Thursday, November 7, 2013


Training your dog is a great way to bond and build on your relationship. It is also a great way to exercise your dog's brain, build confidence, motivation, and most importantly, to keep your dog safe in all kinds of situations. There are many commands you can teach your dog to help ensure their safety. Making sure your dog has a solid recall and a solid "sit, stay", are commands that most dog owners know can potentially save their dogs' life. Teaching your dog "leave it" and "drop it", can be just as crucial to their safety.

Marley "leaving it"

When I walk my own dogs and especially when I am walking a client's dog/s, I am very vigilant about not allowing them to eat anything off the ground. There have been several reports in the past few months of people leaving tainted meat or meat containing glass or nails, in various parks where people walk their dogs. These sick individuals are leaving these tainted treats with the intent to do harm and it's unlikely they will ever be caught. Aside from these incidents, anyone who lives with a dog knows there is always a chance their dog may find some delicious (to the dog of course) morsel and give it a taste. Dogs with Coprophagy, who like to eat poop, are also at risk of becoming seriously ill or being infected with a parasite.  

Recently I was walking a client's dog, we stop for a few minutes every day at a large fenced in soccer field where I put him on a 30' lead and we run around and have some play time. The other day he picked something up off the ground and started eating it. I said "drop it" but he just looked at me and continued eating what I quickly found was a piece of hamburger. I was able to remove most of the meat from his mouth but he consumed a small portion, approximately the size of a dime. I left a note for my clients and thankfully their dog is fine, but with all the news articles in recent months about tainted meat I couldn't help but worry.

Teaching "drop it" and "leave it", for me, are essential commands every dog owner should teach their dog/s. You can have fun teaching your dog something new, if you haven't taught these commands already, and it very well may save your dog's life some day!

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Friday, September 20, 2013


I adopted Marley when he was 16 weeks old, in August 2005. Shortly after receiving his final vaccine boosters Marley began developing small bumps on the top of his head. I took Marley to the vet and was immediately told the issues were allergies. A regimen of antibiotics and steroids were prescribed. During the time Marley was on these medications his skin would clear up, but once he was off the meds for a week or so, the issue came back ten fold. 

We struggled with Marley's skin issues for several years, with various veterinarians, all of whom prescribed the same regimen of steroids and antibiotics. We tried the hypoallergenic, prescription foods in the beginning, but ultimately changed to a home cooked and raw diet. Although this change in his diet made a difference, Marley was still struggling with itchy, red, scabby skin. He was never comfortable for very long, and he was never able to sleep through the night.  


Over the years I tried a variety of natural remedies for allergies, some of which made a small difference for a short period of time, but Marley’s skin issues always seemed to push back through. A friend of mine had mentioned a product called Nzymes, but after all the trials and errors in the past, all the wasted money, I was hesitant to try the program. I decided to search the Nzymes website and after reading through the site and watching the videos, I realized what we were dealing with and it wasn’t just allergies, it was yeast.
In March 2012, just before Marley's 7th birthday, I purchased the Healthy Skin Kit from Nzymes and started Marley on the program. Within the first two weeks I saw a significant difference in his skin, his coat, and in his general well being. Marley was happy, he began to play with his adopted brother for the first time in over a year, he was sleeping through the night; he was a completely different dog.
In September I ran out of the Nzymes products, but started Marley on them again about six weeks later. During this time he seemed to get worse, his skin became red and inflamed from head to tail, he was hot all over, he lost most of his fur, and he was lethargic; I was scared. I sent a message to the company via their Facebook page and within an hour I received a call from an employee at Nzymes. After a long conversation about Marley's past, his symptoms, diet etc., we determined Marley was most likely detoxing. The Nzymes products were pushing all of the yeast and toxins out of Marley's body. The following pictures are of Marley during his detox:  

As hard as it was to watch him go through this massive detox, I persisted. We gave him baths to soothe his skin as much as possible and the end result is a dog, who after eight years of struggling with misdiagnosis, thousands of dollars in vet bills and diet changes, using medications that were worsening the issue, and all of his discomfort, is now happy and healthy.
Marley still struggles with seasonal allergies and we deal with those times as they come, but for the most part he is finally healthy and feeling great!  He continues on the Nzymes Back-pac Plus and antioxidant treats, regularly with intermittent doses of the oxy drops and blackleaf products.

Marley 2013
The Nzymes product worked wonders on Marley and their customer service was second to none. This product may not be the right product for everyone, but I would strongly suggest to anyone who has a dog with skin problems, do your research and ask questions if you take your dog to the vet. Anyone who is prone to yeast infections knows, if you take antibiotics you are just opening yourself up for an infection; the same is true for your dog. So, if your dog has yeast, like Marley did, but your vet insists its allergies and offers you antibiotics and/or steroids, you will end up going in circles, possibly for months or years.

