Tag Archive: puppy mills

It’s not enough for me to write and publish a book about puppy mills.  I need to do more. I recently joined YES! on Prop B which is trying to pass a ballot initiative, The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, that will improve the lives of dogs in commercial breeding operations in Missouri. Specifically, the measure will require large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each breeding dog under their care with the basics of humane animal care. Missouri has more than 1,500 puppy mill operations, and it is estimated that they supply more than 30% of puppies sold in pet stores.

Right now, dogs are suffering in cramped, filthy cages without veterinary care or protection from inclement weather. But you can help change it. Even if you don’t live in Missouri, you can make your voice heard. If lobby organizations from other states such as the Animal Owners of Texas, Virginia Federation of Dog Breeders and Owners, and the Ohio Professional Dog Breeders Association can try to influence this vote, then so can we – the concerned animal lovers around this country.

Will you join me by signing up for the campaign? Please go to http://www.missourifordogs.com  Thank you!



Christmas is 10 weeks from today. The stores are already stocked and I saw an ad on TV promoting layaway for Christmas shopping. Like a child, I still get excited at the thought of the upcoming holiday season.  When I walked through a store yesterday and saw the TV ad, the old feelings came over me and I wanted more.  It’s a great feeling.  But is it too soon?

I’m not alone when I say that I love the Christmas season: the songs, the decorations, the movies and TV specials, the parties, gifts, making cookies, and being with family and friends. In just about three weeks, some radio stations will begin to play Christmas music – for the past few years, they started the first week of November.  A jolt of joy hits me when I hear the songs and I will listen with glee, singing along with the old favorites. Then by the first of December, the novelty has worn off and I’m tired of the songs. The anticipation was gone and Christmas was still weeks away!  When Christmas arrived, it wasn’t special.

When I was a small child, my parents held to the tradition that no decorations were put up until Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed. My parents stayed up all night putting up the tree, wrapping gifts and decorating. We could hardly contain ourselves from the anticipation.  We awoke on Christmas morning to see the wonder of Christmas. It was magical and memorable (but tough on the parents!). We enjoyed the tree, the songs, the gifts and decorations for the two weeks after Christmas, up until the Epiphany on January 6. I loved those times and cherish the memories.

Anticipation has been lost in our society. The thought of getting something makes the experience much more gratifying.  I think that savoring the sweet anticipation of Christmas can apply to other areas of our lives: wait a while before buying the lastest gadget or tech device or special outfit, and even for sex with a new partner.  Remember the feelings of longing before a first kiss? Yum!!  Our society has evolved to instant gratification, partly because of our (previously) thriving economy and partly because of the genius of marketers who understand the psychology of human desire. Is it possible that instant gratification has led to boredom in our lives? When we always get what we want right away, it leaves us wanting more. And it takes that much more to satisfy us.

My house is currently decorated with pumpkins and mums and the scent of apple cinnamon candles fills the house. I love the way it looks but after “feeling Christmas” yesterday, my thoughts drift to changing my candles to pine and replacing the mums with poinsettias.  Stop, I say!  Enjoy now! I want to enjoy the moments of the fall season, Halloween and Thanksgiving. I take a vow to you, my readers. I will enjoy one season, one holiday at a time. I won’t switch my candles to Christmas Wreath Pine nor will I listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. And when the ABC Family Channel shows Christmas movies during their “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas,” I will record them and watch them in December as Christmas draws near. (Any bets that one of these years, we’ll be seeing Countdown to 25 Days to 25 Days to 25 Days of Christmas in September?!)  I’m sending an email to the ABC Family Channel – bring back Christmas shows and movies in December!  What do Mary Poppins and Harry Potter have to do with Christmas??

Does anyone else know what I mean? Are you willing to delay Christmas until at least the day after Thanksgiving?

Living Our Dreams

How many people can say that they had a dream, pursued it and actually achieved it? In the past three months, I’ve had two dreams come true.  It hasn’t been easy – it’s been downright scary and difficult – but definitely worth it. Do many people die with their dreams unfulfilled because they’re afraid of the trade-offs?

As I stood in front of the audience on Tuesday night at my first reading and signing at a book store, I was living a dream I had had for many years. When I attended other people’s book signings – Lisa Scottoline, Monty Roberts, John O’Hurley and others – I told myself that one day that would be me. And it happened! With a much smaller audience, however! But that’s another dream for another day, a packed house. My other dream was fulfilled, as you know, when Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK! was published in July, and I’m still riding the high from that accomplishment. 

