Posts Tagged ‘Lexi’

Cold Weather Blues

January 5, 2010

This is the time of year (at least here in NE-Ohio…) that we all love! Okay, maybe not. I’m sure there are some of you that like to ski, snowmobile, shovel snow, and all the other fun winter sports! It’s also a time when many dogs love to go out and play!

My two dogs are loving the snow. For some reason, Lexi HAS to bite the snow as she runs around bounding over snow drifts. She and Shayna love to wrestle in the snow.

I’m often asked about dogs being outside and how long and about sweaters or covers and such. First, your veterinarian is a great source of information on how much exposure your dog might handle, but even then, guidelines are likely all you’ll get.

It’s a balance between your outside temperature, wind factors and your dog’s size, coat and activity level. A four pound hairless dog at 6 degrees sitting on your porch in the wind is going to last about 3 minutes. Okay, I really don’t know how long, but we have to use common sense! There are many dogs that have dual coats; the under coat for warmth, the outer coat for shedding water, etc. Maybe you have a short-haired boxer that only weighs 35 pounds. Say it’s only 30 degrees outside, but the dog is your jogging partner. If it’s not windy and you actually jog, your dog may very likely generate enough heat to not get cold during your run. However, if you cool down/walk the last 3 minutes to your home, your boxer could get chilled as they try to make the transition.

Shayna

There is no one right answer. Both of my dogs are basically built for colder weather. Big, furry, dual coated dogs. But I just don’t leave them out forever either. The other day, they were at a friend’s home. It was about 28 degrees or so. They played outside for almost 90 minutes with another German Shepherd and they never stopped running. They made a bee-line for the water dish when they did come in, but LOVED being outside playing!!

Lexi

Quite frankly, I’ve never quite understood how dogs react to temperature. My old dog, Buddy, was 1/2 Golden Retriever and 1/2 Yellow Lab. In the summer, he would go outside and lay in the direct sunlight in the gravel driveway when it was 80 degrees. Then he’d come inside and sleep by the air conditioning vent. Go figure!

My advice: Read up on your breed’s capabilities. Use common sense. Keep an eye on your dog.

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Adopting a Holiday Dog

December 7, 2009

I had a great day on Saturday. Much of it was spent at a dog adoption day with the Stark County Pound. The event was two-fold: 1) was to help adopt some of the great dogs they have there that need a home. 2) was to help raise money for Friends of the Pound. This organization supports the adoption efforts of the pound. The money they raise helps sponsor (pay for) the spay and neuter of some of the dogs that come through.

It was fun to see all the dogs and how they each react to their environment. One thing I always relate to my dog obedience clients is that if you are “shopping” for a warm and furry companion to bring home: Do Your Homework.

It is so easy to “fall in love” with a dog that somehow pulls your heart strings (more on this in a minute). The dog adoption facilities I am familiar with in this area all have nice areas outside where you can spend some time with the dogs and play/interact a bit. Utilize that space and time to your benefit! I think the first best rule in finding a “forever dog” for your home shouldn’t be like running to the store to get milk, yet I see it happen all the time. People say, “Yeah, we’re gonna run out Saturday morning and find a dog”. YIKES. “Run” says it all. They’re in a hurry. Maybe the parents promised Billy or Susie a dog for whatever reason. The worst thing you can do is rush. When we looked for Lexi, our German Shepherd, it took us over three weeks. We went to MANY pounds and visited many people that were offering for private adoption.

The entire “owning a dog” experience is expensive, in dollars, but in time as well. Tell the kids, “we’ll go looking on Saturday, but we will NOT bring a dog home.” MOST facilities allow you to put a hold on a dog for a few days. It gives you a chance to visit a couple other places and see what else is out there.

Utilize the trip to the pound as a family experience. Use the car ride to talk about responsibilities. Who will care for the dog? How will it be done? Where will you buy food? How much will you have to spend on toys, food, beds, kennels and more. Do you have $500 to spend on a pet in the next six months (you probably will)? There is very little in this world with as big a pay-off as the undying, uncomplicated love a dog has for us, but remember your responsibilities! I LOVE dogs and will likely always have at least one, but understanding my ownership responsibilities, I TOTALLY know what I’m getting in to (usually).

If one of the primary owners (assuming a spousal-type relationship in the home) doesn’t want the dog, ASSUME NOW that person will likely drag their feet to engage and help with care/feeding/training/etc. They may not care as much to be “on” the training as much as you, possibly even to the point of undermining your efforts. Might be a great time to evaluate THAT relationship before you start another one? And just so you know, yes I AM a professional dog obedience trainer, but even though I’m often asked, NO, I DON’T DO SPOUSAL training!! THAT would be interesting, eh? Maybe not!

