Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Power of No

The Power of NO!

 Those of you have taken classes with me may have heard me say "No is not good information."  And it isn't!  We spend a lot of time telling people everything that is wrong and nothing that is right or good.  It really is a flaw in our system.  If only we would learn!!  If we would compliment and tell people what is right the world would be totally different.  This is true not only of people but also animals!!

I am on a professional list that recently had a discussion on the use of the word "no".  One person had posted about playing a trick on a group of people she was giving a presentation to.  I so love this, that I am going to share this with you, and while I don't know her, I am going to give Kathi O'Malley credit for this.  "The first thing I asked the group was "how many of you would like to teach you dog what "no" means?"  Every hand in a fairly large group went straight up!  I said firmly "Don't put your hands up".  They all took their hands down and one Gil put her pen up, I said "Don't put that pen up". They then put their hands on their chairs or laps and I said "Don't put your hands on your chairs or your laps".  Well, they didn't know me and I could see some would like to walk out on me at that point, so I put my hands fanned out from my forehead and said "How many of you knew I would not answer any question unless you gave me this signal?"  Well, they got that, how can anyone who hasn't learned what to do know what not to do!!!  All "no" or "don't" are are interrupters.  All my "Don't do that's" simply left my audience frustrated and ready to quit on me!  You can interrupt, or give a "no reward marker" as mentioned, but teach the pupil what you do want!

I think this is so well said and presented!  No is NOT really information about what you want at all!  Almost all of the problems I see with dogs and humans is a lack of communication in a language that they can both understand.  THAT is a topic for another blog, but communication is really important in the human-animal bond.

If you are constantly told NO!  and that is never followed up with what is truly wanted of you, learned helplessness can occur.  My challenge to all of my students is always if the word you have for "NO" comes out of your mouth you are to always follow it up with what exactly you do want!  Give them the entire bit of information!

This is my friend Linda and her dog Pip.  Pip has an interesting story, but in his previous life he had been told NO a lot, sometimes using shock collars.  Linda has worked VERY hard with him to keep him on the positive and to communicate in a proactive way.  I give her credit!  She stuck with it when so many others wouldn't have.  And Pip is thriving because of her.  

I have been very lucky to have known and studied many different animals doing many different types of behavior.  No matter what the species is still not information beyond don't do doesn't tell them what you do want!  

What does no mean?  When is no in effect?  No what?  No where?  Does no mean right now?  Ever?  Only when the sun is up?  It is unclear.

I think the important thing is to catch you dog doing what is right.  And tell them!  In their language.  Show them that you are happy.  Dogs want to please us, and they will start offering what you like more and more if you are clear to them.  And while you are at it....tell you co-worker or you boss, or your employee what you like as well.....IMAGINE what a wonderful world it would be!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Make someone's Day!

A little over 20 years ago a very special dog came into my families life.  Her name was Munchkin.  She had been hit by a car on route 680, and was left on the side of the road.  A local animal shelter had picked her up.  Her spine had been broken and she wasn't able to use her back legs.  One of the people who worked there, Peggy, begged them to let her live at the facility.  She would pull herself along on her font legs, and was truly so happy.  Munchkin lived there, and as she healed they bought her a wheelchair, and then they started to take he to 4 different area nursing homes.  
After living there for about a year, Peggy was pregnant.  Peggy would come in on her days off to take care of Munchkin.  She wore a diaper and needed care several times a day.  Peggy begged me to help her find Munchkin a home, and I did just that.  With my parents.  Part of the adoption agreement was that she would continue to go to area nursing homes.  

As a veterinary technician I could fully appreciate the amazing power of the human-animal bond.  However, I was really taken back by the lack of rules that go along with visiting with an animal at a facility.  While done correctly it is an amazing thing, I have seen many people that may have a dog that is awesome at their house become a completely different beast outside of their home.  And I truly believe most people aren't able to properly assess their dogs emotional state.  This can lead to real problems when you think about how many things are at facilities that most dogs never see!  Wheel chairs, walkers, ventilators, EKG machines, many people not just a few.  These are all task loading your dog and can lead to stress and fear which can lead to needing to make a choice if they can't get away, and that can mean injury to the exact people that you are trying to make feel better.  And then medically things could be going on as well.  A veterinary check and tests are essential to the safety of the therapy animal, however, so many facilities are happy to have animals visiting that as long as they have rabies they are allowed into the facility.  
So, I embarked in a journey then to find a way to bring facilitated animal therapy work into the Mahoning Valley, only with the twist of safety for everyone involved, dogs and people.  It lead me to investigating all of the national registries, and at the time going with (then) Delta Society because my goal was to be in hospitals and nursing homes and libraries and schools.  In my conservative part of the world, I saw the only way into especially hospitals was through the most stringent rules.  And I was right!  Me and my Dad started K-9's for Compassion, because of Munchkin and to make the world a little better of a place.  This group was truly my life for so many years.  I worked as a veterinary technician, but really all of my time was put into this group.  And we accomplished some pretty amazing things.

