Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Picking Perfect Puppies

While it's usually summertime when I'm inundated with new puppy training, somehow the word is getting out that doing The 7 P's (proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance) is a great way to help individuals, couples or families acquire the right make and model of puppy to be the dog of their dreams, whatever their dreams may be. And so I'm being inundated with a flurry of pet and service dog candidates that are selected based on a fantasy wish list compiled by all family members to define the wants/needs based on lifestyle, environment, goals, experience, etc.

When an individual/couple or family already has a dog that might not be the right make and model, for whatever reason, and a decision is made that there needs to be a break-up, I help counsel them through that process. I believe taking the responsibility to find the right home for the dog is paramount to considering the right make and model for immediate or long term future considerations.

As rain falls today in a practically vertical fashion to more overtly remind us that summer is over and fall is truly here, taking new puppies out for potty breaks cheerfully is a daunting but necessary task! Just remember your umbrella, your cheerful mood, and contemplate an outdoor place that might offer a bit of shelter!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Fall and a Little Parable

Today is the transition of seasons from summer to fall. I can feel and smell it in the air, hear the crunch crunch of dying leaves beneath my feet, and notice a different slanting of the sun. Neglected overripe tomatoes are literally exploding in my little garden, my kids' return to school seems in full adjust mode (not that all 3 are happy about it, but off they go, back they come, homework gets done, off they go again), and my animals spew extra layers of hair for me to meditatively sweep up.

A friend very recently sent me a wonderful video story about Chinese Giant Bamboo for the Jewish New Year (Happy 5770!). The parable of the video has resonated for me -- both personally and professionally -- and in such a deep and already positive way. Being a fan of metaphors, fables, parables, I felt it could be useful for those who, among other things, are trying to wrangle their dog or puppy into what they want them to be but lack the patience or reality base or honesty about how and how long and what is involved in accomplishing the goal.

And so I share The Story of The Chinese Bamboo in the hope that it can inspire you in all your journeys.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wear Your Dog

I'm calling Fall "Take Your Hands Off The Leash and Wear Your Dog" season to emphasize the benefit of letting go of the belief that your hands on a leash is what is controlling the dog.

Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly:

1. Does your dog react to distractions when on leash? Does Fido lunge at other dogs, chase speedy trucks, go all twisty ballistic at the sight of kids running amok!?

2. Does your dog not get to play with other dogs off leash because you fear death and destruction will ensue?

3. If your dog is allowed to play with other dogs off leash (and I hope your dog does!), does Fido romp and carouse and probably not even bark much and have so much fun?

If your answers are yes to 1, 2 or 3, you have to trust me when I tell you that the problems are created by failing to understand leash manners. If your words are saying one thing and your actions -- in this case hands on the leash -- are saying another, I assure you that the dog is responding and reacting to your behavior, not your words.

Try taking your hands OFF the leash, really letting go, and WEAR your dog. See how much things improve. If you need greater details on the process, let me know!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Yesterday It Was Trip's Birthday

He hung one more year on the line. Trip The Wonder Dog is getting a grizzled head and I wonder if I should get him some Grecian Formula For Dog Men to return him to his head of yesteryear. But if spirit, energy, determination and sass are hallmarks of youth, even now at 8 years old Trip keeps up with the best of them and his heart remains forever young. And I think the graying makes him even more the handsome little dude. So Happy Birthday, Trip, and may you have many many more!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Back to School Redux

My kids went back to school this week. The second year I've had to juggle one in each of the three schools -- oldest a junior in h.s., middle a middle school 8th grader, and the youngest is now top dog in elementary as a proud 5th grader.

It's my 12th and last fall at the elementary school and I feel almost wistful as I see the little kindergartners heading towards the lovely brick building with shiny new shoes, fresh haircuts, fancy backpacks and proud parents with digital cameras posing the kids in front of the developing upgraded playground.

I had the pleasure yesterday of taking a lovely country drive to meet up with Bree Arnett and a gaggle of doodles at her country home. The pups of various doodle heritage and ages I met had a rip roaring great time and seem to love visitors, a testament to their temperament and social nature. They all also seemed particularly fond of their human "mom", Bree. Each pup has obviously developed a connection from her careful nurture despite the multiple other tasks including running a hectic household and parenting her own three kids (I know from that score!) as well keeping up with the daunting task of carefully screening the developing progeny to ensure ongoing health and temperament of the different doodles she's producing. As the pups mature and they are adopted out to loving homes, a little piece of Bree's heart tugs as the pups she's connected to head out for new adventures, much like the kids entering the brick building to embark on the beginning of a more formal public education.

Like these kids, the pups need to be socialized, exposed to the environmental sights, sounds, surfaces and scents of their future homes and communities, so they can stroll off with others in their future who might have to care for them -- vets, groomers, house sitters, dog walkers, boarding facilities, doggy day care, friends homes and yards. In the case of service and therapy dogs, especially those who will be performing function in public, that early socialization is so critical to their future success.

So if you're starting the fall with the pitter patter of paws skittering across your floors, be sure to get out and about and if you can, sign up for puppy classes that use positive methods and make sure there is time each class for puppy play!