Archive for Dogdom

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FollowTheLeaderThank you so much for following this blog about animals and animal communication! I wanted to let you know, however, that I have moved the entire blog to my main website and that is where new posts appear. I hope you will hop on over there to catch up and sign up to follow me at that location. And if you have a blog too, please put that in the comments there so I can check it out. Thanks so much! LetaSignature

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Dry Eye Symptoms in Chihuahuas

Well . . . not pretty. Read:  eye infection.

That’s what happened to my precious Frida when I first got wind of the fact that she is a bit prone to the “dry-eye” symptoms that some Chihuahuas exhibit.

Frida - co-pilot of not only my car, but my heart.

Naturally, I was out of town. The first time ever since getting her as a pup, so it was my pet-sitters who had the dubious distinction of getting Frida through what was actually a pretty serious medical event. Three trips to the vet, three prescriptions, drops every two hours, and a week later, and Frida was doing okay and “out of the woods,” as they say, in terms of the safety of her right eye. On the other hand, having me leave her — she, who is glued to my right hip — plus being with new people, plus having to wear a Queen Anne’s collar so she couldn’t scratch her eye ………….. well, you can imagine. She was one sad little puppy.

Frida’s problem began with compications due to our high desert climate: namely wind and dust. Her eye became so dry and irritated that an infection was able to set in, and her eye quit producing tears.

But what I learned from this was that Chihuahuas are prone to dry-eye symptoms (or syndrome), so many of them may have this problem sooner or later. The message being:  Keep a close eye on your Chihuahua’s eyes!!

Fortunately, in our case, Frida recovered beautifully and does not have a chronic syndrome requiring daily eyedrops. I do monitor her eyes for tear production regularly, however, and would recommend doing the same if you have a Chihuahua. Also, I think one reason Frida fared so well through her eye trauma was due to the excellent nutrition she gets, the key factor being Super Blue Green Algae. Every day Frida gets a little raw meat plus high-grade kibble, but also probiotics and micro-nutrients all wrapped up into one — go here to check it out:


(Order as a “PC” and get a 20% wholesale discount. And actually, in Frida’s case, she splits her capsule with her buddy, Tucker, because she only weighs 5 lbs. so doesnt even need a full capsule! So if you have a small dog, this added “health insurance” is super affordable!)

Having a good balance of healthy flora in the system is known to be the first line of defense in fighting infection, so Frida’s little eye invaders didn’t stand a chance!

BUT! Taking even greater precautions, I ordered these goggles  which Frida now wears on our daily walk/runs (I walk, she runs). These definitely help keep out the wind and dust in those little low-to-the-ground eyes she has! All she needs now is an aviator cap, don’t you think?!

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SKUNKED!! Holy Moly, Where’s the Skunk Deodorizer?!

Charlie, humiliated. How would YOU feel if you had just taken a big inhalation of skunk spray?!

If you’ve ever had one of your animals sprayed by a skunk, then you know first hand how literally panic-stricken all become when that animal comes rushing into the house for your help!

It happened to us last week . . . at midnight, I might add. I have five dogs who have 24/7 access to a huge, safely fenced yard via their dog door, and they frequently use it in the middle of the night if they hear coyotes or other interlopers out and about on the property.

I was dead to the world when Charlie came flying in a panic through the dog door and into my bedroom, bringing the all-too-familiar and toxic, burning-rubber fumes of having been “skunked” with him. He was drooling and licking his nose and rubbing his head on everything, and every other living being in the house was immediately in alarm mode, the stench was so strong. One of my teenage kittens was so shocked she was up on the counter in the bathroom with her hair literally standing “on end” all over.

I won’t bore you by describing all the immediate maneuvers that were taken that night, but instead am here to share my homemade de-skunking recipe. I mean, who keeps a couple of those humongous cans of tomato juice in the house at all times? And tomato juice doesn’t work anyway . . . plus it’s super messy.

I got this recipe from the retired veterinarian, Dr. Price (God rest his soul), who owned the ranch next to mine in the Texas Hill Country. We had lots and lots of skunks there, so de-skunking was a somewhat regular necessity, though dealing with it fairly often never diminished this phenomenon’s uniquely stunning effect. If you’ve ever experienced skunk spray up close and personal, you know it smells nothing like the fleeting odor that wafts through your car when you are on a road trip at night. It is instead so strong and foreign it makes one panic, it is toxic, and it burns your nasal passages like heck!

Poor Charlie! I think it went right up his nose!

So here’s the recipe, and these things are fairly common to have on hand:


  • 1 Quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Liquid Soap

Rub into the victim’s hair and let sit a few minutes then rinse. Do not mix ahead of time as this mixture creates an oxygen reaction, which is why it works.

Just to be on the safe side, I keep a bottle of Nature’s Miracle Skunk Formula on hand in the barn at all times too. And that is what I used to initially wipe down Charlie’s head with. This is a product that works enzymatically, and it does help, so I highly recommend it as well. And it’s a quick fix for a small animal or area of the body. Fortunately for me, only Charlie’s head received the blast — not so fortunate for him, as I think a lot of it probably did go down his throat!


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How to Tell Your Dog When You Are Coming Home … and Why

You’re reading this blog, so you’re an animal lover, right? Many of you would go one step further and say your animals are your children, right?

Well, would you leave your children home without telling them when you’ll be back? That right there says it all, but let’s look a little deeper, since our animals actually think and function differently than our children do. In this case, we’ll be talking about dogs.

It has been proven that many dogs know when we are coming home — even if it’s not at the usual time — and are waiting at the door … so why don’t they know that we’ll be back every time we leave? And why does this concern them?

Dogs are super intelligent, we all know that. But they do tend to exist more ‘in the moment’ than we do. So they don’t think too much about what’s going to happen tomorrow. If they have expectations, it’s due more to operant conditioning than to holding the thought, “Oh golly, gee, tomorrow at 8 o’clock a.m. Dana is going to leave me again!” Most dogs are able to settle into a routine, so are also conditioned to a usual home-coming time. But some dogs have extreme separation anxiety and go berserk every time they are left, whether it’s on a regular schedule or not.

That is certainly a major “why” you should let your dogs know when to expect you back — to minimize their anxiety. But common decency is another. Hmmm…. lots of issues for discussion here, but my main goal with this particular blog is to give you an exercise or two that you can use to show and tell your dog when you will be back.

First, please read Talk to Your Animals – Here’s How. This will give you an easy, down and dirty outline as to how to shape the message you want to send to your dog, in this case the day and approximate time you will be coming home. You will be using primarily silent words and mental pictures to convey your message to your dog.

Trust me. If you and your dog are close, just about anything you try to tell him or her will be understood, no matter how you go about doing that. But since we humans don’t tend to believe that, learning to project our thoughts and messages can be helpful. Here are two exercises you can practice that will help you send your messages to your dog more effectively.

1. THE RED BALL.  It’s nice to have a partner for this one, but if you don’t, that’s okay. Let your dog or cat be your partner, or an inanimate object. Sit comfortably in a quiet, relaxed space. Breathe deeply and become as “meditative” as you personally can become. Now visualize a huge red beach ball on the floor right in front of you. Push the ball so that it rolls over to your partner. Watch it move. Feel it roll away from you. Then “see” your partner push the ball back to you and feel its approach. Do this several times until you can really visualize and feel the action. Once you can feel this, put a short message inside the ball, such as “I love you” and practice sending it back and forth for a while. You can then use this red ball to tell your dog when you will be back by sending a message like “I will be back at 5:00 o’clock.” You might also include a picture as well, of a clock face indicating 5:00 o’clock. Pictures always help! 

2. THE HEART-TO-HEART LINK. Again, position yourself in a quiet space, breathe deeply, and center yourself. Then picture your heart chakra with little doors on it that you can open and close. Any kind of door(s) you like will be fine. Open your heart doors and see a laser beam projecting out from your heart to the heart of your dog. Picture him or her with little heart doors as well that will open in order for their heart to connect with yours. See the beam connecting the two of you, and you might initially just feel love and send it along the beam. Then form your message, with words and/or pictures, see yourself setting it on the beam, and watch it travel along the beam into your dog’s heart. This exercise always works, especially when accompanied by lots of emotion. If you show your dog you’ll be home at 5:00 o’clock, really FEEL the joy you will experience when you see him again, and this will help enhance the message!

