Friday, December 30, 2011

Saga of Pupper vs. Kitty

Our home is never boring. Bailey makes certain of that.
Bailey is my three-year old Golden Retriever-Great Pyrenees mix. And from the moment he arrived at three months of age he has been a handful (more on that later).

If you will permit me the privilege of anthropomorphism the Saga of Pupper vs. Kitty will be
easier told.

We have a new behavioral problem in our home. Bailey has decided he no longer likes our two
cats, especially our four-year old tripawd, Jack-Jack.

While Bailey’s sudden dislike of the cats is new, his temperamental attitude is not—we have worked with Bailey on anger management, resource guarding and impulse control since the age of nine months when his first outburst occurred. So we are not new to this behavior, its trails, struggles or dangers. We’ve also witnessed improvements along the way that we are thankful for.

Life in a multi-pet household is all about management. I was told that I could never have four adult
male (neutered) Great Pyrenees living in harmony. They were too stubborn, independent and territorial. And while we’ve had our challenges; especially as our two youngest puppies matured and hit those all important growth markers at 9, 12, 18 and 24 months of age, we have all survived declaws intact.

After Bailey’s first outburst at nine months of age, I immersed myself in animal behavior.
Already friends with a wonderful positive trainer, Jan Casey, I
surrounded myself with every book, website and recommendation she offered. Jan successfully lives with a reactive dog so I knew she not only had the training to offer advice but that she knew first
hand what life would be like for Bailey & I.

I would estimate that half of all multi-pet households have some sort of relationship issue at one time or another. Human-Dog, Dog-Dog, Cat-Cat, Dog-Cat. So how do we maintain safety and work through the “problem behaviors” to live a happy life together? I don’t have all the answers but as Bailey, Jack-Jack & I work through our issue we’ll share what we are trying, what is
working and what isn’t.

Hopefully, it will give you some ideas to help your pets get along better with their housemates. As
always, I’m not an expert, professional, animal behaviorist or trainer. Just an owner looking for answers.

As we begin the Saga of Pupper vs. Kitty, our first requirement is to maintain safety in our
homes for all involved. If you have severe behavioral issues—growling, lunging, chasing, biting, or guarding—please separate your animals so they cannot reach one another. It may be an inconvenience to fill your home with baby gates and crates, or leave Spike in his fenced backyard but safety comes first. Second, schedule an appointment with your animal’s vet for a checkup. If the issue is an animal-animal issue it may be best to take both pets to the doctor (separately) for a physical. Discuss all behaviors and issues you are concerned about. Health problems can
lead to a pet acting out in a physical manner. And just as we have to maintain safety first, we must rule out any health issues second.

There’s homework involved in this journey. Lesson #1—Pick up a few books to get you
The Other End Of the Leash, For The Love of a Dog
and Feeling Outnumbered? All by Dr. Patricia McConnell and available at

Once we’ve accomplished those three things we’ll meet back here for the next installment of the Saga of Pupper vs. Kitty.

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.



Okay, I’ve heard of fingerprints in humans. Unique nose prints in cats. But poo prints in

Turns out the BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tennessee has come up with a new way to encourage owners to pick up after Beau. The canine genetic testing lab has begun the PooPrints Green Initiative to promote proper handling of companion animal waste.

Under this initiative and program, dog owners who live in apartment complexes, condo associations and other developments would be required to submit a DNA sample in the form of a noninvasive cheek swab to BioPet Vet Lab.

In return the registered pets would receive a PooPrints collar tag as a reminder of their owner’s pledge to pick up waste. Should an owner fail to clean up after Beau on his daily walk or exercise time, BioPet can trace the remaining waste to the offending dog and owner.

Move over CSI. I sense a new detective show on the horizon. Instead of cool shades, Doggoles!

For more information visit:

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Raising Indiana: Dr. Stanley Coren

I don't know how she does it but boy I tell ya, Sheila, our righteous producer, finds some incredibly fascinating guests.  This week we have Dr. Stanley Coren, he's a psychologist, lifelong dog trainer, prolific author and a genuinely enjoyable fellow to talk with.  

His books have been both controversial and ground breaking.  The Intelligence of Dogs ranks 110 breeds according to their intelligence.  Want to know why you're drawn to a Dachshund or a Labradoodle?  Get a copy of his very popular book, Why We Love the Dogs We Do.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Barking Dog Got Ya Down?

