@CanidaePetFood Live Twitter #blogpawschat


I had the privilege of participating in a live twitter chat last night with special guest @canidaepetfood.  I was excited to learn that they would be joining #blogpawschat (usually every wednesday at 8pm) because, even before I began blogging, I was aware that Canidae was one of the best pet foods on the market today.

It is always interesting how participating in live chats with brands, inevitably, humanizes them in my eyes.  Learning about how a company came about, their core values, and basic mission is illuminating!

One of the things that I did not know is that Canidae is a family owned and operated business and has been since they were founded in 1996.  That is something that is near and dear to my heart, as I am a firm believer that large corporations are a bane to all but the filthy rich.

I asked one particular question of @canidaepetfood that was the catalyst for this article.  I believe that the answer is indicative of the kind of company that deserves my business and support.  The question was :2016-04-13_16h01_47

For those that are wondering, it’s been awhile since I shopped for pet food at Walmart, but I don’t remember there being any food that I would be willing to feed my furkids.  The “big” companies in the pet food industry use so many fillers, by product meat sources, etc that there food is the dog equivalent of eating Mcdonalds for breakfast, Burger King for lunch, and  Taco Bell for dinner every single day.

The answer to the question was:


Such a simple statement about the quality of their food!  I don’t know many national human food companies that would be willing to give this answer!

There are many benefits that Canidae outlined in our chat last night as well, all of which I followed up and verified.  It’s definitely worth a look at their website http://www.canidae.com/ to get an idea of what they have to offer and if it will be a good fit for your pet!


Every day is an Adventure #6


Just got off the phone with K2. The vet is going to keep Darby awake for most of the day today to see if his vitals stabilize on their own. If this happens then we will be able to take Darb-a-doo to his interim stay at the head honcho’s house. After seeing that short video of him yesterday I’m feeling really hopeful that my boy will pull himself through the woods. I am sending all the love and healing vibes that I possibly can at this moment.

Lynus and Emmitt are both crated right now because they are too much for me before I get at least 3 cups of coffee. Darby used to buffer Lynus because they love to rough house with one another, thus freeing up myself and the other dogs from chasing him all over the house and yard. Lynus is starting to grasp the concept of calming down though so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Emmitt just loves the fact that he is alive and treats everything he encounters like it is the most amazing thing he has ever seen in his life. From a stick outside to the blanket on our bed, he is just enjoying life to the max, which is pretty cool to watch if I do say so myself 🙂


Darby spent the day awake and, although his vitals didn’t improve much, the prognosis seems to be becoming increasingly positive as we get updates. “Doc” wants to keep him under medical supervision for a bit longer but I am hopeful that after another couple of days some of his pain will subside and he will be able to move to his “halfway” house.

IMG_0306I was able to participate in a live twitter chat tonight and learned some pretty interesting tips and tricks for pet photography. Sully is notoriously hard to photograph indoors because he is shiny, jet black. It’s either don’t use the flash and have a dark black blob against whatever background or use the flash and have a devil panther dog threatening to eat my soul through the photograph!


IMG_0304The thing that really sticks out to me is using white cardboard to fill in light around him, it makes perfect sense and I really cant wait to try it. It is definitely worth a look to visit http://www.k9studiophotography.com/ , even if you don’t speak spanish, just to see the beautiful photography.

I also learned about an interesting conference that is coming up here soon. http://petsittinglive.com/ is going to be about everything “pet business” related. I would love to attend but the crew and little lady keep me anchored to our house, preventing any excursions. Which, in this case, is a bummer, but usually I don’t mind in the least. The little lady, K2, and my dogs are much more interesting and enjoyable than most people I meet anyway!

We had a short lived spat between Cece and the newest temp foster Emmitt. For some reason Cece is just not liking this guy. My suspiscion is that he is the first intact male she has ever encountered and it is not something that she is happy about. I’m going to do some research on if that is actually a documented “thing” and will post the results.

Don’t forget to share Darby’s fundraising page for his surgery and recovery (and donate if at all possible)!

1st Worst Mistake New Dog Owners Make

punched-624751_960_720Imagine your child (or future child, if you don’t have children yet) comes home from school one day with a huge black eye. After the initial shock of such a gruesome injury on your baby, anger starts to take over, “what happened, who did this to you?!?”


Little one looks down at the floor, “Teacher did…”.


Your blood boils over, “what possible reason could your teacher have for hitting you?!”


His face turns red, he tries to make himself invisible, “he said I was displaying dominant behavior like an alpha male chimpanzee…”


This story is absurd, right? Anyone reading it probably thinks I’ve lost my mind by the time you reach the end. But, what if I told you that this story plays out every single day, in millions of households across America, and even on network television!?


The 1st worst mistake new dog owners make is listening or adhering to the tenants put forth by something called “Dominance Theory”


What is Dominance theory?


Dominance Theory(DT from here on out) states that “a hierarchy based on dominance relationships(dominant individuals vs. submissive individuals) is the organizing principle in –dog– social groups.


If you are at all familiar with the “Dog Whisperer” show, Cesar Milan uses this theory in his methods. Many, many, many people in the dog world abhor this man, myself included, because his tactics are animal cruelty plain and simple. Yet the public remains largely uneducated about why this theory is incorrect and why the methods it proposes are so abusive.


Overview of problems with DT.


There are many issues that come into play when we discuss why DT is incorrect. I will touch on the larger ones here.


-The original purpose of the research that led to DT was conducted on wolves. It was meant to try to define wolf social behavior and was never meant to be shoehorned into an explanatory role of dog social behavior.


-These same studies have been largely discredited by later studies because they were initially conducted on groups of wolves that were not natural packs. These “forced” packs displayed unnatural behavior that has never been reproduced in the study of natural packs in the wild.


-There are a lot of issues with these studies because of the time they were conducted and who authored them. There has been a litany of proposed observational biases that the researchers showed. This is almost impossible to prove so I can’t say one way or the other if it is true, but it’s important to make ourselves aware of the existence of such predispositions when we are looking at behavioral studies.


-Perhaps the most glaring problem with DT, and the studies associated with its bedrock principles is that it asks us to take behavior that was observed(incorrectly, as mentioned above) in wolves and to apply those tendencies to dogs based solely on a genetic ancestry. It is akin to the teacher in the story hitting the child because he was displaying behavior that chimpanzees show when trying to assert their dominance to other chimps. As you can see, the idea that we are asked to do this in DT is completely ridiculous.


I want to touch on some of the most prominent conclusions of those that believe in DT  that I commonly see from dog owners. Unfortunately, these methods have, somehow, become ingrained in our culture.


“Your dog is trying to dominate you”


-Whether it be running in front of their owner, winning a game of tug of war, going through the door first, etc, etc, people often assume that their dog is trying to dominate them. It simply is not true. Dog’s don’t form tight-knit social groups that would necessitate any displays of dominance and have no reason, whatsoever, to dominate their owner’s. It’s actually quite easy to see the proof of this if you ever see a gathering of more than a few dogs. They form loose, temporary groups while interacting with each other. Unless there is a dog there with behavioral issues that have nothing to do with her need to dominate other dogs(usually this behavior is based on fear), you will see a few come together, then go do something else, then form another group with new members, and so on.


One of the issues that many people attribute to being the result of a dog  trying to dominate their owner  is guarding their food or toys. Quoting a study done in 2003 “Thus, it is assumed that food guarding is an early sign of a “dominant personality”in a dog (Overall 1997). In fact, this correlation is a result of operant conditioning. In guarding food, aggression may be reinforced by the other (human) animal’s withdrawing to a greater distance. The reinforced behavior emancipates itself and, reinforced in other situations, becomes a generalized behavior. This is an example of the way in which statistical analysis can produce trivial information and serve to mask rather than reveal the mechanisms which are, in fact, operating. It is also an example of how a model, once adopted as a persistent belief, can act as a filter distorting perceptions to the point that observations lose all value and enter the realm of fantasy.”


So why is DT #1?


If you have ever watched Cesar Milan’s show then you know the answer to this question. The methods that this theory advocates are extremely violent and dangerous for everyone, including the dog,  involved in the training.


In addition to being abusive, violent, and cruel. The methods that DT would have a dog owner employ also don’t work for an overwhelming majority of dogs!




Yup, you read that correctly.


This type of training only works for the most resilient, mentally toughest, “hard”, individuals. What will usually happen with most dogs is something called shutdown and fallout which do not fit the definition of “work” in my book–nor anyone else’s that I know–.


A bit of back story here to define shutdown. There was a study done a long time ago before ethical considerations would have prevented it from happening, where dogs were subjected to a room with an apparatus(floor or box) that delivered a continuous, painful, electric shock.


