Project Dog a celebration of dogs
country music for dog lovers
Jody Thompsonâ€™s Inner Dog
Come. Sit. Stay. H
appy Spring, everybody! Our cover this issue was the perfect choice for spring. Colorful, vibrant and happy. The perfect antidote for the cold, snowy, sloppy weather most of the country endured this winter. I became aware of Mark Asher as a photographer early as I set out publishing Urban Dog Magazine. One of his books, Good Friends, an evocative collection of photographs of older, wiser dogs came across my desk and I loved it enough to include a profile of Mark in an issue of Urban Dog. Our Dogma feature in this issue is an excerpt from Mark’s memoir, Humphrey Was Here: A Dog Owner’s Story of Love, Loss, and Letting Go. Marks story resonated with me, especially after losing my beloved 16-year-old Basil just last year and I wanted to share it with our Urban Dog readership. The evolution of social media and its impact on our daily lives is an astonishing thing. Our first Wags profile is Project DOG, the brainchild of photographer Kira Stackhouse. Just like humans, dogs come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, and many of the same prejudices that Check out our website at www.urbandogmagazine.com! Urban Dog Magazine 5500 Prytania St. #419, New Orleans, LA 70115 Ph/F: 504-897-9577 www.urbandogmagazine.com EDITORIAL Managing Editor/Publisher:
Mark Asher, Kira Stackhouse
Cami Johnson, Leesia Teh
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Urban Dog Magazine is published quarterly. We cannot be responsible for the return of unsolicited materials even if accompanied by a SASE. All material published in Urban Dog Magazine is copyrighted: Copyright 2010, Urban Dog Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscriptions are available for $15/year or $25/two years payable by check or money order. All subscriptions begin with the issue published after payment is received. Mail payment to: Urban Dog Subscriptions, 5500 Prytania St. #419, New Orleans, LA 70115
we face in human society also exists for dogs in the dog world. Project DOG is a working title that reflects the “work” that we all have to do to ensure that ALL of our four-legged friends get the respect and opportunities they deserve. For our second Wags profile, get your dog in the car, roll down the windows, crank up the speakers and pop Dog Country into the stereo and get ready for the joyride of your life listening to country-inspired tunes about our best friends. Written and produced by Nashville-based Cloud 10 Music, Dog Country features a fabulous, toe-tapping collection of wonderfully written tunes that honor dogs. Read about it here and order a CD for your spring and summer road trips! Finally, our Inner Dog is actress Jody Thompson with her German Shepherd, Luch. Come, Sit, Stay, Lisa Robinson, Publisher/Managing Editor
Ingredients Dogma Humphrey Was Here
Wags Project Dog Dog Country
TRICKS Being Your Dog’s Pack Leader
ASK DOG LADY
The Inner Dog Jody Thompson and Luchs
urban dog • 36
write to remember the black rings around his radiant brown eyes and the silklike softness of his coat. The way his right ear neatly folded over, while his left stood at attention. The way he furiously spun in circles of joy when he knew it was “walk time.” How he loved sniffing the earth, marking the trees, trying to eat bees, and chasing birds and squirrels. His nighttime routine of jumping on the bed, rolling on his back, pointing his paws toward the ceiling, and demanding love. The way he and I would howl together in a soaring duet at the sound of an approaching fire engine. How he would sit outside the kitchen, with his paws crossed, waiting for his lunchtime bone. How his head would cock and his ears would perk when he heard or saw anything that piqued his curiosity. How his incomparable companionship and unconditional joy saw me through every headache, heartache, triumph, and life transition that I experienced for seven years.
The last time I typed on this laptop, Humphrey was sitting next to me on the couch. Anxious for his dinner and ritual afternoon walk, he began pawing at the laptop keyboard with his big, soft brown paws. He was never one to let you guess his desires or intentions. He used every part of his being—his expressive eyes, powerful body, keen intellect, and good looks—to get anything he wanted. And with a softhearted owner, who was his best friend, big brother, and doting dad, he most often succeeded. So after a few more moments of writing, followed by a dinner
inhaled canine quick, we walked from our tiny studio apartment in the Russian Hill section of San Francisco to a small neighborhood park four blocks away. Whenever possible, along our route to the park, Humphrey liked to call on his canine-loving clientele, which included store owners and their patrons. Today’s target was a stylishly dressed woman in her forties exiting a high-end clothing boutique. Always conscientious of a stranger’s comfort with dogs, I had worked endlessly with Humphrey on not pulling hard on the leash and impulsively darting toward his desires. His desires, expressed daily, were to seek attention from every passerby with two willing hands and, perhaps, a couple of hidden treats. It wasn’t that I didn’t want Humphrey to meet his quota of pets and bones, I assured him, I was just interested in a safer and softer sell. Dog trainers insist that behind every well-behaved dog is a disciplined owner, consistent in implementing the handling instructions they learn while training their dog. I had been diligent with Humphrey during the nine months we had lived in the city, and to my delight he had vastly improved. Improved, but not quite reformed. After all, Humphrey was a lifelong advocate for rewriting the rules of standard canine behavior. To his way of thinking, they were just a bit too rigid. Equal rights for canines! he would protest with a pout that could melt the heart of a dictator. To Humphrey, comprehension of the rules was scholarly, compliance cowardly, if not preceded with a bit of resistance. The life of a happy-go-lucky Lab, dutifully by its owner’s side as she pushed her twins in a baby carriage, was not for Humphrey. As we approached the store, Humphrey was heeling like a show dog in prime form, stopping religiously to mark the trees that served as centerpieces to the small green squares lining the sidewalk. But despite his model behavior, he was actively scanning the area in front of him like a quarterback looking to pick out an open receiver—I could sense that obedience was about to lose out to impulse. I proved to be right. Just as we passed the front door, Humphrey permanently lengthened my left arm, yanking me in the direction of where the woman was standing. Diplomatically, I pleaded with him to heel: “No, Humphrey, no. You just can’t.” But in a flash he was at the woman’s feet, making his persuasive pitch—Hi! It’s me, Humphrey. Pet me, love me, feed me!
This article continues on page 6
“An emotional and deeply felt tribute to the powerful bond between dogs and humans.”—Garth Stein
If you have ever loved a dog, you will love Last Dog on the Hill. This is the moving story of Lou, a heroic dog whose bravery and big brown eyes touched the lives of everyone he met.
Available Everywhere June 22, 2010
urban dog • 36
Like a parent at a Little League game, I grabbed a bench and watched my boy. Framed by a soft rectangular patch of sun on the sloping lawn, Humphrey gnawed on, achieving devout oneness with his toy.