What’s worse than living next to a barking dog? Living with a barking dog!

The still and calm of the early morning air is broken by the
unmistakable, earth-shaking booo-wooo-wooo-wooo that is Clarence’s wakeup call
to the entire neighborhood.

The bark of a Great Pyrenees is not easily ignored by owner,
neighbor or threat. Feet firmly planted,
tail curled high, head thrown skyward, warm up growl and he’s off to the races
of psychological distress to anyone within a two-mile radius. He goes from
sound asleep to sonic boom in 0.3 seconds.

So what is a neighbor or owner to do?

As a neighbor your choices are limited to lawful acts and
humane practices when it comes to dealing with Barkley’s barking.

Your first obligation is to calmly discuss the situation
with the dog’s owner. You can offer the
names of positive-reinforcement trainers in your area. To locate one visit: Barkley can be taught rather easily to bark
on cue, and to be quite on cue. Animal
behaviorist and world-renowned trainer, Dr. Patricia McConnell, and Clicker-Training
Expert, Karen Pryor, both offer detailed instructions for teaching the “bark”
and “quiet” cues in their books and DVD series.

Dogs bark for a laundry list of reasons. Let us not forget that the modern dog had
beginnings with humans as part protector, part hunting mate. A defensive, alerting bark was a desirable trait and still remains so today.

The owner should be encouraged to take Barkley to the vet
for a checkup to rule out any health issues that may contribute to the barking. Is the dog uncomfortable and trying to communicate that to his owner? The vet
can check for common disorders and offer advice to deal with the barking. I should note that medication is sometimes prescribed for extreme vocalization cases, mostly due to anxiety. Medicating Barkley should be a last resort reserved for circumstances where other options—behavioral modifications and training--have been unsuccessful.

Does the neighborhood dog need more daily exercise? An unexercised dog will have a tendency to
bark out of frustration and boredom. Offer to help walk the dog or locate a dog walker for the owner. If Barkley is bored there are many fantastic toys on the market today to occupy dogs while owners are away from home. A Kong filled with softened kibble and frozen overnight will provide a distraction and mental stimulation when Barkley is alone.

Does Barkley have adequate shelter, food and water? A solid, warm dog house and a heated bowl
during cold weather may help. Some dogs are conditioned to happily pass the day outdoors while their owners are at work. Others suffer severe separation anxiety or simply crave being near their family at all times. If Barkley is the latter, offer to purchase a crate so he can stay safely indoors when his family is away or busy with chores such as cooking dinner. It would also be
wise to suggest that Barkley be pottied, exercised and trained on a leash to
avoid any self-reinforcing barking behaviors while outdoors.

Is the neighborhood dog, like Clarence, a Great Pyrenees? A breed that has a tendency to bark to
protect his flock & family. If so, you are working against genetics--years of ingrained behaviors, that where once or still are desirable. A working dog like a Great Pyrenees needs a job. The
Working Breed does well at cart pulling and backpacking, and it gives a sense of accomplishment and mental stimulation. And, the old adage a tired dog is a happy dog can translate to a tired
dog is a quiet dog

I have found that barking may be prompted by growth and maturation in some dogs. Clarence did
not utter a woof for the first six months that we had him. But at nine months of age he found his voice! And it seems that another pyr in our family, Zeus, began barking almost to himself around the age of two. When Clarence hit the two year mark his barking ramped up and is still going strong at three. I’m hoping he follows Zeus’ path and begins to settle in to a more quiet way around his 4th

With four dogs in a household, usually someone has something to woof about. And by this we can see some of the varied reasons dogs vocialize:

Zeus barks to tell me the “puppies”, Clarence and Bailey,
are doing something they are not allowed to do, like sitting on the couch. He also barks when he wants to walk by one of the other dogs to another location. Zeus
is a sweet teddybear who does not assert himself with his brothers. His barking signals us to “help” him walk past the other dog. Zeus also barks when outside to alert us that he wishes to come inside. All of these vocalizations from Zeus are distinct.

Bailey does not bark often. He chooses to communicate thru growling.
He and Supermax are my two alert barkers—if they are barking it’s time to check things out.

Supermax also barks when he is playful and happy—with his entire body wiggling those barks make me smile.
Clarence just simply barks for any reason.

