Play…or not.


AMCH San Jo Playin’ For Keeps caring for her puppies. Little dolly in the front being cleaned up is AMCH Kindred Playin’ By Heart, Ami. The inspiration for AmiDoll.

Canine behavioral researcher Julie Hecht, recently wrote about the ways dogs and people play and how dogs might see it for Scientific American, “It’s Not You It’s Me: If a Dog Won’t Play With You, It Could Be Your Fault.”

According to the research she cited, there are things people typically do to engage a dog to play. Some are effective and others never are—that is they never worked when used in the studies. Ms. Hecht did a little research on her own with shelter dogs.

What the studies show is that most of the things we do to engage dogs to play are ineffective, Hecht wrote, “Of the 35 most common play signals, Rooney and colleagues found that a signal’s popularity “was not related to its success at initiating or sustaining play.”

Things like patting the floor were most often used but play followed only 38% of the time. Scruffing the dog and clapping didn’t work well either—especially with strange dogs. And none of the dogs responded to picking it up and kissing it (a weird thing to do even to your own pet who knows you) or stamping your feet. These “play” behaviors never resulted in play behaviors by the dogs in the studies.

Understanding dog behavior as canine, not human, is important to inter-species communication. What you think is fun may not be fun at all for your dog. Learn more at

Additional resources to better understand your dog’s behavior are:
On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas

and Susan Clothier’s Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs Link:

Genes Count Too aka If I hear “It’s all in how you raise them” one more time… A rant by Fang

Bobbie Kolehouse:

Breeds are breeds. Do your research before you bring home that beauty.

Originally posted on The Dog Snobs:

In pretty much the best giant eugenics experiment ever, we created dogs to do our bidding and refined, perfected, or destroyed (depending on your perspective) domestic dogs into very specific types and breeds with defined characteristics. If there is one thing breeds can tell us, genes count too, kids.

When we’re born, there are certain things about us that are relatively set in our genetic codes; We’ll typically have hair, we may need glasses, teeth should arrive at some point with a heart and lungs etc. When a dog is born it is a dog. Theoretically with ears, eyes, four legs and a tail. For some people, it all stops there. A dog is a dog and there are no difference beyond that point. For people who acknowledge the existence of nature (So, everyone who haz a smrt) it’s a lot more complicated than that.

There’s a weird myth in…

View original 662 more words

Why We Say “Never Give Up”

Why We Say “Never Give Up”.

via Why We Say “Never Give Up”.

Did Your Lost Dog Get Picked Up By a Good Samaritan? Part 2 of a Series

Helping Lost Dogs Go Home Again.

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Illinois offer these suggestions.


Did Your Lost Dog Get Picked Up By a Good Samaritan? Part 2 of a Series.

via Did Your Lost Dog Get Picked Up By a Good Samaritan? Part 2 of a Series.

Canine cancer research helps people, too.

2009 AmiDoll Buddy In The Pink Champion for breast cancer awareness. Pattern available on

2009 AmiDoll Buddy In The Pink Champion for breast cancer awareness. Pattern available on

Earlier this week a story in Time magazine online reported on a new recruiting effort focused on pet dogs with naturally occurring cancer that offers researchers an opportunity to learn more about cancer in people.

From Time story–

“…If slobbery kisses and adoring tail wags weren’t enough to secure dogs’ reputation as man’s best friend, a new initiative from some creative cancer researchers may do just that. By recruiting pet dogs with naturally occurring cancers into clinical trials, oncologists may be able to develop treatments that could eventually be used effectively in humans as well…”

A paper published this week in the Public Library of Science’s open-access journal PLoS Medicine by researchers at the National Cancer Institute explain how recruiting dogs for cancer research trials offers researchers ways to consider the many similarities in the progression of cancers in humans and canines—similarities that often cannot be recreated in mice in the lab.

Reported in the Time story, the researchers wrote, “Similar environmental, nutrition, age, sex, and reproductive factors lead to tumor development and progression in human and canine cancers. They share similar features such as histologic appearance, tumor genetics, biological behavior, molecular targets, therapeutic response, and unfortunately, acquired resistance, recurrence, and metastasis.”

The National Cancer Institute’s Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium leads the effort and involves 18 different veterinary institutions across the U.S. The Canine Comparative Oncology & Genomics Consortium is responsible for a tissue bank of canine tumors.

