Ouch: The dangers of sticks as dog toys.

W & M Kong stick

Last week I spent a few hours in a veterinary emergency clinic, providing emotional support for a friend whose dog had gashed his throat on a stick. He's fine now, but it could have been much worse. One friend's dog almost died after impaling his chest on a stick. It missed his heart by millimeters. I don't write this to make anyone paranoid about playing fetch with their dog, but as a word of caution. I should say that I've tossed thousands of sticks to dogs in the past, and I still occasionally pull a stick out of the wood pile for Willie to run around with. People have been throwing sticks for dogs to retrieve for eons. But then, people have been giving dogs cooked bones for decades too. (I remember a vacation in Jamaica during which the visiting Americans snatched cooked chicken bones Read More

Dog Food Logic: The Science of Canine Nutrition

tomato pie 2014

A few days ago I told Jim that we needed to cut down on Tootsie’s food because she was getting pudgy. Easy and obvious, right? Dog getting fat, feed less food. Less obvious, but equally important, is that if we cut back too much on her food she might not get the level of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that she needs for optimal health. As a couch potato dog, she needs not just less food than my active, working sheepdogs, but different food altogether. That isn’t earth shattering news to most of us either, but what IS new—refreshingly so—is a readable, fact-filled book that explains exactly what “different” should mean. That important piece of information comes from Linda Case’s book, Dog Food Logic: Making Smart Decisions for Your Dog in an Age of Too Many Choices, published by Dogwise. Read More

A Wolf Called Romeo

wolf called romeo

Just a quick note: I was lucky enough to get a pre-pub copy of a book titled A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans and can't recommend it highly enough. I  just heard that it is now officially out, and I suggest that you drop what you are doing and order it right now. It's about a wolf who appeared one day outside of Juneau, and began a six-year odyssey of relationships with local dogs, curious onlookers, the predictable wolf haters and those who understood enough biology to be both riveted and worried about what might eventually happen. Nick Jans was one of the first people to spot the wolf; that's his dog on the cover, during the wolf and dog's first meeting when Jans was sure his dog was about to die. Instead, Romeo began a unique and compelling relationship with local dogs, Read More

New Thoughts about Barking

maggie barking

Have you seen the stage play, Sylvia, in which a man brings a stray dog home from the park and adopts it? The dog is always played by a woman, who often barks at appropriate (and inappropriate) moments. Except, as a person playing a dog, she doesn't say BARRR RARRR or WOOF. She says HEY! HEY! HEYHEYHEY!!! I saw the play with a girlfriend, another dog lover, and we both thought that "Hey!" was a brilliant translation of dog barks. Not to mention being hysterically funny. Every time we saw each other for months we'd bark HEY! HEY! HEY! at each other. And crack up like school girls. But what are dogs "saying" when they bark?  We don't know, but there are two primary hypotheses about what is going on when they do. 1) Barks are examples of "referential communication," in that each bark Read More

Holiday Weekend Fun

W-M tug Beechwood

True confessions: I'm just back to work, after a lovely holiday weekend with Jim, Maggie and Willie. (Tootsie got to stay home with a farm sitter and be Dog #1 all weekend. I suspect she loved it.) No time then to do research on this week's blog, but here's a scrap book of some of our fun: We stayed at a dear friend's cabin in the woods about 2 hours away from the farm. Here's our favorite road sign of the trip: I will leave it to your imagination to imagine the jokes that ensued. We did find ourselves needing to stop at a gas station soon after seeing the signs though... Maggie and Willie loved where we stayed. Forty acres of Maple-Birch-Beechwood woods, great hiking trails and our very own pond with water lilies, a resident Kingfisher, and Bullfrogs whose croaking sounded so Read More