.
But I couldn't resist this bunch: They came from an open-admission shelter north of me by 90 miles or so, and were "pulled" by the ABTCR, whose Western-U.S. coordinator is about 90 miles south of me...I was in the middle, see? I had to help!
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November 8, 2017 - Thereís an old joke about if thereís one thing that two dog trainers can agree on, itís that the third one is doing it wrong. But if you know me at all, you know I hate online squabbles; I donít participate in digital fights about training methods or tools. That said, I think Iíve found something that very nearly ALL dog trainers agree on, and that I will defend anywhere, anytime, and itís this: Retractable leashes have no place in dog training. It almost reaches the level of a joke: If you go to a dog park or almost any gathering of dog people and their dogs, the worst-behaved dogs will be the ones on retractable leashes. Itís sort of a chicken or the egg thing: What came first, the poorly behaved dog or the leash that teaches him nothing?
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:11PM Comments (49)
November 1, 2017 - A few months ago I was horrified to learn a that my good friend (and frequent model for WDJ articles, Berkeley trainer Sandi Thompson) was giving a dog she has owned for five years the first bath heís had since she rescued him Ė literally rescued him, as a volunteer during the historic floods in Thailand in 2011. This summer, Sam had his first encounter with a good old American skunk, which prompted the bath (and cute photos), but I was incredulous: How can that possibly be his first bath in more than five years??
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:39PM Comments (75)
October 26, 2017 - A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, I received a message from Patty, a massage therapist I know. Iíd call her ďmyĒ massage therapist, but it would be overstating how often I engage her massage therapy services Ė not more than two or three times a year, usually when Iíve done something bad to my shoulder or neck. I most recently saw Patty in early April. The message I received started, ďHi, I wanted to update you on Pepper.Ē Pepper is her senior Cattle Dog-mix. The last time I had a massage, we spent a good deal of the time talking about Pepperís itching, chewing, and scratching. In the course of the conversation, we eliminated fleas as a potential cause for Pepperís itching (because Patty hadnít seen a flea on any of her animals for ages, and all the animals in the household were receiving regular topical treatments for fleas), and discounted the possibility that it was environmental allergies (as the itching seemed to have no seasonal component; Pepper had been itching for months and months).
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:32AM Comments (10)
October 18, 2017 - After spending a couple days in the heavily dog-populated San Francisco Bay area recently, I found myself wondering: Why is it so hard for people to walk their dogs on a leash? Dogs are so numerous in that area that I'd estimate I saw at least 300 human/dog pairs or groups out walking. (I had my young dog Woody with me, and so I was out walking him, too. And on the last day there, I picked up my son's dog, Cole, and we stopped at a large, well-known off-leash area for dogs, Point Isabel, where one can observe at least 100 dogs at any given time of day.) I'd guess that a full 85 percent of the dogs I saw were either pulling or dragging their owners down the street. About half of these pulled steadily ("Come ON, let's GO!"), and the other half pulled intermittently ("Wait, I need to sniff this! Okay, let's go! Wait! I need to sniff that! Okay, let's go!").
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:38AM Comments (36)
October 10, 2017 - This past week, we've had some terribly windy days. In the wee hours of Monday morning, I woke up to a strong smell of smoke in the air. I stepped outside; the odor was strong but I couldn't hear sirens nor see the glow of a fire anywhere. I turned on my computer, and was immediately able to find news about the source of the smoke: a wildfire had broken out about 10 miles north of my town. Another was burning about 20 miles to the east. My town was safe - but oh my word, there were also enormous fires burning 100 miles away, in the heavily populated areas of Napa and Sonoma Counties. And the wind was still gusting at 50 and 60 miles per hour, spreading burning embers far, wide, and fast.
As I type, tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes and businesses, and hundreds of homes and businesses have burned to the ground.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:35AM Comments (5)