Grinding Dog Nails – You can master this.

Dog’s nails are almost always too long and dog owners who will do anything are sometimes still hesitant to trim the dog’s nails. I was one of them and I know. I was so afraid of clipping the dogs’ nails too short. It wasn’t until three groomers in a row  ”quicked” Panama that I decided to master doing their nails myself.

Here’s the theory/anatomy part of the lesson. The “quick” is a vein that runs down the center of the nail.   As the nail grows longer so does the quick so if your dog’s nails are much too long you want to trim only a little bit and wait a day or two for the quick to recede to trim a little more.  In this way you won’t “quick” the dog.  This also allows you good training time, getting the dog used to having nails done but just a little at a time. When you’re using a dremel you can accidentally hit the quick without there being any sign of it (such as blood) but the dog might start or jump. If you’ve gone far enough for the dog to feel that discomfort stop on that nail (ideally you’ll stop before you get that far) but don’t end your session on that note. Do at least one swipe on another nail just so you end with not hurting the dog.  If you use clippers you have a lot higher chance of quicking the dog and it can bleed quite a bit. You should have some bloodstop powder on hand but if you don’t, use flour or cornstarch and pack it at the end of the nail.

When trimming dog nails you have two basic options, nail clippers and nail grinders.  I have found that grinding the nails does a much better job, more safely and the dogs actually mind it less than clipping assuming you have the right grinder and the right preparations.

There are grinders made specifically for dog nails but none are as good as a dremel and oddly enough even the dremel made for dog nails isn’t as good as another dremel available:  The  MiniMite.  The MiniMite is rechargeable while the one advertised for dogs uses AA batteries. I find the rechargeable much better and it is also more powerful. You can use it on the low setting as you get used to it and for little dogs or the higher setting once you are experienced or on bigger dogs.

There are two (easy) skills that have to be mastered to do the dog’s nails. One is to know how to use the grinder. The second is to train the dog to behave for it. Regardless of how you do the dog’s nails you have to have the dog’s cooperation. This can be the biggest part of the job but once you master it, like most things, it’s easy.

Let’s start with the dog. (Even if you decide to clip nails instead of grinding the way to get the dog ready will be the same.) There is as wide a range in dogs’ reaction to having their feet handled as there are dogs. Some dogs have no problem with it at all. If you have a puppy you should be playing with their toes every day. You should put your thumb in the space between their toes on the underside of the paw and move it around. Wiggle each toe. Hold each toe as if you were going to clip the nail. If your dog is not a puppy you’ll want to see if you can do this to him but wait… first get a few treats. Use the smallest most basic treat you can find. (For us that’s Cheerios).

The size of your dog makes a difference in how you’ll do nails. I find that under 20 pounds are easiest done on my lap. Larger dogs are easier done on the floor or table. Before you ever touch a tool to the dog’s feet find your comfy way to do it.

Take your dog’s paw and give him a treat. Touch, tickle and hold his toes giving treats as you go and see just how much he’ll let you do with his toes. Don’t underestimate the power of treats here. I know one dog who will growl as if he’s going to take your face off if you touch his feet without the treats but if you use the treats and do it he’s a lamb.

When you’re ready to use the grinder there is going to be one more step the dog has to get used to and that’s the noise. Usually it is not grooming tools themselves that upset the dogs, it’s the noise they make so introduce the grinder noise with treats and touch the butt end of the grinder to the dog’s foot so that the dog feels only the vibration for a start.

Once you can do all of that easily you’re ready to actually do the nails. Everything to this point may have taken 30 seconds or if the dog is really phobic about nails it could take weeks. No matter how long it takes keep in mind that every step only has to be taken once and it will be good for the rest of the dog’s life with a little reinforcement. Just don’t push the dog too hard. Take tiny steps and reward each step well.


