Dogma

Fanaticism comes from any form of chosen blindness accompanying the pursuit of a single dogma.  - John Berger

mollyI was with a friend and her friend the other day, and we (of course) started talking about dogs.  My friend’s friend, who we will call Donna, was talking about a dog she has.  Or rather, about the judgment she receives from many different sources about her even owning a dog.  I don’t know Donna well, and have only met her twice, so I instinctively braced myself for the barrage of atrocities she must be visiting upon said dog.  With anger already rising, I asked her why she shouldn’t own a dog.

“Because I work”, was her reply.

I thought I didn’t hear her correctly.  I verified this answer.  Yes, she was being judged for not being a stay-at-home dog mom.

Now, let’s get a little bit more in-depth.  Certainly that couldn’t be the end of it.  Perhaps she was in a position, say such as a nurse or fireman, who wasn’t home for extended hours during the day, and hadn’t made proper arrangements for the dog’s care during those hours.

Nope.  Bankers hours. She owns an older, very low energy dog, who she happens to leave home alone while she works during the day.

I see this type of judgment much more than I care to.  Someone isn’t able to give all the luxuries to their pet that others can.  Such as having a someone home most of the day.  Being able to afford a more expensive, premium brand of food.  Using a low-cost clinic rather than the up-town vet.  Perhaps we need to go over a few things here.  Some uncomfortable truths.

1. Your world can’t revolve around your dog.

Sure, it would be lovely if you were able to stay home and cater to your dog’s every whim.  I know I would have a blast with 4 walks a day, 2 sessions of agility and 1 marathon grooming session every day.

or Shepherd, or Akita...

or Shepherd, or Akita…

But the reality is I work.  Bigger reality is that part of the money I earn by working goes for the care of my dog.  In other words, if I am unable to work, my dog is unable to eat, go to the vet, etc.  I’m the first to admit that due to the hours I work, and my ability to make my own schedule, I have enormous flexibility with my pets’ care.  Other don’t. They are doing the best they can with what they have.  So when one of my clients nervously admits that their dog is crated for 8-9 hours a day while they work, I say “Good for you!”.  Not because of the length of time their dog is crated, but because that dog isn’t in a shelter, kennel, or worse.  They are patiently waiting to be spoiled rotten when their owner comes home after a long day of work, ready to give hugs and kisses to them to ease the stress of their human’s day.  Dogs still love their owner, and aren’t angry. Instead, they are grateful for what they have: a home, a human, food, shelter, and above all, love.

2. A good home isn’t about income, fenced in yard, or how clean your house is.

I am the proud parent of two human children, two cats, and two dogs.  My human children I was allowed to have and raise without any input from anyone.  As long as I didn’t neglect nor abuse them, people just roll their eyes when you do/don’t allow too much/too little screen time.  When you do/don’t feed organic food.  When you do/don’t have viola lessons 2x week per kid.

The reality is that we are much more judgment about who is allowed to have a pet.  Which is ridiculous.

According to the SPCA, “Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).”

Let me repeat that number for you:  2.7 million animals are euthanized 

And you’re worried that I don’t have a fenced-in yard?  That the dog will be home alone for too long during the day?  What that translates to is a dog is better off dead than in a home where he will be crated 8 hours a day.  Maybe not Rex that’s currently up for adoption, but Rex is taking up a spot that Cooper needs.  See, Cooper is scheduled to be euthanized tomorrow due to overcrowding at a local shelter.  You can neither create nor destroy matter, which means we can not just will another open kennel in a shelter.  There’s only so much room on the Ark, and not everyone is going to make it.  Cooper won’t make it because Rex still hasn’t found the perfect home.

Some disillusionment needs to happen.  There is no such thing as a perfect home.  Even if there were, we don’t have time to find the perfect home.  There are too many animals dying.  We can’t wait to adopt animals out to the perfect home; we are doing triage.  And the longer Rex sits waiting for that mythical “perfect home” the more dogs will die as a result.

In order for a home to be perfect, there has to be love, and an ability to care for an animal, which means food, shelter, water and exercise.  So Agatha, the potential adopter is 83 years old ad wants to adopt a 1-year old mixed breed named Finn.  Yes. Most likely Agatha will be dead before Finn is even 8 years old, but guess what?  Finn will be dead by this time next week if she doesn’t adopt him.  Even in the worst case scenario, where after Agatha has gone and nobody steps up to take Finn, who is subsequently euthanized, Finn will have had a great life.  Shorter than it should have been, but so much longer and fulfilling than one week at a shelter before being euthanized.  Agatha has also opened up a cage for another dog by adopting Finn.

And Finn helped Agatha live longer, more independently.  It’s a virtuous cycle.  Funny how love works.

- Brittany Graham Photography

– Brittany Graham Photography

3. That’s the wrong breed of dog for you.

Nobody has ever told me that my children are the wrong breed for me.  That my daughter has too much Viking-Finnish blood from her father for me to handle.  Or that since my son’s background is completely unknown (as he’s adopted), I shouldn’t take a risk on him.

Why do we do that with dogs?

I thought we had come to a point in our society where we stopped looking at what a person is, but rather who that person is.  We’re not perfect, but we’re getting there, I guess.  Slower than I like, but we’re picking up speed.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch, too.  From this:

ruby

Ruby Bridges, entering William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960 with armed guards.

To this:

I don't care if you do/don't like him personally.  Our first black president was born 1 year after six-year old Ruby bravely stood up to end segregation.

I really don’t care if you want him impeached or if you want him for a third term; our first black president was born 1 year after little Ruby bravely stood up to end segregation.

We are growing as a society to look past ethnicity…to even embrace our differences in culture, religion and gender.  But somehow that ends when it comes to adopting out a dog.

We look at what a dog is (boxer, pittie/chihuahua) rather than who a dog is (friendly/shy/in-between).  When we judge a dog by its breed, rather than its character, we all lose.  Dogs languish in cages because Akitas are hard to handle (maybe… if you’re talking about handling all that fur…).  Pitties are aggressive (about as aggressive as a human…meaning they are each unique but vastly non-hostile).  Mastiffs drool (okay, got me there *shudder*).

