I almost never feed my dogs the same food from bag to bag or can to can. I switch foods constantly, rotating among brands, varieties within brands, and forms of food (wet, dry, frozen, dehydrated, home-prepared). All the foods I feed are good ones, I tell my friends and acquaintances; I would never feed just one!
Many people use the phrase “holistic healthcare” when they, in fact, mean natural, alternative, or complementary healthcare. However, we use the phrase in its original sense – to mean “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems.” We look for therapies and practitioners that offer the most benefit and do the least harm, whether it’s a conventional prescription medication or an organic essential oil, a veterinarian who specializes in oncology or one with advanced training in chiropractic.
I had an epiphany when my adolescent Lab/pit-mix, Woody, swallowed a small tennis ball (after 6 on a Friday night, no less): Such an exuberant, athletic, and spontaneous dog needs insurance. And Otto, my scruffy heart-dog does, too. He’s a big dog and closing in on 10 years old, an age that prompts concerns about things like cancer.
Thanks very much for the many compassionate messages of support and sympathy for the tragic loss of Tito and my former foster dog, Ruby. Many readers commented on the post I wrote on the Whole Dog Journal blog page about the incidents that led to the dogs’ deaths (one as a result of injuries, and one by euthanasia) – and many readers told their own heartbreaking stories dog-aggressive dogs that they loved and tried to rehabilitate.
Last month, I told you that WDJ’s Training Editor Pat Miller and I had been discussing the possibility of writing an article about dogs who kill other dogs; over the span of a few months, Pat had received calls from three different people who had a dog killed by one of their other dogs. After much thought and discussion, Pat wrote a terrific article on how to manage a beloved family dog who, incongruously, appears to have the potential for this horrible deed.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but, in my opinion, becoming aware that we have a problem is how we start fixing it. Much of our society is anxious and mad right now – and so are our dogs. For their sake, and ours, and that of our country, I think we all need to take a breath and practice calming ourselves and each other. We can use the techniques trainer Stephanie Colman describes in her article in this issue! Changing our own emotional responses to things that reflexively make us angry and anxious can’t help but improve our moods – and just may improve our dogs’ moods, too.
Recently, I went on a vacation – a dog-free vacation. It was strange to not pet dogs for a week – and I kept having that startling sensation that I had forgotten to feed them – but it was interesting to receive reports from the people who were taking care of mine. Nine-year-old Otto stayed at my sister’s house. Otto is tired of other dogs, having been present for the comings and goings of countless foster dogs and puppies over the past few years, and even though my sister has four small dogs, I thought her house would be the best spot for him.
It’s amazing to me how many times I’ve assigned an article to one of WDJ’s regular contributors, or one of them has approached me about writing an article, and within days of receiving that article, I’m suddenly faced with the subject of the article in person – so to speak.
I couldn’t be more excited about the changes you will see in this month’s issue of WDJ, not least of which is the new illustration of a dog on the cover, which was based on a photograph of my nine-year-old mixed-breed dog, Otto! Nepotism may have gotten Otto the spot, but I honestly think he serves as a perfect representative of what WDJ is about: a vibrantly fit, happy, intelligent, confident “everydog.”
In any given month, we have a number of new subscribers – people who are opening the pages of Whole Dog Journal for the first time. They may have heard about us from a friend, trainer, or breeder. They may have been told that we review commercial foods and discuss home-prepared diets. Or they may have heard that we’re a great source of information about dog-friendly training, and offer honest product reviews. They may have learned about Whole Dog Journal when doing a web search for holistic treatments for a vexing health problem afflicting their dog. Within an issue or two or three, they should see that, indeed, we offer all that. But new readers may not realize right away what they won’t find in WDJ.
It used to drive me crazy when my parents used to say it, but, gee, time is going by faster than ever – and it never ever goes faster than when I’m gathering information for a dog food review (our annual examination of dry dog food will appear in next month’s issue). So many products to examine, from so many companies! And this on top of ordering, fitting, sending back, re-ordering, re-fitting, and photographing a dozen front-clip harnesses for an upcoming review of those. Product reviews are the most time-consuming thing I do!
Most of us see our beloved dogs snuggled in their beds (or ours), romping in our yards or local parks or play groups, on walks along the most picturesque paths we can find, and then back at home, on the couch or by the fireplace. It’s easy to forget about all the homeless dogs, the ones who have homes but who are locked out of them in all weather, and those who are abused out of anyone’s sight.
Having peroxide on hand is also a great idea in case you just discovered your dog ate something he shouldn’t have. Again, time is of the essence. Having to send someone to the store might cause enough of a delay to contraindicate the induction of vomiting. Speaking of dietary indiscretions, having plain canned pumpkin on hand at all times is another good idea.
There was a week in December when I had 16 foster dogs staying with me. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds; 15 of them were puppies – they took up only two crates’ worth of space at night! Nine of those puppies were from one litter of pit bull-mixes that were brought into my local shelter. Six were from another litter, perhaps Chihuahua/terrier-mixes, and are being fostered by a friend, but she was traveling (with her own three dogs!) over Christmas and couldn’t drag the tiny puppies along, too. Both sets of puppies were estimated to be about 4 to 5 weeks old when they were brought to the shelter by people who claimed to “find them.” The last foster who was with me – and is still with me – is a year-old hound.
Have you ever had the experience of getting incredibly “stuck” with your dog, unable to teach him a certain new behavior? And then an experienced trainer steps up, and has your dog happily performing the behavior again and again within a minute? At that moment, part of you is happy because your dog “got it,” but part of you may be seething, too. What the heck, dog?