Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Before You Get Your Puppy...

Here come the holidays! For you humans, I guess it seems like a good time to get or give a puppy as a gift. But puppies aren't gifts, they are living creatures that require a ton of time, patience, and guidance over the long haul, up to 15 years and beyond.

I've got a couple suggestions if you are thinking about adding a puppy or a dog to your family:

1. Don't get your puppy from the internet or from Craig's List. Puppies that are advertised on the internet are probably being bred without much care into their physical or mental health, especially if they are "ready for the holidays". Reputable breeders usually have wait lists for their puppies because they breed responsibly with much care given to temperament and sound health. Beware of any "breeder" selling puppies or dogs online at the holidays.

2. Don't bring home a puppy during the holidays. The holidays can be stressful and emotional enough without bringing a new family member into the mix. Instead, start the process of looking for a puppy or dog as a family after hustle, bustle and emotions of the holidays are over.

3. Don't give a puppy as a "gift" to one family member. Getting a puppy to help your children learn responsibility is not at all fair to the puppy. Adopt a puppy or dog as a family member, not a possession and involve the whole family in caretaking.

4. Don't adopt a puppy on the spur of the moment. Take your time. Determine the size, personality, energy level, and overall characteristics of the dog that match with your family. Humans seem to spend more time investigating the cost of appliances or TVs than investigating or preparing for a puppy.

5. Don't bring home the first puppy you meet. Meet lots of puppies and talk to as many people as you can about different dogs. Think about breed rescues, animal shelters that temperament test and talking to dog trainers about what types of dogs they recommend for your type of family and where to find a reputable breeder. Go to a dog show or to some local dog training events and look at different breeds, talking to the folks that live with them day in and day out. Become a doggy detective in your pursuit of finding your dog. It's so worth the investment of time and energy.
Here's a great way to start the process. Dr. Ian Dunbar and the folks at DogStarDaily are giving away two great books, "Before You Get Your Puppy" and "After You Get Your Puppy" on their website. These books are wonderful guides on selecting the right puppy for your family and what you need to do to give that puppy proper socialization, training, and guidance.

Jenn says that she wishes everyone would read these books before they get a puppy.

Click here and you can download them for FREE.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Toy-Polly Pig!!

Jenn and Eric are finally home from Jenn's big trip to the Association of Pet Dog Trainer conference in California. Jenn presented this year doing talks on the TTouch Method and her work with the North Star Foundation, training dogs for children with autism. She was very happy with how she did, she learned a lot from the other speakers and presentations and she met some other super nice trainers. The best thing about APDT, if you ask me, is that Jenn likes to splurge a bit and buy new toys and bring them home for me to try out. This years winner is Tuffy's Polly Pig.Tuffy's toys are made with multiple layers of industrial grade luggage material to be extra super tough. They are rated on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the toughest made. Polly Pig is a 7. They are also more expensive than your average stuffed toys, ranging from about $15-$30. Let's see if they are worth it.Let's put this pig to the test. First impressions are that Polly is certainly an attractive pink piggy with daisy flowers all over.I try out her foot first and the material feels really good to chew on but I can tell already this is going to be a long term project.Next the ear which is probably the most vulnerable part of the pig, or so you would think.And now I'll try to chew her butt. Boy! This is one tough pig. I have yet to find a squeaker in Polly Pig, but my overall impressions are very positive, even without squeakers. I am happy to add Polly to my toy basket and it seems like she is going to be around for while.

Tuffy's are available nationwide and online. You can check out the other products made by Tuffy's here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lyme disease!

My Jenn has Lyme Disease! I am shocked. I knew she was tired and seemed a little off. She wasn't able to keep up with my blogging as she usually does. But Lyme Disease! Yikes. This is just crazy talk.

Unfortunately Lyme Disease has nothing to do with limes, although Jenn says that she only wishes she just turned green. It is a bacterial infection caused by the Borrelia spirochete and is the most common tick related disease that can be debilitating if not treated early.

