Category Archives: poetry

Dog, Dog, Dog…Where are we going?


Complacency has its charms. 


For dog years and weight gain.

To create a desired easy-going dog,

Can kinda work.



I can’t just wait for a surprise destiny.


Should I or should I not face.

To create the fulfilled potential of a dog partnership.

Consistently building.



Where are we, dog and me, going?


Knowing the direction, avoiding false paths.

To create something more than ever before.

Resiliency and tenacity.


Guster Longjaws (1 yr old) being silly with his leash.


What about you? Have you thought it through? Did any of your dogs do anything special? Will this current dog be more than those prior pooches?

There are as many reasons for having dogs as there are people with dogs. There are many reasons why having a dog(s) can make you happy. Think carefully … the way it makes you feel, the friends you meet, how you feel, the achievements, the competition, how happy your dog is to do certain things and where you get to go. Write them all down and prioritize everything.

Now make a list of all the things that bother you about having a dog. Write down the things you dislike because they are scary, or things that are just a pain, or that don’t make any sense to you, or that really tick you off. Write down anything that bothers you about the sport you would like to be involved in (are involved in). Then rank those in the same manner, from the worst to the least offensive.

Now (with the two lists) you have a mini summary of the pros and cons of your dog-owning relationship. Now it is time to determine the connections.

Would you hop in a car and drive around aimlessly for years and years without a final destination in mind, without so much as a GPS to get there? That is absolutely what many people do in getting a dog. They have not established a dream and have not established any goals (roadmap).

So what do you really like about doing with your dog? Can you think about an aspect that you could pursue to maximize the pleasurable experiences while minimizing your dislikes? Would the challenge of competition, the peace of hiking, the camaraderie of team sports, or something you hadn’t even considered before satisfy those cravings?

Once you have sharpened your focus on where you want to go, nothing is insurmountable. It just takes real love of where you are headed, a motivation to get there, and some planning for the steps that will lead you to your goal. Take some time, sit down and find your direction.



Thankful for: wolf sized Nylabones to gnaw in comfort recline.
Thankful for: wolf-sized Nylabones to gnaw in comfort, total recline.
Thankful for: dog coats, wool blankets and dappled sunshine.
Thankful for: dog coats, wool blankets and dappled sunshine.
Thankful for: Fast feet, fun games and toys all mine.
Thankful for: Fast agile feet, fun winter frolics and sureness of direction.
Thankful, to do, to be, just thankful.
Thankful, to do, to be, just thankful, for time and reflection.


Come here – dog don’t leave

Come to you?

Why would I?

The smells waft up from the grass beckoning,

The furred creatures run and chatter fast, but not faster than me.

My sometimes pleasant partner complains, drags slowly, makes angry noises and threatens me.

I see a glimpse of my quarry in the distance, I can catch it, I can chase it.

The joy of running, the joy of running.

Why would I come, why would I stay near?

PuppyclassesJuly302013 058

Are you and your dog in the above poem?

You thinking that you need to ‘make’ your dog come or ‘make’ them stay with you. And your dog only wanting to leave because being near you is no fun and being away is lots of fun, so if they can steal the joy they will.

How did you happen to become the barrier to joy instead of the conduit. Even in puppy kindergarten the other puppies are so much fun to play with and the humans tend to want to be observers instead of actively joining in the fun. And then when it’s time to return to learning people/puppy cues, they drag the pup away from their playmates instead of offering him a choice to join up in a new fun game. PuppyclassesJuly302013 053

Make choices, think differently – you can join in the fun and play so it’s great together or you can go down the path of continuing to think about “making him do it” and be angry that control of other living creatures is ever out of reach. You can become the gateway, you can become an active player or you can keep on becoming angry and figure out how to punish your so-called best friend because he’s thwarted you on purpose.

The choice is yours, but either way you go it will be frustrating. It’s fun, but also hard to be proactive and reward the right choices, to see the pieces and respond to the first little piece when you want more because there is pressure to react and try to fix everything at once, Being proactive and training is totally opposite of being reactive and correcting.

How do you become the conduit to fun and joy?

Think of what your pup likes — have it, do it. Be prepared every time you’re with him. Reward early, reward fast while pup is doing the thing you want.

  • start with their top preferences and use these as rewards
  • then expand his likes – food, toys, games

Make the fun contingent on him doing something for you – and be absolute about this, no free rides, no stealing.