Because dogs share the same environment as people and are genetically similar in some respects to people, with their shorter life expectancy they can be bellwethers for various human diseases.

The paper is Open Access and available at

Canine Comparative Oncology & Genomics Consortium

National Cancer Institute (includes map of vet school partner locations)

There’s a zombie on my lawn…no, they’re poison mushrooms!

Photo of DeathCap Mushroom

Photo of DeathCap Mushroom

Days of rain have hung up in the top few inches of soil and created a good environment for growing mushrooms. Unfortunately, the  fungi tend to be poisonous to dogs and children. Some deadly.

Mushrooms have grown around some of the old maple and oak trees on my place before but in the past couple of weeks they seem to be everywhere and of many different varieties. From tiny orange dots scattered among tiny mosses, to half pound white globes growing at the base of the long dead  cottonwood tree.

Some look like clam shells partially open and are almost as big as dinner plates. Others have cherry red dusted tops or are orange slimy orbs.

According to experts, most mushrooms are toxic and can affect liver, heart, kidneys and neurological systems. If you see them, you best assume they are poisonous and the prevent your dog from ingesting them.

Because there are so many types of mushrooms  this year, I’ve been removing them by hand wearing gloves and going around the property a couple times a day. I put them into a plastic bag, tie it closed and place it in the garbage can. That is the safest way to dispose of them and limit spreading. After I am done picking the day’s crop, I leave my garden gloves in the garage where the dogs cannot sniff them. Then I go into the house and wash my hands and arms with warm, soapy water. Be careful not to carry bits of mushrooms into the house or dog areas on your shoes.

It usually takes a couple of walks around the yard to be sure I have most of the fungi. Because the tree leaves are beginning to fall,  and changing light during the day it is  easy to mistake a mushroom cap for a leaf.

Among the most deadly is the Amanita phalloides or Death Cap mushroom. For more information on types of mushrooms visit

If you suspect your dog has ingested a mushroom, call your vet immediately for directions to make him/her vomit. Try and collect bits of the mushroom or take a photo for identification and give it to your vet. They will be able to help your pet recover and limit organ damage or even safe the dog’s life.

Be extra careful to remove those “schrooms” because where a dog can reach them, so could a toddler or small, curious child.

Brusha, Brusha, managing your dog’s oral health care.

By Bobbie Kolehouse


Everyone knows about the importance of keeping our teeth clean with regular brushing , flossing and dental check-ups but for some of us, it maybe was less purposeful and more of a nagging drilled into us from childhood.


“Did you brush your teeth?”


Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of good oral health to our overall health. Chronic gum infections can affect all of our vital organs and compromise our immune systems in ways that put us at risk for serious illness. Abscesses deep in the gums can foster infections that can kill. A bright smile is much more than a cosmetic indulgence, but a basic health concern.


It is the same for your dog. Gum health is the measure of oral health. Tartar and plaque build-up under the gum line and can affect your dog’s health. It can cause mild to severe gum infections that can compromise your dog’s health and shorten its life.


The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends daily brushing with a toothpaste made for dogs. The AVMA website has launched a new instructional video of how to brush your dog’s teeth, Dr. Sheldon Rubin demonstrates easy, step-by-step instructions on how to teach a dog to accept a daily tooth brushing and describes healthy treats.


Additional tools and resources are available on the “Pets Need Dental Care, Too” website  and an informal survey of experts on Cocker Spaniels found several products they’ve used successfully in addition to daily brushing. They are,


  • MaxiGuard oral cleaner
  • PetzLife Gel
  • CET toothpaste and sprays
  • Twistix dental chews (wheat and soy free, low fat)
  • Greenies dental chews
  • Nyla-Bone Pearly Whites chews
  • Hartz Mountain electric toothbrush (low vibration and tone dogs seem to tolerate)
  • Finger brushes made for pets

These products are available from KV Vet Supply, and Revival Vet Supply,

Never use any product containing xylitol. It is toxic to dogs and cats in small amounts. Only use products made for dogs and or cats.

Your dog’s oral health involves more than bad breath. Dental disease can harm your dog’s health in ways that damage its heart, liver, kidneys and other organs, and can compromise its immune system in ways that put her at risk for life-threatening disease. But you can manage this to reduce your dog’s risk for serious complications of dental disease with daily brushing, use of plaque removing treatments, and regular veterinary check-ups. With regular care your dog can have sparkling good health.



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