Lyme disease is spread by western black-legged ticks and black-legged ticks (Deer ticks) like this one...
Some people get a rash after an infectious tick bite or a fever, headache or something like the flu. The rash can look like this:Jenn didn't have any of that, as only about half of people infected with Lyme disease get a rash. So she had no idea there was anything wrong. Until months or possibly years after being bitten by a tick that transmitted the disease to her, then she started being tired all the time, forgetting things, and not being able to concentrate. She thought maybe she just needed a vacation. It was actually the spirochetes in her brain.

But then the joint pain started, with tingling in her hands and feet making it hard to type. So she decided to get it all checked out. The doctor gave her two different blood test which showed the Borrelia bacteria spirochete in both. The doctor started Jenn on antibiotics, which she will probably be taking for a good long while. She's going to be taking some time off after presenting at the APDT conference so she can rest and get better.

You can learn more about Lyme disease and recognizing the symptoms here.

There's an eye opening documentary all about Lyme Disease that Jenn got called "Under Our Skin". You can watch the trailer and see excerpts here.

Be sure the check your puppy and your self every day for ticks. They can be so small. And if you find one, be sure to remove it properly. Check this article for instructions on tick removal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My 2nd Birthday Party!

Jenn and Eric threw me a birthday party yesterday for my 2nd birthday. It was so cool.
My friends Niamh, Ambrose, Ruby, Oscar and Trudy came and we got to run around in my yard.Ambrose and Niamh really liked my yard. Ambrose has gotten almost as big as me!Bernie went to cool off under the stairs and have some quiet time. He does this sometimes.Shane came and he was very nice to all the dogs. He is very dog savvy.Ruby is my prettiest Aussie girlfriend. We played special Aussie games then she told me off.Everyone got special ruffle bandanas made by Jenn's mom. We all looked so cute, especially me! You can get special bandanas too at
Then we ate cake! Jenn made a two level carrot cake just for dogs decorated with Innova Healthbars and Solid Gold Tiny Tots. Wow! There were two candles on my cake and everyone sang. Oscar really wanted to take the first bite.
But we had to wait while it was all cut up so everybody got some.Then we got to eat it up. Jenn used the recipe on this page.Big Sandy wanted to eat my piece, so Jenn had to make sure we all got our share.I felt bad to miss my girlfriends Mona (who is vacationing in Canada) and Sky (whose person Jesse just had knee surgery). I hope I get to play with them soon.

Now my real birthday is actually September 20th. Jenn says that her nephew Caldwell and niece Kaufman will be throwing another party for me on Sunday. I can't wait!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I'm a Bandana Supermodel!!

Check out my latest occupation! I'm a bandana model for Jing A Ling Dog Bandanas. And there is Big Sandy and Bernie too.
Jenn's mom Sue started making these super cool bandanas as a fundraiser for 4-H Paws N Pals Club in Maryland and it has turned into a new internet business. Sue handmakes each collar and they have little jingles inside, so Jenn always knows where I am. Check out my many poses including this one which is my softer side...
Here is my more serious side...
After a quick wardrobe change, here is my far away glace because I know that I'm not getting paid enough for doing this. Every model has to learn how to give that look.I hope I get to be featured much more prominently, after all, modeling is in my blood. My daddy Jake is a supermodel.

So check out the Jing A Ling Dog Bandana site. I'm on the "ruffle collar" page.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Best New Product-The Thundershirt

Do I look cool or what? This is my Thundershirt and besides that fact that I look very handsome, the Thundershirt helps me chill out during thunderstorms.
Yikes!! A few months ago, I got a little clingy during storms. Big Sandy has been acting more nervous during storms as she gets older and Jenn thinks that I may have learned worried behavior from her. Over the winter, I had forgotten that they are no big deal and it felt safer to try to get into Jenn's lap. I would start to pant, my eyes would dilate and I would do all kinds of stress signs like yawning, shaking off, and salivating a lot during the storm. I just got totally stressed out!

Jenn didn't want to coddle me during storms. She wanted me to learn confidence so that I could handle them on my own and handle them when she is not around. Like a big boy. Here's what Jenn did for me to help me chill out during storms:

1. Before the storm arrives, Jenn gives me a special project. She'll stuff a Kong or get me working on one of my puzzle toys. This helps me keep my stress level manageable and changes my association to storms from bad to good.

