Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: 101 Essential Tips You Need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog

Every year new dog books appear on the horizon. Now, perhaps, more than ever.  The popularity of self-publishing has encouraged more people to write. E-books have carried it even further. Seldom are dog books published by mainstream publishers these days. But, then, the entire publishing business is in flux. More and more I have self-published books arriving by mail or e-book, all seeking review.

A fairly new entry in the self-published soft-cover category is 101 Essential Tips You Need to Raise a Happy, Healthy, Safe Dog by Jason Nicholas, BVetMed, Illustrated by Chuck Gonzales.  A short and snappy 56 pages, Nicholas, who calls himself The Preventive Vet, has divided the book into sections dealing with various issues, each packed with short, helpful tips for the new dog owner.

All of the entries are intended to help you prevent problems, recognize problems and how to handle emergencies.  Nicholas, based in Portland, Oregon, has included special QR codes throughout the book that is meant for readers who have a smart phone. Each time you use a code with your smart phone it takes you to a page on his website that further expands on the topic. 

I was particularly happy to see that he has explained why dogs shouldn't play with sticks and  a warning about feeding bones with care or "better yet, not at all."  These are all precautions from a veterinarian who has seen the results of these common practices.  

If I take issue with anything in the book it is what he didn't say in regard to collars.  Thankfully, Nicholas warns against leaving choke or prong collars on your dog because they can easily get caught on something and create a real crisis. Actually, such collars are aversive. They also can cause damage to the dog's trachea. This is especially problematic for a dog predisposed to a collapsing trachea but every dog has a trachea and there's no need to risk physical damage.  Dr. Nicholas does recommend positive training, which I was happy to see because that reinforces the human-animal bond and results in a happy dog without the risk of fallout that comes from old-fashioned aversives.

Along the way there are some examples to show what can happen under various circumstances but mainly it is a book filled with extremely useful tips, many that will be appreciated even by more experienced dog owners.

This book costs a reasonable $9.95 and is available online at Dr. Nicholas' website:

From Amazon:

Some veterinary practices and training centers, mostly in Oregon, carry the book as well as one veterinary practice in Minnesota and one pet first aid and cpr center in Kentucky. And at New Season Markets in the Portland (OR) area.

Dr. Jason Nicholas
The Preventive Vet

He is quite amenable to veterinarians and trainers selling the book. Anyone who fits the criteria can contact him directly at:

Note: I received no compensation for this review other than a review copy of the book.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oklahoma Tornado

As part of the Blogger Disaster Response Network (BORN) I'm happy to be able to do something pro-active to help the pets who have survived the devastating tornado that hit Oklahoma this week.

By now we've all seen the pictures, heard the stories, but there are many people still out there who have not been reunited with their families, and many who have been badly injured.  Those of us who love pets want to get them the help that the so desperately need. 

Right now, the biggest need is for cash which will go to World Vets. They are on the ground now assessing the needs of the animals. If you want to help, you can donate here:

This will be ongoing.

However, for TODAY ONLY, May 22nd, Freekibble is donating 100% of the Halo Kibble raised today to the homeless dogs and cats who have been displace by the tornado. Visit

Please share this with your friends so they can help, too!

And here's another link to a site that will help you find other ways to make a difference for the victims of the Tornado in Oklahoma:

Everyone can do something to help!

Monday, May 20, 2013

BlogPaws 2013

I spent this past weekend at the 2013 BlogPaws Conference, held this year in Tyson's Corner, VA. BlogPaws is a young organization that has grown faster than rabbit can breed. Or so it seems. It was my first year at their conference. I had been invited to speak. My topic? So You Want to Write a Book Proposal with a bonus addition of How to Find an Agent.

Colorful Fellow
I really didn't know what to expect but I knew that pets were welcome. Aimee has passed the age of traveling companion for a hectic conference. She prefers to stay home with her petsitter, Mary, and her vast assortment of toys and other environmental enrichment.

I arrived at the hotel and spotted a very colorful dog in the lobby. There were lots of dogs in the lobby and throughout the hotel. 

There were dogs, cats, ferrets, baby chicks and those were the most common sights. Nearly all of the dogs were dressed up. There were two little dogs who were always together with their owners, each dog in a sparkling party dress. Really. How sparkling? They were a little like four-legged chandeliers.