However you do it, just please tell your animals when you’ll be home. They wait for us, every minute, and is there anything more joyous than our reunion with them? Knowing what to expect really helps them!

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Thank God for the Chihuahua!

I have recently concluded that the Chihuahua breed of dog saves millions of lives of unborn, unwanted puppies every year!

Pretty gutsy claim, huh?! HOW in the world could that be?

I just volunteered to help out at an all-day spay/neuter clinic sponsored by our local animal shelter.  We had four vets on duty for the surgeries, probably a dozen vet techs, and about three dozen volunteers for the day. Our goal was to spay or neuter 100 dogs and cats.

This day was anonymously underwritten by a private donor, so all spays and neuters were free, and the event was highly publicized. Folks were supposed to start checking in with their animals at 7:00 a.m. Volunteers for the morning shift were to arrive by 6:30. We could take 100 animals, period.

When I drove up at the appointed time there was nowhere to park, and the line of people with their prospective “sterilizees” wrapped around the building into the parking lot of the nearby Outback Steakhouse.  Some had apparently arrived as early as 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. in order to take advantage of this amazing offer to have their beloved 4-leggeds “fixed” for FREE. On a coooold, mid-winter, February morning to boot (thank goodness we didn’t have snow that day).

So what’s the deal with Chihuahuas, you may ask, and just how do they save puppies’ lives?

Well here it is. My own theory based on observation. So take it for what it’s worth.

About half the dogs we took in that morning were either purebred Chihuahuas or Chihuahua crosses. We had 3-mo.-old teensy, weensy, short-haired females, to 12-lb. long-haired blondes, to a litter of precious black “Chugs” (Chihuahua/Pug crosses), to one absolutely adorable pup in her pink “housecoat,” … you name it, we had just about every variety of Chihuahua or Chihuahua cross that could exist.

And of course there were more people and animals lined up than we could take in one day (though we did end up sterilizing 110 animals!). So when we reached our 100 mark, we started taking names in order to schedule appointments for the late-comers later in the week (I was the name-taker). And guess what.  At least half of those folks whose names I took had, you guessed it …… Chihuahuas.  Some had multiples. I would get their name and phone number and then ask what type of animal they had, and what sex. “Well, I have three Chihuahuas, one Chihuahua-mix . . .” and so on.  I was chuckling to myself by the end of my name-taking duties.

By the end of the day, about 13 hours later, handing back the Chihuahuas to their owners, mixed in with wrestling the Pit Bulls and Rotties, I had a huge “Aha” moment! As follows:

* Lots of folks have dogs they can’t contain or can’t afford to have fixed.

* Unfixed dogs running on the streets equals unquantifiable numbers of unwanted puppies.


* If many of those dog lovers own Chihuahuas instead of just any old Heinz 57 variety of dog, and

* Since we all know Chihuahua owners are crazy and regard their dogs as something akin to royalty and tend to carry them around on satin pillows and dress them in ridiculous outfits . . . . . . . . . . . then

* Those folks’ Chihuahuas are not out on the streets reproducing  ………. (are you with me here?)  SO …………………

Chihuahuas, due to their revered status, are cherished and mostly kept indoors and coddled. So that, even if they are not neutered or spayed, they take the place of thousands of  dogs their owners could have chosen otherwise — larger, more worldly types — who would probably now be roaming the streets and filling our shelters with all those unwanted puppies. Got it?

Well, anyway, it’s just a thought and, granted, a weird premise.

Alas, our shelters are still overflowing with unwanted puppies and kittens anyway, in spite of the efforts of the noble Chihuahua. But it did occur to me that perhaps the Chihuahua breed is doing its part, simply by virtue of its prima donna’esque traits, thereby demanding so much attention it is rarely left to its own devices out on the streets!