If I can handle my little Viking child, let’s at least give the family of four a chance to pick out their own dog regardless of breed, and respect that they probably know more about their situation in life and ability to care for a dog than you do. By all means, give any facts or information you have on the individual dog to the family, or perhaps known health issues (prevalence of hip dysplasia, etc) but let them process the information and make a decision.

Boots and Bee Photography

Boots and Bee Photography

So back to my acquaintance, Donna, and the horrible, wretched life she is imposing by leaving her dog home alone for 8-9 hours per day, as well as all of you who actually work for a living:  You’re doing just fine.  You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got, and you should never apologize for it, nor should you be made to feel like a villain.  Donna, you are an incredible mother to your dog.  The best dog mom or “dog-ma” there is, just like all of us who are working with what we’ve been given.  And nailing it.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

The Little Things

  “Judge me by my size, do you?”
Yoda – The Empire Strikes Back

10385367_10204184623834452_9168845168471881616_nConfession:  I’ve always been afraid of small dogs.  Not necessarily afraid of them…more like afraid to be around them.  Or more importantly, on top of them.  I’m about as graceful as a giraffe on roller skates, so the little ones always put me on edge a bit.  I knew deep down that they were just like every other dog, and I could see how they responded just as quickly to a bit of Piloting as the large dogs did, but still, they looked so…delicate.  Even if I were working with a dog deemed “aggressive“, if it was a Chihuahua running up to me Cujo-style, it instantly put me on edge, more so than even a Rottie or other large dog.

Then a couple of years ago it became more and more apparent that I needed a “bait” dog.  A dog that could help me out with the dog-reactive dogs.  It had to be a dog that was friendly, but aloof unless given permission to be pet.  A dog who wasn’t dog reactive, and would trust me completely.  The dog needed to be intelligent, healthy, and above all, non-threatening in looks.  Enter all 5 lbs. of Orion.

I hear you have a job opening?

I hear you have a job opening?

Growing up I did indeed have a small-ish dog named Pebbles.  She was a 20-ish lb Aussie mix we got from a shelter when I was in preschool.  But there’s a difference between a small-ish dog and a tiny dog.  Or is there? And so I present:

The Little Things That Make Little Dogs Great.

1) They can go anywhere with you.  Easily.

Sparta desperately trying to fit into the mudroom she loves so much.

Sparta desperately trying to fit into the mudroom she loves so much.

As I discovered after trading in a minivan for an Elantra, size can indeed matter…and bigger is not necessarily better.  While all 100 lbs. of Sparta fit nicely in my van, the same doesn’t hold true for my new car.  Not so much now.  Actually, Sparta doesn’t fit anywhere nicely.  A small dog doesn’t have the space problems that a larger dog can. Yes, I know what you’re going to say: a Great Dane is a better apartment dog than a Jack Russel (and you’re right), but if your floor plan only has 700 square feet, you’re taking a pretty big chunk out that with a Dane.  Any dog who is given the appropriate amount of exercise is good in an apartment.  Unfortunately, you can’t exercise the size out of a large dog.

2) They aren’t big eaters.

They're really only about a mouthful.  Wait....that's not what I mean.

They’re really only about a mouthful. Wait….that’s not what I mean.

The cost of feeding a small dog is drastically less than a larger dog.  For example, Orion eats between 1/4 – 1/2 cup of food per day, depending on how hard we hike.  Sparta, on the other hand, eats anywhere between 5-7 cups per day.  A Mastiff can eat up to 10 cups per day.  The cost of keeping a smaller dog is significantly less.

3) People aren’t as easily spooked by a small dog.

Awwwww....he's so cute!

Awwwww….he’s so cute!

Now, if you’ve been around dogs enough, you know very well that the little Yorkie is just as likely to bite you as the German Shepherd, but a lot of people don’t see it that way.  They see small dog, they automatically think of it as a friendly happy puppy.  So much that landlords typically don’t discriminate against any small dogs.  Ergo, it’s easier to get an apartment that allows dogs.

4) It’s easy(ish) to travel with a small dog.

I'll bet I could fit him in there....easily

I’ll bet I could fit him in there….easily

On a recent flight to Austin, someone brought a small schnauzer on board the plane in a carry-on.  The little darling easily fit on is owner’s lap for the entire duration of the flight instead of being regulated to the cargo hold.

5) Life span. 

photo 4(2)Smaller dogs live longer than larger dogs.  Orion’s projected life expectancy is 13-15 years.  Sparta’s is about 10-12.  Sad but true.

6) No counter surfing.

Brittany Graham Photography

Guess which one of us can reach the counter? Brittany Graham Photography

I’m all about training your dogs, but isn’t it nice when an issue isn’t even on your radar?  Sparta had to be trained to leave things on the counter alone.  Orion thinks the counter is Mt. Everest.

7) Eliminating the negative.

Eric, age 8, on poop patrol

Eric, age 8, on poop patrol

Ever clean up after a 100 lb dog?  Exactly.

8) Easier to manage.

Size never takes the place of training, but when dealing with difficult dogs, obviously a smaller dog is easier from a safety standpoint.

Size never takes the place of training, but when dealing with difficult dogs, obviously a smaller dog is easier from a safety standpoint.

Okay, a dog who is behaving aggressively needs to have the situation addressed, no matter the size.  But let’s face it: if tiny little Fifi the toy poodle decides she wants a piece of the mailman walking by, odds are she isn’t strong enough to literally drag you across oncoming traffic to get to him.

9)  Portable.

This is where Orion hangs out in the car. Passenger side on the floor.  His little den.

This is where Orion hangs out in the car. Passenger side on the floor. His little den.

When Darwin was a senior, I had a tremendously difficult time transporting him. Getting him into the car turned into an ordeal simply because of his size.  Smaller dogs are so much easier to care for as they age, requiring less muscle.  Similarly, on a hike, if Sparta gets tired, we have to stop and rest.  Orion, on the other hand, is easily portable.  Not that I’ve ever seen Orion get tired.

10) They’re dogs.

My ,majestic Papillon.

My ,majestic Papillon.

I mean, isn’t that what it all boils down to?  Dog is a dog is a dog is a dog.  They’re just like every other dog.

