Friday, February 27, 2009

Camping with Dogs

This isn't the most seasonal topic possible. I'm impatient for spring and summer. Last year we went on a few camping trips and I'm ready for more adventures. The last camping trip was in August when I went to New York to pick up Griffin, and so he hasn't gone yet. I can't wait to share this with him.

My dog friend Karin and I had started a list of traveling rules. Here is my list of camping with dog rules.

1) Your dog will have more luggage than you. Food and water bowls, water from home, a bag of food, a crate and bedding, food dispensing toys, clean up bags, lots of treats, extra treats, a cooler for those treats (wedge in your water, and maybe some food), first aid supplies, health papers (especially if you are crossing state borders)... You will have your sleeping bag, a bag of food, a bag of clothes, and you will probably forget your toothbrush.
2) Those crates are great for many purposes. Mainly as a table or to hold down your tent when it gets really windy out.
3) In the early dog-human relationship, the functions of the dog was likely included cleaning up after people, keeping people warm, and alerting people to change. Camping allows for these to occur.
4) Camping results in cooking over fires. Cooking over fires results in burnt food. Dogs like burnt food.
5) Dogs can't read maps. But dogs do generally remember where the tent is and where the local wildlife ran off.
6) Keep an accurate phone number on your dog. Get a tag with your cell number on it. We haven't had to test this one out, but, just in case.

Take a look at the Griffin, Luna, and hidden Owen. We 'only' had our luggage, cooler, a tent, sleeping bags, and all the dog gear in there. Plus two people.

Can we go camping again?

Eight More...

And so where will things be in eight years, when Blaze is likely gone and Griff and Luna are getting grey? It's hard to imagine.... I never thought I would have three dogs.

But how can things be better eight years from now? I hope...
1) More people are training their dogs. Basic pet training but fun stuff too. All vets, breeders, and rescues are getting families to attend at least one class with their new puppy or dog. This could lead to fewer dogs switching homes and families having better relationships with their dogs.
2) Pet owners look at the experience and credentials of animal professionals. Including, those that breed/sell/adopt animals, those that provide health care, those that create the foods and products for the animals, those that groom, board, and exercise animals, and those that assist with training.
3) When pet owners have trouble, they know how to find appropriate professionals and resources.
4) More consideration is given to the needs of cats and small animals.
5) Schools are enthusiastic about dog bite prevention programs, resulting in a decrease from the semi-current very scary statistics.
6) Communities are more invested in the success and strength of local rescue groups, animal control, and humane societies.
7) Everything is better for people and the animals they live with.

I was going for eight...but those seven changes would keep me very content.

Monday, February 16, 2009


This month Griffin turns eight months old and Blaze is now eight years old. This also means that I have been 'in' dogs for eight years.

It is so much easier to be a dog owner in 2009.
  • There are more resources available. Easy to understand and professional books/videos for pet dog training and competition training. (Check out Dogwise and CleanRun).
  • The increase of resources means that more libraries have some of these materials, making them even more accessible for everyone.
  • Opportunities for training have increased. I can find piles of 'positive' dog training classes within a reasonable driving distance. This does not guarantee that I will be getting that type of instruction, but it's a change.
  • Quality of training has increased. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has released position statements about dominance in theory and the use of punishment in training. Scientific journals have had numerous articles about details in training and how methods may increase or decrease problems or success.
  • There are many more trials (somewhat) locally available for people to compete in, even with mix breed dogs.
  • More 'higher quality' food, treats, toys, and supplies are easily available. It was impossible to find some of the things that are now sold in every pet supply store now!
But where will things be when Griffin is eight years old? More on that next time!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Reading: Alex & Me

Alex and Me:

I finally got a chance to read this book...I had been hearing about it since it came out about two months ago. Irene Pepperberg had worked with Alex, a grey parrot, for years, I remember hearing about him a couple times a year. He was able to show that he understood different concepts, things that animals weren't supposed to be able to do.

If he could do it, can our dogs? How well do our dogs understand things? They won't be able to understand everything we say, but, maybe they deserve more credit than we give them!

I enjoyed this book and I appriciate that Irene Pepperberg took the time to share Alex with everyone.