Whole Dog Journal Blog

Pond Scum - Watch Out!

June 30, 2015 - It’s that time of year again: when rising temperatures lure dogs and dog owners to bodies of water, intent on cooling off, and when the water itself becomes dangerous to drink or swim in. The dangerous element, a toxic substance often called “blue-green algae,” is more accurately called cyanobacteria. Genuine algae are simple plants; cyanobacteria refer to a group of microorganisms that possess characteristics of harmless algae, but differ from algae in that they produce highly potent toxins. When the conditions are right, with high temperatures and shallow water, the population of this microscopic bacteria explodes, causing a sudden and highly visible “bloom” of blue-green scum on the surface of the water. That “bloom” is also responsible for the release of the toxins into the surrounding water.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:36AM Comments (0)

Let’s Talk About Our Relationship

June 23, 2015 - Have you ever met a dog who is fun, smart, and friendly ¬– but who seemed to have no real interest in humans, or at least, you in particular? Perhaps this sort of dog is right for some occupations, and perfect for some people, but for me, a dog with “affiliative” behaviors is a must. I like dogs who like people! I’m not alone, either. When I help someone find and select a new dog for his or her family, I ask them to write a list of attributes that they really want in a dog, things they would like to have (but aren’t deal-breakers), and things they really do not want. If their lists look thin, I ask them questions to try to spark a little more discrimination. My motivation is simple: If they are going to commit the next 10 to 15 years of sharing their lives with this dog, it should be a good fit. Nine times out of 10, what most “pet dog” people want is a dog who behaves as though he likes them, and wants to be with them. If a dog can make a person feel cared for, or as is they are being paid attention to, the person can often overlook a LOT of other behavioral or health deficiencies in the dog.
Posted by Nancy Kerns, WDJ Editor at 08:22AM Comments (17)

Independent Stores

June 16, 2015 - A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in the highly unusual (for me) position of being in a strange city and ready for my flight home more than an hour before I needed to go to the airport. So I killed time by asking my phone to direct me to a nearby pet supply store. Some national chain stores populated the list, but then I recognized the name of a small, regional chain, Centinela Feed. I hadn’t been to one of those stores before, but I knew that the folks who own the chain are also behind Lotus Pet Food. They had invited me a few years ago to tour and take pictures and video of the canning facility they built, where they make Lotus’s canned foods. But I hadn’t had time on that trip to visit any of their stores.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:33AM Comments (28)

Good Teachers “Rephrase the Question”

June 8, 2015 - A short blog post today, to remind myself (and perhaps others) of something so simple I forget it all the time: When a dog is having trouble learning something, “pose the question” differently! Case in point: I’m fostering a puppy, about six months old and about 40 pounds. When I brought him home from my local shelter, he was terrified of the car. A week later, he’s now much more comfortable in the car, but (until yesterday) he was still reluctant to approach it, even when being lured with treats and toys. My office is in a house that’s three blocks from where I live, and I rent other rooms in the house to students. I drive my car back and forth in that three-block “commute” several times a day – ridiculous, I know, but when I’m toting my laptop and/or camera, my own two dogs and a foster dog or two, and a sandwich or coffee, it’s often easier to pile everything into my car and drive. (When I have time and nothing to carry, the dogs and I all walk from one house to the other, of course.)
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:20PM Comments (5)

In limbo, In The Back

June 2, 2015 - Many of us “feel sorry for the animals” when we visit a shelter’s adoption row and look upon the faces of the dogs who desperately need homes. But those are the lucky ones – the ones who have been assessed and deemed “adoptable.” There are many other dogs in shelters who may not be so fortunate.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:51AM Comments (22)

Be Generous, But With Care

May 26, 2015 - We’ve all seen them: online pleas for donations on charity fundraising sites, supposedly to benefit a person or pet in need. Sometimes it’s a fantastic cause, but please be aware that sometimes, it’s a scam! I recently saw a short article on the website of my local TV news channel, telling the story of a dog who had been reported missing in February, who was found in late April, trapped in the basement of a home that had burned to the ground some time ago. The Lab-mix had apparently survived by drinking rainwater, but there was no food, and she had lost nearly as much body weight as she possibly could and still survive. She was reported to be more than 60 pounds when she went missing, and was down to 26 pounds when found, not much more than skin and bones. Dramatic photos accompanied the article, including one of the dog still trapped in the basement.
Posted at 08:19AM Comments (6)