Sure I’ve stepped on Orion and tripped over him, but not very often.  Orion is a lot tougher than he looks: he has chased deer away from us, he has caught many a chipmunk in my yard, and he has remained courageous when helping me rehabilitate a dog-reactive dog who outweighs him by 90+ lbs.  I do indeed wrestle with him.  He hikes with me for miles and miles, never tiring. He has mettle. He truly is a mascot for Darwin Dogs.

Treating a dog like a dog.  What a novel concept! I treat Orion just like Sparta, and guess what:  both are well-adjusted, wonderful, polite dogs.  Small dog syndrome is indeed a real thing, but it’s something that we humans have created in our small dogs by treating them differently.   We don’t cipher out humans based on size. Danika is roughly 12 inches shorter than me (I’m 6ft tall)… but if you test our mettle, it’s neck-and-neck.  She and I are capable of doing the same things. Our clients don’t say they prefer me because I’m bigger than Danika.  I see people in shelters a lot looking for a new dog, but eliminating a certain dog from the running because they’re “too small” or a “sissy dog”.  Usually it’s a man, and usually I stand right next to them, look down towards them, and ask if that makes them a sissy man in comparison to me.  They usually turn red and walk away.

Small dogs, big dogs…  let’s just remember the best part: dog.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Personally Speaking

I am a great believer in found families and I’m not a great believer in blood.

Joss Whedon

Puppies-at-a-pet-shop-in--001

A few weeks ago I was chatting online with a friend of mine.  He wanted to know what I thought about a certain “breed”of designer dog.  His wife wanted one for the family, and she had fallen in love with a friend’s new puppy, and they wanted one, too.  He told me that the puppy was from a well-respected “breeder”.  They got the information on a breeder website….as in, “We breed schoodles, morkies and shih-poos…”.  As soon as I saw that, flags went up.  This wasn’t a breeder – this was a puppy mill.

I tried to explain to him that respectable breeders didn’t advertise online.  Nor did they specialize in more than one breed, let alone claim to be breeders of dogs that aren’t even a breed.  Unfortunately, it all fell on deaf ears.  They proceeded to purchase a puppy.  I don’t believe they even set foot in a shelter.  Rather than rescuing a new family member, they attempted to purchase a designer label.  But at what cost?

Puppy Mills

We all know the horror behind-the-scenes of a puppy mill.  We’ve seen the numerous dogs who were rescued.  I’ve worked with dogs who were saved from years spent in a tiny 2′x2′ crate, giving birth to litter after litter in squalid conditions.  These dogs are no more than livestock, there as a commodity, conditions be damned.  Each one of those viable puppies is worth between $800-$1000.  Unfortunately, those chasing after the supposed prestige that comes with having a purebred dog usually don’t want to pay purebred prices.  So they buy a knockoff.  Unfortunately, just like knockoff Prada, someone always pays the price, usually behind the scenes.  Child labor in sweatshops or abused and neglected animals. Both victims of the “designer” label.

ipj53

 

If you buy from a real breeder, you should feel as if you are applying for the CIA.  Background checks may be involved.  These are their lives’ work!  A breeder’s dogs are more like a family dog/work of art/live’s mission all rolled into one.  They will never let ou pick a dog from their litter – they interview you to find out which one of their puppies’ personalities will fit best in your household.  In other words, they have dogs, not investments. They aren’t a money making device!  Breeders typically don’t breed their dogs more than a handful of times in the dogs entire life!  According to Animal Rescue Corps., dogs in a mill have a much different schedule:

“Females are bred repeatedly, usually twice a year, every year, until they can no longer produce puppies. This is incredibly stressful on their bodies but they are viewed as moneymaking machines, as disposable property, not as individuals with inherent worth. Female dogs are commonly bred before it is safe to do so because the earlier they start, the more puppies they will produce in a lifetime. Puppy mill breeding dogs are often given hormones and steroids to try and increase the number of puppies they produce. These drugs can cause extreme pain and serious side effects – all in an attempt to increase the number of puppies for profit.”

But at least you got your cute puppy.

Designer Puppies

I just got a new niece. Her mother is Chinese, and her father is a mix of Finnish and Irish.  The baby is beautiful.  However, I am intelligent enough to know that she is one of a kind. I can’t recreate her, no matter how hard I try, even with parents of the same ancestry.  She will always be unique, from her looks to her personality.  My own children don’t even look like they’re related to each other, and their personalities are about as polar as they can be.

River and Eric at their favorite ice-cream shop.

River and Eric.  Or as my husband and I call them, Machete and The Professor.

So why are you trying to recreate your neighbor’s adorable puppy, who happens to be a something-poo?  Your inability to realize that you can’t recreate a living being is disturbing to me.  I can understand having a type…. I personally prefer Am-Staffs (or pitties). I also love Shepherds.

Yes, Orion.  Papillons too.

Yes, Orion. Papillons too.

But here’s the thing:  I can rattle off why I love those breeds:  I love how fun-loving and goofy pitties are.  How they are desperate to have a rollicking good time and want nothing more than a good snuggle, followed by more fun.  I love how Shepherds are always so desperate to learn something new, and how absurdly stoic they can be.  I love how Papillions are such lively little creatures who are really too big on the inside for those tiny little bodies.  I love how they are just as rugged of a dog as a Coonhound or a Lab.  I understand that each dog in a specific breed will always have its own personality, it generally falls within a certain area.  If you’re going with a purebred, finding out breed standard for that specific breed is a very good start to having a wonderful companion rather than a chore, or even worse, an owner surrender to the local shelter.

In other words, I love these dogs based on more than how I think they look. When I asked my friend why they were heading towards the designer “breed” they had in mind, the response was, “he’s cute”.  Seriously, they’re basing living the next 10-15 years with a dog on nothing more than “he’s cute”.  Temperament is merely an afterthought.  As is exercise requirements and how much Piloting the dog will need.  It is imperative to come up with a list of wants vs. needs when choosing a new dog, whether it be from a shelter or a breeder!