I must admit that the work to control barking in my own home
is imperfect and ongoing. We are still working on putting bark and quiet on cue.
We work on physical and mental stimulation and eliminating self-reinforcing
barking behaviors. We remove a stimulus that contributes to barking when possible and reward for good behavior, never punishing for undesired behavior.

Since we live in a populated area with four Great Pyrenees who tend to be very vocal at night when critters are out, we insist they sleep inside and have supervised potty breaks to eliminate any late night barking that might disrupt a neighbor’s sleep.

We also try to handle and defuse the barking situation with humor toward our neighbors. Earplugs and apology notes have arrived in mailboxes. And we welcome their honest feedback.
It will not insult me to hear that my dog is bothering my neighbor—some
days he bothers me too.

As a neighbor, under absolutely no circumstances is it okay to give a dog any medication--over the counter, holistic or prescribed. You do not know Barkley’s medical history and what may seem like the perfect solution to a good night’s sleep could result in a severe adverse reaction or even death for the animal. Physical harm should never become an option either. If you are considering either of
these so called solutions it is best not to approach the dog’s owner until you have regained composure or contact your local animal control officer and calmly explain your situation. The officer is best equipped to visit the neighbor and pass on your concerns, and offer
solutions that will ease life on both sides of the fence.

There is no instant cure that will guarantee you a pleasant night’s sleep, no matter what the electric collar package promises. By using an electric correction in the form of a sound-emitting device or suggesting that your neighbor attach a shock collar or citrollena-spray collar to Barkley you will indeed have a behavioral modification. The modified behavior will not result in Barkley remaining quiet. Barkley will learn to bark “around” or through the annoyance or discomfort of such devices. If Barkley is a working dog such as a Great Pyrenees, prized for their protective attributes, he will bark no matter the pain level. Barkley may become fearful or aggressive because of such devices. If he does stop barking congratulations (sic). You have suppressed a natural behavior, a communication and a warning. The HSUS has proven that only 4 out of 8 dogs who were subjected to electric collars of all types stopped barking. Some dogs became servely fearful and aggressive, increasing the chances of a dog bite.

We should note that there is a medical procedure called “debarking” in which a dog’s vocal chords are removed or severed. This procedure has been deemed inhumane by many animal rights groups and animal advocates. By removing an animal’s vocal chords an owner may physically and
psychologically impair and harm the animal, causing more behavioral and health problems in the future. This is surgical abuse and not an option. Any vet that offers this procedure does not have the animal’s best interest at heart. Remember the veterinarian creed: Do No Harm.

A better and more humane solution to the above practices is to discuss rehoming the animal with his owner. I am certain that Barkley is a beloved member of the family but if the
owner cannot control the disruptive behavior and extreme, inhumane measures are
being considered it is best for Barkley that another loving home be located. There are many rescue organizations located through out the country. A quick internet search will locate a rescue that will safely rehome Barkley. Perhaps even a home with fenced acreage so nearby neighbors will not be bothered by his barking.

There are no quick fixes for barking dogs. It takes diligence and concern on the part of
the owner to continue training, provide exercise, mental stimulation and to
control self-reinforcing behaviors. It also takes patience on the part of neighbors and family members. Yes, we all have a right to peace of mind and a solid night’s sleep, but trying to place ourselves in the position of the frazzled dog owner may go a long way in neighborly relations and Barkley’s health.

Time to go now… Clarence is barking… again.

I am not a professional trainer or behaviorist, simply an owner (of a barking dog) who enjoys learning as much as possible about the animals I share my home with. If you are having issues with a barking dog please consult with a positive-reinforcement professional or your pet’s veterinarian.
For more information on behavioral issues such as barking please visit: Dr. Patricia McConnell Karen Pryor Jean Donaldson Turid Rugaas Dr. Stanley Coren

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

And Baby Makes More...

And baby makes more…

Whether you’re a parent or grandparent, getting your home
and current pets ready for the arrival of a baby is an important step in family
harmony and safety. Here are a few
simple tips:

  1. Brush up on training. With frequent visitors and a chaotic
    schedule, everyone will appreciate a well-mannered dog. Practice basic obedience or take a
    refresher course.
2. Hope for quiet. Brush up on or
teach a cue to cease barking; offer an extra special treat for

  1. Off limits, please. If you’ll be keeping your dog out of the
    nursery, set up the room early, and reward her for waiting at the door. A
    baby gate is a great option to control movements of baby & pet.

