Category Archives: Your Stories

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5 Ways to Love and Let Go of Foster Dogs

People tell me all the time they admire me for fostering dogs. “I could never foster,” they say. “I’d get too attached.”

My secret is a heart of steel.

I know they mean to praise me, but the compliment sometimes feels backhanded. They love too much, therefore I must have something wrong with my heart.

The truth is, I’m passionate about dogs and naturally clingy. Yet, somehow, (so far!), I’ve let all my fosters go–even the ones with whom I deeply bonded.

Here’s how I love and let go of them. I compare them to other strong but temporary attachments in my life. I tell myself:

  1. Lisa’s Dog School includes swimming lessons.

    They’re my students. University students are in your class five months at a time, high school a whole ten months. As an educator, I got attached to some of my students; there’s a reason favorites are called the teacher’s “pet.” I tell myself I run a school in my home where lost dogs learn how to be lovable family pets again. When they they get adopted, they “graduate.”

  2. They’re relatives from out of town. I tell myself things like, “These three puppies are my nephews. This is Grandma Gilly. Here’s Cousin Barkley!” KEEP READING…

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 …

5 photo tricks that help dogs get adopted

by Jaymi Heimbuch

 

 

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It’s no surprise that a great photo makes a world of difference in helping a dog get adopted. As potential forever families flip through photos on websites like Petfinder or through the adoptable dogs section of local rescues, the dogs with the most compelling photographs are the ones that will get the most attention. But exactly how big of a difference does it make?

A recent study from the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science took a look at 468 photos of young and adult black Labrador mixed breed dogs adopted via Petfinder across the United States. The goal was to discover how much of a difference a great photo makes, as well as what aspects of a photo most captures the attention of potential adopters . . .

Read on at Mother Nature Network

For the Love of Dog People

1124827531_293c4da2ea_oOn the eve of the new year, Terri and I want share with you this surprising article that conveys the big picture: love for dogs and everyone who loves them.

Happy New Year. Be safe! Be good! Have fun! Love big!

In Defense of Dog Breeders

by urban fantasy author and rescuer, Michele Lee

I’m a part of the rescue community here in Louisville. That’s a really loaded statement. There’s a lot of issues I have with some of the people and ideas I run into. One example is the rescue world’s view of dog breeders. Some people blatantly say silly things like “I wish all dog breeding would be banned” or “We should punish breeders.” Continue reading

Unleash the Spirit of Generosity, Be a Hero to a Homeless Pet.

The Border Collie Inquisitor

Unleash the Spirit of Generosity, Be a Hero to a Homeless Pet.

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 Adopting a dog from a shelter is an exciting, feel-good event. For many families, it’s a special moment, sure to become part of the family lore. For the dog, however, assimilating into family life can be difficult. Sadly, many dogs are returned to the shelter for behavior problems, which is heartbreaking for the family and a disaster for the dog. Experienced dog trainers can help smooth the transition, spare family heartache, and save dogs’ lives.

Every animal shelter should have an area for training.

“The Griffin Pond Animal Shelter is undergoing a highly anticipated renovation to build a much-needed area for on-site training. Won’t you make a donation, no amount too small that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of sheltered dogs?”

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If it wasn’t for a shelter and rescue network along with training…

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Science!

Cold Latitudes

Thanks to an infinitely gracious person, I was able to “do science” during my scouting trip to Greenland.

For some, it may be enough to see a great picture of Pluto. For scientists, there is a lot more to know. Curiosity extends to invisible wavelengths, and to dynamic processes going back to the origin of the planet. They are not necessarily looking for sensational findings – although that helps get funding from government and public sources – as much as they seek understanding and insight.
As soon as we look beyond the surface, Nature, as we call it, looks unbelievably complex. Science’s triumph is to be able to find regularities in that complexity, and to express them in beautiful conciseness. When we understand the Navier-Stokes equations, or the Maxwell equations, or thermodynamic cycles, or even Laplace and Fourier transforms, it is as if blinders had come off our eyes. We never…

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On the Ice Fields

Cold Latitudes

We are on the Schweizerland glaciers, hiking along, deep in the rhythm of the hike. Most of our attention is focused on keeping our rope tight, so that a fall into a crevasse would be arrested instantly.
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During breaks, while me colleagues eat and rest, I collect my first two snow samples. Twice, I fill a ziplock bag with surface snow from a square I have drawn next to me, awkwardly, with an ice axe. At the end of the day, I will melt the snow and filter it to capture the dust and black carbon  it contains. Black carbon comes from the incomplete combustion of organic compounds, such as forest fires. Black carbon and dust travel along local and planetary wind highways to land on snow and ice and change their reflectivity and heat absorption rates – and, therefore, their melting rate. Scientists are keenly interested in understanding how…

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Onto the Glaciers

Cold Latitudes

The boat recedes into the distance, taking our injured ice team member away. We stand on the beach surrounded by tall peaks in all directions. North along the beach we hike, among stranded Mars rover-sized icebergs, and reach our entry point into the Schweizerland glacier system – a very long terminal moraine left behind as the glacier pulls back.

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As we trek towards the glacier, to our right, a loud stream carries the melt from the glacier. It has cut a handsome waterfall through a layer of softer rock. We climb and admire the waterfall from above, standing on hard, deep purple rocks. As we approach the ice, we run into “quicksand” pits – a mix of water and glacier flour – where our legs sink to the knees and come back repainted in gray. All around us, bright moss puts a green splash on this white, gray, brown, and…

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I Don’t Call Myself a Dog Mom, But I Don’t Care If You Do

by Lara of Rubicon Days

Laraa with Ruby and Boca

Laraa with Ruby and Boca

There has been an editorial circulating lately, not unlike articles before it, written by an oddly bitter mother of three admonishing pet guardians who choose to refer to their dogs as “babies” or “furkids.” It’s not the first of its kind, but it’s drawn a lot of attention because it is particularly critical and overly defensive, and the author attests that it is an insult to “real” mothers for people to compare pets to children. This woman is really angry. I’m not going to link to it here, but if you haven’t seen it, just Google “No, Your Dog Is Not Your Baby.”