Remember that a mutt (which is what your designer dog is) is a dog that can not be reliably bred to have a certain standard.  In other words, if I were breeding Golden Retrievers, I can with a high degree of certainty state that the next litter will contain pups who will grow to be a certain size, with a very predictable temperament (fun, easy going, eager to please, and friendly).  Same with Poodles:  I can reliably breed very intelligent and active dogs of a certain “look” who, while easy to train, want to know why they should be listening to you and not following their own orders.  (For that reason, I generally steer families with small children away from poodles.)  Now, let’s breed a Golden and a Poodle together.  What do you get?  Just about any mix of all these traits.  Anywhere from a dog who looks exactly like a Golden but acts just like a Poodle (and vice versa), to a complete blending of the two looks and temperaments.  In other words, a mutt.

Mutts are awesome, but just like every other dog, they must be judged on an individual basis before you decide to buy/adopt. Judge the dog on who they are, not what they appear to be.

You Blew Your Chance to Save A Life

Seriously, Robin.  Don't be a douche.

Seriously, Robin. Don’t be a douche.

Let’s not forget the biggest reason to adopt rather than shop. Or rather the 2.7 million reasons to adopt.  That’s the number of dogs and cats euthanized each year.  Yeah, sure, you can argue that you can only rescue one,and what’s “one” in the face of such a large number?

"Just one" is the most important number Boise can think of.  He only has a 1/600 chance of making it alive out any shelter.  Check out Boise, who's up for adoption, at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter.
“Just one” is the most important number this little guy can think of. He hopes it’s his, because as a pittie, he only has a 1/600 chance of making it alive out any shelter.

To be truthful, I had high hopes of convincing my friend not to shop for a puppy, especially not from a place that hit every single hallmark for being a puppy mill. I’d like to say this hasn’t changed how I view my friend, but there are only so many matted, filthy dogs I can help rehabilitate before it becomes personal.  Only so many dogs I can work with who are afraid of everything, who’ve never been outside their breeding box in the 2, 3 or even 8 years they’ve been on this planet, before I become judgmental and angry, even with longtime friends.  There’s a finite number to the dogs I can say goodbye to, and take them for their last long walk and few moments of fetch, before their time is up before it gets personal.

Yes.  It is personal.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

 

Friends Forever, or Choosing a Shelter Dog

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
- Ben Franklin

dog-shelter

So you’ve decided to add a pet to the family.  You’ve determined that adopting is the best way to go. Now what?  Shelter? APL?  What do you do?  First come up with your list of wants vs. needs.   Ever walk into a car dealership to buy a car, but have no idea what you want?  Manual, stick? SUV or sedan?  Nope?  Didn’t think so.  And bear this in mind: most people put more thought into precisely what they want in a car than what they want in a dog, yet they will swap cars every 5-6 years, whereas a dog will last upwards of 13 years!

That's highly illogical
That’s highly illogical

Decide if you want to go through a shelter or a city/county kennel.

Shelters are sometimes able to foster their dogs, meaning you would be able to see the dogs in a normal home environment, or at the very least, not terrified and acting contrary to their nature in a kennel. (Let’s face it, those places can be very scary.) Remember, those aren’t other dogs or pack member in those kennels…those are other predators. They don’t know those other dogs, and haven’t bonded with them.  Think about how you’d be acting on your first day if you were sent to prison. Yeah.

Good times were had by all

Good times were had by all

Understand that dogs currently residing in shelters are only exhibiting a fraction of their true personalities.  Just like humans, some dogs adjust to these situations a little easier than others.  Things to look for:

  • Dogs who come to the front of the cage may be less fearful in general, but again this is a unique situation.  If someone were to judge my disposition based solely on watching me drive across the Valley View Bridge, well….let’s just say it wouldn’t be accurate.
  • Dogs who calmly come up to you in a slightly submissive fashion (ears slightly down, body in a slight letter “S” rather than an ultra-submissive or ultra-hyper fashion.  Dogs with wiggle-butts are great (looking at you pitties!).
  • Dogs who have been there for a amount of time I consider the “sweet spot”.  A dog who just comes into the shelter is going to be traumatized (What is this place? What’s all this noise? Who are these people?!).  Let them have an adjustment period of a day or two.  After a bit, they’ll know that, while the kennel is scary, it’s not mind-blowingly terrifying anymore.  You’re more apt to get a read on their real personality.
  • But remember what being in a cage for a while can do to a dog.  Dogs who have been there a while can get cabin fever.  This is not a natural state for the dogs, but remember, they’ve been isolated and scared for a while now.  It takes a toll on the psyche.  Yes, these dogs can indeed still make great pets, but be realistic: this will be a forever dog, not the dog you adopt because he’s been there so looooong!  Stick to your “shopping list”.
  • Ask the employees, but don’t be persuaded into taking a dog.  A good kennel worker will indeed get attached to the animals.  They can give you great information on which dogs may be best for your situation.  Unfortunately, that attachment may cause them to inadvertently try to talk you into a dog.  If you’re not “feeling” that dog, move on.  Remember, you brought your list of wants and needs.  Share it with the workers and let them know you are indeed sticking to the list.
Here's cage No. 666.  This guy is my favorite.  Don't let him fool you, he'll be fine once you get him home.

Here’s cage No. 666. This guy is my favorite. Don’t let him fool you, he’ll be fine once you get him home.

Unfortunately, there is no magical formula for adopting a dog from a kennel.  If there were, odds are kennel wouldn’t be needed anymore because every dog would fit into their new home perfectly.  Go with your gut.  Make a rational decision, not an impulsive one.  And then take the necessary steps to make the transition from kennel to home as smooth as possible.  Keep them as best friends forever.

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

 

Home

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.

 - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

So you’ve done your research and done a good job of it.  I’ve made an educated decision about which dog you’d like to adopt, and there he sits in the backseat of your car, on your way home.  You’ve got the the dog food, the vet appointment is set up, and perhaps you’ve even made an appointment with a dog trainer to get off on the right paw foot.

So now what do you do?

Here’s a step by step on how to acclimate your dog to their new home. It’s all about stages and not overwhelming a dog at any point.

1) On the way home, in the car, give your new family member plenty of time to sniff you. Give him a positive (a tiny reward or at least some praise and petting) every time.  What you are doing is linking your smell to a positive.  You’re a good thing.  That will translate later when he’s in a house that smells like, well, you.