  1. Socialize. Take a walk with friends and their
    babies, or visit a playground so your dog gets accustomed to the rapid
    movements and high-pitched tones of young children.

  1. Establish a routine. Come up with a walk or playtime and
    stick to it.

  1. Plan for care. Line up several options of dog care
    givers to call on when you’re at the hospital and those first few months
    at home.
As always, never leave a child unattended with a pet—no matter how well-mannered the pet
is. And, as you child grows instill respect, boundaries and proper handling of the animals they share a home with.

This is a major time of change for family and pets. Give yourself and your animals a break while
adjusting to life with baby.

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Greatest of These is Love--Merry Christmas

The Greatest of These is Love—Merry Christmas
Author, Jan Casey

Christmas is such a busy time. People are on the run, attending parties to share love with friends and family, shopping to buy all the right gifts, decorating their homes, and
attempting to finish the end-of-the-year reports for the boss. The weather is
marginal, snow is in the forecast and colder days are guaranteed. Even in a
small town like Cookeville (Tennessee), stress overtakes many as they
attempt to do it all. I hope, as you sit and read the paper, you’ll take a
moment to reflect on the joys that are also a part of this season, particularly
the joys brought to you by the family pet(s).

I recently saw the
history of the Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The song was
written during a time of religious persecution, when Roman Catholics were not
permitted to openly practice their faith in England. Each of the gifts was a
code for a religious symbol: the partridge in the pear tree is Jesus, the two
turtle doves are the Old and New Testament, and so on. When I reached the nine
ladies dancing, I read they represent the nine fruits of the Spirit: Love
(charity), Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Humility, and
Self control. It strikes me that these virtues are the same things required of
us as we train and live with our furry companions.

Self Control: For the
human part of the team, self control is vital when training. Yes, we get angry
when our animals do something wrong or do not perform as we wish. Loss of self
control, becoming angry with the dog when he fails to meet our expectations,
leads to yelling (or worse) and weakens the bond you have with your pet. Better
to put him in a kennel with a good chew toy until you calm down. Dogs, too,
need to learn self control. They need to be taught to wait for a release cue to
get their dinner, to lie down and stay on a mat when asked, to “leave it”
whatever the “it” may be, to come when called. In other words, to follow the
cues you give, knowing that something wonderful will follow if they do.

Humility: This one just
comes with training a dog. There is nothing more humbling than to teach a dog
something new only to have her act as if she has never heard the cue before
when she is asked to perform. The standard cry heard in class? “But she does it
at home!” Don’t worry, with more practice in more locations, she will learn
what you want and her performance will make you proud.

Faith: Having faith in
one’s dog is not always easy. It may take years to build the trust, the
camaraderie necessary for you to trust your dog. I think service dogs are the
prime example owners placing their faith in their dogs. They trust the dog will
help them accomplish simple tasks: to cross a busy street, to alert them to a
phone ring or a baby’s cry, to help them lie down safely just before a seizure
strikes, to help them cope with a world that causes them anxiety.

Goodness: This is
definitely a two way street. Dogs will be good if people are good to them. They
are living beings who think, have emotions, and need the companionship of man.
It’s a partnership.

Gentleness: This is what
positive, reward-based training is all about. You can train your dog to a high
level by using gentleness. The Original Dog Whisperer, Paul Owens, is an
excellent example. There are so many others – Chris Bach, Pat Miller, Patricia
McConnell. Don’t buy into “You have to show them who is boss.” You’ll only set
up a relationship that is adversarial. Is that really why you got a dog?

Patience: Dogs are not
people. Though the laws of learning are the same for people and animals, we
still learn at different rates and through different reinforcements. Your dog
may learn some things incredibly fast and other things very slowly. Have
patience, seek suggestions for help on those things your dog is not doing well.

Peace: It’s not all work
all the time. Take time to sit with your pet and enjoy just being in her
company. Accept her for the being she is and make peace with the fact that
there may be some things you would like from her that she will never be able to
do. Accept this and be thankful for the miracle of her companionship.

Joy: People who love
their pets find joy in sharing their lives with these gifts from Above. Walking
together, playing together, cuddling on the couch, just being with your pet can
bring harmony and joy to your life. It is widely accepted that pet owners are
happier and healthier than non-pet owners. Need some joy? Get a pet.

