September 16, 2016 - I was visiting a friend recently, and had brought (with her permission) my adolescent dog Woody along for the ride. Her (quite elderly) mother asked me, as we entered the home, "Does he have fleas?" I assured her he does not, but the brief exchange did bring up memories.
Years ago, I had a Border Collie, Rupert, who was incredibly hypersensitized to flea bites. I've met dogs with more severe flea allergies, but I can't imagine living with one. I, too, grilled my friends at the front door about their dogs' flea-bearing status. If they professed not to know, or were avowed non-users of flea-control products, they could forget coming into MY house. We could go for a walk together instead! I had to protect Rupert at all costs.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 11:41AM Comments (22)
September 13, 2016 - This is going to sound a little bananas. I think you guys can take it, however.
The most fun thing I've been doing lately with my dogs is playing hide and go seek. I'm a behavior geek anyway - I love watching dogs (and other animals) work and play and interact - but I can't tell you how entertaining it is for me to watch my adolescent dog learning how the game works, and try to anticipate my hiding strategies.
The house that I use as an office has three bedrooms upstairs. Sometimes, my husband and I rent them to students who attend a local trade school. In the past couple of years, though, we've had various relatives staying in the house on and off. At the moment, no one is living here, so I have both three rooms to hide in upstairs and no one to watch me at this ridiculous game! (Lest this sound rich - my second house! - let me assure you that the area where I live is so economically depressed, that the mortgage on this house costs us less than rent on office spaces in town.)
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 11:47AM Comments (35)
September 7, 2016 - I'm incredibly lucky, because my 10-month-old pit bull-mix, Woody, has a special friend, one who is almost exactly the same age. Samson belongs to one of my best friends, so our pups get to play together and walk together when my friend and I get together to walk or talk. We took our youngsters to puppy kindergarten 1 and 2 together, and this weekend, we will be taking them together on a walk that raises money for a local shelter.
The funny thing about the relationship between our two adolescent dogs? How unlikely it is, given that Woody weighs about 60 pounds, and Samson just barely tips the scales at four pounds, after he's eaten breakfast and before he goes out to poop!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:43PM Comments (13)
August 31, 2016 - How do you feel about people who panhandle with a dog - or dogs, or a cat? I'm conflicted every time I see this.
On one hand, if I were ever homeless, you can be darn sure I'd have a dog with me. It seems like many dogs who live on the streets with their humans are some of the most unflappable, well-socialized dogs around. And I'd have to say that dogs who spend almost all of their time with their humans are likely to be far happier than well-fed dogs who sleep on cushy beds in climate-controlled homes but alone all day.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:39PM Comments (55)
August 25, 2016 - One of the things I love about my favorite rescue group, the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue, is that the group is large enough and organized enough to offer people who want to help any number of ways to dive in and do something. Too many rescue groups depend entirely on one or three exhausted humans, who are run literally ragged, financially and emotionally spent, by the overabundance of dogs needing help and not enough people to do the work that needs to be done. Sometimes, this is attributable to the group's leaders, and their inability or unwillingness to cede control of certain tasks. But sometimes it's simply because they hadn't thought to ask people to take on small jobs. If you get enough people doing small things, it can truly add up to more dogs saved.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:52AM Comments (9)
August 17, 2016 - Early this month, I had the pleasure of attending a huge pet products trade show called Superzoo. I haven't been to one of these trade shows in a few years, which made it that much more exciting, as so many new products come to market. I gathered information from hundreds of manufacturers, in preparation for a number of articles and products reviews over the next year or so.
It may sound juvenile, or seem to impart a lack of seriousness, but I was perhaps most excited about some of the dog toys I saw. There were countless manufacturers of dog toys at the show, but most offered the same old sorts of toys that have been around for a long time, with only minor variations in quality. However, I also saw a handful of truly unique and engaging new toys, which I'm looking forward to sharing with you in the coming months.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:30PM Comments (6)
August 11, 2016 - Shortly after deciding to keep my first-ever "foster failure" (a dog who was meant to be a foster only, but who found his forever home with me), I asked my husband to take some care with his name; he's the namer in our family. I'm terrible at naming animals; he's terrific and funny. But given that this was going to be a dog that we'd have for a long time, not a foster dog just passing through, I had some criteria I wanted him to take into consideration.
Although I would technically have veto power if he came up with a name I hated, he can be quite persistent in calling a dog something he has decided on, despite what the dog's subsequent owners later decided to name the dog. For example, a couple of years ago, I fostered a short, middle-aged Border Collie-mix who had recently had puppies, and had a rumpled, pudgy appearance. She was surrendered to the shelter where I volunteer as "Mary," but Brian decided she looked more like a "Brenda," I have no idea why, and he still calls her Brenda when he sees her, when my friend who adopted her comes to visit. So I really didn't want him to get attached to a name I didn't like.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:23PM Comments (52)
July 28, 2016 - One of these days, I'm going to have to count the dogs I've fostered and placed in homes over the past 9 or 10 years, since I moved to this small northern California town and found myself living close to a nice, clean shelter run by a smart, dedicated director. The number would look super impressive if you counted the litters of puppies I've fostered, but that's cheating; puppies get adopted from the shelter quickly, and I have little to do with their placement.
