Friday, March 30

Feel Good Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!  I don't know how many of you out there have heard of the amazing Skidboot, but he was a dog that was around for over a decade performing and blowing us away.  He and his owner (not a trainer at all) had this incredible bond and had developed many routines and fun acts.  He was in all sorts or rodeos and even made an appearance on Oprah and he won a show you might remember from the Animal Planet, Pet Star.

The video below recaps his life and talents. Skidboot passed on in March 2007, but he brought a lot of love and happiness to those of us that watched him.  He was a special dog.  This video was being passed around and it brought such a smile to my face I knew it was the perfect "Feel Good Friday" treat!

My wish is that this video inspires you to train your dog to crazy and fun tricks.  All the energy they have can go towards fun!  Find what they are good at or maybe their nasty habit and turn it into something that is rewarding for both of you.  Tricks are fun for us, but work for our dogs... very rewarding work!

Have a great weekend and remember to do something fun with your pooch!

To visit the Skidboot website, bark on the link:  BARK!

Thursday, March 29

Tips For Traveling With Your Pooch

As pet owners I think we all feel the pain of having to decide which trips are good for our pets to go on and which ones they will have to be left behind.  I personally wish that I could travel everywhere with both my dog and cat, though they would not like it.  Especially my cat, he is a home body and despises the car!  But because most of my travels are not appropriate for my pooch, I design little "family" vacations or weekend get-aways that I can include him.  This is always a process because the places we humans want and can go doesn't necessarily mean that my four-legged son is welcome. 

I found a great article in The Bark that addresses this very topic.  I found it to be filled with a lot of very useful and helpful tips when traveling with your dog.  I hope it helps all of you be able to design the perfect get-away for you and your pup!

When packing for a trip with my dog, I load his bag first. Then, I set it on top of his travel bed right next to the front door, where, without fail, he’s waiting. “You’re going!” I say. He wags his tail madly, but it’s hard to tell which one of us is more excited.
I’ll admit that taking dogs along on trips has its challenges—fur in your travel mug, for one. It also requires research to find accommodations and attractions that welcome them. But the joys of a having a canine co-pilot outweigh these minor inconveniences.
Chief among the aforementioned joys is dogs’ enthusiasm for the smallest things; they have the right mindset for adventure and can teach us a thing or two about enjoying the moment. Plus, dogs require pit stops, and with each one, there’s an opportunity to explore places you might otherwise have passed by. And it’s not just the landscape that opens up under a pup’s scrutiny; people do, too. Dogs are the world’s best icebreakers.
Your dog not only can instigate some interesting detours on a longer journey, she can also inspire a trip. For example, make a bucket list for your buddy, and then set out to fulfill it. Has your pup splashed in a frosty glacial lake? Explored the base of a giant sequoia? Savored the complex aromas of a big-city park? Rather than narrowing possibilities, trip planning with a dog in mind injects a little giddyup into an itinerary.
As you plan, keep a few things in mind.

Remember that “dog-friendly” is relative. It may take a little digging to determine if a hotel, inn, B&B or condo is more than “dog-tolerant.” Special pet packages and amenities, a canine mascot, and websites with photos of dogs are good signs. A phone conversation with the front desk will also help you get a bead on the extent of their dog love. Be sure to ask about size and/or breed restrictions as well as extra fees and rules, such as a prohibition on leaving dogs in your room.
Do your research. It pays to know if your destination comes with special canine concerns, such as ticks, thorny cacti and foxtails. If your plans include hiking, ask about sensitive wildlife and flora and if predators pose a risk.
Advance work is also essential if you plan to visit national and state parks, national forests, or land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As a general rule, national parks, wilderness and recreation areas have more restrictive policies and national forests and BLM land have fewer. But there are plenty of exceptions. While there is no one-stop clearinghouse for this information, most areas clearly spell out pet policies on their websites.
Pack smart. In addition to your pup’s regular gear, remember to take a canine first-aid kit, grooming supplies, and an extra collar and leash. Travel with plenty of water in the summer and extra blankets and coats in the winter.
Make and carry a “dog file.” It should include your dog’s vital info, (vaccinations, medications, allergies and health conditions) as well as a photo in case she goes missing while you’re on the road. Some travelers keep this material in their car’s glove compartment in an envelope marked DOG INFO so it’s easy to find in case of an accident. If you’re a tech type, load the records and photos on a small USB drive and attach it to your keychain.
Make sure your dog has proper identification. If she becomes lost in an unfamiliar place, a tag and a microchip could be key to getting her back. Since time is of the essence, be sure to provide your own contact number and that of a reliable friend or relative as a backup.
Restrain your dog. If you’re traveling by car, find a comfortable way to transport her safely. A harness seat belt or secured crate keeps a dog from moving around the vehicle and becoming a dangerous distraction, as well as potentially reduces injuries to both of you in case of an accident. If your dog is not used to wearing a seatbelt or traveling in a crate, take a few pre-trip practice runs before embarking on any long hauls.
Be a good guest. Reward hoteliers, restaurateurs and shop owners who roll out the canine red carpet by following the rules; traveling with your own dog sheet, towel and lint rollers; and spreading the word about good dog service. 
If your trip is going to include a flight, make sure you understand all that comes with flying with your dog.  Below are a few tips and a way to get more information.

Flying the Dog-friendly Skies
Travel by air, particularly to international destinations, requires more preparation than hopping in your car, but it can be done.

• If your pup can fit in a carrier under your seat and thus ride in the cabin with you, airplanes can be a wonderful way to see the world together.

