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We’re Talking Dogs ... About Dogs, That Is
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Time to let the conversation off leash. This is your chance to talk dogs with other Bark readers and our editors and contributors during a real-time chat. Unlike recent open threads, we aren’t featuring a special guest or a theme this week—although we’ll be popping by with some thoughts and questions of our own.

Because we know that some folks need an extra push to join the conversation, we’ll be selecting at random one open thread participant to receive a Dog Is My Co-Pilot T-shirt and a subscription. (If the winner is already a subscriber, he or she can extend his or her subscription or give it as a gift.) Be sure to include your email when you register to comment, so we can contact you if you win.

Please note: When we titled our open thread "off leash," we didn’t mean out-of-control—just like at the dog park. Obscene, abusive, offensive or commercial comments will be taken down. We close the thread at 4 p.m. PST. 

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
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Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 8 2011 |

Last week, we talked rescue with Christie Keith from Maddie's Matchmaker Adoptathon. Thanks to everyone who participated. (Later in the thread, I'll announce the winner of the 25 gift subscriptions.) Meanwhile, I wanted to mention that the Adoptathon was a big success—about 2,200 animals were adopted and Maddie's Fund is expected to donate $2 million. Some event highlights include:

- Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation had a line at 4:30 a.m., five hours before they opened on Saturday.
- Alameda Animal Shelter had a line two hours before they opened. People waited in the pouring rain to be first in line to adopt.
- A 17-year-old blind and deaf dog named Heidi was the oldest animal to be adopted over the weekend. She had been brought to a vet by her owners to be euthanized, and the vet asked if he could try to find the dog another home after the exam showed no major health issues. Thanks to Maddie's Matchmaker Adoptathon, Heidi was adopted by a hospice nurse who promises to fill the rest of her life with love and comfort.

Learn more.

Submitted by Maura | June 8 2011 |

What amazing statistic!!! I love to hear these stories- it gives me hope:) It's so nice to see so many people excited about animal rescue too!
Great job to every person who made this possible- especially the countless volunteers and Maddie's Fund!

Submitted by Poosahkie | June 8 2011 |

Thanks for this news. It is encouraging to read people continue to care. God bless the hospice nurse who took in the older dog.

Submitted by Jennifer B | June 8 2011 |

What great news! Thanks for the update!

Submitted by Carolyn | June 8 2011 |

Love the feedback -- sounds like a wonderful event. I am especially glad that Heidi found a home -- sending licks and wags to her new people, clearly they are extra special.

Submitted by Poosahkie | June 8 2011 |

Over vaccinating our dogs ~ if we take the side of not feeling the need for yearly vaccinations yet want to participate in activities/organizations or kennel our dogs at places where an "up to date" vaccination proof is required, what type of stand other than caving to the yearly vaccinations can we take. As I have learned, a positive titer is good enough but as you know, constant titering is not required. Second thought, if those who are attending a function or kenneling a dog where vaccinations are required, why wouldn't they feel comfortable next to my dog who is "not up to date" with their shots. As people, our vaccinations last a life time. Why wouldn't an animal's vaccination?

Submitted by Maura | June 8 2011 |

I'm always a bit concerned about my dogs meeting total stranger dogs because they might not be up to date on vacinations or monthly hearthworm/flee treatment. I work hard to keep my dogs healthy and they attend a lot of dog sports and activities every week where I hope the other people are taking just as good of care so I don't have to worry about my dogs contracting something.

Submitted by Poosahkie | June 8 2011 |

I don't want to appear condescending, but the point is if your dogs have been vaccinated, they should be safe. You have been vaccinated and you expect your vaccine to protect you against the diseases for which those vaccines were designed. Dr. Becker's web site is doing a four part series on vaccines and this reaffirmation from her and her colleagues, in my opinion, needs to be looked at seriously. Over 30 years ago, in Del Bonita, MT, I took my cat in for her distemper shot and was told by that vet my cat was now protected for life. That particular vet was a pioneer and I did not realize it at the time. I'll have to dig out my old BARks to find the article that was mentioned. I remember seeing that but I do not recall the details.