Love: A verse in the
Bible states “The greatest of these is love.” You need not be rich or have much
to give to your pet, but if you love him, he will be the luckiest pet on earth.
It does not matter if he gets the best food, the newest toys, or top of the
line training. Love is the greatest gift you can give your pet.

Wishing you and your
pets the very best Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jan Casey is a
reward-based trainer in Florida
at Courteous Canine, Inc.
and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs.
Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.

Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen Pet
and Kid's Korner .
This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

10 Commandments of Dog Training

10 Commandments of Dog Training
Author, Jim Burwell

There are certain things that every dog owner should know if they expect their dog to
grow up to be a well behaved, well adjusted dog.

These tips are some basic ideas you should keep in mind so that your dog
can go smoothly and be fun for you and your dog.

Socialize your dog early. Puppies need to experience new places, noises and
people early. Just keep in mind where your puppy is on vaccinations and do not
take them to public areas like dog parks or big box dog stores. Do activities that get him used to other animals and his environment. Socializing is training and you don’t want a dog that is frightened of everything and doesn’t play well with other dogs.

Say your command one time. Repeating your commands conveys to your dog that
you didn’t mean what you said the first time and he learns he doesn’t have to
do the command immediately.

Be patient. Your tone of voice, volume and body language should never convey
to your dog that you are beginning to get frustrated or angry. Hold you patience – it will pay off in spades.

Be Consistent. Consistency is key. Use the same commands when you expect
your dog to obey. Changing your command words will be confusing and will sabotage your training.

Set Boundaries. Every action you allow your dog to get away with may gradually undo what you are trying to teach him. Don’t set your dog up to fail. When he does something wrong, immediately say “no, wrong” or “no off” and re-direct to the proper action.

Stay in control of your dog. This means sniffing, jumping, pulling on his leash is not ok when you are walking him. Structure your walk where 2/3 of the walk the dog is beside
you and 1/3 of the walk the dog gets to sniff, hike his leg, etc (still on leash) but it’s his 1/3 of the walk.

Reward your dog for good behavior. This can be anything from treats to an
enthusiastic Good Boy!

This helps them differentiate between doing something you like (your happy tone
of voice) to something you don’t like with your (no off) said in a deeper

Learn how dogs think. They are not human. If you understand how dogs think,
which is not complicated, very black and white, and in the moment, you can help
your dog be a better dog. Do not be hard on your dog.

When correcting an inappropriate behavior a simple No Off and redirecting to
the appropriate behavior is enough. Do not hit, alpha roll, yell, kick, or yank
and jerk the leash. All you will accomplish by doing those things, is to teach
your dog YOU are not safe.

Have fun! Remain calm, enthusiastic and keep training on a positive note.
Also keep your training sessions short. No more than 10 minutes per session.

These are just a few things to keep in mind if you want a dog that is happy,
obedient and well adjusted. Teach your dog in a positive way that you control things, be
consistent with your training and praise for a job well done.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of
your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!

Courtesy of Jim Burwell, Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Raising Indiana: A Very Special Podcast with Santa Paws

How do you know if your puppy's been naughty or nice this year?  When's the cutoff date and does your puppy still have time to get on the list?  And straight from Santa Paws - how many puppies have made the list this year?  Did Indiana make the cut? Find out in this very special holiday edition of Raising Indiana.

Plus, help us find a home for a very special puppy, Reggie who came to us from the Austin Humane Society.  Find out more about Reggie on our Finding Fuzzybutt Four Blog.

Happy Holidays
Keep the Faith
and Puppy Up

From Sheila, Our Beloved Producer, & Hudson, Indy & Me, Yer Big Dog

Christmas Gifts for Pets

Christmas Gifts for Pets
Author, Jan Casey
Christmas is two days
away. While… you may still be looking for that “special something” for Chanel
or Slider or Bugsey. Buzz recommends the following for your furry, four-legged

Dogs love to chew. Thus,
we seek toys that are (almost) indestructible. Orbee makes a line called Tuff
Cosmos Balls in a variety of colors including Luna, which glows in the dark.
These balls will also hold a treat to entice your dog to play just a little
longer ( Dog slobber limiting your desire to play ball
with your dog? Try a Chuck-It! The long handled ball launcher doubles as a pick
up tool, keeping your hands dry and slime free (

If a ball is just too
boring for Max, try the Tug-a-Jug ( Another toy designed
to stand up to tough dog teeth, this puzzle is made of material similar to that
used in making bullet-proof glass. Treats are placed inside the transparent jug
and the dog must work to get them out. At Bark in the Park’s Splash Paws
, many dogs enjoyed
not only a dip in one of the bone shaped pools, but also had a chance to chase
chicken-flavored bubbles. Check out the wide variety of bubble machines
available at (they have lots of other neat toys, too!).