I don’t call myself a dog mom. I prefer to refer to myself as their guardian, because my dogs had mothers, and I’m not their mother. It’s a semantics thing – perhaps being a poet, I want the exactly right word to describe my relationship to them, and to be completely honest  I haven’t found it yet, but ‘guardian’ sits well with me. By that same token, my friends, family and pet professionals often refer to me as such. When my dogs greet me after work my dad says to them “Your mom’s home!” When my vet brings Boca up from the back of the office she say’s “There’s mom!” My best friend says “You’re such a good dog mom.” My girlfriends threw me a dog shower to celebrate Boca’s adoption. Sometimes I use the hashtag “dog mom” on my Instagram pictures because I know it will get them more views. Plenty of my blogger friends like Amanda from Dog Mom Days and Kimberly from Keep the Tail Waggingrefer to themselves as dog moms and it doesn’t bother me in the least – why should it? Their dogs, their families, their identities. It doesn’t infringe on my relationship with my dogs or what I choose to call them.

Why, then, are some of these mommy bloggers so up in arms about it? I must admit that it reminds me a little of people who feel threatened by gay marriage. Why is someone else’s idea of motherhood an insult to your own? I also wonder if it is one of the last holdovers of the perceived threat or discomfort with the unmarried, single and/or childless woman. So what if someone wants to dress their dog up or push it around in a stroller (as long as these things don’t cause stress for the dog)? So what if someone wants to call their dog their baby, furkid, son or dogter? I have trouble understanding how this is a personal affront to someone who has chosen to have children. Read more . . 

My Dad and Bailey – Saying Goodbye

My Dad and Bailey – Saying Goodbye

By Melanie Ross

Bailey is our Border Collie. He’s amazing! He goes to work with my husband almost everyday and has most of the guys trained to keeping the kind of treats he likes in their work stations. My Dad worked for my husband and did lots of deliveries for him, usually taking Bailey along. He was my Dad’s co-pilot.

MelanieandDad2

My father was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer in September of 2012. Dad was kind of a silent observer and didn’t waste much time on what he would consider useless chatter. My Dad didn’t always have a ‘way with’ people, but he had a ‘way with’ dogs.

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Towards the end of his first round of chemotherapy he would have almost a week of feeling poorly. I spent a lot of evenings and weekends over at their house just hanging out and watching tv. Our Border Collie, Bailey, was always with me. All I had to do was walk to the door and ask if he wanted to go see his pappy and he was at my side.

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Bailey’s personality isn’t what most people think of when they think Border Collie. He’s a hard core player when he is outside, but when he is inside, he is like a 90 year old man. He’s just laid back and extremely docile. He’s also kind of an independent dog. He loves people, but he pretty much likes to be at your feet rather than on the couch beside you. So Bailey spent a lot of time laying at my Dad’s feet, which was good because my Dad’s skin was so fragile you could hardly touch him without hurting him or tearing his skin. We had to be careful the dogs didn’t get excited and jump up and hurt him.

About a year into his treatment Dad decided the treatments were just too hard on him and he was having so few good days that he made the decision to just let things take their course and enjoy what remaining days he had. He did pretty well for about six months and then he really started to decline. He went from a cane to a walker, to a wheelchair, to being mostly bed bound in a short span of time. Our visits increased and Bailey was always happy to go and just lie near Dad, wherever he was.

My Dad’s last two weeks were hard. He could barely get around and it took my husband, brother, mother and myself to be able to keep him at home. Hospice was called in at this point and we moved a hospital bed into the living room so he could be where everybody else was. My husband, brother and I took turns staying there. Anytime I was there, so was Bailey.

MelanieandDad

Dad’s final two nights were bad and we ended up calling hospice in both nights. The morning my a Dad died I was getting ready to take Bailey for our morning run. We had slept on the couch to be near him and hospice had been in the night before because he had such a bad night the previous night. At this visit we decided we should put him on morphine to get ahead of his pain rather than to try and catch up with it once something happened. As I was getting ready to run, I was texting my brother and my husband to ask if they thought I should wake Dad to administer morphine or let him be because he was breathing so steadily and he was so peaceful. During this time Bailey walked into the room and laid his head on my Dad’s bed at his hand and just stood there. After a minute or two he walked over to me and laid his head on my lap, too. I looked at my Dad and realized Bailey was trying to tell me my father had passed away and he had been there for him. I walked over to check on my Dad and he was gone. Bailey knew the time had come and he was there for him.

Lots of things have to happen when someone passes away at home. Hospice comes and pronounces the person deceased, family members come to pay respects, and the funeral director comes. They take care of your loved one and then take them to fulfill their final wishes. As they took my Dad out on a stretcher and loaded him in the van Bailey came outside with us all. We were all standing there when Bailey put his paw on the bumper with full intentions to take my Dad’s final ride with him. We had to call him back.

It is unbelievable to me what a dog can sense and I don’t know how he knew, but he did. All I know is I feel better knowing that Bailey was there for Dad in his final moments and I know it was a comfort to my Dad, too. What Bailey did for my Dad that day is something I won’t ever forget. As I said, he’s an amazing dog.

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