Monday, September 16, 2013


When I started selling natural pet foods and supplements back in 2005, I had no idea how rewarding my job would be. It didn't take long however before I was rewarded over and over again. The simple act of changing your pet's food can make a world of difference; we are all what we eat after all. Each time a customer came back to the store to thank me for the changes they saw in their pets, it solidified my desire to continue on this path, to learn as much as I could and to help as many people as I could help their pets.

I left the retail world a year and a half ago but have continued on my own personal endeavours. Over the past few months I have been helping friends of mine with their dog, a white female Boxer named Patience.

Patience is four years old and extremely overweight. We estimate that Patience should weigh between 60 and 70lbs, but at her last weigh-in she topped out at 102lbs! When her person found this out, she was absolutely horrified. Something I learned early on in my journey of helping people with their pets is, people make mistakes, they get the wrong information or are overwhelmed by all the things life throws at them. But that doesn't mean they don't love their pets. So, before any judgement is passed, let me give a little background. 

Patience: August 6, 2013. 102lbs

In January 2013, Patience lost her best friend, Preston, who was a male Boxer, to kidney disease; Preston was only four years old when he passed away. The owners of these dogs are friends of mine, good friends, and they are really good people. However, anyone with multiple pets who has had one of those animals become ill, especially terminally ill, knows how hard it is to take the focus off the sick animal. Add a baby into the mix, full time jobs and financial difficulties, and we have a situation. All obstacles aside, Preston's people did everything they needed to, to keep him as healthy and comfortable as possible. They didn't have the money for all the tests the vet needed to do to keep track of his levels, but they found it every single time. Unfortunately, after a nine month struggle, Preston's life was cut far too short and his people had to make the heart breaking decision to let him go.

When my friends found out about Preston's illness, she called me and asked for my advice. She immediately changed Preston onto a homemade diet., some herbs, and supplements. Patience however, remained on a kibble diet for a few months and she was being over fed. Because of their busy life and the stress of Preston's illness, Patience was not getting the exercise she required and she continued to gain weight.

Patience has been on a raw diet for about a year now, but for quite a while one of her people continued to over feed her. In July I started walking Patience twice a week for a half hour each day. We started off slowly so as not to overwork her heart, to prepare her body for more exercise (Patience also has trouble with her hind legs ), we got her feeding situation under control and started her on a weight loss supplement about three weeks ago. Within the first month of her walks Patience started going upstairs at night to sleep in the bedroom with her people; something she hadn't done for a very long time!!

Patience. August 13, 2013

I have now been walking Patience for about two months and although I won't know until Wednesday this week how much weight she has lost, we can see it! The best part is, I now have to keep up with HER on her walks!! Starting this week, since the weather is cooler, we are increasing her walks to three days a week and next week I will be starting massage sessions with Patience, which will also help with her weight loss, and her well being. 

Being able to visibly observe Patience's weight coming off, her energy levels changing and too see how happy she is every time I come over, and to see her well being shinning through, is the best reward I could ever ask for.

Today was an excellent day in the business of making a dog feel better and helping a family. I hope I see many, many more of these days in the weeks, months and years to come!

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Monday, April 29, 2013


"If I can listen to what he tells me, if I can understand how it seems to him, if I can sense the emotional flavour which it has for him, then I will be releasing the portent forces of change within him"
~Carl Rogers~

There is an endless supply of controversy when it comes to the emotional capacity of animals, but for most people who share their lives with them the arguments are moot. It seems there is no dispute among pet owners that they believe their dog, cat, bird or any number of other animals, love them, miss them, get angry at them for one reason or another and the list goes on. It's puzzling then how many pet owners choose methods of training and behaviour modification, which include physical force, intimidation and fear based on outdated dominance theories.

More and more trainers and behaviourists have come to realize animals are more receptive to positive methods and their relationships with animals are much more rewarding when they are built on trust, patience and understanding. These relationships are strengthened and behaviour modification can be solidified with the use of positive reinforcement. It has been proven for years that animals are more likely to repeat a wanted behaviour when they are rewarded in a positive manner.

By taking the time to show an animals what is expected of them, by taking the time to try and understand their apprehensions, confusion, fears and anxieties in an empathetic manner rather than forcing upon them situations and triggers that will ultimately cause additional negative behaviours, you are building a foundation of trust and taking your relationship to an entirely different level.

A Tribute to Fatty Arbuckle's dog, Luke

The other day I was reading a conversation on a well known trainer's Facebook page regarding the use of positive reinforcement as opposed to method's based on another trainer's use of force and intimidation. Although most people agreed that positive methods were more effective, many were adamant that these methods are not always possible, especially when dealing with cases of aggression and other difficult behaviour issues. The truth of the matter is many trainers are helping animals overcome aggression and other behaviour problems with positive reinforcement. Those trainers who are unable to achieve the same results with animals, using positive methods, are maybe not reaching deep enough into their relationships with them. It is possible these particular trainers are too set in their ways to step outside their own learned behaviours, to let go of the outdated theories and methods that are holding them back from fully understanding the animals they are working with.

There are countless stories of people who have developed amazing bonds with animals, who let go of the idea of a human/animal divide and took hold of the human/animal bond instead. To say it is not possible to train an animal without using abusive or outdated methods that will do nothing but encourage additional or deeper levels of negative behaviours, is something that can only come from someone who has no interest in opening their mind.

In all of our relationships, positive reinforcement plays a role. We would not want to be in a relationship with someone who bullied us, pinned us down or kicked us, so why would our pets? I am not saying negative reinforcement does not work, that alpha rolls and other acts of "dominance" will not help you achieve the behaviour you are seeking. You likely will stop or start the behaviour you are looking for, but through fear, intimidation and physical force rather than trust, patience and understanding. The relationships we have and keep with other humans are usually people who make us feel good, who care for us and show compassion toward us, and understanding. These individuals make us laugh, hold us up when we are sad or scared and stand next to us through times of difficulty. Why should our animal companions be treated any differently?

Developing an amazing bond with your own pet or with the animals you are working with is a choice, a state of mind that forces those who seek it to step outside the box, to let go of the focus on human vs. animal and to put all they have into the patience and understanding needed to teach a being who simply speaks another language. These bonds are some of the most rewarding experiences in many peoples' lives and clearly, they are also the most rewarding for many companion animals. 

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Friday, April 26, 2013


I was just talking to my cousin this morning about an issue she is having with a neighbour, whose dog is barking constantly. Her family cannot even enjoy a day outside because the dog next door never stops. I understand how she feels because we have similar issues with neighbours around our home. All in all, in my neighbourhood there are 21 dogs, including my own and those are only the houses I know of and can see either from my front or rear yards. Out of those homes there are only two, ours included, where the dogs are watched while they are outside and are not permitted to bark constantly, fence fight or run loose.

As a dog owner I believe my responsibility and the responsibility of all dogs owners, goes beyond the unwritten contract we have with our dogs to keep a roof over their head, keep them fed and hydrated and make sure they get the health care they require and deserve. In my mind, responsibility extends to neighbours and the general public, because not everyone has or loves dogs and no one should have to deal with a dog that does not belong to them.

It has long been a pet peeve of mine when I see people get a dog or dogs, only to throw them into the back yard and leave them to their own devices, for hours at a time. I do not understand why people get dogs if they do not want to care for them and share their lives with them. Dogs are social animals, they want to be with their "pack". Dogs also require leadership, boundaries and structure and to deprive them of these essential parts of life, is nothing less than irresponsible.

Training your dog is essential to their quality of life, it provides them with the tools they require to thrive in society, with humans and other animals. If you are not training your dog and providing the structure and boundaries they deserve, you are doing them a great injustice, an injustice far too many dogs are forced to live with. Dogs want to know their role within their "pack", they want to be included and most dogs probably do not want much more than that. When our dogs know their role and what is expected of them, when they are included in the "pack", provided with the training, structure and balance they need, there will be fewer behaviours that require our attention and they will be happier for it. 

Dogs also require exercise, both physical and mental. When they do not get the proper exercise, bad behaviours can rear their ugly head, at no fault of the dog. Putting your dog in the yard for long periods of time with no supervision or guidance is likely to create behaviours which will result in poor relationships with your neighbours, and mostly likely your dog. Excessive barking, fence fighting, digging and all sorts of other behaviours can be eliminated and save your relationship with your neighbours if you just spend time with your dog. It will also result in a happier dog and a more productive, healthy relationship between you and them.

Being a responsible dog owner means being responsible for your dog at all times and in my opinion, it also includes respecting the people around you.

The relationships I have with my dogs are the most rewarding relationships I have had in my life. You are doing yourself and your dog a great disservice if you are not embracing the relationship you could have by including them in all aspects of your family, of their "pack" and by providing them with the training, structure and boundaries they deserve.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


"Falsehood flies and the truth comes limping after, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late: the jest is over, and the tale has had its effect."   ~Jonathan Swift~

Someone made a comment  to me the other day about how much good Cesar Millan has done for "pit bulls" and I had to write a post about it, as it has long been a pet peeve of mine when I hear these comments. I do not disagree entirely, how could I? However, the way I see it, Cesar Millan is also perpetuating the stereotypes of "pit bulls" and I will explain why I feel that way.