On the point of starting another relationship… I hear all the time, “Well, our dog has {this issue: Fill in the blank!}, so we’re gonna get another dog to help fix it.” It is NOT the responsibility of one dog to “fix” another one. YOU ARE THE PACK LEADER, it is YOUR responsibility. Yes, a calm-submissive balanced dog can HELP another dog achieve that same energy, but the pack leader and the pack leader alone controls that. NEVER bring a new dog into an unstable pack. And parents, that pack can be just the humans involved and have nothing to do with other dogs. Dogs understand energy and KNOW when they are in an unbalanced home.

Well, I feel like I’m rambling. Dog adoption is something I am very passionate about in many ways as I see the bad side often in our training business. So I’ll finish the story I promised above. During a slow period of “Dog Adoption Day”, I went back to see what larger breed dogs were available. One of our services is to help choose and train a dog for a client then introduce them to their new home with their new skill-set in place. I’ve got a current request for a dog to fill, so I am looking for the “right” dog for this client. Well, THAT dog wasn’t there, but in the first cage was this German Shepherd (probably a mix) with the most beautiful tan/brown eyes that just sucked me in. As a trainer, I can tell a lot about a dog through their eyes, how they watch, what they focus on. Any slight collar tug with this dog (out in that “learn about your dog” area above) and she would look right at me as if to say, “yup, I’m paying attention, what do ya want me to do/learn?” And her personality is JUST like Lexi’s.

You know the ending already, I’m guessing. I now own two German Shepherds. In less than a day, she already has three new commands and is responding to the name I gave her this morning. Wicked smart.

As you think about a dog for a holiday gift, keep in mind the upheaval that is the holidays. Not a great time to bring a dog home. Choose carefully, consciously, and download this PDF, it might help! Till next week.

Time for Thanks

November 19, 2009

Well, as everyone else in the world seems to be doing, let’s offer some thanks.

Many of you know that I’m going through life changes recently. Some are easy, some are very, very hard. I am very thankful for friends that help hold me up and support without judgment.

One of those friends is covered in fur. I truly feel that we are blessed by our dog-friends. I know it’s one of the strongest reasons many of us are so close to dogs. They seem to know when we need more attention. As I’ve moved my life and business to a new location, she’s been more clingy.

Since I’ve had Lexi, my German Shepherd, she’s been pretty indifferent. Murphy, my Golden Retriever, was always under my feet. Lexi, in the middle of the room. Murphy loves it when you’re right in his face and being cuddly, Lexi couldn’t care less. But since the move, she’s more at my feet. Moves to where I am a lot. This is all relative, by the way. She’s still not like Murphy, but still way more attentive than before.

At first, I thought it was all new surroundings and missing Murphy, as he stayed behind. And while I still believe that, I also believe that she senses my need for a good, non-judgmental friend. And if not, that’s the role she’s filling.

I hear stories all the time about dogs knowing when to cuddle up, or pay extra attention to owners, so I know I’m not totally off my rocker! (I hope)

If you’re so inclined, comment a story about your pooch and its attentiveness or a way it has helped you through tough times.

The blog is going to take next week off due to the number of things going on around us next week. Give thanks for our furry friends!

It Takes All Kinds

November 10, 2009

I had a really good time on Sunday supporting the Akron (Ohio) Humane Society. Back last summer you may remember that I wrote about performing at the Bow-Wow Boogie. It was a USO style variety show that supported the AHSociety. It was a fun show (By the way, if you should ever need classy entertainment, Rat-Pack style, check out my “Entertainer side“).

After that, the man that produced the event, Ron (Bus) Hill, asked me to sing for the AHS Telethon. So I went and recorded a couple songs, then Sunday went down to Akron Aeros Stadium in Akron for the telethon. As I waited in the “Green Room” (aka: a hallway!), I was right outside the “Dog Green Room”. They had a selection of the adoptable dogs there to go “on camera”. Many people came in with adoptable dogs, dogs they’d adopted from the AHS. I also took Lexi, my German Shepherd, as she was adopted from a pound too, so she got a few seconds of camera time too!

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you
more than he loves himself.”
– Josh Billings

But as we waited to go on, it was fun seeing the stream of people and pets that came and went. I think we all have a breed that really gets in our heart. When I was a boy, the man across the street bred/raised German Shepherd’s. I’m not sure if that’s my connection or not, but “when I grew up”, I always wanted one. Since I’ve adopted Lexi, I’ve come to learn how incredibly smart this gal is. Sometimes she scares me. The fun part is watching her watch. You can really see her trying to figure out most everything.