2. She puts on a body wrap, a.k.a. the Thundershirt. The Thundershirt calms me by creating gentle pressure on my body. I can focus on myself instead of what is going on around me.

Check out this video on a recent experience during a thunderstorm

If your dog has anxiety about noises and storms, you may want to start some easy association exercises and give the Thundershirt a try. It even has a money back guarantee. Sometimes, is also helps to work with a certified pet dog trainer that can help you develop a plan to help your dog get over his/her fears.

You can read more about the Thundershirt and why it works here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Acupuncture for what ails you (and your dog)

Once a month, Big Sandy gets her acupuncture treatment from Dr. Tina Becker. Now why would a dog get needles stuck in them? Well, acupuncture can be a very effective way to manage pain, boost the immune system, and help older dogs feel better. Jenn's been doing acupuncture with Big Sandy so she doesn't have to go on pain medicines that have lots of side effects.

During an acupuncture session, Dr. Becker places small needles in particular places and then warms the needles up with moxa (which is the thing that looks like a big fat cigar in the above photo). The process takes about an hour and Big Sandy gets all sleepy eyed. Sometimes Dr. Becker will concentrate on particular areas on Big Sandy to influence the kidneys or to alleviate pain in her achy legs. All I know is our old girl sure feels better after her treatments.

You can learn more about acupuncture for your animals here and find a veterinarian near you that practices acupuncture here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Ode to Older Dogs

Jenn wrote a special article about Big Sandy and the special experience of appreciating older dogs. The BS has been having some good weeks. She is moving well, and feeling good. I'm happy that she is feeling OK.
You can check out Jenn's article, which was published online by the Independent in the Pet Issue. Click here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Warning! Royal Tripping Hazard!

Well, there I was, standing in the kitchen minding my own business. And here comes Jenn carrying her breakfast and apparently she didn't see me. Although I'm not quite sure how that is possible. Anyway, she proceeds to fall over me, head over heels and breakfast goes flying. She lands on her butt and I just stood there wondering how she managed that. Frankly, I was just an innocent bystander in the melee. You can use your imagination with the above picture.

Monday, August 3, 2009

4-H Paws 'N Pals

Jenn's been very busy lately training everyone but me! Unbelievable. She's been in Maryland teaching classes and workshops for the 4-H Paws 'N Pals club. This club promotes reward based training and fun dog related activities for 4-Hers. Jenn taught a beginner Rally class and a Tellington TTouch demo using Bernie as her demo dog. As if! Surely, I could be so much more dramatic and exciting than Bernie. Look at him! Boring! Doing everything in a calm, thoughtful way and being so cooperative. Here's Jenn getting the Rally class to practice footwork without their dogs. Then the kids learned some basic Rally signs and got to practice a Rally course.
Jenn was happy that so many people came out to the 4-H meeting and her TTouch demo.She talked the kids and their parents through some slides, lifts and touches.Check out the 4-H Paws 'N Pals website here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Soft Places for Seniors to Sleep

We're talking about senior dogs, like my girl Big Sandy, and helping them to be comfortable, keeping them active, and healthy. Since older dogs tend to sleep more, it is really important they have a place that provides not only soft comfort but support for joints. Big Sandy has several beds that give her body a good place to rest.
She has her favorite Fido Fleece Cloud Bed and she drifts off to sleep whenever she lies in it. It is oval and soft fleece. Big Sandy can prop her head up on the side which she seems to like. Don't tell anyone, but sometimes she pees while she is asleep. (we'll talk about those little leaks later). If she wets her bed, Jenn can throw the whole Cloud Bed in the washer and then the dryer. Jenn has washed the Fido Fleece at least fifty times in the past six months and it still holds the same shape and looks as good as new. This bed costs a bit more, but has really been worth it.
Big Sandy's other bed is an orthopedic pad from Costco which Jenn paid about $20 for. It is made with orthopedic foam several inches thick. It is a large square and definitely big enough the stretch out on. It has a water resistant cover that zips off. So if there is a little accident, Jenn can just wash the cover. This bed was a super bargain.
Big Sandy also really likes a round nesting bed like our friend Bailey's bed.Having a comfortable bed is a very nice thing for every dog to have. For an older dog, it is something that can give their bodies relief even if they have to share it sometimes. When I was smaller, Big Sandy and I could share the same bed. But now I know that I need to respect her space.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Keeping our Senior Girl Healthy and Happy

Big Sandy is our senior girl. She is around 15 years old and she is a special dog because she has three legs and is missing half her tail. Big Sandy has always been very active being a Therapy Dog, performing with the Paws4Ever Drill Team and being Jenn's demo dog in her classes. But like many senior dogs, Big Sandy's decreasing mobility means she's had to retire from some of her various jobs. This doesn't mean she is out to pasture. As I have learned, you just have to be considerate of a few things when living with an older dog.