First of all, as mentioned in a previous post, there is no such "breed" as a "pit bull". The term "pit bull" has been used in the past as a short form for the pure bred American Pit Bull Terrier, but in more recent years it refers to all three related pure breeds and pretty much any dog with a short coat, muscular build and a square shaped head. The term "pit bull" has also become a scapegoat and cash cow for the media and government, but a "breed" it is not.

If a "pit bull" is not a true breed of dog then, but a mixture of who knows what, how can one attribute traits to that animal, of a pure bred dog? Especially when, more times than not, the mixed breeds which make up the dog in question are not known. Assuming a dog is a "pit bull" based on the animal's appearance and diagnosing and treating behaviour based on that assumption, is nothing less than irresponsible.

Additionally, the traits Cesar Millan and a number of other celebrity and non-celebrity trainers and "behaviorists" claim to be exclusive to "pit bulls", are for the most part misrepresented and therefore misconstrued by the general public. 

When individuals like Cesar Millan make statements about things like "the pit bull gene" and comments like: "as long as I fulfill all of his animal-dog needs first, the pit bull inside of him will not surface in a negative fashion", many people see this as solid proof that all the stories are correct about "pit bulls". Both of these comments were made by Cesar Millan in Chapter 4 of his book, "Be The Pack Leader". Comments such as these, made with the negative connotation in which they are, lead people to believe there is a special "gene" involved in making so called "pit bulls" what they are. Cesar Millan refers quiet frequently to the fact that he raises and trains "pit bulls" in such a way that their true "pit bull" nature or "gene", succumb to his magical approach and they end up as "just animal-dogs in a pit bull" suit.

I am not naive by any means; as the owner of dogs considered to be "pit bulls" and as someone who has had the rare privilege of meeting all three types of the pure breeds as well as countless mixed breed dogs falling under this category, I am aware of what these dogs truly are. I am also very aware of their history.

Although it is true that some of the pure breeds classified as "pit bulls" can sometimes be dog aggressive, this is a trait that can be seen in any breed, but not in a breed as a whole. Also, dog/dog aggression is an entirely different thing from dog/human aggression. It is also true that the American Pit Bull Terrier was used in dog fighting as well as bull and bear baiting, but the fact of the matter is, you cannot "breed" fighting into a dog.

Fighting is a learned behaviour, it is something that is taught and that is why low lives like Michael Vick torture, starve and beat these dogs to get them to do so. Also, if the myths regarding the "pit bull gene" and fighting dog theories were true, none of the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick fiasco, or any other similar situation, would have been rehabilitated, but when given the opportunity, most are. Fortunately though, of the 49 dogs rescued from Michael Vick's organization, Bad Newz Kennels, only one was euthanized for aggression, 22 of the dogs were fostered out and have since been adopted and the remaining dogs live on in a sanctuary. Some of the adopted dogs have even become therapy dogs and they all now live in homes happily with people, dogs, cats and children. The story of Michael Vick's dogs alone, goes against any truth there could be behind a special "gene" or fighting and aggressive traits in "pit bull" type dogs.

People like Cesar Millan have the opportunity to dispel these myths and although it's nice to say he uses "pit bull" type dogs on his show and he portrays them in a good light by using them to help other dogs; if he continuously infers that they have special genes and aggressive or fighting traits, that extra special care must be taken when dealing with "pit bulls", it is only causing these dogs and everyone involved with them, to take five steps back. The Dog Whisperer is not guilty on his own in this, as many other celebrity dog trainers and dog trainers and behaviourists in general, continue to spread these myths to their clients and the public.

Any dog can become aggressive and any dog can be a danger. Special care should be taken when dealing with any dog, regardless of breed, regardless of size.

Until everyone with a platform stops making these comments, starts expelling the "fighting dog" myths and just accepts all dogs as dogs, we are never going to move forward and our dogs will forever be stigmatized as the most aggressive or dangerous dogs in the world.

Breed Standards:

American Pit Bull Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Pit Bull Hoax

Monday, April 22, 2013


This past weekend a video was going around Facebook of a young girl from the Czech Republic who has trained her cat, Suki, to do agility. The video is not only amazing because the cat is doing agility, it's amazing because the bond this girl has with the cat is so clearly seen. Suki is happy and at times almost wags his/her tail like a dog. Suki is clearly thrilled to be doing all of the tasks asked of him/her but if you think it's a one off, think again. This young girl has worked with dogs and other cats too and she is pretty amazing. Her timing is awesome and she clearly "gets" the animals she is working with. This young lady is a great example of how the human animal bond can take you places no one thought you could, like a cat doing agility!

Suki 8 months

If you cannot see the video, you can go straight to You Tube here and give her props by subscribing to her You Tube Channel too!

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