Just two weeks prior, I had called my ex-wife, who had shared Humphrey with me for five years, to tell her he had just turned eight. By canine standards for large breeds, he was entering the senior class; by Humphrey’s standards, he was a perpetual puppy with boundless energy, exuberance, and curiosity. He was shaping up to be like one of those lucky guys you see at your twenty-year high school reunion who looks the same as he did in the senior yearbook. Humphrey had no gray on his muzzle or the slightest sag in his belly. People found his look intriguing. They would take in his blackringed brown eyes; his exceptionally soft, short brown coat; his ears, one bowing, the other upright, and wonder what breeds had come together to make him. “What type of dog is he?”, “Is he a puppy?”, and “What do you feed him to make his coat so soft?” were questions I would hear over and over again in our travels. By best accounts Humphrey was a German shepherd and chow mix. There were elements of both breeds in his tail, which was speckled with strands of black and arched over his back like a wave about to crash. His tongue was spotted in a ratio of purple to red as land to water on a world map, a possible sign of chow roots. He was shorter than the average German shepherd, slightly taller than a chow. His coat was not a forest of fur, like that of most purebred chows, but was a tad shorter than a German shepherd’s. It seems silly for a dog owner to talk about his dog’s intelligence, seeing that one’s own dog, by virtue of the bond formed through experience and time, is bound to be their odds-on favorite as the
smartest dog they know. That said, I contend that all dogs are not created equal—angels, all of them, but not with the same intelligence level. Some dogs have that something extra, just like people, which sets them apart. Accepting accusations of bragging about my own dog, I’ll proudly say Humphrey was at the top of his pack. He had a responsiveness, an alertness, a presence that was well beyond the average dog. He couldn’t talk, but his unmistakable facial expressions clearly translated into thoughts, feelings, and opinions. My convictions were confirmed by the countless instant connections he made with perfect strangers that went beyond “Oh, what a nice dog.” Humphrey’s good looks drew people in; his indescribable intangibles kept them by his side, showering him with praise and pets. Humphrey and I were quite similar in personality. I am a typical Virgo—diligent, analytical, and intense; a perfectionist. Humphrey, although born in November, could have been an honorary Virgo. Like me, he was finicky in his likes and dislikes, assertive in his opinions, and stubborn in his views. When it came to dogs and people, however, Humphrey and I had dramatically different views. Humphrey loved people; I was often reserved, shy, and noncommittal about contacts with strangers, preferring music on my Walkman to idle chatter. I loved dogs; Humphrey, like a typical chow, displayed an air of superiority—I’ll smell you, then I’ll decide if I’ll allow you to smell me. Over time, we pulled each other into our discomfort zones and ultimately stretched our personalities. Through his prodding, or, shall I say, pulling, I became more open to people. Once he got past his jealousy of my association with other dogs, Humphrey grew far more playful and appreciative of them. Ironically, as Humphrey was officially entering his golden years, I was finishing work on a photography book on senior dogs entitled Old Friends: Great Dogs on the Good Life. I named Humphrey as my CEO (Canine Executive Officer), and a picture of us together in Golden Gate Park graced the book jacket. Humphrey was certainly deserving of the title, having been my career counselor, sniffing out and pointing me in a new direction professionally. During the photo shoots for the book, which took place over a two-month period, Humphrey had been an incredible sport, putting up with smelling other dogs on me each day when I came home. That’s not to say he didn’t give me a hard once-over with his inquisitive eyes when I left clutching my camera bag and an intrusive nose investigation when I returned. But all would be forgotten when he sat next to me on the couch and licked my sore, swollen knees between alternating ice bags. Photographing fifty-two senior dogs, I got an up-close look at the changes and challenges dogs face as they grow older. I was looking forward to one day seeing my sweet Humphrey join the regal elite of distinguished dogs in their tender years—eyes softened, more
measured in their movements, with a touch of gray in their muzzles, but still proud and great companions. But there was time for that yet. Humphrey and I had a new book to bark about, with plans to barnstorm the country in the fall, plus we were on the growl for a new place with a backyard—or so I thought. One week later, Humphrey would be gone.
When it came to dogs and people.. Humphrey and I had dramatically different views.
Thanksgiving, along with all the other major holidays, always finds kennels booked well in advance. I had gone back and forth on my Thanksgiving plans and was unsure if I was going to spend it in Southern California, where my fragmented family resides, or in Northern California with close friends. At the last minute I decided on Los Angeles and made a few calls to see if anyone still had openings to board Humphrey. All the places I had usually boarded him when I left town were booked solid with long waiting lists. A good friend of mine in Los Angeles, Jackie, was housesitting a mansion that a successful Hollywood movie producer had recently purchased but had not yet occupied. The 1940s house, just below the Getty Center in the Santa Monica Mountains, had previously been the Danish Consulate. It had seven bedrooms, an exquisite backyard with a sloping lawn leading down to a beautiful old stone-deck swimming pool, and a view of Los Angeles I had never glimpsed in all my years of growing up there. Staying there with Jackie felt like being in an old California hotel where you were the only guest. I was thrilled when Jackie emailed me, saying Humphrey and I could stay with her over Thanksgiving. But a few days later, after mulling over how her cats, Oliver and Boo-Boo, would fare with a dog in the house, she changed her mind, saying, “Mark, I just can’t do it. The cats will freak out.” She suggested that I look for a place in Los Angeles that could keep him. After I made a few calls, a place Humphrey had previously stayed in San Francisco gave me the website address for the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA), a reputable industry organization that listed member kennels by city and state. On their website, I came upon a place that looked nice in Culver City. I gave them a call, and using my dry wit questioned Leanne, the soft-spoken lady on the other end of the phone, about the quality of a place that was not yet booked solid for Thanksgiving. She told me a lot of their clientele waits until the last minute and that by the time the holiday rolled around, they’d be full. I peppered her with a few more questions. She responded by telling me that the kennel had been featured on Animal Planet, the all-animals cable TV channel, that the facility was an open kennel with no cages, and that I shouldn’t worry—“dogs have fun here.”
Humphrey loved people; I was often reserved, shy, and noncommittal... with strangers.... Humphrey... displayed an air of superiority—I’ll smell you, then I’ll decide if I’ll allow you to smell me. Over time, we pulled each other into our discomfort zones and ultimately stretched our personalities.
Mark J. Asher is the author of three pet photography books. His first book, Old Friends, features senior dogs along with their longevity secrets. Now in its fourth printing, the book is also published in German. Mark’s follow-up effort, Barking Up the Family Tree, captures kids with their cherished furry friends. The work went on to become part of Hallmark’s Book Program. Mark’s third book, Bark & Ride, explores a world where dogs can drive. Visit Mark online at www.markjasher.com.
urban dog • 36
baseball cap, was slicing a laser beam of red light through the air like an airplane mechanic directing a pilot. The dog, a cute light-brown mutt, was chasing the beam of light as it danced in the grass. You would think the dog would have been frustrated by the graspless game, but he was loving it. I was witnessing the birth of the indestructible, slobberless dog toy. After twenty minutes darkness began to swallow the small bit of remaining daylight. As families with their young children, and owners with their dogs began to head home, I started leaving the park, calling Humphrey to follow. He remained stoic and steadfast to his toy, not so much as lifting his head in acknowledgment of my voice. This was not unusual behavior for Humphrey—when he fixated on something, he became deaf to discipline. I walked back to where he was lying and tried to rustle him up to go. But every time I got near, he would spring to his feet, move five feet, plop himself down, and start in again on the chew toy. Finally, after being pleaded with, yelled at, bribed with a bone, and threatened to be left behind, he charged toward me, still clutching his prize. Clipped on the leash, he pulled me like a gale force wind back to the apartment, ignoring his normal tendency to mark everything in his path. Opening the front door to the apartment building, I let him off the leash and he bolted up the stairs. When the slower, human half of the duo finally made it up the four flights of steep stairs, Humphrey was waiting. I opened the door to our unit, and like a two-year-old with a new toy, he dashed to his bed and continued devouring his toy with ravenous intensity. An hour later, he was fast asleep on his dog bed, curled up like a cinnamon roll. Vintage Humphrey—inquisitive, adventurous, smart, and defiant, but always irresistible.