Submitted by Michelle | June 8 2011 |

That's ultimately only partially true. For example, the kennel cough vaccine is much like the flu vaccine for people. They take an educated guess on what strains will be most popular that year, but some will be missed and they can be wrong. Dogs who get that vaccine can STILL get kennel cough if they come into contact with a dog who has a different strain of it.

Submitted by Maura | June 8 2011 |

Plus, why would you want to put your dog at risk for getting anything from dogs who aren't vaccinated?

Submitted by Poosahkie | June 8 2011 |

I knew this about kennel cough, I did not want to muddy the waters but you have an excellent point. Thus taking my point a step farther; how can a boarding kennel expect a dog to have the kennel cough vaccine and not come in with another strain or contract another strain while there? As for exposing our dogs / ourselves to people who have not been vaccinated ~ I had to sit next to a child in a restaurant that I was sure had whooping cough. Oh, well, I've been vaccinated against it, I taught in a region known for polio; I've been vaccinated. Fort Dodge, Pfizer and etc. have their reputation on the line saying that their vaccines will protect my dog. If I am being negligent as an owner for over vaccinating, shame on me.

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 8 2011 |

Poosahkie, I'm glad you raise this question and I hope others in the Bark community will chime in. Barbara Royal wrote a story on this topic for Bark, Choosing a Vaccination Schedule for your Dog, that attempted to sort out some of the conflicting positions on vaccination.

Submitted by Poosahkie | June 8 2011 |

The Bark, Issue 40, Jan/Feb 2007, Choosing a Vaccination Schedule for Your Dog, Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, another pioneer in this area of interest. Thank you Lisa for the link.

Submitted by anonymous | June 8 2011 |

Vaccinations are a way for vets to keep healthy pets coming in for appointments. It gives them an incentive to vaccinate because otherwise, why spend the money on an exam for a perfectly healthy dog?

Submitted by chances mom | June 8 2011 |

due to a recent episode of Pancreatitus - i'd like to tell dog owners to please watch what they feed their dogs. My dog chance comes to work with me and unbeknownst to me, he was being fed potato chips every day at lunch! We also were letting him lick our bowls or plates and he ended up getting very ill.
His diet is very clean now - but it was a very scary few days at the vet hospital.
Pancreatitus is an inflammation of the pancreus when it has to work overtime and create extra enzymes and it is extremely painful.

Submitted by Melissa | June 8 2011 |

Oh, I am glad he is okay now! I hope you gave your co-workers a lesson in good dog diets after that!

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 8 2011 |

Chances mom, This is a total pet peeve of mine—when people give my dogs food without checking with me (or, even, as in the case of a neighbor, in front of me after being expressly asked not to ... another story). Your case is an extreme example of the risks of this bad habit. Sorry for the close call; glad to hear your pup is on the mend.

Submitted by Melissa | June 8 2011 |

I just want to put a plug in here for adopting pets from rescue organizations. Adopting is the best way to take a pet into your family, of course, and there are animals of all breeds available out there. I love the added benefit of working with a rescue organization that fosters pets (dogs, primarily) in homes with families. The foster families can give the potential adopter a great perspective on the animal, their behavior in the home, with children, with other pets, etc. If you are looking to adopt, please consider rescue, even if you have a specific breed in mind, I bet you can find a perfect match!

Submitted by Maura | June 8 2011 |

You raise a great point about adopting pets that have been fostered. My first rescue mutt I got had been fostered and it was great to know how he was in a home setting and that he was potty trained. For our second dog, we went to the pound and I didn't feel as comfortable not knowing more about the dog. So we ended up waiting and looking for a dog that has been in a foster for a while. We found our girl and knew exactly what we were getting! It seems like there is a better chance things will work out when you know as much as you can before hand about that animal.
Either way, rescue is the way to go;) I'll never go back!