What’s that? You don’t
have a furry tornado that needs exercise 28 hours a day? Well, how about a new,
personalized collar and leash set for the Princess? Besty Collars (
has a wide variety of styles from pink ribbons and paws to skull and
crossbones. They’ll even take custom orders. And while you are looking for ways
to help Princess look her best, forget about sweaters and coats – they are so yesterday.
Look at the newest joggers, overalls, and formal wear for dogs. Locally,
Elizabeth of Pal World can dress your pup (On The Square in Livingston, TN).
Of course, if you’d like to think ahead for next year’s Bark in the Park Doggie
Bathing Suit Contest, check out the latest in bikinis and board shorts for your
pup at Cozy Pet Clothes (
New collar, new outfit, now add a collar charm ( and Sophie is
ready for a night on the town with her best friend – you!

So maybe you just want
some quality time with Lexi. Did you know that lists forty-six
Bed and Breakfasts in the U.S.
that welcome dogs? These aren’t small town destinations like Spud, FL, but
places you might actually enjoy such as Asheville,
NC, Savannah, GA, and Kennebunk,
Though most require a pet
fee, you’d be paying for Spike’s care if you left him home, so why not let him
enjoy some time away in an exotic locale with you?

If you decide to travel
by car, Trudy may enjoy a new seat. Check the luxury look-out seats by
snoozer-dog-beds (
or just invest a few dollars in a seat saver sling from Duluth Trading ( To help your
dog stay calm, you might try Animals’ Apawthecary Ginger-Mint Dog Car Sickness
Supplement (if it doesn’t work, at least your dog’s breath will be fresher) and
Through a Dog’s Ear - Driving Edition (

Of course, we must not
forget the cats in the house at Christmas time (not that they would let us
forget them). There is a wide variety of gifts appropriate for that finicky
feline who loves you and allows you to enjoy her presence. Catnip mice – bah,
humbug! How about an interactive Mouse in the House automatic cat toy? Designed
to interact with your cat while you are away, it plugs into the wall and emits
small animal noises before sending a mouse running around a track. That should
catch Patches interest! Also from, a wide selection of interactive
and motorized toys is available as are DVDs to keep Laz busy while you have
other things to do. For those who would like to control their cats, check out Their Control-A-Cat Remote Control uses no batteries or power,
just wishful thinking on your part.

Did you know we have
some seriously good pet artists in our area (of Tennessee)? For paintings and drawings,
check out Adrienne Stone (
or Kim Kuykendall (
just to name two. For photography, I have recently seen some beautiful work by
Amy Callahan ( Take a look at the work of some of our local
artists as you won’t find better than we have in this area. A photograph or
portrait is a gift that will last long after all the toys have been shredded.

If you no longer have a
pet, could you help another animal? The Cookeville/Putnam County Animal Shelter
Angel Tree at Food Lion (or an Angel Tree near you) has ornaments listing their
needs by the north exit door. Food, bleach, blankets, stamps, money, and detergent
are just a few items that could help. Other rescues in our area can use help as
well. Just email or call them and ask how you can help at this time of the
year. Perhaps your neighbor or a friend could use your help caring for her pet.
It doesn’t have to be money or things, it can be a little of your time. It is
the season of giving, after all. Giving a gift of your time and your care is

Jan Casey is a
reward-based trainer in Florida
at Courteous Canine, Inc.
and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs.
Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.
Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen Pet
and Kid's Korner .
This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Mid-Summer Morning With George

A Mid-Summer Morning With George

And now a wonderful example of pet owners who honored their commitment to
care for their kitty, George, even after a new human bundle of joy joined their
family. We hope more new parents make the
choice to keep their pets instead of surrendering them to a shelter after baby

Photos and Blog Entry courtesy of Maria Andrews for White Whiskers

…George, a big gray and white tabby with a giant sized personality makes his
home in Brookline
with his mom and dad. At the time, he was an only child and blessed with a family
who considered him not just a cat, but a very important part of their family.