Luckily the woman was a dog person and the two of them exchanged greetings. She dropped her shopping bags to the ground and knelt beside Humphrey. Like a desperate driver who had just spotted a rare parking place, Humphrey backed his body into hers. As the woman wrapped her arms around him to pet his chest, Humphrey looked back at her with approval and encouragement to continue. When Humphrey finally turned back around to face her, most likely in a plea for treats, the woman asked for Humphrey’s paw. Humphrey responded with his paw, his leg, and his shoulder, practically hugging her. She continued to pacify Humphrey while she and I made small talk, rubbing his head and giving him long strokes along his back. Humphrey was beaming up at me, as if to say See Dad, I told you she wanted to meet me. There was also a night version to this routine. With the shops closed, Humphrey focused his efforts on restaurants. Here his contacts were the hostesses that worked at the upscale restaurants lining Polk Street. Many would quickly pop outside to give Humphrey a quick hello and a treat. A sweet gesture, but in Humphrey’s mind it was expected, and once you set a routine with Humphrey, he expected full compliance, especially when it related to food. It could become a bit of a problem if we passed a particular restaurant and his favorite hostess wasn’t working. He would stubbornly stand in front of the restaurant demanding a treat from a substitute source or at least an explanation. The patrons with the window seats would get a kick out of watching Humphrey defiantly standing his ground while I tried to convince him to take a rain check and continue walking. We left Humphrey’s new friend at the boutique and continued toward the park. Once there, Humphrey began his usual investigation of sights and smells. In the far corner, after ducking behind a large bush to do his business, he reappeared with a chew toy. Humphrey was very particular about which preowned chew toys he deemed worthy of coveting. In observing his selections, I never understood his criteria. To me they all seemed the same—dirty, decorated with teeth marks, and usually missing a few pieces. But clearly not to an avid chew toy collector like Humphrey. With his expertise and shrewd selection process, he could have written a doggie Blue Book for used chew toys. The one he had in his grips obviously had great value. You could tell by his antics, reserved for rare finds—a couple of short victory laps with his head held high in the air, juggling the toy in his mouth. After his celebratory strut, he settled down, cradling the toy between his paws, and issued a few introductory licks, before kicking in to full-chew mode. (The dichotomy of a dog toy—cherished one minute, destroyed the next.) Looking around, I was thankful that no other dog in the park had claimed ownership of the toy. That always led to an embarrassing, sticky situation—Humphrey definitely operated with a finders-keepers mentality. Like a parent at a Little League game, I grabbed a bench and watched my boy. Framed by a soft rectangular patch of sun on the sloping lawn, Humphrey gnawed on, achieving devout oneness with his toy. A nearby family with two young children and a golden retriever fit for a breeder’s brochure got me thinking about Humphrey’s role in my life. Seven years before, when my then-wife and I brought him home, he was just a dog, a natural addition to a family portrait in the process of being painted. Now, after a slew of major life changes, he remained the last link to that time, an indispensable companion who had seen me through death, divorce, career change, and relocation. My nostalgic trance was interrupted by a fascinating game of fetch happening ten yards to my left. The dog owner, a lanky guy in a
Urban Dog Magazine_3_10.pdf
A Celebration of Dogs
urban dog • 36
hree years ago if you asked me, “Would you ever get a dog?”, my response would have immediately been, “NO.” Dogs were way too needy and too much work. People who owned dogs seemed oddly obsessed with them, dogs smelled bad and barked too much. I much preferred my quiet life with cats. My quiet life didn’t last too much longer.
My opinion of dogs completely changed when I got my first puppy 2 years ago on New Year’s Day, 2009. I never thought I would consider myself a dog person, and it scared the living heck out of me to think about raising a puppy. A puppy! …A baby dog! …A fur-baby! Raising Harley, my Boston Terrier, has been the best part so far of my 30 years on this Earth. I look back at life before Harley and wonder why I ever waited so long to get a dog. Dogs are AWESOME. They are expressive, fun, smart, undeniably loyal, and if everyone would open their heart to a dog I’m sure the world would be a happier place. Being a dog owner in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are faced with the added pressure of ensuring that your dog is a good canine citizen (which is a good thing). Dogs in San Francisco are revered, respected, well-integrated members of the community; they are expected
By Kira Stackhouse
to behave themselves and be friendly with other dogs, people and children. Many of the dogs you meet here are graduates of puppy school, have been properly socialized since puppyhood, or participate in agility or other sports. There are countless dog parks, off-leash dog areas, doggie socials, dog yappy hours, dog events, puppy schools, trainers, doggie daycares and boutiques. Dogs are happy here. But one of the things I’ve learned pretty quickly from being involved in the “dog scene” in San Francisco is that rescue-dog and purebred-dog people don’t really mix. On occasion you’ll meet someone who has one of each (purebred/rescue) but most people around here are either supporters of one or the other, polar opposites. The unspoken tension and silent assumptions about “where your dog came from” bothered me, and I found myself being defensive simply for having a purebred dog. When I lived in New York City, a common first question upon meeting someone new is, “What do you do?” A common first question in San Francisco upon meeting someone with a dog is often, “Is your dog a rescue?” I asked myself, “Why would someone else care where I got my dog? Is having a purebred dog bad? Does the fact that I have a purebred dog imply that I don’t love him as much as you love your rescue dog? Does having a purebred dog make me look like I don’t care about rescue dogs? Am I heartless?” I didn’t understand. I did not know that I would be faced with this kind of judgment. I thought the “dog world” was only one place, not two or three, and something needed to be done. I do think that “dog culture” is different in every city, so perhaps this was just a flaw of the Bay Area. I definitely never knew about puppy kindergarten or doggie socials growing up in Pennsylvania… But despite all of this, one thing is true. Regardless of how you got your dog,
Continued on page 10
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Cat Hospital of Metairie 1500 Veterans Blvd Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 837-6137
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Louisiana Veterinary Referral Center 2611 Florida St. Mandeville, LA 70448 (985) 626-4862 Natural Pet Care 3825 Hessmer Metairie, LA 70002 (504) 834-2023 Pet Express 1415 W. Tunnel Blvd. Houma, LA 70360 985-876-7738 Pooch Connection 26217 Walker South Road Denham Springs, LA 70726 225-243-5031
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Celebrate the Amazing and Amusing Bond Between Women and Their Canine Companions
“These heartwarming stories of dogs and the women who love them solidify the fact that the animal-human bond is so unique and necessary for enhancing one’s life. You’ll find a bit of yourself in each tale.”
— VANESSA WILLIAMS,
actress and singer
“This book is for all dog lovers, and for those who wish to better understand the human-animal bond. It’s an inspiring read and will make you want to hug your best friend!” — PATRICK MCDONNELL,
creator of MUTTS
urban dog • 36
Project Dog, Continued from page 8
other people are not going to stop buying dogs from breeders, pet stores or the internet, nor will they stop adopting dogs from rescues and shelters. Generally speaking, you can’t assume that someone who bought their dog from a pet store knew that their puppy mostly likely came from a 3rd party dog broker and was probably born in a puppy mill. You also can’t assume that the newlyweds who got their first puppy wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibility of its care once their first child was born, thus being put up for adoption a year later. I believe that people are inherently good and that they want to do the right thing for their dog, but American culture isn’t one that encourages prevention, instead we deal with consequences. So as a way to bridge the gap and create a sense of unity among all dogs and dog loving people and promote responsible dog ownership, I started Project DOG. Project DOG is a new grassroots movement to celebrate all dogs and promote responsible dog ownership. The goal of Project DOG is to create a book that features the American Kennel Club’s 170 dog breeds – both a purebred and rescue dog of each breed (The AKC is not affiliated with this project). It seemed so obvious to me that there was something missing from the dog world – something all inclusive, fun, creative and positive. My profession as a dog photographer had led me directly to this idea. I wanted to create a compelling “project” that not only visually illustrated equality between rescue and purebred dogs, but also brought people together into the same space to share their dog’s stories and experiences with each other. Project DOG is about celebrating dogs – and the one common bond that everyone shares – LOVE OF DOGS. Project DOG is driven by a strong social media campaign, which includes a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and it also includes a website that features all of the dogs who are submitted to the Project, under consideration for the book or as a supporter. Users
can submit their dogs via an online form on the website (www. joinprojectdog.com) or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ projectdog), which features a photo and complete profile and bio of each dog. All dogs are welcome on the website, however only one purebred and one rescue dog of each breed residing in or near one of the 20 US target cities will be selected for the book. Since the official launch of Project DOG in late July 2010, Project DOG has grown to over 10,500 followers on Twitter and over 2,000 fans on Facebook. We have received over 2,000 individual dog submissions from around the country, including representation from over 300 rescue organizations and shelters from 43 states. The response has been amazing and Project DOG has even been chosen as one of the top 5 nominees for Mashable’s “Best Social Good Campaign” as well as a first place nominee in Art for the 2011 Shorty Awards. What amazes me most about Project DOG is the fact that people all over the country are embracing my work and supporting Project DOG’s growth and development just as much as I am. Supporters believe in Project DOG, and it means something different to everyone. The fact that people are reading and sharing stories of other dogs (not their own) is inspiring to me; people who may not have otherwise interacted are participating in conversations together. But the most important thing is that all dogs are being recognized for their uniqueness and celebrated as individuals. Each dog is a work of art. Kira Stackhouse, founder of Project DOG is Owner/Photographer of award-winning San Francisco based Nuena Photography and Scutte Modern Vintage (dog clothing/accessories). Her work has been seen in BARK Magazine, Doggie Aficionado, People PETS, Rolling Stone, SEED, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco SPCA Magazine, Barron’s dog breed books and more.