Before actually doing the nails we need to take a look at the hair on the dog’s feet, around the nails.  If you usually trim the feet, do that before trimming the nails. We don’t want hair to get caught in the dremel. This sounds worse than it actually is. I know because I’ve done it. Using the dog dremel or the MiniMite on low speed you will not hurt the dog if you accidentally grab his hair with the dremel. The tool will stop. It isn’t great for the tool I’m sure (although I’ve never managed to wear one out and I have 4 different sizes/speeds) but we care more about not hurting the dog. If the dog has hair that is likely to get caught, cut the cuff off a tube sock and wrap that over the dog’s paw with just the nail sticking through the cotton knit.  This will give you access to the nail without worrying about the hair.  I did this when I first started trimming but got experienced enough that we don’t  need to do that now.

Ok, now you’re ready.

Position the dog. Hold the toe between your thumb and forefinger. This will push the nail outward.  The vibration may feel strange to the dog at first (it does on your own nail too) but you will get a feel for it very quickly and so will the dog.  Touch the nail to the dremel only for a second or two to start with until you get the feel of it. (Also if you are doing more than a couple of seconds you’ll want to make sure the tool isn’t getting hot.)

Stop after the first nail and see how you did. Take a deep breath. If all is well, continue. Give the dog a treat and go for the next nail.

The finished length of the nail should be shorter than most people think. There is no need to hear the dog walking on a wood floor so use this as a guide.

You see here a well done dachshund paw.  It might take you a few rounds of trimming to get the nails this short, then do them approximately once a week or whenever you hear clicking.















Imagine my displeasure…

Displeasure is an understatement. Dog poop indoors is never a happy event. There really is no good place for a dog to poop indoors but that doesn’t stop them from finding the absolute worst place and using it. This morning Ken said he had cleaned dog poop up in the living room. “Odd” I thought. No dog had been in the house so long as to have had an accident but I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought because I hadn’t seen it and there seems to be a correlation between the vision and the amount of upset.

If seeing poop contributes to how much it upsets you, sitting in it is far more upsetting and that is just what I did when I sat at my desk to have my coffee. I jumped a mile (I don’t even know what words escaped me but I’m glad there are no small children or nuns in my house.)

After cleaning that mess up I had a different concern. The poop I sat in did not appear to be well dog poop (an idea that is substantiated by its being in the house). My dogs had not even eaten yet so someone had clearly gotten into something. No one seemed sick so I didn’t worry too much.

Fast forward a couple of hours. The dogs go out into the yard and disappear to the end of the yard they rarely go to. Remember that end of the yard? Go back to January 27 and read about Yucky dogs… that end of the yard. They are right back in the spot where the grease spill was last time. I go to investigate and low and behold there is a big pile of leftover food. Visible to the eye is lots of corn, some mushrooms, some tomatoes (and a large bone that Deva is chewing on). This is clearly food that has been clearly dumped over the fence into my yard.

You know, back when the grease was in that spot I felt kind of guilty for blaming my neighbor for dumping a pot of grease into my yard. That’s a pretty weird thing to blame on someone if you didn’t see it happen and I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Today’s incident removed all doubt. SOB dumped a pot of food in my yard. This time I was mad.

It has always been said in my family that we have “Irish tempers” as if claiming it as an inheritance makes our angry actions justifiable. I have had, at many times in my life, difficulty after the fact in justifying my actions so I try to be a little careful even if I am justifiably mad. I don’t want to burn any bridges. I went to visit my neighbor and told him I had a problem with food being thrown over my fence. He knew nothing about it but did remember his wife sending his son outside with a pot of leftovers to dump it. He didn’t know about the fryer either but apparently it sounded believable to him. He assumed (as a parent so foolishly and innocently would) that his child disposed of it in an acceptable manner and assured me that it would not happen again.

I thanked him and turned around to come home when he asked me what was going on with the dead tree in my yard. (I didn’t know there was a dead tree in my yard but maybe this is as dumb as not knowing you shouldn’t dump leftovers into someone’s yard.) He pointed it out to me and said he had mentioned it to Ken and was wondering what Ken planned to do. I know this game and again I considered getting Irish on his ass. My dead tree has absolutely nothing to do with his son’s transgressions and I wasn’t about to start playing who’s the most negligent neighbor with him. “You’ll have to talk to Ken about that again” I said. “I don’t know anything about it.”

