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.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:14AM Comments (21)
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!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:59AM Comments (4)
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 (11)
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)
October 5, 2017 - This morning, I was talking to my husband, while standing in the doorway of his office, which is located in a little outbuilding behind our home. I was watching my dogs Otto and Woody, as they stood with their backs to me, looking alertly at something through the chain-link fence that separates our backyard from the front yard. Suddenly, Otto lifted his head and let out a howl of frustration (it's more like the noise that Chewbacca the Wookie from Star Wars makes) and quick as a wink, Woody neatly lifted his nose, unlatching the gate, and both dogs pushed though the gate and ran into the front yard after something. Obviously, I abruptly left the conversation with my husband, yelled "Hey! Come!" and ran in the direction of my dogs. To their credit, both of them ran back toward me, gaily and immediately, but looking over their shoulders at a little dog, who looked like a Shih Tzu-mix and who was standing, loose, uncollared, and unaccompanied, at the foot of my driveway. When the dog saw me, he started trotting down the sidewalk.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:39AM Comments (17)
September 28, 2017 - Hello, and sorry I've not posted for a few weeks. Our publishing headquarters staff ran some older blog posts in place of fresh content from me, as I took a couple of weeks off for surgery - yikes! Long story short: I had my first-ever routine colonoscopy, and it found a large mass! Crazy, because I had no symptoms of any sort of digestive, elimination, or any other health problem. But the surgeon said it had to be removed, along with the 10 or so inches of colon and small intestine it was attached to. So, the day after I shipped the October issue of WDJ to the printer in early September, I had laparoscopic abdominal surgery, and spent six days in the hospital. I got fantastic news regarding the mass on the day I was discharged: the thing was benign, so no further treatment will be needed. Fortunately, I had a couple of weeks between the colonoscopy and surgery to figure out what to do with my dogs.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:29PM Comments (19)
September 6, 2017 - It started as a joke: I take so many cell-phone pictures of Woody sleeping in ridiculous positions that my cloud back-up folders online are packed full of these photos, so I started telling people I was going to launch an Instagram account consisting of just Woody-sleeping pics.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:19AM Comments (6)
August 31, 2017 - Since making landfall Friday night in Texas, Hurricane Harvey has caused widespread destruction and record flooding in large parts of the state. Over 50 inches of rain have fallen in some areas. With the severe flooding, and people struggling to keep themselves and their families out of the water, dogs (and cats) are in dire straits. People are being evacuated as fast as possible, and many of them are not permitted or able to take their pets. News reports show animals on roofs and in trees, and few volunteers are available to help rescue, house, and care for them. Abandoned animals and permanently homeless animals alike are fending for themselves in the flooded city.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:52AM Comments (11)
August 23, 2017 - To paraphrase Forrest Gump, life with dogs is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. In early May, my adolescent Pit/Lab-mix, Woody, started coughing and gagging dramatically. It seemed like he had something stuck in his throat, and though I looked in his mouth and throat I couldnít see anything. It called for an immediate trip to the veterinarian.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:40PM Comments (33)
August 16, 2017 - A couple of weeks ago, I rented a room in the house where I have my office (editorial office of WDJ) to a super nice 19-year-old guy who has an adorable, three-year-old mixed-breed dog, MJ. You'll start seeing her picture in WDJ; we always need new models! But one of the deals I made with MJ's owner was that MJ would get spayed. He said he had been meaning to get it done - especially after MJ had an accidental litter of puppies last summer - but as a full-time student who works, he had lacked the time and means ...the surgery hadn't risen to the top of his priority list yet. I really like this young man and I really like his dog. I donate money to my own local shelter and foster puppies for them frequently. It was a no-brainer to offer to pay for MJ to get spayed.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:52PM Comments (36)
August 9, 2017 - I'm slowly making friends with my neighbors over my back fence. They moved into that house about seven years ago... but we got off to a bad start. They had two dogs, which they kept in the backyard 24/7. The dogs had a wooden dog house to sleep in, with absolutely no bedding whatsoever. When the people weren't home, the dogs barked and barked and barked. Worse: One of the dogs was a really old Rottweiler who had the funkiest-looking tumors literally hanging off her body. One of the tumors was about the size of an orange - and looked like an orange that someone stuffed into a stocking. It swung from side to side when she walked and, later, dragged on the ground. We had one conversation about the dogs over the back fence shortly after they moved in, but when I asked about the tumors, the people got kind of chilly and simply said that the dog had been seen by a vet and she was fine.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:28PM Comments (48)