How to Choose Your Next Dog

“Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.”
— Mordecai Siegal

We just said goodbye to the Thanksgiving turkey and will soon welcome Santa Claus and the loot he drags down the chimney.

Hopefully one of those things will not be a dog.

Consider your purpose for having a dog in your life

Not everyone regards a dog as his partner and best friend.

The selection of a dog must be made by the person who will be the dog’s main human. Whether it’s a kid or an adult, the main human must select his/her dog.

Readers of this blog may pick up on the fact that I rarely speak in absolute absolutes—but this time, I do not mince words.

When you decide you want to commit to a decade – sometimes even two decades—of owning a dog, you owe it to yourself and your new dog to consider the ramifications of your choice. Here are some guidelines: Continue reading

I am Thankful for…

I have been focusing on recreating a new life and way of being, and part of the Reset is to slow down, see the moment, pay attention to the beauty and greatness each moment brings.

A couple of weeks ago, after autumn had made her presence with rainy, windy days and cool damp nights, there was a brief return to the dog days of summer. On that day, I took Alice and Wil to a private beach on Camano Island near where we were living in our RV. This day was special for so many reasons:

Hitting the "reset button"

Our awesome real estate agent gifted Alice, Wil and me a glorious day on the private beach on Camano Island.

For so many years I found myself so “up-to-my-ears” in duties, responsibilities, and commitments that I lost the precious time I had with my horses and dogs. I changed my life—sold my ranch, downsized my belongings, parked my horses at a training barn in Tonasket while the dogs and I set off to find a new home where life could calm down and we could find Time again.

And so the day on the beach gave us the opportunity to hit the Reset Button. Continue reading

Should Dogs Eat Cooked Turkey Bones?

Let’s cut to the chase: Dogs should never be fed cooked turkey, chicken or other fowl bones. In fact, they ought not to eat any bones that have been cooked.

Image by Steve Johnson

Image by Steve Johnson

The reason is simple: Cooked bones are brittle and when the dog gnaws them, the bones are more likely to splinter. And these splinters can lodge in esophagus, stomach or even intestines.

However, the broth made from a turkey carcass (or other bones) is very nutritious and you can feed your dog a cup or so of this broth. You can add carrots, beets, greens, broccoli, squash and other vegetables too—But don’t add onions, garlic, grapes, avocado or seeds from apples or pears. Continue reading

How to Prep Your dog for Thanksgiving Guests

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. It means eating! Good food! With friends! And these days, if I have family as guests, then it’s just that more special!

But for our dogs, Thanksgiving, like some other high-human-volume holidays, can be quite stressful. There are more people than usual in the house. People are behaving out of the ordinary. And there might even be someone else’s children and/or pets who do not follow the usual protocols and who change up the energy in the home considerably.

Here then are some ideas you might employ to lessen the stress for your dog.

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Dogs in Hotels- Tips for Being a Welcomed Guest

Over the past few months while relocating to the wet-side of the State, I’ve found myself staying in a resort motel just outside of Tonasket. I’ve been honing my “materials list” for things that I have found to make traveling and hoteling with my Bouvier team a better experience.

Guardian Gear Cotton Web Dog Training Lead 15’x5/8″, Green


Because Alice is 98% blind and deaf, a leash and tether is essential. Were Alice a chewer, my tether would be a cable, but she’s not, so Wil’s 15 foot long-line works just fine. I use this when I’m loading or unloading the car. I tie her to a picnic table in the front yard of my rented unit. If you do this with your dog, be sure that a few things are true:

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Crate Training 101

Every dog should be taught—ideally at an early age—how to spend time in a crate. The reasons are plentiful:

When properly conditioned to a crate, a dog will find it a comfortable cave. This cave can serve as a place of safety during thunderstorms, holidays (lots of guests are in your home, you’re at an unfamiliar place, fireworks are exploding, trick or trickers are knocking continuously on your door, etc.)

If you are staying in a hotel, motel or are a guest in someone’s home, a crate may be appreciated by your host.

Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety can be unbelievably destructive. In a crate, the only thing the dog can destroy is his bedding. And if you fear he may shred and eat it, remove the bedding when he is unsupervised.

There is a possibility that you may need to travel by air with your dog at some point. That is a very stressful situation for dogs, and having a friendly relationship with the crate prior to the trip helps make the experience just a little less “over the edge.”

