Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Michael Vick...MVP?

Like many other Mainers, I had the day off from work yesterday due to the huge blizzard that blew in. So, Like many, I stayed in my P.J.'s and on my laptop. Somehow I navigated to the NFL website. I have always liked football, and although I don't consider myself a huge fan, I was curious at how the team stats looked. It was there that I read about how Michael Vick and Tom Brady were both up for the MVP player of the year.

I had to re read the article..Mike Vick? The dog fighter? The guy who was in jail? MVP?

So...here is a quick recap of how this twisted story of Mike and his BadNewZ Kennels came to be and you decide.

In April of 2007 the ACO in VA seized 66 dog (53 pit bulls) from Mick Vicks Bad Newz kennels. In July of that year a warrant was served and investigators found evidence (in animal remains) of a dogfighting ring. Vick and others were charged with running the ring for 6 years, Vick was arrested and plead not guilty.In December of 2007 Vick paid almost 1 million dollars in restitution and was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison, and banned from ever owning an animal. 49 of the 53 pit bulls spent over 200 days as evidence before they were finally signed over to various rescue groups and re homed.
So here we are...almost 4 years later (he fought dogs longer than not fighting dogs), and has not only reported that he 'wants another dog because he genuinely cares for animals' but is also up for MVP status. Really? Do people change that quick? I doubt it. It wouldn't surprise me if he moved from dog fighting to cock fighting. He has a job (a job that pays him very well), and that is pretty much all he deserves.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays...(jerk!)

sounds harsh..I know. This shout out goes to the schmuck who picked up his dog at the shelter today. His 12 year old lab who wandered out of his yard after he forgot to close the gate. Luckily, she was picked up on Christmas morning by the police and brought to the shelter. I saw her upon her arrival. Wonderful old dame.. I scanned her for a chip..nothing. Looked for a name tag...nada. Looked in the lost reports..zippo. So I gave her a nice big meal, snuggles, a brief walk and a snack before leaving for the night. This morning, I did the same. She was sweet and so appreciative.
Then Schmuck-o comes to claim her. At first he seemed nice, until I told him I needed $47 for the town impound fee and boarding..... $47. You would have thought I said $470! I then needed him to fill out a 10 day temporary license. ...oh the drama! Cranky-pants couldn't be bothered and slammed the pen down. I kept a smile...'kill em with kindness' I told myself The meaner he got..the nicer I became. I retrieved the old girl and walked her out to the lobby, on a leash, and handed her over.
With a grunt, he dramatically unclipped the leash, and snapped at her to 'come here' and walked her out the door. 'Have a happy New Year'..I called out as he left. I watch him climb into his brand new Pssat and zip away. I am still shaking my head in disbelief. Dogs I get..people? A mystery.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Leash work 101

Somehow...what seems like overnight...Brees has become a rascal. What happened to my agreeable, sweet puppy? Who is this cocky corgi living in my house? Something happened to Brees when we had our last herding lesson. OK...I am sure it was happening BEFORE the lesson, but now his brattiness shines on me like a Kenny Rogers Roasters sign. No escaping it!

I have always done the NILFF stuff...but now we are on overdrive. I am asking for downs for everything. Want to eat?...Lie down. What to tug?...Lie down. Want to go out?...Lie down. He is still giving me the heavy sighs (the dog version of an eye roll), but he IS lying down quicker!

Today we worked on his leash manners. No more jumping on and play-biting Gimli or his leash during our twice a day walks. We went to our favorite park, and a normal walk that would take us 40 minutes took about an hour and a half. Liam and Gimli strolled off leash enjoying the smells of the trail, while Mr. Brees and I did 'crazy person' walking, circles, backing up and of course....downs! I brought some mid value treats, a smile and my 'puppy' voice to keep him engaged and the mood fun.

I am glad we have entered this new place in our relationship as I feel I can now ask more from him and am not worried about 'crushing' his young spirit. He is definitely no wall flower! This also puts me right into the place where most people enter a family dog class, so its a good reminder of what its like to raise a teen age dog. Ruff love baby...learn it, live it and love it!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Its a new day...

...thats what I said to Suzanne after our herding lesson today. Brees's puppy card has officially expired. Drive is not a problem, but I have a lot to work on before our next lesson! I will be making a trip to the farm store to pick up a small rake. Our homework includes line work, walk ups, stop, down and 'get outs'!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ring Nerves

Tonight Gim and I had competitive obedience class. We took classes years ago and were well on our way to getting into the ring before our instructor moved away. I never found another instructor who I liked working with so we stopped. More like we stalled. I continued to work, but on the same novice stuff for years, not really knowing how to progress.

I recently found a terrific teacher and we jumped back into classes in October. I love the classes and the material. Its fun, positive and the instructor has us work on different things each week. However, I am not 'feeling the love' for the sport.

So last night I had my friend Jill handle Gim and he just blossomed! So I am considering letting her handle him in the competition ring. I have faith in my dog that he can do it, but I don't have faith in myself that I wont screw him up. I get too fidgety and nervous.

We are having a show and go next month and Jill is going to take him on to see how he works with her. I hope to capture it all on tape!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 9 dog walk

9 dogs doesnt really seem like that many when they are all getting along! Had a great morning walk with humans Rebeccah and Jill along with dogs, Shilo, Kessie, Acre, Copley, Finn, Taley, Liam Gimli and Brees

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

16 weeks already?

I cant believe that Brees will be 16 weeks tomorrow!We have had him for 6 1/2 weeks already? Really? I counted twice on my calender... It seems like it was yesterday we were watching him and his littermates on puppy cam at the dinner table.

Bill and I have found Brees to be the easiest puppy in memory. This past spring we fostered 3 -6 week old littermates who came to the shelter too young and very ill. One of the pups didn't make it, but the other 2 flourished. We split the 2 boys up at 8 weeks and We kept 'Owen' until he was 12 weeks. Owen was a good test puppy for our patience. He was a wild child, who lived on a tether or in a crate& his bite inhibition training was on-going. My dogs tired of Owen and I think they were happy to see him go.

Brees has been nothing but a dream. He is a 'go with the flow' guy who accepted his x-pen, crate and routine from day 1. We started baby 'training' on day 2 and he has been an eager student since. He is a great traveler, playmate and companion. I cant thank Holly and Leonard with Visions Cardigans enough for the wonderful puppy they provided.

