The Right Stuff: Every Dog Has Her Place

Pippy Tay didn't look much like a purebred Border Collie; I'd bet money that most shelters would have described her as a BC/Labrador cross. She was big, almost 60 pounds, as long as a table, and had a large, square head that had Labrador written all over it. But she was a Border Collie, the daughter of one of the top trial dogs in the country, and she had an outrun around sheep to break your heart. Early in her training I visited a handler's farm in Iowa, to get a lesson and work her in a new area. Unlike my little farm, the land was perfect for long outruns, where you could send your dog from the top of a rise, watch them run a semi-circle through a sweeping valley below, and gather the sheep from as far away as you wanted. We trudged to the top of the hill, and Doug said: "Go ahead, Read More

Holiday Wishes

May all of us savor what we have, and not let what we don't have interfere with our gratitude. May all of our dogs, cats, horses, birds, ferrets, rabbits, sheep, cows (etc) live the best life they can, secure in knowledge of how much we love them. May the people who abuse animals, whether through fear or ignorance, learn the joy of a relationship built on kindness and understanding. May the four pounds I've put on in the last few days melt away, somehow, magically, whilst I continue to savor the joys of consumption. Wishing you love, relaxation and oxytocin-filled contentment over the holidays. I'll be back posting next week. Here are a few scenes from the farm, inside and out: (anyone for a picnic on the picnic table?) xx Read More

Pets and Holiday Visitors

Trainers and behaviorists can all tell stories about the calls they get around the holidays. Those of you who are trainers can no doubt tell some of your own. (I'd love to hear them!) Not uncommonly, we hear "Aunt Polly is coming tomorrow and she hates dogs and I have seven of them and they've never been alone in a room or in a crate and I can't board them and I was wondering if you could tell me what to do." (Answer: Pack dogs into car, drive elsewhere, leave note on front door for Aunt Polly that you've been abducted by aliens?) From the other side of the equation, I've heard lots of dog lovers struggle over what to do when company comes and their dog doesn't do well with visitors. One holiday season, years ago, I had five "do I have to kill my dog cases?," all serious bites to Read More

Oxytocin the Wonder Drug

I've finished Made for Each Other, and do indeed recommend it for people who are interested in animal behavior in general, and specifically the biology behind the relationship we have with domestic animals. It's primary focus, as the title of this blog suggests, is the power of oxytocin and its role in initiating and maintaining our interest, attraction to and bond with other animals. As an addict of hugging friends and stroking doggy bellies and kitty ears, I loved learning even more about my favorite drug. Our levels of oxytocin double while we are petting our dogs, so I hereby consider lying on the living room floor and rubbing Willie's belly as "working out." The benefits of oxytocin on our health are little short of astounding: * An enhanced immune system * A decrease in the Read More

Lassie Fine, Special Sale for Trainers

Thanks to all the kind readers who sent their best wishes to Lassie. Good news: she seems fine. I'm hoping it was just one of those "dietary indiscretions" that come and go into all of our lives. Fed her tiny meals, low fat, gave her Pepsid as instruction by Dr. John for acid stomach (common if kidney problems). I am taking her in to the clinic though next week, just to get a chem panel and check on her kidney function. Assume all is well if you don't hear anything, no news being good news and all. Ah these old dogs. Thanks for your stories about your own, I love hearing them. Speaking of news, I promised my staff I'd say something about the Professional Trainer Special we have on right now for people who use the Family Friendly Dog Training book for classes or clients. I don't like to Read More