• The ASPCA recommends against flying animals in cargo. If you must, it suggests using a USDA-approved shipping crate, flying nonstop, and avoiding pre-flight sedatives (for more airplane tips, see Consider a carrier dedicated to transporting animals, such as Companion Air.

• When traveling out of the country, have up-to-date health-care records with you. Contact the embassies of countries you’ll be visiting for the requirements and restrictions.

For information on U.S. regulations regarding pet travel in foreign destinations, contact the USDA at or 800.545.USDA.

Happy Travels!

Wednesday, March 28

Therapist or Trainer?

As a trainer I am often brought in on very personal information about the lives of my clients.  Sometimes this information is the key to what is going on with their dog and sometimes, I just happen to be a kind listening ear.  But recently I found myself in the middle of something that I just wanted to get out of.  It was out of the realm of what I do and very uncomfortable, but the worst of it was that I don't think I was able to help the pup that was at the center of this whole thing.

I started training a puppy and his owner about two months ago, the owner is very busy but had always assured me that the pup was taken care of while he was working by his partner or a roommate.  Understand that my concern is always that there is a caring hand to care for a dog and especially a puppy, if it is not the owner, that is not for me to say.  I warned him that his absence may impact the training and the relationship with the dog, but by me knowing this is the case, we could work through it.  I hadn't heard much from him recently so I assumed all was well and he was just busy.

I then bumped into his roommate who informed me he was taking over ownership of the puppy and would be continuing training with me.  I was thrilled and confused, but sometimes owners have to make hard decisions.

In a matter of a few hours I was getting a phone call from the roommate saying the owner was keeping the pup and moving out ASAP.  This was disturbing for him because the pup was being left in a very hot room with no water and for periods of 10 - 12 hours a day.

After talking him through what some options might be, he expressed that he wanted to call animal control and report this as abuse.  I supported him in the this decision, if this is the case, I wouldn't want the pup to be in danger and if it is not true, animal control would do nothing.  I thought this was the end.

An hour or so later another call with a very upset roommate.  This is when I decided to talk to my client and owner of the pup.  After a few minutes of talking to my client I realized I was in the middle of something very personal and complex.  The story he told was completely different and he too was very upset.  I did my best to try to explain what the best situation would be for the puppy, no matter who the owner would be.  He felt very confident that he was providing that home and care situation.

At that point, I had no choice but to back off and wish him well.  I relayed my conversation to the roommate and tried equally to calm him and offer possible resolutions.  At the end, it was a he said, he said situation that I was left feeling completely ineffective as far as conflict resolution was concerned.  But I was proud of myself for going into an awkward and uncomfortable situation in order to try to ensure the safety and well being of this innocent puppy.

There is a big part of my job that sometimes feels more like a therapist than a dog trainer, and for the exception of situations like above, I rather enjoy providing that type of support and assistance.  It just sometimes gets a little too personal for this trainer.

Tuesday, March 27

Dog Chocolate Comsumption Warning

As we all indulge our sweet tooth with all the Easter candy temptations out there, we should not forget that chocolate can be a lethal treat for a dog.  There are many varying factors, but the best rule is to keep all candy and especially chocolate out of their reach.  Below is a warning K9 Magazine put out on this very topic.  K9 Magazine is based out of the UK, but the warning and information is the same for us here, the statistics may be slightly different.

Dog chocolate consumption is never more likely than at Easter time. For those unaware (what happens if my dog eats chocolate?), one of the favourite human treats can actually kill a dog. Now a shocking new survey from a prominent animal welfare charity has revealed that over 57% of pet dogs have eaten chocolate intended for humans and over 1 in 10 have become ill from it. Of these, 8% have died due to the effects and nearly a quarter have required urgent veterinary treatment. 
To prevent the number of dogs that end up hopping to the vet with chocolate poisoning, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is today launching a new “Chocs Away!” awareness drive to highlight the tragic consequences of feeding your dog human chocolate this Easter.
Sadly many dog owners are simply unaware of the dangers. Over 39% of dogs who ate human chocolate were given the treat by their owners and 61% found it themselves after it was left in easy to find places in the home.
Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, comments:

“Apart from the risks of obesity and the obvious dangers of eating the foil wrapping, the biggest risk of eating human chocolate is poisoning, resulting in an emergency dash to the vet and sadly even death.
Chocolate contains theobromine, which, although tolerated by humans, is extremely toxic to man’s best friend. The darker the chocolate, the greater the amount of theobromine. Toxic doses vary according to the size of dog and cocoa solid content of the chocolate. As a rough guide, Dogs Trust estimates that 50g of plain chocolate could be enough to kill a small dog, such as a Yorkshire Terrier*, while just 400g could be enough to kill an average size dog.”
So, if you are partial to Easter Eggs and want to keep your dog safe, follow these simple rules:
    Keep your “Chocs Away” – this means hidden out of sight and unavailable to your dog.
    NEVER feed your dog chocolate intended for humans.
    If your egg is missing and you suspect the dog is the culprit, contact your vet straight away.
    Look out for any of the following symptoms; vomiting containing blood, a sore tummy, excessive thirst, excitability, drooling, rapid heart rate,  and in severe cases, epileptic-type fits.
    If your dog is displaying any of these signs then take him immediately to your vet.
    There is no antidote for theobromine poisoning with treatment being symptomatic.
 Therefore the sooner treatment is implemented, the greater the chance of recovery.
  If you want to treat your dog this Easter stick to natural doggy snacks that are kinder to your canine.