Going after our dreams may require a good deal of sacrifice.  But it may also be an amazing learning experience and growth opportunity.  The destination of the fulfilled dream isn’t nearly as important as what you may learn along the journey. One thing I learned is that I needed to depend on and trust others; I couldn’t and still can’t do it alone. So many times I wanted to give up but the encouragement of family and friends kept me going.  And two other things helped as well: my love for the animals and desire to help them, and a quote that I read about 15 years ago which I will never forget:

Twenty years from now you’ll probably be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.

–Mark Twain

I still have a big dream I’d like to see fulfilled and I’m hoping that you will help: The realization by the public that buying dogs who come from puppy mills needs to stop, and by that recognition we put puppy mills out of business.

What are your dreams and if you aren’t pursuing them, what’s stopping you?

Write a Blog, Help a Dog

I found this at The Philly Dog Blog: If pet bloggers write a post between September 16 and September 19, then link it to the LifeWithDogs.tv site, a 20-pound bag of dog food will be donated to a shelter. I could not find anything on Pedigree’s web site to validate this blog-a-thon, but what’s the harm!  Any bloggers who read this post, please cut and paste the bullet points below into your blog.

  • Each year, more than 4 million dogs end up in shelters and breed rescue organizations. Pedigree created The PEDIGREE Adoption Drive to help shine a spotlight on the plight of these homeless dogs.
  • This year the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive is raising awareness for homeless dogs by donating a bowl of food to shelter dogs for everyone who becomes a “Fan” or “Likes” The PEDIGREE Adoption Drive on Facebook. So far more than 1  million bowls have been donated.

  • For each blog that posts about the PEDIGREE® Adoption Drive through September 19th, PEDIGREE® will donate a bag of their new Healthy Longevity Food for Dogs to shelters nationwide. It’s simple: Write a post, help a dog.
  • Thanks for supporting animal rescue!

    The Getaway

    I’ve been pushing myself very hard for the past two years. No vacation, no time off at all actually. Writing and publishing my book consumed my life. Rather, I allowed it to take over. While some people consider it virtuous and noble not to take a break, I think I was just plain dumb.  We all need time off, and not just a day here and there. So, I was on vacation for the last week – finally! It was very tough to let go, especially right in the midst of the first months of marketing the book. But I was desperate and I was quite unpleasant to be around.  Even my dog helped me pack my bags.

    A day off is nice but our bodies and brains really do need extended downtime.  Studies have shown that it takes about 3-4 days to let go of stress. If you only take a 3-day break, it’s helpful but you aren’t giving your psyche enough recovery time.  Vacations also help with creativity and to prevent burnout, as well as other benefits highlighted in this article.  I took 6 days away.  I wished it could have been more but I didn’t want to leave my dog for any longer than that (despite the fact that he pushed me out the door). I missed him so much and couldn’t wait to get home to him. He seemed quite content with his petsitter, however.

    I did take a full week’s break from email, Facebook and posting to this blog, so I do apologize for the delay in new posts. But I give no apology for my vacation time.  And neither should you. Feed your soul with a deserved rest!

    Temple Grandin

    Did anyone watch the Emmy Awards show this week?  If so, then you saw my hero, Dr. Temple Grandin, the lady dressed not in a glitzy gown but a cowboy outfit!  The HBO movie about her life won several Emmys.  Why is she my hero?  Two reasons: She reviewed my book and called me not once but three times to discuss it then provided me with a great quote to use on the cover.  But more importantly, she’s opened up the animal mind and let us all see what’s in there. 

    Two of Dr. Grandin’s books, Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human, have helped me to understand dog behavior more than ever. And that knowledge has made me a much better behavior consultant, trainer and communicator for the animals.  You see, Dr. Grandin is autistic. And her accomplishments are amazing.  The reason she can give us insights into animal behavior is because she sees things the way that animals do, in pictures. 

    I quote Dr. Grandin’s work in my book, Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK!, because the dogs rescued from lives as breeders in captivity act in ways that are very much like autistics.  If we learn about how their minds work, then we have a better shot at helping the rescued breeder dogs.

    My hat is off to Dr. Grandin and everyone involved with the movie about her life.  Please add her books to your reading list!

    Facebook Stole My Sense of Humor!

    If you are one of my regular readers, you may have noticed that it’s been a very long time since any of my posts contained anything remotely sardonic and witty.  I miss that.  Has all of the seriousness I’ve uncovered on Facebook had this effect on me?  I’ve also noticed that I’m not writing as much.  Rut ro!!!