Most recently, George’s mom gave birth to a gorgeous little girl and I have
to say, I was so happy to see logic and sanity prevail. And the reason I say
this is because I’ve seen too many times moms-to-be told by their doctors that
cats, litter boxes and pregnancy do not mix and sadly, the outcome, results in
cats being surrendered to animal shelters out of irrational fears. George, you
really are loved and lucky you, now you have a little sister!

At first, George wasn’t too sure of me and the camera and I found myself
seeing his backside more than his front. But a little coaxing with chicken
jerky treats, and he warmed up very nicely. Soon, I had a model worthy of the
cover of Cat Fancy and he even allowed me to pick him up (much to the surprise
of his parents). Funny thing is, we started our session with him in his
favorite sleeping place (the box) and when he decided the shoot was complete
and he had given me all he had, he went right back to the box…

Check (more of) this beautiful boy out (at)…

Honorary Fuzzybutt--Let's find Reggie a home!

Yes, Finding Fuzzybutt Four is all about great pyrenees but sometimes we find a cutie that is just too hard to say no to. Meet Reggie. He's our honorary Fuzzybutt and he needs a loving home.
Though Reggie is only two months old, he has suffered a great deal in that short amount of time. Reggie was brought into the Austin Humane Society by a good samaritan who rescued him after a botched backyard tail-docking procedure. Poor Reggie's tail is raw and very painful, and he will need surgery when he is old enough (roughly in January) to completely fix his issues. Here at AHS, Reggie is receiving the care he needs to recover from this traumatic experience and the medicine he needs to ensure he heals without pain. We are working to find Reggie a wonderful family that can care for his needs and provide him with the loving home he deserves. Reggie is a purebred Doberman, neutered, HW negative and up to date on shots. The AHS already has a working relationship with a vet for Reggie's care. Adoption fee and application is required, and AHS prefers a local home for Reggie. Please cal 512-646-7387 for more info or to adopt sweet Reggie.

Sheila Rinks is the editor of Finding Fuzzybutt Four, producer of the Raising Indiana podcast and shares her home with her husband, 4 Great Pyrenees and 2 very well-fed kitties.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Pets? Advice from the ASPCA

Thinking of Getting a Pet This Holiday
Season? Watch This Video First

The holidays are a popular time to bring
home a new pet—and for animals in shelters, getting a real home is the best
gift ever. But listen up, potential pet parents: Bringing home a new furry
friend is also a serious commitment.

To help would-be adopters, the ASPCA Adoption
has prepared a
special video explaining the do’s and don’ts of holiday pet adoption.

Just remember, surprises are wonderful, but
never give a pet as a gift. See if your shelter has a gift-certificate instead!

Courtesy of the ASPCA Blog at

A Christmas Gift? Or please don't give a pet as a Christmas gift!

A Christmas Gift?
Or please don't give a pet as a Christmas gift!
Author, Bob McMillan

It’s a heartwarming image. Christmas morning. The family is gathered, the tree is
lit and the kids come thundering down the stairs to tear into their pile of
presents. And there it is wearing a bright bow, a wiggly new bright-eyed puppy. Squeals of joy fill the room.

Fast-forward two months. The puppy’s behind bars at the local shelter along with dozens of other whimpering dogs jettisoned after the holidays. The house is a wreck, mom and dad are frostbitten and frazzled and relations with the kids are less than jolly.

Ho, ho, ho. It’s not a great way to start the new year, huh.

Raising a puppy is a staggering amount of work and time if you care about the dog’s well-being, if you’re aware that you’re committing to meeting its needs for at least the next decade and if you like the idea of hanging onto a shred of sanity during the winter months ahead.

Yet the idea of the Christmas gift puppy persists, and so does the flooding of animals shelters in February and March when reality sets in.

Still leaning towards that Christmas puppy? The Web site has a brilliant article this month (
suggesting ways you can get ready for that bundle of joy under the tree:

• Pour puddles of cold apple juice in unexpected places all through the house.
Then walk around in the dark barefooted or in your sock feet. Step in it again
and again. Swear profusely. Then start scrubbing. Some spots will come out.
Some won’t. You’re okay with this, right?

• Rip out the toes and heels of all your socks and wear them. Day after day. Wear
them. Does the expression “bundle of joy” still just roll off your tongue?

