There's been a lot of hugging lately, from dear friends expressing love and sympathy after Lassie's death. And oh, a good hug feels so good, doesn't it? Thinking of it reminds me of how very differently dogs and people express affection and care, and how hugging is so hard-wired in humans, but not natural to dogs. This photo, that I can't attribute to any source but has been all over the internet, is a perfect example of the primate propensity to hug (and a dog's typical reaction). I must have 50 images of people hugging dogs in which the person is beaming with happiness and the dog is looking uncomfortable. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but they are more rare than I suspect most people realize. (After all, we can't see a dog's face when we hug him, now can we?) I do know Read More

Six Words

Lassie went home today. I am thinking of the famous story about Hemingway, in which he challenged his writer friends to write the shortest story possible. All agreed that he won. Here's what he wrote: For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn. Since then, summarizing one's life in six words has become something of a parlor game. I have done so for Lassie, summarizing what she means to me in six words, and I think it would bring pleasure and comfort to everyone who reads this blog if you were inspired to do the same for your own special dog, and to share them, if you would, for us all to read. Here's for my Lassie: French Vanilla. Ice Cream. Summer Day. Off you go dear Lassie, my god how I loved you. Read More

Why Dogs are More Afraid of Men

Clients often tell me that their rescue dog must have been "beaten by a man" when the dog was younger, because the dog is afraid of men and not woman. However, people in the training and behavior field know that almost all shy dogs are more afraid of men than women, even if men have been nothing but kind to them their entire lives. We've always speculated that it had something to do with the way men walked (more assertively?) or their bigger chests, larger jaws, and/or deeper voices. But we've never really known for sure what it was--perhaps it is related to scent: obviously men smell different than woman, and it could be that just 'maleness' is more intimidating. A recent study reported in Scientific American Mind might have shed some light on this topic. (Actually, I read it and jumped Read More


I am grateful for so much. I often spend time every morning thinking about what I am grateful for, but it seems especially meaningful at this time of the year. Here's just a few of the many things I have to be thankful for: I am grateful for Willie's smiling face and his pink tongue. I am grateful for the times when he sends his joy spinning out into the universe. I am grateful to have Lassie still in my life and to be anticipating her 16th birthday party. I am grateful for the black circle around her eye, and the little brush of black on her ear. I am grateful for Sushi's soft, creamy fur, her cat ears and her cat eyes and the fact that she is so very different from my dogs. I am thankful for every day that I get to spend with her. I am becoming more allergic to her every week, Read More

Trouble Brewing, II

A few days ago I wrote a post on how to handle signs of impending trouble if you see it in someone else's dog (Please Believe Me, Trouble Brewing!) I asked for comments from other pro's on how they handle this situation, and from owners on how they would like it handled. The comments sent in response have been so helpful and interesting I thought this topic deserved another post. Here is an admittedly brief summary of how readers responded (see the original post for their complete comments and suggestions): PLEASE TELL US! Several people wrote in with sad stories of clear problems that trainers or vets never mentioned when the dog was younger. Many people wished that someone had said something to them sooner. The trick is how and when you say it (read on!) KINDNESS Oh please please Read More