Yes. This is Frida. Truly irresistible.

And I have to admit that, after all these years of disparaging the breed, I am totally enraptured by my own Chihuahua, a long-haired named Frida,

My precious Tucker, the ultimate Chiweenie!

AND my Mr. Personality Plus Chiweenie, Tucker (a Chihuahua/Dachshund cross). I have three other dogs too, of all sizes, including a Great Pyrenees, but nothing can quite compare with the Chihuahua spirit. I just can’t explain it.

Perhaps it’s because the breed has a mission to help save, by default, all those gazillions of other puppies’ lives!



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How Training Works – Just Use a Weiner … or not …


It’s after lunch and I’m trudging out to the barn where my car is parked, Bear and Charlie at my side, the cold wind blowing through our hair, the pocket of my parka stuffed with a package of out-of-date, slimy weiners. My intent is to start training Bear to get in the car, and Charlie is along to play the role of  “I will get that bite of weiner if you don’t hurry!”

The object, again, is to teach Bear to get in the car, something she has not done except under extreme pressure — and then only once — since I brought her home from the animal shelter last July. At that time two friends accompanied me to the car to help me load up Bear, because as a yearling Great Pyrenees she already weighed around 80 lbs. She shocked us all by literally vaulting into the back of the car before I could even get the tailgate all the way down. She threw up on the way home, but she came willingly. I guess she really, really wanted to leave that life behind — forever.

But once home — and she made it hers very quickly — she obviously decided never to leave again. The one time I took her somewhere, only to be evaluated for grooming, it took three of us to lever her up into the back seat of the truck, and she then refused to budge, much less get out, when the groomer came out to inspect her.

Having won a lesson at a highly acclaimed local dog-training school 4 months ago, I am now dealing with how to get Bear there for said lesson. She’s a very big dog and a very protective dog. She needs the work, and I need to trust that she will answer to me. I am assured that weiners are the key to successful training so out we go for our first lesson on “getting in the car.” We did pretty good. After 3 weiner’s worth of “Up!” — with said weinie bits carefully poised on the tailgate just out of reach — Bear finally succeeded in placing the top half of her body into the car in order to reach the prize. I figured that was enough for one day, especially given our numbing temperaturess right now, so we will pursue this again tomorrow. Charlie got his bites too and did his job very well.

I’ll admit. I was impressed. The weiner thing works really well!

But here’s another example of how training works:

Frida, my 5-lb. long-haired Chihuahua, has recently succeeded in RE-training me as to how she gets into my bed every night. She has slept with me, under the covers, since childhood and has her own footstool-leading-to-trunk-leading-to-bed staircase to get up and down with. She can scale this structure in less than the blink of an eye and usually just goes sailing off in a flying leap when she is motivated to get down for whatever reason.

“But no, Mom. I really like it best when you pick me up and PUT me on the bed.”

I feel as dim as a burned-out lightbulb, but I finally got it as I lay there in the dark last night listening to Frida’s pathetic whimperings and wooflings to be picked up and put in bed: “Damn! I’ve been trained!” I thought, as I threw back the covers, reached down, and lifted her tiny body up into our cozy nest.

And she didn’t even have to use weiners. Go figure.

Frida ... guess where?

I’m just a bit embarrassed here ……..

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Animal Reincarnation – A Shar Pei Case History

Punkin, sitting in her favorite place at her lake house -- by a Shar Pei statue of course.

Shortly after Punkin, a beautiful Shar Pei, passed she told us she definitely wanted to return, as another female  Shar Pei, same color, with, of course, the same people. She had a job to do that she had not been able to finish in her previous life due to a premature death from illness.

Punkin called the Shar Pei breed a “race,” and told us it was one of the highest spiritual groups  on this planet, and that the Shar Pei had much to impart and teach. She planned to come back and do her share!

When asked how M.K. and Mike (her folks) would know how to find her,  she rather flippantly let us know not to worry, not to hurry . . . they would all know when, and how. Meanwhile, she was constantly visiting them in the form of  what she called “flyers,” an assortment of butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and so forth.

