About Iowa Dog Trust

I have owned and worked with dogs for about 40 years. My love of dogs and seeing how some dogs are treated these day has led me to becoming the Founder and Director of the Iowa Dog Trust. My goal and the goal of the Trust is to show young people how to interact with dogs in a positive manner and show them that when a bond is established in the correct way, dogs can and will respond by doing what we ask of them. A secondary goal (but not any less important) is to give young people more self confidence and more feeling of self worth through the interaction with dogs and with other humans. With all of the pressures our youth experance today, it is important that we give them the tools and support they need to make the right choices and become productive members of our communities.


It’s called Black Dog Syndrome or Big Black Dog Syndrome (BDS or BBDS). It’s a problem that every animal shelter and dog rescue in the world understands all to well.

This phenomenon could be due to a number of things. Geographic location, fear of certain breed types or the fact that large black dogs are thought to be dangerous because they are portrayed that way in films and on television.


Did you know that black dogs, especially large breed dogs, such as Labs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Chows, Newfoundlands, and even mixed breeds are usually the last ones to be adopted from shelters or rescue groups? Black dogs are often euthanized at a higher rate than other coat colors.

Here are some other reasons given for why black-coated dogs don’t get adopted as easily.

  • They don’t show or photograph well in a kennel setting.
  • It isn’t easy to distinguish their features.
  • If they have any gray or white hairs on their face, they often appear older than they are.
  • They often don’t look as cute as lighter coated dogs.

As to location, In European and British folklore black dogs often appear as evil forces and death. Writers like Sir Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle perpetuated this superstition by using spectral hounds, usually black and fearsome, in their stories and poems.

Some people believe the superstition that suggests that “black is evil” like the symbolism of Scar vs. Mufasa in “The Lion King.” In a 2011 study by the ASPCA, appearance was the most frequently cited reason for adopters of both puppies (29 percent) and adult dogs (26 percent).

Thisneka-belly issue has been gaining media attention since the mid-2000s. Tamara Delaney, an early activist against black dog syndrome, developed a website called Black Pearl Dogs in 2004 specifically to address the issue, both by educating the public about its existing, as well as showcasing individual dogs available for adoption.

As one who as adopted a black dog, I’d suggest that they are just a sweet, and just a loving as any other color of dog. She was a great companion and a great teacher. She was loved by everyone she met (animal and human) and when the chance arises again I’ll be the first one to adopt another Big Black Dog …

The Dreams of a Shelter Dog


The Dreams Of A Shelter Dog

By Michael Albee

dreams-of-a-shelter-dogThe card on the door of my run says that my name is k219875. I don’t know why I’m here. I’m scared, a can’t hide and I can’t get away. So when you approach me I bark to warn you. But you think I’m mean!

I’m really not a bad dog. It’s just that most people don’t know how to help me! I don’t want to be like this, I just need someone who understands me and knows how to talk to me.

If no one comes soon, they say I will be put down. I don’t know what that means, but it doesn’t sound good.

When I fall asleep, I dream.

In my dream I’m walking! I have a collar around my neck and it is attached to a leash. It’s a warm, sunny day and there is a nice human walking beside me. He calls me “good dog” and I can tell that he likes me because I can feel the warmth and kindness in his voice. I wag my tail to let him know that: “I like you too”.

Then my dream takes me to a big backyard. I’m lying in the soft green grass. I’m chewing on a big bone while my humans sit around me talking and having fun. Some of their puppies, (the little humans), are running around the yard. They toss a ball for me and we play with all my toys. We play for what seems to be forever. Some of them take the time to teach me some tricks. I enjoy it because I like to be around them, and besides, they give me treats and call me “Good Dog” when I do them right. I really like the name “Good Dog” a lot.

In my dreams, I’m also running in a big open field with lots of other dogs. We are running and chasing each other. We bark for joy as we tumble around together in the soft, tall grass. It’s great to have friends to play with.

Every day it’s the same thing, I get to run, I get to play, I get to go for long walks. I have a safe place to live, and I have someone that really cares about me. And best of all, I’m not afraid anymore! Awh, This is the Life!

Then … BANG … I hear a big steel door slam. It scares me and I wake up! I jump to my feet. Someone’s coming … I bark because I’m scared, and no one wants me because they are afraid of me.
Maybe, just maybe, next time I wake up, my dreams will be real.


Becoming The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Becoming The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

There are a whole host of “self Improvement” books, tapes and classes you can buy or take to help you become a better person.

But before you spend the money, I submit that ALL you really need to do is sit down and be honest with yourself. Look at who you are now, what you want from your life and where you want to be 5, 10 or 25 years from now.

The best way to do this is to make three lists.

On the first list write down everything you like about yourself and your life. On the second list right down everything you want to be or add to your life. One the third list wright down everything you want to remove from your life.