How to Condition Your Dog to LOVE His Crate

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Accommodations for Old Dogs: Dog Ramps and Coping Strategies

Up until this time last year, my old Bouvier was still working cattle—though she was definitely slowing down. I knew she was having second thoughts about this work when she hesitated to move the young calves. She advanced on them cautiously. Her vision was failing and I think at that point it was reduced to shades and shapes.

Alice watching Wil and me work cattle

Alice began to consider cattle herding a spectator sport

Not long after that she made the transition from “getting up there” to “up there.” Climbing stairs was a labor to be endured only when going to bed at night. Walks around the ranch became an observer’s sport where she watched Wil and me head out and just “tuned in” to us. Last summer, even her “tuner” was getting old and we’d often surprise her when we got back to the house.

I have had to make accommodations for her lack of mobility, sight and more recently hearing: Continue reading

Soggy Doggie Solution: Raincoats for Dogs

Some of you may have heard about—or worse yet, experienced first hand– the terrible drought Washington State suffered this Spring- Fall. Over one million acres burned up this summer with fire season starting a whole month early—in July.

We prayed for snow—lots of snow—to suppress the stench and lessen the threat that roots, smoldering deep underground, would reignite fires the following Spring.

My old place and horses in North Central Washington

After the hot, dry summer and the fire storms that followed lightening strikes, even I welcome snow this year

Be careful what you ask for, lest ye get more than you bargained for.

We got our snow in the mountains. Two passes in Northwest Washington are closed- North Cascades for the season (which is typical). Stevens is also closed without news of a probable reopening date. West of the Cascade Mountains, in NorthWet Washington, we got rain. Literally buckets of rain.

Wil in his doggie raincoat

The only thing better than this coat would be sleeves and leggings!

Roads are closed, businesses and homes have taken on water. Cars have floated away.

“What has all this to do with canines,?” you ask.

A Bouvier de Flanders is not designed to live in soggy regions. Their hair is long and absorbs water like microfiber. It hangs, dripping streams from dreadlocks.

After 10 years in North Central Washington, where I enjoyed seeing the sun for months at a time and even relished the slow and gentle dolling out of the annual 11 inches of rain characteristic of the region, I’m wondering if the mild winters and relatively cool summers on this side of the mountains are reason enough to suffer the usual 60 inches of rainfall I might now expect in my new home here on the coast.”

One thing is for sure: I had to take prophylactic action to keep my dogs as dry as possible!

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What to Look for in a Self Dog Wash

Before I left on a trip a few weeks ago, I had took Wil and Alice to Petco. For $10 they provided a nice clean tub, soap, towels and a drier. Our grooming was incomplete as they did not have brushes and I did not thing to bring any along. The water sprayer was one of the best I’ve ever used. I was able to get the dogs clean and leave the mess behind.

When I got home from my trip, I had a panic attack: Had my dogs picked up fleas?! I set a course for a closer self-dog wash: Burlington Dog Works.

I found only one flea on Alice. R.I.P., Mr. Flea!

I found only one flea on Alice. R.I.P., Mr. Flea!

Now this place has me spoiled. Their facility is clean. The groomers do outstanding, professional work. They are knowledgeable about a vast array of dog-topics.

The tubs at Burlington Dog Works are outfitted with a Hydro-Surge bathing system that pumps soapy water into a surge-washing head. The water is massaged deep into the coat. They told me that the pulsing of the machine exfoliates dead skin and really scrubs out the dirt. Their hair brushed out and when we left, they even looked as though they had been freshly groomed.

We went for the “full Monte”– shampoo, cream rinse, Egyptian Mineral Salts. The dogs were happy and sparkling clean — and flea free– when we left.

So, all Self Dog Wash facilities are not created equal. And we’ll be making a regular pilgrimage to Burlington Dog Works henceforth!

Six Common Substances that Regularly Poison Dogs

If you have an animal poison-related emergency, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately. Their hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Call (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

 If you see any of the elevated symptoms in this pose, you have a medical emergency. If you suspect any of the “warm up” symptoms are due to poisoning, consider that a medical emergency and contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

All of the substances discussed in this post have the potential to be lethal. I’ll start with those that post the greatest threat, even in small quantities.

Billed as a safe food for humans, this one's a kller for dogs.