Tomorrow we are celebrating his 'birthday' by attending a photo-shoot for the upcoming Fetch-Dog catalog. Depending on how it goes, he may have a part time career as a catalog model! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Puppy Class~ day I

Last night Brees and I attended our first puppy class. It has been a long time since I have been a student of a 'family dog' style class and I have to say, its nice to be on the other side for a change. My instructor, who is also my friend, is a person I really admire. The class had 2 goldens, a lab, yorkie, JRT and PWD and all are freak'n adorable!

Brees has a very busy week...besides his Monday class, he is attending Gimlis Thursday comp ob class with me to watch crate-side. I want to get him used to watching me work the other dogs while staying settled. Then back to herding ducks on Saturday!

I also found out that the Fetch-Dog catalog company wants Liam to attend a photo shoot in December and is a candidate for their next catalog. I am pretty excited for my old guy! Even if he doesn't make the cut, the shoot will be fun, and a good experience for the both of us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dangerous Daycares

I decided to write about daycares after I heard of a local daycare, who also does boarding, is scheduled to have over 100 dogs in its facility for the holidays. It made me cringe. As a former manager of a daycare, I know that 35 dogs in a facility is a lot. A group of 15 dogs in a playgroup is a lot. However if a facility is run correctly, daycare is the perfect place for a young exhuberant dog to get its needed exercise.
The problem with most daycares is that they open with the best intentions, but usually take in more dogs then what is safe, don't create playgroups based on play style, age and size, don't educate their staff on canine behavior and don't give the dogs enough breaks through out the day.
Daycares should ALWAYS do a temperament test on every dog who is considered. A test is only as good as the person who is giving it, so ask questions of the experience of the person (s) giving the test. Daycare should be a place where your dog is safe. Look for a daycare that has a ratio of 1 human attendant per every 6 dogs . Playgroups should never exceed more than12 dogs and should be based on age, size and play-style.
Dogs shouldn't be allowed to play for more than 45 minutes without a break. Breaks should be given in a quiet room preferably with crates.

In a well run daycare, the playroom would be lined with crates where dogs can get mini 'time outs' during play bouts. These time outs are great at keeping the arousal levels low and minimize dogs getting over tired and cranky.
Obedience training should not be ignored. Pulling on leash and door darting are common problems with a lot of dogs that attend a poorly run daycare. The staff should be in partnership with you to help curb these behaviors.

If you or someone you know is considering taking your dog to a dog daycare, here are some things to think about

  1. Visit the daycare without your dog during their 'pick up' time. Is the lobby chaotic? Are the attendants bringing the dogs to their owners in a calm controlled manner?
  2. Does the building have a odor? What is their disease management? What vaccines to they require?
  3. What is their protocol if a dog comes down with kennel cough or tests positive for giardia (an internal parasite)
  4. Does each dog go through a temperament test? What does the test involved and do you get to watch
  5. Are there breeds they don't allow?
  6. How many employees do they have and what is their training? Do they know first aide?
  7. How many attendants manage a playgroup ?
  8. What is their employee turnover rate? (an ill run daycare will have a high rate of turnover)
  9. What is the protocol if a dog gets bit? Is the biting dog excused from daycare? (may seem like a strange question, but I know a lot of dogs who have a bite history who have been allowed to stay in daycare)
  10. Have they ever excused a dog and what were the circumstances?
  11. Is there a vet clinic close by?
  12. Do they allow toys? Snacks? why or why not?

This is just a short list. I suggest anyone considering a facility that they visit a few times and interview them prior to bringing their dog and ask for at least 5 references. If you are able to do so, watch the dogs playing. Are the attendants paying attention to the dogs or are they texting or talking on their cell phones?

Dog fights certainly do happen in daycare, and its a risk that a dog owner should know before they take their dog. However, a well run daycare will have policies and procedures in place to minimize this from happening.

One last note. I believe that if one chooses to bring their dog to a facility they should only attend once, maybe twice, a week. Although a dog may come home tired, daycare is not a substitute for training and can minimize the human relationship. If your dog has separation anxiety, then daycare can help in between training, but is not a substitute FOR training. Daycare should never be a 'lifestyle' for any dog. PS...100 dogs is too friggin many!! There is NO WAY this many dogs can taken care of properly in a daycare setting! ok..rant off...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Keeping my Joy

It was a very exhausting week at the shelter. Too many dogs, and more than that... too many aggressive dogs. We had an incident were a sweet beagle snuck out of his kennel during water bowl fills, and tangled with a dog aggressive dog going for a walk with a seasoned volunteer. It wasn't a fight more than it was a 'grab and shake' of the beagle. The sweet guy never had a chance against the catahoula mix. I used all my 'dog separating' skills, to get the hound to drop the beagle with no success. Luckily, the walker and I stayed calm and finally after what seemed like hours, the dog let go and I rushed the beagle to the office. He had 1 puncture and road rash, but no broken bones. We gave him antibiotics and pain meds. He saw the vet the next day, and was fine & back to his happy beagley self.
The adrenaline rush was extreme and I left work exhausted. It was the second time in a week I faced a line of snarling canine teeth. The first was a JRT who decided my upper legs were fun to hang off. Thank god for jeans...I only escaped with bruising, where my co worker in scrubs suffered a worse bite on her calf. Neither of these dogs are currently on the adoption floor.
My only salvation was my herding fun day with Brees. I made a promise to myself that I would only take the kennel manager position as long as I remember the joy of my own dogs. Compassion fatigue is a huge problem among shelter/rescue work, and I refuse to be consumed by the tragedies of the job. Its not all bad, but it is all exhausting. Its dirty, loud, physical and emotional.
Wednesday I spent the day in company of a peaceful sheep farm with my funny little puppy and a good friend. It gave me a glimpse in what I hope I will have someday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rest is not an option

This month has been nuts...Not only has Brees entered my life, I changed positions at the shelter from volunteer coordinator to kennel manager...except that they haven't replaced anyone to fill the VC position, so I am doing both until they do. I am working to become SAFER certified (the ASPCA's canine temperament test), started teaching 2 new classes, taking Gimli through competitive obedience class and am working with a new therapy dog team. Brees is great and rolls with my schedule like a dream. We have a training session every morning and evening and I am able to come home at lunch (the shelter is only 1.5 miles away from my house) every day to let the dogs out for a good romp.
Next week Brees and I are going up to Appleton ME to see Suzanne White, the herding instructor, and a flock of ducks (pictures to come!)
The following week he starts puppy kindergarten with my good friend/trainer Liz Langham ( I believe that even trainers should take their puppy's through a puppy class!). Once my classes end in December, I plan on taking a 6 week break from teaching. For now, as long as there is coffee flowing, I am good!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beach Day

