Spokesdog's Canine Couch
A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich
The Right Stuff
I get emails and calls weekly from people who want to learn about therapy service as they believe
their dog would make an ideal therapy dog. I love these calls as therapy service is near and dear to my
heart so I am more than happy to guide the caller towards their goal.
c Diane Rich 2014
Some pets are better suited to visit residents in a long term care or retirement facility, some pets may do well visiting patients in a hospital environment or at a facility that serves people battling a specific disease. Some teams are well suited for programs geared towards children. Years ago there were not as many choices as there are today so if you pass your therapy test, you are sure to find a program that speaks to you and is a great match for your team’s talent.
Does Your Canine Have the Right Stuff
I believe a good therapy dog is born, not made. It is not enough the dog loves the family, friends of the
family and familiar people living in the neighborhood. And, it is not enough the dog just tolerates
the love and attention from strangers. This well trained and social dog must adore strangers and enjoy
that adoration and close contact in a calm manner.
Point to Ponder if you are interested in this amazing volunteer opportunity
1. The dog, actually the team which is defined as handler and pet must pass a standardized test given by an evaluator representing a therapy organization. Once the team passes the test, the handler then must register with that organization.
2. The dog must perform basic obedience skills on leash which include; walk on a loose leash
sit, stay, down and come. All test exercises must be performed without using a treat.
There are other exercises the team must perform that helps the evaluator observe general behavior
of the dog and handling skills of the owner in specific circumstances that simulate situations that may be
experienced during an actual therapy visit. Most of the organizations list all these required
exercises online for your review.
3. The various therapy organizations usually list their approved collars or harnesses on their website.
If your dog wears a pinch collar which is not an approved collar for any of the therapy organizations
it is best to retrain your dog on an approved collar or harness before taking your test.
4. The dog cannot show any sign of aggression or reactivity towards dogs, adults or children
5. The dog must not over-react to noises.
6. Some of the people the dog visits may be in a wheelchair use a walker or cane or have an
unsteady gait. The dog must be calm and relaxed around any type of medical equipment.
There are some dogs that will not walk on a slippery floor and if this is the case, your
dog may have some challenges in certain facilities or at schools.
c Diane Rich 2014
7. The handler must be proactive to ensure the visits are safe for the pet and people s/he visits
8. The dog must have a solid “leave it’ so they can pass by a food cart or medical cart. The dog
will need to ignore a patient’s stuffed teddy bear, a plate of uneaten food or used Kleenex within reach.
9. The dog should not lick, jump on or lunge at people or be overwhelmed if surrounded
by many people wanting to love him or her
Do You Have the Right Stuff
The dog is only half of the team as the handler plays a critical part in the success of that team
and the success of each visit. Therapy service is not an activity where a handler spectates
and lets it all happen.
1. That handler must be a proactive member of that team at all times and be an advocate for the pet
2. If you are intimidated or uncomfortable talking with strangers or talking with someone who is sick,
then this may be something to work on as it is important to help create a nice meet and greet with your
dog and the interested stranger.
One of the major therapy organizations approves species other than dogs. So, if your cat, llama
or mini horse has the right stuff you will absolutely put smiles on the faces of anyone you visit.
c Diane Rich 2014
I would encourage you to do some research on therapy service. It is an addictive activity that
will make your heart smile and your dog’s tail wag. Please feel free to contact me if you
have questions or want more information on therapy service.
I was invited to join in a conference call to interview Cesar Millan about his new TV show, Cesar 911. In the Dog Whisperer it was the owner who contacted Cesar for help but for this new TV show the call could come from a neighbor, family member, relative or coworker for emergency help with a problem pooch. After a whistleblower contacts Cesar the viewer can only imagine that the intervention with the dog’s owner may not be met with open arms.
Cesar first begins the process by interviewing the whistleblower to get the details. The next step is working with what hopefully will be a cooperative owner who may be in denial about the problem or has just given up on finding a solution. Millan will work with the community to help rehabilitate the dog and their family.
During our phone interview Cesar stated, “this show is more about training the human than the dog.” Cesar believes it is the “actions of the humans that create the problems.” In one case Cesar told us that it was the victim of a dog bite who called him for help.
