Mrs. Robin builds a nest – a lesson in perseverance

Mrs. Robin is back this morning for another attempt at our garage window.

There's a robin building a next in the window of our neighbor's house. I suppose "building" is an optimistic word; she's desperately trying to build a nest without much success.We live in a village where the houses are separated by a single car driveway, so close that, if we were so inclined (which I'm not), we could talk to each other without leaving the house. I've had a front row seat to Mrs. Robin's construction attempts over the last week and it's been a lesson in failure and perse … [Read more...]

Dog and baby photos: are they cute or dangerous?

This meme is making the rounds on Facebook.

 This meme is making the rounds on Facebook - it's a photo of a baby and what looks like a Neapolitan Mastiff. The title says "How to Hug a Baby", but for dog trainers and animal rescue advocates, it's a red flag. While most people see a photo like this and say, "Aw cute!" we ask, "How long before the baby gets hurt and the dog gets sent to the pound?"What we often interpret as a dog showing love to a human baby is usually the dog's curious interest in that writhing, squeaking … [Read more...]

If your dog could talk, would he speak like a preschooler?

Yup, my dog has a blog.

A friend posted on Facebook today: "Who decided that if dogs were able to speak and type they would do so with a speech impediment that makes you feel illterate trying to read it?"I understand what she means. As part of a community of dog writers, I see a lot of pets with blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and to be honest, sometimes I have no idea what they're trying to say.  Dat for that, da for the, and a host of grammatical errors (like "i has not" and "U gotted") sometimes mean I … [Read more...]

Dog training, the Shedd Aquarium way

I saw a story this weekend on NBC Nightly News that highlights positive dog training in new way: training shelter dogs at Shedd Aquarium using the same techniques used on dolphins.I noticed the similarities between dog training and sea lion training last summer when I was at our local zoo; the trainers used clickers and rewards to teach sea lions tricks and new behaviors. I know a lot of dog owners who scoff at trainers who preach humane treatments and eschew the choke, prong and shock c … [Read more...]

Training your dog with a prong collar (or shock collar, shake can, alpha roll) is not positive

If you have to use a prong collar to have a "special relationship" with your dog ... that's not a relationship either you or dog want.

I was coming out of our local natural food store yesterday when I saw this poster hanging on the community bulletin board. Something didn't seem right about the picture so I stood for a moment looking at it - and then I saw it. Look closely. The dog is wearing a prong collar.Newsflash: if the trainer could actually "talk" dog or had a relationship with his dog, it wouldn't need to be on a prong collar.I'm an amateur student of dog behavior and communication - and when I say amateur, I mea … [Read more...]

Meggie the lost dog comes home – nine months after she disappeared

For nine months, dog lovers in and around Rochester, NY kept tabs on Meggie the missing sheltie. This week, Meggie came home!

On July 1, 2012, while her owners, Jennie Lloyd and Connie Gates, were away on a trip to London, Meggie the sheltie escaped from the dogsitter and has been on the run ever since.Yesterday, Meggie came home.It was a long nine months. Her owners have made desperate pleas to the public for information. They put up fliers around town, posted information on Craigslist, and contacted animals shelters and veterinarian offices and police offices. They kept in contact with rescue groups and mail c … [Read more...]

Bloodhounds, the most feared dogs on earth?

The text of the article

I was at my alma mater St. John Fisher College yesterday for a day long conference on Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Scattered around the room where actual issues of Douglass' newspapers. I love history, and am always fascinated by the way the past mirrors the present. I'll talk more about abolition later this week, but today I just wanted to share an animal-related thought that jumped out at me as I read the stories from the 1850s.In one of the papers - and my stupid camera phone took such … [Read more...]

Can dogs be introverted or extroverted?

Scout, Bandit and Bailey - can you tell by looking at them which is the introvert and which is the extrovert? Can a dog even be an introvert or extrovert?

Not long ago, I did a post reflecting on Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking," musing on how I'm an introvert and what that means in my life. I got a lot of feedback from other introverts who were happy to have someone speak up on their behalf.Then my editor asked me an interesting question: can animals be introverted or extroverted?Cain addresses that issue very briefly in the book, citing research done on guppies in an attempt to unders … [Read more...]

Kitty endures a cycle in the washing machine and lives to meow about it

Natasha the kitty endured an entire cycle in the washing machine and lived to  meow about it.

They say cats have nine lives. If it's really true, Natasha the kitty used one on an adventure in the washing machine. She survived an entire wash cycle, and came out fluffier in the process.Natasha,  a six-month-old Siberian Forest kitten, has always been curious about the washing machine, her owner Daryl Humdy told Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI). He didn't think being curious about the washing machine meant the cat would ever get into the washing machine. But one day last year, Daryl's … [Read more...]

Loyal dogs who mourn the deaths of their owners

Hachiko is just one of many stories of faithful dogs who mourned the deaths of their owners.

A story popped up in my Facebook newsfeed today about a dog in Italy who has been showing up at Catholic mass every Sunday since its owner died two months ago.According to news stories, a German Shepherd named Tommy used to accompany his owner to mass, sitting quietly at her feet.  When his owner died two months ago, the dog attended her funeral, along with the other mourners, and has been showing up regularly every since.It reminds me of a movie I watched over the Christmas holiday c … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X