Fall is the best time in Maine. Once the tourists leave the beaches open back up to dogs and the locals come out of the wood work to walk together. Many long term human friendships have been formed just by strolling the many dog friendly beaches. My favorite is Ferry beach in Scarborough. Its not a big beach but its the best beach at low tide and somewhat of a local secret. It makes me feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. This morning I met my friend Jill and her 3 Golden's Tally, Finn & Copley at 7am to watch the sunrise and let our dogs romp. Jill and I actually met at Ferry beach a few years ago where she fell in love with Gimli and took pictures of him. We have been friends ever since. This morning was a special one as it was Brees's first visit to the beach. He had a great time meeting new people and dogs. He came home one very tired and happy puppy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Normal

Its been almost a week since Brees came home, and I couldn't imagine like with out him! He is everything I wanted in a puppy and more. Teaching puppy classes and looking after foster pups has nothing on this! He is a fun puppy to be with..smart, attentive, playful and easy going.

I know..I know..it could change. I know that this is the honeymoon period. I know this and still look at him with complete perfection.

I have been keeping this week a quiet one. No big adventures other than neighborhood walks. I wanted him to get settled and get the routine established. This weekend we will hit the beach or the fields..depends on the tides.

The only sucky thing is that my camera has disappeared. I haven't seen it in over 2 weeks and it totally bums me out. So I am left to my cell phone for now. I am hoping that my friend (and professional photographer) Jill will come out with me out this weekend and get some shots.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Brees is settling in

After what seemed like the longest drive ever, we made it home on Saturday at about 6pm. Gimli and Liam spent the night with Jill and the Golden's giving Brees some time to settle into his new digs. The long day didn't slow down his need to play! He was a little fussy in his crate, but over all, he had a restful sleep. The big dogs came home Sunday, and although I wish they were a little more excited about his presence, they didn't hate him either. He is learning proper dog manners and respect. He was 'yelled' at when he bit Liams tail. He reacted with a big yelp and recovered quickly. He now knows not to bite the big dogs tail! Gimli has been softer and they have rubbed faces and lay together. I don't think it will be long before they start doing the corgi 'layering' during nap time.

This morning Brees went on his first walk with his brothers. He did well, and was understandably worried with going far from home. But chasing the big dogs was worth the worry. We have worked on the name game (he responds beautifully! Thanks Holly!), recalls, leash work and play, play play!
Today he will spend some time at home alone (well...not completely alone), as I venture off to Target to pick up a better baby gate (not sure why I wasted the money on the cheap one..takes me forever to snap it on the door frame, and it keeps falling) a few more puppy supplies and batteries for my camera.

So far, he has been a very easy puppy. I know I have already cursed myself by saying that out loud.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day Dreaming about a farm

Yesterday we went to the state fair. The only reason I like to go is to see the farm animals...pigs, chickens, cows...I love them all. I always envied the 4-H kids who get to hang around the barns in lounge chairs with their carhartt work pants & boots earning ribbons chatting with the other 4-hers. Growing up in suburban Colorado Springs, my dad had the same dream of owning a working ranch. We moved to Colorado from NY when I was 7 years old in part because my dad had a love affair with the west. He wrote stories, poems about the west and spent his spare time dreaming about his cattle farm , which he was going to name the K-bar-T ranch.

My dad passed the dreamers torch to me and although I don't ever think I want a 'working' farm, I do think a small 'gentleman's' farm with chickens, ducks, turkeys a few sheep and maybe a pig would be nice.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love Connection

After a long drive to Averill Park, NY on Sunday, I finally met the newest love of my life. We chose the name Brees (currently known as Thomas) after the New Orleans Saints quarter back. We aren't football fanatics, but we are in love with the city of N.O. and were visiting when they won the Superbowl. We watched how that victory lifted an entire city, and Drew Brees became an instant hero who is not only an athlete, but has a deep compassion, dedication and loyalty to the people of New Orleans. I imagine that just like 'Brady' is a popular name in New England, many newborn boys in Louisiana will carry the name Brees.

It was great to meet Holly, Leonard and of course the rest of the Visions pack. Holly was wonderful at helping me choose my little pup, and I left feeling confident that the right one will be coming home.

Yesterday I received my latest Dogwise delivery of The Focused Puppy by Deb Jones and Judy Keller and the Crate Games DVD by Susan Garrett. So my day was spent on the couch in my PJ's catching up on my reading, which is a perfect way to spend a Monday.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Today my friend Amy and I will take a 4 1/2 hour trip to NY to meet the Visions puppies. Oh boy...I am dying for a dose of puppy breath! I feel like I have been waiting for 'puppy-time' for forever! Its funny how my once 'why don't you have any human children' relatives are now' send me pictures of the puppy!' I still have a few (primarily my in-laws) who tag me as the weird dog-lady , but most are supportive and have embraced our alternative family. As I look at my living room and the dogs rest in their respective spots, I wonder how they are going to feel about their new pack member. I think Liam will love and nurture any puppy who crosses our door. I worry that Gimli will feel a little put off once he realizes the puppy will be a resident. But he loves meeting and playing with other corgis, so perhaps I underestimate him. In any case, we are as excited as any new parent could be, and count down the days before the little kiddo comes home.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


OK...I just have to vent. Last night I taught a puppy class at a local pet supply store. During the class a familiar face rounded the corner with her 2 pit bulls. It was a face I knew from various dog events. A pet person with ZERO dog handling skills. My stomach sank as she waved hi and was peeking at the class in session. First, I must say I am not breed bias...I have many friends with pit bulls and see some great pits come through the shelter. I am also not naive to the power of these dogs and personally know that this woman's dogs have been aggressive in many situations and that she lives in denial that she has potentially dangerous dogs.

I continued to teach and she continued to shop. There was no drama and I sighed with relief. The class ended, I passed out homework and went to help a student pick out a harness for her poodle.

Then I heard what made me cringe. A set of deep growls and yelling. Shit. I ran across the huge store to the counter and by the time I got there it was over.

One of my students (with a wonderful aussie puppy) was paying for her treats, when Dummy's boyfriend brought one of the pit bulls up to the puppy where it tried to pin the puppy up against the counter snarling then Dummy herself DROPPED the leash of the second pit and it ran up to puppy to get into the mix while my student used her leg to block both dogs from her pup yelling for them to get their dogs. Dummy just STOOD there and didn't even try to recover her dog....aarrgghh! The staff where all circling and the situation was quickly diffused and the Dummy couple left.