Our very first evaluations were held during a dog walk that I did to benefit a group that no longer exists in our area named C.H.A.I.N.  This was the foundation of K-9s for Compassion and where we grew from there was simply amazing.  I started to visit with Vickie, my black standard poodle.  This girl was my life.  I like to write, so we would go on visits and afterwards I would write in my journal anything special about our visits.  I cherish those journal entries like you can't believe.  Vickie has been gone for nearly 10 years.  Vickie taught me so much about life, and was truly my very best friend.  Our visits, and my first understanding of inter-species communication, understanding that her body language was how she communicated-allowed a different level of dog-human relationship than I had ever realized.  For Vickie I am forever grateful, and I miss her more than I can ever express.  She was the most gentle soul.  The kindest, sweetest being on the planet.  She made me fall head over heals with standard poodles, something that to this day is still very solidified.  She was brought to me by a deputy dog warden at the Trumbull County Dog Pound, taken from a sketchy situation.  

We did agility together, and if you see the pictures or the videos from that time that I have you can see an amazing, amazing bond.  2 beings loving each other at a level total of the soul.  Vickie and I went to special request, sat with people while they were dying, she was my flower girl in my wedding, she was my everything.  Truly.  My everything.  We shared a very special bond, many special moments and many memories.  We worked side by side in the world of therapy work for 11 years.  And she was the 2009 Therapy Dog of The Year recipient in the Rescue Dog Category.  An amazing accomplishment, and an award that still sits on my mantle.  One of the most special things in my life.  

As Vickie progressed through life we spent the majority of our time at St. Elizabeth's hospital, and as she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia we progressed to open room designs in nursing homes and then finally libraries, because she didn't have to walk far.  I couldn't stand the fact that she hurt, and I would do absolutely anything to help her.  

I lost her on Valentines Day.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, to lung cancer.  She died in my arms as she bled out.  And every single day since then I have missed her.  And remembered all of the good that she did.  She had so much local press it was amazing.  People would see her and say "OH!! That is Vickie!  I wrote a report in school based on articles."  She was inspirational, healing...pure love.  Those were some of the best years of my life.  Her collar still hangs on the corner of my bed, and her picture still hangs in my office.  

Munchkin also had some amazing stories!  Word was abound that people couldn't complain at all about being in a wheelchair or a walker when here was this sweet little dog that didn't complain at all about being in her own wheelchair.  My Dad totally loved visiting with her as well.  He would gloat in the fact that he was making someones day better just by being a driver.  Just by showing up.  It also allowed us a little time to be together and understand each other in a small way....we didn't always see eye to eye.  So true to real life!  All too often dogs facilitate magical ways.  One of a million reasons that dogs are so awesome.  

There was even one very special patient that we visited named Frank.  His family had requested that a dog visit them, so the hospital called me.  Frank was dying of cancer, and didn't have long to live.  I took Vickie to meet this family and felt an instant connection.  We talked about what their favorite dog was, and they said a golden retriever so I had called my very good friend take Emily to visit every other day.  We would alternate.....and on the final day of Franks life the public relations person at the hospital showed up with a photographer.  Pictures were taken of Vickie visiting with Frank and his family.  As fate would have it, those were the last pictures taken of Frank alive.

After Frank died the public relations person called me and asked if Cheryl and I would go and take Vickie and Emily to Franks funeral.  We were concerned about offending anyone, however, we walked into the funeral home with our girls and Franks kids said "Oh my goodness!!  We were just talking about these dogs!"  To which I was taken back that our dogs were being spoken about at their fathers funeral.  Sometimes you really don't realize how much you are touching someone's life just by being there.  At that point, Franks wife came over to us and got on her knees and said "You gave my husband the medicine he most needed in his darkest of hours and now you are giving that to me."  I was more humbled than I have probably ever been.  

Through all of the pain of losing Vickie a friend, Eva, kept calling me about a standard poodle who needed help.  She was being used as a breeding dog, and the last litter caused her to be spayed and she needed a home.  I ignored it because Vickie was actively dying and then did die and I couldn't handle it.  In a moment of complete weakness I called the number many weeks after Vickie died.  Gwen still had Eve, who I went to see and immediately took.  She had so many Vickie qualities.  I brought her home that same day, and fell madly in love.   changed her name to Garbo, who many people got to know.  She was forever by my side and active really in so much that I did.  I wanted to do therapy work with her, and we tested twice....but I really struggled to get past always visiting with Vickie, so I couldn't do it.  My heart wasn't ready.  We did visit in a limited capacity but I always felt worse when we finished than before I started.  Garbo had a lot to give, but I just didn't yet.

