October 26, 2017 - A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, I received a message from Patty, a massage therapist I know. I’d call her “my” massage therapist, but it would be overstating how often I engage her massage therapy services – not more than two or three times a year, usually when I’ve done something bad to my shoulder or neck. I most recently saw Patty in early April. The message I received started, “Hi, I wanted to update you on Pepper.” Pepper is her senior Cattle Dog-mix. The last time I had a massage, we spent a good deal of the time talking about Pepper’s itching, chewing, and scratching. In the course of the conversation, we eliminated fleas as a potential cause for Pepper’s itching (because Patty hadn’t 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 couldn’t 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)
August 2, 2017 - Last week, for the second year in a row, I attended the pet product industry trade show called Superzoo, held in recent years in the Mandalay Bay convention center in Las Vegas. I was there to meet with representatives of various dog food companies and look for new/cool/unique helpful products to feature in WDJ. I've been trying to bring product reviews to the pages of WDJ on a more regular basis, and seeing so many pet product companies and their wares in one place at the same time is very helpful. It's also EXHAUSTING. I traveled with a dog trainer friend, Sarah Richardson, who owns a training/boarding/daycare facility close to me, The Canine Connection, in Chico, California. Sarah, too, was looking for products to sell in her small lobby retail area, as well as products with which to outfit her facility. When we first arrived in Las Vegas, late at night, Sarah was optimistic. "Hey, we should go see a show! We should go eat out at one of these great restaurants! We should go see a concert!" But at the end of the show each day, at what would seem like the entirely reasonable hour of 5 pm, we were both BEAT. It was all we could do to eat and go back to the hotel room, and lay around discussing what we saw that day until we fell asleep.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:55PM Comments (15)
July 26, 2017 - Euthanizing any pet is emotionally difficult. You know what's going on, and the pet doesn't; there is a lot of guilt around that. Even when the animal has been suffering, and is likely to suffer far more if you chose not to arrange for this humane assistance, most of us feel at least a little bit of guilt about bringing our friend to the vet (or a housecall vet to our pet) for that final visit. You may be experiencing anticipatory grief and sadness. You may also be feeling doubt: Is this really the time? Did we do everything we could? I've attended the euthanasia of a number of animals, my own, and those who belonged to friends or relatives who felt they couldn't be present. I've been present for the euthanasia of dogs and cats, my family milk cow, and several horses. It was wrenching emotionally every time - and yet, every single time, the process went smoothly. Every veterinarian who has helped my animal friends pass from consciousness has induced this calmly, professionally, and with great sensitivity. Given the difficulties with the medical or behavioral problems and trauma that necessitated each euthanasia, I couldn't be more grateful to the veterinary professionals who provided this valuable service.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:53PM Comments (38)
July 19, 2017 - A friend just posted an article online about the launch of a brand-new pet treat manufacturing company in California - that is, a California-based subsidiary of a Chinese pet food manufacturing company, Gambol Pet Group. The company is already the largest provider of private-label pet treats for Walmart in the U.S. and Canada. This is bound to set off a predictable avalanche of negative comments about Chinese manufacturers of dog foods and treats - which I, myself, strenuously avoid, due to concerns about lax controls over the food industry in China. However, this U.S.-based subsidiary will have to follow U.S. laws and inspections, and, in our opinion, really shouldn't be regarded with any more or less suspicion than any pet food or treat manufacturer.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:48PM Comments (30)
July 12, 2017 - My son's dog - my granddog - just stayed with me for three weeks, while my athlete son was traveling for his sport. Cole, an all-black Black and Tan Coonhound, is about four years old now. I personally selected him for my son from my local shelter when he was only about four or five months old, and he's stayed with me many, many times. He has "perfect" manners, gets along well with both my dogs (goofy adolescent Woody and serious senior Otto) and my cats (both the super-shy one and the one who swats the dogs daily). I absolutely adore this dog - and yet, I was glad when my son returned from his travels and Cole went home. As much as I love dogs in general and Cole in particular, for me, three dogs is just a bit much.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:15PM Comments (66)
July 6, 2017 - My husband, who is not at all what I would call a dog person, nevertheless makes some uncannily good observations about dog behavior sometimes. He's the one who, about a year ago, stated that he thinks Woody is going to be our best chance at having a non-neurotic dog. And darned if he's not right.
Otto, who will be 10 in November, is, by and large, a content and confident dog, but he does have fears and concerns about certain things, including floors that he suspects might be slippery. He lights up at the sight of a tennis racket, because that means a game of fetching tennis balls, but runs from the room if you pick up a fly swatter, because fly-swatting...well, I don't know why fly-swatting is so terrifying. He could not care less about gunshots; several of our favorite places to hike are within easy earshot (pun not intended) of a shooting range, but fireworks? Well, every single year, he gets more and more reactive to the sound of fireworks.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:11AM Comments (61)