Cesar 911 debuts March 7th at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT in the U.S. on the National Geographic channel.
The show is produced by ITV Studios America in association with Leepson Bounds Entertainment. Millan, David Leepson and Jordan Roberts serve as executive producers. Each episode will include two stories within a community.
Take a sneak peek at the trailer provided by Nat Geo Wild
Meet An Ancient Breed
I wanted to introduce Luna to my readers along with a general overview on the breed. I asked the owners to give me a little back-story as to how they found Luna and am happy to share their story with you.
This breed is also known as the Formosan Mountain Dog, Formosan Native Dog, Formosan Aboriginal Dog, Formosan Hunting Dog among other names. Formosa was another name for the island of Taiwan. This is a very ancient breed native to the island of Taiwan and little is known about its ancestry.
This little hunting dog only weighs in between 30 and 40 lbs with a shoulder height up to 21 inches. Japanese researchers through genetic testing have concluded the breed is a direct descendant of ancient Southeast Asian hunting dogs which were similar to the Dingo-like dogs.
As the dog is primitive or feral in nature, it can be territorial and is protective of the family, loyal to one member of the family and possibly the entire family. The hunting instinct is hard wired in this breed so the prey drive is high and this little hunter may chase and kill small animals. This breed may not get along with other dogs but if raised with other dogs could be compatible. The TMD is generally reserved, wary of strangers and independent. Primitive breeds are highly intelligent and you must establish yourself as the leader without using harsh training techniques.
The Story of Luna
We adopted Luna about 6 weeks ago from Ginger’s Pet Rescue. She was born in captivity from a pregnant feral female that was rescued in Taiwan. Her mama was rescued by a group in Taiwan with affiliates in the US.
Gingers pet rescue, also known as deathrowdogs.com had their dogs at a pet store in Renton, Washington a couple of months ago. After losing our 2 labs in the last 3 years and acquiring a Shih Tzu we decided that the Shih Tzu needed a companion after losing her big lab buddy. We did not want another big dog but a medium 20 -40 pound dog is what we were searching for. We liked the idea of a rescue dog but were not committed to adopt one; until we me Lotus, which we renamed Luna.
We looked at all of the dogs, many were old, abused or disabled. While our hearts were saddened by these poor death row dogs, we found Luna and a few of her siblings… or death row inmates. We were impressed by their rather exotic look and the story behind them. Evidently, only a week before, they had been flown over from Taiwan in hopes to find a foster home. She had all her shots, was spayed, chipped and checked out by US customs. My wife and I took her for a walk around the strip mall with our Shih Tzu then I took her by myself for another lap. Then we sat down in a quiet corner outside. I asked her if she was the dog for us and she licked my ear. That was a good sign. I talked to her and she seemed to want to communicate with me although she probable did not understand English much less human.
I was impressed by her and talked to my wife and we decided to give her a go. She came with a 30 day return policy if things did not work out. We had to sign an agreement that we would only return her to Ginger’s pet Rescue if we were going to give here up. That told me that Ginger was committed to finding a good home for these puppies. She was 5 months old when we adopted her.
Her breed is a Taiwanese Mountain Dog. They are evidently descendants from the Formosan Mountain Dog which almost became extinct in Taiwan. She is very sweet, affectionate and alert. She has boundless energy when there is something or someone to play with. Otherwise she sleeps. She has a voracious appetite yet remains very lean. She has been pretty easy to house train taking notes from the Shih Tzu dog, her new boyfriend, but although they got along when they first met at the pet store, there was a lot of “drama” the first week. We never experienced such growling and alpha quest. However, after about a week, the Shih Tzu dog realized the new addition was permanent and stopped freaking out every time Luna was in his majesty’s presence. They have become very close and play all the time.
The Shih Tzu dog is very headstrong and does not realize he is smaller and less defensive. The little guy really holds his own and I think Luna respects him for that. He will put Luna in her place to the degree that he can and Luna usually backs down, but not always. We decided we needed outside help. Our Labs were so easy. This pair was going to need some professional counseling.
