Introducing A New Dog: Maggie and Willie as a Case Study

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In hopes it will be helpful to others in the same situation, I thought I'd outline how I handled the introduction of lovely little Maggie into the family. Here's some background on the actors: 1) Willie: Eight-year old BC neutered male, at one point extremely aggressive to unfamiliar dogs, relatively comfortable outside now with new dogs, but tense when unfamiliar dogs come into the house. Willie is a classic alpha-wannabe: Fearful but desperate to maintain control. He is very responsive to acoustic cues from me, 99% of the time a sweet, lovely dog, but can lose his temper around other dogs and be downright rude and inappropriate when tired and/or stressed. Willie at his worst? Think Jack Nicholson's face in the movie The Shining. Willie at his best? The best dog you'll ever be lucky Read More

Is Anthropomorphism a Dirty Word?

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The short answer is no, not always. As a matter of fact, our ability to attribute human characteristics to non-human animals is an impressive ability that we should be proud of. In addition, it can make us better dog owners. Lest you think I've lost my mind, let me explain, this time with a longer answer. Go back to about 40,000 years ago, when people began creating figures that combined features of humans and animals. We don't know their purpose, but we do know that our tendency to combine human and non-human characteristics is ancient. Archeologist Steven Mithen argues that anthropomorphic art suggests that hunters were attempting to identify empathetically with hunted animals to "better predict their movements." The term was actually used most often in early history as imagining Read More

Meet Maggie

Happy Maggie

Yup, Redstart Farm has a new member of the family. Maggie, a 15-month old female Border Collie from Idaho, has stolen the hearts of us all, Willie especially. He is gobsmacked. In love. Head over heels. Watching the two of them play has become one of my greatest joys in life. Those of you who have been following the farm for awhile know that finding the right dog for Willie hasn't been easy. He started life as a puppy pathologically afraid of unfamiliar dogs. He grew into an adolescent torn between fear and the desire to control everything, the kind of dog I call an "alpha wanna be." He has always loved to play with dogs who also loved to run together outside, but became tense and a tad crazy if they came into the house. Remember Jack Nicholson's face in the movie The Shining? Read More

USDA Internet Sale Regulations

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Mea culpa. Awhile back I hastily posted a Here Here! on Facebook about the new USDA regulations targeting internet sales of dogs. The regulations narrow the definition of "retail pet stores" in order to regulate the sales of animals sold "sight unseen," an increasingly common situation given the vast reach of the internet, and the increase in the number of puppies purchased by buyers who have no idea how they were raised. The responses to my FB post came in fast and furious and can be summarized by the following examples: "Oh, Trisha, it makes me so sad that you think that is what they have done. Please educate yourself further. This is not a step forward for the reputable breeding community." "Yes and by doing so, they are requiring everyone with 4 intact females to raise their Read More

Resource Guarding: Treatment and Prevention

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Years ago, I took care of a gooey-sweet adolescent Border collie, (Tilly, I'll call her) who flattened her ears and folded like a bird's wing every time you said her name. She was responsive and polite, and the other dogs seemed to like her as much as I did. It was especially rainy when she visited, so I appreciated that she never objected to endless paw wiping and toweling off, not to mention body checks for ticks and dental inspections. One morning I saw that she had grabbed something from the leaf litter in the woods, the kind of "something" you figure would be better off melding its way into the soil rather than ending up in the stomach of even the hardiest of dogs. I couldn't tell what it was, but it looked well on its way to rotting itself into organic mush. Probably not the best Read More