Billed as a safe food for humans, this one’s a killer of dogs.


Xylitol is a “naturally occurring”  alcohol and is widely produced in China. It is sourced from the woody plant material of corncobs or trees such as birch or hardwoods. It is billed as a sweetener that “aids in the prevention of dental cavities, and reduces plaque formation.”

The most widely recognized source is candy and gum

The most widely recognized source is candy and gum

Xylitol is used as a sweetening agent in foods such as:

Sugar-free gum, mints, pudding and baked goods. Continue reading

Training aids: 6′ Leash and a Choke Collar

Training your dog to walk politely on a leash may require a new tools– a 6′ leash and a choke collar. Such is the case with Wil and me. We are ratcheting up our obedience expectations. And with that we needed two tools that we ordinarily would not use: A choke collar and a leather leash.

The Fierce Jungle Animal!

The Fierce Jungle Animal!

Wil is the third of three dogs I ever got over the age of 8 weeks of age. One was Buck, about whom I’ve written in another post. Another was a little 8 pound Jack Russel Terrorist- Chihuahua mix. In all the years I had either of them, their early leash-training (i.e. “lack there-of”)  left “ghosts” of behavior. In other words, when it suited them, they resorted to pulling my arm out of its socket. (Yes, even the Fierce Jungle Animal!)

Such is the case with Wil.

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Halloween Contests and Parades for Dogs

It’s that time of year again– Time for goblins, princesses, pirates, and three-headed Chihuahuas to take to the streets!


Three-Headed Chihuahua — Image courtesy of Petful

If you’re one to celebrate or participate in Halloween festivities you might check this out to see if there is an event near you: 2015 Halloween Events .

I’d like to point out a few things that will help keep you and your dog safe.

If you head out with your dog to partake in Halloween events, keep an eye on your dog for signs of stress.


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Clickety Dog – the app that clicks for dog lovers (Guest Post)

I’d like to thank Vicky Carne, Publisher of Clickety Clips & Clickety Dog for contributing this article — just for K9 Wellbeing Readers!

Improve your timing- Use Clickety Dog App

Clickety Dog- An App to build great timing. Whether you’re a dog owner, thinking of getting a dog or just someone who loves dogs, the game app Clickety Dog (available for most cell phones and tablets) provides hours of entertainment as well as practice in clicker* training.

In the game, you must patiently clicker train your young dog in new skills before you take it through to obedience competitions and round agility courses. But, just like training a real dog your screen dog may ignore you or simply not understand what you want – timing and patience are key. And, just like real life, so is watching out for distractions like squirrels or picnics! Your aim is to win all the rosettes and trophies, and you can’t do that if your dog’s run off.

For those new to clicker training, it’s also a helpful introduction to both the concept and the skills needed before you go off and try it with a real dog.

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Wil Puts Dog-Aggression aside as we’re Herding a Heifer

I am selling my ranch, and as I’m not sure where I’ll land or when I’ll be settled, I must sell my cattle. This is a difficult thing to do, for over the past 4 years I have come to regard cows as honorable, spiritual beings. I will miss them.

And so will Wil. They have been instrumental as (Alice and I) have worked to rehabilitate this now 6 year old Bouvier to assume responsibilities of a working ranch dog. One of these skills is herding cattle!

Mab- Still on the Ranch with Moo Friends

Mab- Still on the Ranch with Moo Friends

Late yesterday morning we set up a loading zone and ushered Mab, a one year-old heifer, into the trailer. She went in quietly. I took her to East Wenatchee to her new home. Her new owners had prepared a 4-strand barbed wire fence that was about 150×150 feet. When I opened the door to the trailer, she hopped out, looked around, and started bawling. “Moooooo???” she called. “Moooooooooo!” – Where are my friends? Where is my family? Where am I? HELP!

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Round Up: Weeds and Pests vs. Health and Vitality

If you have never considered the correlation between illness and toxins, please read this post, listen to the interview and watch the videos.

One of the most heinous examples of corruption I can cite is the ongoing manufacturing, marketing and sale of the herbicide, Roundup. It is used on farmland and residential land across this great nation.

Listen to this interview by Carol Grieve’ of veterinarian , Dr. Don Huber entitled, “GMOs and Glyphosate and Their Threat to Humanity.