After an extensive google search, we enlisted the help of Diane from http://www.spokesdog.com We were a little skeptical at first because she was mostly interviewing us, not the freaking problem child we had adopted. However, after the interview we saw her work miracles communicating with Luna and getting her to focus, obey a command and get rewarded with a non-Costco sized treat.
The second session was even better. She incorporated the Shih Tzu dog into the training exercise. The little man is very well behaved and Diane showed Luna how to behave based on Pepi’s calm demeanor. Then she trained the dog, then US how to teach Luna to lie down, stay, recall to a whistle, teach the dog to “touch” her hand and most importantly how to “settle” when the doggies are going at it too rambunciously. Luna is a gift to us and I feel like we are becoming a gift to her otherwise life as a wild dog.
Thank you Ginger and thank you Diane.
Thank YOU for giving Luna a wonderful, forever home.
Where: CenturyLink Field Event Center
When: March 7-9, 2014
America’s most popular breed, the Labrador retriever, leads the way in entries again this year for the highly popular shows with 51 entries Saturday and 49 Sunday. Runners-up Saturday are the golden retriever and Australian shepherd with 33 each. Next are the Papillons and Rhodesian Ridgebacks with 29 apiece, followed by Great Danes 25, French bulldogs 24, Basset hounds 24 and whippets and boxers 22 each.
The Sunday Top Ten entries following the Lab include Australian shepherd 36, golden retriever and Rhodesian Ridgeback 31 each, Papillon 30, French bulldog 27, Great Dane 24, boxer 22, Basset hound 21 and Basenj and Keeshonden 20 each.
Two breeds, the rat terrier and Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, recognized last year by the American Kennel Club as eligible for conformation competition, will be competing here for the first time.
The rat terrier is an all-in-one dog – able to do virtually anything it is trained to do – and is easily trainable and exceptionally intelligent. It excels in conformation, agility, obedience, rally obedience, terrier racing, earthdog, barn hunt and lure coursing.
Smallest of the Podengo family, the perky Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is an active rabbit hunter with a long history. It is still used today in its homeland by avid huntsmen. In the U.S. it has strong potential in conformation, agility, obedience and lure coursing competition.
Saturday’s entry total is 1753 dogs with 156 breeds; Sunday has 1721 dogs and 158 breeds in conformation, rally, agility and obedience. Sixty-plus youngsters will be competing in junior showmanship each day.
c Diane Rich 2014 Agility is always a crowd favorite
Add to that a new free feature from 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 7 showcasing American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service (FSS) and Miscellaneous Breeds only and conducted by the Hungarian Pumi Club of America. The 19 breeds in the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class may compete and earn titles in Companion events and also select Performance events, along with Junior Showmanship. But these are breeds the general public does not see often.
If you’re considering a new dog and uncertain about what breed, there are dozens of breed club, animal-welfare and animal-rescue organization personnel there to answer your questions. Those manning the booths know their breeds and will answer your questions candidly and honestly.
c Diane Rich 2014 Breed specific rescue organizations along with breed clubs will be upstairs from the main event. Go visit, ask questions, pet a dog and have fun.
A separate Meet the Breeds presentation throughout both days will allow attendees to discuss each breed’s features and interact with the dogs.
c Diane Rich 2014 Meet the breed offers an excellent opportunity to ask questions about your favorite breed
For those wanting an inside explainer on what a dog show is all about, guided show tours, led by a Seattle Kennel Club member, will be available each day from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with sign-ups at the club table near the front doors.
Action-packed demonstration events will feature Ewe-Topia herd dogs, Boeing K-9 explosive-detection dogs, Emerald City K-9 Freestyle Dancers, Seattle Police Dept. K-9 Unit officers and their four-legged partners, K9 Nose Work and others.
c Diane Rich 2014 Nose work demo
New demo features by Family Dog Training Center in Kent include a Canine Good Citizen test demonstration Saturday and a talk/demonstration about the interaction of dogs and children Sunday.
Add to these more than 60 vendors selling a wide assortment of canine products and you have a can’t-miss event for the entire family.
Show Hours and Admission Prices
Show hours each day are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is adults $14, children under 4 free, children 4-14 $7 and seniors over 62 $12. Only dogs entered in the show events will be admitted on the premises.
To avoid major traffic congestion Saturday, arrive early, as the kickoff to the Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer season opener is at noon.
Mouth Watering, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Dog
By Gayle Pruitt
Dust off your apron and let’s get started. I must begin by complimenting Joe Grisham on his photos. Every one of the photographs from cover to cover is absolutely gorgeous. I understand that all the dogs he photographed for this book are dogs from rescue. And, the food which one would think is easier to shoot comes from the heart and talent of the author. I have watched professionals photograph food; the lighting, angle, foreground and background need to be spot on. Great job.
I have many cook books created for humans and several books with recipes for dogs but Pruitt’s book offers simple, healthy recipes for both species and am happy to add it to my collection. Normally I would not mention the foreword in a book review but this one was worth mentioning. The foreword was written by Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH(Master of Public health), CCN (cardiovascular nursing), who specializes in nutritional medicine. He states he is “proactive with my human patients and do not wait for them to get sick, but encourage them to do something that positively affects their lives each day.” He goes on to say that his “belief translates directly to the care of dogs.” I liked this man’s approach to health.
Gayle Pruitt, who lives in Dallas, Texas, is a certified nutritionist and chef and her passion includes health, food and animals. I liked her too. She encourages pet parents to cook for the family dog and offers what appears to be delicious recipes along with suggestions how to make the process a little easier for those of us who just cannot squeeze another task into our busy day.
The author offers tips such as buying in bulk and and what to save during the cooking process like peelings that can be used for other recipes. Why throw away the peelings when they can be used for soup or broth. Pruitt suggests making a batch of cooked rice, quinoa, millet or oats every 2 weeks, freeze in individual servings and when ready, defrost, add veggies and a protein for your dog and voila you are done. Brilliant, time-saving idea.
Pruitt also has a chapter on what equipment to buy to make food prep easier. She recommends an inexpensive juicer, a food processor and a 15-20-quart enamel pot for making bulk foods and suggests staying away from aluminum pots. Pruitt’s preferred essentials is listed in her book.
Gayle also discusses vitamins and minerals, lists the benefits and what real foods provide those nutrients. . This chapter does not separate the vitamin and mineral requirements for humans from dogs which I think would have been helpful. She did specify the benefits of Vitamin C for dogs.
So the caveat before jumping on the chef wagon and adding any supplement to your dog’s diet or using any of the suggested recipes is to ask your Vet first. He or she will know your dog’s health history and know if what is suggested is good for your dog. A Vet’s concern would be making sure the patient (the dog) gets the required amount of nutrients, doesn’t get too much of a good thing, and should your pet have a health condition what food sources to avoid.
Pruitt did address the world of spices and herbs for dogs and what worked for her dog. She noted that adding a little fresh ginger and fennel seeds to her dog’s food improved the dog’s digestion almost immediately. Again, this is something to run by your Vet before adding herbs or spices to your dog’s diet. She listed parsley as safe for dogs and states it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is good for the digestive system and cleans up the liver. She also states that Turmeric with its active ingredient curcumin, based on scientific research is beneficial for many conditions. I have read and heard about the benefit of this ingredient from Andrew Weil, MD and Dr. Oz, but always thought it was only for humans.
I recommend this book. It is well done and provided some motivation for me to cook more than I already do for my dog. Meanwhile, I am getting hungry so am going to end this blog, go the kitchen and look through my pantry and refrigerator and make a shopping list.
There is warning on the back cover: Recipes in this book may cause drooling.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book to review. Please talk with your Veterinarian first before preparing any of the home cooked recipes or adding any of the suggested supplements, herbs or spices to your dog’s diet.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
By Kristin von Kreisler
c Diane Rich 2014 The Golden Retriever mix in this photo was found under a truck in Eastern Washington when she was about 5 months old. Luckily someone rescued her, she was put up for adoption and found her forever home. And, like Grace, the Golden Retriever in Kristen’s novel learned to trust and love again.
An Unexpected Grace
Von Kreisler‘s story is about Grace, a Golden Retriever that was severely mistreated by her original owner. Unfortunately like millions of dogs around the country, through no fault of their own these precious beings start out their innocent lives with people who have no business or aptitude to care for a potted plant let alone an animal. Devoted dog parents will read An Unexpected Grace and relate to the deep bond and heartfelt connection that can develop between the human and canine species. A dog can bring healing powers to a person in need and the right person or family can bring healing powers to a dog in need.
Kristen’s novel is also about Lila Elliot who struggled with her own demons that were not so easy to ignore once faced with tragedy and coming face to face with one particular fear that just happened to have a tail. Lila survives the nightmare of a shooting rampage at her office where several colleagues were killed. Lila was wounded. Physical wounds heal but emotional scars can be too overwhelming to face and fix alone. Help and healing can come from supportive friends and family, a shrink, a physical therapist and yes, a dog.
After Lila was able to leave the hospital her best friend, Cristina offered her family’s home for Lila’s recovery where she would be able to house-sit while this friend and her family were away. However, Lila would be sharing this home with Grace so pet-sitting was part of the package. Lila was attacked by a dog as a child so carried a life-long disdain for the species.
Cristina told Lila that Grace is up for adoption and Adam, another character in the story would be trying to find a home for Grace. It wasn’t like at first sight between Adam and Lila either as Adam was an avid dog lover so they did not see eye to eye about Grace. It was not too difficult to predict the outcome of this relationship.
Lila and Grace, both victims and both broken needed the exact same thing but neither knew how to get there. The author takes the reader on that ride of how they learned to love and trust each other. This ride is predictable also. Although I was first empathetic with Lila due to this tragedy, not so easy to like her. It may not be an author’s goal to get the reader to fall in like with the lead character but in this case even with a positive ending, I still did not care for Lila. Falling in love with Grace, now that was easy.
To help the human heart and spirit recover and heal from personal tragedy many victims need to know “why” something happened. Lila was obsessed with finding out the reason why the shooter committed this horrific act and her obsession with trying to get her answers was drawn out past my attention span. The author created a character, a physical therapist who offered sage advice to Lila trying to help heal her soul and heart while performing various therapies to help the physical wounds heal. Easy to like this character also.
Von Kreisler’s passion for dogs is the underlying theme throughout the book and easily relatable by dog lovers wanting a happy ending. For that reason you will enjoy the book.
If you choose to adopt a dog, try to look past the eyes of a dog behind the glass or bars at a shelter that may not be bright and shiny. With proper guidance, patience and your love, you can put that sparkle back. Dogs have been around humans for thousands of years and have become dependent on us for food and shelter and have an innate need to belong. The fact that most dogs if given a chance will forgive some or all of the human race for the cruelty they endure by the hands of one person or people in general tells us a lot about a dog’s general nature. The abandoned and abused dog that is lucky enough to find that special someone to love them will relish the opportunity to love them back.
About the Author
Kristin lives on Bainbridge island in Washington which is a nature lover’s paradise and a perfect environment for this author who clearly loves animals. Kristin’s previous best selling books about animals were non-fiction.
Blood Tests for Your Dog
The first time new pet parents hear their Vet recommend a blood test for the family dog is usually when the dog is scheduled for the neuter or spay procedure. Anesthesia carries some risk which is why Vets who practice the current standard of care usually recommend blood work prior to any surgical procedure.
Vets will tell you that testing does not guarantee there will not be complications but it can be a way to minimize risk to the pet. From talking with Veterinarians over the years I have heard, generally speaking that if a patient (dog) incurs complications usually it has to do with cardiovascular or respiratory problems which are not revealed on CBC or serum chemistry results.
What is the Primary Reason for the Test
Results from a blood test gives the Vet a good idea of liver and kidney function, underlying infections as well as abnormalities such as anemia. If the values are outside of normal ranges the Vet may delay the procedure until the values fall within a normal range. There is an additional fee tacked on to the surgical procedure for this pre-op blood work up which is why some owners resist authorizing it. After the Vet collects the blood it is usually sent to a laboratory to test the results so there is that lab fee. Your vet may get results same day or within 24 hours. Some vets strongly recommend the pre-op blood test for young dogs while other Vets who after the pre-op exam find the pup healthy may not recommend doing it if the added price is a financial burden or the owner.
