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Category Archives: Advice

Ira Glass’s Dog

Apparently, mild-mannered This American Life host Ira Glass owns an attack dog, and you can hear all about it on this episode.

It’s a humorous story, though one that seems all too familiar. We’re talking about owners who go to great lengths to give their dogs the best care possible — in this case, that means importing kangaroo meat for the dog’s food — but probably causing the dog great anxiety in the meantime.

Piney, the Glass’s adopted pitbull, has a number of health issues as well as behavioral issues. He’s a fear biter and has auto-immune issues, and basically sounds like a neurotic mess. And whenever I hear about a dog like this — an anxious dog — I assume the owners are behind it. In this case, they got Piney as a puppy.  Read the rest of this entry


Your Herding Breed & the MDR1 Gene

The last time I gave Maybelle her dose of Revolution I swear she had a weird reaction. When we were going to bed that night she got up on her couch and started panting heavily (it was October in Connecticut, there was no reason for this). She looked very…strange… I sat there and pet her for a minute while she relaxed but the next day I started doing some homework and I started learning about problems many herding breeds have with certain drugs thanks to mutated MDR1 genes.  Read the rest of this entry

Fleas, Ticks, Chemicals & Your Dog

On Monday I dosed all the animals in my house with their usual flea & tick medications. In Maybelle’s case, that meant a dose of Revolution. Later that night, as I was going to bed, I started noticing odd behavior.She came over to my bedside, demanded a bit of attention, and then went back to her love seat. She seemed to be having trouble getting up, and once she was up there she was panting oddly. I went over, took a closer look at her, pet her for a moment, and then headed back to bed.

But I kept thinking about it. Then I was reading an old magazine that was hanging around the house and there was an article warning people not use PVC shower curtains, and about the dangers of playing with your pets if they use flea and tick collars. So I started poking around the internet and found this warning on 1800PetMeds: Read the rest of this entry

Training the Tough Stuff: Part 1

Is that a treat?

Maybelle does not like it when she can’t go running up to every dog she meets. When I first got her and we encountered a dog walking down the opposite side of the road she’d want to pull me across the street. Trying to teach her to be calm was fruitless. Instead she just got worse. She started barking at dogs, lunging, and generally acting like a lunatic. It’s hard to explain to strangers that she’s not mean, she just a control freak who is frustrated by not being able to go running up to every dog she sees in order to sniff its butt.

So today we finally headed off to a class designed  to tackle the tougher issues many dog owners face. Basic obedience is great for learning the proper way to use positive reinforcement and get the foundations you need, but unless you’re a super-genius you probably don’t come away from it knowing how to deal with a dog that goes ballistic every time it doesn’t get to go running up to a new dog.  And the real problem is, most people don’t have the patience to help you practice, because it takes a long time to patiently reward good, calm behavior. So I started looking for a program that wasn’t just going to teach me more commands, but was going to let me practice the things we really needed to practice…and we seem to have found it. Read the rest of this entry

Talking Sense About “Dangerous” Dogs

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Finally, someone speaking some sense when it comes to dangerous dogs.

Pets: To Insure or Not to Insure?

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When I adopted Maybelle from the Connecticut Humane Society I was given a free month of Shelter Care Pet Insurance. When we went to our first visit with the vet she had a scratch on her eyeball — probably from one of the cats — and I ended up actually being able to get reimbursed for some of that visit thanks to the insurance. But when the insurance expired, I didn’t renew it.

And I’m still debating that decision.

If this doesn't make you want pet insurance nothing will.

Here’s the problem for me. When it comes to the dog, in order to feel as though I’m getting my money’s worth, I want the insurance to cover routine care as well as illnesses and accidents. I’m not even sure that’s true, but it’s how I feel. I started thinking about it again, though, when my cat came running inside  today with her tail bleeding. I didn’t think much of it at first. It  wasn’t bleeding profusely and she’s kind of nuts… she gets into all sorts of trouble. I figured she’d caught it on something. She was moving around just fine and didn’t seem completely angry when I tried to wipe it down. As the day went on I noticed how slow she was moving, and since both my cats were going to need some shots soon anyway… I called up the vet.  Read the rest of this entry

Tips for Choosing a Doggy Daycare or Overnight Camp

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We like to travel. Big trips, long weekends, overnights. Most of these trips aren’t conducive to taking the pup along. (Actually, the one time we did, we took her to the beach in Maine where she tried to eat the ocean…and then proceeded to poop it out in a very liquid fashion.)

At first, my parents would take Tulla, but that really made life very uncomfortable for their two cats. Then, I found a doggy overnight camp that turned out to be not great at all. Not having much experience, I didn’t realize that it was not great. She came back safe and sound, but it wasn’t paradise. They wound up closing one Thanksgiving with no notice to those who were counting on them. So much for the better. Read the rest of this entry