First off is mobility. Big Sandy has a common condition called spondylosis, where the vertebrae in the spine fuse together with little bony protrusions. Spondylosis progresses over time. This leads to less flexibility in the spine and a dog eventually walking with a hunched back. We know she has spondylosis from her routine x-rays. Many people don't realize their dogs have spondylosis and dogs live a good long time with it.

So, we don't ask Big Sandy to jump up on things or navigate stairs. The stairs are blocked with a baby gate and there are rugs on the tile so Big Sandy doesn't slip. Jenn or Eric help her when they need to or use a ramp.
Big Sandy may not been so into to playing with me like she used to be. I have to be careful about not knocking her down. Jenn has to remind me to calm down and not whack Big Sandy with my big wiggly butt.

Jenn does TTouch on Big Sandy everyday doing gentle touches, strokes and moving her legs in circles. She sometimes uses a warm pad to do the touches which makes Big Sandy do heavy sighs. I think it feels really good to her.
Here's a great video on YouTube on TTouch for your senior dog, click here.

This is just a little of what I'm learning about living with an older dog. There's more to come...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Horrible Stinging Beasties!

My yard has been invaded by horrible stinging beasties called Yellow Jackets. They are small wasps that fly and sting and sting and sting. Yellow Jackets live in a nest underground and are very protective and can become aggressive in the summertime if you disturb them. Eric discovered a nest in our garden when he was picking cucumbers. A nest opening looks like this.
Here is their nest underneath Jenn and Eric's garden in my yard. This is right near where I like to play with my red ball! Jenn was worried the the Yellow Jackets would come after me or Bernie or Big Sandy.
Eric took care of the nest last night while the Yellow Jackets were sleeping. He poured something in their hole and quickly covered it up. I had to spend extra time inside today to make sure any angry nasties didn't return. I certainly hope they are gone! Jenn says that Yellow Jackets aren't all bad and they are beneficial if the nest isn't near people and pets.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hot Puppy!

Ug, this weather. I am one hot puppy. This humidity really knocks out my energy. My new favorite places in the house are near the variety of air vents. The cold air comes out and feels so good. I can either put my body on top of the vent like this...
or sit so the cool air blows on my chest...
or on my paws. Very nice.
I also like to press my butt up against the toilet. Ahhh.I'll be so happy for some cooler weather so I can get back to my regular schedule of activities. Jenn is very careful that I don't get overheated outside. We take lots of breaks and she always has some water for me, even on our short walks. We also have to keep careful watch on Big Sandy, who is 15. She really feels the heat even more than me. Be especially careful with your older dogs when it gets hot outside. Make sure you keep your dogs from overheating by limiting their activity during the hottest parts of the day, always provide lots of fresh water, and never, ever leave your dog in a hot car. Check out this article on heat related illnesses:

Heat Related Illnesses in Dogs

Monday, June 15, 2009

My visit to Cary Academy

Today I visited Cary Academy's All About Animals summer camp. I had so much fun showing off my tricks and wiggling my butt. Jenn showed my Drill Team videos and all the kids wanted to pet me.

First, I showed off my talents with the Dog Brick puzzle.Then we talked about using positive reinforcement methods to train dogs and everyone wanted to do some clicker training with me. Jenn brought along a cardboard box to show how you can shape behaviors using the clicker and treats. Then we worked on roll over with the ClikStik. This is a handy little gadget that is a target stick with a clicker built in developed by dog trainer Terry Ryan.This was quite fun and then I got more pets from everyone. I think it was very nice to get all the attention and I get to go back next week and meet another group of campers.