• With a razor blade, make tiny cuts in your fingertips and knuckles. Prick your
hands all over with needles. Puppies have tiny, sharp teeth and love to use
them, remember?

•The second you wake up, rush outside in the dark and rain and say, “Be a good
boy and do your business.” Relish the icy wind whipping through your pajamas. You’ll get that a lot.

• Company coming? Scatter your underwear all through the house. Make sure you
tear holes in it first.

• String rolls of toilet paper all through the house and shred it like confetti.

• Chip and nick the legs of all your furniture with an ice pick or whatever else
you think best resembles marks left by a set of busy little teeth.

There’s more but ... you get the idea: Just like bringing a new baby into your home, a
new puppy brings a lot of smiles, but a tremendous amount of work and
responsibility, too. Most folks make plans well in advance and get the house
ready for the new addition. They don’t spring it on someone on Christmas

Christmas is probably one of the worst times you could pick to introduce a new puppy to your household. Sure, the kids are home on break, but after that first hour of running around the house like maniacs with the puppy, they’re likely to want to play with those other presents. The puppy is left to its own devices. And teeth.

Even if you kennel your puppy inside until it’s housebroken, it still needs
near-constant attention making sure it gets outside regularly for potty breaks
and to show it (over and over) that puppy toys are fine for chewing, but
clothing, furniture and electric cords are not.

Even if there happens to be a puppy class starting the day after Christmas, you’ll
have your hands full showing your new puppy the rules for living with people.
And Christmas is usually time for travel, school begins shortly and you’re soon
back to your regular work schedule. The puppy is left alone. A lot.

And remember, the clock is ticking on your puppy’s socialization. He has 16 weeks from birth to meet more than 100 people. Nature allows a window of opportunity when a puppy is open to new experiences. His brain is growing fast. If he’s not met at least 100 new people by the end of the 16 weeks, he could have trouble
later on meeting strangers. Possibly “trouble” in the form of biting. Once the
window closes, he’s lost the potential to be easily comfortable around

Most new puppy owners are pressed to arrange enough encounters during the “window.” It takes a real effort to get the puppy out and around. Even if you have a large family, you’re usually busier during the holidays and so is everyone
else. Unless you’re planning on crashing a lot of parties with your puppy,
socialization over the holidays is hard to schedule.

Walking your puppy, waiting for it to do its bathroom business, playing with your puppy, they’re all a lot more fun when it’s not two degrees and ice pellets
aren’t bouncing off your head. Giving the gift of a puppy at Christmas could
also mean giving the gift of frostbite.

And while you’re thinking about timing, ask yourself why that puppy was available for Christmas wrapping. Most responsible breeders go to great lengths to bring together two dogs whose strengths will improve their line. Sometimes the stars align to produce a quality litter just in time for Christmas, but usually not. If you’re interested in a healthy purebred, remember it’s possible that Christmas money and not the healthiest puppies possible was the motive for that litter.

Puppies are a wonderful adventure and, ideally, the start of a long-term relationship between you and your dog. Why not plan an advantageous start? And for goodness sakes, don’t surprise someone with a 10-to-16-year commitment. The recipient — and the animal shelter — will thank you for thinking things through.

Bob McMillan is an editor and columnist with the
Cookeville Herald-Citizen
newspaper and lives on a mountain with several giant hounds and wary cats.

This column was originally printed in the Herald-Citizen
in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Please visit for more information on the
newspaper. We thank the Herald-Citizen
staff for allowing FFBF
to re-print this piece.

Finn is Bob & Peggy McMillan's Irishwolfhound. Photo is courtesy of Peggy McMillan.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Raising Indiana: Puppy Dentistry

In the ever growing list of things I need to understand about puppy parenthood, I never assigned a high priority to dental care until Indiana started dropping teeth like depth charges.  Trying to remove an imbedded incisor from your sock is kinda like trying to get rid of Geraldo.  Ain't gonna happen.  But at least it brought forth a truly imporant issue. 

Last week's episode of Raising Indiana was all about dental care and oral hygiene for puppies and that was a lot of ground to cover which we've only begun to scratch the surface. 

Stinky puppy breath, brushing teeth (or not!) & bad chews are the topics of conversation with Dr. Sharon Startup on Part 2 of Puppy Dentistry. 

And if you missed our first podcast with Dr. Startup last week: