May 11, 2014

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Happy Mom’s Day: love the hounds

Happy Mother’s Day to all the hound Moms (and real human Moms). Every Mom should be celebrated today for their hard work.

Another Mary Oliver poem because it just happened in my household:

“Please, please, I think I haven’t eaten for days.

What? Ricky, you had a huge supper.

“I did? My stomach doesn’t remember. Oh, I think I’m fading away. Please make me breakfast and I’ll tell you something you don’t know.”

He ate rapidly.

Okay, I said. What were you going to tell me?

He smiled the wicked smile. “Before we came over, Anne already gave me breakfast,” he said. ~Mary Oliver, “Dog Songs”


May 4, 2014

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Poet Mary Oliver: her book “Dog Songs”

This poem warms my heart. It’s from Mary Oliver’s latest book, “Dog Songs”. It’s about a rescue dog, so I dedicate this to Sherman and Bruiser. My two rescue dogs.


What Shall I do?

When I pick up the broom, he leaves the room.

When I fuss with kindling he runs for the yard.

Then he’s back, and we hug for a long time.

In his low-to-the-ground chest, I can hear his heart slowing down.

Then I rub his shoulders and kiss his feet and fondle his long hound ears.

Benny, I say, don’t worry.

I also know the way the old life haunts the new.

This is a great poem for a rescue dog. And I constantly fondle Shermie’s ears which is why I added his photo above. Thank you Mary Oliver. Your poetry is beautiful.

April 24, 2014

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The Superior Canine Nose – Sense of Smell

Walter’s second time in the field was this past Sunday. He received a fourth place ribbon in the Open All Age Dogs class during the Greater Portland Dachshund Club Field Trials in Castlerock, Washington. His first field trial experience was this past January during the DCA National Field Trials in Vacaville, California. However, I’m not writing to brag about Walter although I’m a proud dog mom so I would… this is a sport that focuses on scent work and a dog’s sense of smell is remarkable. The goal of the field trial is to judge a dog on their ability to track a rabbit and it’s a lot of fun to watch. The American Kennel Club talk about the rules on their site if you’re interested. Beagle field trials are really popular.

FACT: According to “The Detection Dog Understanding Olfaction and Odors” handbook written by Fred Helfers, Master Trainer Detection Canines — humans have approximately 5 million olfactory sensory cells within their olfactory system. A large breed canine may have over 200 million sensory cells within their olfactory system!

Fred Helfers gives seminars that focus on scent work.Below are some really interesting facts about the canine nose.

Another fascinating factoid: following are the major functions of a dog’s nose –

  1. as an airway
  2. as an air conditioner
  3. as a filter
  4. as the origin for such reflex as sneezing
  5. as a resonator or sound chamber in barking or whining
  6. as a direction finder
  7. as the organ for the sense of smell

During field trials – we’re always talking about the ideal environment for chasing bunnies. Environment plays such an important role in scent work. Temperature, air movement, and humidity are all crucial. We learned from Fred that the optimal conditions for nosework are moderate temperature and high humidity.

Odor sources located in a warm environment, allow the release of odor molecules more readily than those odor sources located in a cool environment. Just having some of these facts at my fingertips set us up for success when we’re out in the field! I’ll talk more about scent work in my next post about Canine Nosework.

Vacaville third place

Vacaville, CA third place

Field Trial 025

RIP Mick: Police K9 Falls -A Tribute To Working Dogs

April 18, 2014

Maybe it’s the music I’m listening to, maybe it’s the fact that a Police K9 was shot yesterday protecting his partner, maybe it’s all the beautiful stories I just read on Facebook about lives being saved and children growing up – today I’m especially grateful for my friends, family and three dog companions that lay beside me today and every day.

The bond and relationship between a policeman and their canine partner has always inspired me. It only seemed right – to dedicate a post to this fallen solider. (More about working police dogs was discussed on KATU with a cop from the Beaverton K9 Unit).


Working Dogs: Part One

That said, this is the introduction of a three part series. I’m attending a Nosework Seminar this weekend as both Shermie and Walter are in Nosework classes once a week, have their Odor Recognition Trials behind them and can participate in Nosework I trials. The reason I started this training is largely because I find scent work fascinating. This is a sport and for fun but a lot of judges have law enforcement backgrounds and teach seminars for eager students.

I’ll be posting three stories over the next week.