Well anyhow, Sunday I met a little pit that had lost one back leg. Never got the story why, and didn’t ask, as the dog acted like he didn’t care: Full of life, running around. I think he was over a year old, but still had plenty of puppy in him. Sort of reminded me of the dog from “Little Rascals“. He would’ve been a great “little boy” dog.

I met several little puppies. One was in constant motion. Wanted to be involved in anything/everything. Another one was very content to just be held. There was a blind dog that had a companion he stayed very near to. There was a shepherd mix a lady had rescued- honestly ‘just a mutt’, but a sweet dog that just wanted to meet everyone.

And for every dog, you could see an owner totally in love with that specific animal. That was the common thread. There had to be over 100 people involved somehow volunteering their time and/or resources to help animals that need that “forever home”. Support your local pound or Humane Society. Adopt responsibly if and when you can! YOUR kind is out there!

Remember, They have to Adjust too!

November 5, 2009

For those of you that follow this blog, you know I’ve been moving for the last several weeks. While Amanda, my office assistant, helps here and there, much of the work falls on my shoulders. So everything goes slow. Very slow in some cases. Then there’s running the business, doing various Chamber events (we support both the Canton Regional and Jackson/Belden Chambers of Commerce), singing at Primavera’s Italian Restaurant on Friday nights, teaching for Portage Lakes Career Center – oh yeah and sneaking in some sleep here and there! So my apologies yet again for not being as “on top” of this blog as I’d like to be.

That preamble sets up something we tend to forget: The dog. Lexi, my German Shepherd, is an amazing dog. Incredibly smart, more obedient than I even understand, and a great companion. This week, I finally brought her to the new pad/office; our new home. We tend to think because we understand something, so will the dog. How ignorant we are sometimes! More than that, I think it’s how much we take our pals for granted. Even though I had brought her here to visit several times, for the first three days she pretty much had the runs. It’s called stress.

Remember that anything outside of your dog’s normal routine will cause stress. Sometimes its no big deal, sometimes it is. It depends on the cause of the stress, the intensity, duration and then just how your particular dog will react to those variables. She also ate less food for a couple days. Both reactions are perfectly normal.

Another way we take Fido for granted is that while we have meetings and work and all kinds of ways to help us or entertain us, all your dog has is you. We’ve had Lexi since May. In that time, I can’t think of a single “human” thing she’s gotten into. She just doesn’t touch stuff unless it’s specifically placed in her mouth. This week has been particularly stressful working with utilities and many, many meetings. Yesterday I was in and out way too much; every time allowing her out to do her duty. But when I got back yesterday, she had found a roll of masking tape and a carpenter’s pencil. Both items had my scent on them. Both were chewed to throw-away status. Many people think their dog is “punishing them” for a lack of attention. I don’t think that dogs think that way. I DO think, however, that my dog so craved SOMETHING from me, that she found some stuff with my scent on it in an effort to help her comfort level.

What did I do? No punishment whatsoever (Why punish the dog because I was an idiot?). I threw them away and spent about 30 minutes on the floor with her, petting, playing and giving her attention. The rest of the night she was under my feet, which is very unusual for her. Lonely? I think so.

Remember that you brought the pet into your home. They really didn’t choose you. We have to make sure we honor that responsibility. If you’ve never read it, we have a Pet 10 Commandments on our website. I didn’t write it. Many pet sites have borrowed it. Read it and remember; they need to adjust too!

The Difference Between Dogs

October 21, 2009

Seems I hear a hundred dog stories every week. From the cute ones to aggression issues to pains in someone’s life to just about everything in between.

While I am in transition and will end up with one dog, right now regular readers know I have a Golden Retriever (Murphy) and a German Shepherd (Lexi). They are so totally different, yet in many ways the same.

Murphy is a four year old boy. Think of most any toe-headed, rambunctious 4 year old boy and you have Murphy. Lexi is just over a year old. She is the consummate princess. Everything about her is “little girl” from the way she eats to the way she walks.

I’ve written before about how watching them play is like watching a Ferrari and a Pickup truck. They are a hoot to watch.

The very interesting thing however is how differently they approach situations. My oldest son loves to play with my dogs, especially when it involves teasing. So last night he gets out a small radio control car and is running it around the floor. Murphy has got to chase it no matter how many circles and twists the car makes. Lexi couldn’t care less; isn’t scared of it, pretty much just indifferent, and walks away.