Then make the necessary adjustments.800-DSC03065

The somewhat easier way is to just become the person that your dog thinks you are! It’s amazing how observant they are, and they will tell you when you have got it right!!!

If you don’t have a dog, you really need to get one. They are great insight into how to live life to the fullest. Go to a local shelter and get one. Your life (and the life of that dog) will be much better for it.

Got a minute or two?


A Best Friend’s Devotion

I recently ran across this quote and wanted to share it.

I can’t think of anything that brings me closer to tears than when my old dog — completely exhausted after a hard day in the field — limps away from her nice spot in front of the fire and comes over to where I’m sitting and puts her head in my lap, a paw over my knee, and closes her eyes and goes back to sleep. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that kind of friend.” — Gene Hill

Why Dog’s Eat Grass

Most dogs eat grass from time to time, but when you see it happen you might be worried that something is wrong because it doesn’t seem natural. After all, you give your dog plenty of food, RIGHT? So is he hungry? Sick? Bored? Will eating grass hurt him?

Eating grass is a common practice for dogs (it has also been observed in wild dogs) and it does not usually cause any problems. (except when they puck in the house). Most veterinarians consider it to be a normal dog behavior.

Studies of dogs that have regular access to grass and other plants found – shows that 79% of those dogs had eaten plants at some time. A survey focused on plant-eating dogs, found that grass was the most commonly eaten plant.grass-dogs

There are several of reasons suggested as to why dogs eat grass.

Some people suggest that dogs turn to eating grass when they don’t feel well and that eating grass is a way to make themselves vomit, resulting in feeling better. But the evidence suggests that most dogs that eat grass aren’t sick before they eat the grass. In fact, less than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass, according to a survey. In the same survey, of the dogs who ate grass – less than 25% of  vomited after eating it.

Other opinions offered suggest that dogs might be eating grass to improving digestion, treating intestinal worms, or that it fulfills some nutritional need, like the need for more fiber.

All of these reasons may actually have some validity. But, there is also one other possibility … your dog simply just likes the way grass tastes or feels in his mouth. Like you, your dog likes a treat from time to time, and he thinks that grass is the equivalent of an ice cream cone …. you know, a “treat”.

Leadership 101

Paws Abilities

We hear a lot about leadership with dogs. But what does that mean, and how important is it to our dogs? Like any social creature, dogs use a variety of signals to navigate day-to-day life, and they look to those they live with to do the same.

Traditional advice urges owners to eat first, go through doorways first, alpha roll their dogs, force dogs to walk behind them, and engage in similar behaviors designed to artificially increase their rank in their dogs’ eyes. The message drips with fear (not to mention a healthy dose of paranoia): if you don’t work hard to keep your dog down, he’ll stage a household coup. Dogs are social climbers, we’re told, and if we don’t view every interaction as a contest that we must win, our dogs will take advantage of some perceived weakness and take over.

So here’s the thing: leadership is important…

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Question and Answer Time.

ImageIn and effort to help make the lives of dogs and humans better we’d like to offer you any help you might need.

Do you have any questions, comments …. or even some good answers about dogs, dog training, healthcare & maintanence of dogs?

Post them here and if we can’t give you an answer, we’ll find some who can!

Patchs and Neka Playing


This is a video of Patchs and Neka playing. It was taken in my back yard in June 2009. This kind of play session happened 2-3 time per day, everyday! And they both looked forward to some rough-housing to burn off their extra energy.

If you read my past few posts you will remember that Neka was a “basket case” when I got her. The Rescue I got her from told me that she was so anti-social that she would never be able to be around other dogs, and would have to be the “only” dog in the household. They also had concerns about her being around kids and men as she seamed to be very fearful.

This video was taken almost 22 months after I got Neka. By this time I had worked with her for hundreds of hours. Both alone and in controlled situations with people and with other dogs. She was pretty well over her fear issues and had been well socialized. She had learned that dogs and humans were her friends and she loved to play with other dogs and loved to be around people, especially little kids.

When this video was taken Patchs had been living with us for about 2 months and it was like they had been best buddies for ever. They bonded almost instantly! In the 3+ years they were together they only had one little issue and it was over a treat that fell on the floor. The whole thing lasted about 2 seconds because I was right there to stop it as it started! (Patchs started it).

Socializing dogs correctly is the key. With these two, it took me almost a full month of backyard playtimes to make sure that they were cool with each other in every situation before I agreed to bring Patchs into our home!

Socializing is not rocket science. It is just a matter of being aware of the dog’s personality and body language, and then being able to control situations before they get out of hand. This comes by bonding with the dog as soon as you can. Being able to stop play sessions like this one when I saw things starting to “heat up” kept them from playing to rough or going to far. A simple “Enough” followed by “Lay Down” given to each dog was like pushing the “restart” button.

I’d love to hear your thought! Please click the “Comment” button below!