There are many advantages to having a (CBC) complete blood count and chemistry panel done on your dog when your dog is healthy. If all the levels are in the normal range you now have a baseline for future blood tests. The benefit of having blood work done is the results can give the Vet a heads up for early detection of a disease before your dog presents any symptoms. Early detection may help prevent or delay any further damage. The photo above represents the amount of blood drawn for my dog’s CBC and chemical panel .
How Often to Test?
If you tend to be proactive with your dog’s health care, your Vet can guide you as to how often he or she would recommend doing the blood work and if she recommends a CBC and/or full or partial chemistry panel. When my dogs are young, I have had it done every 2 years and after 6 years of age I have it done annually. As your dog reaches her senior years your Vet may recommend blood work be done every year. Most dogs are classified as senior when they reach about 7 years of age depending upon size and breed.
Information is Power
Before your Vet or Vet tech sticks a needle in your dog to draw blood, you may want to review what is or isn’t being tested. If you or your Vet are concerned about a possible thyroid issue then you will want to familiarize yourself with the limits your Vet may place on a thyroid test as most Vets will only test for T4. There is an added expense should you want a more in depth thyroid test.
I am always in the room and hold my dog for my Vet to draw his blood. If you are asked whether you want to be in the room or not, it may be best to pass if you are squeamish when blood is drawn as your dog will feel your anxiety. If you can hold your dog still, including the leg that will be donating the blood and not react if your dog reacts then you may want to help. If not, a vet tech will usually hold the dog and can keep a dog calm and relaxed while the Vet or another tech takes the sample.
If a dog could write a book explaining how humans think and why we do what we do they would most likely have us figured out as fast as they can pee on a fire hydrant. I believe dogs would conclude that humans tend to complicate things and they would quickly observe that our ego rules our behavior. They would easily note that humans will repeat behaviors that work and that we may try to get away with certain behaviors that in the end can get us into trouble from time to time. Sound familiar?
I received a request to review the book, Decoding Your Dog and after reading the promo material about the book and its contributors, agreed to the read. I always look forward to reading a book written by credible authors who may shed new light on dog behavior. Understanding a dog’s behavior and not just wishing for greatness and perfection from our beloved dog is a must to be able to create a sound, sane, successful human-dog relationship.
I find dogs an amazing and fascinating species. Dogs are complex in some ways as to the scope of their talent and how they assess their world and incredibly simple in other ways. The simplicity lies in the fact that dogs are keen observers and learn to repeat behaviors that work for them. Confident, independent dogs are super smart although some people believe a brainiac dog that doesn’t immediately comply to an owner’s demands is either stubborn or even stupid. Not true. Decoding your Dog explores why dogs do what they do.
c Diane Rich 2014
Decoding Your Dog is edited by Debra F. Horwitz DVM and John Ciribassi DVM, members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists along with pet journalist and radio host Steve Dale. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists is a small professional organization of veterinarians who are board-certified in the relatively new specialty of Veterinary behavior. There were many Vet Behaviorists who contributed to this book and support science-based dog training.
The challenge some dog lovers have in understanding their own dog is how to listen with their own eyes when trying to figure out the family dog. This is not new news. And by listening I mean turning off the internal chat, keep the prejudices or projected reasons for the behavior at bay and just relax and observe the total dog. Decoding Your Dog explains how the patience of listening to your dog pays off.
Decoding your Dog explains dog behavior somewhat differently than other books on dog behavior but offers similar information about behavior and troubleshooting suggestions one can find from other books as well. The authors tackle the dominance theory and debunk some of the current opinions on dominance. It was well done and debunking the current dominance myth cannot be addressed enough. I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this book that dogs do not want to rule the earth or wake up each day plotting to dominate us or their surroundings.