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urban dog • 36
he joke goes something like this: what happens when you play a country record backwards. You get your dog back, your girlfriend back, your truck back…and so on and so on. In every joke there usually lies a grain of truth and this one is no exception. There can be no doubt about country music that their exists a certain group of furniture that has been arranged and rearranged thousands of times throughout its hundred plus year history. For the sake of this discussion I’d like to focus on the dog. That all too recognizable fixture you picture on every front porch everywhere from Plymouth to Pixley. The dog has become such a recognizable fixture in the country universe that to remove, or try to remove it, would be as noticeable as a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Dogs are warm, dogs are American, dogs are country.
As a songwriter kicking up musical dust in one of the three main music centers of the world, Nashville TN, I can tell you, you don’t have to look
very far to find a dog or two lurking around the musical bend of any writers night or performance venue. Pardon the pun, but swing a cat! Oh, you may not hear one is heavy rotation on FM radio every week but you will hear them all over town. The reason is I suppose that the two are leash and collar close. It was just last year when I was playing in a round at the World famous Bluebird Café when I dusted of my dog song called “Half the man”. Of course every writer in the round had their dog song as well, not to mention, truck song, break up song, song about mamma…the staples. I was overwhelmed on the reaction I got playing it that night when the light bulb went off with the giant cartoon bubble above me head that said “hmmm, what if”? Just like that, Dog Country was born. Around late spring, early summer of 2010, I put out an open call to songwriters in Nashville to search the deep recesses of their dusty catalogues and send in their best tunes for a compilation about dogs. The response was overwhelming. Before you know it I had some of Nashville’s best writers sending in songs that just blew me away. For example “For Pete’s Sake” which was penned by Kerry Kurt Phillips and Jason Matthews whos credits include (“Almost Home” by Craig Morgan and “Country Man” by Luke Bryan) is a song about an abandoned bulldog that the singer takes in and ultimately is faced with the tough decision to put down at the end of one of the most beautiful and touching relationships you ever heard in any song anywhere. I knew that this song was going to be the cornerstone song to the entire project. I was thrilled when they sent it in. By Steve Christopher So then after securing a heartwarming, make
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Dog Country, Continued from page 12 you laugh make you cry epic tune I was able to focus on more lighthearted songs to round out the record. The main goal was to create a serious album of country songs that was multi-generational, wide in scope, with a cracker barrel down home feel, which honored dogs with dignity and truth. I will admit, for a fleeting moment I had entertained the thought of a multi-genre record but after listening to one or two popbased songs and even one polka (yes you heard me right), I knew that it could only be country. Country music, more than almost any other genre, pays particularly close attention to lyrics over melody. Not that you wont find some of the most beautiful melodies in country, but if the lyrics aren’t driving the ship then its probably not going to last very long. Take “Dog Gone” (track 2) for example. This song in my opinion is perhaps the most charming tune on the record. It’s the story of an old hound dog that watches the love of his life, the poodle next door, move away. He just isn’t himself after that. The song could go toe to toe (or paw to paw) as a country love ballad, but throw in the twist that its written from the dog’s point of view and you have a very special piece. Moving down the set list and toward the lighter side of the project and you’ll come across “Lucky Dog” co-written and performed by Nashville veteran hitmaker, Mark Nesler. Mark and his co-writer Chris Dubios have penned such hits as (“Just to See You Smile” by Tim McGraw and “Mud on The Tires” by Brad Paisley). What caught my interest in this particular tune would have to be the humorous look at love triangle whereby the third figure; a new Chihuahua wins favor over her affections. Early in the song, the singer laments his decision in giving his girl the dog as a gift purchased with his tax refund. A similar theme but in reverse with “Treat Me Like The Dog”, one of only two tracks on the album that I had a hand in writing, takes a humorous look at being second fiddle to a golden retriever through the eyes
of a lovesick female third wheel. Both songs though over the top offer a good and much needed counter balance to the more serious selections on the record. For example, “Sarge” solo written by Steven Sumners, has been described as the musical equivalent of Old Yeller. Sarge is a German Shepard that a young boy encounters at the house of one of his elderly neighbors whom he helps every Sunday after church. The singer finds himself at one point in the song face to face with Sarge bearing teeth and in full attack mode. Later in the song it’s revealed that Sarge’s motive was to throw himself between the singer and a rattlesnake lurking on the front porch. Sarge ultimately falls victim to the deadly attack though the singer pays homage from then on at the old mound beneath the oak tree in the yard. It wouldn’t be hard for me to go on and on about how much fun this project has been to put together. I will say that blending the two together was an absolute no-brainer. Why it works so well might be hard to understand for the non-country music, non-dog loving world but if you’re either of the two its as easy as peanut butter and chocolate. With out a doubt in my mind dogs are an absolutely essential part of the whole country experience. Furthermore, they strike right at the heart of country music’s core values of conservatism, family values and good old fashion story telling. What is a front porch with out an old blue tick hound at the foot of a rocking chair? What would a summer day on the dock fishing for catfish watching a lazy day float on by like a stick down the creek? So what makes the joke about playing the country song backwards so funny is that it’s an accurate observation of country life. Its about love and loss, heartbreak and companionship, honor and humor, loyalty and laughs. In short, everything we hold near and dear to us as Americans. It reminds us of home. And who better to greet us at the door with tail wagging, leaping two feet into the air as if they hadn’t seen us in months. That’s it in a nutshell. The reason this album had to be made. It picked me like my old chocolate lab “Vassey”, that I miss like home. To order the CD or get more information about Dog Country, go to www.dogcountrysongs.com.
I will say that blending the two together was an absolute no-brainer.
Why it works so well might be hard to understand for the non-country music, non-dog loving world but if you’re either of the two its as easy as peanut butter and chocolate.
