Whole Dog Journal Blog

WDJ’s Food Review Help a Local Shelter

January 20, 2013 - Pet food labels can tell you a lot about a company. Of course, it’s my mission to educate dog owners to read the ingredients list and the guaranteed analysis, and understand those parts of the label well. But it’s also informative to see what OTHER text companies include on the label. Is it instructive? Accurate? Or just marketing crap, full of fuzzy logic and euphemisms? Also, is it easy to find the company’s contact information, and is there a toll-free phone number and website included? Or just a city and state? Is there a date/code that lists the date of the food’s production, or just a “best by” date (which indicates the food’s suggested expiration date – but without a date of production or the knowledge of how many months the maker suggests the food is good for, this is “soft” information). So, even if I have had all my questions answered about “what’s in the bag” by the company’s website and representatives, seeing the bag is helpful, too.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:50AM Comments (4)

Spay/Neuter: The Third Rail of the Dog World?

January 14, 2013 - An article that discusses the health effects of spay/neuter surgery appears In the February issue of WDJ. Itís a topic thatís overdue for discussion in WDJ, but one that can get people upset, for different reasons. From the perspective of those of us involved with shelters or rescue, any discussion of delaying or foregoing sterilization for all but the best individual dogs from impeccable bloodlines is practically verboten. Some of these people verbally attack anyone who questions the wisdom of pediatric spay/neuter, and insult anyone with an intact male dog who is not a conformational and behavioral paragon of his breed standard.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:54AM Comments (19)

Crate-Training for the Whole Family

January 6, 2013 - My sister-in-law and I were talking on the phone a day after our whole family had been together for a holiday event at my house. She said, “The funniest thing from my view in the living room was seeing you repeatedly scoop up your sister’s dogs and lock them in the big cage in the bedroom, and seeing your sister repeatedly come through and let them back out!”
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:00PM Comments (9)

Illegal Roadside Puppy Selling, Part 2

December 18, 2012 - So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about going to the grocery store late one Sunday evening and being completely bummed about a couple who was selling puppies (who looked too young, and not well cared for) in front of the market. I thought about all the things I should do and say at that time – though at the time, I did nothing. I was too tired and hungry and it was rainy and late . . . But the memory of those chilled puppies, numbed by the intake of too much stimulation, has stayed with me.
Posted at 01:56PM Comments (26)

Sardines: Not Hot.

December 11, 2012 - Nights with typical winter temperatures are finally arriving here in Northern California. (Sorry! I know that many of you have been experiencing freezing temps at night for weeks – months? – already.) And with the cold comes Tito’s reluctance to go outside and potty on any schedule other than his own.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:58AM Comments (8)

Practice, Practice, and Benefit

November 26, 2012 - When you or I took guitar or violin or piano lessons as children, we were reminded that we needed to practice each day between lessons in order to retain competence. Those of us that didn't embrace this advice tended to give up the lessons for other pursuits. The flute or clarinet was returned to the rental store, the guitar went back to the closet to gather dust. But again and again I hear from people who took their dog to a puppy class or to a beginning obedience class and then expected the dog to know how to behave from then on. When I explain that reminders and practice and new skills are good for all dogs, I often hear resistance.
Posted by Tricia Breen at 05:07PM Comments (9)

Calm Yourself!

November 19, 2012 - Last week, I was approached by someone who works with people I know. She wanted to know if I could help her with a dog that she was considering adopting. She told me: The dog was adopted as a 12-week-old pup by someone else. That person has a full-time job, two young kids, and is suffering from an as-yet-undiagnosed but painful back problem. The dog failed to get housetrained and after three months, she is declared…
Posted at 05:14PM Comments (9)

Work to improve your dog, but accept his preferences and limitations, too

November 13, 2012 - We have to find balance in our relationships. We need to work to help our dogs live comfortably with us and our chaotic human world. This takes time, practice, patience, observational skill, a willingness to work at it. If our dogs are uncomfortable with other dogs, get worked up when on-leash, or are fearful of new people or new environments, we help them to work through these things. We want them to be comfortable, reduce the stress and anxiety that they might feel. We want them to be comfortable so that we can take them more places with us, enjoy their company in more venues.
Posted by Tricia Breen at 09:05AM Comments (6)

Share Info About Ways to Combat Food Waste, Support Rescue

October 28, 2012 - In the November issue of WDJ, I wrote an article (“What a Waste!) about the many ways that pet food gets wasted at every level of production and marketing – and a few ways that thoughtful people are combatting that waste, particularly at the retail level. I hope that dog owners and those involved in animal rescue will look for and share other ways that perfectly good but unsalable pet food can be saved from landfill and donated to needy animal shelters and rescues.
Posted by Nancy Kearns at 06:04PM Comments (1)

What do you do when you hear “that” sound?