1) I’m attending a seminar Saturday – The Detection Dog: Understanding Odor and Olfaction – so I’ll be blogging about:

  • The Odor molecule
    How the canine nose works. (Olfactory system)
    Breathing vs. Sniffing
    Theory of scent discrimination
    Factors effecting Odor Temperature, Wind, Humidity, Environment
    Utilizing your knowledge of Odors and Olfaction in K9 Nosework®
    Training scenarios
    Environmental issues

2) What is Nosework: A snapshot into my weekly class with Joyce ‘s Dogs

3) Other scent related sports – Field Trials, a day in the life at a AKC Dachshund Field Trial as I’m part of the Dachshund Fanciers of Southwestern Washington

Stay tuned! Pictures of Shermie hunting for odor at Nosework class this week — first story will post Monday.

dog pics Delta and Joyce's class 016



April 13, 2014


My Life With A Senior Dog: Bruiser



Bruiser is about ten and early on in life he was diagnosed with disc disease. Our vet recommended we try Acupuncture and we’ve never looked back! Last week he received his treatment from Dr. Jester at Natural Healing Veterinary Acupuncture. Now that he’s older and still really active, he needs tune-ups about every three weeks. It makes a big difference. We started these more regular sessions back in January as I noticed he was stiff and thought his arthritis was perhaps returning with the wet weather. Dr. Jester visits her patients at their home which is really convenient for me since my schedule with work is so busy. You can also head over to Frontier Vet Hospital as Dr. Yung has been Bruiser’s vet for almost ten years now and practices Acupuncture as well.

More about Acupuncture:

Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine sterile needles (0.16 to 0.3mm diameter) into specific points along the body.  The stimulation of these points causes local muscle relaxation, release of natural pain-relieving hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, increased local circulation, and blockage of pain signaling in the body. 

I pulled this quick fact from Dr. Jester’s Website. The needles are so fine Bruiser barely notices them at all and almost always falls asleep. What I didn’t know is that Acupuncture is great for not only back pain but liver disease, kidney disease and inflammatory bowel disease which Bruiser was also diagnosed with last year. If your dog is experiencing pain, talk to your vet about some other alternatives to pain medication as I’m confident Bruiser lives without pain as a result of these treatments and I don’t have to use drugs like Tramadol or Rimadyl. It’s worth a try, right?

Bruiser during last week's session

Bruiser during last week’s session

April 6, 2014

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Take your dogs on Spring adventures: essential gear

Spring adventures in the mountains provide two things you don’t get any other season. You have access to snowy trails as well as your favorite summer paths. The water cascading down from the mountain also gives spectacular scenery. Before you decide which trails, consider the gear you need. There are so many items that should at least be considered for one afternoon hike. I was prepared but I could have used Snow Shoes yesterday! Here are some tips:

#1: Pet First Aid Kit -you may not think it’s necessary but Bruiser, our doxie, got stuck on a branch (he’s very close to the ground) and while he didn’t get impaled he did get scratched up and having some antibiotic ointment in the car came in handy.


cabin April 2014 049


#2: A long lead: Our other doxie, Walter is two years old and while he has decent recall- the Pacific Crest Trail is STEEP with edges that he could easily slip on especially since it’s Spring and the mud is slick.

Pacific Crest Trail at the entrance.

Pacific Crest Trail at the entrance.

#3: Water: I always bring collapsible dog bowls made by Ruff Wear Dog Gear.  I offer it during our hike or at the end. This is an easy one to forget.

#4: Refer to the experts when deciding where to go  — we know the Salmon River Trail is a great hike but we’ve been coming up to Mt. Hood for years. We also know the Barlow Trail is great as we used to stay at a mountain house near the entrance so we got lucky. There are so many great places to go so look in two of my favorite dog hiking bibles.

hiking dog bibles

hiking dog bibles

#5: There are dog coats, dog boots, leashes – all designed for adventures in the great outdoors. Don’t leave rain coats behind as even your furry friends want some protection from the elements. My favorite are Ruff Wear’s Sun Shower jackets recently launched. The doxies are completely dry even after a rain soaked hike.

Walter's Sun Shower jacket at the Salmon River

Walter’s Sun Shower jacket at the Salmon River

Most importantly, don’t overdo it. I always think we’re been walking for only an hour and two hours have gone by.  Have fun this Spring! Just remember your check list before you head out the door!