Scent is a very important thing for humans.  We bond through scent.  We cradle babies by our armpits so they can smell us and be relaxed.  We hug for the same reason – sharing scent.  How often has a crying baby been brought in to snuggle with mom, and then, without nursing or anything, instantly falls asleep?  They smell mom and feel soothed.

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

For a dog, nothing smells safer than pack.  Pack is like a security blanket, and the bigger that blanket is, the better it smells.  You are the dog’s new pack.  Familiarize him with the scent as much as you can.  Providing a lot of positive combined with your scent makes it a very comforting thing for new pooch needs.

2) Take your dog immediately into a quite, secluded area of the house.  If you’ve set a crate up for them, put them in the crate and just quietly hang out by them for a while, again, equating your scent with the safety of the crate.  The crate isn’t a bad thing, it’s their “bedroom”.  A place that is safe and entirely theirs.  Allow them to become familiar with it immediately.

3) Give frequent potty breaks.  A lot of shelters will say that a dog is housebroken because the dog never messed in their cage.  While they aren’t lying, the dog may not be housebroken.  A lot of dogs will not eliminate in their cage or crate.  Start off on the right foot immediately by following the basic rules for housebreaking, outlined here.

Don’t get upset if your dog marks in the house.  This can be quite normal for the first day.  A lot of dogs will do it once or twice, and then never do it again.  They are merely adding their own scent to the house, often as a way to self soothe.

4) Put yourself in the Pilot position.  I say over and over again that Piloting is a huge piggy bank, and whomever has the most money wins the position.  Start adding money to your bank immediately, before your dog has any chance to add money to their bank.  Don’t allow them to jump on you.  Don’t allow them to demand your attention (a dog version of “may I please be pet” should always be expected).   Start answering their questions now.  They’re going to want to know the rules of the house, so be kind enough to give them the answers.  Some answers are “yes” and some are “no”.  Read here to find out how to give it to them.

5) Take them for a (calm) walk.  No, not in the Metroparks, or downtown.  Try your backyard.  Somewhere that still sorta smells like pack, but will still require a leash (yes, even if your yard is fenced in).  You are adding even more money to your Piloting piggy bank.  If you need some help with leash walking, read this series on how to do it without drama.  Remember to praise and reward for any potty activity that takes place outside.

6) Put your dog on a leash and walk them around your house, allowing them to sniff and smell.  They are familiarizing themselves with the area, and it feels safer to explore if their Pilot/New Best Friend is doing it with them.  Remember, though, a lot of dogs have never been acclimated to living in a house.  Some may not know the rules.  They’re dogs not humans, so be prepared for some crazy behavior, such as jumping on tables or counters to investigate, etc. You have them on a leash so you can easily answer their question, which is, “Is this acceptable?”  Um….no, Fido.  Not in the slightest.

Do not allow your dog full run of the house immediately.  Start with small areas, and has your trust in them grows, go ahead and add areas of freedom for them.  Baby gates are integral for this.

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

7) Bedtime.  Ah…this can be the hard part.  You’ve set yourself up as Pilot, your dog is (mostly) acclimated to the house.  But now comes the scary part…being alone all night.  If you want your dog to sleep in bed with you, go for it.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, if the dog is to sleep elsewhere, you have to help them prep for this.  The worst thing you can do is try to pop the pup in the cage for the night without any prep work.

You are going to do a crash course in separation anxiety.  The first time he’s alone in his crate shouldn’t be for 8 hours while you’re (trying) to sleep.  Put him in the crate for five minutes, leave the room, come back and let him out.  Now try for 15 minutes.  You are creating normalcy out of being alone in the crate. Pop him in and out of the crate all day, focusing on longer and longer periods of time.   Think of it as dress rehearsal for the big show.  Trust me, you’ll thank me for this when it’s bed time.  For a more detailed description on separation anxiety, read this article.

Wash, rinse repeat.  Some dogs take 5 minutes to feel comfortable in new home.  Other take a little longer.  Take your time.  Don’t rush them.  They’re worth the wait.

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Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Brittany Graham Photography

The First Day

 

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography


Home is the nicest word there is – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Do you remember your first day of school? Or your first day on the job? Or how about the first day you brought your rescue pup home?

When we first brought Porter home, it was exciting and nerve racking. However, the minute he entered the apartment, he saw the blankets we had bought him and went straight for them. He laid down and looked up at us as if to say “Why did it take you so long to find me?”.

That first day is magical for us. But how about for them? How amazing it must be for them to be in a home and feel love. For some pups, it’s the most kindness and comfort they’ve received so far.

Here are some pictures of a few rescue animal’s first days home. They’re not all dogs, but hey, we don’t discriminate.

What was your pup’s first day home like?

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

Double Trouble

“Everything in moderation…including moderation.”  - Ben Franklin

So you’ve got one dog you’re having problems with.  Maybe Fido is hyper.  Maybe Fido is bored.  Usually Fido just won’t listen to you. You’re at your wit’s end trying to cope with this dog.  And then you stumble upon a wonderful idea….a second dog!  The logic seems sound – another dog will help with the separation anxiety.  It will help wear your first dog out.  Perhaps things will be easier with another dog to keep your first dog occupied.  It’s like communism – it only looks good on paper.

The same goes for multiple dogs.

The same goes for multiple dogs.

I have indeed seen quite a few instances where a second dog helped out tremendously with keeping the first dog occupied/not alone/stable. But only if your first dog is successfully Piloted.

Let me put it this way: suppose you have a child who is giving you no end of trouble.  They are constantly getting bad grades, not doing homework, and talking back all the time.  Would your solution be a second child?  Of course not.  You’d try to work with the issues you first child is having and then, perhaps, once those are sorted out, have a second child.  The same goes for your dog.

Once you have your dog successfully Piloted, a second dog may be a good idea, but only if your first dog is getting the Piloting, Activity and Work that they need. Only when you are consistently answering all of your dog’s questions.  Yes, it may take a lot of work, but you’re doing it, and you’ve got your dog at a pretty good place.  Now is a good time to consider a second dog to help you out.  Adding a second dog doesn’t negate your need to Pilot either of them.  You still must answer both of their questions, but instead of bringing in more chaos, you are controlling the situation before adding stimulation.

