Possibility Dogs: Review and Q & A with Susannah Charleson

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Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing, has done it again: Given us a page turner that is exquisitely written, and rich with both emotion and information related to working dogs. However, this time the dogs aren't search and rescue dogs; although in some ways you could suggest that's exactly what they do. The Possibility Dogs, just released a few days ago, directly relates to last week's post about Psychiatric Service Dogs, because that's what it is about: dogs who help people function, and in some cases,  heal. Some of these dogs seem able to search out people in need as if following a scent trail, and "rescue" them by their insightful awareness of what a damaged person needs. As in Scent of the Missing, The Possibility Dogs entwines incidents from her own life, insights into Read More

Why Do Male Dogs Scent Mark So Much?

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Answer: We don't know, but some research discussed Friday at IFAAB by Dr. Anneke Lisberg might have shed some light on the topic. Those of you who have been following the blog for awhile know that Anneke is one of the few people studying chemical communication in domestic dogs. Although chemical communication is central to communication in many species, including our dogs, it is exceptionally difficult to study and very few people have made the attempt. It doesn't help that we primates are primarily visual and most of our chemical communication is unconscious. In previous studies (Lisberg and Snowdon 2009), Dr. Lisberg found that males and females both investigated the urine marks of either sex, although neutered males were less interested in urine from females than from males. Urine Read More

New Seminar in August, Chicago, Illinois

Oh boy, what fun. As many of you know, I'm not doing many more full day seminars anymore, but I couldn't resist pairing up with the Steve White for a two-day seminar outside of Chicago, Illinois on August 10th and 11th of this year. Thanks to a Facebook reader who jumped in with dozens of others with ideas for a title, we are calling the seminar Sense(s) and Sensibility. Thank you Mairi and kisses to your lovely dog, Layla! On Saturday, I'll be doing an updated and expanded version of  "Lost in Translation," or How Dogs use Sight, Sound, Smell and Touch to Communicate. As usual, I'll take a comparative approach, looking at the way our sensory systems (notice the focus on vision?!) affect the behavior of the animals at both ends of the leash. The day will be full of slides, videos and Read More

Safe Off Leash?

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Last weekend Jim, Willie, Tootsie and I stayed in a lovely log cabin owned by friends in the woods in eastern Wisconsin. I mention that because for the first time in her nine years of life, Tootsie got to run off leash in an unfenced area off the farm. Wooo Hooo! Some people might not understand what a huge step that was for a little puppy mill dog, but I'm guessing that many of you get it completely. I was over the moon with happiness that I could unsnap the lead, and trust that she would stop when told, come when called, and as importantly, get to sniff and explore with more freedom than she's ever had in her nine years of life. The decision I made got me thinking about the issue in general: When IS it safe to let a dog off leash? What do you need to know to evaluate the risk and Read More

MeMe Gets Skunked; Kitten Update

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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