The aussie puppy was fine ( luckily, he lives with terriers and can blow stuff off easily). Its people like this who give bully breeds a bad name. Whats scary is that she is clueless (or maybe just doesn't care) at her lack of dog skills. Its only a matter of time before her dogs do serious damage.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shelter Dog Enrichment

I have been somewhat obsessed about 'enrichment' since I first heard about it years ago when Zoos where feeding bears in cardboard boxes and giving monkeys hammocks and toys.Thank god the days of barren cages are long gone! This past spring Bill and I visited the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and were so happy to see that every animal had some form of enrichment in their enclosures. Our favorite was an orangutan who was playing with a big blanket and several boxes. We could have watched him forever.

At the shelter, once the dogs are walked, fed and the cleaning is done, the staff works on enrichment. This is a dream come true for me! This week I did noseworks with a happy-go- lucky pit mix who decided that destroying the cardboard box was too much fun. I also made various Kong's and placed food in empty cereal boxes using all kinds of ingredients.

Now I have been introduced to you tube videos of what other shelters are doing for enrichment and I am hooked! Here is the latest video, and one of the volunteers is picking up the supplies so we can add this extra fun for the dogs.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Interesting week at the shelter

This week has been INSANE! Besides my volunteer coordinator duties at the shelter, I am now part of the kennel staff 2 days a week. Working in the kennels is by far, a more natural environment for me that the volunteer office. I would much rather enter my zen state of mind cleaning 28 kennels than answer the normal 50+ e-mails I get everyday. I was also able to wear my vet tech hat which I haven't done in a LONG time, treating the sick dogs in the isolation ward. I even received kudos by the well seasoned kennel staff for befriending (and medcating) an Akita that no one else wanted to work with. Enrichment is extremely important in keeping a shelter dog busy and sane, so I made enrichment toys for the dogs using empty cereal boxes, peanut butter and dog cookies. It was great to see the dogs enjoying their 'toys'.

I also had 4 classes to teach this week, prepare for a dog walking class and a new volunteer orientation at the shelter AND I have 2 new classes starting tomorrow.

I was hoping to take time in Sept to trial with Liam and that plan went right out the window. The new plan is to work as much as possible in Sept and some time off in October for puppy. Gimli and I are starting our Comp Ob classes next month, so we will see where that takes me :) .

With this new change in schedule, I am going to have to cut back on my teaching gigs to possible 2 locations instead of 4 just so that I can have some face time with the hubby! I am happy to be busy, but when it rains it pours!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Enough is enough...

I blogged last month that we should stop whining about the heat...ok...UNCLE! Mother Nature, you win....please stop this. When schools close in Maine because of the heat...you know its friggin hot. Maine has NEVER closed schools due to heat. Its September 2nd and it feels like the surface of the sun outside and the air is like a hot, wet, wool blanket. The weather guys says it will be cooler after the hurricane passes. I am crossing my fingers that he is right as I am now a big whiny-baby. waaahhh!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Found this mini equipment at yard sale this weekend. Couldnt help myself!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eye Opening Agility Class

Since coming back into agility this spring, I have worked hard to update my handling methods. It seems as though the days of the 'airplane' front crosses are gone and are replaced with a better turning cue using the opposite hand of where the dog is located.

My previous turning cues were ' jump in front of the dog and toss'...but I can see by watching other handlers that the opposite hand turning cue make so much more sense and just look better. I also have what my agility instructor calls 'verbal diarrhea'. I talk too much on the course. Especially when I think its a particularly difficult course for me to handle, and I am not confident. I start running my mouth with lots of 'Here' Go' ' Jump'..blah..blah...blah...

Today, Cindy challenged us to run a course using no arms and no verbal cues except, 'gooood dog','tunnel' (since the tunnels were tucked under the A frame and dog walk), and 'weave'. Did I mention that we couldn't use our arms? 'No Ninja Chops' she said to me...yikes! I walked the course with storm clouds overhead. 'No way will he respond' I thought I wasn't the only one..the whole class was doubtful that their dog could run the course with only forward movement and shoulder pulls.

Well...I kept my arms to myself, and my mouth shut. And guess what? Liam did great! In fact, it was our best run this week. I kept moving and the less I said the more I focused on my body and feet, and the more I felt that I was communicating. Liam had his tail wagging and was MOVING!

Something else I found was that not talking to him so much, slowed my head down so that I could enjoy working with him instead of nagging. Liam is big, smart and obviously knows the sport. It makes me gleeful to work in such a close partnership with him and I love that he is so forgiving on the agility course!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blue Monday

I just cant see to get out of my own way today. The weather has been rainy, gray and stuffy. We have been so spoiled with sunshine that this one gray day has put me into a funk. And I don't think I am the only one.
I had 2 therapy dog visits scheduled today. One at Florence house (which is part of the homeless shelter designated for women only) and the hospital. I arrived to Florence house expecting the usual warm welcome. My dogs LOVE going there! It was complete opposite of what I expected...the woman were grumpy and completely uninterested in the dogs, so we left after 5 minutes. The dogs seemed a little confused about why their usual friends not were wanting to pat and coo over them. So I took them to one of our favorite fields for a romp. Which wasn't really a romp, just a soggy walk. I forgot my rain jacket (I wasn't planning for a hike), so I came home wet.
I cancelled our second therapy appointment as I just didn't have it in me to be social. We are going to agility class tonight and I am hoping that running a course will make me snap out of this!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Big week

This has been such an a crazy week.

First, my dad took a terrible spill and broke his hip. Once his hip was repaired then they found that he had fluid on the brain, so back to surgery he went. Currently he is stable and and speaking a little. He still confused and will be in the hospital for few more weeks before he is moved to a nursing facility. It sucks that he is 3000 miles away living in Seattle WA. My older sister is making the trip out to take care of him.

Then I received my first speeding ticket EVER! All this time I thought my beige mini van was similar to Wonder Woman's invisible plane.... but thanks to officer Wendy...my dream of never being noticed by cops has been shattered.

