Category Archives: Inspiration

The Great Coyote Invasion of NYC


photo by The Gotham Coyote Project

Back in 2000 I set out to write about about coyotes in the northeast and studied the coyotes in NYC. My editor poo-pooed the book idea, but I wish I’d kept at it. The work of these writers and researchers at the Gotham Coyote Project has made me so happy! I hope they get a book out of it.

“As wild coyotes turn up everywhere from Central Park to Queens, one band of ecologists armed with tree-mounted cameras and cheese-scented lures seeks to understand just what these carnivorous canids are doing here. . . . read on


The Evidence for Positive Reinforcement Training In Dogs

by Pippa Mattinson, author of Happy Puppy Handbook, Total Recall and The Labrador Handbook.

3255835495_1c6b6a5c7b_oOver the last few decades there has been a huge swing towards less punitive methods of dog training. Watching a modern trainer in action is a very different experience from watching old school traditionalists. Gone are the barked commands, the emphasis on ‘respect’ or ‘dominance’ and even intimidation. In many cases the use of punishment has been entirely replaced by the use of food and games.

Is the move to positive dog training a good thing?

But hang on a moment. Aren’t we being swept along in the latest ‘fad’ or ‘craze’. Isn’t this just a passing fashion?  How are we going to control our dogs when we run out of treats? And what if we don’t want to wave food around or to ‘beg’ or ‘plead’ with our dogs to come when we call them?

In fact, let’s lay it on the line. Do these new fangled methods of dog training even work?

Read on at The Happy Puppy Site …


Smile! It’s Friday!


Love Your Cuddlesome Pups–the Problem of Our Mismatched Lifespans

Wow, my dear, old Casey would have been twenty years old today!

Twenty years with such a companion seems too short, and yet she only lasted fifteen, which is a generous span for a dog.

Such reflections always put me in mind of these words by Konrad Lorenz, from Man Meets Dog: “When god created the world, he evidently did not foresee the Continue reading

Pip’s Original 3 Paragraphs

From the Epilogue of For the Love of a Dog

I loved Pip best.

Yes, we’re alive together, sweet Pippi.

Losing Pip, I first thought, would not be part of the deal. When Delaney was eight and I left Joe, I was stringing together part-time jobs writing, editing, and teaching at poverty-level wages and could take only one dog with me. Forced to choose between them, I took Casey Jane, Delaney’s dog, because Delaney was coming with me. For six months I begged Joe to keep Pip so Delaney would not lose Pip, too, Continue reading

The Truth About Pip: Dogs, Divorce, and Memoir

Casey loved any kind of play

Casey loved any kind of play

Some readers of my memoir, For the Love of a Dog, say the end dissatisfies them. If I loved my dogs the way I did, how could I have just given Pip away to a stranger?

They’re right. There’s something wrong with the narrative–I didn’t tell the whole truth. Continue reading


Whatever You Dream



A Heartfelt Thanks to All Our Friends

On this week of thanks, all of us at the Border Collie Inquisitor want you to know we’re so grateful to you all. May you have many guests around your tables, and may they be such clumsy eaters the food just rains upon the floor!

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Toxic Toad Invasion

by Lisa Lanser-Rose

Sometimes when we come home after dark, this cane toad meets us on our doorstep.P1030043

Last night when he practically held the door for us, I suggested we follow the experts’ advice and kill the doorman.

My husband said, “As soon as we kill him, we let our guard down. Then the one we haven’t seen moves in.”

I said, “So this one’s a ‘reminder toad?’ Do we need a ‘reminder rattlesnake?'”

“What we need is a toad-proof dog.”

Cane toads are toxic. They’ve killed many a Florida dog. When threatened, the cane toad’s defense is to sit still, which is  some comfort to those of us with motion-activated dogs like Border Collies. One time, though, our toad hopped, and Mick’s reflex was to go for it. That’s all it takes. Educate yourself so you know what to do if it happens to your dog–rinse and run! Rinse the gums immediately and away from the throat for fifteen minutes, then run to the vet.

I’ve got the stomach to kill a toxic toad if I have to, but I’m a soft-hearted thinker. Do I really have to? It’s not the toad’s fault he’s a toxic invasive species any more than it’s my fault the human race is a toxic invasive species. I’m a trap-and-transport kind of woman and a toad-proofer. Whacking them or chopping them up is just mean and it splatters poison around. They say the trick is to stick them in the freezer for a few days. Then throw the body out–unless you want to keep it to make a hat or purse. But I digress.

I’m leery of the death penalty–sometimes the condemned is innocent. What if I got the wrong toad? There’s one in town who looks a lot like a cane toad. The smaller, look-alike Southern Toad innocently rids the world of pests. The good toad has horns, the bad toad doesn’t, but if you toad-proof your dog’s yard, you probably won’t need to go looking for horns.

Don't Hurt This Toad!
Horny Prince of Innocence

A friend recently wrote me: “I understand the problem and danger of invasive species. However, I cannot kill an animal who by no fault of his own is in a bad situation. I also know the cane toads are legion. One dead toad will never make a dent in the problem. I take them to a retention pond along the interstate and release them. Is this the right thing to do? Can’t say. But I know I can’t deal with the alternative. What I do know is if you have one, you have more. So watch your dogs.”


Except Bacon

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