Really Relevant



Every so often I put together an issue that only afterward strikes me as being, well, completely about my canine interests and needs! There is not a single thing in this issue that is not useful to me and my dog right this minute.

I guess that’s a nice perk of the job; I get to assign authors to go out and research topics that I am personally interested in, or about subjects that will ultimately benefit my dog – and your dogs, too, I hope! I’m not being completely selfish; I suspect that most of us are in the same boat: While we may have had dogs our whole lives, we’re really only now learning how much we don’t know about proper nutrition, holistic medical care, and effective training methods. We get a lot of enjoyment from our dogs – but there are things about our relationship with them that could stand some improvement. And most of us would like to keep our dogs with us on this planet as long as possible, in as vibrant a state of health as is possible.

I had to assign myself one article to write for this issue: “Choosing a Raw Food Guru,” which appears on the next page. I’ve noticed over the years that most “raw feeders” tend to follow the doctrine of one of three main experts when planning their dogs’ homemade diets. It’s almost become one of those personality quiz questions, such as “Who is your favorite Beatle?” Until I read their books, and interviewed each one, I couldn’t answer that question; I wasn’t familiar enough with the philosophical and practical differences between the well-known authors’ diets. Now I can!

Of course, as the owner of an obsessive, restless Border Collie, I’m always looking for new and better toys; Rupert needs things to do besides shadowing me from one side of my office to the other! Pat Miller’s enthusiastic review of the best new toys sent me straight to my computer to order a toy or two.

Mardi Richmond’s article on classical conditioning came as a revelation to me. When she proposed the article, it sounded to me like something our readers would be interested in – even though I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Once I read her article, I realized how many times I could have used the techniques to convince 11-year-old Rupert that there was really nothing to be frightened of . . . not laundry, brooms, strangers, loud voices, the clink of a fork on a plate, or any of the other 40 or so things that make Rupert nervous. I think we’ll start with the fear of strangers – that’s been the most troublesome; we’ve gotten used to Rupe leaving the room for most of the others!

Every dog owner, myself included, is forever looking for the perfect veterinarian – a skilled diagnostician with a warm manner. When you also require a holistic approach – someone with a knack for intuiting the most effective and the least harmful treatment available – the quest takes on quixotic proportions. Randy Kidd, a talented holistic veterinarian himself, does a great job of explaining how we can assess a practitioner’s depth of knowledge and commitment, even if we don’t know that much about holistic principles yet, ourselves.

Because of Rupe’s lack of interest in getting anywhere near other dogs and strangers I don’t take him with me when I go to the dog park in my town. But I go pretty frequently, because I enjoy watching the dogs play so much (and there are so many great photo opportunities). It wasn’t until I read Pat Miller’s recommendations for evaluating a dog park that I realized how really perfect the park in my town is! If your city doesn’t have a dog park, or has a subpar facility, check out Miller’s suggestions for organizing a user group to improve your situation; your local dogs will thank you.

All in all, I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I have.

-by Nancy Kerns