Whole Dog Journal Blog

Listening to Your Dog

May 1, 2012 - Duncan wakes me this morning as he usually does: with a jump onto the bed and a cool damp nose gently touching my cheek. I respond as I usually do: “Okay, give me a minute.” I wrestle to open my still sleep-induced eyes and start to get out of bed. I glance at the clock – because that’s what morning does – makes one acutely aware of time. But wait! It’s only 1:28! I tell Duncan, “No way!” and pull the covers back up. He seems to accept this and goes back to sleep himself. Duncan is a 10-year-old rangy 60-pound B&W Border Collie. We’ve known each other since he was 5 1/2 weeks old. I think I know him pretty well, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped listening to him.
Posted by Barbara Dobbins at 03:33PM Comments (19)

Tracey v. Solesky ; Society v. Pitbulls - Maryland, 4/26/12

April 30, 2012 - In an exceptionally ill-considered decision, on April 26, 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals (highest court in the state) delivered a finding that not only held a landlord liable for a 2007 incident in which his tenant’s dog, an American Pitbull Terrier, escaped from a pen and mauled a child, but also declared that “a pit bull or any dog with pit bull ancestry shall be deemed hence forth vicious and inherently dangerous as a matter of law.”
Posted by Pat Miller at 12:25PM Comments (23)

Saturday at the Shelter

April 24, 2012 - I haven’t spent a day in my local shelter for six weeks or more. I’ve been super busy, and then I fostered a really cute, really unsocialized dog for a while, which took up most of any extra time I had for a few weeks. Saturdays are usually a big adoption day at the shelter, and there is only one other volunteer who helps with adoptions on Saturdays. When I heard that she wasn’t going to be at the shelter, I decided I’d better go, even though I had several invitations for fun events and a ton of work to do. I walked into the shelter at 11:30; it opens at 11 on Saturdays but I was running late -- plus I needed to buy some dog treats on the way. When I walked in, the shelter’s head veterinary technician caught my eye. “Can you go hang out with the lady with the Golden out in the outdoor runs?” she asked. “I’ll be out there in a few minutes.” No clue as to why she wants me out there, but I’m here to help.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:37AM Comments (8)

Thinking (more seriously) About Health Insurance for the Pets

April 16, 2012 - One of my young cats is sick. Last Friday, I noticed he was just being unusually subdued – particularly in relation to his littermate sister, who was bouncing around the kitchen and harassing/trying to engage the dogs in play. I picked up the quiet one-year-old cat and held him a while, feeling him all over for lumps or bumps or wounds of any kind. I didn’t find any, but I did notice that under his longish coat, he was a lot thinner than his short-haired sister. And did he feel a little warm? I called the vet and made an appointment.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:44PM Comments (26)

The Dog Ate My (fill in the blank)

April 9, 2012 - It’s one of the oldest excuses known to man, perhaps even pre-dating man’s willingness to share a home with dogs. But every once in a while it’s true: The dog DID eat something critical. Seattle resident Russ Berkman came home from work one day and found some tiny scraps of paper and elastic on the floor. A minute’s worth of detective work confirmed that the scraps were all that was left of four tickets to the 2012 Masters (golf) Tournament in Augusta, Georgia – and that the culprit was his Swiss Mountain Dog, Sierra.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:26AM Comments (9)

Evacuation Plan

April 2, 2012 - If you woke up in the middle of the night and your house was on fire, could you escape with your dogs? I read the above news story and have to admire the man who thought quickly and was able to throw a mattress out his bedroom window – on the second story of his home – and then throw his dog, a hefty-looking adult Labrador, onto the mattress. Only then did he jump onto the mattress to escape. Both man and dog suffered some soreness but were otherwise okay.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:12AM Comments (1)

So, Some Updates

March 26, 2012 - Last week’s blog post was about the Australian Cattle Dog-mix pup I was fostering, and the effect he’s apparently had on Otto, my usually perfectly behaved dog. Otto usually mentors and guides my foster dogs and puppies, and is generally an endless font of patience and good humor. But this puppy – and I use the term loosely, because he’s somewhere between 10 months and a year old, but still possessed of many puppy-like qualities – this puppy had seemingly inspired Otto to misbehave in all sorts of odd ways. He chewed up some shoes, repeatedly dug a trench around a favorite orange tree in my yard, kept getting caught chasing the cats – and on one notable occasion, for the first time in his life, took off after a deer when we were out on a walk in a local wildlife area and didn’t “leave it” or immediately come back when I called him.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:58PM Comments (6)

Bad Doggy Influences

March 19, 2012 - Ive fostered a dog or puppy from the shelter six or seven times since Ive had Otto and hes been a huge help in the fostering process. He models good behavior. He responds immediately to cues and in the process, shows the other dogs how to earn rewards. He comes immediately when called, in such an enthusiastic manner, that the other dog comes running toward me, too, just to see what the excitement is all about (and then of course everyone gets treats, which helps install the roots of a nice recall in the foster dog, too). Otto puts up with their playful behavior, plays a bit with them himself, but also enforces polite canine behavior. He wont, for example, tolerate a puppy climbing all over him, jumping on him or even picking on Tito the Chihuahua. He steps in with authority and firmness and says (with an audible growl and some impressive snarling), No way, Jose. Not on my watch. And yet, hes never hurt a single errant pup.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:34PM Comments (3)

A Trip to Hill’s

March 16, 2012 - Earlier this week, with no warning or context, I posted on WDJ’s Facebook page that I was visiting the Hill’s (Science Diet, Prescription Diet) research and development campus in Kansas, and would also be visiting two of its production facilities. I was excited! And up until almost the hour that I left for the airport, I had been finishing the April issue of WDJ – I hadn’t had a chance to post something to let you know in advance about my trip and the reasons for it. I was just so psyched to be there! Historically, Hill’s was a very private company, which limited communications with non-veterinarians. A new wave of management appears to be changing that policy.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:17PM Comments (9)

Check Your Dog’s Teeth and Gums – Today!

March 12, 2012 - I recently wrote an article about canine dental health; it will appear in the April issue of WDJ. I discussed the need to examine your dog’s teeth on a regular basis, and to keep them clean and healthy. Tartar-encrusted teeth lead to gum infections which lead to systemic infections that severely affect the heart, liver, and kidneys. If you are lucky, your dog’s teeth stay white and healthy with absolutely no help from you at all; my previous dog, a Border Collie named Rupert, had perfect teeth throughout his lifetime with zero maintenance.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:55AM Comments (15)

Vaccinate Those Pups – But Socialize and Train Them, Too

March 5, 2012 - I don’t know how this could have escaped my consciousness – probably because I don’t own a puppy – but I just learned that the veterinarians in my area (including several neighboring towns) routinely tell puppy owners not to take the puppy anywhere for the first six months. ANYWHERE, including puppy kindergarten classes, to friends’ homes, or for walks in their neighborhoods. Never mind the fact that so many dogs die as a result of being euthanized in shelters due to behavior problems traceable to a lack of training and socializing – let’s keep advising dog owners to carry on with the same practices that lead to those behavior problems, as long as we keep them safe from parvo and distemper. Argh!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 11:57AM Comments (16)

Nobody Likes Puppies

February 27, 2012 - Everyone who knows me well knows my running gag about puppies. When I see an adorable roly poly irresistible puppy, I say scathingly, “Oh, a puppy. I hate puppies. Who likes puppies? Nobody.” Of course, by the time my final line is delivered, I’m mauling the puppy affectionately. I actually love puppies. Who wouldn’t? The breath, the paws, the widdle noses? But neither do I want one. Maybe ever. And a recent puppy-sitting stint, for all of two or three hours, stiffened my resolve.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:07PM Comments (16)

Canine Causes

February 21, 2012 - I’ve been thinking about how, when it comes to our spare time, we all find different things to become involved with – different causes grab us for different reasons. Some people get into local, state, or national politics, due to strong feelings about abortion, or gay marriage, or the treatment of our soldiers. Some people volunteer with charitable groups after being affected by cancer, heart disease, diabetes, drug addiction. Even us dog people find widely disparate causes to occupy our spare time and dollars. I have one good friend who volunteers annually for animal rescue organizations in Asia; another who devoted years to a breed rescue; and still another whose mission in life is to shut down or improve conditions in puppy mills.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:55AM Comments (10)

Staying on the Trail

February 13, 2012 - Usually, I can count on my dog, Otto, being one of the best-behaved and best-trained dogs in the pack when I go out for off-leash hikes with friends and their dogs. When we hike solo, I keep the walk lively by frequently asking him to do “trail agility” – jumping over logs, jumping up on boulders, and even running through culverts. I also frequently ask him to perform spontaneous recalls; he can expect to be asked to do one at any moment, and he enjoys the game. His recalls are impeccable. All of this solo training really pays off when we walk with friends and their dogs are all over the place.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:22PM Comments (12)

Super Bowl Ads Staring Canine Actors

February 6, 2012 - Last week on our Facebook page we posted links for Volkswagen’s two Super Bowl commercials featuring talented canine actors. Dogs are almost always popular in Super Bowl ads – but there are potential hazards to the advertiser if the dogs or their depictions are not handled with sensitivity. Last night, shoe makers Skechers premiered a commercial that featured Greyhound racing – not something most dog lovers want to see, even if it includes a comical and darling French Bulldog wearing tiny Skechers who wins the race, moonwalking across the finish line. Comedy or not, media reports say Skechers is taking heat about the racing Greyhounds.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:36PM Comments (13)