Now I suppose I’ll have to start worrying about a dead tree falling on my house, or my neighbor’s house but hopefully I won’t have to worry about food being thrown into my yard.

It’s always something.

Who’s Your Emergency Vet?

Do you know what time your vet’s office closes? Do you know if there is someone on duty all night? Are they open on Saturday? You probably don’t need to know these things today but on the day you do it might be too late to make an alternate plan.

Veterinary practices vary widely. Some vets work in hospitals which are open all hours and others keep banker’s hours and refer clients to an emergency vet who is open when the other vets offices are not. You need to know what your vets hours are and where the nearest emergency vet is. If the e-vet is at a location that’s not familiar to you it would not be a bad idea to drive over there and see exactly where it is, maybe even go at night and introduce yourself. This is not a place you are going to want to have to find in the dark in a panic and that’s what is likely to happen if you don’t visit beforehand.

Make sure you know your own vet’s hours and the emergency vet’s hours. I was shocked to find (when I had a sick dog) that my vet closes for a couple of hours on many Thursday afternoons for in-service training. However, once I knew it the vet told me to come knock on the back door if I needed her during those hours. Potential problem solved!

You should also make sure to find out if your vet’s office is staffed at night. Never assume that it is or you might be as shocked as I was to find out that while I was paying to board one of my girls for the night, I was essentially leaving her alone. There was no one on the premises from 6 PM until 8 AM. “What if there’s a fire?” I asked and got only blank stares in return.

You never know what odd thing might happen. I’ve had to use the emergency vet a number of times over the years. A couple of times there would have been only minor ramifications if I had waited until my vet was open but on one occasion I would probably have lost the dog if I hadn’t known exactly where I was going and gotten there as quickly as I did. Hopefully you won’t need this information but it’s reassuring to have. (Share it with your neighbors when you get it. They’ll appreciate it too.)


Evacuating with Pets – Have a Plan

Would you be prepared to make a quick evacuation from your home with your family of pets?  I remember waking up from a nap on the grass at a rest stop just over the border into NC one morning. It was a beautiful morning. I had two leashes clipped to my belt loop and the dogs were lazing around me. I only had two at the time.  The Red Cross was serving breakfast. We had been evacuated. There was a major hurricane headed for … someone. All of Florida had been evacuated and came north. Then all of Georgia evacuated to the West or North. Then all of coastal South Carolina evacuated to where I was.  We were told that there was not a motel room available in all of North Carolina.  The Red Cross kept on dishing out breakfast and coffee and dog biscuits. Most of the people seemed to have at least one dog.  “Pet people” historically have never planned to take advantage of local shelters since animals were not allowed.  We chatted with a couple pulling a horse trailer with a pony, a goat and a dog as well as a caged parrot.

The dogs seemed to think they were at some sort of Doggie Woodstock. There were many dog park’s worth of dogs and they were all dying to sniff each other. Unlike dog park life, dogs in an evacuation need to be leashed all the time. Some dogs may not like storms but let me tell you this, they love evacuations!  Anyone will tell you that dogs like routine and it’s true on a day to day basis but most friendly well adjusted dogs also like adventure. Show them something entirely new and they are pulling at the leash to check it out.  That’s how it was this day for hundreds of dogs and their travel weary humans.

That trip is a very fond memory for me because as usual people pulled together and helped each other out. I love the humans who survive disasters or avert them together. Still, it is tiring. That trip wore us out.  Before it was over, the weather changed. We were escaping a major hurricane and not by much. We did find a place to stay but not very comfortably and we only did as well as we did out of luck.  We all, humans and animals, came out of it just fine and went home to undamaged property which was a blessing.  Then I made my “better” evacuation plan.

I currently have 5 little poodles, Deva, a medium sized American Eskimo Dog (35 pounds) and three cats.  An evacuation plan that works for all of us is not as easy as hooking two dogs to my belt loop. My evacuation “kit” contains a 9 x 12 screen tent big enough to accommodate fold-down wire crates for all, my lawn chair and our supplies. On any given weekend we would be asked to move  – if not arrested – for setting up camp on the side of the road but in an evacuation situation things change.  I can maintain us indefinitely in this environment, perhaps not comfortably but tolerably.