  • start with easy stuff, pup wants to go outside, wait for him to sit before you open the door – same for crate gate, food, petting (note wait means just wait – no complaining, nagging, pushing – no visits to the punitive side, just silently wait).
  • hand target – reward for nose touch to palm
  • kiss, kiss – reward for coming then release to go play
  • sit, tug game, sit
  • name game – reward for his look when saying his name
  • run away come – say their name, when they look, run away, reward when you’re caught
  • held back recall – have someone hold your dog so they have to burst after you when you call and run away
  • hide and seek – pup needs to find you for reward
  • toss food, send to find, run away, play tug when they catch you
  • send to crate, call and run, reward
  • etc … think of games, pups like movement and chase and sniffing games

No fun without you: Prevent, manage early on so they don’t just get to go have great fun without you – you need to be part of fun stuff. This means being actively involved – moving, cheering, interacting (not standing watching – that’s not active). Keep the cycles of fun balanced – control cue release, playing with another pup, then interaction with you (note that dogs really enjoy their own species so you will need to ratchet up your desirability if you let them party very much with canine friends).

Prevent things that are fun, but that won’t be allowed – chasing the cat or horses or car, ripping up things, wandering to the neighbors, eating off the counter, climbing on people or furniture, whatever your rules are start the way you mean to continue,

You are the gateway for fun and you need to have fun! Isn’t the relationship the point after all. And then being with you, coming to you will be amazing, will be easy, it will be freedom.

Warning signs that your recall training isn’t what it needs to be

  • having to call more than once
  • pup starting to come, but then finds something else to sniff
  • if there’s something more interesting your dog acts deaf/no response to calls
  • won’t come away from food, friends, or whatever that’s interesting so you know not to call then

What to do then

Prevent/manage freedom. Dog needs to get much less freedom so that rewards from the environment don’t trump your rewards. And you need to markedly increase the fun/value your dog has for you. Play fun and exciting recall  games three to five minutes daily for the next 2 months. And each time your dog takes the choice to ignore you (so you have to call twice or more or go get them) you are 20 recalls in the hole and they are up 1 (if you want a tally system) – so it adds three days of practice.

Once you have a great recall, maintain it by playing recall games at least once a month … forever. It’s fun anyway, so why not.

Why would I foster a shelter dog?

Why would I foster a shelter dog?

Jax learning to respond to a kiss-kiss noise (since most people can make this sound it's easy to use as a positive interuptor).
Jax learning to respond to a kiss-kiss noise (since most people can make this sound it’s easy to use as a positive interrupter).

It’s a hassle, it disrupts the household, it takes time and they’re usually unruly. I’m giving away my expertise for free.

They need it.

They bark, they chew, they make messes, they come from checkered pasts. They expect bad behavior from people and worry. They’re fearful or overly assertive. I’m more likely contacted for the loud and rowdy ones, who are fearful underneath.

They need it.

They jump up, leave bruises, pull on leashes, rush doorways and are careless with their teeth. They don’t know; how to accept grooming, how to greet people, how to come when called, how to play well …

They need it.

Whoever adopts them has no clue what the difference was.

The new owners may propagate the same old bad behaviors all over again. But maybe not.

They need it. Maybe it’s the difference in their lives.

I get to know them. Get my patience stretched, use all my many strategies to get them to make good choices. Then they start to be like my dog – a dog that knows good things and that I would like and then it’s time for them to go.


Max the April snow dog

Snowy April morning, blue skies, new, clean snow, burnished fur,

Ready for the morning walk, running games, silliness,

Ready for the new scents, cat tracks, anything ….. I guess,

Twelve years old, no longer young, time passed, sentimental blur.

But ready, always ready to enjoy the day.

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Pleasure is a green ball

Pleasure is a green ball that used to have a bell inside, but now it doesn’t.

Pleasure is a warm blanket that used to be up on the chair, but now it isn’t.

Pleasure is rolling around in the dappled sunlight

On top of the ball, on top of the carpet, on top of the blanket and inside the blanket.

While the cat just stares.

It’s all good.

And So We Ran – a dog’s life

And so we ran till the tracks filled the bases of the pines in the snow gloom. I was wet with flakes and filled with the smells of hidden rabbits and squirrel terror…a dog’s life exciting and beautiful.