November 24, 2014 - First, of course: Otto my wonder dog. I could not be more thankful for this dog, I really couldn't. It's incredible to me that I've been lucky enough to have two "heart dogs" in my adult lifetime. Otto and his predecessor (Rupert the Border Collie, who passed away at the age of 14 in late 2003) could not be more different in appearance and temperament, but both of them have been so generously present for me. Both dogs have seen me through some tough times for me and my family, and I'm grateful for their constant companionship, soulful comfort when needed, and readiness for fun and adventure all the rest of the time. Border Collie owners are accustomed to their dogs watching them constantly, and so I accepted the ever-present scrutiny from Rupert, but I have to admit that it is a little unnerving to have a dog with no BC traits whatsoever being so sensitive to so much as a hitch in my breath or my tone of voice as I talk on the phone; Otto detects any emotional instability at all and offers himself to me immediately. "Here I am, pet me, it's going to be okay," he seems to say. And so far, with his help, it has been. Thank you, Otto.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:57PM Comments (9)
November 17, 2014 - Why do people expect dogs to be calm and quiet when they are left outside for hours and hours, with minimal protection from the weather - or at least, a lot less than they get indoors - and nothing in particular to do? It has to be one of my top three dog-owner pet peeves. For me, there is just nothing as aggravating as listening to a dog barking incessantly. I both feel for the dog and feel murderous at the same time. Who do I want to murder? Alternately, the dog, the owner, and myself!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:54PM Comments (10)
November 10, 2014 - I've mentioned a bunch of times that I have helped find homes for a number of foster dogs, and helped friends who were looking for a certain type of dog to find one who fits into their family perfectly. As far as I know, all the dogs I've placed into homes continue to live happily in those homes - with one exception.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:03PM Comments (12)
November 4, 2014 - I could not WAIT for them to go to their forever homes, and the last one went home on Saturday... and now I miss them unbearably - their relentless exploring and fooling around, tireless curiosity, darling miniature barks and howls and growls, and cheerful learning during our many-times-a-day-for-just-one-minute training sessions. It didn't help that I let the last puppy sleep with me in my bed, the last two nights I had him.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:19AM Comments (8)
October 27, 2014 - I know that all of my blog posts have been about puppies or puppy care or puppy food lately. Thatís because Iíve been overrun with puppies since September 10th, when I agreed to foster six too-young puppies that were brought into my local shelter. Taking care of them has been a challenge, because neither my house nor my office was really set up for puppy care (though they are now), and because if you want to raise them right, puppy care and training takes a lot of time and energy.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:54PM Comments (17)
October 20, 2014 - You know those stories of how Twinkies can last forever? I kind of want to run my own experiment after something I witnessed recently. There is a cute cat who lives somewhere in my neighborhood who comes over to beg for food from time to time. For months last year, I thought she had been abandoned; I asked all my neighbors if they knew were she belonged and no one did. (I even took her in to have her spayed and it turned out that she had a spay scar, so I brought her back to the neighborhood, but with her tummy shaved.) Eventually, I found her owner, who cheerfully told me that so many people feed the cat, that she doesnít have to. Oy!
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October 6, 2014 - Do you know this expression, "foster failure"? It's meant as a humorous term, meaning someone who was fostering a dog - one who was being prepared for adoption by a shelter or rescue group - but who fell in love with the dog and decided to adopt the dog herself. And no, I'm not yet a foster failure, though many of my friends think it's about to happen, because I've been fostering a litter of the most adorable puppies for almost a month. I tell them all, "Blech! I hate puppies! Who in their right mind would want a puppy?" - another joke.
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September 30, 2014 - Before I became a mother, when I met difficult children, I imagined their unpleasant behavior was a result of how they had been parented. In other words, I usually blamed the parents - and credited parents with doing a great job when I met kids I liked. Then I became a parent, and through close observation of my son and his closest friends, gradually realized that actually, kids are largely "who they are" when they are born. Sure, you can mold them to a certain extent, and teach them good manners (or bad). But many aspects of their personalities transcend basic behavior modification.
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September 23, 2014 - I feel HORRIBLE. I hurt a puppy Ė on accident, true. But still. I honestly feel sick. The six puppies Iím fostering (until they are old enough and healthy enough to be brought back to the shelter to be put up for adoption) were running around my backyard; I had just cleaned out their pen, and was bringing a freshly cleaned and filled pan of water to the pen. I looked around, making sure my path to the pen was clear of puppies; they tend to run toward human feet. I was about six steps from the pen when my shoe made contact with a puppy. I heard a puppy shriek as I leaped/dodged as best as I could, flinging the water and the pan clear, but when I turned around, the puppy I had made contact with was still shrieking and was holding up one hind leg. My heart sunk.
Posted at 09:08AM Comments (17)
September 16, 2014 - Iíve been fostering a litter of six puppies, who are probably only about five weeks old. And I think I have lost my mind. Iím tired, my sleep schedule is all off, I havenít walked myself or my own dogs for a week, Iíve been eating at weird times (and not with my husband), and I feel alternately so full of love for and weepy about these little guys (they are all boys!) . . . and itís only been a week. Talk about that new-mom feeling!
Posted at 08:37AM Comments (13)
September 8, 2014 - My son got his first taste of emergency veterinary medicine (and the resulting surprise of its cost) this weekend. Fortunately, it was for a non-serious accident, not a horrid injury or illness. But still: his college graduation present may well end up being a health insurance policy for his dog, Cole.
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September 2, 2014 - I think my favorite dog book published in the past decade is Merleís Door, by Ted Kerasote. The book is, in part, a memoir of one special dogís life shared with the author. But Kerasote weaves meditations and essays about the greater philosophical dimensions of our collective human lives with dogs into the story.
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August 25, 2014 - I virtually ďmetĒ Sandi Pensinger a few years ago, when WDJ Training Editor Pat Miller wrote an article for the April 2011 issue about the sport of Treibball Ė itís a herding-type sport played with large exercise balls on a large grass field; you direct your dog into herding (pushing) them into soccer goals. Sandi is a dog trainer from Capitola, California (next door to Santa Cruz); her business, Living With Dogs, offers group and private classes for puppy and dog training, and lots of fun dog sports, including Treibball.
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August 18, 2014 - It never fails to surprise and amaze me: we were hiking recently along on a trail where we havenít been for months and months and Otto stopped suddenly and started scanning a certain tree. The other dogs paused for a second, too, taking their cues from Otto, as if to say, ďWhatís up, guy?Ē And then, just as quickly, they moved on, even as Otto stood transfixed, sniffing the air and scrutinizing that tree Ė the one where he came closer than he did before or has since to catching a squirrel. Obviously, that close call with the squirrel was not as significant for me as it was for Otto, but when he stops and clearly remembers that place and looks for signs of other potentially catchable squirrels, of course, then I remember, too.
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August 11, 2014 - My old Border Collie Rupert used to herd in his sleep. Which was funny, because he was a failed sheepdog who never showed a sign of wanting to herd any animal when he was awake. But when he dreamed, his ankles flexed in a galloping rhythm and his lips curled and his eyes rolled around as he herded sheep. Iím sure of it.
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