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 8 2011 |

My two dogs are rescues--our first was from the Seattle Animal Shelter. She was three and had been "surrendered" when her family had to move. She's been an absolute angel. Our second was from a rescue in Fairbanks, he was five. Because he's a former sled dog from the country, we've had a few more challenges. But in general, they are both fantastic dogs.

Submitted by Melissa | June 8 2011 |

We just recently adopted our first dog from a rescue group. (We have six cats, adopted from a shelter). My husband had never in his life had a dog, so the conversations I had with various foster parents in our search for a dog was invaluable. The first dog we'd been interested in showed significant cat aggression when the foster Mom brought him to a friends house to meet a cat. So, we knew we didn't want to take that risk, with our large feline family. We were able to find a perfect dog for us, and as a result, my 'cat-person' husband has been converted to a 'cat/dog-person'. I can't say enough great things about the people who rescue pets, and the families who foster them! (And the people who adopt them!)

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | June 8 2011 |

HI Melissa
I agree that it can make all the difference adopting a dog from a rescue group that fosters dogs—I write in my letter in the June issue that I recently spent time with 4 adorable pups being fostered by a friend. The pups had just arrived from Guatemala, and what was so great was the chance to see them interact with each other, with my friend's other dogs, and with people. It made selecting a dog that much easier for another friend (who I thought was going to foster one, but wound up, adopting instead). The rescue group spends a lot of time with the dogs, socializing them, training them too.

Submitted by Jo Ann | June 8 2011 |

I agree to adopting a dog from a rescue organization. When my beloved parrot of 20+ years passed away, I was petless and lost. I found out my complex opened their policy toward dogs and I fell in love with my neighbor's minpin. She was a cutie. At first I did not know what breed she was as I had never been exposed to small dogs. But she has a fiesty attitude that I liked. I researched about the breed and found a rescue organization in my area. I browsed through many descriptions and photos until I came across two of them at the same foster house. I put in my application to adopt one of the two minpins. I went to the foster parent's house and got a chance to see first hand how the dogs behaved around the family and strangers. One of them could care less about my presence but the other one was very curious about me. She wanted to sit in my lap and stay there. She is the one I took home and I am blessed. She is the joy of my life when I needed it most. I highly recommend going through a rescue organization.

Submitted by Carole | June 8 2011 |

Having had been adopted from overseas, and dumped off a year later, my dogs have been my only family. My shep mix that i adopted when i was 25 taught me about love, responsibility and truly a "dog soulmate". I was lucky enough to have him for 16 years. It's been over 10 years, and 3 other dogs and i still miss him. Hope you don't think it is strange, but he, and all my other dogs are/will ne cremated and be buried with me. I could'nt stand to be w/o them.

Submitted by Sully's mom | June 8 2011 |

hi there.. i just wanted to pass on a blog that has been SO very helpful to me and many friends... this guy is a holistic vet ... he just wants to put the word out there that you must question your vet on everything, and not blindly go along with what Vets say... he blogs on everything from Cancer to Vaccinations to the Raw food diet.. he's AWESOME!

i hope this info can be of help..

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | June 8 2011 |

If you are readers of our magazine, you know that Victoria Stilwell writes a training Q&A column for us in each issue. I would love to solicit a question for the September issue from you. If there is something that you would like her to reply to, I would love to hear your ideas. Her answer will appear in the magazine, unfortunately this means that you will have to wait some time for an answer!

Submitted by Carolyn | June 8 2011 |

Claudia, I'd love to know what her comments are regarding elderly dogs that are "forgetting" or perhaps "ignoring" their training. My little dog has been clicker-trained and at one point knew many tricks and polite behaviors. We still train a few simple behaviors daily, because we both enjoy it. Obviously, at age 11-12, I don't expect the same performance from her as in her hey-day. But simple behaviors that she's known for years (e.g. Let's go inside, Time to go outside, Time for bed) she doesn't respond to ... unless there is a treat involved. Her sight seems reasonably good (she can follow hand and facial gestures) and she can still hear a tiny treat hitting the floor. I guess she's permitted to be a bit of a diva now, but I'm curious how one continues to get necessary daily polite behavior from an elderly dog, who is no longer as motivated to give it. Thanks.

