Update on Hope


Here's the latest on Hope and Willie: Both Willie and Hope continued to be "spooky" to all number of things. This occurred both on and off the farm, and to all sorts of sights and sounds. Willie began high-arousal barking and lunging to other dogs when on leash, and off leash he growled and tooth displayed at familiar dogs he's been fine with for years. He backed away, ears flat and commissure retracted, to men he's known and loved for years. Hope growled, barked and lunged at dogs, strange shapes and heaven only knows what else. Out of the blue, at least to us, one of the dogs would run charging toward the window that overlooks the driveway, making low, growly barks, hackles up, and set the other off to do the same. It was simple, in a way. Both dogs were insecure in their current Read More

A Gift of a Book

Kathy H corn

Gail Caldwell's new book, Let's Take the Long Way Home, is nothing short of exquisite. It is a book for anyone who has had and lost a soul mate best friend, for anyone bonded to another by their love of dogs, or their need for another who understands them without explanation. It is a love story in a way, a memorial to Gail's friendship with a brilliant writer named Caroline Knapp, who most of the world knows through her book Drinking: A Love Story, and dog lovers like us know from her last book, Pack of Two. Gail's writing is so spare and honest and pure that I read the book non-stop, bleary-eyed at 3 in the morning, tears streaming because after Gail and Caroline find each other -- two single women writers who shared living alone, having similar boyfriends (the same one sequentially at Read More

One Step Forward, Several Steps Back

H and W on balconey

The Hope chronicles continue, with progress and problems. The good news is that Willie, on occasion, is stepping up to the plate a bit and not letting Hope bully him as often when they are in the house. As an example, ever since he was tiny, Hope has lept up growling and bitten at Willie's shoulders as they move through space.  At first I  thought it was play, but if it was, it's the kind of play in which one individual is having fun, the other not so much. Sometimes Willie seemed to ignore it, other times he'd tongue flick and look anxious. I came to see it more and more as a behavior related to controlling space, perhaps in part motivated by herding instincts, but rude nonetheless. All Willie needed to do was snap at him one time, and I suspect it would have stopped. I've never seen Read More

Two New Books: The Kingdom of Gorillas, Dogs Can Sign Too

sunrise 8-10

Two more interesting books: A favorite of mine, In the Kingdom of Gorillas has been revised and updated since it first came out a few  years ago. It was written, truth in lending here, by two good friends of mine. I pretty much kiss the hems of their pants, because they are the people who did as much as anyone (actually more in my opinion) to save Mountain Gorillas from extinction. Amy spent years living with gorilla families, and with her husband and co-author Bill Weber, spent years convincing the governments of several countries that a well-managed gorilla tourist program would be economically more valuable than cutting down the remaining forest and growing crops. They are brave, intrepid people who are a big part of the reason that I and my friends got to spend a rapturous 45 minutes Read More

Dogs and Dingoes, Who is Smarter?


When clients, eyes shining, would tell me how smart their dog was, I'd often respond: "I'm so sorry." Of course, I said it with a big smile and we all laughed about it, but the truth is, smart isn't always what we want. Most of us want dogs who are "smart" in that they learn what we want them to learn at lightening speed, but we don't want them to use their cognitive powers against us. Some dogs do just that; I swear I can see smoke coming out of their ears as they try to figure out how to train us to do their bidding. I remember one dog, a brilliant Standard Poodle, who appeared to spend much of her day trying to figure out how to "beat the system." Others, the more biddable ones who came hard wired to want to work as a team (far more rare than the former!), not only rapidly learn learn Read More