When playing Lexi lays down immediately to conserve energy. Murphy stands there and pants. While I was working at my new office the other day, I took the dogs over and same thing: Lexi lays down across the room and watches; Murphy stands three feet away… and pants.

I’ve actually missed them this week as I spend lots of time remodeling. Sorry this is a short post, but I am jammed trying to get the remodeling finished. Hopefully, I’ll be finishing up this weekend and can get back in the swing of things next week.

Thanks for your patience!

Perfectly Pawsible is on the Move!

October 13, 2009

The offices of Perfectly Pawsible are moving to a new location:

                        543 N. Main St.
                        North Canton, OH 44720

Only the address is changing – our main contact information stays the same: telephone 330-478-1065, email Grant.Holmes@perfectlypawsible.com, and we can be reached through our website at http://www.perfectlypawsible.com/.  

 We are taking a brief break from blogging this week in order to make the necessary preparations to better serve our clients, as well as acclimate Lexi and Murphy to their new den.  Who knew painting bone-shaped clouds on the ceilings, laying indoor/outdoor carpeting, and hauling in trees would be so much work?  And does anyone know where we can get an out-of-service fire hydrant?

 Please keep in touch with us by becoming a fan of our Facebook Page and inviting your friends to join our happy pack too!

Stories You Hear at Dog Events

September 29, 2009

Ho boy. How long THIS blog can be. I’ll try and keep it under 10,000 words. Okay, a LOT shorter than that! Spent most of Sunday at the “Mutt Strutt” event that supports the Stark County Humane Society.
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But first a really cool dog video I just saw. Think our furry friends don’t think or feel??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofpYRITtLSg
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I observed a lot on Sunday. Several hundred dog owners and the requisite number of pets makes for very interesting entertainment. Was it Yogi Berra that said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”?

A guy with two Golden Retrievers, both at least 80-85lbs. walks down the middle of where we’re set up with booths. We all know Golden’s are very strong. He can barely hold them back (as in: can BARELY control them). He’s got a death grip on both leads. A lady in a booth holds out ONE treat for the two dogs.  One moment here:
    Really? Do people THINK anymore? Do people observe and try to use common sense? “I know, here comes a guy with two dogs barely under control- I think I’ll tease them, then be surprised when they tow the owner over to my booth and jump up on me.” OBVIOUSLY, “NO” to both questions.
The guy is actually smiling as this all happens. Either he is clueless, or the strain of pulling on the dogs just LOOKS like a smile! “Obedience” doesn’t fit here. Weird.
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A guy with a dog that barks at other dogs every time it sees one (see previous observation on HUNDREDS of dog owners). So the dog pretty much barked at everything. You can tell he’s very frustrated. He’s using a Halti (which in my opinion are pretty much worthless) and the dog is barking. So he pulls the dog back to him, makes him sit, closes his mouth with his hand to get the dog to quit barking, and pets him (giving affection). Then they asked me why he continues to bark. Let’s review:
1) Using a collar that provides pretty much no real control over a dog.
2) When the dog barks, YOU close his mouth instead of training him to quit barking.
3) Giving affection to the activity you’re striving to stop.

Note to owners: you don’t give affection when the dog is misbehaving. Never. Ever. Well, unless of course you wish to NOT correct the behavior. Remember that affection to a dog is better than ANY treat you can give. Give affection to support good behavior.

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A lady whose designer dog barks at everything holds the dog to give it security- so it quits barking: rewind to above. Dog barks, owner picks up dog, pets dog (“Good Girl, Sassy!! Thanks for Barking!!!”) Owner puts dog down only to be surprised when dog barks again. See above three points.
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To the guy with the 110lb. German Shepherd who was as gentle, quiet and well-behaved as they come: THANK YOU! And to the guy with the Pit/Boxer mix of the same description: THANK YOU, TOO!

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When I get home my two dogs, Murphy & Lexi, are running around the yard playing and wrestling. I’m reading a book, occasionally watching them. Suddenly I hear a different bark. There’s a cute little retriever mix running in the yard with my two. It’s not real sure it wants to play, but it wants to play. Thirty seconds later comes the young gal owner from a party down the street, calling for her dog to come to her. Short story is I tell her to squat down and pet Murphy. Sure enough, the dog being a golden mix realizes Murphy is getting more attention and comes over to get his share. I pretty much figured that would happen. So she grabs her dog and thanks me. As she pulls the dog up the driveway with her hand on the collar (yes, I wonder where the lead is too…) she starts to smack the dog and tell him what a bad boy he is.