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(Rand Bishop and Darrion Thompson)
6. Bebes Riding Shotgun
(Amanda York and Brandon Maddox)
2. Dog Gone
8. Lucky Dog
4. Half the Man
9. Treat Me Like the Dog
5. For Pete’s Sake
10. Jesus My Old Dog and Me
(Chad Green, Paul Sikes & Jamie Teachenor) (Stan Swiniarski) (Steven Sumners and Steve Christopher) (Jason Matthews and Kerry Kurt Phillips)
(Steven Sumners) (Mark Nesler and Chris Dubois) (David Rivers, Stan Swiniarski, Steve Christopher & Sue Fabisch) (Shawn Camp, Wil Nance, and Steve Dean)
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This extremely useful iPhone App came in very handy when I drove to Connecticut with my dog for the Thanksgiving Holiday. You can find a dog park wherever you are with over 5,000 featured listings for dog parks, dog-friendly beaches and hiking trails. The app is easily downloaded from iTunes. Dog Park Finder compiles photos and reviews to give you all the information you need for a quick trip to the dog park or for a vacation across the country with your pooch. The Dog Park Finder Plus app displays local dog parks and search results in both map and list pages. Park details include user ratings, fenced and un-fenced markers, on-leash rules, hours and days of operation and m any other features. Learn more at www.dogparkusa. com
This indoor/outdoor washer is the easy, all-in-one way to wash your dog. Pet Jet holds the shampoo so you don’t have to. No more messy shampoo bottles. Vets agree that full strength shampoo directly on the skin produces irritation and scratching. Pet Jet applies shampoo evenly and rinses thoroughly -- all with one hand. Three nozzle settings, including “Jet Spray,” clean even the dirtiest pets! Includes an 8’ hose and adapters that attach to any faucet or garden hose. For use indoors and out. And Pet Jet pays for itself with just one saved trip to the groomer. As a bonus, when you’re through washing you pet you can clean the shower stall with the same washer. Average retail $34.95. Go to www.M2Pets.com
Spotless Paw™ Dog Paw Cleaning Glove solves the common problem of wet, dirty
dog paws. Before messy paws track dirt into your home or automobile, or soil your clothing, Spotless Paw thoroughly cleans and dries them. This unique six-fingered glove is designed for use with either the right or left hand AND either side can be used, doubling the cleaning surface area. The microfiber fabric absorbs over 600% of its weight in dirt, mud and water. Hang Spotless Paw on your doorknob, attach it to your belt and stash one in your car. Spotless Paw™ is machine washer and dryer safe. Average Retail $19.95 www.SpotlessPaw.com
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Made from 100% natural rubber, this is one cool dog ball. These balls come in a variety of fun, vibrant colors. Durable ridges make it fun for your pup to bounce, catch, chew & chomp. *100% Natural Rubber. Non-Toxic. Super Durable. Retail price is $14. Available online at www.otomik.com
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In this day and age, going “green” isn’t even regarded as “trendy” any more. It’s not the wave of the future, but much more the wave of the present. The folks at www. Eco-Dogs.net have designed and launched a new Online Pet Supply website, www.ecodogs.net with focus on eco-friendly products, grain free foods and wonderful toys, collars, bowls and other pet accessories with the company’s green philosophy in mind, “Creating a Smaller Carbon Paw Print.” www.eco-dogs. net
This expansive, dog-centric website spans over 3,000 pages, covering dog tips, pet product reviews, dog news, celebrity canines, Dog of the Day, dog-centric festivals, dog travel, and more. We conduct weekly giveaways of interest to pet lovers. DogTipper has a special emphasis on pet adoption as well as ways to save money on pet care. www.dogtipper.com
eyed spirit that helps him eventually escape, sending him into the streets of the city and on a direct path to Adam. What transpires is the story of one man, one dog and how they each end up saving the other – in ways neither could have expected. One Good Dog is a moving, highly entertaining story that affirms the value of life and love, and a beautifully constructed illustration of the inherent power found in simple acts of kindness.
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By Susan Wilson (St. Martin’s Griffin / Trade Paperback / Publication date: February 1, 2011 / $14.99 * 320 pages ISBN: 0-312-66295-0)
A New York Times bestselling novel, One Good Dog by Susan Wilson, follows the lives of two cast-offs, one human, the other canine, and is a remarkably imagined and lovingly told tale of redemption and second chances. And while you may think you’ve read just about every kind of “second chance story” possible, there is something uniquely magical about this one… The narrative storyline for One Good Dog unfolds in alternating points of view. First up is Adam March, a self-made “Master of the Universe” who seemingly has it all: the beautiful wife, the high-powered job, the glittering circle of friends. But there is a price to be paid for all these trappings, and the pressure is mounting within Adam’s carefully constructed world. Then, on what is the most important day of his career, Adam makes a fatal mistake. His assistant leaves him a message with three simple words: your sister called. It’s a message that triggers memories from Adam’s tortured past – a past no one else knows about, least of all his socialite wife and his myriad business associates. And when his assistant brushes off his request for an explanation of the note, Adam loses it. One rash, violent act later, Adam manages to destroy everything he has built: he loses his job. He loses his wife. He loses his life. He doesn’t believe it possible to sink any lower when he is assigned to work in a soup kitchen as a form of community service, serving out steaming meals to the homeless, misplaced and indigent. The second narrative thread in the book is told by Chance, a mixed-breed Pit Bull. He’s been born and raised to fight in underground bouts and seldom leaves the dirty basement where “The Boys” keep him in between fights. But Chance is not a victim or a monster, he’s simply a dog who only knows one mode of existence: survival. It is Chance’s unique, clear-
FINDING JACK By Gareth Crocker (St. Marttin’s Press / Hardcover / Fiction / $23.95 / 304 pages / Publication Date: February 15, 2011 / ISBN: 0-312-62172-8)
obinson By Lisa R
While visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, several years ago, Gareth Crocker saw a Vietnam veteran dressed in full military gear place an old dog harness against the foot of the wall. When he asked the man about the harness, the veteran explained that he had been a dog handler in the war and that his dog had saved his life—and the lives of all the men in his platoon—on no less than three occasions. He said that not a week goes by that he doesn’t think of his loyal and brave friend and wonder what happened to him. He explained to Gareth that after the war, the government left these heroic dogs behind in Vietnam, declaring them “surplus military equipment” and simply too expensive to transport back to the States. So, despite estimates that some 4,000 highly-trained combat, tracker and scout dogs saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers, few ever made it home. Although a token number were handed over to the South Vietnamese, most were left to fates unknown. Inspired by the real-life story of the Vietnam War dogs, Gareth Crocker has now written Finding Jack, a compelling and moving novel about one soldier who defies the government’s order and refuses to abandon his Labrador, Jack, at the end of the Vietnam War. After losing his wife and daughter in a tragic plane crash, Fletcher Carson enlists in the army to fight in Vietnam and perhaps undertake his own personal suicide mission. Upon arriving in Vietnam, Fletcher is exposed to the raw horror of war and his vulnerable emotional state deteriorates even further.
Your Dog Is Your Mirror: The Emotional Capacity of Our Dogs and Ourselves By Kevin Behan (New World Library / February 2011 / Animals / Hardcover /$23.95 / 320 pages / ISBN: 978-1-57731-696-1) Many dog owners have long suspected that something is missing from our common understanding of dog behavior. For years dog training has been caught in a tug of war between two vocal and sometimes inflexible positions: the alpha/dominance model espoused by the Monks of New Skete and Cesar Milan and the positive approach, where training is accomplished through treats and reinforcement. In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a new model for understanding canine behavior: A dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. Behan demonstrates that dogs and man are connected more profoundly than has ever even been imagined — by heart — and that as things now stand in the conventional wisdom and scientific study of dogs, we are completely missing the connection a dog makes possible, not only with nature, but most important, with our own human nature. Dog cognition, argues Behan, is a function of emotion, in particular the emotion that forms the group consciousness within a pack, whether that pack is an extended wolf family or the pairing of a domestic dog and its owner. A dog’s very purpose in our lives, he says, may be to reveal the core emotions we have lost touch with, the emotions that become subsumed by our constant thoughts. And many problematic behaviors that
What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch By Dana Jennings (Doubleday / Hardcover / ISBN: 978-0-385-53283-9 / Publication Date January, 2011) Our dogs come into our lives as “just the family pet” , but before we know it, they become drinking buddies and fuzzy shrinks, playmates and Cheerios-munching vacuum cleaners, alarm clocks and sleeping partners. And in their mysterious and muttish ways, dogs become our teachers. When Dana Jennings and his son were both seriously ill—Dana with prostate cancer and his son with liver failure—their 12-year-old miniature poodle, Bijou, became even more than a pet and a teacher. She became a healing presence in their lives. After all, when you’re recovering from radical surgery and live is uncertain, there’s no better medicine than in the world like a 23 lb. pup who inspires you to live in the moment, even when you’re sick and scared. In telling Bijou’s tale in all of its funny, touching and neurotic glory, Dana is telling the story of every dog that has ever blessed our lives. The perfect gift for animal lovers, What a Difference a Dog Makes is a refreshingly witty, occasionally irreverent and ultimately moving book about the joy dogs bring into our lives.