I also agree with the statement made by Jacqueline C. Neilson, DVM when she states a “leader dog” is calm, cool and collected and usually shows the least amount of aggression. Dominance doesn’t mean aggression which is spot on in my opinion and something I have preached for years. Many dog enthusiasts and experienced dog professionals disagree. Dog owners are told by their trainer, Vet, friend or fellow dog park user that a dog is being dominant because it is managing or trying to control all the dogs at the park. These same people, who are certainly entitled to their opinion offer training techniques to address and correct what is perceived or defined as “dominant” behavior to teach the dog a lesson as to who the real boss is in the family.
Steve Dale writes, “The vision for the book was to make available to dog owners scientifically correct information about dog problems and to correct widespread misinformation about dog behavior.”
This book would be a good one for new trainers or novice dog owners who want a better understanding of how their dog thinks and who enjoy reading facts based on current scientific studies. Much of the information is covered in other books on dog behavior. I can easily recommend this book as it explains in detail some of the philosophies and some of the techniques I include in my practice every week.
New York will be host to the Seahawks and Broncos this weekend for what is sure to be an exciting Super Bowl and a nice lead in to Super Bowl of dog shows, Westminster. During the Super Bowl we root for our favorite team and during Westminster we root for our favorite dog.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show attracts dog lovers and enthusiasts from around the country who look forward to viewing the competition in conformation and this year, agility. And, like any major televised event, the Westminster dog show is made to look seamless to the television viewer due to the hundreds of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes. One of the many contributors working behind the scenes is Ranny Green, who lives in Washington state. This week I had the opportunity to interview Ranny who has been the co-media director at the Westminster Kennel Club for the past five years.
Ranny’s impressive resume’ is a blog in and of itself so for now will share just a little of Ranny’s bio.
Ranny was a pets columnist at the Seattle Times from 1973 until the 48-day strike from late November 2002 into January 2001. Between 1990 and 2001 Ranny was named national pets columnist of the year five times in the Dog Writers Association of America annual writing contest, for newspapers with 150,000 circulation and more. In 2002 Ranny won a prestigious award from the Dog Writers Association of America on a story he wrote for Dog World Magazine about his family’s dealing with their Greyhound’s battle with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Last year he was inducted into the prestigious Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York City.
The Media Team
I wanted to learn what goes on behind the scenes at Westminster from this award-winning writer to share with my readers. In speaking with Ranny, I learned his job for Westminster begins long before his plane lands in New York.
Media forms are sent out to handlers and owners beginning each December in advance of this dog show from David Frei’s office in New York. I will refer to David’s office as base camp for the media team once they get to New York and join David’s staff. David Frei is the co host of Westminster and the media director for the Westminster Kennel Club. The thousand-plus media forms are then filled out and returned to the media team with information about the dog, handler and special stories the handler or owner would like to make available to share with interested reporters.
Reporters nationwide are looking for special or unique stories about dogs and handlers who are from their city or local region and will be of interest to their audience. Upon request, the team tries to match up the reporter and the stories from these media forms. A daunting task for this media team, as there are so many great stories. Sorting through all these media forms begins before the team meets up at base camp in New York and continues once on site.
I was one of the reporters requesting such information and Ranny generously provided me with stories about handlers living in Washington state, and from those offerings I interviewed two. One recent blog I wrote was about a junior handler living in Washington state who will be handling one of the 3 new breeds currently accepted by the American Kennel Club.
http://blog.seattlepi.com/caninechat/2014/01/22/local-talent-anna-jane-pearson-is-going-to-westminster. I will be writing the second story about another local handler soon.
Ranny will be in New York for 11 days and he mentioned that the two days of the conformation show, February 10th and 11th, will be 18-hour days for the team. My guess is the coffee pot will be on ‘round the clock for this media team.
Outside of the Ring
Ranny and the Westminster team would like the viewing public to learn about these canine competitor’s lives outside of the show ring. Many breeders or owners give back to their community between dog shows. They may be a registered therapy team and visit patients in hospital or even contribute a talented k9 nose to drug detection. Mostly, the Westminster team would like the dog-loving public to know that a show dog’s life behind the scenes or between dog shows is like anyone’s family dog that gets to enjoy hikes, fetch games, agility and other dog sports and has a cozy spot on the sofa next to the person who loves them.