All families should have evacuation plans. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t get hurricanes, floods or other problems that periodically require evacuation you never know when a fluke will strike, a gas leak, a fire. The less conventional your family (i.e., the more animals and the more exotic the animals) the more you need a creative plan.  You also need to realize that animals in unusual circumstances don’t always act as they are accustomed to acting in normal circumstances, no matter how well trained they are. In fact the worst stories I have heard have usually been about the most well behaved dogs who acted abnormally. For example, a poodle who startled by a firecracker ran into the road rather than away from it and was struck by a car.  On any trip dogs need to be on leash at all times. Cats who are not leash trained need to be crated and any other animals need to be contained in a safe and appropriate way.  Beware of new harnesses. I have had dogs escape harnesses that seemed perfectly snug just by twisting in an unexpected way. Twice we could have had major disasters as a result and only luck saved us.

Be sure you have a leash for each animal you plan to walk and/or tandem couplings for your leashes, if your animals are already used to walking that way.  Make sure you have plenty of poop bags. Have extras for the people who aren’t so well prepared. You’ll be glad you did. Make sure the dogs have plenty of water. Traveling animals won’t always eat so if they snub supper you might want to offer it again later in the evening when they’ve had some time to settle down. Some dogs won’t want to eliminate on a different surface than they are used to and sometimes all you can do is wait.  Baji won’t poop away from home until the second day and is always reluctant to do it at the end of a leash (she’s used to using the back yard).

Make your plan on paper or mentally ahead of time and have any items you’ll need on hand so that if the need arises you’ll be ready to get your pack to safety.

Good luck and happy travels.

Stop Puppy Biting

Young puppies bite and chew. They are teething and they will bite and chew on anything, including you.  It’s your job to teach them not to and it’s not hard to do if you are consistent in your training.

Here’s how you do it: As soon as the pup touches you with his mouth you give him a chew toy. I use nylabones for the small dogs and I keep about half a dozen of them around so I always have some in my pocket and am always picking up some from the floor.  Tell the pup “no biting” and give him the toy he is allowed to chew on. If he continues to mouth you in any way, get up and turn your back on him. Do something else.  Even if it is only for 10 seconds.

Turning your back on a pup impacts him. He doesn’t like it. He wants to engage you in play (which in his opinion, his biting is). If he can’t engage you his way he will learn to engage you your way but you must be consistent. At first and sometimes it will seem like you are getting up every 20 seconds.  Sometimes you will be but it will work if you keep it up and the pup will learn.

Be sure that all members of your household are dealing with puppy biting the same way or it will take much longer to teach the pup not to bite.

National Pet Dental Month

I’ve been informed – through advertisements mostly – that February is National Pet Dental Month. (I hope it’s still Black History Month too but that’s another topic.) I have a lot to say about pet dental health and as only you dog lovers will understand, I can get huffy on the subject of dogs’ teeth. The thing that makes me mad is the lying advertising. People believing the lies without giving any thought to a subject also makes me mad.

The issue of teeth, especially in little dogs, is a big one and goes far beyond tooth decay. The big problem is periodontal disease which over 80% of all dogs have by the time they are 3 years old. Read that sentence again, it’s a BIG issue. It often causes a continual infection and it can cause or amplify diseases of almost all the other organs.  This is not a minor issue of a dog losing a tooth. Taking care of your dog’s dental health is an area where your actions can have a huge effect on the overall health of your dog.

Let’s get clear on something: Treats don’t clean your dog’s teeth. No biscuit, no Greenie (which I’ve read many times are dangerous for other reasons), no dog food, no toy (with or without fibers, nubs, pointy things that kill you when you step on them or other features).  Please if I’m wrong, show me before and after pictures. I’m teachable!