Some dogs were put in rooms that had a switch that would turn off the electrified object and thus stop the excruciating pain. These dogs learned very quickly to hit the switch when the it was turned on (obviously right?).


There were other dogs, though, that were subjected to rooms that had no switch. Which meant that absolutely nothing the dogs did would turn off the shock. These dogs eventually just laid down in the middle of the floor and coped with the pain. These dogs developed what is known as “learned helplessness” and even when they were given access to rooms with a switch, or even rooms with an exit, they just continued to lie in the middle of the floor. This is shutdown, and it is what happens when a dog is exposed to training methods such as those proposed by DT trainers.
The reason why this, thoroughly debunked, the theory is so stubborn about going away is because of something caused suppression.


What happens is that the behavior in question, let’s say pulling on the leash during walks for example, when met with a leash pop(in our example), stops until the leash pull stops, then the behavior starts again, leash pop, stops again, leash pull stops, pulling starts again,  and on and on and on. I think most people have seen this scenario play out with their own eyes. The owner feels like they are accomplishing “training” in these cases because the behavior is suppressed for a short time but in reality, all they are doing building up the associations that will eventually lead to more problematic behavior. This type of training is referred to as “nagging” and is very ineffective, most of the time, leading to shutdown in the dog.  So the owner feels like the training is “working”(because of the short-term results) but, as we have shown, that is far from the case with most dogs.


The other, more serious, major issue with DT training is fallout. The easiest way to understand fallout, in my opinion, is to think of a statistic that I’ve heard a lot when people talk about abuse victims. I don’t know the exact number off hand, but a large portion of those who suffered abuse as children, grow up to be abusers themselves. This is due to the mental issues related to the fallout from the trauma of being abused.


In dog’s, fallout can manifest itself in many ways, from aggression to extreme fear, to phobias. The mental problems that DT training causes  are more numerous than I could possibly get through here. Suffice to say that many dogs subjected to these training methods will end up being euthanized because of the mental issues that the DT training caused.


So we come full circle and have arrived at the reason why #1 on our list is DT related training. A huge number of dogs are surrendered to the pound every day because of behavioral issues. It would be impossible to figure out how many of those problems were directly associated with their owner’s use of DT training, but I’m willing to bet the number is quite large.


The best way to avoid this mistake is to use training methods that are based, mostly, on positive reinforcement. Mainly because it works, but also because your dog will be happy, healthy, and any problematic behavior can be trained as opposed to, alpha rolled away.


Some great resources for +R(positive reinforcement) training can be found below:


Karen Pryor clicker training


Kikopup Youtube channel


Also, I have dedicated a section to our blog that lists books that only deal with +R methods.  This list also contains books that deal with specific behavioral problems and a section dedicated specifically to puppies.


Book list

This last entry in our series of the top 10 worst mistakes new dog owners make will also be piggybacking into our next series.  We will be dealing with an in-depth, scientific,  foray into dog behavior.  From learning to competition, we will delve into our favorite 4 legged friends world!
If you missed them, here are our 1st2nd, 3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10th  worst mistakes new dog owners make

Every Day is an Adventure #5

I am writing today filled with hope. The vet’s office just sent me a video of Darby standing up on his own for the first time since his surgery yesterday. https://twitter.com/4daall/status/719285931535122432

His tail is wagging like crazy and I can tell he still has a lot of fight left in him. It makes me feel like he is going to make it through this! It has given me enough confidence that we have already started to make plans for when he is released from the hospital.

IMG_1866The young lady who runs Rugaz Rescue is going to keep him for a short time, in order to keep him hooked up to an IV. Which means that we are, temporarily, taking care of another demodex boy, Emmitt, while he recovers.  He is a really good boy, but I really just cannot wait to have Darby snuggling into me again. .
We did just do Emmitt’s nails live on periscope, which I just discovered and now I want to live stream everything!

He is a really sweet boy. It’s funny that I say that about every single dog that comes through our doors, but I think that is more of a statement about the misconceptions associated with bully breeds more so than a statement of our abilities as a dog foster family.IMG_1867

He is still intact so I’ll be watching him like a father on prom night. He will not be defiling any of my innocent, sweet girls or soiling their chastity in any way, shape, or form. Speaking of which, I feel bad for the little lady when she starts dating :). I’m going to train all the dogs to attack anything with boy parts under the age of 21!, I kid, but it will not be a pleasant experience to date my baby, that is for sure.

