Whole Dog Journal Blog

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 - I’ve fostered a dog or puppy from the shelter six or seven times since I’ve had Otto – and he’s 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 won’t, 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, he’s 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)

What Do You Do With Jealous Pets?

January 30, 2012 - A year ago, the only pets in my house were Otto and my ancient cat, Shadow; she passed away last summer, in the middle of an invasion of new pets. A niece’s dog, a Chihuahua we call Tito has come to live with us indefinitely, and we kept the last two kittens of a litter we rescued from abandonment by a former neighbor. So, now there are two adolescent cats and two dogs fighting for petting and lap time.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:32PM Comments (12)

Rain Dogs

January 23, 2012 - I can’t complain in any way about the rain. We’ve had a freakishly dry winter so far; the last rain we had, until just a few days ago, was around Thanksgiving. But it’s pouring now and has been, on and off for a few days. Which impacts the dogs’ daily plans and our exercise schedules. My dogs are used to spending anywhere from two to five or so hours outside during the day (ever since Tito the Chihuahua moved in with us, and Tito sleeps indoors, Otto has decided that sleeping indoors every night is for him, too). They patrol for stray cats and UPS drivers, they investigate all alarms sounded by the neighbor dogs and our three hens, they keep a sharp eye peeled for their friend Max, who walks by with his owners once or twice a day and visits through the fence, they doze in the sun (if there is any), and they accompany my husband on his travels from our back door to the door to his office, about 40 feet away.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 11:20AM Comments (11)

1,100 Pounds of Premium Dog Food Donated to Northwest SPCA

January 17, 2012 - Thanks to the companies who sent samples for WDJ’s annual dry dog food review. Since 1998, the Whole Dog Journal has published a review of dry dog food in its February issue. This timing causes some difficulties, as I need to receive samples and literature about pet food companies and their products during the holiday season in order to complete the review in time to be printed in the February issue. Lots of company employees take annual vacations at this time, and they or their replacements are difficult to reach.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:05AM Comments (5)

Novartis Suspends Production of Interceptor and Sentinel

January 9, 2012 - It seems like every time I turn around these days, I hear about another drug shortage (more on that topic in an upcoming WDJ article). This time, it’s Novartis Animal Health announcing in late December that it has suspended production of Interceptor, Sentinel, and other drugs while its manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, undergoes “voluntary” improvements. Numerous human and animal over-the-counter drugs are manufactured at this plant. According to reports, the company hopes to know in January when production will be resumed.
Posted by Mary Straus at 12:06PM Comments (14)

It’s Always Tick Season Somewhere…

January 3, 2012 - And it’s peak tick season where I live right now. The ticks are so bad in some of the areas where I typically walk Otto and Tito (formerly Peanut) that I just have to avoid those trails for a few months. Otherwise, even with the dogs wearing a fresh application of Advantix and me spending a feverish hour when we get home going over them with a fine-toothed comb (literally – I use a flea comb), I end up finding one or two latched onto Otto, engorged with blood. It’s always Otto, too; Tito is small and his coat is short; I can find even the tiny deer ticks on him easily. But Otto is large and his coat is thick and wiry; the ticks can hide from even my flea comb rather easily.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:51PM Comments (18)