There are three possible things that will clean your dog’s teeth and two of them are MUCH better than the other.  If you start with clean dog teeth and brush your dog’s teeth every day (and yes, a lot of people really do this) they may stay clean. They will definitely stay cleaner than if you don’t do it.  You can train a dog to this and you can easily train a puppy to it. Always use dog toothpaste (never human toothpaste which can make your dog sick).  This is the least effective of the three methods but don’t write it off. It is definitely worth doing especially if you won’t do one of the following.

Dental cleanings at the vet.  This is the best cleaning you can get there is just one big drawback in my mind and that’s the fact that the dog has to be put under anesthesia. (It can also be pretty expensive especially for multi-dog owners.) If  your dog has to be put under anesthesia for another reason, have his teeth cleaned if possible. It will be a lot cheaper if he’s already under and you will have already made the anesthesia decision. (Note, My friend just pointed this out: Before taking your dog (or kitty) in for his/her teeth cleaning this month which is Pet Dental month please find out what they use to knock them out and then make sure it is not on a RECALL LIST. Just a precaution as we hear that some have been recalled.)

I have read of people who do dental scalings on their own dogs with dental tools. I’m a pretty dedicated do-it-yourselfer but that’s a little too much for me. If you think you could do it though, search for information from those who do.

The best all around method for keeping dog’s teeth clean is the least well known and the most controversial. One of the reasons for this is that it doesn’t require products that pet product manufactures can make money on.  The method is giving your dog raw meaty bones to chew on. There are two different types of bones for this, bones that the dogs will chew and bones they will actually eat.

There is a whole community of people who feed their dogs raw diets and these diets include raw meat (bones included). This is called the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet or the Bones and Raw Food diet,  unfortunately often shortened to the BARF diet. This is not the place to give you all the ins and outs of a raw food diet but what you should know is that even the tiny dogs can eat raw meat and bones (my 4 1/2 pound Java eats half a raw chicken wing in about 8 minutes) and almost all the dogs I’ve known on this diet have done very well on it.  (Sometimes too much raw meat causes diarrhea but that usually resolves in a short time.)

If you want the benefits of the raw food diet for your dog’s teeth but don’t want to go fully into a raw diet you can give your dog raw meaty bones to chew on. These will help their teeth enormously. Only the very back tooth on each side of my dogs’ mouths aren’t cleaned by the RMBs.  We use beef ribs that we buy in the grocery store. I give Deva a whole beef rib (she’s 35 lbs) but I have the butcher cut a slab of ribs in half for the little ones and they get a half a rib once or twice a week.  If you are starting your dogs on beef ribs cut most of the meat off to start and leave a bit more on each time until they are used to it and it won’t give them diarrhea. (A little bit of canned pumpkin – not pumpkin pie mix but plain pumpkin – is good for their digestion and can sometimes stave off diarrhea or constipation.)

I have proof of the efficiency of beef ribs.  As you already know about me I hate unfounded claims and I’m hesitant to believe things people tell me.  I realized that after I’d fed my dogs some RMBs and luckily before too much time passed it dawned on me to take pictures. You can see the results on my Molly’s teeth in the pictures I took.

If you are interested in learning more about a raw food diet for your dog there are numerous good books at and there are numerous forums all over the web where you will find people who will share their information with you. has a good forum and some knowledgeable people.

Let me know if you have any questions and please remember to upload your dog’s picture to our Facebook Dog Stuff page.

I used to brush all these little teeth, every day.

Traveling in Cars (and Trucks) with Dogs

How does your dog travel? The picture above (left) was taken from my car a few weeks ago. People scare me to death when they travel this way with dogs but I know a lot of dogs love it and a lot of dog lovers travel this way. It may be better than making the pooch stay home. This rottie was all over the truck but after watching him for a few minutes I saw him more as a pick-up surfer than a hapless rider. He knew how to move with the truck and there was no doubt he was having a good time.

My own dogs (on the right) probably aren’t a whole lot safer. This was the day of the rabies clinic in town, one of the very few events we all travel to together.  I had strapped Panama into a car seat in the back, knowing that he’d behave but also knowing that he wouldn’t be likely to share a seat. The three little ones were sitting nicely in the front car seat until Skidget (who was not hooked into a seat) jumped in with them. Well, who could blame her. It is “her seat” after all.

