Our Young People Need Our Help

I’d like to take a few moments to thank some old friends, and some new ones as well.

For several years now I’ve tried to come up with a way to “pay it forward” so to speak. I have several interests in my life, but none any stronger than my love and respect for dogs. As people who have known me for a while will attest, I very rarely go anywhere without mine. And to tell you the truth, I’d sometimes rather stay home than go out without my faithful companion at my side.

My passion for dogs began during my formative years. I’ve been around dogs for over 4/5th of my life. Dogs have been my playmates, my friends, my companions and even my teachers.

These wonderful relationships have recently led me in the direction of education. No, I’m not going back to college to get a degree. Instead, I’m forming The Iowa Dog Trust. The Iowa Dog Trust will be an organization designed to teach young people and adults about dogs.

Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve noticed an alarming amount of animal abuse cases among teens and young adults. I’ve also noticed that some of the people convicted of these terrible crimes against animals have no remorse for what they’ve done. They actually see nothing wrong with abusive and murderous acts. This just blows my mind!

Another thing that concerns me is the amount of disinformation that is available today. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the fact that everyone has an opinion. It’s the fact that with this opinion, many of them tell others that because they have first hand information they are actually “professionals” in the field of dog training. It seams to me that in order to become a professional animal trainer these days, all you need to do is hang up a sign and your are a professional.

With all of the dog trainers that we now have access to via TV, the Internet and on DVD it can be confusing. And with the wide range of training philosophies these trainers use, it would also be very easy to confuse our dogs.

I feel that it is critically important for people to understand dog training from the dog’s point of view. Not the human point of view. Unless a proper dog/human bond is created and unless we as humans learn to communicate with them, we are simply training a response. The goal should be a relationship, not a dictatorship.

My advice has always been this:  If you really love your pet, and you really want what is best for it, you will take the time to find out what makes your pet tick. Any “professional” trainers that are worth their salt will ask you what your dog likes and dislikes and what you think the source of a curtain problem is before they form a strategy for training. They should also be concerned for a dog’s best interest and health during training. A dog that is exposed to physical or mental stress during training is not going to perform well. In fact, it will often time shut down.

This is why I feel very strongly that we need to educate the average dog owner and make them more aware of these kinds of issues. And that’s what the Iowa Dog Trust is all about.

So, Thank You to all of my old friends who have supported me over the years and are 100% behind me on this new effort. And thank you to all of my new friends who have come on-board recently to help further this worthy cause.

Please feel free to offer any comments and suggestions. They will only make our project better! And again, Thank You Very Much for your support! I am truly honored.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Puppies – Happy Halloween Funnies

The Sunday Funnies - It's The Great Pumpkin Puppies

I Found this photo on ihasahotdog.com and
I thought it would be perfect for this week’s Sunday Funnies!

Be Safe, Keep your Puppies Safe & Have a Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

A Poem to Remember Neka

Always close, no matter how far
Love we feel, coming from the heart
You forever, part of who we are
Memories made, souls never part

Your love your trust, never more true
and we too, opened up to you
So hard, to open up like this
but your life, gave us so much bliss

Trust we gave, and we found in you
Everyday, it was something new
Open minds, gave a different view
We both learned, and we both knew

Friends for life, it was way to short
would’ve loved to have, so much more.
Many things, that we didn’t do
Me and you, and the others too

Now your gone, but we must move on
your memory always, makes me fawn
Not to worry, you’re in our hearts
You’ll always be there, as from the start

Those gone before, and more to come
become a part, of why we live
Pain of loss, hard to bare for some
The joy you brought, is why we give

All these words, I don’t just say
you’ll be remembered, every day
In our heart, sometimes in tatters
You’re always there, that’s all that matters

What Is a Dog?

Webster’s defines a dog as a domesticated carnivorous mammal (Canis familiaris) related to the fox and wolf family and raised in a wide variety of breeds. Although that definition is basically accurate, it falls a bit short of the mark in a lot of ways.

To some, a dog is that noisy thing they hear in the distance that never seems to be quiet. To others it’s a four footed furry kid. To others, a dog is a friend and companion. While these are also accurate descriptions, they still may not be the best way to describe what a dog really is either.

To see what a dog really is, you need to look past the obvious. You have to take the time to get to know a dog from top to bottom, nose to tail and from a new puppy to old dog.

A dog is trusting. It trusted you to provide food, water, exercise, guidance and a safe environment to grow up in.

A dog is obedient. When you and your dog are connected, it will do anything for you because all it wants to do is please you.

A dog is always there for you. When you have had a bad day, all it wants to do is make you happy again. When you have had a good day, all it wants to do is celebrate with you.

A dog is your protector. From watching your stuff when you are away, to backing you up when a stranger approaches, your dog is always looking out for you. It will even let you know when something is wrong and warn you about it.

A dog is an entertainer. When your spirits are low, or when you are board out of your mind, your best friend will always be there to do something to amaze, amuse and make you glad to be you.

A dog is a therapist. When you are stressed out from all of the things that life throws at you, all it takes is a few minutes on the couch (or the floor) with your dog and that stress just melts away. Dogs just have a way about them. They know how to take your mind off your troubles and make you feel better. The best part is: You don’t even need an appointment!