The active ingredient in Round Up is glyphosate. It has not been adequately studied by the biotech industry, and those that have been done have had questionable controls, so the validity is questionable.

Glyphosate is chronic or cumulative, not acute. If it were acute, those who ingested it would die instantly—like eating cyanide. Eating glyphosate is like smoking cigarettes. You can get away with it for quite a while before you end up facing the grim reaper.

300 million pounds of glyphosate is applied indiscriminately from industrial to residential users.

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Kidney Failure is Caused by Old Age? Really?

My friend’s 13-going on 14 year-old Golden Retriever, Hanna, is dying of kidney failure.

When I asked the vet what caused this, he said, “old age.”

c 2007 -- In spite of her discomfort, Hanna has always been an exceptionally happy dog

Alice, Hanna and their terrorist friend, Molly-cule, c.2007

Hanna, Molly and Alice spent a lot of time up there on the wooded hill!

Hanna, Molly and Alice spent a lot of time up there on the wooded hill!

But this is a dog I’ve known since she was 6, and she wasn’t in in premium condition then. She was chronically, crazy-itchy, particularly her paws, ears and genital area. For as long as I’ve known her, she’d scoot her bottom along the ground, chew at her feet until they were pink, and claw at her ears that were puffy from inflammation.

We were told years ago that the dog had a yeast infection.

I knew a man 15 years ago who had systemic candida. It really knocked him down hard. He cured it by avoiding sugar, carbs, and all fermented foods. It took over a year before he began to believe he was going to live.

When I first met her, Hanna’s diet was far from high-end. She ate medium quality kibble—the medium-priced stuff from Costco.

In the summer of 2007 I insisted we try to detox her. We fed her organic chicken broth for a week, then cooked chicken and rice. She did not improve much—probably because of the rice. Too many carbohydrates.

In the summer of 2008 we fed her buffalo meat and sweet potatoes. Again, she showed a little improvement, but she did not get well. In this case it may have been due to the sweet potato that undermined our progress. Carbs again.

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Dog Food: Observations Regarding Meat Quality

This post will tell you what Alice has taught me about dog food.

As of this writing, my Bouvier, Alice, is 14 years old. She is still working cattle and protecting livestock and fowl from would-be coyote attacks.

Alice herding cattle

Alice herding cow and heifer


4 month old Muchkin, considers his options.

4 month old Muchkin, considers his options.






I got Alice when she was just 8 weeks old. And right from the beginning, she was unable to eat kibble. The quality didn’t matter. Every brand of kibble caused:

  • gross gas (very, very green air)
  • diarrhea (many explosions in the back seat of the car… I learned to carry a set of sheets, towels and other protective coverings that made my car look like a crime scene)
  • rancid coat odor (ewww-ey, BABY!)

And so, Alice grew up eating raw chicken.

When she was 10 months old, I was thrilled to find turkeys on sale for $0.19 per pound! I bought a great bird and chopped it into one-pound chunks.

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Why My Bouviers Wear Pet Hub ID Tags

When I was 10 years old, I finally talked my parents into letting me have a dog. My dad held out for a long time: “Honey, you don’t want a dog. It’ll dig up the yard, chew up the garden hose and bite the mailman.” Eventually he consented and I chose Baron the Wonder Dog from a pen behind a pet shop.

Baron was my first dog. Here is is when he was young (circa 1969).

Baron was my first dog. Here is is when he was young (circa 1969).

Baron was my inseparable companion. When I started dating, he decided that his lifelong history of sea and carsickness was no longer serving his higher purpose; he never threw up in a car or boat ever again.BaronWY1979 copy

When I went college, he and I set out for the West in my VW bus. We spent 9 cold months in Missoula, MT. In the spring we fled the cold and landed in Seattle, where we stayed in a home of some shirt-tail friends. At 5:30 a.m. the next morning, I let him out of the house for a potty break. He vanished. The year was 1979 and the only way I knew to try to find him was to check with the regional Humane Society shelters and veterinary clinics and to create posters to put up around the neighborhood.

I looked for him every day for over a month, but I never saw him again.

I adopted Buck, a 6 month-old Shepherd – Lab from the Humane Society at the end of my search for Baron. Buck had been surrendered by a man who was 6 foot tall, slender build, balding with gray hair and who typically wore a gray business suit. How do I know? Because Buck would drag me to meet anyone who fit this description.

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