Whole Dog Journal Blog

First “Whoops” Incident in Dog-Owning

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.
Posted at 01:46PM Comments (13)

Dog Doors: Conduits for Good … or Not-So-Good

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.
Posted at 08:25AM Comments (9)

Trying something entirely new (and fun!)

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.
Posted at 04:34PM Comments (6)

What Your Dog Remembers

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.
Posted at 04:41PM Comments (25)

Do Dogs Dream?

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.
Posted at 10:26AM Comments (10)

Perfect Playmates

August 4, 2014 - Is there anything as good as the perfect playmate for your young, playful dog? One who is about the same size and weight and has the same style of play as your dog? Iím dog-sitting my son's dog, Cole, for three whole weeks while he travels out of the country for his sport. Cole is a coonhound/Lab-mix, just about at the one-year mark - grown-up enough to not offend my now-seven-year-old Otto with his very presence on the planet, but young enough to still crave daily sessions of play.
Posted at 12:48PM Comments (12)

Adoption Counseling

July 25, 2014 - In early June I wrote a blog post about helping a friend find an appropriate dog for his family, which includes a two-year-old girl. He hadnít owned a dog for many years, and had lots of questions before and after taking custody of a prospect I found for him in my local shelter. In the blog post, I marveled at the number of things we discussed over a few-week period regarding the dogís behavior, training, health, and diet. I offer all of my friends and relatives free ďtech supportĒ for any dog they adopt through my local shelter, both to help them select the best candidate for their home, family, and circumstances, and to make sure that they all get off on the right foot together.
Posted at 01:50PM Comments (4)

A Sad Tale from the Vet’s Office

July 7, 2014 - A couple of months ago, I was at the vetís office with my dog Otto. He had a small wound between two of his toes that he kept licking; it looked like a classic foxtail/grass awn hole. These things have to be probed with an instrument to make sure that the awn isnít still present in the wound and traveling upward (ever upward), the way they do. …
Posted at 12:57PM Comments (32)

Portrait of Three Dogs in My Family

July 1, 2014 - Hannah is a 12-year-old Ridgeback-mix, about 70 pounds of lean muscle and bone. Sheís a constant companion to my brother, who adopted her from a shelter when she was about six months old (and who is coping with a dire prognosis right now), and to my brotherís daughter, who is almost five years old, and to my brotherís father-in-law, who has Alzheimers. Thatís a lot of canine support and therapy to provide, but Hannah pulls it off with grace and patience. Sheís more or less constantly pushing her big beautiful head into somebodyís hands, or leaning her gradually weakening, aging body into somebodyís legs. ďIím right here, pet me and we will both feel better,Ē her huge, shining eyes seem to say.
Posted at 09:04AM Comments (12)

Dog-Sitting: A Family Affair

June 23, 2014 - Iíve been helping with a health crisis in my family, which somehow always seems to result in moving dogs all around the state, because pretty much all the members of my family are dog people. My brother was recently diagnosed with cancer, and itís been taking a bit of scrambling to get him to medical appointments and cover his many responsibilities, which include being the daytime caregiver for his five-year-old daughter and his father-in-law (who has Alzheimers), and his dog, Hannah, a 12-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback-mix.
Posted at 03:08PM Comments (4)

In The Blink of An Eye, Everything Can Change with Dogs

June 16, 2014 - A couple goes out for a walk with their year-old Border collie-mix. Suddenly, two dogs of an indeterminate bully-breed description launch themselves off a front porch and (since the house had no fence) attack their dog. Their screams summon the owner, who is able to grab his dogs and pull them off, but their dog is badly hurt and required immediate medical care (stitches, drains, antibiotics) and they are bruised. Now, their formerly friendly, confident dog starts trembling, raises her hair, and growls whenever she sees another dog when they are walking.
Posted at 02:50PM Comments (26)

Do What Fills You

June 9, 2014 - A week ago, I attended my first agility competition Ė just as a spectator. It made me immediately wish I had kept up with my agility lessons with Otto. I want to get back to it! I have to try my hand at this sport. I had an excuse for quitting Ė several, actually. The trainer I was taking group lessons from suddenly moved far away, and I didnít know anyone else locally who either had agility equipment or was offering group classes.
Posted at 12:39PM Comments (13)

Information Overload?

June 2, 2014 - Iíve mentioned before that I have a standing offer to all my friends and relatives to help them find the dog of their dreams Ė from out of the ever-changing, ever-crowded population of dogs at my local shelter. I will drop what Iím doing at the drop of a hat to go check out a likely candidate, and when I lead new volunteer orientations, I spend much of the time scoping out the dogs in the kennels and wracking my brain for people I know who might make a good match for the dogs I like best.
Posted at 12:40PM Comments (4)

Put in a Good Word for Your Favorite Dog-Related Businesses

May 21, 2014 - After spending most of my life handling all of my dogs' grooming needs, I discovered the joys of engaging the services of a professional groomer. It was sort of a happy accident. Otto had rolled in an extremely dead, long-dead, disgustingly dead salmon, and had rancid salmon oil all over his head, neck, and shoulders. Every time I got close to him I gagged. And it was early winter, so it was too cold to consider washing him with a hose. I called the owner of a grooming salon who donates her services to the worst cases at my local shelter and told her about my predicament. i didn't pull my punches, I told her I seriously was going to vomit if I had to do it, and someone else might vomit also. I told her that I'd pay ANYTHING she asked. I was serious.
Posted at 03:41PM Comments (10)

Newly adopted dog? Don’t take the leash off anytime soon

May 19, 2014 - Iím afraid Iíve heard this story more times than I can count Ė anyone who has been involved in rescue for long has heard it, too: Family wants to do the right thing and adopt a shelter or rescue dog; family waits for just the right dog to come along to the shelter/rescue; family is matched with/meets dog, falls in love; family takes dog home . . . and somewhere in the first week, or even the first DAY, the dog is inadvertently given an opportunity that the family, who has been filled with anticipation for weeks or months, just didnít expect Ė the dog escapes and disappears.
Posted at 12:33PM Comments (12)