In other good news, I found a place not too far from us that offers all sorts of dog sports. I’m especially interested in getting Mama Coral on a lure course. She is, by far, our most athletic crew member, and I think she would absolutely love participating. I also want to give dock diving, weight pulling, and lure coursing a go with Boo and Sully. We will see how that goes. I’ll be sure to let you guys know if it works out. I really hope I can get Sully to do dock diving!

Every day is an Adventure #4

7fcf029c-7a48-4fe3-8d23-f55ed1ee475dToday has been a difficult day. It feels like my soul has been inundated with an incalculable weight made purely of grief. Everything I did today made me think of my Darby. I called Lynus by his name at least a dozen times. Every toy I saw made me picture his ridiculous face. The stand I use to hold my camera when making videos made me think of his silly, gallop in place, dance step, thing that he does. Every time he popped in my head I felt the need to curl up in a ball and cry.

I find that in the hardest times, my dogs provide me with a comfort that not much else can. It helps to just plop down in the middle of the four of them and stay there. I did that a lot today. At one point Boo laid her head on the side of mine. As a result, the sound of her breathing began to resonate in my ears. After a few minutes of listening to it, that sound suddenly shook me  from the darkness that was invading my thoughts.

It occurred to me that life can be hard. Sometimes it just flat out sucks. It is on me to find the will to break the chains of sadness and pain that would hope to bind me to a spiral of depression.  That will, very often,  has a mysterious way of revealing itself.  The sound of Boo breathing was where I found it today. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed, let alone writing today, but she gave me the motivation to do both.

It is amazing to me how animal’s in general and dogs specifically have a 6th sense of how to handle their human’s emotional ebb and flow. I have read stories of dog’s bringing the most random things to their owners in times of severe emotional turmoil –a sock is one that is sticking out in my head right now– and while a random sock may have very little intrinsic value to any one person, the act of our best friend bringing it to us, in order to give us hope in our darkest times, is something that is priceless.  I seriously wonder if Boo didn’t, somehow, know exactly what I needed to break me out of my funk today and, subsequently, do that thing for no other reason than that she loves me.

I am thankful for my dogs. I am thankful that Darby doo is still alive and fighting to get back to us. Most of all I am thankful that I have the opportunity to help the dogs that we do. The lessons I learn from them are invaluable. They give me back so much for the simple act of helping them, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be their student.

Every day is an Adventure #3


We had another bit of drama this morning.  Our sweet foster Darby was acting really strange when I woke up, he wasn’t moving as well as he normally does, and just had an odd look in his eye.

After I had my coffee, I went to feed the dogs and instantly noticed that Darbs was having trouble moving around.  It looked like he had aged 10 yrs in a night and every bone in his body was riddled with arthritis.

Waiting for his ride to the vet :(
Waiting for his ride to the vet 🙁

My initial thought was that he had over exerted himself playing with Lynus, so I decided to feed him to see if he would eat.  He wouldn’t, I knew right then that something was very wrong.

I made a few calls and he is currently at the vet’s for observation.  We thought he might have a blockage due to something he ate that he wasn’t suppose to, but the X-rays have all been negative so far.

The worst part of this for me is thinking that we abandoned him –like his last owners–.  I just finished a post about giving dogs human emotions in our minds, but it’s hard not to think about what he must be thinking.

I will keep everyone updated on his condition as I know more.


We just recieved word that Darby had complications with his surgery.  At this point I’m being told that he has to make it through tonight and then he has a 50/50 shot of being ok.  I’m beside myself with grief.  I feel like a failed my boy when he trusted me.  I told him nothing bad would ever happen to him again, that turns out not to be true.  My heart is broken and I wish I could hold him, tell him to fight, and that life will get better.  We did a lot today but I can’t bring myself to write or think of anything else but Darby.

Every day is an Adventure #2

It was an awful morning!  Apparently Mother Nature decided we didn’t get enough rain in March, so she gave us the whole month’s worth last night!

Needless to say that wasn’t a great start, but on top of the flooding, my mastiff babies left me this morning to go to their forever homes.  They were really a joy IMG_3300 - Copyto foster.  Helga’s whiny howling became so entertaining to me after I became ear blind to it(trademarked term 😛 ), and everytime I looked at Otis all I could hear was eeyore’s voice!