In the last year I re-evaluated everything with K-9's for Compassion.  It seems that as life changes, thoughts change and as you get older you become wiser.  The old "Delta Society" was no longer going in the direction that I wanted to go.  BUT it was difficult walking away from what I felt was a legacy with Vickie and my Dad and Garbo who were all gone.  But change is the one promise of life. While change is difficult is it often the best thing in the world.

My BFF Lorri and I recently looked for that change and found some pretty amazing stuff in Alliance of Therapy Dogs group.  I left the old Delta Society, and NEVER looked back. Who they have become is definitely not what we were looking for.  Alliance hold endless promise....and so K-9's for Compassion is reborn.  And ready to build to amazing proportions again.

To everyone along the journey of K-9's for Compassion, I thank you...I thank you for keeping it alive when I couldn't....for continuing a legacy of something that I created, gave my heart and soul to, walked away from, and came back...and I vow to make it bigger and better than ever.  Given of the heart...only good things can happen from that.  In Memory of Munchkin, Vickie, my dad and Garbo....AMAZING things will happen from that.

And so now, I have Benny.  And Benny is about to embark on this amazing adventure of visiting people.  Taking them out of their current situations and helping them to remember a kinder time.  Reminding them of a pet that made all of the difference in their life.  We have had patients in Alzheimers units that remember our dogs names that couldn't remember their own names.  People whose children sat with a dying parent as our dogs comforted them, patients who were actively dying that petted our dogs at the same time that pain management doctors stood behind us shaking their heads behind us in disbelief because this patient had been screaming in pain for days with nothing-medications or other-helping them.

There are a million stories abound like this.  Truly touching the lives of those that need help.  All that we can only hope comes to us in our times of need.  And yet it was as simple as being the driver.  Showing up.  Spending some very real quality time with your dog.  AMAZING moments that you will NEVER regret.

Through therapy work I have laughed, cried, contemplated my own need, lost, found myself again, and eventually moved on to the concept that I am the only thing stopping that from doing it again.  I have some amazing dogs ready to give of themselves.  And so we turn the page.  A new chapter.

K-9's for Compassion is a legacy that I hope continues for a very long time.  Do you want an even more special layer to your relationship with your dog?  Want to make people feel better?  Just show up?  Please....PLEASE join us.  There are so many facilities that want us....and so much need...but so few that will give of their time to make the magic happen. We have a new therapy dog class coming up that can help you prepare...and at the end we will be doing the actual evaluation.  Join us!  Build the bond....celebrate the beauty of dogs and people!  We would love to have you...and people need you!

Let the magic begin........

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Love is a many splendor thing......

It is funny how love finds us....just walks into your life out of no where...sometimes in the happiest of times, sometimes in the darkest of times.  It can blindside you..come out of no where and just steal your heart completely.  It heals you.  

This is the story of a love affair...between 2 hearts that beat in sync.  Somehow, Benny walked into my life and completed the world as I needed to know it.  But in order to understand this, you must understand what happened just prior to see sometimes everything has to fall apart in order to come back together.

I was involved in a car accident where I was going less than 5 miles an hour and a car hit me going 70. He admitted that to the police, and in all honesty it is the speed I was going just prior to stopping for the turkey that was crossing the road. The vehicle went up and over my car, (my very first new car, my VW beetle), and then hit the car in oncoming traffic that was stopped swerving and hitting the car in front of me.  Honestly, we were lucky to be alive.  The injuries that were sustained were small in comparison to what could have happened.  Something to be thankful for.  My car was totaled, which devastated me.  I truly am not a materialistic person at all, short of my books, and my VW beetles, which are loves of mine.

My Dad had been helping me to find another VW beetle, but I didn't like the newer models, so it wasn't an option to buy a new car.  He found one in NY State.  One day in June, me, my Dad and my BFF standard poodle, Garbo, drove to pick up the new car.  Little did I know at that time that both beings in that car that I loved so much both had lung cancer.  Little did I know in less than a year, I would lose them both.  There is nothing that can prepare you for that type of loss.  Within weeks of that trip, both would be diagnosed.

Garbo was first to get sick.  And in spite of chemo, she died very quickly.  She was the most gentle of souls, and I loved her more than I could say.  She came to me right after I lost Vickie, who was my entire heart.  She helped me survive a divorce, and was a constant in my life.  We would go for long walks and talk about how we were going to travel to all 50 states together, just like the Standard poodle in Travels with Charley by Steinbeck.  As a matter of fact, we read that story together multiple times.  We made it to about 10 states before she died, bewilderingly, also to lung cancer.  She was my therapy dog for 11 years, and there is nothing like working with a dog to add a layer to your relationship.  It is because of Vickie that I continue to pursue everything I can find about the human animal bond.


We have always been a multi dog household, but Garbo was my girl.  We had one heck of a special vacation at one of my favorite places in the world, Assateague, where she was with us non-stop.  I cried so hard when we left that vacation.  It was like leaving the paradise where all things are okay and stepping back into the reality that I would lose her soon.  And I did, about 3 weeks later.  

During that 3 weeks I was then hit with my Dad's diagnosis.  He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and while I was as hopeful as I could possibly be, I realized that his chances were horrible as well.  Nothing in life can prepare you for the loss of a parent that will haunt you for the rest of your life.  NOTHING.  And Garbo and my Dad within such a short period of time?  The floor had dropped out of my world, for certain.  It seemed like months before I stopped falling.

During this dark period of time, I was consulting with a company in Florida about a separation anxiety product.  Of our 7 dogs, they couldn't believe I didn't have a dog that had separation anxiety.  So, I went looking.  (ONLY a behavior geek would do such a thing!). My favorite breed has always been standard poodle, and I started to scour the internet, as all of my dogs are always rescues.  I found a rescue named Ben in Missouri who had been turned in for separation anxiety by a couple who were in their 80's.  I will admit I got a little cocky.  I mean, how often were 80 year olds leaving the house?  And the destruction wasn't walls, it was merely housebreaking.  And I was convinced that this was a housebreaking issue.  And his eyes.  That is what I loved SOOO much with Vickie, and Garbo...and there Benny was, staring me down with those large eyes searching your soul.  And so I contacted Heart of America Poodle Rescue, was approved and made arrangements to leave.

My Dad didn't want me to drive to Missouri by myself, and I wanted to get him as quickly as possible.  My Dad went with me on this trip.  All was well on the way there.  When we arrived we hurriedly took some pictures and left as a snow storm was headed our way...and we were going to try to beat it.  By the time of our first rest area, about 3 hours into our trip, I knew I was in trouble.  I went into the rest area, and Ben and my Dad stayed in the car.  I walked out of the building and could hear Benny screaming.  In 3 hours he had already formed a bond that was causing him discomfort.

We didn't miss the storm.  It was snowing hard from Indianapolis all the way through Ohio until we arrived home.  In Akron we had to pull over because I couldn't see the road.  Benny was very calm and happy as long as I was there.  He rested his head on the arm rest in between me and my Dad where sitting, and remained there for the entire 13 hours it took us to get home that day.  There was no doubt that by the end of that trip we already loved each other.  My Dad announced twice, "He is going to be okay.  He is going to be a good dog."  And he is!  He is simply the best!

That trip was nearly 4 years ago.  Benny and I have found new ways to love each other every day.  But it certainly hasn't been effortless.  My cockiness was certainly brought to a screeching halt within days of returning home.  This boy certainly had and still has separation anxiety.  It isn't curable.  It is manageable.  It is treatable to some degree.  I am not going to lessen the degree of this problem by giving you a cookie cutter approach to separation anxiety, it just doesn't work like that.  Each dog is individual.  All of the dogs that I help with separation anxiety does not get the same instructions for help at all.  There are some thing that can help, and are worth trying.  Adaptil collars or spray, lavender essential oils, composure pro, thunder shirts, leaving a sweatshirt or shirt or something that you sleep on for your dog, not always assuming that crating is the answer, confinement usually is, though.  Here is something that I think is the most important thing you can hear.  True separation anxiety is profound. These dogs think they are going to die because you have left them.  It is a physiological response the body has and it is VERY uncomfortable.  

One of the things I tell people to try to determine if your dog doesn't like when you leave versus true anxiety is to give your dog something absolutely irresistible for your dog.  Whatever that is, but typically some sort of human food.  VERY high value.  Then leave.  Does your dog eat it?  If so, it probably isn't to the degree of full blown anxiety.  Think fight or flight.  You aren't thinking about your next meal if you think you are going to die.  Your body is chemically preparing you to survive.  

For Benny, 300 mg a day of trazadone, 40 mg of prozac, thunder shirt, and lavender in the house plus confinement in our kitchen with a shirt of mine levels him off.  Yes, it is a lot.  It is.  But Benny didn't ask for this.  I know all about anxiety, having generalized anxiety much of my life.  Another way Benny and I connect.  1 panic attack and I was ready to do whatever it took to NEVER go back to that place.  I can empathize with him.  Anxiety isn't something you can rationalize, unfortunately.  And it isn't healthy!  These dogs need help!!  We also worked on relaxation protocols, and I many other behavior exercises to keep him from practicing the anxiety.

I hear stories from clients where they don't have a choice but to put their dogs into crates, and they come home and there is so much salivation that the cages or soaked, or their dogs paws are bloody, or  I have known a handful of dogs that have gone through front picture windows because their owners left.  That I NOT fair to them, and it is NOT a fun way to leave.  Sometimes I have to explain that medication that so many people are opposed to is actually a much kinder thing that continuing to do the thing they are doing that aren't working.  If medication is the right dosage and the right drug, you will not see any detrimental effects.  Your dog won't be a "Zombie" a matter of fact, they should be exactly who they are only minus all of the anxiety!!  

Love in't alway easy, but it is always worth it.  His eyes melt my heart, he is a constant friend, always next to me, ready to do anything I want!  He never complain.  He is willing to go an extra mile to make me happy.  The is a relationship that is worth everything.  Dogs with separation anxiety can be it!  Find a positive based trainer in your area and seek options.  Talk to your veterinarian or consider a veterinary behaviorist.  Don't let your dog go on thinking he will get past it.  In spite of a lot of help, Benny still struggles, and some days are worse than others.  There are lots of options out there.  Seek the truth that your dog needs.  And remember, the human-animal bond is one of the most special forms of love out there.  Anything that you put in will be given back to you 150%.

Lastly, keep Benny in your thoughts over the next 6 weeks.  My husband, Sam,  is a veterinarian, and he found Benny to have a heart problem.  We have an appointment with a veterinary cardiologist on February 13.  I was freaked out when he said he made an appointment with the cardiologist.  Sam decided he wasn't about to make any decision with Benny, he wanted a specialist so as every single thing that can be done is done by someone who does nothing but heart problems all day.  I will keep you posted in a future blog post, probably about heart disease.  I already know what his problem is...he loves TOOOOO much.  Of course he has a big heart.

Monday, December 31, 2018

One year ends...and another begins!
December 31, 2018

In a few short hours we will say goodbye to 2018.  These years always make me reflect back to all of the awesome things that have happened in my life.  I have been and am so lucky in so many ways.  I am declaring the year 2019 to the year of being grateful.  I am grateful for all of the growth The Canine Campus has made, the AMAZING trainers and office manager I have, and LUCKY enough to call them all friends as well as co-workers.  Grateful for the many dogs I have been able to know, and we as a team have been able to help, especially those that we have saved their lives.  The picture above was taken quite a while ago while I was in Seattle, Washington getting my Team Training Course Instructor License....which I let go of this year.  2018 was definitely a year of looking for the TRUTH in things and instead of being sentimental (like I tend to want to do), I made CHOICES to actively walk away, or let it go.  Being mindful and letting the universe guide me to MY truth.  It has made all of the difference in the world!  In the words of the AMAZING John Lennon, "We have grown, we have grown.  Let's take a chance and fly away.  It'll be just like starting over."  And it has!!  After much investigation, Lorri and I have chosen Alliance of Therapy Dogs to work with for our therapy animal work.  It has been so refreshing and fun!  We are graduating the first graduates the first week in January, and we are looking to rebuild K-9s for Compassion to share the love of pets with everyone we possibly can!  But...this wasn't the only change!

At The Canine Campus, we have grown an unbelievable amount.  We have added our Boardman location, which is already hugely successful!!  (THANK YOU!!). After months of working on the building, it is finally just as we want it.  November 2, 2018, my Dad's birthday, we celebrated a very successful open house (with no parking and not much room to move around!) and honored The Day of The Dead.  (Dia de Muertos)...This had extra meaning for me since it was also my Dads birthday.  Then in the SAME week as the open house at Boardman, we moved from our old location, where The Learning Dog was, and then The Canine Campus for 2 years....(in less than 24 hours!!) to our new facility that we purchased!  A 12,000+ sq 2 facility with 3 buildings, and something we can call our own!  Renovations are still under way, and we are all commenting on how it doesn't feel "new" feels like we have been there forever, AND IT DOES!  The space is amazing, and our opportunities are endless!  I have to paws and give a HUGE HUGE shout out to my dearest of friends here...Lorri Matey and Ron Cooley.  Without the 2 of you, I couldn't have done it.  You are amazing, amazing friends.  Only limited by our minds, we will begin doing daycare, playdates, competition training, a canine many new classes that we are adding.  I am also beginning a rolling beginner obedience class to the mix.  You will be able to start any week you want!  As soon as you are ready, we are ready for you!  Depending on our success we will do this with other classes as well!  There are so many surprises coming your way, you won't believe it!  If you have something you would like to do with your dog and have an idea...please let us know!  We are open to it!  We will offering kids camps at both locations, Camps with adults and your dog building the human-animal bond and having a fun filled week with your dog (consider taking a staycation and living it up with your dog!), we will be offering week long clicker training classes with your dog, training for the serious dog lover using shelter animals, and so much more!

And we have announced that we will be expanding yet again to the Warren/Champion area.  We will open in the Spring, and details will be announced as they are happening.  Here we grow again!!!  We also are expanding in our species...yes dogs will always be our main species.  But we are starting to have some classes with cats, and we do behavior work with pigs, goats, sheep, many exotics, birds, and some horse problems.  As I said, LOTS of growth, lots of amazing-ness.  Lots of magic.

And for The Together Journey, our service dog non-profit....we have a most wonderful, amazing women who lost her son in Iraq.  While we can't begin to understand the pain, she has chosen to take that pain, and has gathered several awesome friends to do fundraising for veterans to receive service dogs with much of the payment deferred.  I know that your son is smiling down on you and guiding you through the amazing, selfless things you are doing Jean.  SOO SOOO proud of you.  

I am thankful.  Thankful for opportunities, for lessons learned, for those who came before us and embraced us, and those who challenged us or walked away.  You are all part of the journey, and an essential part of who we are, and who we are becoming!

I also need to give a shout out to Kristen Young for achieving her CPDT!!  You rock, Kristen!!  There are quite a few of our trainers who will be going for their CPDT this next year!!  Team are truly the best!!

The year 2019 I am vowing to take my credentials even further.  In our area, I am the only licensed veterinary technician who is also a CPDT-KA, Human-Animal Bond Practitioner, and Certified Fear Free Professional Level and Associate Certified IAABC member.  These credentials give me the ability to help all of our clients-to see problems faced with animals in a unique way and gives me the ability to trouble shoot any problem to help you, or guide you in the right direction!  This year is going to be the year I am going to go for the full certified IAABC member (this guys are AMAZING...I hope to accomplish this to be in their greatness!) and I am working this entire year to be able to attain my specialty in behavior through the AVBT (Association of Veterinary Behavior Technician) in 2020.  This specialty will take me to levels I haven't even come close in my past.  I want these 2 credentials to help more animals, and to make myself the very best I can at what I do.  And who knows what credentials I will find during my search for getting these!!!  This will also allow me to share and continue to push forward all of my absolutely amazing trainers that I have.

And so, resolution is that I will do blog posts at least 4 days a week.  (This has been greatly neglected this year!) I am going to make a very big statement here, but I will stand by it...we are going to knock your socks off this year.  You will leave getting more than you expected at The Canine Campus.  We are all unitarily ready to give 150% of ourselves to your beloved animals.  AND  we will continue to WOW you with what we offer!  Can't wait to get started!  Go celebrate the last 2.5 hours of the year.....we have work to do!!!


-With love, The Canine Campus

Sunday, May 27, 2018


I am grateful for the opportunity to train dogs.  Grateful for life.  For learning lessons.  For having people that love me and people that don't.  For people who have walked into my life and been a great surprise, and for those who have walked away.  No matter how painful, I have learned lessons.  Life is a series of lessons for a great beyond that no one understands, truly.  Above is a picture from a buddhist temple in Pleiku, Vietnam.  My Dad was stationed on that mountain you can see as I looked out of that door at the temple, just beyond those prayer flags.  It is one of the most beautiful memories that I have embedded in my memory from my trip to Vietnam.  I wrote of that moment "I could swear I heard you whisper my name.  I love you Dad."  I was grateful to have the Dad that I did.  My Dad died of Agent Orange from his time in Pleiku.  I have started several projects in Pleiku, Vietnam to help people still being born with the effects from Agent Orange, as well as donating a service dog every year to a veteran with PTSD and/or TBI.  The dogs names are always "Tony" and they are completely free if you are chosen.  If you know someone in need please have them contact us.  The next veteran will be chosen in October.  There is an application that must be filled out.  Spend every day finding 5 things to be grateful for.  As has been said by the musical genius Dave Mathews, "For life is short but sweet for certain!"

Next up!  I went to a local dog show to check out the vendors today.  I was disappointed by what I saw.  The pictures below show collars which look like regular cloth collars on the outside, but they are truly pinch collars.  Anyone that knows me knows how much I despise these and any aversive pieces of equipment.  But this really bothered me.  These are to be hidden?  What is the purpose here?  Because people are learning what it is to mean "positive training" and how much animals respond so well to this?  That is my hope, honestly.  I always say how highly intelligent dogs are.  They can detect cancer, explosives, diabetes, drugs...they can lower blood pressure and heart disease-to name just a few!  So they are these amazingly smart creatures, but they can't learn things without choke, pinch or shock collars (E-stim, vibration, etc)?  That doesn't sit well with me.  Dogs come into our world and learn an average of 1,500-2,000 words in our language.  What do you do to go into your dogs natural language, body language, and actually communicate with them?  This is my challenge to you.  From there...the sky is the limit as to what you can do!  The human-animal bond will be built exponentially, and all of a sudden, these harsh pieces of equipment that are antiquated fall by the wayside.  There are certainly people that defend these....but they truly aren't needed.  They are uncomfortable at best and painful and damaging at their worst.  ALL dogs deserve better.  

AND!!  We had our first annual stunt dog trials!!!  WHAT FUN we had!  A very special thank you goes out to Patty Stafford and Karen Wisler for judging all of our entrants.  To all of our entrants for joining us!!  To everyone who helped!!  Liz Carney, my awesome daughter Anastiya, 2 of my very awesome students at Lawrence County Career and Technical Center Veterinary Assistant Program, Tess and guys are all more wonderful that you even know!  This was such a great day!!  And I can't wait for more!  I had such a great time watching and photographing everyone present!

So, welcome Summer!  The beginning of a busy season!  I look forward to each student and dog that enters our classes (meaning you then become part of The Canine Campus family!) and keep watching facebook.  We have lots of announcements and changes coming up!  We will keep you and your dogs on your toes!!

Until the next blog-Namaste!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What's love got to do with it?

April 24, 2019

The theme of the week is the Human-Animal I will continue along that same thought process.

Dogs are my life.  They love unconditionally.  They don't talk back.  They are the best listeners ever.   It is hard to NOT smile when a dog is near.  And they allow you to act like a complete goof around them, encourage it even!

Today at The Canine Campus I got to see this awesome humane animal bond in a different light.  You see me and dear friend Lorri Matey do service dog training on Tuesdays.  Today was extra special.    After months of working on obedience skills and impulse control, they received their vests!  This is always such a fun day, to watch people accomplish the next step.

A service dog is a big, big commitment, and a true bonding of 2 beings.  They both come to help each other every hour of their lives.  They learn a level of a trust most won't ever know.  In our program we look at the program first through the dogs eyes, and then the humans.  The 2 can have a mutual love where they honor EACH OTHER. That it is a mutual relationship. It should be!

Miss Thelma, above, has shown me a lot of understanding with the Human-Animal bond.  You see, Miss Thelma was on a meat truck when the driver of the truck, drunk, tipped over at 5:30 Am.  2 pigs were thrown from the truck, and while their scariest day ever, it saved their lives.  Sam, myself and several others took 4 hours to save these named Thelma and Louise....and living a happy ever after life in my barn....they are fully recovered.  Thelma, even more than Louise at first, were so scared they wouldn't leave each others side, touching at all times for about 10 days.  Once I watched as they were sleeping, touching. Louise woke up and moved, and a few minutes later Thelma woke up and went into a complete panic.  They feel emotions. Fear  is real. So is a Human-animal bond....which is what the girls have come to understand and they have taught me a ton in the process.  

More than 20 years ago my Dad and I started the group K-9s for Compassion.  It is a therapy animal group that goes to area nursing homes, hospitals, libraries and schools to visit, make people feel better, and to provide assistance with therapy (Our animals can act as a motivator to have a patient throw a ball, or brush them for instance.)  I am very proud of the fact that we were the first ones in the area to have a therapy group.  We are recruiting and looking for more teams!!  We are looking for animals of almost any kind!  Join our group and come and have some fun with us!!  You can come in and take the evaluation, or if you need a prep course we offer a class, the next one starting April 29, Sunday 1:30-3:30. Call us if you are interested in signing up! (330) 716-3051.

Honor they bond....animals are can find a serenity and a calmness in a cloud of insanity that we call life.  Reach out, see into their world.   Open your eyes and accept a new reality.

"The greatness of a nation can be judged based on its treatment of animals." -Ghandi

HUG your pet!

until tomorrow!  Peace out!!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Smells, running and other oddities

April 22, 2018

Nearly 4 years ago I was in a car accident.  The guy that hit me was going 70 and didn't see that several of us had stopped.  there was a turkey crossing the road.  A car in front of me had stopped, a truck with a trailer in on-going traffic had stopped.  and I was nearly stopped.   Usually I am paranoid with being hit from behind, but in this case I was more concerned that the turkey make it across the road.  All of a sudden I am hit, the guy goes up and over my VW beetle, ripping the tire off and causing enough damage that the car was totaled.  Johnny, as I called first car that I had bought brand new was gone. that alone was a loss.  The guy who hit me continued on and hit the truck and trailer in the on-going traffic and veering off also hit the car in front of me.  Taking out 3 vehicles, (And realizing he was in shock as well), he got out of the car and after making sure everyone was alive and okay said one of the funniest things I have ever heard.  "Well, thank goodness I took that defensive driving class." What an odd thing to say!  Thank goodness because you didn't take out 2 more cars?  Because we were all still breathing?  And then later....I would wander why in the world anyone really takes defensive driving classes?!  This was the beginning of an incredibly difficult year.

Several months later my Dad and I drove to the PA/NY line to pick up my next VW Beetle, this time a convertible. I took my beloved standard poodle, Garbo, with me.  She would have the maiden voyage in this nice piece of machinery....with the top down!  It was a great day!  Garbo was well known....going to classes with me.  Everyone loved her.  Little did I know at that time that within a year I would lose both of those beings that I loved in that cat that day to lung cancer.  Garbo could melt any soul with her eyes.

The loss of Garbo came within 2 months in spite of chemotherapy.  Such a sweet soul who gave so much to so many.  She has been gone for 4 years now and there is rarely a week that goes by that someone doesn't say something to me about her. she was amazing and gave everyone something. I always have a lot of dogs. At that time I had 7 other dogs. Garbo just stood out.  Her sweet personality is still missed today.  None of my other dogs had the personalities to go to work with me and they really weren't neutral dogs for my classes.  After several months I went looking for a rescue standard poodle who might be able to work with me.  Not to replace, but to heal the huge loss and void that was left.

I found him in Missouri in February.  I had a plan to drive straight down and straight back.  It would be a long trip.  My Dad didn't want me to drive by myself all of that distance.  In spite of him being sick with cancer at this point, he went with me.  We tried to stop frequently and by the time we made it there I couldn't wait to meet this boy.   Ben had been surrendered to the rescue because of separation anxiety.  We would work through that!  And anything else that would come our way. We drove home in a snowstorm that took nearly twice as long to get home. 

Enter into my life Mr. Benny, my big red dog.   My Dad would declare before we made it home that day, "You are going to be okay." When I looked at him to try to figure out what he was saying, Benny had his head in the seat between me and my Dad and he said again "He is going to be a good dog."  And truer words have not been spoken. He would help me live through my fathers death and make every day since entering into my life better by just being there.  

This boy, this clown stuck in a poodle costume, reminds me every day not to take life too seriously.  And so here we are today....with the difficult 3 years it has taken me some time to process it all.  I have put on weight and am ready to take my life back.  so, this morning me and Benny woke up and decided to go for a run.  Benny will do ANYTHING as long as he is next to me.   So, Benny is going to help me through that as well.   No time like the present!  So on our run a few different things came up that I hear clients in my classes complain about all time.  

That nose.  The amazing nose!  Dogs see with their nose....and they have an amazing sense of smell!!  It has been said that dogs can smell a dead body a mile under water or 3 miles under earth.  THINK about that!! What a talent!  What a stinky world!  And then think about how we mask everything that we think smells with some very strong smelling perfumes!  There are some amazing books out there about a dogs sense of smell!  (Namely Being a Dog by Alexandra Horwitz of the Dog Cognition Lab).  So, it is really important to get them using their nose. We navigate the world through our eyes,  imagine not being able to stop and look at something.  It is almost cruel think about.  Yet, when we are walking dogs, we expect them to keep moving.  I encourage clients to allow their dogs to have walks where there are no expectations. I tell people to determine the amount of time the walk would be, and then let your dog dictate what happens.  If he wants to smell one tree for 20 minutes, so be it!  I took advantage of when Benny had a sniff he couldn't resist to catch a breather.  Benny knows when he has his harness on he needs to stay next to me and when he has on his long line and collar it is a free for all walk.  Because we have this understanding, our run this morning was pretty smooth.  I knew when he did smell, he really needed to!  Imagine seeing this absolutely beautiful sunrise...but the second you see it you are jerked away.  Allow your dog to explore.  Allow him to 'see' his world the way he knows how.  Honor thy dog!  Make sure you are truly in a relationship with your dog...meaning it is 2 sided and not always what you want.

And finally, remember that your leash isn't a steering wheel!  I do an exercise in some classes and always in the prison programs and children's programs where the people pair up. One person closes their eyes and wraps the leash around their hand.  The second person holds the leash and directs where they go.  And then, they switch places. It is an eye opener how little it takes to direct where to go.  And it is also amazing how aversive a big jerk on that leash is. I recommend taking a good walk nice class and remember to practice the skills or your dog will lose them.

So, in closing Benny and I made it through our run today!  I was able to marvel in his nose and make up some stories about what he was thinking. The most enticing area for Benny was at the corner of a row of pine trees, and after sniffing extensively he would then mark it. Even in my oxygen deprived brain, I could see what was going on!  In this world of Monopoly, Benny found and owned Boardwalk!   Long live the dog!