    I’m still a relative newbie to Facebook.  It’s been an adventure to see how many new pages I can find each and every day.  I’m immersed in the animal-related causes: rescues and shelters, advocate groups, fellow authors.  And the list keeps growing.  But as I read the never-ending daily (hourly, actually) stream of urgent pleas to help animals in need, articles and videos intended to tear your heart out, I’m drawn in to try to help.  Of course, that’s the idea!  I’m a sucker when it comes to the animals.  However, I’m finding that I’m spending way too much time on Facebook and worst of all, I’m losing my sense of humor due to all of the misery out there that I am now exposed to.

    I was listening to a story on NPR as I was driving to one of my book signings over the weekend. The story was called Digital Overload: Your Brain on Gadgets.  I think they were talking about me.  I can’t stay away from email, Facebook and generally searching the Net.  Oh yes, I’ll take a “break” and play an on-line game here and there.  But according to the story, our brains need a complete break from the computer- and the cell phone and other technologies.  The buzz of your cell phone telling you that you have a new message is like a tiny jolt of adrenaline, keeping us in heightened state of anticipation.  The story advocates a weekend break from it all.  Our brains, and bodies, need rest.

    I know that I’m overloaded, not just from too much email and Facebook but from the vast amount of information about animals in need being posted on Facebook.  So I made some decisions:  Limit my time on Facebook each day, take a day off from the computer each week, and sadly I had to “unfriend” some Facebook pages that were making me just too sad with the constant barrage of neediness.  I know that  I cannot solve all of the problems  so I will only focus on what I can do.  That is, concentrate on the issue of puppy mills.  That’s my niche for now and if I work hard with just that, then maybe I can make a difference instead of spreading myself too depressingly thin.

    Okay, when I’m not on Facebook I plan on watching lots of I Love Lucy and Three Stooges, take plenty of walks outside and read funny books.  Send me your suggestions for rediscovering our funny bones!  I’m planning my next book which I intend to be the humorous side of dog training.  I think I’m in real trouble if I don’t lighten up!

    Bucket List

    Do you hear people talking about going places and doing things that are on their bucket lists, a.k.a., things to do before they kick the bucket?   The reason behind a bucket list is that we don’t want to die without doing what’s important to us.  For many people, their bucket list consists of places to visit  or whatever piques their interest.  For me, it’s not about where I want to go – physically – but what I want to accomplish.  Fulfillment of my dreams, to hear the music of my soul and, as Wayne Dyer says, to not die with my music still in me.

    Writing has always been my “music.” I’ve felt the need to express myself in writing for as long as I can remember. So why have I waited for my menopausal years to put my dreams into reality?  Fear? Maybe. Busy chasing other paths in life instead of listening to my soul?  Definitely!  But as we age, the bucket list becomes more important and we begin to fear losing out on those opportunities more than the fear of doing them.

    One of my favorite movies is called The Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah.  She plays a woman who learns she only has three weeks to live and decides to do everything she dreamed of but never did. She let go of her fears and went for it. Despite impeding death looming over her, she had a blast. When I first saw this movie, I was still contemplating leaving my corporate job to go full time in my own business. I think this movie helped to convince me to let go of my fears and go for it.

    My bucket list is pretty simple: write books to help people learn about animals. I could die happy if I knew I had made a difference.  Of course, I wouldn’t mind a trip to Hawaii or the Rockies too! 

    How about you?  What’s your music?  Do you have a bucket list?

    In my last post, I talked about how there are more than 6 different titles for jobs associated with training dogs or helping owners to resolve behavior issues.  I covered trainer, CPDT and KPACTP, the positions that deal with mostly the training aspects.  Today, let’s review behavior consultant/counselor, CAAB and veterinary behaviorist.

    Companion Animal Behavior Counselor/Consultant: I was certified as a CABC (certified animal behavior counselor) through a group called the Association  of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors.  It was a very promising organization with a prominent president and board of directors at the time.  CABC’s attended two years of college-level courses in animal behavior, learning theory, behavior modification, pharmacology, training techniques, and even family interventon skills.  It was a very demanding curriculum and the organization had the right idea – to train people to work responsibly with dogs and their families.  Unfortunately, the organization could not compete with others like APDT and as a result, CABC’s are rare.  Other organizations have formed, such as the International Assocation of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Associaton of Animal Behavior Professionals, but they do not have an educational curriculum available.  They are membership and certification groups.