So M.K. and Mike enjoyed some much deserved traveling for a number of months and delighted in Punkin’s “frequent flyer” visitations.

Then, all of a sudden, it was time. Punkin was ready to come back, and M.K. and Mike were more than ready to welcome her. How to proceed?

We took all our cues from Punkin herself.

In this particular case, Punkin showed us she would be seating her soul into a newborn Shar Pei, so M.K.’s job was to watch the breeders and the litters being born, and then to check with Punkin (through yours truly) about whether any of the tiny candidates were “right.”

What was “right,” we wondered? Well . . . it had to do with looks, color, temperament, and integrity. Apparently Punkin had a very clear idea of the exact type of  Shar Pei pup she wanted to be, AND the one who would be able to live up to her expectations.

So the search began. M.K. would send me pictures from breeders of baby Shar Peis, and I would check in with Punkin while viewing them and get the thumbs up or thumbs down. Some were just “too strong” (she actually called one ‘Athena’), some she liked very much but they were too old (4 weeks?!) so already settled with their new soul . . . etc.

An aside:  Apparently, if a soul is to incarnate into an already-born being, the closer to birth, the better. Most souls “seat” themselves into a being before it is born, but often that “seating” does not happen until after birth (and sometimes no soul seats itself at all, in which case the newborn often will die within a few weeks or months).

Well, the deed was done when one breeder sent M.K. pictures of a newborn litter just a few days old. M.K. forwarded me the pictures, I checked in with Punkin, and BINGO! There was no doubt. It was immediate. There was her chosen target for reincarnation, and she flew so fast and so immediately into that puppy that I got no further communication from her for weeks, nor did M.K. and Mike experience any further visitations from “flyers.”

This was the picture Punkin based her choice on. Adorable or what?!

While waiting for Punkin to get old enough to come home, M.K. dreamed her a new name for this lifetime:  Bella (short for Isabella).   Bella is now home and showing her folks that she is indeed the reincarnation of Punkin in many ways. For instance, when it was time to eat on her second day home, Bella went and stood by the closet door where Punkin’s food was always stored.  She might as well have said out loud:  “Mom! I know I’m a baby and don’t know everything. But I DO remember the important stuff!”

Punkin, home once again as Bella, starting a new and happy life.

We will be checking in with Punkin/Bella often to get from her more details about her purpose in life, but meanwhile her joyous presence is lighting up the life of M.K. and Mike, and they have no doubt whatsoever that their Punkin’s soul is back home with them.

All I know is that, having worked with Punkin and M.K. for years, this is going to be a fascinating journey and a wild ride!!! So stay tuned ………


To read more about Punkin, go HERE. And for a little more on animal afterlife just check out “The Afterlife” category to the right. You might also enjoy this post on visitations from our animals in spirit.

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Pound Puppies = Problem Poops

This is just another way of saying:

  • Rescue dogs usually have upset tummies. Or . . .
  • Shelter dogs have digestive problems. Or . . .
  • Yuk! What’s wrong with my new dog?!

Any way you want to put it, this fact is usually paramount for the dog or puppy you bring away from a shelter or rescue situation. Same goes for cats, kitties, and horses. Why?

If this looks stressful to you, just think what it feels like to him.

Stress. Poor nutrition, possibly even starvation. Emotional anxiety. Grief. Any or all of the above, and more, often plague the rescue while on the streets or in the shelter. They’ve lost their families, or been abandoned, are totally confused and trying to figure out where in the world they are.

This has recently been brought to my attention once again by the arrival of ‘Bear,’ an unspayed, year-old Great Pyrenees female I rescued from the animal shelter 12 days ago. Meet Bear, my number six (yes count them, SIX) dog:

Bear at the shelter. Stay tuned for a follow-up picture and report soon!

Bear was picked up at the landfill in Taos, NM, pretty bedraggled, and then spent a few weeks behind bars being evaluated for aggression (emotional stress) before being spayed and put up for adoption. I heard about her and did a ‘meet & greet’ with two of my other dogs, and listened to her and to my heart about her disposition. I approved, she approved, and my other dogs approved. So she was immediately spayed and home with me the next day.