Submitted by Kerry | June 9 2011 |

I'm certainly not Victoria but since her potential answer is a few months away, have you checked out canine cognitive dysfunction? It's essential doggy Alzheimer's and can lead to disorientation which might explain some lack of responsiveness when she is feeling less motivated.

I talked about this issue with my vet for one of my dogs who seems to have some early signs but we decided not to treat with medication yet because the issue isn't too severe. There is a prescription drug option and/or a diet rich in antioxidants.

Good luck whatever the cause.

Submitted by Maj | June 8 2011 |

I am using Victoria's 'removal technique' for my little barking chihuahua Cleo. I haven't had her long after having rescued her from finding her 2 months ago lying down in the middle of the freeway.

She is doing great with her training and health, the vet thinks she is around 7 months. The removal technique works in the house where I can put her in the other room but what about when we are in the car and she barks at friends or neighbors saying hello or people parked next to us? How do I stop her barking when there is no where to remove her to?
Thank you!!!

Submitted by Sully's mom | June 8 2011 |

.. wondering if there might be more articles on holistic dog care, raw diet, titres vs vaccines, disease prevention, such as cancer and pancreatitis.. natural dog supplements etc.
(ps, LOVE your mag!)

Submitted by Sarah Arantza | June 8 2011 |

I have a question about fighting "pet cousins".

I adopted a rescued dog last fall. The dog, Roscoe, a 3 yr. old male Aussie mix, was VERY timid, with barely any socialization with humans. Since then, we've made countless trips to the local dog beach, have done obedience training since January (we're currently in Advanced!), and have over-all worked really hard to improve Roscoe's confidence around people and "people environments". He's doing really great. My parents fell in love with him when they came to visit us for Thanksgiving in November, and again when I brought my dog on a road trip down to their house for the December holidays. A couple of months ago, they adopted a rescue of their own: a big, happy go lucky German Shepherd mix male puppy (just under a year old) with energy energy energy.

My parents and their new pup came to visit us for a long weekend recently, and our dog "cousins" met for the first time. It didn't go so well! Lots of fighting over resources, possessions, territory, etc (4 fights total, in three days!). My dog clearly felt insecure with this new, hyper, bigger puppy storming into his home, and my parents' dog (who we gather hasn't had much dog-to-dog socialization) was just clueless. He just loved Roscoe, was always in his face, but Roscoe would just growl and tell him to back off! We humans eventually wisened-up, and did everything we could to keep tensions at a minimum (no sharing toys, separated for meals, giving Roscoe more "right-of-way" privileges inside the house, etc. basically trying to follow a natural hierarchy amongst the dogs rather than taking the more "democratic approach" that came more naturally to us).

Roscoe will be joining me on another road trip this August to go visit my parents. Like I mentioned, he's already been to their house, but this will be the first time that my parents' new dog will be there, too. My question is: how do we keep the peace??? Are the roles going to be reversed now, does my parents' dog now have "right-of-way" privileges inside the house? Does the hierarchy change? Help!

Submitted by Marie Muscolino | June 8 2011 |

I'm no trainer, so all of my thoughts are in the "what I would do" category. Pups who are almost a year are like teenagers. They test all of the boundaries and they have so much energy to burn. My adult (timid with dogs) dog loathes pups at this age, because they are SO overbearing and in your face.

It's really up to you and your parents to take control of the environment and set the dogs up to succeed. I'd continue with separate feedings and no sharing toys. Also, consider crates. Not only will crates allow for time-outs if the energy level gets too high, but it will give Roscoe somewhere to go to escape the crazy puppy.

Consider allowing the dogs to interact only after a long walk or a long session of exercise. The puppy should be less rambunctious, so maybe Roscoe will be able to lower his defenses a bit and actually get to know the pup.

Besides removing the dogs' resources (toys & food), what else was successful at your house?

One more thing... I'd talk with your parents to come up with a game plan. Nothing will work if the humans aren't on the same page.

