Spokesdog's Canine Couch
A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich
The Dog Lover
It is fun to see people enjoy loving our dogs. Dogs can be a great ice breaker for conversation and your dog gets the added benefit of learning and maintaining good social skills.
Sometimes, however the overly enthusiastic dog lover can undermine efforts a dog parent is trying to create or reinforce with regard to puppy or dog manners when meeting a friendly stranger. Sometimes a shy, nervous, or a fearful dog that is giving clear signals of discomfort to the experienced eye goes undetected by the dog lover who can’t wait to get their hands on your dog.
My Dog My Rules
Consider this subject line as your new pet parenting mantra.
c Diane Rich 2013
Some dog owners are comfortable setting up meet and greet boundaries with their dog and strangers. Other pet parents would rather not offend the stranger and choose to allow that stranger carte blanche access to the dog. Your dog may enjoy the attention from some strangers but also looks to you for protection from overzealous, well intended dog lovers. By not stepping up you could put that stranger at risk if you allow that person access to a dog that does not welcome the attention as the leash prevents your dog’s escape. More importantly, by not managing or preventing an interaction your shy dog can become even more leery and nervous around any future encounters with well meaning strangers.
I believe one of the many ways dogs learn to trust their people is being with a handler who manages the meet and greet from beginning to end rather than behaving as if this interaction is a spectator sport.
I feel like I have seen it all in almost 3 decades as a dog trainer and long time dog parent but suspect there are more surprises just around the corner.
Are any of these scenarios familiar to you?
1. You are out with your dog, enjoying the day and a 4 or 5 year old child runs over to pet or stick their face in your dog’s face and their parent or guardian is either not around or standing and watching from afar?
c Diane Rich 2013
2. You are in pet store or a retail store that allows pets or at a dog park and someone comes up and puts a cookie in reach of your dog without asking permission. Or, the human cookie dispenser is asking permission while the treat is in transit towards the dog?
3. You are in a pet store or retail store that allows pets or walking your dog in your neighborhood and someone comes up to pet your small dog or puppy and without asking permission scoops your dog right off the ground for a cuddle?
4. Your dog is in your car with a window partially rolled down quietly waiting for you to return and you notice some idiot sticking their hand in the car through the window to pet your dog?
5. Susan Clothier, a well known trainer who coined the catch phrase “he just wants to say hi” which provides a great lead in for the following; you note an owner about 10 or 15 feet behind their dog that is on a flexi leash hogging all the real estate and cutting off your access to continue on your path. That dog is allowed to come over to your dog for a sniff without the owner batting an eye. This particular owner feels they own as much real estate as the retractable leash allows. This owner has no idea if your dog will welcome the intrusion.
6. In addition to #5, the owner with a dog on a flexi or regular walking leash allows their dog to pull that handler over to your dog, stating their dog is ok AFTER “he says hi” and when you opt out that person is miffed and educates you on the benefits of socialization?
7. You educate the stranger on petting your pup under the chin or on the chest and due to the dog lover’s selective hearing and expertise they choose to pat your pup on the head then when the pup mouths them the dog lover starts rough housing with your puppy?
9. The stranger approaches your dog and you tell the dog lover your dog is shy, uncomfortable or aggressive with strangers and ask them nicely not to approach. They approach anyway believing if they love dogs, dogs will love them in return. This dog lover follows old school information sticking out the back of their hand so the shy, nervous or aggressive dog can get a whiff.
Dog lovers on either end of the leash are not always observant as to the pup’s body language that will clearly indicate stress or fear upon the approach of that stranger. Forcing a meet and greet with a shy dog is not recommended. An experienced dog behavior expert can guide you properly through positive meet and greet protocol and can educate you how to read your dog’s body language.
10. A stranger asks if they can give your dog a treat and you politely decline. They slip a treat to your dog anyway with a comment or two about how mean you are.
My Final Thoughts
If your dog is well mannered, is everyone’s buddy and you are comfortable allowing strangers to pet your dog and manage that interaction, fantastic. However, if a stranger does not respect your wishes after you nicely state how you want your dog to be touched , or in some cases not touched why on earth would you as that dog’s guardian put your furry family member in a position to tolerate the love of a stranger or even the inappropriate way that stranger chooses to approach, pet or rough house with your dog ? I understand not wanting to be rude to someone but allowing the interaction that may not be welcome by your dog or choosing not to manage that interaction could end up being a problem for all in the near future
I am reposting my blog from December 2012 as I received a number of emails last year from pet lovers around the country who found out after the fact where their donation was really spent. These people told me they learned that a small amount or none of their money was used for the animals. So, let the giver beware.
There are many worthy animal nonprofits to consider for donations. Some charities are in your own city and state and are worth considering. Other non profits are national and others international. Do your homework before mailing the check.
A charity should make it easy for donors and potential donors to review the budget. Depending on how much money a nonprofit takes in they may be required to file specific forms with the IRS providing required documentation. These forms such as Form 990 are open to the public. Form 990 gives a breakdown of revenue, expenses and service accomplishments. Ask to see Form 990 and analyze it to ensure you are comfortable with the charity’s operations. Some private charities are not required to file Form 990s and do not have to provide a copy of their IRS tax filings to the public upon request. You will have to do research these organizations on your own.
2. Independent Auditing?
Find out if the charity is audited yearly by a reputable accounting firm and ask for the latest report from a certified independent public accountant.
Although most charities abide by strict standards and ethics with finances unfortunately some nonprofits may misrepresent how funds are used when presenting financial records. If someone running the non profit is unethical they will tell a potential donor what they want to hear to motivate that big hearted person to part with some money. And to make it worse some corporations generously will match funds of employee donations so it could be a jackpot for those who get away with deceptive practices. On the other hand, that policy is wonderful for the ethical non profits.
3. How is the Charity Run?
Are the board of directors active or passive. Are staff members accessible and friendly? Are volunteers respected and heard or is the volunteer turnover high? It is easy to write a heartwarming mission statement but is the charity actually living its mission.
A nonprofit business is still a business. Do the people running the charity have the skills to effectively run the organization or their department? People skills are the heart and soul of all nonprofits along with marketing and fundraising.
5. Conflict of Interest?
Is there any conflict of interest with a board member, the President or staff and their outside interests that may influence them when making decisions for policies or procedures for the charity? Are there conflicts of interest if someone is running both a nonprofit and for profit business that may overlap?
6. Is the Mission Statement just Words?
Every nonprofit is required to create a mission statement when applying for non-profit status. The mission statement is normally included on a website and promotional material. Are the people running the charity in touch with this statement or are the words just warm and fuzzy to entice animal lovers to open their wallets?
Charities To Consider
1. If your choice as to where to donate is an animal shelter then I am hopeful you choose a no kill shelter.
2. You may choose to donate to one of many wonderful breed rescue organizations around the country. If money is tight for you this season, ask the rescue group or shelter what they need. Donating unopened pet food or gently used pet supplies is greatly appreciated.
3. Consider donating to a nonprofit set up to help pet parents with limited funds or a fixed income with Veterinary costs. Inquire as to how those funds are managed.
4. Other animal nonprofits to consider train service or assistance dogs used for various disabilities such as guide dogs for the blind, the hearing impaired or other medical challenges. Some of these organizations breed their own dogs for this service.
5. There are also animal sanctuaries such as Best Friends in Utah. www.bestfriends.org.
6. There is Intermountain Therapy Animals in Utah that created a program called R.E.A.D. A literacy program for kids that is the model for all the other reading programs around the country. www.therapyanimals.org
7. There are non profits that train or help match up Veterans with trained dogs to assist them with PTSD
8. If you donate to your local humane society, don’t be confused with the HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS is it’s own charity. Please donate directly to your local humane society. www.seattlehumane.org
9. Dogs on deployment is another charity to consider. When someone is in the military and called to duty what do they do with the family pet? Go to this link to find out www.dogsondeployment.org
Here is a link that will provide additional information to help review a charity. Some of your local smaller charities will be more challenging to research.
Safety Tips Before, During, And After Your Christmas Celebration
Tis another season full of anticipation, smiles, angst, online shopping, in store adventures, travel and long to do lists.
Whether you are hosting parties at your home, attending parties, traveling or celebrating in a quieter manner I encourage you to keep your pet’s safety in mind.
- Prepare and train your dog now to prevent him from bolting out of the front door if you are expecting guests. A good stay or wait command is critical to teach before the craziness begins. If you opt out of training then it is safer to just confine your dog behind a gate or in a crate temporarily while guests arrive and leave.
c Diane Rich 2013
- The day before and day of your party exercise your dog to tire her out especially if she will exiled away from all the activities. If you can score a dog walker this late in the game to help you out, great.
- Make sure your guests, especially children are educated on how you want your dog handled. Children under the age of 8 should always be supervised around the family dog even if the relationship has worked out well in the past. No dog should be expected to ”tolerate” inappropriate interactions from anyone and may need to be protected from overzealous dog lovers
c Diane Rich 2013
- When it is meal time for the family dog find a quiet location so the dog can enjoy dinner in peace.
- Should you wish to discourage your dog begging at the table or eating food that may create a tummy upset remind your guests not to give your dog any table scraps and not to feed your dog from the table. Fatty foods can cause gastrointestinal problems. Cooked bones are a no no and may require an emergency Vet visit if your dog scores a bone
- If you believe your dog may look at your Christmas tree as one of his gifts beckoning to him to lift his leg and relieve himself on it you may want to create a barrier so the tree, gifts and ornaments are inaccessible. Beyond destruction or marking, some dogs have been known to pull a tree over
- Cords used for holiday lighting may draw your pup’s attention so be sure the cords are taped down or inaccessible to your inquisitive canine chewer.
- If the festivities seem to be making your dog nervous, your dog may need to be relocated to another part of the house away from the party and guests hopefully will respect that area and leave the dog alone. A crate can be a safe escape for a young dog.
c Diane Rich 2013
- Everyone loves a puppy. Keep in mind your pup like a human baby has limits. You need to not only set boundaries but manage all interactions especially rough housing and guests wanting to constantly pick the pup up.
c Diane Rich 2013
- Keep plants out of reach
- Alcohol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisons, onions, garlic, coffee beans and dark chocolate can be life threatening to dogs if consumed.
c Diane Rich 2013
- Keep your local emergency Vet’s number handy
- Make sure your dog’s collar includes an ID tag in case they bolt out the front door or if outside an open gate.
- If you want to share some cooked unseasoned turkey or meat with your dog a few small pieces should not hurt your dog. A dog allowed to overindulge could get quite sick. Best to stick with the dog’s regular diet
- Remember to include your dog on your Christmas shopping list. Should you choose to give your dog a plush, squeaky type toy supervise the activity so the squeaker or stuffing are not swallowed.
- If your dog gets cranky with people around her food bowl inform your guests to steer clear of the dog when she is eating or feed her in another room away from children or adults.
- If the temperature in your zip code is too cold for you it is too cold for most dogs. Your dog should be able enjoy your warm home rather than enduring cold, outdoor conditions.
- Allowing children to chase or harass the dog is ill advised. Although everyone is busy enjoying holiday festivities this may be a good time to teach children how to pet and respect the family dog
- Your guests who may have excused your dog’s enthusiastic greeting of jumping on them may not be so thrilled if wet or muddy paws make contact with holiday clothing
- Wrappers and ribbons anxiously ripped off presents need to be discarded so your dog or cat isn’t tempted to chew or swallow packaging.
Wishing you a safe and Merry Christmas.
c Diane Rich 2013
The National Dog Show by Purina Airs November 28th
I had the wonderful opportunity recently to participate with other bloggers in a pre-broadcast conference call to interview David Frei and John O’Hurley, the cohosts of this popular televised dog show. As most dog enthusiasts know, David Frei is an expert analyst for Westminster and the National Dog Show. He has years of experience breeding and showing dogs and is also an AKC judge. Of course who doesn’t know J. Peterman of Seinfeld fame. John O’Hurley has been a cohost with David over the years and brings his wit and humor to the viewers. These hosts are a great combination.
The National Dog Show in Philadelphia held annually since 1933 has over 2000 dogs entered in this show and includes 190 breeds . There are 3 new AKC breeds for this year’s big event. The new breeds are; The Chinook in the working category, Rat Terrier in the Terrier category and the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno in the Hound group.
Show dogs are primped, pampered and groomed down to their last hair so they can each strut their coiffed stuff for 2 minutes in front of a judge to earn their way to the prize, Best in Show. The timeline to perform in the ring is quick and seems similar to our Thanksgiving celebration whereas it can take a week to prepare a meal for family and friends and minutes to consume the bounty on Turkey Day. The dogs and handlers need to bring their A game during their short time in front of a judge.
The National Dog Show airs at noon in all time zones and follows the Macy’s Day parade. The show is one of the oldest benched shows in the United States since 1933. A benched show is open to the public and participating dogs are on display when not competing in the ring. It is a wonderful opportunity for people to meet different breeds and talk with the breeders or handlers about the dog. In some cases the breeder and handler are one in the same.
David Frei commented that the best handler is one who is invisible so the dog shines. He goes on to say the dog should be paying attention to the handler which is something a new dog owner parenting a purebred or mixed breed learns in puppy class.
One of the bloggers asked where the dogs are housed during the show . David replied that some handlers who live in the area just drive in for the day while handlers from out of town may nest in their own motor home so the dogs can travel and stay in a familiar environment before and between their show times. Other handlers may opt to stay in a pet friendly hotel or a hotel that made special accommodations and will allow entered dogs on site just for this dog show.
Another blogger asked about those oops moments that happen either behind the scenes or on camera and John O’Hurley shared a story about a Great Dane that stopped and squatted in front of him leaving a donation. John felt it was the dog’s opinion of his performance.
When asked which dogs we should be watching, neither gentleman would give up any breed info. A perfect tease for us to tune in. They both said it will be an exciting lineup and is the most exciting group of dogs to date at the National Dog Show.
David Frei talked about his pet therapy group, Angel on a Leash which is a 501 3c and is a national therapy organization. He and his personal dogs visit kids at the Ronald McDonald House and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. David was asked what makes a good therapy dog and being involved with therapy service, I agreed with his answer. He said therapy dogs are born not made.
John O’Hurley made a wonderful comment that the Best in Show is not really the dog that wins in the ring but the real Best in Show is the dog that is sitting next to you on the couch. To this statement I am sure we all agree.
How to Assess your Pet’s Health
I received an email about a topic on the show, The Doctors that will air tomorrow and wanted to give my readers a heads up about this segment. If you cannot watch or record the program you can access it via http://tinyurl.com/drsvideo
A Veterinarian demonstrates on Dr. Travis Stork’s very relaxed dog how to check a dog’s pulse, how to check for lumps and bumps and shows the viewer a few other easy to do at home exams on your pet. I viewed the segment and thought the information was easy to understand and something every pet owner can do at home.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
A Loving Tribute to our Senior Best Friends
Edited by David Tabatsky Photographs by Garry Gross
When I was asked to review this book there was something about the title that made me anxious to get to it. The title is short, sweet, simple and says it all.
Have you noticed some grey hair on your dog’s muzzle? Does it seem your dog is growing more lumps on a monthly basis? Have you noticed your dog is napping more? There is no way for humans or animals to beat the aging process although humans trying to fake out the mirror may pay for a little nip or tuck here and there. Dogs seem to take aging in stride as they are not consumed with our vanity.
And it is said that old friends are the best. I absolutely agree. It is comforting to know someone’s history and they yours as the information and knowledge is out there. Good friends accept, tolerate and love the other person in spite of their warts. Dogs love us whether we are young or in our golden years and sharing a dog’s gifts to their last breath is a privilege.
Many people want a wiggly, happy go lucky, uneducated puppy to mold into the perfect dog. So if a dog lover decides to adopt a dog and visits the local shelter or rescue many of the wonderful, sweet middle aged or senior dogs are overlooked. Some older dogs when out of the sterile environment of a shelter may surprise you with energy and a light your love will put back into their eyes.
It is easy math to calculate the years a senior dog may have left and some people cannot bear the thought of only sharing a short time with this new addition. On the other hand, people may fail to realize that an older dog that is housetrained and enjoys a walk and a nap can be a joy and may not be as high maintenance as a young, needy dog. Many young dogs find their way to a shelter as they are too much for a busy family.
After Gary Gross retired from the world of fashion photography which included photographing many celebrities, he became a dog trainer in New York and combined his passion of training dogs with his passion of photography. He gravitated toward older and senior dogs. Gary died in 2010.
This book is a compilation of 44 color photographs that without words seem to connect the reader to the soul and beauty of these senior canines. Writers such as Dean Koontz (I have read most of his books), Doris Day, Marlo Thomas and others contributed humorous and uplifting articles that accompany the photos.
The author, David Tabatsky is a writer, teacher and performing artist in the New York area. David collected Grosse’s photographs, essays and short pieces to create this book. What a tribute to a talented, dog loving photographer.
This book was a delight to read and the photographs will warm your heart.
There may be a rescue in your area that only takes in senior dogs and could be worth a look.
Kirkland Art Center
Date: Saturday, November 9, 2013 (All day) to Saturday, January 11, 2014 (All day)
Reception date: Friday, November 8, 2013 – 6:00pm
Hours open: Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 6pm Saturdays: 11am – 5pm Closed Sundays and Mondays
Gallery Curator: Donna Lindeman Porter
The Kirkland Arts Center Gallery is going to the dogs- literally! In an exhibition dedicated to the other community members of our town, artists explore the relationship with human’s best friend, as well as the political, social, and sometimes comical undertones of “going to the dogs”.
Join us at the Opening Reception on November 8th, 6 – 8:30pm to view work from over 40 artists, enjoy food and drinks, and meet some special guests in the Seattle Humane Society’s MaxMobile!
Donna Lindeman Porter
Joe Max Emminger
John A. Brickey
Myron E. Lewis
Randy Clark (aka Fish Boy)