The only saving grace this week was that Lacey the cardigan had her puppies...5 total. 3 boys & 2 girls ( sadly, one boy the went to the rainbow bridge). I have been plastered to puppy cam so much that dishes are piling & dust bunnies are blowing. I peeled myself away long enough to go to work today (I was able to sneak a peek on my lunch hour ). But here I am..back on the computer and the cam just a keystroke away. Watching newborn puppies is like meditating. Their little bodies randomly pulse in a dream state or watching them pull themselves around with their rubbery legs seeking out the heat of mum. I am trying to study the patterns of black and white flashes so I can see them as individuals. Its like nerdy science and heart melting cuteness all at the same time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Escape from the cube village

Today I made a visit to my former employer, dropping off something for a friend who still works there. For a year and a half, between dog training gigs, I worked a corporate job. I had my own cube, phone, extension and name plate. Steady hours, insurance and paid vacations. I left back in January to jump into the world of non-profit work, dog training and (sometimes) eating ramin for dinner. I wouldn't go back for anything. Although I had a lot of corporate perks, there were more negatives than positives. Like the wacky schedule that didn't allow for me to attend agility classes and forget trialing. I couldn't do therapy dog visits, and the only time I saw any of my dog friends was when they posted their brags on facebook. I spent idle time in my cube writing 'corporate haiku's' and always felt out of place.

Here is a couple of my haiku's..anyone who works in the cube village may understand these cries for help!




Seeing a few of my old co workers reminded me that I made the right choice by leaving. I make it a rule to never say never...but I hope the universe continues to be kind so I can do what I love.

Hoping Molly gets a home

I brought Molly back to the shelter today hoping she will get adopted as Mondays are really busy. The 4 of us headed out early for a long walk and a visit to the dog park for good off leash romp. I tried to film her running on my cell phone..but I couldnt get my act together. She is just so fast!
I gave her a bath and blow dry and then took her back to her kennel. It just about broke my heart. She has a A LOT of fans in the shelter staff and if she doesnt get adopted today, I will bring her home tonight. I wonder if this back and forth thing to the shelter is doing more harm than good. Its been proven that people dont want to' make an appointment' to see a foster dog, but want to meet the dog when they walk in. Cant say as I blame them. I will keep my fingers crossed that today will be her day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Molly the possible foster

I met this fantastic little border collie mix at work. She has been a the shelter for a couple of weeks, and I just fell for her. She is small, about 25 lbs, smart and the type of dog who would break down quickly in the loud chaotic shelter environment. So with my husbands blessing, she came home for the weekend, and may stay with us until she gets her forever home. She is all about comfort, and likes to lay on the couch and snuggle. She loves tug and frisbees. She is fine with other dogs, but is somewhat of a social nerd. She can get a little resource guardy with the dogs regarding people. I am chalking it up to her lack of confidence, and we are working on it. But other than that, she would make someone a fantastic pet/agility/disk dog. At only about a year old, this dog has a lot of potential!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The great crate debate

My newest obsession is crates...more specifically traveling crates. With a new puppy pending, I feel I need to come up with a better traveling system. The one thing I hate about my van (Honda Odyssey) is that the only the front windows roll down. So if I leave a dog in the car (like at agility class), the only way they get good air low is if I open all the doors. The problem is that my big dog Liam is 42 inches long and 27 inches at the withers. So a crate that fits him doesn't leave a lot of room for 2 small corgi size crates. I decided to try a giant Veri Kennel and crate Liam and Gimli together which leaves room for a medium crate for puppy. If the giant kennel works, then I may invest in a XL wire crate which gives good air flow, but isn't great for safety. Or maybe keep the Veri Kennel and invest in crate fans. Aahhgghh...the things that keep me up at night!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Train your kids

I have been having an interesting Facebook conversation with several other 'dog people' in regards to kids and dog bites. More specifically, how kids who hang, hug, drape and flop over dogs and the parents who allow it. I recently had a family who came to puppy class with their 8 week old golden puppy. Mom, dad and 2 kids (a 7 year old girl and a 5 year old boy) arrived to class with the puppy they just picked up from the breeder. During my lecture piece of the class, the little boy kept popping out of his chair and hugging the puppy. I repeatedly asked the boy to not hug, while mom and dad kept nagging him to stay in his seat. I spoke in detail to the family about dog safety and to not allow the boy to hug the puppy. The response I received was 'he is just really excited' (ugh...)

After the class ended the family decided to have me do in home lessons instead. So fast forward a few weeks the puppy is now about 10 weeks old. The boy is still obsessively hugging. But now the puppy is starting to snap at his face. The parent ask me to 'parent' him on not hugging the dog...what?? 10 years ago I would have shook my head and walked away. But after having numerous nieces and nephews drift into my dog life, I am more comfortable talking to young kids about dog safety. However, I always had parents who were there to back up my words. These parents were clueless. Typical overworked people who needed a Golden Retriever to complete the idyllic picture-esque life in their upper class zip code, with no idea that Golden's are dogs and have the ability to bite just like any other dog. The puppy will never be allowed in any other room than the kitchen, and will be ignored in its beautifully manicured yard surrounded by an invisible fence. They cancelled the second visit as they were going out of town for 4 weeks and will contact me once they return. I cringe the day I get that call, but as numb as these people are, they are the ones who need the most help.

According to the CDC the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites. So Parents... please train your kids to respect dogs and to be dog savvy! I don't want to see this (or any) dog come to the shelter for biting when it was the people who set the dog up to fail from the get-go.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Doggie visitor

For the next 2 weeks we are watching my friends dog Copley, an 8 moth old show golden. I feel honored that I was asked to watch such a fine pup. Jill almost sent him to show dog camp, but chose Camp Robinson instead! Besides his show career, she also plans to work him in rally & obedience so she asked me to work on recalls fronts, finishes and focus.

Jill started out as my student in a CGC class with her golden Tally 3 years ago and never before entered the obedience ring. She has surpassed me as Tally has earned is Rally Excellent, CDX and is working on utility.

We quickly became friends and she has become my inspiration. She encouraged me to work on Gimlis RN (we need 1 more leg) and we just found a fantastic trainer to help us with our CD. Prior to Jill, anything AKC gave me anxiety. Not sure why, maybe it was the high test agility personalities I trained with. Or maybe its the reputation that AKC has as being stuffy and old school. I would compete in agility in any venue except AKC. I guess I am mellowing out in my old age! And Jill makes it fun! She always trains and competes with a smile, and is always a cheering section for our friends. I am lucky to have such a supportive friend who pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh....My Aching Back!

