Play Bows as Meta-Communication

snow early winter 2012

We all know the signs of imminent danger between two dogs right? Immobile stiff bodies, direct eye contact, round eyes. Except when dogs are playing and then the exact same postures and expressions are nothing but pauses between frolics. That is a perfect example of what's called meta-communication, or communication about communication. Here's a video of Willie and his new friend, Leo--the new pup of Katie Martz here at the office--illustrating meta-communication as well as any two dogs could. I look forward to your comments about it. First, some background: Yesterday they met for the first time, and it went beautifully. Katie stood 40 feet from the door with Leo as I let Willie out and asked him "Where's the Dog?" We played tug when he looked at Leo and then back at me. After 2 Read More

What’s In Your Library?

pinwheels

Now that winter is here, it seems like a good time to talk about some good books and DVDs to keep us busy during those long, dark evenings. Here are a few books and DVDs that I've enjoyed, some dog related, some not. AWAY TO ME DVD: First, check out the trailer for a new DVD that has just come out, Away to Me! Anyone who works sheepdogs or likes to watch them will be interested in this video. I got to see the entire thing before it was finished, and it has some of the best scenes of close up interactions between dogs and range ewes I have ever seen. it follows three handlers as they compete in the well-known Soldier Hollow Classic sheepdog trial in Utah. Here's the movie's website where you can order it. UNLOCKING THE ANIMAL MIND, is a great book by Franklin McMillan. Subtitled How Read More

New DVD on Animal Assisted Therapy!

PMCC_DVD_Art&Science_f

We just released a DVD of the seminar I did in Naples, Florida on Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities, "Lending a Helping Paw." I'm excited about it, because it gives me the opportunity to help individuals and organizations who want to help others. It is an example of an activity we can do with our dogs that is a triple win (for us, our dogs, and people who need some oxytocin and/or physical therapy). Because of that, old social worker that I am, it's near and dear to my heart. Speaking of hearts, and what fills ours with happiness, the question arises about how effective AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) and AAA (Animal Assisted Activities) really are. I remember a conference put on by the Delta Society many, many years ago that included a controversial study. It showed that, in this Read More

Missing the Sense, Scent of the Missing

mom with stuffed A's

Part of the fun of preparing for the seminar I did in Orlando was working on the canine olfaction section. The overall topic of the day was Canine Communication (often compared to primates like us), and most discussions in this vein emphasize visual communication. That's all well and good, I'm a visual signal groupie from way back, but I loved beginning the day talking about scent, and imagining what it would be like to be able to use one's nose like a dog. We all know, intellectually anyway, how important smell is to dogs, but because we tend to be so oblivious to it, it is hard for us to imagine (Example of our obliviousness: What's the common word used to described people who can't smell?  Yup, there isn't one.) Hard to imagine what it's like to be a dog (okay, impossible), but here Read More

Therapy Dogs – Born or Made?

sunrise 1-12

As many of you know I recently presented a seminar on animal assisted therapy in Naples Florida. (Yes, it'll be out as a DVD later this winter. Happy Dance!) One of the motivations for doing the seminar was the number of clients I had who wanted me to help them prepare their dog for therapy work. Sometimes it was like swimming downstream on a warm, cozy river. Their dog was a perfect fit and ended up doing wonderful work in the community. Other times... well,  it was reminiscent of trying to paddle up a cold, frothy waterfall. The fact is, therapy work can be hard work, and it takes a special kind of dog to be both good at it and to enjoy it. The directors of AAA and AAT (AAActivities and AATherapy) will tell you that one of their greatest challenges is working with people who want to Read More