I hope you have found this article informative and you and your pooch will have a safe "Easter Season".

Monday, March 26

A Book To Celebrate

For the past year and a few months my life and my boyfriend's life has changed dramatically thanks to our sweet but very fearful dog Neville.  If given the chance, I wouldn't change him, only because it might change the very things I love so much about him.  But I continue to "train" with him and try everything I know how to do to help him.  In an effort to read something new or have a moment of clarity I found a book that wasn't speaking to me as a trainer, but rather as an owner of a fearful dog.  The book is A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog and the topic of today's blog.

I am so thankful to this book.  So many times throughout the book I had to stop reading and just weep for a moment, and let out all the feelings I had been locking inside.  The author, Debbie Jacobs, does such a great job of capturing all the emotions and sometimes frustrations that come with living with a fearful dog.  The best part is she explains how normal that is!  I realize as a trainer I should know that, but when it is your own dog, it is so easy to blame yourself for feeling frustrated or exhausted.

I think what the book did for me more than anything is it allowed me to feel like I wasn't alone in this.  No matter how many trainers I speak to or books I read, I sometimes feel like I am spinning my wheels more than anything and I run into dead ends all the time or I find myself back at the beginning.  It was nice to get out of the trainer speak and just read about what I can do as his "mommy" to make it better.  Answers that were really right in front of me the whole time and many things I was already doing.  The main idea that I already knew in my heart and fully believe as a trainer, was that the most appropriate way to get through to a fearful dog is positive reinforcement training.

I can't recommend this book enough to anyone living with a fearful dog, no matter if they are just a little timid or severely fearful.  You can probably read it in a day and the amount of references you get at the end is really amazing.  Again, Debbie Jacobs wrote this to help other doggie moms that are going through what she has gone through, not a trainer talking to other trainers or trying to teach you.  It is a collection of her experiences, but they worked for her dog, so they just might work for yours.  If nothing else, you will feel like someone hugged you at the end, I certainly did.

If you are interested in learning more about Debbie Jacobs or wish to purchase the book bark on the link:  BARK

Friday, March 23

Oops On The Agility Course!

Happy Friday everyone!  I know a lot of us dog owners always look for fun things to do with our dogs and sometimes that is sports, Agility being one of many to choose from. I love to watch the amazing Agility dogs, but I think everyone also knows how serious a majority of the competitors are or rather the competitors handlers.  That is why this video is hilarious.  I love seeing dogs being dogs and to ever expect anything else is not that fair to them.

Below is a funny little video of an Agility run and the oops that happened during it.   Listen to the one announcer, he calls it exactly as it is.  Thank you for the friend that send this to me, it has kept me laughing all week.  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something fun with your dog!

Thursday, March 22

Disturbing Animal Cruelty In South L.A.

I heard this disgusting and very disturbing story on the news this morning.  In South Los Angeles two severed dog heads were found in a dumpster behind a CVS.  There are no suspects thus far but the case is being investigated.  Below is the story in full according to ABC7.

The severed heads of two large dogs were found in a trash bin in South Los Angeles.

The gruesome discovery was made on the 5800 block of Menlo Avenue on Tuesday at about 10:35 p.m. The dumpster was located near the back of a CVS Pharmacy on South Vermont and West Slauson avenues.
Investigators with the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force said it was apparent that the dogs' heads had been clearly severed from their bodies with a sharp object. The bodies of the dogs were not found.
Police said it's unclear whether the incident involved dog fighting, and if the dogs had been dead before their heads were removed. Upon investigation, authorities believe the perpetrator cut the dogs' heads at a different location before placing them inside the dumpster.
Authorities say the dogs appeared to have been full grown. One of the dogs was a chocolate Labrador-Retriever mix and the other was a tan Shepherd mix.
Investigators are reviewing evidence including surrounding surveillance footage to catch the suspect or suspects responsible.
"We're always looking for information because if somebody's capable of killing two family dogs like this and dismembering their bodies and leaving them in a dumpster, we don't know what they're capable of and we want to make sure we find out who did this and bring them to justice," said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith.
If you have any information regarding this case, you're urged to contact the Department of Animal Services and Sanitation at (213) 486-0450 or contact LAPD at (877) 527-3247.
To say this is disturbing doesn't really cover it!  I am sickened at the thought that someone would do this!  My fingers are crossed that the surveillance footage will give police some answers and bring justice for these two deceased dogs.

If anyone reading this blog has any information, please reach out to either of the numbers above.

Wednesday, March 21

Dogs Walking Off Leash In Downtown L.A.

I am seeing it more and more, dogs trotting next to their owners off leash.  If I am not mistaken, this is still a leash community and anyone not obeying that law is subject to ticketing.  But these select few dog owners do not seem to fear any ticket. 

I personally don't see why you would want to walk your dog off leash in a busy city.  It seems silly, it is only a matter of time before your dog gets into trouble.  If you have a great recall on your dog or they are super obedient, I do agree you have earned some extra privileges like allowing your dog off leash at a park or their favorite potty area, but for normal walking, I don't know that I can get on board with that. 

I've seen one of these dogs randomly greet other dogs and another one race across the street when the "no walk" sign was on causing the owner to race behind him. The third that I see had an electronic collar on, so I am pretty sure he will not be doing anything too wrong, though I have more issues with that than the off leash thing.