Most dogs love to ride in the car. Of the 6 dogs who currently make up my household only Dixie doesn’t love riding in the car. I think it has to do with their early travel experience and how well you plan it for them (or don’t plan it at all) as well as their own individual temperament. Whatever it is, as in most situations with dogs, it can be modified at least to some extent.

The first time I remember thinking about dogs in cars was when my beloved Pooh, my first poodle, was with me.  He liked to stand on the seat and look out the window but at 12 pounds he could topple if I took a corner too fast or hit the brakes. I was surprised to find an actual dog seat in a thrift store back around 1989 (in the pre-Internet dark-ages). I didn’t know that there was such a thing.  He used that seat for the rest of his life and he loved it from the very first time.

The dog’s safety isn’t the only reason to consider securing your dog in the car.  A cop who saw my car seat once told me what a good idea it was because if I were in a wreck they could get to me without dealing with the dog.  I’d never thought of that but it makes sense. Many dogs, he told me, won’t let rescue workers near the accident victim which can be a real problem.  It’s a good reason to secure your large dog even if he just sits quietly on the seat when you travel. Little dogs can cause other types of danger.  If left untethered they can be under your feet in the blink of an eye and interfering with your ability to drive.

We’ve tried a lot of different types of car seats and I like some better than others. For a long time we used a “milk carton” seat.  The seat belt could slip through the openings in the carton and a pillow in the bottom made it a good seat. Panama liked being up a little higher so I put a single drawer under the seat that held water, leashes, paper towels a disposable bowl and poop bags. That lifted him up and contained anything we might need if a short ride turned into a long outing. The best thing about this seat (aside from price) is that it is deeper than a lot of the little seats now sold for dogs. Even though they are tethered by their harness in most seats they would fly over the edge of some and be left hanging by the harness.

Of the seats currently on the market our favorite is by “Solvit”. Outward Hound (makers of a lot of good dog items) makes a similar one that I don’t like because it has a strap that goes from the front of the seat around the auto seat’s headrest and that strap tends to get in the way.  The Outward Hound also tends to sag and try to sit flat on the car seat. The Solvit seat is built so that it stays up off the seat allowing your little pooch a good view. The price varies but it’s reasonable. (Try Ebay. I found some there for about $26. ) There are a couple of sizes. We have the small one that says it holds up to 12 pounds although Panama is a little heftier than that now.

We have tried using barriers and letting all the dogs travel in the way-back. That didn’t work very well for me. It doesn’t really secure the dogs it just keeps them in the back – if it works. Ours had spaces that were too big and the dogs climbed through them. (Great planning on my part.) I just discovered this new barrier that looks interesting if you just want to keep the dog(s) out of the front seat.

This is the Kurgo Pet Barrier and can be found on Ebay for around $43 (including shipping).  Please let me know if you try this one. It looks like it might be a good one.

Have any other suggestions or pictures of your traveling pooches? Let me know or upload your pictures to our facebook page at Dog Stuff


Containing Dogs & Walking Dogs

This article is in response to the comments on the  piece I wrote Tuesday, Getting the dog in the bag.

There are some big differences between owning big dogs and little dogs. Some of us have both. It is sometimes like having two different species of pets because the lifestyles can be so different.  I know some people who live big-dog lifestyles with little dogs.  I also know people who have 80 pound lap dogs.  There are concessions that need to be made for dog size though and sometimes for age or infirmity.    I have dogs who range from 4 1/2 pounds to 40 pounds.  Panama Red is the biggest of the little dogs at about 12 pounds. He’s a pretty good size to walk on a leash. He’s just big enough to not get stepped on. The smaller dogs are too little to walk in a crowd or at an event. They get swallowed up and people seem oblivious of them. Baji at almost 7 pounds will walk nicely on a leash but isn’t safe if there are a lot of people around. She’s small enough to go in a bag and is generally safer there.  The little ones also get tired. They can’t always walk as far or as long as their people can.

No matter the size of the dog, he needs exercise.  Being carried in a bag is a means of visiting places that would otherwise be difficult but the dog will need some other exercise if  he’s not walking. Fortunately these dogs are so small they can get ample exercise indoors playing fetch or doing some other little dog activity.