If you read my blogs you know I preach about NOT punishing your dog. She must not be a reader. I called her back. I asked if I could ask a question, “Sure,” she said. I asked, “If I called you over here and gave you a dope slap, how likely would it be that you’d come back over, even if I use a really nice voice?” “I probably wouldn’t,” she said. “Exactly,” I said, “So when you call your dog and you get a hold of it, and you smack him, what do you think his motivation is to come to you next time?” She didn’t say anything but got the point. I told her that while it may seem very (humanly) backwards, even though the dog ran, when you catch him, praise him for coming and being a good dog.
1) Maybe next time he won’t run as quickly or as far.
2) Maybe next time he’ll remember getting petted and praised and come more quickly?!

Till next time!

Is Your Dog Really “Jealous”?

September 22, 2009

I take our dogs a lot of places. Various events all over the place. People are always coming up to pet Lexi & Murphy. I find it interesting how often I hear people say, “Oh… my dog is going to be soooo jealous!” And I always think, “Really?”

We pick up a thousand scents everyday that we’ll never smell, but our dogs will. I left yesterday for a non-dog appointment and when I got home our two were all over me, smelling specific spots on my pants and shoes. I’m fairly certain they were not jealous as there was nothing to be jealous of; short of me having chicken for supper that they didn’t – but then they never get people food, so why would they be? Okay, enough of that!

I am always amazed at how dogs will sniff, sniff, sniff, then razor in on a spot the size of a dime. Lexi, our German Shepherd, will sniff her food for the fish oil pill we give her. Ironically, at first I had to give them to her in peanut butter to get her to eat them. Now she finds it first (no peanut butter). Go figure. But in all the different food smells, she can pick out that fish oil tablet. You ever smell one? NO ODOR – to me at least, but Lexi knows it.

My point? You can read on-line most anywhere about how sensitive a dog’s nose is. Trust me, when you get home, your dog wants to know what’s going on and end up doing the same thing to you that they do to each other… they sniff! So quit giving your dog the human capability of jealousy and assume they are just curious. You know why?

They are!

Killing Your Dog with Kindness

September 14, 2009

Saturday we had a really nice event at the Buehler’s grocery store at Nobles Pond in Jackson Township! Thanks to them for providing the free space and exposure to several pet adoption agencies. There are so many to place. Their support is wonderful.

I had the occasion to speak to a very nice older gal that had a question on the behavior of her dog. This is the kind of lady that after three minutes of conversation, you KNOW you want her as your grandmother! Sweet with a kind voice.

She spoke with a noticeable German accent. I asked her if she’d speak German to Lexi, my German Shepherd. She smiled and spoke to Lexi. I have no idea what she said. Maybe I should’ve asked! Well, somehow we got on the subject of food. She proceeded to tell us how she gives her little Schnauzer a LOT of people food. When I asked why she didn’t give her dog dog-food, her face looked mildly disgusted that I would suggest she feed her dog with dog food. “I have dog food out, but want her to eat well, so I give her people food!” was her response.

I asked her if the dog appeared overweight; “yes”. I asked her how often she took the dog on walks; I could tell by the look on her face that she never walked the dog. She asked why that was important. (See this past post on dogs, food and gulping down food.) “Why can’t I give my dog people food?” I asked her if she thought she’d be healthy eating only dog food. I proceeded to give her my two minutes on dog diet and benefits. “But what if she doesn’t like dog food?”

It can be a challenge to find dog food your dog will eat. My German Shepherd will not eat some of the “best” dog food out there. It took us three/four brands to find something good she would eat, yet good for her. It can be really hard when we love an animal to do “the right thing”, when for a day, two or three the dog may not eat.

We must remember that dogs are predators. In nature, they may get to eat twice today then go three or four days before another meal crosses their path. The next time you see your dog eat something disgusting (to us), remember that when they get hungry enough, they will eat.

I advised her to immediately stop people food. Stop ‘over-treating’. And to go into the grocery store and get a good dog food and feed her dog that only.

Remember your dog has different diet needs than you do. A puppy is different from an adult. A German Shepherd is different than a Schnauzer (even though they are both “from” German heritage). Depending on the brand and where you purchase your food, you may find specialty food that serves the need of your specific dog/breed.

Your dog needs exercise. Your dog needs directed exercise. Directed means YOU walk the dog on a loose-leash so the dog knows you are the leader. This is different than your dog running around the yard for an hour.

Start treating, hmmm bad choice of words… begin to feed and exercise and otherwise act like your dog is a dog with dog needs and dog requirements. The sooner you stop humanizing your dog and giving it an inappropriate diet, allowed behavior and other “nice human” stuff, the quicker your dog can become a dog. It will be healthier, more balanced, and LIVE LONGER for you both to enjoy!