This morning I took the dogs to this fantastic trail in North Yarmouth. It was hot...really hot, and the 3 of us needed a cool down. My good friend Jill showed me this trail a few weeks ago and as it goes, I did a lot of gabbing and not a lot of paying attention of where we were going. She led me to this off shoot trail into the woods that led to this beautiful pool of river water and waterfall. It looked like something out of a Tolkien book... simply breathtaking. I didn't find that trail...I took a different trail but it led to a similar looking spot on the river. I stripped my feet of sneakers and socks and dipped my feet into the water. The boys were tooling around in the cool water, and we were enjoying the quiet of nature. Then I had a brilliant idea of walking down the river on the rocks. Mossy covered rocks. I felt like a kid taking going on a rogue adventure (I did have my cellphone...just in case). As I was jocking from one rock to another it happened. In slow motion...my wet bare foot hit a slippery mossy rock. I flew up, and hit hard. I laid there for a minute staring at the trees above. I thought I broke my glasses. They were OK..just a little more crooked now than before. Everything else was fine too. I got up, shook off, and thought 'Wow.....I am doing alright. I hit the ground pretty hard but here I am ready to continue my hike. ' Fast forward 4 hours...I am in pain. Everything hurts and it SUCKS.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If I wasn't a dog trainer, I would be a chef. I love everything about cooking. Visiting farmers markets, food specialty stores, fancy cookware, high end appliances, cookbooks, being in the kitchen, chopping, stirring...all of it. Cooking is a form of meditation...baking is even worse (which is why I only bake in the winter). Time falls away when I am engrossed in a recipe.

My kitchen is far from fancy and I don't have anything high end. But I do have a love for cookbooks. I read cookbooks like some people study for exams. Completely focused and I tune everything out.

Today was a great day of food. Bill and I went to the Greek Festival in Saco and snacked on gyros and loukoumades, which considering all the food they had, was pretty mild for us. We are trying hard to be frugal these days and festival food can deplete a wallet pretty quickly.

We left the festival and went to one of our favorite places, Borders bookstore and I went to visit my porn section...the cookbooks. I found one that almost had an angelic glow surrounding it. It was called My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh. We visited New Orleans this past spring, and I cant wait to get back. Its food lovers mecca.

I opened the book and landed on a simple recipe for a crawfish boil. Similar to a lobster bake...but the mud bugs, corn, potatoes, garlic, sausage and spices are all boiled together and then dumped on table covered with newspaper where your guests pick out what they want. I went to a shrimp boil once and it was pretty much the same, and pretty fantastic. I took the 5 lb book and sat among other store patrons and found myself making low ...mmmm...ohhhh...ahhh. sounds. At least I didn't drool, that would have been weird.

I left the book at the store (at $45...its a splurge I am not ready for). But came home with some inspiration. I think I am going to make a pot of jambalaya this week.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cat Counselor? Didnt see that coming

This time of year is a busy one for local shelters...especially with the over abundance of cats. Last week the shelter adopted out 14 cats while 11 more came in (strays or surrenders). During the adoption frenzy I jumped in to help the cat counseling team match cats with adopters. The next thing I knew, it was decided that I would be trained as a 'cat counselor'. Today was my first day of training, and let me tell you...its not as easy as it sounds.

My trainer Karen is incredibly patient and is just about the nicest person I have ever met. Each prospective adopter fills out a Meet Your Match survey and, depending on their answers, are matched with a cat whose behavior has been tested. The color/description the cat is assigned to (purple, green or orange) depends on the outcome of the behavior test. And thus, a feline-ality is born. But then there are other considerations. Such as the people having kids (and ages), other pets, if they want an indoor or outdoor cat...etc

Since my vet tech days many moons ago I never thought I would ever work with cats so closely. Don't get me wrong, I love cats! I have one. Isaac is 15 and, unfortunately, his kidneys are not well. A sign of old age. But I think I am going to enjoy the kitties as a nice change of pace from the dogs I train and the volunteers I coordinate. There is no 'cat wrangling' here, just matching nice people with nice cats. The picture is of my pal Julie who is too sensitive for the adoption floor and lives in our office. She is looking for a home with no other cats and a person who will forgive her idiosyncrasies and accept her for who she is.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Its so hot....

...that the new casters are telling 'its so hot' jokes...so I wont try to be clever and out do whats been done (over and over). David Letterman once called Maine 'deep south up north'. That just about sums up how hot it is. But should we really complain? Unless you are laying asphalt for a living or putting shingles on a roof ...I think we should just shut it and enjoy our extremely short summer. Heat and all. Just like in a 3 day 'Nor Easter..this heat should just make everyone slow down a bit. Check on your elderly neighbors, visit a Beals Ice Cream stand watch a movie, read a book and enjoy the fact that you can do it wearing shorts.

Winter will be here soon enough and we will all be complaining about why we live in a place where the thermometer dangles around the freezing mark for 3 months. So instead of bellyaching about the heat, embrace Maines inner 'down south'. Sit on your porch in a big floppy sun hat, eat key lime pie and sip a tall glass of sweet tea.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Reset Button

My husband and I just got back from spending 2 glorious days on Damarscottia lake in Newcastle Maine. My good friend let us use her family cottage on 40 acres of woods with a 1 mile driveway and a private cove. At first, I was a little torn about going as this past weekend was 1 of the 2 big dog shows of the year in Maine. However, after watching the dogs swim, romp and enjoy giant raw knuckle bones that I reserve for such an occasion ( at home, Gimli tends to bury bones in the yard and then worries about them for days), I knew we made the right decision. We read... a lot, napped in the sun and picked newly ripened blueberries. At night we lit a small bonfire, watched bats flutter and listened to the haunting sounds of loons. The cottage is somewhat rustic with no electricity or running water,so we grilled every night and ate by candlelight. Here is a picture of me and Finn, one of my dog friends, sitting lakeside.

Monday, June 21, 2010

So Long TV

I broke up with my TV today. He is still in my living room, but for once he has nothing to say. My house is absolutely quiet. My TV and I go way back. To the days of the Shmoo, Little House on the Prairie and Mutual of Omahas Wild Kingdom. I was happy then with only 4 channels and and a black and white TV. At our house, Sunday nights were all about Walt Disneys Movie of the Week and The Walton's.
Fast forward 30+ years...my plasma TV filled with over 200 channels, plus 6 different HBO's and a DVR to make sure I didn't miss a second of it. What happened? How did I get to this place of being completely addicted? Is the outside world so unbearable that reality TV has replaced reality of living? How can that be?
So, just as I did when I quit smoking over 10 years ago, I have quit TV. Cold Turkey. OK...so I still have Netflix and Hulu...I dont plan on being a purist. My brain just needs an entertainment detox and admitting that one has a problem is the first step in conquering it.
So I returned my DVR to the cable company, came home and looked at the dark screen staring back at me. Its like the end of the Stephen King movie Christine. Once they kill her, she is no longer a jealous, insane she-devil, but an old crappy car in a junk yard. My TV no longer has any power over me. At least that the mantra I will be telling myself during this self intervention.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Puppies on the brain

My husband and I have planning on a new family member some time. As I type this our new prospective puppy is (hopefully) just a tiny little fetus not yet detected by ultrasound. However, I already have 2 puppy crates, an x pen and am playing mental tetras when I look at the innards of my van on how to add another dog. I always thought 2 would be enough...but the idea of having a another cardi, and having both my elder boys help me raise her (him?) is just too exciting to not pass up.