You’ll have an adjustment period where you have to answer questions for two dogs, which may initially be tougher, but keeping things running smoothly and answering questions as they arise is so much easier than trying to untangle a mess that a lack of Piloting creates.

Adding another dog isn’t like adding more sugar in your sugar bowl.  It’s more like adding another book to your library.  What kind of book are we talking here?  Dr. Suess?  James Joyce?  Are you looking for an adventure book?  Perhaps a self help or maybe Sci-Fi?  There are so many books to choose from!  Dogs have personalities, so you aren’t adding a dog so much as a new flavor to your pack.  You are trying to create a recipe of personalities, and just like those chocolate raspberry bacon mint cookies you saw on Pinterest may take some …uh, getting used to, some flavors are simply more difficult to palate when combined than others.

When choosing a new dog, don’t forget to make a checklist of wants vs. needs, but this time you are going to be taking into consideration your current dog’s personality.  It’s a balancing act.  Your dog has a lot of energy, perhaps another dog with a lot of energy will wear your Fido out, but it may also create a situation where all these guys want to do is play, including in the house (which is where your Piloting skills need to come in).  If you have a dog who has separation anxiety, getting another dog who is prone to it as well won’t help -you want a calming influence, not a partner in destruction (remember, separation anxiety isn’t about being left home alone so much as being left without a Pilot). Feel out your potential new dog’s personality, and consider how it will mesh with your current dog.

I personally have two dogs:  Sparta and Orion.  Sparta is slow, steady, calm and has no separation anxiety.  She does, however, have dog reactivity.  Orion is fast, hyper and has separation anxiety.  The two balance each other perfectly.  Sparta relies on Orion to give the alerts (which he never does).  Sparta has a calming effect on Orion.  However, both are Piloted by me.

 If your dog is depressed, due to the passing of another pack member, allow them time to grieve.   Dogs do indeed mourn, so don’t turn around the next day and get a new dog.  Your dog may have lost their Pilot (yes, you may be their Pilot as well, but there is a pecking order).  First make sure you have strengthened your bond with your current dog, and then consider adding to your pack.

When working with dogs, always remember to start with calm.  Only then can you add stimulation (or in this case, another canine).  If you start while you’re in a good place with your current dog, adding a dog will be a very rewarding (and entertaining!) experience.

Keep calm and pilot on

What to Expect

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.

- A.A. Milne

Porter_0030Brittany Graham Photography

 

I have a lot of people ask me about getting a dog.  I try to answer their questions as best I can, but it’s not always easy.

What kind of dog? The canine kind.

Are certain breeds aggressive? Really?

How do I pick out the right dog? You do your research,  and then do your best.

Along the way, however, I realized that there needed to be some kind of “Doggie Code”, or “Doggie Commandments”.  Something. Not quite an instruction manual, but something to cover the blank spots between Piloting your dog and feeding your dog.  I guess more along the lines of What to Expect When You’re Expecting….a dog.

Yeah....dogs.  Definitely should have gotten a dog.

Yeah….dogs. Definitely should have gotten a dog.

So without further ado, here we go.

You’re going to fall in love with every dog at the shelter and feel guilty as hell for not rescuing all of them.

I know.  I’ve been there.  I walked out of a shelter 18 years ago with Darwin almost sobbing because there were other dogs there scheduled to be euthanized later in the week.  But here’s the thing: I saved one.  If we all saved just one, what a difference.  Each according to their ability, and that’s exactly what I did.  Darwin has since crossed that damn Rainbow Bridge, and I’ve added Sparta and Orion.  I did the best I could within my means. The problem is that those flippin’ dogs are like potato chips.  Once you open the bag, you never want to stop.  Keeping the mindset of “within your means” implies both mental and physical.  Remember, those terrible animal hoarding situations all start out somewhere.

New, from Fi-Do-Lay!  Mmmm... goes great with Separation Anxiety brand dip!

New, from Fi-Do-Lay! Mmmm… goes great with Separation Anxiety brand dip!

The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever.

I wouldn’t have a job if it were all sunshine and lollipops forever.  You really didn’t think it would last….did you?

I guarantee it isn't a candlelit dinner.

I guarantee it isn’t a candlelit dinner.

Your dog is going to do something stupid.  Take up barking. Attempt to digest revolting things, and then void the attempt…right on your pillow. Get sprayed by a skunk.  Just remember, you adopted a dog, not a human.  Dogs don’t do things to get back at you, or to punish you.  They have separation anxiety.  They have boredom.  They have needs for activity.  They will ask questions, and need to be Piloted. Address these situations when they come up, or it’s going to be merry hell for the next 13 years.

You’re going to think of them as human…don’t.

Yeah, Darwin and I would hang out on the couch together and watch tv.  I’d talk to him, offering my opinion about what was on.  Asking him if that dress made my butt look fat.  I’d tell him about my boy troubles, my car troubles or my leaky faucet.  He was my date for many parties, and three weddings. In short, I treated him like a human…until I didn’t.  I was always his Pilot first and foremost. I tell my clients that once you give your dog the Piloting, Activity and Work that your dog requires, you can do whatever you want.  Ignore them (but really, why?).  Talk to them.  Dress them up (Darwin worked a bowtie like a Chippendale).   Do whatever you want.  Give them their needs as a dog, and only then can you treat them like a human.

Treat me like a dog or there'll be hell toupee!

Treat me like a dog or there’ll be hell toupee!

They are not an impulse purchase.

I had a frenemy in my 20′s.  She adopted a dog after her boyfriend broke up with her. She even named the dog “Re-bound”.  Yeah.  It worked out exactly as you thought it would, with my helping her find a new home for the poor dog after she “moved on”.  Your dog isn’t there to take the place of something. Or fill some hole in your heart.  And contrary to popular belief, it won’t enlarge any body parts by their bad-assedness.

Contact your doctor if you try to compensate for more than four hours.

Contact your doctor if your attempt to compensate lasts more than four hours.

They will absolutely break your heart…but only once.