Submitted by Annie | June 8 2011 |

My comment is similar. Though not a trainer, I had a dog who was unpredictably aggressive. When other family dogs came to visit, I'd put them in a baby-gated area of the kitchen allowing my dog to roam freely about the house, but also sniff the other dog through the gate. They could lie next to each other, but separated and allowed me to gauge the interaction. Eventually the gates were removed and all was well. I still monitored my dog very closely.

Submitted by Gregg | June 8 2011 |

Sounds to me like it's mostly an issue of their difference in age/energy levels. That said, I've read a lot of training articles that suggest two dogs should always be introduced on neutral turf (not in one of their homes or even in their yard) and then be moved to the home only after they've gotten aquainted and are acting friendly to one another. You might want to consider that approach for your re-introduction in August.

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | June 8 2011 |

Did anybody read the article in last Sunday’s New York Times titled “‘For the Dogs’ Has a Whole New Meaning” — it was on the front page of the business section, and documents the booming dog food industry, the growth in premium brands, and the trend towards natural and organic ingredients. It isn’t particularly revelatory to anybody who has a dog or shops at a local pet boutique, you can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/business/05pets.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2...

But this passage in particular jumped out at me:
Are our pets healthier for all of this? Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary nutrition at Ohio State University, says his students have studied the diet history of thousands of animals and have not yet determined that one pet food is better than another. “We have been unable to distinguish an outcome in healthy animals eating a wide variety of foods,” he says. He adds: “If you put them all in a plain brown bag, you’d probably be fine with any one of them.”

What’s do people think, are all dog foods the same as this "expert" suggests?

Submitted by Melissa | June 8 2011 |

This is an interesting question. I buy natural foods for our dog and cats. The one thing I notice from past pets, when I just bought what I could in the grocery store, is that my current pets poop is less nasty (less of it, and less stinky and/or funny colored), but it's still poop! All my animals throughout my life have lived long, healthy lives on what I fed them. But I buy just the all natural, premuim food now, since I eat natural foods myself, and I want to support those sorts of companies. I'll be interested here to see what others have to say.

Submitted by Marie Muscolino | June 8 2011 |

My question is what does this "expert" consider a healthy animal? The fact that my dog's teeth, coat, gastrointestinal sensitivities and allergies drastically improve with a higher quality, often human grade, diet tells me that there is definitely a difference!

Submitted by Jennifer B | June 8 2011 |

I didn't read the article and therefore cannot comment on it. However, several years ago when there was an article in Bark magazine regarding the food we feed our dogs, I got to thinking. And researching. We now read labels, just like our own food. We try to find the best food we can afford. When I compare my dogs health to my neighbor's or friend's dogs, I can see that ours are more fit. I actually purchased a book by Dr. Pitcairn DVM, and have used recipes from that book to supplement our dogs' diets at times. The healthy powder recipe I used for my beagle's skin condition was amazing. I started this "better food" and "healthy powder" regimen at about the same time. They don't always get the powder, it's been an as needed remedy. In the last several weeks my beagle has been on medicine for arthritis in his hips. I hate to have him on it but more than that I hate for him to be in pain. It worked for a while, but since I've added the powder back into his diet he seems to be doing much better.
I think the more healthy food you can give your pets the better quality of life they will have and as good health as their dna will allow. They're like us in that way.

Submitted by Carolyn | June 8 2011 |

I've used Dr. Pitcairn's recipes and Healthy Powder as directed for many years. Other than a heart murmur, my dog has been very healthy. It just makes more sense to me that fresh wholesome foods are going to be better for your dog. I like the Healthy Powder because you mix it up yourself out of basic ingredients from your health food store. I trust this more than "special" pet vitamins that may have been manufactured "somewhere" without much regulation or transparency. Yeah, the Pitcairn book has been well worth the modest amount spent on it.