All is well, and Bear is the perfect ‘peaceable kingdom’ candidate already, just two weeks in. But she came home ravenously hungry 24/7 and burping all day every day. She was underweight, her stool loose, her coat rough and matted.

Chiweenie Tucker now, hale and hardy.

Ah, yes. Shades of my last rescue experience two years ago — bringing little Chiweenie Tucker home from the shelter. Tucker, who now weighs in at 18 lbs., was only two-thirds of that weight when I got him, and his diarrhea was so bad we feared for the worst.

Or Hank, the 29-year-old Quarter Horse I rescued from starvation several years ago. His was a very extreme case and required a carefully orchestrated re-introduction of food and supplements  into his life.

Some of my particular ways of rehabbing rescues include top quality food (I use Flint River for the pre-prepared part of my dogs’ and cats’ diets), Simplexity’s  Super Blue-Green Algae products, especially probiotics to replenish their depleted natural resources, and the herb powdered Slippery Elm (the inner bark) to soothe their highly irritated digestive tracts. There are different variations of these nutritional elements, and other things I use as well, but everybody who comes in as a rescue gets very, very special food and care until they are back to balance. As an example, you can read about Tucker’s special diet HERE.

Just be prepared if you rescue an animal. Don’t expect them to be the picture of health and perfectly well adjusted the moment they come to their new home. Give them time, love, and attention. Just grit your teeth, start brushing out the mats or bathing out the dirt, and customize your new animal’s diet and exercise program. You can bring them all the way back and make them gloriously beautiful, healthy, and happy. They never forget and are grateful to you forever for it.



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Dog Training: Who’s First Through The Door, You Or Your Dog? And Does It Really Matter?

In dog training does who goes first through the door really matter? Yes, it really does. But not for the reason you may think. At least according to Temple Grandin.

Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University, has a PhD in animal science, has written five books, and is one of the most cutting edge authorities on animal behavior — largely due to the fact that she is autistic so can relate to animals and understand them in ways most of us cannot. I have read her books and am a great fan of hers because she has revolutionized many of the slaughter house processes in our country, making them much more humane for the animals. But more than that, her observations about animal behavior and what animals respond to just make good sense to me.

Dog training techniques have evolved into several different schools of thought in the last few years, but the older, more classical approach of dominating your dog and making him relate to you as an alpha is still very predominant. We all know the drill: choke chains, barked commands, harsh jerks on the lead to get the response we want, etc. In other words . . . proving we are alpha.

I’m not passing judgment here and do prefer the milder techniques of dog training myself. But I do believe there are those dogs among us whose aggression or lack of control almost demands that these dominating techniques be used. I found it to be true myself, in fact, 25 years ago when my 100-lb. Old English Sheepdog, Samson, who required three 6-week courses of training to even pass the basic level of obedience, could still not restrain himself from loping across the park to leap on terrified toddlers, or, sadly, to scoop up unsuspecting cats (usually ending in their untimely death).

Samson’s brain, from day one in his litter,  was in some kind of mindless overdrive, and the only thing that finally jarred it into a state where he could think clearly and hear a command was a few carefully devised sessions with a shock collar. Yes, I said a shock collar. Two or three well-timed shocks, along with appropriate commands, enabled Samson to start thinking instead of just reacting and totally changed his life . . . and mine of course. Samson turned out to be a great dog after all . . . but that’s another whole story.

So what’s the deal about who goes through the door first – you or your dog?

Well, as in the case of Samson, what’s important here is your dog’s ability to control his reactive behavior. Not whether you let him go through the door before you or not.

To put it very simply, a dog who can WAIT is a much safer dog than a dog who can’t. A dog who can WAIT (or ‘stay’, or both) has learned to deal with the emotion frustration. And, for dogs (as for many other species), frustration leads to rage, which is one of what Temple Grandin identifies as the seven basic, hard-wired emotions in almost all animals. And rage happens to be the one that leads to out-of-control aggression.