Puppy breath, puppy coat, big puppy feet...it all makes me smile! Fingers are crossed that the breeding took and we will have a new baby this fall!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tough Day...

Had a bit of a tough afternoon at the shelter today and shed a lot of tears over a sweet dog that had to go the bridge before her time. I felt lucky that I was able to do a little T touch work on her yesterday while she laid in the grass on a warm breezy afternoon. I came in today hoping to see her again, but she was given the gift of freedom from her neglected body. It was a day that I wonder how people can lack the ability to see suffering, and go one step further to abandon the suffering in a garbage infested home for 3 days. Fly high my little peach...you were loved...at least for a day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The week of dogs

Wow...it has been one busy dog week! Liam started back into agility after being out for almost a year due to a back injury last summer. At 8 years old he is still healthy, happy and not ready to completely retire from the sport. We both LOVE running outdoors and think its the best way to spend a morning!

On Wed both dogs did there second therapy visit to Logan place, which is part of the Preble St Homeless shelter. Residents of Logan place were, at one time, homeless. We are part of a pilot program to use therapy dogs to try get get the residents more social . Since I am also the volunteer coordinator for the animal shelter, the idea of having people who understand homelessness help animals who are homeless makes complete sense. So the program is to try to give people the confidence to volunteer at the shelter and be more involved in the community. Its a big order, but so far my dogs are making great strides with some of the residents. I am hoping we can make the switch from using my dogs to having shelter dogs make the visit. It would be good for the shelter dogs to get out of there kennels and make these much needed trips.

This week Gimli earned 2 legs of his rally novice title at the Wassamki show in Scarborough (woot!). Since pulling him from agility, we have been a little lost on what to do next, and rally is a nice transition for us to go to the obedience ring. Although our runs weren't pretty...Gim was happy and very proud of himself (me too!). Just look at the pride on his little face! We saw some great friends and wonderful dogs...so much fun. Cant wait for the Cumberland show at the end of June!

My aunt Karen and cousin Matt came for a visit this weekend from NY and enjoyed a long walk in the woods with the boys, Jill and the Golden retriever gang. They also got to observe my puppy class and take part of a AKC CGC test. When people visit, its always a guarantee that they will be involved in my dog-life in some way!
Next week...more agility and rally classes, a therapy visit at the hospital and attending another noseworks seminar on Sunday. ok....maybe we can rest in June :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Connie Cleveland is a well known Obedience Trainer, but this could apply to other venues beyond Obedience Dog Competitions...in any venue in life...

by Connie Cleveland

On the occasion of my tenth anniversary, my husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate. I asked that we take a very dear friend, my adopted grandmother and one of the greatest of all the great southern ladies, out to dinner with us.

At dinner, my husband, Brian, presented me with a diamond ring. It was gorgeous and I was speechless, but even as I thanked him, I worried about the expense and extravagance of such a gift. As if he knew that the next line belonged to my grandmother, my husband excused himself from the table. He was barely out of sight when she reached across the table and grabbed me by the shoulder, "I know what you're thinking, I know you think he couldn't afford it and it's too extravagant. I don't care if he had to put a second mortgage on the house to buy it, don't you steal his joy! It's beautiful. Accept it as the token of his love that it is and say nothing about how he shouldn't have bought it for you." Then she repeated, "Don't you dare steal his joy!"

That was the end of the conversation. She sat back in her seat, smiled at my returning husband, and we had a lovely dinner. I took her advice and put my reservations out of my mind. The ring has never come off my finger, but most importantly, I learned a wonderfully important lesson, never to steal another man's joy.

Are you a joy stealer?

"You know if my dog hadn't gone down on the sit, I would have won the class", said, unfeelingly, to the winner.

"I sure didn't think your dog worked that high a score."

"I can't believe you placed, I thought Jane Oneup and her dog would beat you."

"I thought I had that class won! My dog had a great performance," said to the winner.

"Isn't that judge an idiot? I can't believe the dogs he put up!" said to the winner.

"Boy, aren't you glad Mrs Winallthetime wasn't here today or you might not have won."

"You passed that Master test because the water blind was so easy."

"That was the stupidest set of water marks I've ever seen. No trial should end that easily," said to the winner.

Do you discourage or encourage fellow competitors? Do you tell them their goals are too lofty and their dreams too big? Are you trying to be helpful or trying to keep them from accomplishing something that you never had the ability or perseverance to do yourself? It is equally as harmful to steal joy by destroying the dream.
"No Basset Hounds get UD's," said to the owner of the Bassett in Utility class.

"I've never seen a Rottweiler that could do fronts and finishes", said to the owner of the Rottweiler practicing fronts and finishes.

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a UD and a Master Hunter? Do you know how few people have ever done it?" said to the first time dog owner setting out to do both.

When FC AFC OTCH Law Abiding Ezra had both his field championships and 65 OTCH points including all the necessary first places, someone had the guts to come up to me, his owner, trainer and handler and say, "No dog will ever be a field champion and an obedience champion." My jaw drops when I think about it. Isn't it unfortunate that I remember this attempt at stealing my joy much more than I remember all the cards and letters and congratulations I received when those last 35 points were earned?

If you are willing to destroy someone's dream, perhaps you don't realize that it is the JOY of pursuing the dream that keeps the dreamer motivated, not just reaching the accomplishment.

My husband and I travel and compete together. I remember an event, early in our relationship when I watched his Doberman fail articles. "Darn it, " I said, as he came out of the ring," she didn't even try to find the right one!" "Oh", he replied, "but, weren't her heeling and signals wonderful?"

Unknowingly, I had almost stolen his joy. He was celebrating the improvement on the exercise that had been giving him trouble, and I was focused on the failure. Since that experience, Brian and I have learned that the best response to a questionable performance, "What did you think?" That way, if the handler is excited about some aspect of the performance, you can share that excitement. If the handler is disappointed in another aspect, you can share the disappointment. You are safely removed from being a joy stealer.

I hope you have a lot of dreams and goals for your dogs in (the coming year). Undoubtedly there will be moments of disappointment as you venture through the landmines of injury, failures and other setbacks. Remember that the joy of the journey is worth the difficulties along the way and don't let anyone steal that joy. Guard it well and at the end of the road you can own it and revel in it with all the other memories of the trip.

*Permisssion to cross post* a great read for all dog competitors.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

bite sleeves and horse crops

The title of this blog is not what you think! My good friend and training colleague, Shannan, asked me (and 12 other good friends) to help her at the ATTS temperament test in Kennebunk yesterday. I said 'sure' because that's what friends do, not really knowing what I was going to be doing.
I received my volunteer schedule and my job was being the 'weird stranger'. 'OK', I thought..'she knows me, I can do weird'.
I arrive at the event, and start the walk through with the head tester, Bill. Once we get to the 'weird stranger' station, I was given my brief instructions and decided that they should call it 'belligerent' stranger, not weird.
So I spent my afternoon, putting on my best acting chops, waving a horse crop, and yelling (I mean yelling) at Rottweiler's, Dobermans, German Shepherds,Pit Bulls, Bull mastiffs, and the highlight... a 150 lb English Mastiff. They were all leashed and in some cases, double leashed with Bill on the end of one of the lines. I wore a bite sleeve on my arm (you know...just in case), but wish I had brought a box of liver treats ( you know...just in case).
But all the dogs were great..I think I scared a few, but not one dog lunged at me. Notta...nill...zipo. We tested about 20 dogs on my shift, and I was surprised how well the dogs did. Besides listening to my rants about 'lost cans' (you had to be there), the dogs heard gunshots, met a friendly and neutral strangers, had to walk on 2 different types of surfaces and be startled by an opening umbrella. I wish I could have given cookies to all the dogs I yelled at yesterday, but test rules said I couldn't.
I found this test to be most interesting to watch, and wish I could have chatted 'behavior' with Bill, Shannan and Danielle after every dog tested. Being a behavior & training geek, this was really fascinating stuff. for more information on the ATTS, please visit http://www.atts.org/

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What a great day! Had a visit from a good friend and her 2 dogs. All of us went for a hike at Falmouth Community park where the dogs romped & swam and then rolled in day old cow manure that was spread in the fields.(That was more the dogs highlight of the day then it was ours). We then went to one of my favorite watering holes, The Great Lost Bear, had couple of drinks on the patio and declared it a margarita summer. My only regret was not bringing a camera, so I posted a picture of the gang from a visit at Popham Beach in the fall. As you can see, Liam is an honorary corgi.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So long April...you can go now...

Is the month over yet??? This has been one of the busiest months on record. Last week was volunteer appreciation week and we celebrated at the shelter by offering goodies everyday. We had build your own ice cream sundae, pizza day, mardi gras day...etc. I also had classes to teach. It appears that spring not only brings out kittens, but its the time when people get puppies too. I am not complaining...I love teaching puppies! and I hope this is the beginning of more good things to come in the dog training world. Sunday I went to MA for the New England Federation of Humane Societies conference and Monday my dog Liam had a largish lump removed from his side. Yesterday I pulled double duty of working at the shelter and teaching at night.

So here I sit...on my day off still in my PJ's and the dogs snoozing on the bed, and my energy level is just depleted. Later on Gimli and I will make a hospital visit, and then maybe grocery shopping? The only thing I have to eat in my fridge is yogurt and soy milk. I am sooo looking forward to May. Liam and I start back in agility classes (yippee!) and Gimli and I are joining our Yankee Cardigan Club friends for a social and yearly meeting at the Vacationland dog show in Scarborough. I am attending another Noseworks workshop and then there is memorial weekend! BBQ's and beach walks! This year the hubby and I are doing a 'staycation' and plan on making the most of what Maine has to offer. I am also looking forward to hitting a few AKC shows with Gimli to work on rally and obedience titles.

So I say...get-a-steppin April...I am anticipating that May is going to be a way cooler month than you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Really? Seriously?

There are times in life where we all have those SNL moments. Were you just run into a situation that is just so ridicules and sad that all you can do is laugh. I brought my dogs to one of our favorite beaches for a good ball tossing romp. As we were walking we came across this woman, her young daughter and a senior chocolate lab. The old dog slowly approached us, his tail wagging slowly looking somewhat indifferent. I approached him, and was going to give him a pat when I noticed something tied to his collar.
It took me a few seconds to figure out what it was....I recognized the shinny green anywhere. This strange woman tied a full bag of poop to her dogs collar. It was hanging just below this poor dogs chin swinging side to side. Really?...Seriously? I couldn't believe it! When I asked her about it...she laughed and said the dog had to carry his own poop. Really? Seriously? Is this walk supposed to be a punishment for the dog?
Just as the words of discontent were swimming around in my head, a lab puppy (about 12 weeks old) came running to greet this very wonderful and very patient dog, and saved my hide. The puppy jumped up and snagged the bag with a needle sharp canine tearing the green plastic and partially spilling its contents on the beach.
The woman gasped and ran over to untie the bag somewhat cursing the puppy. I watched as she collected the spilled poo retied the bag and then decided to carry it the rest of her walk down the beach. The old dog found a spring in his step and I am pretty sure he fully enjoyed the rest of his walk. Some days there is justice.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring is here! Get out there and enjoy it!

Almost every day the dogs I visit a favorite walking place. There are several that I rotate through from beaches to woods to open fields all within a 25 minute drive from my house. And still there are many places close to home I have not yet visited!

We are lucky to live in such a great state that not only offers dog friendly cities, but dog friendly parks and beaches. I forget how dog friendly Maine is until I talk to someone from away. My relatives from Long Island NY are always amazed that there are not only dog friendly parks, but that they are off leash.

Its important that us dog loving Mainers remember that we are blessed and to not take advantage of the great spaces that are offered to us. Please remember to carry poop bags (and use them!). Be courteous to others on the trails...remember that not everyone likes dogs(*gasp*), so learn trail etiquette and keep your dog close to when passing non dog people. Teach them to come when called and to greet people (especially children!) politely. Always carry cookies and/or toys with you and reward your dog for appropriate greetings. Don't let your dog harass wildlife. If your dog has a strong prey drive, then keep them on leash while in the woods.

Enjoy the great our great open spaces with your canine friend, but remember that we have to share this world with others!