My worry is dogs getting hurt.  It is bad enough that several dogs have been injured due to running out in the cars at the 2nd street grass behind the police station, I don't think we need to add to that by having dogs randomly dart across the street because they are not properly controlled on leash.  What is a bird catches their eye, a car or bus back fires, they encounter an aggressive dog or they cross the street at the wrong time?

Having a dog that can be on leash and has good leash manners is in fact a part of obedience.  My belief is that it is the time that they should pay attention to you and no other (dog or person).  Off leash should be a freedom of sorts and more importantly a privilege, certainly not a right.   If this was a different culture or we had different laws, then I would feel differently.  As well, if we were talking about a quite rural area or even a suburban community set away from traffic, I would have much less of an issue.  It just appears that the owners are showing off a bit and not necessarily doing what is best for their dog.

What do you think?

Monday, March 19

Dog Friendly Yard Work

Each year around this time, I get multiple inquiries on how to stop dogs from digging in the yard.  Now that Spring is here it is time to plant flowers and get our yard (or patio) in shape.  As our dogs see us digging around, they may pick up on it as a fun thing to do.  Some dogs will figure this out all by themselves.

The Bark put out a great article on how to create a more dog friendly yard that might give your dog something else to do other than dig.

Dog-friendly Yard Work
It’s springtime, the warm weather and longer days give us time to see how our gardens and yards can be made more dog-friendly. One way is to make sure they’re free of plants that might make them sick; another is to add a few small amenities they’ll enjoy more than digging up the flower bed. Here are some ideas from Maureen Gilmer, landscape designer, horticulturalist and dog lover. More can be found online at, where you can also download The Dog-Scaped Yard: Creating a Backyard Retreat for You and Your Dog, the eBook from which these were adapted.
Fleabane Herbs
Through the ages, fleas have been the bane of existence for humans as well as dogs. Before pesticides, it was common to strew herbs over the floor of a home, pub or castle to control vermin. The oils in many garden herbs are historic flea repellants, which led to them being dubbed “fleabane.” To use them this way, simply cut the branches and strip the leaves to line the bottom of a dog house. Or, dry the herbs and leaves and stuff them inside the lining of the dog’s bed, which naturally discourages the pests through the winter months. Some of these herbs may also discourage ticks as well.
Fleawort (Erigeron canadense), annual
Fleabane/pennyroyal (Menta pulegium), perennial
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), perennial
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum), shrubby perennial
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), shrub
Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis), tree
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus), tree
Warm Weather Flop Spot
Dogs don’t sweat, they cool off by panting. Many dogs labeled problem diggers are really just trying to keep cool. They instinctively dig nests in shady places to access cooler soil, and sprawl out in them during the heat of the day. In heavy soils especially, this makes a huge mess—the dirt stains paving, plasters the dog’s fur and litters the yard with clods.
My solution is to provide them with a pit of their own that’s more damp and cool than the flower beds. Give them sand to lie in and it won’t stain or make mud, and when dry, it easily falls away from their fur. Keep the area slightly moist and your dog will prefer that spot over all else. You can make a few of them, scattered around damp, shady, out-of-the-way spots in the yard. Be sure to wet down the area often in the heat of the summer.
1. Dig out a shallow pit of a size to fit your dog comfortably.
2. Mix up a bag of concrete and line the pit with a thin layer.
3. Before the concrete dries, poke a few pencil-sized holes in the bottom for drainage.
4. Line the depression with at least six inches of clean white playground sand.*
5. Sprinkle with water to the point of dampness.
A Disguised Seasonal Dipping Pool
It’s easy to create a dog dipping pool that’s safe and easy to clean for the summer. The trick is to choose a sturdy, molded-plastic kiddy pool rather than an inflatable one, which is too easily punctured by sharp claws. Be sure the pool is shallow enough for your pet to get in and out of easily. (Beware: Small dogs may find the plastic sides hard to navigate when wet; choose a size that’s safe for your particular dog.)
The best way to disguise it in your garden is to set it into the ground just like a real swimming pool. Dig out the area under the pool so it sits with the rim an inch or two above the soil line. This will protect the rim and sidewalls from breakage as your dog enters and exits. She’s also less likely to chew on it, and it will stay put when empty, which is a time when big dogs tend to turn kiddy pools into play toys. The downside with this kind of pool is draining it, which can be done with a simple siphon (you can find one at home improvement stores). Or, when all else fails, bail it out with a bucket!
Al Fresco Nibbles
Rose hips. Lois the Rottweiler would sit on my deck and eat the ripe hips off my Rosa rugosa plants. The fruit of the rose softens and becomes very sweet in the fall, rich with vitamin C and many other beneficial nutrients. The vet concurred that they were equally as healthy for dogs as for people, and probably gave Lois some of the vitamins her body craved. Moreover, he said that the astringent quality of ripe rose hips would protect her from urinary tract infections. So feel free to plant roses for the dogs and let them forage in the fall!
Wheat and oat grass dog patch.
Fresh wheat grass juice is a popular drink for humans. Wheat and oat grass are also good for dogs, in moderation. They will naturally graze on it when they need the nutrients it contains, rather than browsing through your flowers. If you have a dog in a small city yard, consider planting wheat grass in an outdoor patch. It grows great in low, wide troughs. Most pet suppliers sell the seeds in small quantities. For a sizeable dog patch, save money by purchasing your oat and wheat seed in quantity at a health food store. It’s free of chemicals and ideal for large plantings.
Bark Tip: Container gardening is a good way to try out herbs with dog-appeal. Easy-to-grow specimens include chamomile, lemon grass, lemon verbena, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, oregano, thyme and yarrow. Not only can you reposition the containers if needed, the pots restrain notorious spreaders—mints, for example—from taking over your yard.
Keep Your Yard Foxtail Free 
Foxtails are a group of grassy weeds that have seeds attached to long serrated fibers. They are designed with barbs to penetrate an animal’s fur or skin and stick there until they finally drop off somewhere else. When grasses turn brown, foxtails become quite stiff and are easily inhaled by dogs. The tips are sharp enough to penetrate through the softer parts of the paw, mouth and other sensitive spots. Once inside the body, foxtails can travel through the bloodstream and cause serious injury. Keep your yard free of these weeds by pulling all grasses while they’re still green.

If I had a yard, I would be putting this to use!  I hope those of you that have yards and garden patios found this helpful.

Friday, March 16

Happy St. Patrick's Day (early)!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and there is bound to be some great celebrating and displays of green!  I always get a kick out of what people put their dogs in or what color they temporarily (I hope) die their hair. 

I know Downtown has a lot going on, so for those of you with dogs like mine, you may want to keep them out of the main celebration zones.  For other more social dogs, they might enjoy a party or two.

If you are still looking for that perfect accessory or outfit, Pussy & Pooch has the best!  The bow ties are the cutest!

To properly get us in the mood, below are some fun outfits and hair!  I hope this inspires something great for your pooch!

Have a Happy and Safe St. Patrick's Day and Weekend!  Don't forget to do something great and fun with your dog!

Thursday, March 15

False Story About Dog Hero

I was sent this touching story the other day via email about this dog that served in Iraq and was given the Congressional Metal of Honor for his heroic actions.  I was in tears reading it and was so moved that this was the first dog to be given this honor.  Then I noticed the picture really didn't look like the mix they were saying him to be, but sometime dogs don't necessarily look the way you might think.  But then I was reading more and it was talking about the handler of the dog using sign language to tell him to sneak away and come back later... seemed rather far fetched.  So, I checked to see if the story was true.  Sadly, it was not.

If any of you get this as a forward, know that it is not true.  But it is a good story.  As we are all aware, sometimes the best stories are fiction.  It is just sad when people try to pass it off as truth.  My hope is that one day a dog will earn this metal for the heroic efforts they put out, but until that day, we are left with this creative story.

I will say that the message at the end is positive and I think trying to spread a good word.

Below is the forward that is going around, if you see it, now you will know it is fiction.

The K9 above is Brutus, a military K9 at McChord.
He's huge - part Boxer and part British Bull Mastiff and
tops the scales at 200 lbs. His handler took the picture.
Brutus is running toward me because he knows I have some
Milkbone treats, so he's slobbering away!
I had to duck around a tree just before he got to me in
case he couldn't stop, but he did.

Brutus was the recipient of the Medal of Honour last year from his tour in Iraq. His handler and four other soldiers were taken hostage by insurgents. Brutus and his handler communicate by sign language and he gave Brutus the signal that meant 'go away but come back and find me'.
The Iraqis paid no attention to Brutus. He came back later and quietly tore the throat out of one guard at one door and another guard at another door. He then jumped against one of the doors repeatedly (the guys were being held in an old warehouse) until it opened. He went in and untied his handler and they all escaped. He's the first K9 to receive this honour.
If he knows you're ok, he's a big old lug
and wants to sit in your lap.
He enjoys the company of cats.

K-9 Medal of Honour Winner thought
you'd find this interesting.
Talk about animal intelligence and bonding with humans!
Remember that they can't do a lot of things for
themselves and they depend on you to make
their life a quality life!

Wednesday, March 14

St. Patrick's Day Celebrating!

St. Patrick's Day is this Saturday, do you have plans yet?  Well, DTLA has a lot going on to help you celebrate!  Thank you to Downtown News for publishing such a great list of all the activities and celebrations around our great community.

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Downtown
9 festive events for families and friends

St. Paddy's at the Music Center's (Green) Fountain
Pinot Grill  •  March 15-17

Irish-inspired food, drink specials, and prizes.
St. Paddy's with a skyline view
Nick & Stef's Steakhouse  •  March 15-17

Pints o' Irish beer, pub favorites menu, whiskey & cocktails.
St. Patrick's Day Celebration
McCormick & Schmick's  •  March 16-17

Traditional Irish fare and drink specials. Celebrate with a live band Friday at 5pm and special appearances by Bobby the Bagpiper and magical leprechauns!
Irish Street Festival Presented by the LA Clippers
Casey's Bar & Grill  •  Saturday, March 17

Enjoy pregame warm ups and a free commemorative mug with your St. Patrick's Day game ticket. Also, receive drink specials during Casey's annual street festival. 
St. Patrick's Day Cooking Class
Border Grill  •  Saturday, March 17  •  11am-1pm

Green beer? No way! Sip green margaritas with Top Chef Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, and whip up a dinner with the tastiest all-green ingredients on the planet.
St. Patrick's Day Backyard Blowout
The Escondite  •  Saturday, March 17  •  11am-7pm

Enjoy 8 bands, 5 food trucks, and drink specials. This event raises funds for the upcoming Autumn Lights Festival.
St. Patrick's Storytime
LA Central Library  •  Saturday, March 17  •  2-3pm

Stories, songs, poems, and a puppet show!
St. Patrick's Day Festival
L.A. LIVE •  Saturday, March 17  •  3-8pm

Live music, LA Kings Fan Fest, Irish dancers, a beer garden... and more!
From Shakespeare to Shamrocks
Colburn School •  Saturday, March 17  •  8pm

Join Vox Femina for a bi-cultural evening of Shakespeare sonnets and authentic Irish music, sung in Gaelic.
Looking for some green for your dog?  Get over to Pussy & Pooch to get one of their many green accessories or outfits for your four-legged friend.

 I have picked out my plans for the big day of celebrating, I hope to see you out and about!  And don't forget to wear green!

Tuesday, March 13

Understanding Cat Body Language

I know I have dedicated this blog to dogs and Downtown... but I have a cat and sometimes I read things or see things I feel compelled to share about my feline friends.  I love my cat, but he is also the one that can get on my last nerve by using the wrong thing as his scratching post or choosing 4am as his play time.  So, when I read this article that Petside put out about understanding cat body language, I felt like I got some great ideas on how to tweek these problem areas.  I hope you find as interesting and helpful as I did.

Do you know how to talk with your cats? Are you fluent in feline body language and do you understand what your kitty is trying to tell you with his actions? Do you know why your cat rubs up against you, slowly blinks at you or suddenly launches an attack on your feet for no apparent reason? At times does your cat’s behavior drive you up the wall?
Helping to unfold a wealth of feline mysteries is Jackson Galaxy, the host of Animal Planet’s remarkable series, “My Cat from Hell". A real man who truly loves cats, Jackson is both an extraordinarily perceptive feline behaviorist expert and cat “listener” extraordinaire. His deep understanding of the feline psyche, coupled with his ability to communicate with them, provides cat lovers with a great deal of insight into the minds of our small furry predators.
Jackson’s 16 years of delving into cat psychology has taught him that what appears to cat owners to be a troublesome problem may often simply be resolved by making simple, small changes in the way they interact with their kitty.
Since cats are "wild" at heart and are programmed hunters, giving them the opportunity to safely unleash their "wild" behavior with interactive play, using toys that mimic prey such as feather flyers, releases excess energy while giving them exercise, catering to their instinctive behavior. It’s a lot more fun for both the cat and their human companion than tossing a toy across the floor for them to chase, a game with which cats quickly get bored. And a bored feline is an unhappy cat who will generally find a way to entertain themselves in a way which may not always be acceptable to their human companion.
According to Jackson, it’s an excellent idea to experiment with a wide variety of toys in order to find the ones that tickle your cat's fancy. He also recommends playing with your kitty for about 30 minutes before bedtime to help him/her to wind down their excess energy and to satisfy their "wild" urges. And since cats prefer hunting at dawn and dusk, tiring kitty out later in the evening may result in a better night’s sleep for all concerned.
Jackson frequently reminds cat owners that what he refers to as "play therapy" is one of the best ways to prevent cats from behaving unacceptably. By bearing in mind that to a cat, play and prey are identical and understanding a feline’s instinctual need to "hunt", offering them outlets for their "wild" side will help reduce the stress and anxiety which often leads to those upsetting "bad" behavioral issues.
For additional information about all things feline and cat behavior visit Little Big Cat.
I know I will be starting the late night play time tonight.  My cat has a tenancy to go to sleep at about 7pm and wakes up about 2am for a snack is in full play mode by 3am or 4am.  My fingers are crossed that this will help and will make him a bit happier.  There are nights he snuggles right by me all night... I want that to be every night!

Monday, March 12

Pet Obesity

Seeing an overweight dog out on the street or overweight cat in someones home is becoming all too common.  So common that it has become a part of my training, if a client has an overweight dog or cat, I say something.  I start with the simple, "what do you feed your pets?", then it goes to, "how much are you feeding them?".  After I get the facts is when the discussion starts about proper feeding and exercise.  Some listen and really want to change things for the better, others think that because it is an older pet or they are so cute, it is not important.  For the latter, I do what I can to educate them on the dangers of pet obesity and try my hardest to get them to understand it is anything but cute.

This brings me to today's topic.  I read this article about a month ago and after seeing so many overweight pets this weekend, I thought it was time to share.

Below is an article published by K9 Magazine blog in February.  It is addressing the fact that pet obesity has reached an all time high.

The "fat pet gap" continues to widen according to the latest nationwide survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The fifth annual veterinary survey found 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats to be classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals 88.4 million pets that are too heavy according to veterinarians. 
"The most distressing finding in this year's study was the fact that more pet owners are unaware their pet is overweight," comments APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward.
"Twenty-two percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese. This is what I refer to as the 'fat pet gap' or the normalization of obesity by pet parents. In simplest terms, we've made fat pets the new normal."
Perhaps even worse was the finding that the number of obese pets, those at least 30 percent above normal weight or a body condition score (BCS) of 5, continues to grow despite 93.4 percent of surveyed pet owners identifying pet obesity as a problem. The study found 24.9 percent of all cats were classified as obese and 21.4 percent of all dogs were obese in 2011. That's up from 2010 when 21.6 percent of cats and 20.6 percent of dogs were found to be obese. "What this tells us is that more and more of our pets are entering into the highest danger zone for weight-related disorders," says Ward.
Some of the common weight-related conditions in dogs and cats include osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, kidney disease, and shortened life expectancy. Orthopedic surgeon, APOP Board member and Director of Clinical Research at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Steve Budsberg states, "The prevention of obesity needs to be at the forefront of all discussions people have about the health of their pet with their veterinarian. The body of evidence that shows the negative impact of obesity on all the body's systems is overwhelming. As an orthopedic surgeon I see, on a daily basis, the effects of obesity on dogs and cats with osteoarthritis. It is very frustrating to see how much pain and discomfort excess weight has on my patients. Veterinarians and owners have the ability to stop obesity in our pets. No animal goes to the refrigerator or the pantry and helps themselves. We enable our pets to get fat!"
Ward agrees. "Pet obesity is plainly a people problem, not a pet problem. The most important decision pet owners make each day regarding their pet's health is what they choose to feed it."
Endocrinologist and fellow APOP Board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. "Obesity in dogs and cats is not just the accumulation of large amounts of adipose tissue, but it is associated with important metabolic and hormonal changes in the body. For example, heavy or obese cats are up to four times more likely to develop diabetes as a complication of their obesity. Losing weight can lead to reversal of the diabetic state in some of these obese cats."
Treats continue to be a major contributor to weight gain in pets.
An online poll conducted in October 2011 by APOP of 210 pet owners found 93 percent of all dog and cat owners gave treats. Ninety-five percent gave a commercial treat with 26 percent reporting they gave their pet treats three or more times a day. "Treats are the silent saboteur of slimming down," remarks Ward. "Those tiny treats often are hiding a significant amount of calories." Ward suggests offering single-ingredient rewards or fresh vegetables such as baby carrots, string beans, broccoli or other crunchy vegetables.
Veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Joe Bartges from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and APOP Board member notes that weight gain in pets can be prevented. "Prevention of obesity is much easier than treating it. The major obstacle is to convince pet owners what 'overweight' and 'obese' mean and what it looks like. Veterinary health teams must educate the owner and work with them to prevent and treat obesity in their four-legged family members."
I enjoyed this article because it very clearly spells out the dangers of having an obese pet.  One thing that was not mentioned was if your dog or cat has back or joint problems, it is critical for their ability to remain mobile that you keep them at their appropriate weight.  I understand how those eyes can talk you into anything, but you have to do what is best for your dog and cat, and that sometimes is not going to make them happy.

I give my dog and cat treats all the time, but that is built into their feeding schedule.  I track how many treats I give them in a day and that is backed out of their meals.  So for example, if I have some left over steak for my dog and that is what I use as his training treats for the day, depending on how much I give him and how much exercise he got during the day, I will adjust the amount of kibble I give him for dinner. 

If you have questions about your dog's or cat's weight, talk to you vet.  Make sure when you are discussing their food intake you include all the treats you give them and be honest, a good vet will never judge you.

Friday, March 9

Dog Hugging Baby

I usually get forwarded emails, read them or half of them and delete.  But this one was way too cute.  It was sent to me with a note to smile and have a great day, mission accomplished!  This is adorable and they couldn't have found a better dog for this picture series.  Enjoy!

Instructions for properly hugging a baby
(from a dog's point of view):
1. First, uh, find a baby.
2. Second, be sure that the object you found was indeed a baby,
by employing classic sniffing techniques.

3. Next, you will need to flatten the baby before actually beginning the hugging process.
 4. The 'paw slide'. Simply slide paws around baby and prepare for possible close-up.

5. Finally, if a camera is present, you will need to execute the difficult and
patented 'hug, smile, and lean' so as to achieve the best photo quality.

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something special with your dog.

Thursday, March 8

Rescued Dog Rescues Owner

I hear about stories all the time where the dog will alert their owner to cancer or another illness or even threats out on the street.  Each time I hear one I am just as amazed as the first time.  A dog's nose is really an amazing and powerful thing and the story below illustrates that perfectly.

Dogster had this beautiful story in their blog yesterday and I had to share it with all of you.  For all of you with rescue dogs it may warm your heart a little extra...

A mammogram — the gold standard in breast cancer detection — failed to detect Lisa Hulber’s malignant tumor. But Effie, her rescued hound mix, did. The dog whose life Hulber saved helped save hers after she sniffed her to the point where she decided to get double-checked.
This time, doctors found Hulber’s tumor, and did an excisional biopsy. But Effie was ahead of them again. She started sniffing around and apparently detected the only lymph node that had the cancer. Hulber underwent a double mastectomy and 20 weeks of chemotherapy, and will soon start radiation.
“It’s hard to go through cancer and stuff like that,” the Michigan resident said. “I’m not a ‘woe is me’ kind of person and knowing what she did for me, that gift, that’s what makes me cry.”
Hulber thinks Effie got her “medical” training on the family’s kitten, who died of cancer. The dog may have associated the similar scent, and it’s easy to make the leap that Effie was trying to tell her rescuer that something was amiss.

I can't say it enough, a dog's nose is an amazing and powerful thing! This is such an impressive thing that Effie did!

Now that Effie found the cancer and her rescuer is on her way to recovery, her real work will begin, to be the comfort and companion Hulber needs.  Pay attention to your dog, you never know what they are really trying to tell you.

Wednesday, March 7

Top 10 Most Popular Dogs Breeds

Everyone has their own personal favorite dog breed and most of the time it is basis based on a childhood dog that was our only true friend or the first dog we got as an adult and saw through all those hard times or it is the pooch that is currently the object of our affection.  In any case, we all have our favorites and the reasons to go along with it.  But are your favorites America's most popular?

The American Kennel Club released their breed statistics for the 2011 calendar year, indicating (according to their registration) America's top dog breeds by popularity.  Take a look at the list and see if you agree...

2011's Most Popular Dog Breeds (according to the American Kennel Club)
  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Beagle
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Yorkshire Terrier
  6. Bulldog
  7. Boxer
  8. Poodle
  9. Dachshund
  10. Rottweiler 
 Now I know my mom will be the first person to call me to say, #9 should be #1.  But for me, I think #1 is just fine.  I actually was not that surprised by the results, except that German Shepherd's Bulldog's did come in higher than I would think they would.  It is a pleasant surprise.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 6

Dog Survives 53 Days In The Wild

Dogster brought us a story yesterday about a dog, Dooley, that survived 53 days in the Nevada desert after a tragic accident that claimed the life of her husband and other dog.  This story is enough to give anyone hope that miracles really can happen.

A car accident in December on I-80 in Nevada claimed the life of Barbara Bagley’s husband and one of their two Shetland sheepdogs, and left Bagley in critical condition. But she never gave up hope that their other Sheltie, Dooley, was still alive after he bolted from the tragic scene.
“Something inside me told me Dooley was still alive out there. I wasn’t 100 percent sure, but I didn’t grieve for Dooley like I did for my husband and our other dog,” Bagley told the Associated Press.
There were occasional potential sightings of the 4-year-old dog, but the desert is a harsh environment any time of year, and it was hard to imagine Dooley was still alive as the weeks went by. But volunteers persevered in their quest to reunite Bagley and Dooley, just in case her intuition was right. Something that meant so much to her could not be given up on just because it didn’t look good.
Four  weeks after the accident, Bagley heard of a “Lassie-like” dog spotted very close to the scene of the accident, but the dog could not be found. Weeks later, a railroad crew sighted a lookalike dog, but it kept evading his rescuers, too skittish and quick for their maneuvers. It took someone on horseback working with someone in a Jeep to outmaneuver the dog and capture him.
It was Dooley all right. Bagley was overjoyed. The poor dog had gone from 44 pounds down to 20, and had apparently survived by eating roadkill, like a dead coyote along the road, and drinking from occasional puddles. Bagley herself was well enough, though, to start taking care of him again.”He couldn’t have survived much longer out there,” she said.
And as you have probably guessed, Dooley has been the best medicine for Bagley.
“He’s the physical and mental affection that I need to recover,” she said. “I owe him so much for the hope I have now and the renewed faith I have in prayer. Dogs are so great because of their unconditional love.”
Bagley believes her husband had a role in Dooley’s safe return home. “It’s a message from my husband who was looking out for him,” she said. “It was a miracle.”
It seems like Dooley was rescued and returned to safety just in time to rescue Bagley.  I am very happy for Dooley and Bagley and wish them both well.

Friday, March 2

The Power Of K9 Love

This week has been a roller coaster for me due to a lot of personal and professional issues, so as the last of at least the professional issues came to a resolve yesterday, I realized I had to share the amazing experience I have had with my dog Neville.  As all of you regular followers know, Friday's are for the feel good stories and today will be no different, except today is a chapter out of my own life.

This week started on a not so great note and each day seemed to present a new challenge and create a new emotion to go with it.  Neville started the week being a little put off by my mood, he seemed very unsure on how to approach me, so he would default to a silly behavior, which would always get me to at least smile and sometimes laugh.

As the week went on, the professional side of the issues heated up and in a three day period I went from happy to sad to irritated to mad and back to sad.  Each day I would take longer and brisker walks with Neville the whole time talking it all out with him.  When we would return to the apartment I would sit and thank him for listening and his eyes would look at me as if to say he understood and all would be okay.  Sometimes he would even add a little lick on the face.

Then yesterday, the issue came to a resolve.  It was over, yet my emotions were not.  As I cried and became angry and cried some more and even laughed a couple of times, my faithful and loyal friend sat by me and listened to everything.  When I would cry he would get closer and comfort me any way he could.  When I was angry he still was listening but was further away, but those understanding eyes never left me.  And when I laughed he was there to flip around on the couch and offer more of those silly behaviors.

At the end of the day I realized something all over again that I know I already knew, that my dog Neville really is my best and most loyal friend.  No matter what, he will not leave and when I am at my most fragile, he becomes my strength.  This dog that is suppose to be so fearful and fragile himself is one of the strongest and most confident souls I know.  I say all the time I don't know what I would do without him, and I don't remember my life before him... such a true statement.  My Neville guy, I love you so much.

I have always had dogs in my life and I know how magically their love can be.  I don't know if it is their eyes that look at you with unconditional love, their calming energy or their amazing ability to sense everything you feel.  But whatever it is, there is no great comfort in the world than your loyal four-legged companion.

Happy Friday!  Don't forget to do something special with your pooch this weekend!

Thursday, March 1

What's Up Downtown March!

Happy MARCH! Wow, this year is going fast and Spring is upon us, time to get out there and enjoy this beautiful city.  March is bringing us some great things...

There are great selections of concerts, theatre, dance and operas to see, museum exhibits opening and ones you can catch the end of and wonderful speaking events to enrich your mind and soul.

If that is not your cup of tea and really enjoy the night life or just being out and about... try a new place in town.  A few I am going to try are The Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar in Bunker Hill the name has me curious, Papi's Pizzeria in the Historical Core I am not one to pass up a new pizza place, Excalibur Knights Place in South Park I find myself intrigued and it might be the perfect place before a King's game, and finally DBA Coffe Bar at The Last Bookstore coffee and books are the perfect combo for me.

Whatever you do, do it Dowtown, keep it local and keep supporting our amazing community!