My favorite all around bag is the roller bag. This bag can be used when flying with a little dog as it fits under the seat in front of you (although it doesn’t seem like it would).  There are many similar variations of it but this one is the greatest price when you get it from It holds up to 22 pounds, can be used as a backpack or wheeled. It has a pick-up handle (but no shoulder strap) as well as the telescoping handle.  Your car’s seat belt can slip through the straps on the back making it a passable car seat (my dogs like car seats that lift them up so they can see out the window).  It comes in black and tan. (I have the tan one. It matches the duffle style bag shown below.) The regular price is $29.99 which is a real deal but sometimes it’s on sale even cheaper.

Another standard bag (that can also be used for flying) is the duffle style, sometimes called a Sherpa. These too come in a wide variety of colors with different features but the good basic bag is available from in red, black or tan for $24.99 (on sale right now for $18.74). PetEdge doesn’t sponsor this site or pay me anything I just love ordering from them. You want to order from them when you’re getting more than $75. worth of merchandise to avoid a handling charge but they have tons of stuff at great prices. Be sure to check them out.

We also have a sling from Outward Hound.

One other item that I have found useful is a stroller. If you have the roller bag and only one small dog you may not need it. If you do decide on a stroller make sure to get one that has the main hold that converts to a carrier.
When you’re looking for any of these items, look at and search Ebay. You may be surprised at the number of sellers of new pet items on Ebay.
My next article will be on car seats and car safety. See you then!

Yucky Dogs! What a mess.

I really don’t like gross yucky stuff. I also don’t like the corner of my yard that is overgrown. That’s the same corner that backs up to the corner of my neighbor’s yard and his junk pile.  We all sort of pretend that area isn’t there.  I hate when the dogs go in there (because that is where snakes are more likely to be) but they only dash through occasionally when they feel the need to chase the cats. (The same cats they never chase in the house. Go figure.)

There aren’t many things I don’t like about dogs but the ones there are have to do with my aversion to yuckyness. Dogs will touch anything and anything they will touch they will lick and if it is really nasty (read: dead) they will roll around in it.

My dogs will play in the yard like the wolf decedents they are but they don’t stay out very long and almost never in the dark.  When they do play I don’t leave them long by themselves or they dig and digging gets them dirty. Yuck.

Last night I let the poodles out to pee before bed. They were out for a few minutes and I went to call them in. No one listened to me. It’s not unusual for someone to lag or maybe even ignore my first call but they never all ignore me. Panama and Brighid are usually in so fast I am hoping they really went pee. But last night, nothing.  I called again. Still nothing. I grabbed my whistle. This is for serious recall. They always come, every dog 100% of the time when I use the whistle. I blow a short blast on the whistle. Panama comes running followed by Brighid but no one else.Well, this is annoying. I’m in my slippers and it’s chilly and three poodles are paying no attention to me.

When a dog ignores you or reacts in a way completely different from what you expect it’s always a good time for a training session. Well it was 11:30 pm and I was in no mood for a training session. I was in the mood for quiet dogs INSIDE the house and in the mood for bed.  I put my boots on and walked down to the end of the yard they were in, that area they almost never go in, and coaxed them into the house.

It was very apparent that they’d been into something but I couldn’t figure out what it could be. There was a greasy smell, like the shirt of someone who has worked at McDonalds all day.  The dogs looked greasy. Their ear feathering was dirty and greasy and their paws were filthy. I thought chicken but it really didn’t smell like chicken.  I was baffled. And very annoyed.  If there was something like that in my yard, someone put it in my yard.  I got concerned about the possibility of someone putting something poisoned in my yard but that fear faded as they remained perky and no one developed a stomach problem. I was baffled and I had a houseful of dirty dogs.

For the first time in ages everyone slept in crates. This morning before I let them out I got dressed and put on boots and braced myself for whatever I would find out there. Then I let them lead me to it.  I’m still baffled about what I found but my only guess is that my neighbor (or his kid) dumped the grease from a fryer either at the fence line or over the fence.  There was an area that was just greasy. The grass and leaves were clearly covered with grease. The dogs were licking it, digging in the greasy dirt and loving it.

