Consider Me Converted

I'm a full-fledged dog person.


Someone asked me the other day, “How long has WDJ been around?” I had to look at the cover of the most recent issue to confirm what I fuzzily knew: WDJ is now in its fourth year of publication! Our first issue was published in April 1998; and it was soon after that first magazine was mailed that I received a phone call from someone wanting to know when we would be publishing an article about barf. At least, that’’s what I thought the caller said. “Beg pardon?” I asked.

Turns out, she was asking for an article about the “bones and raw food” (BARF) diet, something I had not yet heard about. I came to the helm of Whole Dog Journal fresh from an editorial stint at a (now-defunct) sister publication, Whole Horse Journal. In fact, up until three years ago, my entire professional career had been spent in the editorial offices of some horse magazine or another. (I know a lot about horses, and I’’ll have you know that they neither barf nor BARF.)

After hanging up, I quickly checked my favorite Internet search engine –– and was just as quickly overwhelmed by everything that I didn’’t know about feeding dogs foods that dogs are biologically designed to eat.

Fortunately, there were quite a few knowledgeable people standing by, eager to share what they knew in order to see a holistically oriented dog magazine succeed. Famous trainers stepped forward and helped me develop WDJ’’s stand against force-based training methods while they educated me about the incredible power of positive training. Veterinarians with decades of experience with alternative and complementary medicine pointed me in the direction of the best books and research in their fields. Just as importantly, hundreds of regular dog owners told me stories about their successes with positive training and natural dog care. I can’’t thank all of you enough for helping me help WDJ’s readers.

After three years, I now can honestly say I’’m a dog person, not just a horse person!

As such, I now do a double-take whenever I see a dog when I’’m driving, I can’’t get out of a pet supply store in less than an hour, and I watch dog training videos for fun.

Last weekend, as I spent a full day at an agility competition (a event that I didn’’t have to attend!), I even found myself repeatedly brought to tears as I witnessed some gorgeous performances, so obviously a result of seamless communication and willing partnership between some dogs and their people.

I was particularly touched by the runs made by one leggy teenaged girl and her grinning Border Collie (or maybe he was an Australian Shepherd –– I don’’t know everything!). The healthy, vibrant dog never made a wrong move on course, speeding around the obstacles with his eyes glued on his girl – and the teenager never failed to give him huge hugs and kisses at the end of every run. I didn’’t follow the classes closely enough to know whether or not they were in the ribbons; I just know that they were winners in my book. They absolutely embodied what I want WDJ to be all about: purely positive and healthful relationships between people and their dogs.

But don’’t take my word for it; take a look yourself. For just this month, I’’ve removed from this column the picture of me and my faithful dog so you could see what I saw. The love and trust between these two absolutely shines.