So for a dog to learn to deal with frustration, especially if he is hyper-reactive or classified as a ‘dangerous’ breed, is not only crucial, but is almost tantamount . . . as dramatic as this may sound . . . to his survival. You can see why including this in your dog training program, no matter what method you employ, is paramount.

Puppies begin learning to deal with frustration immediately, almost from day one, because they are constantly pushed aside while nursing and have to seek out another teat to clamp on to. These informal dog training lessons continue amongst the littermates, and then continue within the context of your own family, once that puppy has become a member of it. I could go on and give dozens of examples.

But the point is, teaching your dog to deal with frustration — whether that be by taking his bone away or by teaching him to “wait” when he is eager not to — is one of the greatest forms of insurance you can buy for shaping him into a happy, healthy, well-integrated member of society.

Your dog doesn’t really care who goes through the door first or whether you include this lesson in his dog training. He doesn’t have an agenda about who’s alpha. At least most dogs don’t. He just needs to learn to be a willing family member, just like one of your kids, who sometimes has to wait his turn and sometimes gets to go first.

If you’re a dog devotee — and especially if you’re having a dog training problem of who goes through the door first — I urge you to buy Temple’s latest book, Animals Make Us Human, and read very carefully the chapter on DOGS.

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Please Consider Adopting an ‘Owner Surrender’

What is an ‘owner surrender’? You probably already know, but just in case: being classified as an ‘owner surrender’ is one of the most heartbreaking conditions an animal can find itself in. These are the dogs, cats, horses, birds, and other animals who have been given up by their owners for adoption. They are abundant in our shelters and humane societies. Many are quite aged, and many have health conditions. Others are just thrown away because someone gets tired of them or they’re going through a difficult growth spurt. Whichever it may be, the term ‘owner surrender’ has come to carry connotations that are not valid. People still may tend to see that classification on a dog or cat’s card at the shelter and think to themselves, “Uh oh, this one will have big problems. No way can I consider him!”

Not so. Please keep an open mind. Here are some facts I recently came across  from a 2007 Pethealth Inc. study as reported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

The top 10 reasons for canine relinquishment

1. Moving
2. Landlord issues
3. Cost of pet maintenance
4. No time for a pet
5. Inadequate facilities
6. Too many pets in the home already
7. Pet illness
8. Personal problems
9. Biting
10. No homes for littermates

The top 10 reasons for feline relinquishment

1. Too many cats in the house
2. Allergies
3. Moving
4. Cost of pet maintenance
5. Landlord issues
6. No homes for littermates
7. House soiling
8. Personal problems
9. Inadequate facilities
10. Doesn’t get along with other pets

If you’re reading these lists like I am, at least 8 out of 10 of the top reasons for surrendering dogs and cats relate directly to the owners or peoples’ issues, not to the animals themselves. And even then, if the animal does have a problem, like biting or soiling outside the litter box, those types of behaviors are often linked to larger issues in the household or the environment to which the animal is reacting instinctively or normally.

What is so sad to me is the emotional toll being abandoned takes on a loyal pet. You can see it on their faces as you walk through your local shelter viewing the animals up for adoption. Besides the confusion you will see on most, the owner surrenders are often severely depressed and sad, and it surely shows.

In my experience as an animal communicator, these rescues are usually the most grateful of any you can take home. They DO understand what has happened, and when you take them into your heart and treasure them it lights up their life and they are able to turn their love and allegiance to you 200%.

I’ve taken several rescues in my lifetime who were in the owner surrender category and can only say they have been among the most loyal and devoted animals I’ve ever had.

So please, if you’re considering adopting an animal from a shelter, don’t rule out the ‘owner surrenders.’ Know that they are in dire need of reassurance and affection — and yes, possibly medication and special attention. But they are well worth it. No. They are MORE than worth it.

And for those happy pups in the shelter who haven’t a care in the world and want to go home with everybody — well they deserve great homes too, so don’t pass one of them up either if they’re your cat’s meow!

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