Movies Going to the Dogs

May 19, 2015 - Once in a while, I hear of a unique idea to support a great cause that really grabs my attention. In this case, it’s movies going to the dogs… more specifically, the Ruff Cuts Film Festival, a canine-themed event founded in 2014 by Service Dogs of Virginia (SDV). Taking inspiration from great film events such as Banff, Sundance, and Cannes, the Ruff Cuts Film Festival puts a new twist on the idea and features dog-themed independent films. Founder Peggy Law established the festival not only as an annual fundraiser for the non-profit SDV, but also as a way to celebrate the amazing relationship between people and dogs.
Posted by Lisa Rodier at 08:28AM Comments (0)

A Good Reason to Neuter

May 11, 2015 - Enjoying the mild spring weather, I was working with all the doors and windows in my house open. So when my dogs, who had free run of the house and backyard, started to bark at something, I looked out the window and saw a stray dog wandering around the front yard. He’s about 50 pounds, some sort of Kelpie/Cattle Dog-mix. I got up and went out the front door, and he ran off down the street. I almost started to look for a leash and treats, but I was busy, on deadline, so I went back to work. Ten minutes later, the barking started again, and there is the dog again.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:45PM Comments (19)

Are Snakes Becoming More Toxic?

May 4, 2015 - The May 2015 issue of Whole Dog Journal contains two in-depth articles about the venomous snakes in North America that are potentially dangerous or deadly to dogs. The main article discusses the rattlesnake vaccine and antivenom treatments, as well as practical tips for avoiding snakes and emergency first-aid for snake bites. The second article discusses snake-avoidance training methods that do not involve shock collars. Subscribers to the WDJ can check out these articles and more at wholedogjournal.com -- and in the hard copy of the magazine, in their mailboxes now.
Posted by CJ Puotinen at 08:30AM Comments (2)

Crates or Seat Belts, People!

April 28, 2015 - Sorry if this is the fifth time in the past year that we’ve run a reminder in either the magazine, the blog, or the Facebook page, but here goes: To give your dog the best chance of survival in a car accident, you really have to have him or her in a crate that is solidly fastened into the car, or seat-belted in a proper harness, one that has been independently crash-tested and approved by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS).
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:34AM Comments (21)

The Grossest Thing a Dog Has Ever Done in my Presence

April 20, 2015 - My stepson and daughter-in-law have a son, who will be three years old in May. Their whole family moved to my town a year ago, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my new role as Nana. When my own son was about the same age as my grandson, my mother accomplished the lion’s share of his potty-training over the course of a single weekend, using M&Ms as rewards for “going in the potty.” So I feel a certain amount of responsibility to “pay it forward” to my stepson and his wife, to help in the potty training of their toddler son, who is exasperating everyone with his inconsistent interest in “going in the potty.”
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:52PM Comments (23)

A Little Shout-Out To Some Terrific Dog Owners

April 14, 2015 - My friends and family members, close and extended, often ask me questions about dogs. What sort of food should we feed our dog? Where is the best place to adopt a dog? What’s the best breed? How do we train her to stop barking? Should I get the rattlesnake vaccine? Oh, and what’s the best food to feed our dog? (I get that last one a lot!) RARELY do my family members and friends listen all the way, or take all of my advice. And I know I’m not alone; I’m sure it’s the same with doctors and lawyers and therapists and car mechanics; people hear what they want to hear and do what they want to do. But when someone I know – a civilian, not a “dog person” – does listen, and take some of my advice, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:19AM Comments (14)

Pick Up the Poop

April 7, 2015 - File this under “more preaching to the choir,” because I’m SURE that all WDJ readers clean up after their dogs – right?! I’m just wondering what some dog owners are thinking when they take their dogs for a walk without a bag. And how do you get the anonymous, unseen dog walkers in your community to clean up after their dogs?
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:40AM Comments (30)

Dogs Watching TV

March 31, 2015 - None of my dogs have ever watched TV. So I was frankly dubious about my sister’s claims that her dogs go crazy every time a certain pizza commercial comes on; she told me that when the dogs hear the pizza commercial music, they come running to the TV, and they leap in the air and whine when the close up shot of the pizza appears, where the single slice is pulled away from the sizzling hot pie and tendrils of cheese are stretched through the air. But why the pizza commercial, I asked? She said they always share pizza with their dogs, and they really like it! Hmm, I said.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:40AM Comments (60)

Who Is Your Daddy?

March 24, 2015 - Did you see this news brief? A shelter in the San Francisco Bay Area is conducting some small studies regarding breed identification and adoption rates. Like many shelters, they are often overrun with dogs of a certain type: Chihuahua-mixes. Wondering whether potential adopters might be biased against Chihuahuas, or might be biased toward a dog who had other desirable breeds “in the mix,” they ran DNA tests on a dozen small dogs in their shelter, and advertised the results with the description of those dogs. And voila! The dogs who were promoted with the DNA test results got adopted more quickly than a control group of 12 other small, brown dogs in the shelter – TWICE as fast, in fact.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:44AM Comments (12)