How do you clean this kind of mess up? It took me a while to think of anything and I’m not sure that my solution was a good one. I went inside and got the bucket of kitty litter and dumped a layer of kitty litter all over the greasy area. Either that will absorb it and we’ll worry about cleaning up the kitty litter later or the dogs will still be attracted to it and they’ll be covered in greasy kitty litter. I’m not sure which will happen but I’m sure hoping for the first option. In the meantime I had to bathe all 5 poodles (and wash the couches. Thank God for leather furniture.)

Five wet poodles sitting under the solar dryer.

Getting the dog in the bag

I bought a really nice travel bag on Ebay and it arrived yesterday, earlier than I expected.  It’s not for any one of the littles in particular but will work for Baji, Brighid or Java.  We have numerous carriers/roller bags/strollers and they are all good for different things. I really intended this bag for smuggling. Aside from the fact that it’s an eye catching bright yellow it would not be noticed as a dog carrier and that was my intention.

Periodically when I have a little one with me on vacation I just have to sneak her in somewhere. I’m sure some people will take issue with this but I’m sorry. The rules against dogs are unfair so I make my own. (That could be a topic for another day if anyone wants to pursue it.)  We almost always stay in pet-friendly hotels and eat in outdoor restaurants where they will not have a problem with the dog. (Don’t think that just because it’s outside they’ll allow the dog. Most I’ve come upon do but some don’t.)

Inevitably there comes a time when I need to run into a grocery store or some other place and the temperature outside is in the 90s ruling out leaving my pup in the car. That’s when a smuggle bag is invaluable.  However, it requires cooperation from the dog.  A bag that is moving, whining or yelping will call attention to itself, no matter what style bag it is.

I didn’t make a plan for getting the dogs used to the bag. I just plowed ahead and stuck Baji into it and put a Cheerio in her mouth.  Baji is game for most things and is curious so she was fine sitting in the bag.  My intent was not to have her use the bag with her head sticking out  which meant she’d have to lie down in the bag so I could zip the top. I did that rather unceremoniously too by tossing a few Cheerios into the bottom and pushing her down under the zipper. She didn’t protest too much.  But then… I lifted the bag off the table and carried it across the room. This was the part I should have been more careful with.  The bag swayed a good bit and she felt insecure. (Who wouldn’t? She didn’t expect to go sailing through the air.) I could feel her trying to get her bearings so I put the bag right back down and let her out. I decided that since I’d scared her (not traumatized you understand but made her a little nervous about the bag) I’d need something better than Cheerios to make her love the bag.  We happened to have left over hot dogs from Panama’s birthday celebration and my little dogs will do anything for hot dogs.  I broke half a hot dog into tiny bits and stuck Brighid into the bag this time and handed her a hot dog bit.

Something that works in my favor in certain instances (and against me in others) is that when you have multiple dogs they tend to compete. What one has the others want. When you have smart dogs they know they’ll probably have to do something to get it so once I came over with the hot dogs everyone knew that they wanted to find the way to interact with the bag that would get the hot dog bits.

As you can see,  everyone wanted their turn in the bag at which time it turned into a game.  By then it made sense to hold off on the hot dog bit until the dog was lying down in the mostly zipped bag and then reaching in to deliver the hot dog.  Dixie and Pamana are really too big for the bag (although in a pinch I could use it with them and the specs did say up to 20 pounds. Panama is 12 and Dixie is about 10) but I felt the need to give them a turn – and some hot dog bits – too.

Next I’ll have to attach a command to the game so that when they get in the bag and I give the command they’ll lie down in it. (I can’t use the “down” command. I think the reason it’s confusing is that they stretch their front paws out in front of them during a regular “down” and in the bag it’s more of a scrunched up “down”). Once I do that they can sit up in the bag unless I need to go into smuggle mode at which time I can give the command “scrunch” or “smuggle” and have them assume their smuggle position. In the mean time everybody likes the bag game.