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Archive for May, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Quig and Mara say Thanks!

Thanks to all who have served and continue to serve!

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Honor Ky Day

Today marks a year since Ky left his broken earthly vessel. I can’t say the year has flown by, but neither has it dragged too excruciatingly slowly. In the beginning it was pretty difficult. I felt lost. It’s gotten easier to function without him next to me as time has passed.  It took until February before I could even mention his name in my group classes without choking up.

I truly believe he brought Quig into our lives-probably as much for Quig as for me. It hasn’t been until the last couple months I healed enough to really focus on the gift he brought me in Quiggers. I’ve just begun to notice how similar Quig is to what Ky was when Ky first came to us. This realization has opened some new thoughts in my head and allowed me to get deeper into Quig’s.  That process is actually opening up my heart enough to let Quig in down deep and proper where dogs belong.

I’m seriously thinking Quig may be my next demo dog. While that’s been thought about before with Ledum (before he got off the plane & we saw his structure), and Tringa (before her ghastly hip report), even with Quigger’s questionable hips, he may actually be the one.

It’s true that I put whatever dog living in our house to whatever task they’re up for. Ledum has very bad structure. He works teaching first aid students about bad structure and its risks. He also gets to help out in puppy class by lying on the floor and playing with puppies. He loves this! He trots his big frame out and sends them all running with his size and then lies on the floor to become their furry trampoline.

Tringa does well as the main therapy dog. Lying quietly in school being read to and being fawned over with treats at intervals makes her very happy.

Mara is the original Ky-assistant-to-become-replacement. She helped him do lots of things. Now she does things he used to do and some of her own things. For some reason, though, people assume because of her breed (GSD) she just does these things naturally without training. That misconception makes it difficult to convince people their own dog can dog be trained to do these things also. Having a Leo for a demo dog helps show people any dog, even theirs, can be trained. Quig may help with people understand this.

Today I’ll take some quiet me time, some cry time, some happy time.

 I’ll spend some training time working on Quig’s fetch and general compliance to the high standard Ky set.

And Ky will be honored.

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Recently I saw an article that stated the number one complaint state forest rangers receive from the public in the state forest campgrounds concerns dogs. Complaints range from barking dogs left unattended on campsites, running loose in the campgrounds, dogs on beaches and in picnic areas to serious dog bites.

The rangers’ response to this was, of course, to strictly enforce the pet regulations -with good reason.

As a responsible pet owner, this saddens me greatly.

Something about being the setting of the Northwoods makes vacationing visitors think they don’t have enforce good dog behavior. Common sense seems to take a vacation, too.

Yes, we have trees and lakes and fresh air. Your dog can enjoy all this without having to run loose, chase wildlife and be a nuisance to residents (people and animals).

We have dangers not found in the urban environment: bears, porcupines, wolves. We have some dangers found in the urban environment: cars, poisons, skunks, other dogs.

It’s not all tourists contributing to this problem, however.

I would say one of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients is out of control dogs…but not THEIR dogs. Out of control dogs accosting their now mannerly dogs while they’re out on a walk…or even worse yet, their own yard!

This isn’t unusual. Trainer’s across the country talk about advice to give their clients about this problem. Some suggest carrying stun sticks-small stun guns. They say the sound of the static charge is usually enough to scare a dog off. This equipment is illegal is some places. The state of WI is one place this is illegal. Others suggest an air horn to scare off the offending canine. Trouble with that is it’ll most likely scare your own dog, too. On the way to work a couple weeks ago, I saw a woman walking her dog on the sidewalk. She was carrying a big, over-sized plastic wiffle ball bat. I suppose some people wondered why she was walking her dog with a bat. I didn’t wonder. I offered it up as a solution to some of my clients. It’s lighter than heavy walking sticks some carry.

If you find yourself out on a walk being approached by a strange dog, first thing- get your dog under control.  The SIT command is great for this. Step between your dog and the approaching dog. Your dog is trained and should hold his SIT behind you. Watch the approaching dog and trust your dog to do what you told it to do. Then protect your dog. You are the leader so act like it. Chase the offender off.  Use your air horn, walking stick or your BOOT.  Then work on getting your dog and yourself to safety.

One thing I will start recommending my clients carry on their walks is called Direct Stop or SprayShield. It’s a citronella-based spray similar to pepper spray. It sprays 10 feet. There are about 12 one-second sprays in a can and it’s reasonably priced. I’ve heard good things about it.

If you run into the same person(s) and dog(s) out of control on your walk, maybe educating them is an option. The more trained dogs with responsible owners we have out and about, the better equipped we will be as a group to defend ourselves and our rights.

Offer to walk together so you can be an example of a responsible dog owner without being in their face about it. Offer helpful, honest tips that may have helped you in the early stages of training. Don’t be confrontational. Remember what it was like to not have control of your own dog. Maybe discreetly place the business card of a trainer under the windshield wiper of their car while they’re chasing down their dog. Be helpful and use it as a training opportunity!

If the offending party is not approachable, make sure you and your dog stay safe-even if that means maybe having to find another place to frequent. Exposing your dog to potential attacks, unbalanced energy and negative experiences can make him lose trust in you. That can be very hard to rebuild.

The bottom line is to be polite and use common sense…even when on vacation!

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