October 23, 2012 - “Urp. Urp. Urp.” You know, the sound that tells you your dog is just about to vomit. It sure gets your attention. And calls for action. But do you take it?
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:12AM Comments (39)

The Pagan Dog Funeral by Cynthia McCollum

October 14, 2012 - Sunday evening there is a knock at my door. It's the neighbor across the street and a glance out the window shows that she is disheveled and crying. When I open the door, she bursts into fresh tears. Her dog has died, in front of the whole family eating their dinner. Poor woman is crumbling and weeps, “I don't know what to do". I take her by the hand and say let's go home and take care of things. I lead her to her house and see yes, the dog is indeed dead there on the floor of the silent, seemingly deserted house. Yellow haired Lab-mix, she has peed a bit in her dying. She is stiffening but still warm. Where are your children, I ask. She has sent them to their room. I sigh. Here is my task. I look her in the eye. Get them. She hesitates. Get them, this is sad, but not horrifying. This is a lesson for them about death. Keeping them away will make them more afraid. Let them say goodbye to her.
Posted by Cynthia McCollum at 12:00PM Comments (23)

Hazards of Dog Parks, Revisited

October 7, 2012 - Just a few years ago, I lived in a densely populated city in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was , by and large, dependent on dog parks for my dogs’ off-leash exercise. You know how when you see something all the time, you become accustomed to its quirks, to the point where you don’t see them so much? That’s how I was about dog parks a few years ago . . . but not now. Today I’m lucky enough to live in a small town that is literally surrounded with public open spaces, wildlife areas where dogs can be walked off-leash.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:00PM Comments (28)

Oh No - Don’t Swallow That!

September 28, 2012 - My Ella is a chow hound. Not only does she eat everything I offer her, including lemon slices, but she thinks the purpose of walks is to see how much food she can find. It's amazing what she comes up with. In the first year and a half that I had her, we spent one night at the emergency vet after she ingested paintballs, and she also had to see a specialist to remove a peanut fragment that she tried to cough up but which got caught above her soft palette in the back of her nose instead. I mention this so that maybe you'll understand why I panicked when the cap from a container holding a fly paper strip disappeared after I dropped it. I didn't think much of it at the time, just finished putting the strip up, and then looked around to pick up the cap, which I had heard fall, but it was nowhere to be found. I wouldn't have been overly concerned, except that the top had a thumbtack pushed through it for hanging the strip.
Posted by Mary Straus at 01:02PM Comments (10)

High-Octane Dogs Need Special Homes

September 23, 2012 - I just finished reading a book about the life – and death -- of a special dog, a much-loved Border Collie. Of course, I cried like a baby at the end of it, knowing how hard it is to lose such a very special dog. I have to say I haven't cried like that in a long time, and even as I think about it now . . . Somehow it really hit me especially hard, since the description of the dog reminded me so much of my dog DeeDee, who I still always think about. The dog in the book was independent, didn't care much for cuddling, kept her own counsel, but always aware of her owner’s presence, whereabouts, and predicaments, and always wanted to work. DeeDee always wanted to be with me, though she, too, was not crazy about hearing sweet nothings. And when I took her to try out some sheep, she made my jaw drop; she knew exactly what she was supposed to do without having any prior experience. And yet, she wouldn’t work with the sheep and the instructor unless I was in the ring.
Posted by Tricia Breen at 05:08PM Comments (9)

Breed Profiling

September 17, 2012 - I’ve liked individual dogs of pretty much every breed at some point or another. But there are times when I’ve also NOT liked dogs of some breed when it wasn’t even warranted. I guess you’d call it profiling or discrimination. For the October issue of WDJ, I needed a dog to model a number of no-pull harnesses, so I could photograph them before sending them to WDJ Training Editor Pat Miller to review them. I purchased a size “medium” in all the harnesses so that Pat would stand the best chance of finding dogs to wear and try out the products. But for the photographs, I had additional requirements of the models: they also had to be a light color and short-haired, so the harnesses could be seen easily.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:32AM Comments (19)