A dog is a replacement for medication. Not only will your dog help with stress relief, it can also help you reduce your blood pressure, help you with weight loss, and make you feel younger. As your physical trainer, your dog will restore you to your former self and reduce the need some of your medications. All you have to do is take him for a 20 minute walk everyday.

A dog is also a “brother in arms” because it shares difficult, dangerous or stressful experiences without question or reservation.

Lastly, A dog is a best friend. A dog will always be there for you. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night. When you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to bounce an idea off of, some to hang out with, or someone to share your life with, a dog will always make time for you.

Keeping Your Dog Safe on Halloween

Keeping your pet safe on Halloween is a lot like keeping your kids safe on Halloween. It’s all about making sure that they have bright clothes and costumes so that they can be seen by after dark: It making sure that they don’t eat things that will make them sick.

Well OK, well, it’s a little more than that! Here are a few things that you may not have thought about.

Doorbell anxiety is a very common issue among dogs. Almost every dog will bark and become agitated when it hears the doorbell or someone knocking at the door. You can help your dog by desensitizing it to these sounds. But because this event only happens for a few hours, once a year, most people just feel that it is easier to have someone watch the door for trick-or-treater and limit the dog’s access to the door for these few hours on Halloween night.

Another reason to limit your dog’s access to the door is that with it opening and closing all evening, your dog may sneak outside to join in all of the fun. If he gets into the street he may get hurt … or worse.

Next, keep any pumpkins that contain candles up and out of the reach of pets. This will help to avoid any potential harm to your pet or to your home. All that it takes is one swish of the tail to knock a pumpkin over and you could have a real problem. If you have cats, you may want to consider using electric or battery powered bulbs to avoid accidents.

As we mentioned on Tuesday, candy is dangerous to your pets. Keep candy out of the reach of your “always hungry” pets. They don’t know any better!

If you plan to dress your dog in costume this year, make sure that the costume you choose is lightweight and that it does not interfere with vision, hearing, breathing or movement. But avoid loose or dangling items on the costume. They can present a wide variety of dangers to your pet.

As always, if you take your dog trick-or-treating this year, make sure your pet is on a leash at all times. Even if your dog is in a brightly colored costume it can still be very hard to see at dusk or at night.

As with small children, use reflective items to make them more visible. Reflective leashes, collars or stickers are available for your dog’s costume and they are a great way to help your pet be seen at night.

Lastly, don’t leave your dog outside unattended. Your yard may normally be quite safe, but Halloween pranksters and vandals can get carried away and your pet may suffer for it. There have been several news articles in recent weeks, were dogs were targeted by some sick people who (baited) gave dogs access to poisoned food and food with sharp objects inside of it.

Even if your dog is big enough to take care of itself, don’t take any chances. After all, if your dog hurts someone, even if they are trespassing or committing a crime, you can be held legally liable for their injuries. Keep everyone safe; keep your pets inside with you.

Halloween Treats that Are Safe for Dogs

If you want to give your dog something special for Halloween (or during the upcoming holiday season) here are some “pet safe” recipes for you so you can make some tasty treats for your 4 footed best friend. Bonus: you can eat them too!!!

Maple-Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups organic brown rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
3 tsp wheat-free baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups organic canned pumpkin (without spice)
1/2 cup water or apple juice (reserved)

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, except for the water or juice, blending well. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet very slowly. The batter should be thick but pourable. Slowly mix in the water or juice until you have a nice consistency.

 Tip: Place the bowl of batter in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. It will make the spooning of the cookies on to the cookie sheet much easier.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Take about 1/2 Tbsp size drops and place them on a well-oiled cookie sheet. Swirl the batter around as you drop it so that you create nicely shaped cookies, ending in a peak.

Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Cookies should be firm, but still soft and chewy, just like you like your own cookies! This recipe makes its fair share of medium-sized cookies. Store in an air-tight container.


Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats
This recipe yields 50 treats.

5 cups whole wheat flour
4 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to help make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick roll. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes.

Halloween Candy is Not Good for Your Dog

We all know that Chocolate is not good for dogs. RIGHT? But besides chocolate, did you also know that candy and other treats containing xylitol (an artificial sweetener) are very dangerous for dogs. It doesn’t take much of it to make your dog sick. And when eaten in human serving amounts it can cause death rather quickly. Xylitol can act as a poison, even in very small dosages. Only one stick of sugarless chewing gum containing xylitol can be fatal for a small dog.

Any candy ingested in large amounts may cause vomiting and at the very least your dog will have an upset tummy. Eating any foods that are high in sugar can cause your dog to be prone to worms. Sugar is also hard on the GI tract. Long term effects include diabetes.

In the short term, sugar and other ingredients in candy are bad for the dog’s teeth and most of the treats designed for human consumption will cause your dog to develop diarrhea.

So when your kids come back from Trick-or-Treating this Halloween make certain you store their “bags of goodies” way up out of the reach of your pets.