    When to use a behavior counselor/consultant:  These people specialize in working with dogs who have mild-to-serious behavior issues such as fears, phobias and separation anxiety, as well as minor issues like housetraining, barking and jumping.  These professionals may be qualified to work with dogs who have aggressions issues, but that will depend on the individual’s experience and tenure.  Behavior counselors/consultants will also train dogs in obedience.

    Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist: Many trainers like to call themselves behaviorists but this is completely inaccurate and does a disservice to anyone who has earned the credentials of a CAAB.  To qualify for this title, CAAB’s must have a Master’s degree or a PhD in animal behavior. There are only about 100 CAAB’s in this country. If someone calls themselves a behaviorist, ask where they received their graduate degree and in what field.

    When to use a CAAB: Many CAAB’s concentrate on research and education.  They may work at large humane societies or have their own businesses as educators.  However, some will take on private clients.  If you wish to consult with one, your dog’s issues usually are challenging enough that a trainer or behavior counselor could not help.

    Veterinary Behaviorist: This is the Big Kahuna of the group.  Veterinary behaviorists are licensed veterinarians who have attended additional classes in behavior and pharmacology and are board-certified.  Veterinary behaviorists are the only pet training professional who can prescribe medication for behavior issues.

    When to use a veterinary behaviorist: Dogs with severe issues such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), extreme fears and phobia and extreme aggression are often referred to veterinary behaviorists.  They do not train dogs in obedience, however.

    I hope that this little primer has been helpful.  If you have friends and family with dogs, please refer them to these two posts.  And most of all, send your veterinarian to this blog!  From my experience, they are not well-versed in all of the pet professional choices.  The more education we all have, the better for everyone.

    When your dog needs training, who do you call?  Or when your dog is having behavior problems, do you hire the same person? If you don’t know the answer, you’re not alone.  Many new jobs have sprung up over the past couple of decades that deal with dog training and behavior.  There are more than 6 different titles of pet training professionals. How is the average dog owner supposed to sort it all out?  Good luck, not even most veterinarians know the difference when asked to give referrals.

    In today’s post, we’ll review three professions and finish it up in the next post. I know I may have missed some but these are the most common.

    Dog Trainer: Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a trainer.  Some people think that if they can teach a dog how to “sit” then they are a dog trainer. But a truly qualified trainer has years of experience with teaching and has an excellent grasp of dogs’ language and how they interact with humans and each other.  Dog training goes beyond teaching commands.  Good trainers are constantly learning about new theories and techniques by attending seminars and reading literature.  And more and more trainers are educating themselves about dog behavior, a specialty that we will talk about in the next post.

    As the popularity of the dog training profession grows, various schools have popped up around the country, offering anywhere from very short courses to lengthy and comprehensive curriculums in how to be a dog trainer.  One such organization is Bark Busters, a franchise dog training business.  On their web site, it says under the FAQ area:

    Q: I don’t know much about dog training. Can I still be a Bark Buster?

    A: Yes. Bark Busters provides a [sic] comprehensive training at the launch of your business. This four-week long class provides a great deal of hands-on work with dogs, as well as providing practical knowledge about how to successfully operate a dog training business.” 

    As you can see, anyone can be a dog trainer after just 4 weeks.  If you hire individuals with this organization, you could be getting someone with very little experience.

    When to use a trainer: If you want your dog to learn basic and advanced obedience, competitive dog sports such as agility, and animal-assisted therapy work.

    Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT): The Association of Pet Dog Trainers is a very large organization for dog trainers and they have created an excellent certification program. To be a CPDT, trainers must have a certain number of years and hours of teaching time, pass a rigorous test, submit professional references and maintain a designated number of yearly education credits.  Trainers with the CPDT title are generally very well-qualified.

    When to use a CPDT: Hire a CPDT for anything that you would hire a dog trainer (above) plus they can help you to resolve many behavior issues such as housetraining problems, jumping, barking and other nuisance behaviors.

    Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPACTP): Karen Pryor developed a method of training for dogs called “clicker training” first used in the 60’s to train dolphins.  Trainers who attend her academy are certified in training methods using clickers as well as behavior modification methods.

    When to use a KPACTP: KPACTP trainers are very specialized and excel when training dogs in competitive sports as well as training dogs in basic and advanced obedience and behavior resolution. Their methods are very dog-friendly but may take a little more time for training.  Their methods are excellent in training dogs to do very specific activities such as when training service dogs to help the disabled.

    Are you confused yet?  Just wait until the next post!  I’ll talk about Behavior Counselors/Consultants, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists and Veterinary Behaviorists, then try to sum it all up.  Stay tuned!