For the Love of Dogs: An A-to-Z Primer for Dog Lovers of All Ages By Allison Weiss Entrekin, Illustrated by Mark Anderson / Foreword by Victoria Stilwell (Triumph Books / Hardcover / $16.95 / ISBN: 978-1-60078371-5 / PUB DATE: February 2011) WHICH BREED IS YOUR BEST IN SHOW? Author Allison Weiss Entrekin shares the pooches that are perfect for all dog lovers in For the Love of Dogs: An A-to-Z Primer for Dog Lovers of All Ages, a brand-new book for pooch parents! Expressing the passion we feel for our pets, the book uses all 26 letters of the alphabet accompanied by rhymes,
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ONE GOOD DOG
develop in dogs can be resolved through this new prism of understanding dog cognition. Behan has developed his theory over a lifetime of working with dogs. He trained his first dog at age eleven, working under the dominance model that his dog trainer father followed at his legendary Canine College. That model revealed its limitations as Behan started his own training business and developed his own model of Natural Dog Training. Throughout this nuanced, ground-breaking book, Behan bolsters his argument with examples from thirty years of training dogs, including the problematic and aggressive dogs that have become his specialty. Your Dog Is Your Mirror opens the door to a whole new world of communication and understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
However, when he finds an injured dog in the jungle, and nurses him back to health, he finds a new direction and purpose in life. The Labrador, which he names Jack, is actually a highly-trained scout dog. Fletcher and Jack become a team, and on more than one occasion, Jack saves Fletcher and his platoon from certain death. Jack becomes a hero to the men and is Fletcher’s loyal and constant companion. But when a ceasefire is declared and troops begin to be withdrawn from Vietnam, Fletcher is ordered to leave Jack behind. Unable to abandon his faithful partner and protector—who saved his life in more ways than one—Fletcher devises a plan to hike out of Vietnam, across Laos and into Thailand where he hopes to smuggle Jack back to the States. The journey ahead is a harrowing one—a journey against all odds—and one in which two friends will go to the ends of the earth for each other. The story of Finding Jack is a tribute to the Vietnam War dogs for both their contribution to the war and their ultimate sacrifice. It is also the story of a remarkable relationship between a man and a dog and a shining example of how it is often dog that saves man.
ENVY The sofa at my house is the epicenter of envy. In the morning, as I lace up my boots in preparation for the wintry walk to work, my dog lies curled up beneath an afghan, a loosely knit green and yellow afghan he has appropriated for his own use as a nest, a canopy of camouflage, a warm retreat where he nestles, invisible, well-fed, content, and set for a morning of leisure. I look down at this bundle of bliss as I zip up my coat and pull on my hat and mittens, and I am more than envious. I am green with envy. Lime, pickle, emerald, forest green. But at dinnertime, the tables are turned. I sit in his spot, the afghan now cast over the arm of the sofa, with a TV table in front of me, upon which is centered a plate of richly aromatic people food. Often it is chicken, sometimes pork, on special occasions lamb, or even fragrant beef. Gus sits on the floor in front of me and stares, his eyes moist with tears, his nostrils quivering and questing, murmuring a little doggy prayer for manna from heaven, anything, please, perhaps a rolling green pea, a leaping kernel of corn, a few wayward bits of windblown couscous that might even have rested right next to the chicken, touching it, perhaps even imbibing its juices. He watches as each savory morsel disappears into my mouth, the mouth of privilege. He is envy made manifest. At least until the following morning, when I pull on my boots, and he gloats.
Our dogs constantly surprise us. They are our four-legged verbs: They dance when we come home from work, they fetch when we fling the ball, they come running and panting when we call their names, Dogs are miracles in the moment---they teach us, in fact, that each moment is an absolute miracle--and they live in the eternal present. They don’t fret over past mistakes, or dwell on past glories either. The future is always now. —Dana Jennings
THE CALL OF THE WILD “On January 26, 1903, Jack London submitted the completed manuscript of The Call of the Wild to the Saturday Evening Post. On February 12 the editor agreed to purchase the story if he would cut it by five thousand words, and they asked him to set his price.
Jack agreed to shorten it and set the price at three cents a word. On March 3 he received a check for seven hundred and fifty dollars. Twenty-two days later Macmillan bought the book rights for two thousand dollars with a promise to give it extensive advertising. At the time it seemed a very sensible thing to do. His previous books had not hit the best seller lists, and neither he nor Macmillan New York publisher George Brett had any idea that The Call of the Wild would do much better. If Jack had known at the time that his book would become a classic in American literature, and the royalties from it would have made him wealthy, he would have bargained differently.
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An elderly couple brought in their elderly dog to have it put down, put to sleep, euthanized - however you prefer to phrase it. The dog was old and infirm, and they could no longer care for it. Dr. M. injected it with Euthanol, and the couple took the body back home to bury in the garden. That night, they were haunted by a familiar scratching at the back door. The sound persisted, and finally they went downstairs together, opened the door, and their dog, his fur covered with dirt, walked in, went to his dog bed, which they had not had the heart to remove, flopped down and went to sleep. In the morning, they called Dr. M. with the news. He was astounded, embarrassed, and offered immediately to do the job right, for free. But the couple said no, it was clear to them now that the dog would go in his own time, and he did, about six months later. There was a Good Samaritan who drove Dr. M. nuts. Rather than take injured animals to the nearest shelter, she would bring them to Dr. M., who was obligated to heal them. But if he couldn’t find a home for them, he had to put them to sleep as soon as they were well. It was a frustrating cycle for him, and the woman was always scouring the roadsides. One day she drove into the lot at the animal hospital, popped the trunk and revealed a mutt with a shattered pelvis. He was about six months old, free-whelped (i.e., born in the woods) judging from the size of his navel scar, and terrified of people. He’d been hit by a car, and was one hurtin’ buckaroo. All you can do for a shattered pelvis, at least in a gardenvariety animal hospital, is give the dog a warm place to lay down, put food and water close by, clean up around him and let him heal on his own. The assistants figured this dog also needed a name; a local gentleman had been murdered by his wife the day before, and he was getting his 15 minutes of fame in the paper. The victim’s name was Cletus, and in tribute the appellation was passed on to the mutt. Cletus was soon shortened to Clete, and Clete slowly got well. When it came time to put him down, Dr. M., not a cold-hearted man, put it off. The assistants cooperated by hiding Clete every
Clete became attached to one assistant in particular and when she left (her husband was a serviceman who had been discharged), Clete spent the following week moping, not eating. He was left behind, and mourning the loss of his chance to have his own person. But about a week later, the assistant and her husband returned. Having found an apartment up north, they came back for their belongings, and their dog. It was late afternoon on a warm Spring day, and when they opened the door and called to Clete, he came out running, and ran in a great circle around the hillside behind the hospital, running past the man and woman, looking at them, his eyes wide with joy, too excited to stop, taking off again in another great running loop, until after three laps he finally came to be held, to be loved, to go with his very own people, to his own home. —Kihm Winship
STORIES FROM DR. M
night at 5 p.m. “Is there anything more we have to do today?” the doctor would ask, and the assistants would sing out, “No. We’re all done.” Clete lived on the edge for weeks. One afternoon, a young couple came in with their new puppy, who had a bad case of worms. He needed a break, and he needed blood. Dr. M. frowned, then brightened. “I have a donor,” he said, and minutes later the puppy was getting a pint of Clete’s best. The puppy lived, Dr. M. was a hero, and Clete had a job. And in a few days, he also had a bow tie, a clip-on for his collar that made him look like a Fuller Brush salesman. Hence he became, on formal occasions, “Mister Clete.” In the next two years, he would donate 40 pints and save the lives of 20 dogs, get a write-up in the local paper, and have the run of the kennel. In the morning, Dr. M. would walk downstairs to make his rounds. At the bottom of the stairs was a grooming table where Dr. M. placed his coat. While he was checking each animal, Clete would walk halfway up the stairs, step onto the grooming table, and lay down on Dr. M.’s coat. Dr. M. would then return, shout, “Clete, get off of my coat!” and take the coat upstairs. This happened every morning. Clete loved hot food. If he could steal it, it was delicious. Even food he didn’t like was irresistible if it was off limits. He would follow the assistants around when they fed the other dogs, and steal from the bucket when they turned their backs. He really liked cat food. One day, he noticed that a large male cat had not finished his breakfast. There was a gap between the door and the wall of the cat’s cage, and Clete thought he could get his questing snout in there without any difficulty. And he did. Clete, at this moment in his personal history, was not afraid of cats. And when I said “male cat” a few moments ago, I meant male cat. This was a cat with balls like honeydew melons. While Clete emptied his bowl, the cat sat with his paws folded in front of him, unblinking. Clete was almost done when the cat’s paws snapped onto his face and held tight. Negotiation was out of the question. Clete’s inner bugler was sounding retreat and he pulled back as fast as he could, the cat’s claws leaving four red lines right through his whiskers. For the rest of his life, Clete was worshipfully respectful of cats.
