Raising Both Dogs and Kids

Stubbornness is just determination in an opposite direction. –

Me to my daughter  River (age 8) after her Grandma called her “stubborn”

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Here we go.  A combination post, if you will.  A few years ago, I had a friend tease me about my blog.  They tried to tell me that all my blog posts are is a bunch of Star Wars memes.  I was indignant.  They are most definitely not 100% Star Wars memes.  However, challenge accepted. Which brings me to my post for today.  I recently had a comment left on one of my posts.

I love reading your posts! Can you please write more about your approach to parenting? As a dog mom and toddler mom I need to learn your wisdom, because they all can be a$$holes sometimes and I know it’s bc they suck at being (adult) humans. – Hanna

 

“Learn my wisdom”?  Wisdom…well, that comes from experience.  Experience comes from mistakes. Lots of them.  I’m always more than willing to share my mistakes, experience and wisdom, but it’s definitely a trifecta.  So where we go: insights on what I do with my dogs and my kids.  Only, to keep things interesting (and geeky), let’s see what Indian Jones has to say about this.

"Hang on lady, we going for ride." - Short Round

“Hang on lady, we going for ride.” – Short Round

With regard to my blog, I constantly stress the PAW Method for working with your dog i.e., “Dog Training”, although I hate that phrase.  We don’t train kids; why would we train our dogs?  So let’s jump in to how the PAW Method works, and how I apply it to both dogs and my own children. The PAW Method stands for Piloting, Activity and Work.

  • Piloting: Answering your dog’s/kid’s questions
  • Activity:  Exercise Exorcise the demons
  • Work:  Bored dogs/kids are a scary thing. Keep them mentally sated.

This is a tri-pod, folks. You can’t remove a let and expect it to work.  You must make sure you engage in all three aspects every day.  Now, let’s go over what that means…starting with Activity.

ACTIVITY

 

There are plenty of ways to give your dog the activity they need.  Follow this link for some tips. Flirt poles are a wonderful addition to your repertoire. No, I guarantee it’s not what you think.  Give this post a read, and make your own dog toy guaranteed to exhaust them.    Treadmill training, agility (homemade course with just 2 simple jumps), dog parks, play dates, doggie backpacks….those are all great ways to get rid of your dog’s energy.  And the less energy they have, the less they can direct your way.

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The same goes for children, especially toddlers and preschoolers.  They are naturally geared towards movement.  When my kids, Eric and River were toddlers/preschoolers, first thing we did every weekend morning was plan out the Exhaustion Factor.  How were we going to get these two maniacs into a state of calm?  Exercise.  First thing we’d do in the wintertime was a 45 minutes at the indoor mall playground.  Sometimes just hiking around the mall would work.  Membership to the Cleveland Zoo’s Rain Forest was a great way to tire them out without having to freeze their tiny tushes.   We even sprung for a tiny trampoline for the kids when they were little.  The object was to make sure it was never the same thing every day.  The trampoline wasn’t out all the time.  It was a privilege, not a right.  Therefore, whenever I brought it out (roughly once a week), the kids were excited about it enough to play with it till they dropped.  We didn’t go to the mall every day, because then it’s just a routine.  We needed to keep it fresh. Summertime and nice days, it was hikes.  Sometimes just around the neighborhood, up for ice cream.  Or a walk to the local playground.  But it was key that,while yes, we brought a wagon with us just in case the kids got tired, they always started by walking.  The wagon was for a rest break, not for transportation.  It was always expected they would be walking as soon as they had their break.  The object of the activity was to make sure they were pleasantly tired, but not physically stressed out.  So yes, they walked everywhere if the weather was conducive. So dogs and kids have always had their activity early in the day, setting the tone for the rest of the day. I’ve set them up for success.

WORK

Everyone needs a job.  Mental work, if you will.

I have always made sure my dogs and my kids had plenty of the right kinds of mental stress.  For the dogs: agility, silly tricks, enrichment feeders, or scent detection (it’s easier than you think!) are all greats ways to get rid of their need for mental work.  At the very least, every day, my dogs eat their meals out of an enrichment toy.  Most days we go above and beyond that. They always had toys out to play with, especially when they were young, but only 1/3 of the total amount I own were left out at any given time.  In other words, swap out your dog’s toys frequently.  Most likely your dog doesn’t need new toys: he needs to be separated from most of his toys for a spell.  And then, like magic, what’s old is new again.  With dogs under a year, I typically switch out available toys at least 2x a day.  This helps to keep them engaged with appropriate items, rather than chewing the chair leg.