If you want to give your dog something special for Halloween (or during the upcoming holiday season) be sure you come back tomorrow. I’ll have some “pet safe” recipes for you so you can make some tasty treats for your best friend. Bonus: you can eat them too!!!

Tomorrow: Halloween Treats for Dogs

Summer is Over – Fall is Here

WOW, One day it’s 95 degrees and it’s so humid you cant walk to the mailbox without needing a shower, the next it’s in the low 50’s and you need long pants and a jacket. I guess it’s true, fall is here!

The change of seasons is a big part of life in the Midwest. For me, the changing seasons always make me pause to remember what has passed, and what is yet to come. It’s a time to recover as well as prepare for what needs to be done in the near future.

I think one of the reasons I’ve lived in Iowa all my life is because of the changing seasons. I love the first smells of spring, warm summer days sitting under a shade tree, and the sound of crunching leaves under my feet as I walk my dog under the crisp Autumn sky. And yes, I even like that first snowfall of the winter. (after that, not so much).

I truly charish these times.

The changing seasons also offer us an excuse to get together with friends and family. From holiday gatherings to BBQ’s to community celebrations, it’s always fun to hang out and have fun.

I also hold dear the times I spend with my four footed friends. I love to watch them run through the piles of leaves in the Fall, run through new fallen snow in the Winter, and play in the creek behind our house on a hot Summers day. These times give me so much joy and pleasure. And they help me keep my life in the proper perspective.

As Fall arrives now, it begins the harvest season around here. Farmers are bring in their crops and finally finding out how well their efforts have paid off. For us city folk, it’s time to put the lawn chairs and mowers away, rake the leaves and get the snow blowers ready.

One of my favorite memories is of my two dogs (Neka & Patchs) playing in our backyard. They got along so well and though they were only together for 2 years, they were like litter mates. They understood each other perfectly and they got along with each other better than I could have ever hoped. In fact, if they could talk, they would have finished each other’s thoughts and sentencies.

Neka left us this spring after a very short illness at the age of six. Although there have been a few rough days here and there we are now doing our best to move on. She was a wonderful friend and a great companion to me, and a protective big sister and playmate to Patchs. She is always on my mind and in my heart!

As this new chapter in life continues to be written, we will continue to make new memories. And the changing seasons will act as bookmarks for them.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day

Today is National Pit Bull Awareness Day …

The American Staffordshire Terrier (a. k.a Pit Bull) have been much loved pets to many families around the world since the 1890’s. Now, because of some BAD OWNERS these kind, loyal and beautiful dogs are being banned and treated like common criminals just because of the way they look and because of an unwarranted bad reputation.

Society has obviously NOT learned from History. Like the old saying says: “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

This kind of breed discrimination started for me when i was in my pre-teen years. In the 60’s and early 70’s ALL German Shepherd were considered dangerous. Then in the mid to late 70’s it was the Dobermans who were labeled viscous because a few people decided to turn them into guard dogs and attack dogs. They were villianized by Hollywood  which further ingraining the fear into our minds. The fact of the matter is that the German Shepherd’s and the Doberman’s suffered from some very bad PR.

Again, In the 90’s, a few bad people turned a wonderful, loving and friendly dog into killers in the public’s eye. This time the same fate befell the Rottweiler. And now, it’s the American Staffordshire Terrier, (a.k.a. the Pit Bull).

If you are COMPLETELY honest with yourself, you must admit that no breed of dog has an inhairent viscous tendency. For the most part, dogs only learn this aggressive behavior from humans. The negative image of a unprovoked attacking dogs is rarely true. But it’s easy to see why it persists today. Dogs are often portrayed to be ferocious in movies and television because it’s scary. Scary sells, and we all like to be frightened from time to time. But these on-screen images sometimes effects our judgment in the real world.

If these misconceptions were actually true, none of us would be safe. After all, these dogs are in public everyday. German Shepherds are one of the most used dogs in Police work. Do you really think law enforcement would use them if they weren’t completely safe? Pit Bulls are also used in Law Enforcement. One of the most famous is actually a border patrol agent.

Yes, the American Staffordshire Terrier can be dangerous. In the 1800’s they were used for fighting. But not humans … they were used to fight bulls. Then someone got the idea that they would fight each other. That was 100 years ago. Unfortunately there are still people today that like “Blood Sport”. Thanks to tougher laws, it is thought to be on the decrease.

The American Staffordshire Terrier, is in truth, no more dangerous than any other breed. The real problem comes when irresponsible owners allow their dogs (of ANY breed) to run free in public, teach them to be aggressive, or don’t properly train and socialize them. Dogs and small children should NEVER be left alone with a dog … of any breed! They need to be supervised by a responsible human. That what the job of a parent is!!! That’s also why we have leash laws and other pet containment rules and regulations.

Do yourselves a favor. Before you make a judgment of ANY breed, do some research on your own. Don’t take the word of strangers. Not even me! Talk to breeders, owners, shelters and rescue groups. Ask to see public records about dog attacks. If you do, you will find that no curtain breed is any more dangerous than another. And in almost every case, it will be a human, and not the dog, that was at fault.