What Do “Dog Walkers” Need to Know?


Dog walkers do not show up on my radar very often, living as I do on a farm in the country. Jim and I are the dog walkers, and we like it that way. However, I am also aware how very lucky we are to have the time and the logistics to be able to take our dogs on long walks. Certainly I've worked long hours--I've seen many a twelve-hour day in my time--but I always had the luxury of working close enough to run home to let out dogs or to bring them to my office. There have been some days, especially when I taught at UW-Madison, that I had to ask a friend to take my dogs out (thank you Harriet!), but those days were relatively rare. Nor have I seen a lot of clients as an animal behaviorist who came to me because they wanted to be a dog walker and wanted to know how to get started. But when a Read More

Feral versus Fearful Cats

Nellie 3-2014 Igloo

Our resident cats, Nellie and her daughter Polly, arrived almost two years ago thanks to friends who found a starving, half-dead adolescent cat in their yard. They took her in and nursed her back to health--which included discovering that she was pregnant, helping her raise five kittens and finding them all wonderful homes. No one ever wondered if Nellie had been a feral cat: She walked up to the first person she saw and began rubbing and purring, behavior that she continues to this day. If you came to visit the farm she would behave as if you are the most wonderful thing that has happened to her all week. Nellie, the feline Labrador. That same summer, as some of you may remember, I also had a pregnant cat show up on the farm. She was so secretive that I didn't know she was there until Read More

Response to New Topics Request

class 1 barn 50%

Seek and ye shall find.  What a great list of topics that blog and Facebook readers came up with! There were over 100 topics suggested, many of them addressing excellent questions. For example: What does it mean if a dog greets other dogs with a high head and tail, and yet lets all the other dogs rule the roost? Why do dogs mount other dogs--is it really just about social status? Do dogs learn best through a particular sensory modality, given that people tend to be "visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners?" These topics, along with posts about recent research, videos and case studies, should keep us all happily discussing dogs and their humans for a long time to come. I thought you all might be interested in the topics and had considered listing them for you, but a full list of 100 Read More

MeMe Gets Skunked; Kitten Update


Here's an interesting case for you: A good friend has a lab cross, MeMe, who was badly skunked a few nights ago. This appeared to be a direct hit to the eyes, the poor dog was rolling desperately on the ground, gagging repeatedly and batting at her eyes. MeMe got medical care and appears to have recovered, but here's her owner's question: When Debby found her, she cringed and cowered, "belly nearly scraping the ground, eyes averted and tail down." Debby said she looked like she was afraid she was about to be hit, although that has never, ever happened. (Okay, it's not like I live inside the dog's collar, but I know Debby, and believe me, she'd no more hit a dog than I would.) Debby was not scolding MeMe in anyway, but MeMe still had her head and tail down in the positions that people Read More

Helping Feral Kittens

OJ w: Scott

  Happy Day! The first kitten just went to her new home. OJ, the little orange and white female, is going to a good friend and yoga coach, Scott Anderson and his wife Collette. They both adore cats and have moved heaven and earth for them if the need arises (think the feline version of Willie's surgery and year long rehab). I am still all oxytocin-y about the whole thing. Here's Scott and the little girl right before they went home:   In hopes it is helpful to others, here are some things I've done (so far anyway, this adventure is far from over) and some things I've learned along the way: CAPTURING: It was clear early on that taming the kittens so that they let me catch them in the barn was not going to happen. If you want to start socializing kittens when they Read More