The same principle has always been applied towards my children. Chores are a big one in my house.  My kids have been doing dishes since they were about 3 years old.  Not well.  I knew I was re-washing all those dishes afterwards, but the expectation of doing a job to the best of their ability has always been ingrained into my children.  I simply will not accept less than the best they can do.  Weekends my kids were expected to really pitch in:  by 4 years old, assigned jobs tended to be vacuuming, cleaning the baseboards, laundry, etc.  In other words, these are all age-appropriate jobs for preschoolers, and they did the job, albeit not as well as I would.  But this isn’t a sprint: it’s a marathon.  So yes, doing dishes with my 3-year old could be tedious sometimes, but by 5 they could be relied on to do a good job.

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Nowadays, my kids are 12 and 14.  I can have dog training sessions all day on a Saturday, and come home to vacuumed and mopped floors, and all the laundry done in the house.  These things have been expected for so many years now, it’s about as normal a part of the day as having dinner together.

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Of course, I don’t rely on just chores for mental work. Books were a huge factor.  Playing games with them, but also making sure they understood that I was not their sole source of entertainment.  Occupy yourself, or if you can’t, here’s another chore you can help me with so I have more time to play with you.  Most of the time, they chose to learn to occupy themselves to avoid extra chores.

Doing the dishes

Doing the dishes

And while we didn’t have a tv in our house until the kids were about 9 and 11, they did watch shows.  Specific shows, not just idly switching channels.  We had a specific time we’d look up Wonder Pets episodes on YouTube, or play the favorite Little Einstein dvd.  Sometimes it was a treat for an extra-great job doing dishes.  Sometimes it was so I didn’t lose my mind.  Because Mommy needs a break!

Come up with a recipe box of mentally engaging activities for both your dogs and your kids.  Bonus points for things they can do together (like agility – great for kids and dogs).  Pretty soon when your kids state they’re bored, you can direct them to the box of activities.  Read a Dr. Suess book from back to front, write your alphabet using different colored crayon for each letter, etc. were all a part of my “enrichment” recipe box for my kids when they were bored.  They’d be directed towards the box to find something to do.  If they couldn’t find something there to satisfy them, there was always the chores recipe box.  Usually my kids would self-entertain from the enrichment recipe box ;)

 

Your dog doesn't want to be Pilot.

Your dog doesn’t want to be Pilot.

PILOTING

Okay, I’ve saved the best for last.  Piloting is merely answering your dog’s/kid’s questions.  Dogs and kids ask a lot of questions, but not all of them are vocalized.

  • Your dog stealing food from the counter: “Can I eat this?”
  • Fido pulling on the leash: “Can I lead on this walk?”
  • Your spawn kids tearing around inside the house: “Is this acceptable in the house?”
  • Little Jimmy hits his sister: “Is this how I get the toy I wanted?”

Obviously these are questions that need to be answered. I guarantee this is the part where you are all struggling with both your dogs and your kids.  I see it all the time: I come into a training session to work with an unruly dog, but the parents can’t even work with their own kids.  Kids yelling, shouting, interrupting, and being openly hostile to their parents.

Mom: Sarah, but your toys away.
Sarah:  I don’t want to!
Mom: Sarah, we have a guest here to work with Fido, so please put away your toys.
Sarah: *continues playing with toys*
Mom:  Sarah, please put your toys away, otherwise the nice dog trainer can’t work with Fido.
Sarah: *continues playing with toys*
Mom:  I guess we can train Fido in the other room.

Ouch. So many unanswered, unaddressed questions in this one.  And at no time did Mom Pilot little Sarah.  Mostly because Mom doesn’t want to be “mean”.  So let’s break down Piloting. Essentially, nobody’s flying the plane.   Piloting is a contest, but we all truly want whomever is best to win.  I call that money in your “Piloting Piggy Bank”.  How much money do you have to spend answering your child/dog’s specific question.  From dogs barking to your kid asking for a later bedtime, each question you asked is worth a certain dollar amount. Some questions cost more to answer than others, but essentially whomever has the most money in their Piloting Piggy Bank for that question wins the right to answer that question.

Hint: You won’t always have the most money for that question. For example:
Me to Sparta during a hike: Hey, Sparta, did I get us lost?
Sparta:  Yes, you did.
Me: Can you get us home?
Sparta: Yes, I can.  Follow me.

. ^ ^ ^ True Story: we did get lost.  I definitely didn’t have enough Piloting money to get us home, but Sparta did.  So I let her Pilot me.

But for the most part, you as an adult human, navigating an adult human world, will have the best answers.  So give them.  You aren’t being mean, you’re being a parent to your fur-kid and your crotch fruit child.  And let’s face it:  just like our dogs, some of our human kids have more money in their Piloting Piggy bank than others.  Prime example is my daughter, River. With her, a “because I told you so” isn’t acceptable.  She was constantly trying to figure out if I had enough money in my Piloting Piggy bank to enforce the answers I was giving. And I love and respect her for it.

The most recent bout we had was with her grades.  River is extremely intelligent, witty and very capable.  I consider her above-average.  Therefore, I expect above-average grades from her.  In other words, nothing below a B- is acceptable.

River also happens to be lazy.  If she personally can’t rationalize why something is important enough to put effort into it, then she doesn’t see the logic of why she should.  But here’s the thing:  she’s 12.  By definition, 12 year olds are still children, not adults.  There’s no reason why she should be able to see everything as a logical adult.  So while River is currently writing a book on WWII, and has most of Patton’s speeches memorized (she’s definitely one-of-a-kind), unless it has to do with history or cats, she sees no reason to spend time on it.

That includes math.

Fortunately, her school grants access to kids’ grades parents in real-time.  Meaning, I can see my kids’ current GPAs, test results, and whether they turned in their homework in real time.  So I enforced a rule that if you ever fell below and 80% grade in a class, you lost all electronic devises until that grade was above c-level again.

Meanest. Mom.  Ever.

 

So, River slipped to a 78% in math.  I enacted my rule, and she was without her laptop, phone, video games, etc. I’ll be honest, it broke my heart.  Every day she’d come home from school asking to me to check her grades to see if it had gone up.  But if nothing was graded, then there wasn’t anything I could do.  It took over a week for a grade to be entered that brought River’s average for the class above 80%.  But I’ll be damned, she handled the entire ordeal very gracefully, because it wasn’t the first time she’d be subjected to the consequences of her own actions.  She didn’t balk, nor did she cry foul.  I didn’t make up punishments on the fly.  She knew in advance what the consequences of her (in)actions in math class would be, so there were no surprises.

And of course I wanted to give in.  But again, this is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m not selfish enough to coddle her or give in simply because I don’t like to be the “bad guy”.  I’m not going to claim it’s always been this easy allowing her to experience consequences, but I realize that the consequences she experiences now will never be this easy for her again.  In other words, holding her accountable now sets her up to have integrity in the future. Plus, I could let her know just how damn proud I was of how she handled herself while she experienced those consequences, as well as how thrilled I was once she brought her grades back up.  Her report card was magnificent, and she was rewarded heavily.

It’s not much different with your dog.  Your dog is sentient, not some dumb beast.  Set your boundaries, and then adhere to them.  You’re not bad, and you’re not mean.  You’re simply the Pilot.  Discourage behaviors you don’t like with a negative, and encourage behaviors/actions you like with positives

Now, the difference between dogs and kids is actually a little bittersweet to me.  My dogs will always require a human Pilot, as they live in a human world.  I’ll always be there to answer their questions.  Our children, on the other hand?  If we raise them well, and do our best, hopefully one day they will soar on their own, able to Pilot themselves.  Our job as parents is to make sure help them learn to soar under their own strength by letting them borrow ours until they can fly on their own.

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

 

Southpark Mall Supports Puppy Mill Brokers Despite Evidence

Greed is the inventor of injustice as well as the current enforcer.

- Julian Casablancas

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We all know cash is king, and easy money is the best money.  Let’s face it, corporations’ sole reason for existing is to make more money.  But at what cost?  When does the search for more money become inexcusable due to the swath of destruction of innocents that lay in its wake?  In other words, is the enrichment of corporations and businesses acceptable if the cost is the  health and safety of innocent animals?

Over the past three years, Darwin Dogs has been picketing Southpark Mall over their support of puppy mills by allowing Pick of the Litter and Petland continue their practices in the mall.  Council meetings have been attended by those horrified by what goes on in the mall.  So what information has come to light recently?  And more importantly, why is Southpark Mall’s management ignoring this information, even at the cost of risking their shopper’s health and safety? Is animal abuse really acceptable in return for a better bottom line?  Read the disturbing evidence for yourself.

 1) Strongsville Animal Control Officer, Chuck McCleary, had visited Tom Collins 22 times in the past year.

Exactly what has  McCleary been inspecting? The recent photo of the very sick husky above was taken by me, personally, on Sept.20, 2019, and posted to Darwin Dogs’ Facebook platform.  In a series of Facebook posts, as well as PM’s, McCleary reached out to inform me that the dog in the picture “is by itself, in its own cage not on display on oral antibiotics.”  That dog looked about as far from “by itself” as the dog could possibly get. IMG_47952) City of Strongsville’s own ordinance states that is an individually is criminally liable if they

“Keep animals… in an enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air” *

and

“Whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. In addition, the court may order the offender to forfeit the animal or livestock and may provide for its disposition including, but not limited to, the sale of the animal or livestock.” *

To put it bluntly, Tom Collins’ puppies, as well as his breeding cats, never see the light of day once he acquirers them.  They are never taken out of their pens for healthy exercise.  So every day that his puppy mill store has been operating, he has violated Strongsville law, and McCLeary would have seen this all 22 times he inspected in the last year.  As a matter of fact,he may have seen the same exact animals in the same exact cages over the past year.

 

c. 2018 Pick of the Litter

c. 2018 Pick of the Litter

Why is this happening? The account of one person I spoke with may shed some light on this.  Speaking with her, she informed me that,  “Chuck McCleary flat out told me he is a friend of Tom’s when called because he had a dog for sale in the store with a note on it saying it was found in the parking lot of the mall that day.”  The individual I spoke with was an employee at the mall at the time, which was a bit over a year ago. The mall employee went on further to state that, “The warden chewed me out for calling him and that he wasn’t going to do anything to Tom, and they’ve been friends for a long time, and as far as he was concerned, Tom was doing it a favor.”

I have asked McCleary if he is indeed friends with Tom Collins; he denied any such relationship.  

3) Falsification of vaccination records/medical history **  Kaylin, a local animal advocate as well as a vet tech, recently adopted a puppy from Pick of the Litter, against her better judgment, based solely on the fact of how far in distress one of the puppies looked.  She adopted her puppy on July 14, 2018.  Having a vet tech background, Kaylin knew that the puppy was only 6-8 weeks old on the day of adoption.  POTL told her the puppy was 4 months old.  Kaylin knew better, as her puppy had absolutely no adult teeth in her mouth. To make matters worse, Kaylin was told by the employees to give the puppy crushed Fruit Loops on top of her dry food, as the puppy was hypoglycemic.  And if she didn’t, her puppy may go in and out of consciousness.

Puppy being sold at Pick of the Litter in Strongsville.  He looks to have significant hydrocephalus.  c 2018

Puppy being sold at Pick of the Litter in Strongsville. He looks to have significant hydrocephalus.  c. 2018

In Kaylin’s own words, “Well, also coming from a vet tech background, that does happen when you take a dog away from their mother too early and they aren’t getting the nutrients they need from the [mother's] milk.  If you have to do that, you supplement with some kind of simple syrup, like a Karo syrup, not Fruit Loops. That’s going to cost her in the long run.” And unfortunately, Kaylin has had plenty of problems with her Pick of the Litter puppy.  “Allergies, and things of that nature”, she stated, “Probably because her immune system didn’t get to be fully developed.”

But that was just the start of Kaylin’s problems with her puppy. remember, according to POTL, her puppy was 4 months old, born in March 2018.  Kaylin believed her puppy to be 6-8 weeks of age, born on or about May 19-31 and her vet confirmed it.  That made the vaccination records POTL provided to Kaylin with her new pup extremely disturbing:

 

“The records I have from Pick of the Litter for this dog are, some of the vaccine records written in.  Working in a vet clinic myself, you take the lot number sticker off the vial, and you put it on the record for if there is any recall or any issue.  Three of these are handwritten in.  There’s no lot numbers. “

Even more disturbing evidence presented itself on the vaccination records, as Kaylin explained.  The dates POTL has stated for the vaccinations of Kaylin’s puppy were before the puppy was even born.  According to Kaylin (a vet tech) and Kaylin’s own veterinarian, the puppy was born some time between May 19-31.  According to POTL, the puppy’s first shots were given on:

- April 21 (4 weeks before the puppy’s birth)
- May 3 (2 weeks before the puppy’s birth)
- May 20 (the week of birth)
- May 25 (the week of birth)

 

Parvo and distemper are both very contagious, deadly infections, for which this puppy was never properly vaccinated against.  During the Oct. 1 council meeting, Tom Collins stated, “I know the difference between a four week old puppy and an eight week old puppy.  A lot of vet techs know everything and they don’t know everything.  I’ve been in the business for 35 years.” *

As Kaylin puts it, though,  ”This is just a blatant, falsified record of my puppy.”

Falsifying health records is a very serious thing, especially if you are supplying your store with puppies from unethical breeders.  Evidence was given that the sick husky puppy photographed above, as well as puppies in the store, had been dosed with “metro” (Metronidazole), due to diarrhea.  Metronidazole is used to treat:

Animal Control Officer McCleary even stated in a comment that, according to his inspection at the beginning of October this year, “…this dog came from the breeder this way, and was going to be put to sleep”.  He further states that, “…in reality it was saved [by POTL] from euthanasia by the breeder”.

Yet Tom Collins vehemently denies being involved with unethical breeders and puppy mills.

Southpark Mall is allowing these infected puppies in their establishment and allowing children to come in contact with them right before heading to the food court to eat. Evidence has also shown that Tom Collins falsifies his vaccination records, so who knows what else your children may pick up while there.  But enjoy Southpark’s indoor trick-or-treat event on Sunday, October 27!  Candy and parasites for everyone!

What about all the bite instances we’ve been hearing about?  It’s the most disturbing and gruesome story I’ve heard so far (and that’s saying a lot).   I spoke personally with the witness, Ken, and here’s what he had to say.

Date of incident Aug 17, 2019

A puppy was kenneled in fish tank with other different dogs from a different litter. Puppy was in a 50-100 gallon fish tank. At least 7-8 dogs in there with him. I asked why he was in there, and an employee said that puppy (pittie) was in there b/c of the bite. A little kid was touching the puppy, and child was unsupervised, and there were no employees around. At least three employees were working that day, but nobody was with the public in the store, which was crowded. Dog jumped up and nipped the child. Employee told me that if nobody bought it, they would try to give it back to the breeder, and otherwise they would “put it down”.  If the breeder didn’t take it back or if nobody bought it, it would be euthanized. I tried to find a home a home for the dog, but couldn’t.

POTL tried to sell the dog to Ken for $750 initially. Half an hour later, the employee said that the breeder didn’t want it and Ken could have the puppy for $30 . Ken tried to find a way to take the dog home, or find someone to take it, but he couldn’t as he has a newborn, and nobody else he contacted could take it.

The last image ever seen of the brindle pittie before he disappeared.  Alone and scared, tightly packed in with other dogs, all for the crime of being born a puppy mill dog.

The last images ever seen of the brindle pittie before he disappeared. Alone and scared, tightly packed in a fishtank with other puppies, all for the crime of being born a puppy mill dog.

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We can only guess what eventually happened to the the poor pittie in the photo. By law, the puppy should have been micro-chipped within 24 hours of his arrival at POTL.  Most likely, it wasn’t so we will never know.

But what about the individuals who are allowing this to continue?  Let’s face it, money talks.  Unfortunately, the puppy mill dogs and cats that Tom Collins deals with are unable to speak for themselves.It’s time we stand for those who have no voice. Learn more here.

Contact Southpark Mall, and demand to know why they allow puppy mill brokers and pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to do business within their mall. Let them know publicly, via reviews, that we will not do business at establishments that allow for animal abuse. Let them know via Facebook that you won’t stand for this mistreatment of animals. Or call/send a letter:

Southpark Mall c/o Starwood Retail Managers 500 SouthPark Center Strongsville, OH 44136 (440) 238-9199

Join us at our next protest.  You can find out when we are protesting next on the Darwin Dogs Facebook page. So in short, protests bring a lot of attention to situations like Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, but at the end of the day, not all of us are willing/able/crazy enough to protest outside in all kinds of weather.  The way to shut these establishments down can be as simple as one phone call.  One email.  One review.  Let them know this won’t be tolerated anymore, and that we demand better. And we will fight for it. -  For more information on puppies and puppy mills, read this. – For information about AKC and breeding practices, read this. – For information on why puppies suck anyway and you should adopt an older dog instead, read this.

keep

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

* See Sections 618.05(a)&(c) of Strongsville Code **See Strongsville City Council minutes for meeting dated Oct. 1, 2018, available here