Being Your Dog’s
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ogs, in their natural state, are pack animals. We tend to think of them simply as autonomous pups and don’t often consider their immutable core nature as pack animals, however. This failure to take into account the true nature of dogs can make training more difficult. Likewise, understanding what it means to be a pack animal can unlock one of trainings greatest secrets.
seen through the innate canine perspective of packs and leaders, it only makes sense for trainers to take advantage of this by assigning roles for both pet and master that will make dog training especially effective. There are several things a trainer can do to emulate being a pack leader. These techniques will allow your dog to find what he will rightfully feel is his place in your family’s social order and will make him substantially more amenable to your training. Some may say it is as easy as making sure the dog knows who is the boss, but that is an oversimplification. Being bossy is not the same as being a leader. Simply trying to enforce your will on a dog does not necessarily communicate to him that you are truly the pack leader. The talented trainer will understand this and will take specific actions to emulate a pack leader. Some expert-recommended techniques include:
Dogs, in packs, have leaders. The leadership role in dog packs is one of great influence. Other dogs in the pack naturally subordinate themselves to leadership and will look to their leader n Consistency for guidance and instruction. Good leaders are consistent enforcers of rules and regulations. Of course, domesticated dogs don’t travel in packs. Instead, Leaders who too often look the other way are not taken seriously. A they build a pack based on those with whom they regularly dog will notice whether your rules and expectations are consistently interact. In essence, the owner and the owner’s family members or maintained and may even test your mettle on occasion, pushing the close friends become the dogs pack. boundaries of established behavioral norms to determine who is This creates a wonderful opportunity for dog trainers. By casting really in charge. By being a wholly consistent leader, you are likely to yourself as the leader of your dogs pack, the dog will naturally establish yourself as being the head of your pack and your dog will tend to follow your lead, will naturally feel inclined to respect you then be much more apt to follow your lead. and will demonstrate an instinctive need to learn from you. Since a dogs real social structure will always be By Lee Asher
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Treats, Continued from page 21
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Yet, without the extensive promotional program, it could have easily become just another dog book. The answer will never be known, but Jack never regretted his decision, feeling that the extra promotion by Macmillan had been a major factor in its success. The book was a passport to instant world acclaim. It not only became a classic, but it also opened a new era of literature. Mush was out, and courageous, raw red-blooded life was in. The Call of the Wild proved that realism was what the new generation wanted. The reviewers and critics had mixed emotions . . . some called it ‘just another dog story,’ while others acclaimed it as ‘the best dog story ever written.’ The book has never been out of print during the last one hundred years, and critics still rave about it. A few years ago Carl Sandburg said, ‘The Call of the Wild is the greatest dog story ever written and is at the same time a study of one of the most curious and profound motives that play hide-and-seek in the human soul.’ “
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A local business was looking for office help. They put a sign in the window, stating the following: “HELP WANTED. Must be able to type, must be good with a computer and must be bilingual. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.” A short time afterwards, a dog trotted up to the window, saw the sign and went inside. He looked at the receptionist and wagged his tail, then walked over to the sign, looked at it and whined. Getting the idea, the receptionist got the office manager. The office manager looked at the dog and was surprised, to say the least. However, the dog looked determined, so he led him into the office. Inside, the dog jumped up on the chair and stared at the manager. The manager said, “I can’t hire you. The sign says you have to be able to type.” The dog jumped down, went to the typewriter and proceeded to type out a perfect letter. He took out the page and trotted over to the manager and gave it to him, then jumped back on the chair. The manager was stunned, but then told the dog, “The sign says you have to be good with a computer.” The dog jumped down again and went to the computer. The dog proceeded to demonstrate his expertise with various programs and produced a sample spreadsheet and database and presented them to the manager. By this time the manager was totally dumb-founded! He looked at the dog and said, “I realize that you are a very intelligent dog and have some interesting abilities. However, I still can’t give you the job.” The dog jumped down and went to a copy of the sign and put his paw on the sentences that told about being an Equal Opportunity Employer. The manager said, “Yes, but the sign also says that you have to be bilingual.” The dog looked at him straight in the face and said, “Meow.”
Continued on page 28
Leaders are respected not just as an arbitrary outgrowth of their assigned position but because of how they behave in that role. A firm, but fair leader is far more likely to be admired and followed. One must be firm with their dog when training, but can’t hold unreasonable expectations or enforce rules with violence or punishment. A good pack leader can still use the positivereinforcement techniques that have been proven the core of successful training. Being a respectful leader will create a respectful follower in your dog. Their submission to you should be premised in respect and appreciation, not in fear or humiliation.
The successful pack leader will interact with his dog in ways that reinforce the notion of the social hierarchy. Dogs, for instance, look for cues of leadership in the eyes. By maintaining eye contact with your pet during training, he will better understand your role as leader. Likewise, it is desirable to occasionally demand your dogs attention while walking, playing or during more intense training sessions. By commanding your dog to heel and to look at you, for instance, you will further reinforce your position as pack leader. Unlocking the power of being a pack leader can make training much more effective. With roles clearly established, one can avoid much of the struggle others may experience while training their pets. Additionally, by assigning yourself the role of pack leader you create an environment in which your dog will naturally look to you for its guidance. Pack leadership is an essential component to any fully optimized training program.
Dog-Eared, Continued from page 19 colorful illustrations and informative text. The result is a tribute to dogs that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. There’s even a personal foreword from It’s Me or the Dog’s Victoria Stilwell. Sadie, the plucky Scottish Terrier who won last year’s Westminster Dog Show, may be the perfect pooch for carpeted catwalks—but she’s all wrong for families with manicured lawns. That’s because Scotties are diggers, and telling them not to tear up rose bushes is like telling a Mastiff not to drool. As millions tuned in to watch this year’s Westminster Dog Show, they wanted to know what all those gorgeous breeds are really like when the cameras aren’t rolling. In addition to Scotties’ penchant for digging, they might be surprised to know that: • •
English Foxhounds make terrible apartment dwellers. This breed loves to run…and run…and run! Portuguese Water Dogs are great for families who have pet-related allergies, as their coats are hypoallergenic. This is why the Obama family chose their Portuguese Water Dog, Bo. If you already have a dog, Labradors are a great choice for a new addition to your family. They are notoriously gentle with both animals and people. No wonder they’ve been the most popular breed in the country for 19 years running!
From barking Beagles to dashing Dachshunds, many of our favorite breeds are featured on the colorful pages of Entrekin’s new book. And because I is for “Instincts” and O is for “Obedience,” readers will learn about some of the traits that make dogs such fascinating friends.