Submitted by Monty | June 8 2011 |

Anyone have any experience with Australian Cattle Dogs? I have one that is 6 years old and I haven't been successful at training her not to pull on the leash. I've tried the Gentle Leader, harnesses, and even had a private trainer work with her one on one. She learns things quickly and likes to please. She responds to praise, more than treats. But, everything we've tried, she learns for a short period of time and then goes right back to pulling. My hands are getting crushed. It's as if her brain shuts off, she puts her head down and just focuses on the task at hand. Which for her is to stay in front of everyone and pull on the leash. She has a good heart, but I don't enjoy walking her.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 18 2011 |

It takes time, but when the dog pulls just stop walking and
say 'no pull'. You might have to brace yourself a bit at first,
I did! When your dog is just standing and not straining at the
leash, then continue the walk. As soon as the dog pulls, stop again, and say 'no pull'. Don't yell or say the command harshly, just normal
voice is best. Keep repeating the above every time the dogs pulls or strains at the leash. It is tedious at first, but your dog should
soon learn that pulling and straining at the leash results in stopping and just standing there. Sometimes, even after the dog has learned not to pull, they will do it anyway... but by this time you should only have to say 'no pull' to get them to stop.
I used this technique with my over 100 pound dog who used to pull me so hard that my shins would just ache every day. What a pleasure it was to go walking with him when he finally realized that I was at the other end of the leash and he shouldn't be 'dragging' me down the street!

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 9 2011 |

We are pleased to be giving 25 gift subscriptions to Jennifer Berry, who participated in last week's open thread about rescue. Jennifer is the president of RESCUE, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven animal rescue organization located in Maricopa County. RESCUE has no shelter and works with a network of volunteers and foster homes to rescue animals on the euthanasia list of the county shelters. Since 1995, RESCUE has found homes for more than 9,400 dogs and cats. Jennifer plans to use the subscriptions as part of a fundraising effort. We hope it helps. Keep up the good work, Jennifer!

Submitted by Carol Kapusinsky | June 9 2011 |

Merlin, my 8 year old Cardigan Corgi, seems to be highly protective of me, I call it hyper-vigilence. When riding in the car he attacks the windows when he sees another dog, or a person walking. No behaviour modifications worked, now I put doggie goggles on him that I have put masking tape on the outside of so he can't see anything. He sits quietly on the back seat. When we get to the store I remove the goggles. I have observed him from inside and he is sitting looking out the window. He doesn't bark at any dogs or people, even if people approach the car.
As soon as I get near the car and a person approaches he goes wild, barking and attacking the window. I am a very non-fragile, strong personality type, he is not getting a message from me that I fear other dogs or people, but I believe he sees gaurding me as his job.
This behaviour is so strong that I can't take him for walks because when he sees a dog approaching he pulls and barks and gets so worked up that when I keep walking he strains and chokes and gags up a ton of foamy fluid. I have tried food distraction to get him refocused but it doesn't work. I have given up walking him for fear I will get hurt.

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 10 2011 |

Join us at next week's open thread; Bark columnist and best-selling author Lee Harrington will be stopping by from 10 a.m. and noon PST. Lee is the author of the best-selling Rex and the City: A Memoir of a Woman, a Man, and a Dysfunctional Dog (Villard, 2006), which is being re-released as a revised, expanded e-book with a new cover in August 2011. Lee is here to talk about her adventures with her late, great spaniel mix Wallace (aka Rex), her current spaniel mix Chloe and her dog-inspired writing life.

Three lucky participants in next week's open thread will win signed copies of Rex and the City: A Memoir of a Woman, a Man, and a Dysfunctional Dog with the extra bonus that Chloe herself will be licking the envelopes!

Submitted by Anonymous | June 15 2011 |

WEll,i just discovered this website and...
I LOVE IT!im definitly thinking of sighning up. i might be getting a deaf/ half blind dog soon. Have any books,websites,advice for me?

More in Open Thread:
Special Guest: Lee Harrington
We’re Talking Rescue and More
Join the Conversation for a Chance to Win 3 Great Books
Special Guest: Behaviorist Sophia Yin
Special Guest: Veterinarian Nancy Kay
Julia Kamysz Lane Joins the Conversation
Special Guest: Beth Finke
It’s Your Turn, Again
Let’s Talk