So our house officially has zero puppies in it for the first time in 4 months!  I can’t say I’m all too pleased with the situation either.  If you don’t already know, puppies are nature’s best anti-depressant! Feeling blue? Snuggle a puppy, problem solved.  Want to punch someone about the head and shoulders at work? Snuggle a puppy…what was I angry about again?  I’ll have to send the girls(K2 and her bestie) to animal services to get me moar puppies!!! I kid, I kid, it’s always a good idea to decompress a bit before jumping into another litter.

On the up side, Mama Irelyn came home today from her 2 day heartIMG_1711worm treatment.  She is such a joy to be around, especially after dealing with the energy cyclone that is Lynus and Darby doo.  She is, slowly but surely, coming around to a much better place. IMG_1712 She snuggles into my hand when I rub under her neck now.  She just seems to be so much more happy and relaxed then the day she arrived.  She has a solid month of crate rest ahead of her to prevent any complications from the treatment, but after that she is going to be ready for her forever home.

We posted the video of Otis’ family meeting him for the first time a bit earlier.  The kids didn’t know he was coming and their reaction is absolutely priceless.  It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of a pup’s journey and actually get to see the joy he brings his people!

Tomorrow I plan on working with Lynus on some impulse control games so that we can start to harness his crazy.  My dog’s are truly unsung heroes in raising these pups.  They are so good at letting the babies know the difference between right and wrong without seriously hurting them.  Lynus is a special case though.  He is a very energetic puppy with very little awareness of himself or people.  He definitely needs me to teach him the ways of the force.

I’ll let you all know how it goes!



2nd Worst Mistake New Dog Owners Make

labrador-243655_960_720You come home from a long day at work expecting the worst.   Your new dog loses his mind when you leave in the morning and destroys the house while you are gone to get back at you for leaving.  You cringe at the thought of the chaos you are about to enter.  You think to yourself, “Self, why is my dog so spiteful, I have to work, why does he rip the house apart to get back at me?”.

While the story may seem silly to some, it is extremely common for new dog owners to endow their dog’s with uniquely human motivations for problem behavior.  Our 2nd mistake is assigning a new dog with malicious, spiteful intentions when they make a mistake.  Dogs do not, nor ever have, willfully destroyed a couch because they were mad at their owner.  Nor have they pooped in a favorite pair of shoes because they weren’t taken for a walk the day before.  It is not within the capabilities of a dog to have such intentions.

A perfect example, that I can relate from personal experience, is a story from when we first started fostering Mama Coral.   It was Halloween and the whole fam was decked out –including Sully– to go fill our coffers with as much candy as humanely possible.  I put Cece and Mama Coral in their devil-1193290_960_720kennels to keep everyone seperated –I am not willing to trust that nothing will happen in my absence– and we were on our way.  Fortunately I realized that I had forgot my phone and had to come back to get it.   When I stepped through the door, Mama Coral greeted me! She had broken out of her kennel in the 5 minutes that I had been gone.

I was faced with a conundrum. I couldn’t put her in a crate that she could escape, and I couldn’t let her be around the dogs while where were gone.  My solution was to  put her in our downstairs bathroom with the door shut.  I got her set up and went to catch up with my girls.

When we got back with our bags, upon bags, of candy treasure, I opened the bathroom door to find that Mama had chewed  the entire trim off  the door frame!  If I had not known better, it would have been easy for me to attribute this destruction to her anger about being left in the bathroom.  Truth is, she had some serious separation anxiety back then, and she was terrified.

You may be asking yourself, “what’s the big deal, why is this number 2?”.  This mistake ranks so high on our list because, as humans, we take offense to acts that we deem to be directed at us in a negative way.  Countless dogs have been yelled at, hit, or worse, just because they had an accident, or didn’t know any better, because their owner’s thought that the dog was acting out in order to “return the favor” for some perceived slight against her.

It is so important to educate one’s self on the particulars of dog behavior in order to understand why any problematic behavior is occurring.  Imagine if I had lost my temper with Mama when she chewed the door frame, she would have developed an even worse case of separation anxiety, because now, not only, is she stressed beyond belief about being left alone, but she is also terrified of someone actually coming home and what will happen to her when they do!

There are many books available on every kind of behavioral issue that you can imagine.  In our recommended book section, I have broken down the different categories to give anyone, who is willing to learn, the resources they need to have a happy, healthy, and well behaved dog and avoid mistake #2!

Our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th worst mistakes new dog owners make