What Are You Thankful For?

Tootsie back 11-23

Well, I keep putting off writing about the emotion of disgust (and soon jealousy and guilt), but it's Thanksgiving tomorrow and it just didn't feel right to be writing about such a negative emotion. Emotions are catching; maybe writing about disgust disgusts me enough to put me off? Sounds amusingly logical, but I think it's more that I'd rather take this time to reflect and savor some gratitude. Disgust sounds like a good topic after I eat too much this weekend. Gratitude is a good topic for today, yes? (Question: Is it an emotion?) Gratitude is good for us, and often what is good for us is good for our dogs and other companion animals. I don't say that in a vague, gosh-gee-whiz kind of way. There is some good research showing that taking time to be grateful, whether it's writing a Read More

Cats and Shelters

sushi hay 9-10

I did a fund raiser for my  local shelter last night, the Dane County Humane Society. They are about to open a state of the art facility for cats, designed to treat cats with ring worm (a fungus, not a worm) so that they don't have to be put down (as they often are at shelters, even some 'no-kill' ones.) They have developed a nationally recognized treatment program, and a new facility just for cats is part of the program. They call it the FIT Center (Feline Infectious Treatment? I'm making that up.) and it will be opening up next week. Yeah DCHS! I am bushed today, but am so gratified to be able to help. Over 200 people attended, we raised lots of money thanks to a generous community and I auctioned off Willie's slightly used Polly the Pig stuffed toy and discovered it's really really Read More

Willie & Sushi (and Hope) Update

W play pool 6-10

A reader asked for an update about Will and Sushi, so I thought it was time to fill you in on how it is going. I'm happy to report that things are going extremely well. (Whew!) The entire story would be a chapter in a book (and probably will be!), but here's the summary: Problem: Willie stalking Sushi the cat. As I said in earlier posts, this is very different from "chasing the cat." Cat chasing can be a serious problem, don't get me wrong, especially if it is predatory and not initially motivated by play, but "strong-eyed" herding dogs who automatically go into a stalking posture around a cat are a real challenge. Using positive reinforcement for, say, looking at the cat and then turning to look at me for a treat or a toy wasn't working. The primary problem is that once a Read More

Aggressively Obsequious?

A recent comment from blog readers brought up a fascinating issue. I'll just introduce it here, and then continue delving into it as time goes on. Here's the question: Is it possible that dogs who appear to be super submissive are, uh..., not? I think the answer is yes. I say 'yes' because I think there's a difference between a dog being "submissive," in the sense of not needing to be high up in the social hierarchy, and dogs who perform "submissive displays" enthusiastically. I had a female BC once, Bess, who was a classic high status bitch. She never fought, but she did take her toy over to a visiting female once, put it down on the ground between the two of them, and then trounce the visitor for starting to sniff it. (Those of you who have attended my seminars know that this is when Read More

Leave Tomorrow!


Hard to imagine we're on our way to Africa tomorrow. Even though it's my fourth trip, going to Africa still seems like something I could only dream about, never really do. Of course, the only dreaming at this point is of things I might have forgotten, and worries about leaving the dogs and the sheep. It will be such a relief to finally be on the plane and let it all go. I think of trips like this as white water kayaking (not that I've ever done it!)... You prepare carefully and meticulously, then launch into the rapids and go with the flow. The most fun of the preparation has been reading up on the behavior of the animals we'll probably see. For example, I've been reading about the comparative social systems of Golden Jackals and Black-Backed Jackals (coyote-like canids, common in both Read More