Whole Dog Journal Blog

Thanksgiving with Dog People

November 23, 2016 - In my family, thanksgiving was always the big annual holiday. We always had the usual family, friends, and food, but also lots of extended family - which includes dogs - and lots of dog-walks in the day and music at night. Happily, my sisters and I have carried on the tradition. My sister Susan has driven over from Colorado - no small feat - and dinner itself is being hosted by our other sister Pamela, who moved with her husband and their dogs to my town about a year and a half ago when her husband retired. Sue is a little sad; she's brought her (adult) daughter's little long-haired Chihuahua, Riot, who is heading to a new home.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:43PM Comments (8)

Medicate Your Dogs One at a Time

November 16, 2016 - Back in June I wrote a blog post about how many ways I screwed up when having to medicate more than a dozen dogs at the same time (http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/Problems-with-Pills-for-Dogs-21494-1.html). Some of you generously offered your own mistakes and tips for preventing them. One of the things I goofed on was giving one dog her pills in the presence of another dog. I was dog-sitting my friendís two Chihuahuas: 10-pound SíMores, who needs blood pressure medication and a diuretic, and Samson, who weighed less than four pounds and was about six months old at the time. SíMores spit out one of her pills, and Samson dived for it, swallowing it faster than I could grab him.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:40PM Comments (18)

Listen to Your Gut When It Comes to Your Dog - and Act on It!

November 9, 2016 - Last week, I was stressed with too many demands on my time, and trying to finish the December issue in time to travel to Florida for a dog trainer's conference (the Pet Professional Guild). But Woody (my adolescent dog) and even Otto, my 9-year-old solid (canine) citizen, were both telling me they needed a run. So, instead of taking them out for an hours-long hike, as I prefer to do, I headed for a school field I know, to throw a ball for them for a while, instead. A friend called a little while before I left and asked if I was walking that evening. When I told her my alternative plan, she asked if she could meet me with her dogs. Sure, why not?
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:22AM Comments (21)

A New Dog for Ava

November 2, 2016 - My close friends know that I have been looking for the perfect dog for my dog-crazy seven-year-old niece Ava and her mom for some time - and that this is in contrast to my usual stance in opposition to the whole concept of the "perfect" dog. I don't believe that dogs should be expected to come into a home that may not meet their needs very well and yet not cause a single ripple in the fabric (literal and figurative) of that home, any more than one would expect a new baby or adopted child or even an elderly relative to fit in seamlessly to a new home. In my view, adjustments and accommodations should be made on all sides, with respect for all the parties' needs considered, in order to make the relationships and living situation work for everyone. So, for example, when you bring home a Border Collie or German Shepherd Dog, you'd better accept - nay, embrace - the exercise and mental stimulation needs of that dog, if you want him to be happy, and you can be happy with him. At a minimum, you will likely have to carve out a significant chunk of time in your day to devote to physical and mental exercise for the dog, and you may well have to do some problem-solving if it turns out that the dog develops problem behavior/s, such as separation anxiety, counter-surfing, urine marking, barking, chewing, over-excitement with guests, etc., etc.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:53PM Comments (13)

Replacement Parts for a Useful Dog Accessory

October 26, 2016 - Well, here is a pleasant surprise: A company that offers support for dog-related products that were purchased years ago - even more than a decade ago! I bought this gate a long time ago. It was for sure more than 10 years, because I have been living in my current northern California town for more than 10 years, and I bought it (and used it for at least a few years) in my old rental home in the San Francisco Bay area. And it's easily the best dog or baby gate Iíve ever had, which is why I brought it with me when I moved.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:11PM Comments (8)

Dogs Really Can Sniff Out Cancer

October 19, 2016 - Recently, a trainer friend asked me if I would be interested in volunteering my adolescent dog, Woody, to be a participant in some sort of nose work workshop. My friend was asking on behalf of another trainer she knew, and she vouched for her friend, saying that Woody would have a good time and that she thought it would be interesting for me. I didnít have time to get the details on what the workshop was, but quickly I agreed to the date Ė a week away, on a day when I would have ample time. It could not have been more fascinating. I attended just a few hours that one day, which was part of a six-day certification program for people who were learning how to teach dogs to detect cancer in noninvasive medical samples: blood, urine, and breath.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:19PM Comments (10)

Resting Pit Face

October 12, 2016 - So, there's an expression that was coined in 2013, and which is defined by Wikipedia as "a term for a facial expression (or lack thereof) which unintentionally appears angry, annoyed, or irritated." More to the point, it's usually used to describe a woman who looks annoyed, and is sometimes shortened to its initials, "RBF." You can guess what the "B" is for. It rhymes (more or less) with the headline. The thing is, the usual defense against being accused of having or making a Resting B**** Face is, "It's just my FACE! I'm not doing anything!" In other words, sometimes people (often women) are accused of looking irritated, but, in fact, they may be completely un-irritated, just spacing out. It's just their face.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:07PM Comments (25)

There’s no upside to a dog's nuisance barking

October 6, 2016 - Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Aroo! Aroo! Aroo! This is how I know it's Wednesday. I know it's Wednesday because every Wednesday there is a gardener who comes to service a property that is occupied by a neighborhood church across my back fence and one lot to the side. The gardener brings his dog, a hound, with him to work, and while the gardener works, trimming and raking and blowing leaves, the hound roams the church property. Well, not the whole property; he pretty much confines himself to running up and down the back fence of the church property, where three other big dogs live. He bays, and they bark. For an hour. Every Wednesday morning. "Singing the song of their people" is how many hound owners describe the baying of their beloved dogs. I get it - and I love hounds, too! - but I can't say I love baying. Or barking.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:31AM Comments (23)

What Might be Causing Your Dog to Vomit?

September 28, 2016 - In the September issue, we published an article about gastritis - stomach inflammation that causes vomiting. I was glad that the article was fresh in my mind when my son texted me about his dog, Cole, an almost-four-year-old American Black and Tan Coonhound-mix, who had vomited bile first thing in the morning, three mornings in a row. My absolute first thought was, "That sounds just like the dogs in the article in this month's issue!" I grabbed the issue, and sure enough: The author, CJ Puotinen, had described two cases in which dogs had unexplained vomiting in the early morning hours, and the vomit contained only bile. Radiographs (Xrays) and ultrasound showed nothing amiss...but then, after weeks of this recurrent vomiting, the dog in each case vomited up a foreign object - one that in either case couldn't have been detected with either Xrays or an ultrasound exam. In one case, it was an entire sock, and in the other, a small plastic decoration from a cupcake that the dog had pilfered off a kitchen counter!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:44PM Comments (9)

Fleas and Dogs Just Aren't a Good Match

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 (23)

Playing Hide and Seek with the Dogs - Everybody Does It, Right?

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)

Special Puppy Friends

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)

Panhandling with Dogs or Other Pets

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)

How Tula the Dog Made Her Way to Her Forever Home

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)

Super Products at Superzoo, the Pet Product Trade Show

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)