My dog, Rupert, is so good, so fun to be around, and so low-maintenance, that I often forget about all the trouble he caused me when he was younger. I’m not just referring to his idiosyncratic puppy behavior – getting violently ill if he just got near a car, much less rode in one, chewing everything made of wool in the house, or piddling and running to hide in the bathtub if we raised our voices.
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a conference where the “stuff” that WDJ is made of was discussed for four days straight....
Dogs, like people, do better when they have something to do. It might be play or it might be work – I’m not sure dogs differentiate between those things. An Australian Shepherd catches a flying Frisbee, and a German Shepherd police dog catches a crook. Both exude a sense of satisfaction for doing their “jobs” well, and both are pleased with the loving pat and hearty, “Good dog!” they receive.
What a great job this is! Although the deadlines provide perennial pressure, and the stack of mail and calls to return can seem endless at times, I have to admit that I really enjoy learning so much about healthy dog care – and passing it along, of course! While some of the articles that our writers research and produce contain information that I already know a lot about, I never put an issue together without learning something new and valuable that I can put to immediate use.
On my days off (Ha!), I’m not an activist. I don’t stop people whose dogs are wearing choke chains to preach to them about the virtues of headcollars, nor do I take the opportunity to tell the people in front of me in the supermarket line to put that Dog Chow back and get some real food! But sometimes, just participating in a friendly, casual discussion with other dog owners at our local park results in my being “outed” as an agitator for holistic dog care.
Not too long ago, I finally gave up my membership in a health club. I say, “finally,” because I had been threatening my family with the impending loss of their health club privileges for many moons. If they didn’t start getting over to the club more often, I’d warn, I’m cancelling the contract. Of course, that’s not really fair to my seven-year-old son, who is always up for a swim in the club pool – or better yet, a soak in the outdoor hot tub; if he could drive himself across town for what he calls “a fun bath,” he would do it every day.
We receive a lot of calls from readers whose dogs are in the midst of a health crisis. Sometimes, they are simply asking us to help them locate information, something we are more than happy to be able to do. For instance, they remember reading about an alternative or complementary treatment for a given problem in some back issue, but since, at the time, their dog wasn’t afflicted with the same condition as the dog in our article, they didn’t really pay attention. But now that their dog has the same disease or problem Whole Dog Journal discussed, they are desperate to find the article.
Just when I started to think I knew something about dogs ... I had the pleasure of learning about a large and talented branch of the canine family tree that I knew nothing about: scent dogs. Best of all, I was delighted to discover that these dogs are trained to the highest levels of competency without the use of any force-based training methods. Late last spring, I read a small item in my local paper announcing the arrival of some 70-plus Bloodhounds and other scent dogs in my town for a training clinic for scent dogs used for law enforcement.
Occasionally, as he casually scans the printouts that decorate every horizontal surface in my home office, or picks up a new item we are reviewing for WDJ, my chosen life partner starts laughing out loud. This can be partially explained by the fact that Brian is not exactly a “dog person.” He likes dogs, but he casts a skeptical eye on any but the simplest dog care practices. For instance, like many people, he’s a staunch believer that “all dogs belong outside, no matter what.”
It all started one cloudy day, just as the temperature starting dropping at night and the leaves of the maple trees in town started turning tan. Overnight, the clear blue sky turned cloudy, we had our first fall rain –and the ants came marching in. They went straight after the cat’s food, which caused poor Rupert weeks of trouble. How can an ant hurt a dog? I should say, how can a veritable army of ants harm a dog? In a not-so simple chain reaction.
Our mailbox has been full lately; I like to think that means we’re doing a good job, whether the letters we are getting are full of praise or criticism. Of course, it would be great to get nothing but glowing notes from happy readers, but it’s unrealistic for one reason: Not everything we write about it going to work for ALL of our readers!
I now can honestly say I'm a dog person