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Dear Dog Lady, When my nephew and his fiancée went on vacation, they left their pet parrot, Maya, with me. They said it would be easy-aspie to take care of this bird but it’s been terrible for me and for Sherman, my West Highland white terrier. I believe Maya’s squawks torment Sherman because he follows me around constantly with his ears at half-mast. He tried climbing up to swat or attack the cage and I had to move it higher. Also, the bird has disrupted my life. I gave a dinner party last weekend and the screeching bird drove us all crazy. My nephew seems to think I will take care of chatterbox Maya whenever he and his fiancée are out of town. I’m the only relative nearby. I am going to have to tell him “no.” Do I blame it on the dog? —Patrick A: The dog will never know what’s fair and fowl. Your terrier with the flattened ears can’t understand when blame is unjustly pinned on him. So, sure, fault the dear dog. But why not do the brave thing and blame it on yourself. Tell your nephew you love him, he’s family, but Maya is foul. She disrupts your household and you must ask him to find another place to park the bird.
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Dear Dog Lady, When my ex-husband and I got a dissolution of our marriage, the dog ended up always being with the kids. We worked out every other week’ custody so the dog traveled along with the kids. The children always had their dog (the consistent presence) no matter where they were staying. Each parent also got to have time with the dog. —Leslie
A: This enlightened arrangement makes eminent good sense for dealing with a dog — and the kids — of divorce. This is a painful time and everybody is wounded, missing the old ways and trying courageously to fit into a new life. You and your ex-husband put aside selfishness and vindictiveness to consider the innocents in the brave new order. Congratulations for thinking way outside the box. By attaching the pet to the visitation schedule of the kids in the custody agreement, nobody ever feels alone. Just as you have beds for the kids, you can have a dog bed for the pet in two houses.
Make sure the pet’s food is the same variety at both places. You and your ex-husband should agree to use the same veterinarian so the dog gets consistent care. Dear Dog Lady, We have a 2-year-old rescue Shih Tzu who is a joy. Tucker is house-trained, barely barks, loves people and has the sweetest disposition. However, he pulls on his leash whenever we walk him and doesn’t like being left alone much. These things can be changed with some training I know but what I am most concerned about is that he has no interest in food. He is a couple pounds underweight and really doesn’t like to eat dry or wet food — even the best brands. He disinterestedly sniffs at it, manages a few morsels but that’s it. He doesn’t even hover around or beg for food when the humans are eating theirs. Nor does he get excited with treats. We haven’t experimented too much as his stomach seems delicate and he gets the runs with anything new or different. Otherwise, he is really a beautiful, happy and healthy dog that warms our hearts but I can’t help being very concerned about his lack of interest in food. —Audi A: Over the years, Dog Lady has compiled a list of irresistible human foods that send dogs into a swoon. Let’s see, there’s bacon, cheese, peanut butter, roasted chicken. Have I mentioned bacon? You can try seduce Tucker with niblets of these must-haves. And there are liver chunks — freeze-dried liver chunks, the ones that come in a big turquoise tub from Gimborn. They cost a lot but last for eons because you can break the chunks into chinks and dogs love them no matter how you slice them —especially if you’re feeding a persnickety Shih-Tzu. You could certainly take your sweetest Tucker to a veterinarian to check out if there are any medical reasons why he is resistant to food. Dog Lady is not a vet nor does she play one on the Internet but she suspects you hover too much. The proverbial wisdom is that you can lead a dog to kibble but you can’t make him eat – the dog will chow down when he gets hungry enough. So lay off Tucker for awhile. Feed him a small amount twice a day; don’t keep out his kibble out for him to graze upon whenever he wants. He’s should realize that food is a precious commodity and he must get it while he can.
One thing all dog owners can relate to is the unbelievable amount of unconditional love a dog offers. No matter your mood, no matter the circumstances, a dog’s unconditional love is the greatest spirit lifter. Dogs always greet you enthusiastically. Whether you went outside for only a moment, or you’ve been away for a week, your return is hailed as a great triumph. Give most dogs a chance, and they will shower you with kisses. These are simple acts of kindness that no bauble, no trinket can quite match. We would all be better off if we followed their example.
SHARING A BED Back in our bachelor days, I let Exley sleep up on the bed. He started by sleeping curled up at the bottom of the bed. Then, during the subsequent months, he slowly crept up toward the top. I knew I was being way too nice, and Nancy Campbell, my dog mentor, would have been very angry. “You need to be the alpha male,” her voice echoed in my brain. “You can’t be his friend. If you won’t take control, he will. He wants to be the alpha male… especially if he sees you as an equal.” I realized I should have heeded this voice when I awoke one morning to find Exley, his head next to mine on the pillow, snoring away. On one particularly hot night back in Brooklyn, I was tossing
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“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog... He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world... When all other friends desert, he remains.” —George G. Vest, Speech in the U.S. Senate, 1884
“If your dog doesn’t like someone, you probably shouldn’t either.” —Unknown
“The greatest love is a mother’s; then a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s.” —Polish Proverb
“He cannot be a gentleman that loveth not a dog.” —Proverb
“Dogs. They are better than human beings because they know but they do not tell.” —Emily Dickinson
“There is honor in being a dog.” —Aristotle
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SIMPLE ACTS OF KINDNESS ARE THE BEST ACTS
Treats, Continued from page 24
the inner dog
Jody Thompson’s Inner Dog I
urban dog • 36
n the ongoing tradition of highly successful Vancouverpedigreed (pun intended) acting talents, Jody Thompson is no stranger to the film and television industry. She has dozens of credits to her name, including appearances on the hit TV series Smallville and Supernatural, and upcoming roles on both the FOX television sensation Fringe and the award-winning Sy-Fy series Sanctuary – not to mention half-adozen other projects in development.
When she’s not acting, Jody enjoys spending time with her husband, two-year-old son and their three dogs – a pair of internationally ranked German Shepherds named Luchs and Katia, and a recently adopted black Labrador Retriever named Natty. Luchs and Jody began Schutzhund (police-type) training together as a hobby in 2003, and quickly fell in love with the challenge. It’s not surprising really, as Jody’s family has always been into dog training. Natty, the retired Labrador, originally belonged to Jody’s mother and is a highly decorated Canadian Kennel Club field trial dog. Jody is quick to insist that the most difficult part of trialing is finding the time to train. “Luchs would come to set with me when I was working on ‘The 4400,’ and we would do tracking exercises on the way to the craft services table between set-ups.” The eighty-pound dog may be in the top of his class when it comes to courage, intelligence and protection work, “but he’s actually a big softy,” says Jody. “It’s as if he would have preferred to have been born a lapdog.” Jody is currently working from home, developing a privately financed, feature-length screenplay. Meanwhile, her canine entourage stands guard, eagerly awaiting impromptu trips to Pacific Spirit Park and the opportunity to shower unannounced visitors in sloppy kisses and partially eaten squeaky toys. There are more pictures of Jody and her dogs on her website, www. jodythompson.com.
What is Luchs idea of perfect happiness? Chasing things – preferably consenting humans in padded overalls… or unsuspecting squirrels What is his favorite treat? Ranges – from giant meaty raw bones to broccoli stems If he could change one thing about himself, what would it be? He would have canine superpowers like Bolt What is his most treasured possession? Mangled soccer ball What is his most endearing quality? The way he puts his head under my arm and tries to be small and cuddly Assuming there is such a thing as reincarnation, what or who might he have been in a former life? Ferdinand the Bull Is there anything that embarrasses him? His inability to eat as much as my Labrador What is it that he dislikes most? Being stuck inside on a beautiful day What is his greatest fear? He fears nothing! Except bath-time… What is his greatest accomplishment? A tie – between a Schutzhund III title and finishing 4th at a Canadian National Sieger Show What is his favorite place? The fence at the back of the yard – also known as the squirrel superhighway What does he really like in other dogs? Their respect Does he have a motto? You are what you eat – which makes him quite interesting, indeed…
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Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. They give us joy, protection, companionship, and unconditional love. But they need our help too. Join us in confronting animal cruelty in all its forms. Visit humanesociety.org to find out what you can do.