Often, people want a puppy, and I get the appeal, but sheesh, there are so many advantages to adopting a dog who is already a known quantity: You know how big she's going to be, what her coat is like, and you have a pretty good sense of what her behavior is like, or could be like. And yet, it takes a long time for so many adolescent and adult dogs in the shelter to find homes.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:17AM Comments (16)
July 21, 2016 - I'm afraid I have "one of those dogs" - the ones that swallow things. The ones that inspired the annual x-ray contest among veterinarians, x-rays of dogs with things that are stuck in their digestive tracts. No, Woody hasn't had an x-ray yet, but unless I get a grip on this behavior, he's going to be in the contest one of these days.
This little colorful trifle is a toy for tiny puppies. It was the first toy my sister bought for her young Jack Russell-mix when she first adopted her from a Jack Russell rescue group three years ago. Daisy loves the little toy, which has a fabric-covered squeaker in both ends, which are held together by a strip of what used to be colorful ribbon.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:12AM Comments (15)
July 13, 2016 - There is nothing like realizing that you need to take a bunch of your own advice. In my case right now, I need to do things with my own dog that I have been telling others to do for nearly two decades. Sheesh.
I started fostering my young dog Woody (and his eight siblings) in November. He was my first so-called "foster fail" (meaning, I decided to keep him) in nine years of fostering for my local shelter. But since I adopted him, I've fostered several other large litters of puppies, one after another, and this task has kept me tied pretty close to home. So I haven't taken Woody to as many places as I would advise everyone else to do with their dogs.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:09PM Comments (17)
July 7, 2016 - We've had some intense heat in California lately, and lots of dog owners are taking their dogs to pools, lakes, rivers, and the coast to cool off. Allow me to remind you about several water-safety tips to keep in mind: • Too much can be a bad thing. "Water toxicosis" can affect any dog who drinks too much in the course of swimming, dock diving, fetching toys from water, biting at a sprinkler, or any other activity that involves water. When dogs are hot or particularly excited, they may drink even more. If you notice your dog drinking more than seems necessary - especially if you notice him wobbling, vomiting, or seeming suddenly lethargic, have him take a break in the shade for a while, until his body can catch up and eliminate some of that excess. See http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/17_6/features/Preventing-Excessive-Water-Intake_20986-1.html
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:02AM Comments (1)
June 29, 2016 - Recently, I dog-sat two little dogs for a friend who went on vacation for just over a week. I like to think of myself as a competent dog owner and foster-care provider, but I experienced just about every sort of problem with medicating one of the dogs that a person can imagine. I have an excuse: I also have three of my own dogs, 12 foster dogs (mother Great Dane and her 11 puppies), and my son's dog staying with me while he travels for his sport, so I was a TAD distracted, but even so.
Problem one: Aforesaid Great Dane got the pills down off a shelf in the kitchen that I thought was high enough, and managed to open one bottle, which contained a chewable form of medication, and ate them ALL. I have been through this once before; a few years ago, I fostered a Labrador who swiped a bottle of chewable medication off my kitchen counter and ate them all, costing me a pretty penny at the emergency vet clinic in the middle of the night. Given that the Great Dane foster has already scored butter, bread, and a few other things off my counter, I HAD put the pills on a high shelf - just not high enough.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 11:58AM Comments (27)
June 22, 2016 - My Ella is now 12 years old, and starting to have trouble with the glare of the sun. I had her checked by an ophthalmologist to be sure nothing was wrong, and she confirmed it's just age-related changes, and that her iris can't contract as well as it used to, making it harder for her to see in bright light. I asked about Doggles, and the vet agreed that protecting her eyes from the sun was a good idea, but said most dogs hate wearing the Doggles because they're heavy and block their peripheral vision. She suggested an Optivizor from Protective Pet Solutions instead.
Posted by Mary Straus at 12:05PM Comments (4)
June 15, 2016 - As I said in last week's blog post, we have received lots of submissions from readers - descriptions of cute, fun, and useful behaviors they have taught their dogs, or that their dogs have taught them! We will post a bunch of these over the next few days. Maybe you will be inspired to teach your dog a cool new behavior!
My Lab-mix LOVES to play fetch. She's so great at chasing a tennis ball anywhere. She will always come running back with it and kind of toss it back at me to throw it again. If we're playing in the backyard and I'm sitting down and she tosses it out of reach, instead of getting up from my chair and getting the ball I simply say, "Can't reach it." She has learned that means I can't reach the ball to throw it to her again. When I say, "Can't reach it," she will go and get the ball and drop it right at my feet so that I can reach it and throw it for her again.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:44PM Comments (15)
June 8, 2016 - WDJ Training Editor Pat Miller wrote an article for the June issue of WDJ about unconventional or unintentional cues - things that people taught their dogs that are far from the ordinary sit, down, stay-sort of behaviors. In the article, she and other trainers describe how they taught their dogs things such as locating a pile of poop that needs to be picked up, standing in a certain place and a certain pose that's convenient for grooming, and coming when it's time to take a daily medication. My favorite was, "You're not going!" - which is what Pat taught her Kelpie, Kai, to indicate he shouldn't get excited about going for a car ride, because he's not invited on that impending trip. Pat asked readers to send in descriptions of the unconventional cues and behaviors they had taught their dogs. I’m going to post some over the next couple of weeks; we’re getting a lot, thanks! You guys are an unconventional bunch, apparently! And Pat will be selecting one – perhaps by random, because there are so many great ones to choose from! – to win a prize.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 05:01PM Comments (57)