 Then there were the cats who not only had hats but one was sporting a wig. Yes, look carefully. Under the hot pink feathers there's a real, live cat. 

What would I find around the next corner?  Hmmm.  You just never could predict that.

This sleepy little cutie is going to be up for adoption. He came to BlogPaws with a shelter volunteer, having traveled many miles. The little sweetheart walked beautifully on a harness and leash, snuggled with many admirers and is going to make someone a wonderful companion.
Then there were the little naked Sphynx cat and his buddy, the Cornish Rex, like so many other dogs and cats, being wheeled around, safely ensconced in a pet stroller and dressed in little outfits, complete with hats.

No, I didn't just walk around admiring the four-legged attendees. Although I'll admit to holding, petting, and being kissed by an assortment of wonderful dogs and cats. I really did attend seminars, met old friends and new, put faces to names I only knew on Twitter and Facebook and with a crowd of at least 500 people from around the world who blog about every type of animal imaginable and everything from Military Dogs to Rescue and so much more, drawn together by their love of animals, I still haven't met everyone I had hoped to meet. 

As for the Swag Bag we each received, well, I was flying and couldn't possibly haul everything home although I certainly appreciate the generosity of the sponsors. I left nearly everything, including one of the tote bags, on a table where one could either leave things or exchange them. Whatever was left would go to a local shelter or two. And that's a really nice way to end a Conference that really centers around pets. With so many beloved ones gathered there, even walking a Red Carpet before the Nose to Nose Awards were presented, there was a wonderful way to help those weren't as fortunate. Hopefully they, too, will be in loving homes soon.  Well, I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Be Kind to Animals Week

It's that time again. Be Kind to Animals Week. I'd like to think it was every week.  It isn't but it's a good time to think about what you can do, not just for your own pets but for others who are in need of help.  

Need a few ideas? Okay.  Donate food to a local animal shelter. If you can afford it, make a donation, not to one of the big associations but to a grass roots organization, a rescue group, a local shelter. Or ask what they can use.  Most need paper towels, pet food, safe toys, bedding. How about donating your time? Help out at a shelter. Foster a dog or cat. If you're a positive trainer, spend a little time each week training the dogs and cats. You can make the dogs so much more adoptable if you spend a little quality time teaching them to walk nicely on a leash, sit, down, stay. And maybe a trick or two like shaking hands. They'll appreciate the attention. Cats can be clicker trained and it's especially important in a shelter setting where they tend to become depressed and shut down. You can make life much more interesting for them which will bring out their personality and make each kitty more adoptable.

Now for my pet peeve.  This applies all year round and certainly comes under the heading of Be Kind to Animals. I get very upset every time I hear of dogs or cats being thrown out of their homes because their elderly owner has died and no one wants that person's beloved companions. Often they themselves didn't come to visit and the only form of affection and attention that person had was from a pet or two. But as soon as they die, the family members show up to claim the home and get rid of the pets who are often elderly and are headed for near-certain death in a shelter if someone doesn't step up and give them a home.  It's so little to do for beloved companions who have given so much love all of their lives and provided so much needed affection and attention. The same thing usually happens if the elderly person has to go into a nursing home or an assisted living situation where pets aren't allowed.  It's cruel both to the person and to the pets.  I often pass along e-mail posts trying to get homes for more pets than I can count at this point. They're usually older and their stories break my heart.

Please be kind to animals. Treat them like the family members they are and if you can't have one of your own, please consider helping out. Time is a precious commodity. So are the necessities of shelter life that are gone through very quickly.  Whatever you can supply, however little, is more than they had before.  And if you are looking to adopt a pet, please consider choosing an older one. They deserve love, too.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Book Review: Ozette's Destiny

There are some books that are just special. One such book is the recently released Ozette's Destiny by first-time author, Judy Pierce who has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation and Bichon Frise rescue. She has created the perfect book for children of all ages.

Ozette is a rare white squirrel (such creatures do exist in real life and are not albinos) who is blamed for all of the problems in the forest that cause the wildlife to lose more and more of their home. She's blamed because she's different.  Her beloved grandmother urges her to leave and find a new place to live because it is no longer safe for her in their forest. The little white squirrel sets out and ultimately finds herself in the magical country of Farlandia, a place full of wildlife and mystical creatures who become her friends. She moves from lonely little squirrel all alone in the world, to a much loved friend of elves and wildlife along with unicorns and other creatures.

Throughout the book Ozette has interesting adventures with her new friends and, in their own way, each serves as a positive lesson for children.

Pierce's gift for telling a tale also includes some humor that will appeal to adult readers with references to things that the little ones might not understand but will still amuse them.

This is obviously the first book in the series. I was lucky enough to read an early draft of the book and reading the finished book is a treat. The Tales from Farlandia above the title hints at more to come. Sure this book leaves you wanting more. And as an added bonus, at the end, Pierce has created and tested recipes for the treats mentioned in the book. 

Author Judy Pierce
Published by the fairly new imprint, Pants on Fire Press, the book can be purchased wherever books are sold for the very reasonable price of $9.99 or you can order it from Amazon:

Or Kindle:

Buy it for the child in your life or the child in yourself.

Note: I received no compensation for this review other than a review copy of the book.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shelter Me

Have you ever wondered about Shelter pets?  Far too many of them are euthanized and never get the second chance they so richly deserve. Dropping a pet at a shelter can literally mean signing that pet's death warrant because fewer are adopted than killed.  A new film, Shelter Me, addresses the issue of adoption and what pets can do for us as well as what we can do for pets. 

Produced by Virgil Films and sponsored by Ellen DeGeneres' pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets,  the film is narrated by Katherine Heigl of Grey's Anatomy. The film introduces viewers mainly to shelter dogs with only a random shot or two of a cat.

Shelter Me's various segments include following an animal control officer in South L.A. as she picks up a couple of stray Pitbulls. Rather than the "vicious" dogs that had been reported she finds two really sweet dogs who haven't fared well on the streets. Why would they?! One has what appears to be a large abscess under her chin. Another dog, a small scruffy mixed breed, is street savvy and runs from her.  She takes the two Pitties back to the shelter where dogs are kept for 4 days for their owners to locate them, and then they're put up for adoption.

After they are eligible for adoption we see two different potential adopters arrive at the shelter. Each spends time with one of the dogs and each decides to adopt the dog. The one with the abscess goes to a new owner to whom it is made perfectly clear that there isn't enough money for the shelter to remove the abscess, the new owner will be responsible for that after adoption. The dogs have, however, seen a vet tech for some basic care on intake, as well as vaccinations. Despite the bad rep that pitbulls have gotten over the years, their sweet nature come out in this film.

In another segment, a woman comes to choose dogs to be brought into a system at a women's prison where the inmates train the dogs for disabled people. The women are taught to train the dogs and it did my heart good to see that they were using clicker training (operant conditioning). The finishing touches to the training are done after the dogs graduate from the prison program. The dogs obviously make a huge impact on the prisoners who must have clean records in prison in order to be part of the program. The dogs go on to help handicapped people, so the dogs, the prisoners and the recipients all "win."  The women in the prison program who have done their time and been through that program don't return to prison. Clearly this program makes a huge difference. While this program is in California, I distinctly remember the first such program which was done in Seattle and started by The Delta Society. It's nice to see good work spread to other places.

The segment on rescue dogs who are trained to help returning veterans with PTSD is, perhaps, the most moving. Men who have served the country, who have been at death's door in a kill or be killed situation come home to an anything-but-normal life. Paired with a rescue dog, the dog helps the veteran's emotional health. No longer suicidal and suffering a depression most people can't imagine, where simple items look like something to be feared, the dogs help make life normal. One recipient visits other veterans with his dog and soon they want one, too.  Those dogs are saving lives of the often-suicidal vets.

This 57 minutes long film is entertaining, educational and moving.  

Shelter Me is being aired on PBS and is available for purchase at $19.95. It would be a good film to show in schools, churches, synagogues, anywhere people meet. It's a film to be shared, to teach, to lead to understanding of what we can all do to help in some way.

This is only one view of the shelter situation. No Kill Nation is another. But see Shelter Me and watch what a difference a New Leash on Life can make for everyone concerned.


NOTE: I receive no compensation for this review. I was given a review copy to watch so that I could review the film.