The ultimate paradox is that the only creature who loves you more than they love themselves, who would give their life for you (so long as no vacuum cleaners are involved) will actually destroy your life when they do finally find their end.  If it’s one year or 12 (like I had with my Darwin), it’s always too soon.  Do yourself a favor. Have a plan.  Don’t wait until Fido develops cancer to try to figure out when it’s time to say goodbye.  You will not be logical.  You will be emotional, like I was.  Truthfully, I should have taken Darwin to that Rainbow Bridge months before I actually did.  By trying not to betray him, I absolutely did.  I was emotional.  It took someone who was removed from the situation to show me how sick Darwin actually was.

Whomever painted this is either the most compassionate animal lover or an absolute masochist towards humans.  Crying yet?

Whomever painted this is either the most compassionate animal lover or an absolute masochist towards humans. Crying yet?

I take a lot of pics of Sparta and Orion.  I can easily compare how they are now vs. how they were at this time last year.  Facebook helps with that.  So does Instagram.  Have a hashtag with your dog’s name (for ease of reference), and start taking pics, and then compare them.  If your dog is diagnosed with something wretched, take a pic every week.  Compare them to the previous week. Do right by your dog. Do the heavy lifting so they don’t have to.  You’ll still be traumatized when they go, but you will know you made the best decision you could, with all the information necessary for such an action.

   s

My very first pic of Darwin, circa 1996

And then get ready to do it all again.  Because you will.

Darwin's last pic.

Darwin’s last pic.

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Reality Bites

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

 -Winston Churchill

 

Clockwise from the munchkin: Orion, Sparta and Cody

Clockwise from the munchkin: Orion, Sparta and Cody

Orion bit Cody (the dog I’m boarding) today.  Orion started with a low growl, worked up to baring of teeth, and then, for the grand finale, bit Cody square on the nose.  And what did I do during this entire engagement?

I watched.  It wasn’t my place to intervene at that moment.  Cody was actually being a twerp, and totally deserved that bite.  Orion had a Kong and was engaged with the peanut butter inside.  Cody came bounding up to Orion, stuck his nose right between the Kong and Orion, and proceeded to just be an absolute pest.  Orion gave him ample warning before finally resorting to “violence”, if that’s the correct word for a 7 lb dog defending his toy from 40 lbs. of annoying, 8-month old, Labradoodle.

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Now that’s not to say that in my pack my dogs are allowed to just “have at”, snarling and fighting over anything they think belongs to them.  I will have peace in my house.  But just like any other family, frequently there are misunderstandings.  And let’s face it: it does take a village, and Cody had not been part of a healthy village when I met him. He would invade your personal space, jump on you, grab other dog’s toys from under them, etc.  He’s a wonderfully sweet dog, but he was like a child who had never heard the word “no” before: in other words, a total brat.  His owner had a serious injury just a few months after she got him, and he had been boarded at a regular doggie daycare for weeks before he met me, as she was essentially bedridden and unable to care for her beloved puppy.  Daycare is fine and wonderful for exercise, but not so good for Piloting your dog, as she realized, which was why she called me.   So, how do you un-brat an 8-month old puppy?

Well, if it were indeed just me, that would require my having to answer every one of his questions, which is the basis of Piloting.  Any behavior that was unacceptable, well, that was up to me to address. That can be a bit of an overwhelming job.  So I farmed out some of the work to Orion, and eventually to Sparta.

To make these types of situations work safely,  I need to be Pilot over both Sparta and Orion completely. In other words, they need to check with me frequently to make sure that whatever type of “answer” they are offering Cody is acceptable to me.  So when Orion first growled at Cody over the Kong, Orion frequently looked at me to make sure this was acceptable for him to do this.

Mom, can I handle this problem?

I neglected to answer Orion’s question (and remember, the absence of “no” is “yes”), so Orion continued.  Unfortunately, Cody didn’t catch the drift, so Orion had to escalate to a snarl (Cody is kinda dense sometimes).  Yes, Orion continued to keep an eye on me in case I had an answer different than the one I had previously given.  Nope. I didn’t.  Cody still didn’t get the idea that this behavior was unsavory.  So Orion leaped 1.5 feet in the air and nipped Cody squarely on the nose.  Cody caught on.  Finally. No blood, no mark, not even a scratch.  Problem handled – safely.

Now, letting Orion help me “raise” Cody for a few weeks is a lot different than letting Sparta do the same thing.  I work with Orion in a work setting very frequently.  I know how far Orion is willing to go to make his point, and exactly what means he will utilize to get that point across.  Orion is tremendously professional.  He never overdoes it, but he is willing to get his point across.  Sparta, on the other hand, is a bit totalitarian.  It also took a lot longer for her to accept Cody as Pack. She required frequent reminders.  That’s not to say she isn’t well behaved.  My girl will accept an answer to one of her questions instantly.  She’s freakishly well-behaved in that regard.  One just needs to bear in mind that, as a Shepherd, she was bred to protect the Pack (be it humans, sheep, etc.) from other predators.  Meaning I needed to be on top of all of Sparta’s questions as soon as she asked them. It took about a week before she was able to instantly identify Cody as Pack rather than something to annihilate.  But finally she accepted him and stopped asking questions.  And, of course, Cody decided to test his bounds with her as well.

When Sparta were first allowed run of the house together, it was for short, heavily monitored amounts of time.  I watched them like a lion eyeing a wounded gazelle, my gaze never lifted from them, all the while appearing “normal”.  Sitting on the couch, reading a book.  On my computer, all the while stealthily running surveillance.  Cody decided to try to trample Sparta while Sparta was calmly resting in her favorite spot  Not a bright thing to do.

Now, thus far, Sparta had shown a remarkable amount of patience with Cody, putting up with him crashing into her, getting underfoot, and even jumping off the back steps and landing on her.  Honestly, she had more patience than I can muster sometimes.  But there’s an end to patience, and a time when questions need to be answered with a “no”.

And that’s just what she did.  Obviously the game dynamics change when the dog answering the question is 100 lbs. instead of 7 lbs., but the rules are still the same.  Sparta jumped up, nipped Cody, who immediately backed off. Sparta went right back to sleep.  Question answered.  No blood – not even a scratch.  Merely a question that has been answered, in a dog-appropriate fashion.

Now there are some situations where it would probably be safe to let Sparta answer Cody’s question, but I’m not going to chance it. Instances where both dogs are exhibiting energy (even positive) or if it involves food.  There’s no reason to take a chance, as minute as it may be.  I’m a perfectionist: I’ll only allow my dogs to answer another dog’s question under perfect circumstances.  That’s why it’s always very anti-climatic when they finally get to answer.  That’s also why my pack is calm.  If things ever escalate (which they did when I first added Orion to my pack), then I answer everyone’s question.

Dogs are like children in that you can rely on them to set up their own little social regime.  If they have a kind, benevolent leader who answers questions (such as a parent), then children’s social interactions will be handled in a healthy, appropriate manner among themselves.  I see this with my own children.  Yes, they have disagreements, but they understand the rules I have set forth for them to manage these disagreements on their own.  Occasionally they have difficulty, so I step in.

A lot of people are quick to blame a dog who bites or nips another dog, especially if they’re larger.  I see this a lot.  A typically normal “argument” among dogs blown way out of proportion.  Before deciding if your dog is being aggressive, ask yourself a few questions:

What was the fight about?

If the fight appeared completely unprovoked, or with very slight provocation (i.e., one dog just entered the room and the other dog attacked), then there is a problem.  But if, like in Cody’s case, the dog was being a dofus, well, then…perhaps it was justified.

How long did the fight last, and how severe was the fight?

A nip on the nose?  That is how one dog tells another dog “no”.  Stitches and medical treatment?  You have a problem.  Also, bear in mind how easily the fight was broken up.  A few days ago Sparta started to answer one of Cody’s questions, but I didn’t want her to. I gave her a negative and she instantly backed off.  In other words, she was still being Piloted by me, not answering her own questions.  I will never allow things to escalate to where my dogs are on auto-Pilot.  I won’t even toe the line and let them co-Pilot.

Was there a change in circumstances beyond your control?

Darwin bit Sparta once, and had escalated to a very dangerous point.  No, still no blood involved, but it took me a moment to Pilot him.  He went to the vet that same day.  Sparta had been acting normally (she was 6 mos old at the time, Darwin was about 12).  So she was being annoying as a young dog will be.  Darwin had never shown her anything but patience, and was smart enough to remove himself from a situation if it got out of control or to “ask” me for assistance by placing me between him and Sparta.  So the intensity of the disagreement merited a vet trip.  Yes, there was a problem. Darwin had been battling some health issues, and they had increased in size. That was the start of his declination, and it wasn’t too long afterwards that we had to say goodbye to him.  Any behavior that is out of the ordinary is grounds for a vet trip.  Because we went early, we were able to give him relative comfort for the last six months of his life.

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 I’d like to continue this blog post, but Cody is asking Orion a question about who has rights to the bed Orion is currently occupying, and considering how much help the little guy has been to me today, I’ll let him take a pass on answering it.  Cody could use another walk after I answer the question, anyway.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Fostering Love

Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe – C. Joybell C.

It would be too expensive

I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye

I would cry too much

I’d get too attached

My own dogs would feel neglected

What do I really have to offer?

These are all reasons I’ve heard for not becoming a dog foster parent. Sure, it’s not for everyone. But, you may be selling yourself short. It may be exactly for you.

Fostering1

I would be heartbroken saying goodbye

Sure, you’d be heartbroken. But, at the same time you’re the reason why this dog has an amazing new home. He gets to live out the rest of his life getting pets, running happily, and not worrying about where his next meal is coming from. You made that happen. It’s okay to be sad and realize that you’d be sad. But, have you ever thought about the feeling of satisfaction and happiness you would get from seeing your foster dog with their forever family finally?

Sadness is not a weakness. It’s not something terrible. It means we are human and embrace our emotions. Sadness means we can feel happiness. And when your pup finds their forever home, you’ll feel both. But you helped create all the happiness that both your foster dog and their new family is feeling. That’s you. All you.

It would be too expensive

Not necessarily. Many rescue organizations will cover the cost of any and all necessities that the dog needs, including vet care. Sure, you may have to replace a shoe or two, but hey, in the big scheme of things, not that big of a deal.  Many organizations also have a great network of volunteers. This  means if you’re going on vacation or need help getting your foster dog to the vet, other volunteers are more than willing to step up and help out. You’ve now entered the amazing community of Animal Rescuers.

This is Mindy! She's located at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter! She's looking for a forever home, but a foster home would be nice too!

This is Mindy! She’s located at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter! She’s looking for a forever home, but a foster home would be nice too!

My own dogs would feel neglected

Nope. I doubt it. When choosing a foster dog for your home, it’s a careful process. Rescue organizations will make sure that both dogs are compatible. And then guess what – your dog has a new best friend that he gets to play with. And your dog is now more tired than he was before. Jackpot. It will help your own dog with socialization skills and their activity level.

You Are an Asset

Any time you can get any type of dog with individuals that know how to communicate with them (your Piloting at work) the dog will flourish. Homes that are using the PAW method are incredibly valuable for dogs that are looking for forever homes. You’re helping a dog worry only about being a dog. Which means your foster dog will have an even higher chance of being adopted.

Foster homes are a huge asset to rescues. They provide an opportunity to see what a dog’s personality is truly like. There are dogs in the shelters that shut down, cower in the corner, however, the minute you get them outside it’s as if they’re a completely different dog.

More foster homes means more dogs being saved. Whether you’re a foster for a small rescue, or a large shelter, you’re saving 2 lives the minute you foster one. You’re helping to save your own foster dog’s life as well as the next dog they’re able to pull in because you’ve freed up a space. It’s a pretty amazing cycle.

Dogs that are in foster homes get more exposure to potential adopters as well.  Between friends and family, as well as walks to the park, events and even just posting your foster’s pictures on social media, you’re creating more opportunities for this rescue dog to be adopted. There’s not as much exposure when dogs are in a shelter as there is when they can get out on the town and strut their stuff!

Here's ChooChoo! Also at the CCAS. Maybe a future foster?

Here’s ChooChoo! Also at the CCAS. Maybe a future foster?

Is it hard? You betcha. Is it worth it? More than you can imagine.

Here’s an article on whether fostering is right for you.

If you feel like this is something you’d want to do, reach out to local organizations like The Cuyahoga County Shelter. Heck, we might even have some opportunities for you soon, so keep an eye out….

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH