Archive for the ‘Bark Out Loud’ Category

Luna at 5wks-fearful then?

Learning to live with a fearful dog ain’t easy. Not only because of the dog, but often because of other people’s ideas of how to “deal” with them. As you may know from reading previous posts, my 9-year-old dog Luna is considered fearful. She doesn’t like trying new things. She is uncomfortable being touched, unless she solicits it, and then only in specific parts of her body. She’s never licked me on the face, and rarely allows herself to lie next to me. If I change my position, she’s gone. She bows her head when people reach for her.  She has phobias that vary from day to day, or they’ll last for months. If she’s not around my other dog Frisbee in a strange place, she barks barks barks barks whines–or hides.

She’s Abused, Isn’t She?

Luna has had labels bestowed upon her. The one I hear most is: “Oh, she’s been abused, poor thing,” when they come near her, because she lowers her head in a nervous way, then looks away, licking her lips.

Luna next to her bro Dash

Well no, she wasn’t abused. She was born from a Border Collie mom who was left when she was a month or two pregnant at the doorstep of the Nebraska Border Collie Rescue founder Nickie Vaneck. Luna was the runt of the 5-pup litter, born with a broken tail, wouldn’t eat, even though her mother tried to feed her. Nickie nursed her to health, brought her everywhere with her, even took her to her son’s grade school classes. Luna played with her littermates. Then I adopted her. That’s when this tale began…

Flooding with Scary Things

But right away, I did all the wrong things–a trainer told me to “socialize” her and take her to a pet store the first full day she was home. I cluelessly followed the trainer’s instructions, put Luna in a shopping cart. Store customers crowded around the cart, reaching out to pet her. Puppies are cute, right? Luna bit a hand (luckily, just a puppy bite). I then put her on the floor. She scrambled under a set of shelving units, peeing all the way. Hey, how come she shivered and cowered whenever I tried to put her in the car again? My fault. Did she get more scared around me? You bet. I set her up. How could she trust me if I put her in scary situations? Snapping helps keep people away, so that’s what she did for awhile, until *I* changed.

Luna in one of her happy moments!

Why Can’t She Just Get Along?

Luna was definitely shy upon meeting me during her adoption, but I just thought… well, it doesn’t matter what I thought–but I wanted my new pup to be just like “regular” dogs, with confidence, flair, and fun. A dog that would “fit into” every situation. After all, I had, Frisbee, Mr. Dog-Aggressive  (and I found out, fearful in some ways), and I didn’t want another challenging situation… I wanted to mold Luna into the dog *I* wanted her to be. But I didn’t keep her safe the first day home, or many subsequent days, partly because of my ignorance and poor judgment in listening to trainers then told me “don’t coddle her if she’s afraid; it will make her think the frightened behavior will be rewarded.” Hmmm. Wow, she really wanted reassurance. Why wasn’t I supposed to give it to her? I put a lot of pressure on her to fit in.

And the phobias! Sometimes it’s the kitchen floor. Sometimes it’s coming in the dog door. You name it, she’s probably had it, and continues to find new things to worry about. She won’t be coaxed into doing something when she’s nervous. Would you?

Recognizing How To Free Fear

Over the years, I’ve learned much more positive and successful ways to help Luna–from recognizing triggers to helping her solve problems. She’s come a long way despite her tentative beginnings with me. I’m her biggest advocate now! I’ve actually become adept at training folks who have fearful animals, from my own experience working with rescue dogs and by learning from the best trainers around (not those I first approached!) in certification seminars and through soaking up all the books available.

Read this book!

Help Is Here!

However, my all-time favorite book on the topic is new from Debbie Jacobs, who wrote A Guide to Living With & Training A Fearful Dog. I was so thrilled to get it that I sat down and read it in one fell swoop! And guess what! Luna plopped down next to me and put her head in my lap as I was dog-earing pages! Was that a sign, or what?

Debbie’s book dispels all the old myths (reassuring your dog is okay!), and outlines creative ways for owners to help their fearful dogs cope and begin to love life in an easy-to-read-and-understand style. She is careful to say that there is no cookie-cutter approach to rehabbing a fearful dogs; each one is different–requiring keen observation before determining a modification program. She covers the triggers and thresholds of fearful dogs, how to recognize them, and what to do about them. “You can’t force a dog not to be afraid of something.” That’s so true…

Listen to The Bark Out Loud Podcast!

Want more? Join us on Bark Out Loud Monday, March 7! Here’s the podcast of Debbie’s frank and honest discussion about fearful dog behavior, then she’ll be available for a chat in our Dog Den at 9pm EST! I’ll be there, hoping to gain more nuggets in helping Luna on her continued journey to a calmer life. Won’t you join me?


As one of the moderators of Bark Out Loud Weekly, I’m excited to announce this, from one of our hosts, Kim Clune of Be the Change for Animals:

Bark Out Loud Weekly and Be the Change for Animals support the “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen

Who is Bad Rap? BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls), co-founded by Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer, has been instrumental in the evaluation, rescue and  rehabilitation of the dogs in the Michael Vick case, providing vision and hope for these dogs as well as many other dogs from high-profile federal dog fighting arrests. They also rescue pit bulls, teach award-winning classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and support rescues nationwide.

“Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen

BAD RAP is March 2010’s charity of choice at The Honest Kitchen, makers of dehydrated, human-grade whole foods for dogs and cats. THK donates a percentage of online store profits monthly to various causes. BAD RAP’s donation will double if THK reaches 40,000 Facebook fans this month.

Head on over and like The Honest Kitchen’s Facebook Page to support BAD RAP!

Chat Live with BAD RAP on Bark Out Loud Weekly, March 14, 9:00 PM EST!

Learn more about the work Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer do in the Bark Out Loud Weekly BAD RAP podcast “After Vick: What Have We Learned?” . This breaking interview has just been released along with promotion of the “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen. Listen up and chat live with Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer on Monday at 9:15 PM EST. Get there early! Space is limited to the first 100 people.

BAD RAP, Featured Cause at Be the Change for Animals on March 14th

Be the Change for Animals ( will feature the “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen on Monday, March 14th. Through social media, Be the Change for Animals asks a dedicated and growing community of online animal advocates to spend just a few moments and never a cent to improve the lives of animals in need. On this date, Be the Change for Animals will also kick off a $1000 dollar Facebook ad campaign, drawing additional attention to this terrific cause.

Special announcement: Bark Out Loud Weekly and Be the Change for Animals have officially joined forces. As sister sites, each will cross promote the other with a strong focus on improving the lives of animals.

You Can Help!

Like The Honest Kitchen’s Facebook Page.
Share this link (
Cover the story on your website or blog.
Participate in Bark Out Loud Weekly’s BAD RAP podcast and chat.
Visit Be the Change for Animals on Monday to spread the word.

Participating Blogs and Websites

The following  have committed to covering events surrounding “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” on Monday, March 14th:

Additionally, I’ll be posting about what someone in Colorado is doing to help the plight of pit bulls in the country. Stay tuned! And see you on Monday, March 14, for the chat!


We’ve been having a lot of fun over at Bark Out Loud Radio these days! Last Monday night, we talked about what we can do about puppy mills with our guest Kyla Duffy, founder of Up for Pups and author of a best practices manual for rescues. Her traveling show, Don’t Kill Bill, was a resounding success this past Saturday–sold out, and a the event received much acclaim! Photographer Jaime Rowe donated her time to take these fabulous pictures of the event!

Bark Out Loud Radio promises a great show again tonight, at 9:15pm EST (7pm MST), when two of my fellow  moderators, Mary Doane and Dr. Lorie Huston, talk about an important topic just in time for Valentine’s Day: “Matters of the Heart.”

Actually, it’s a discussion about heart disease in dogs. There have been so many advances in treatment of canine heart disease that it’s hard to keep up! It’s a great topic to find out about what problems your dogs may encounter in this realm.

The podcast is coupled with a chat, where you all can participate, ask Dr. Lorie questions, and talk about any issues or impart insights on heart disease issues. Sit back and listen to the podcast here, then join us tonight! See the Bark Out Loud Radio Frequently Asked Questions for more information.


This post is part of the #reverb10 project that provides daily topics throughout December to help us reflect on the past year and sets intentions for the year ahead.

Today’s topic: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in 5 minutes. Set an alarm for 5 minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Here’s what I’m remembering in the 5 minutes before the alarm goes off, in no particular order whatsoever:

My dogs running through meadows, free spirits, those two! Pure, unabashed happiness. Better yet, those same two dogs burrowing tunnels in the snow–then zipping and leaping across the yard in frisky abandon!

Frisbee’s great and super surprising behavior during his film debut.

Hiking in the foothills on beautiful spring mornings, everything quiet, weather perfect, flowers just starting to bloom. For me, the first day of spring is my favorite day–new sprouts push out of the doldrums of winter, signifying hope for the rest of the year.

The sound of coyotes howling in my open space at night, when we’re all safe inside.

Family–a child in our midst after decades–my cousin Elissa‘s baby turned 3 (thanks cuz, for bringing us a new life). What a joy to see and hear Liliana laugh!

Liliana's ever-exceeding cuteness!

The sunrises and sunsets seen from the open space behind my house. The word “awesome” applies here. Some of the most beautiful in Colorado.

Wind. Howling wind. Boulder County is famous for it–I love the sound at night.

Our debut Treibball class, the very first of its kind in Colorado!

The start of our Bark Out Loud tweet chats in January–we unexpectedly scheduled the first one during the State of the Union address–not a good idea! Talk about Twitter crashing…

Friends, really good friends. Supportive, downright amazing friends. Hung out at various venues, most involving food, drink, and gossip. Well, not always gossip, but generally spirited conversation that sometimes involved books, films, the state of technology, and usually politics. And of course, who can have a conversation that doesn’t include animal talk?

My lovely god-daughter’s Bat Mitzvah in August was an event I’ll never forget! Not only did she read passionately from the Torah, I was thrilled to be standing on the Bema with her as she sung the Aliyas. And she was so adorable wearing high heels for the first time!

Billy Collins poetry. Talk about wow. Actually, “finding” many poets that were new to me was a thrill. Poetry jams. Poetry readings.

My dogs declining, yet still coping with everything the best they can. They’re always on my mind.

Me growing emotionally–not getting as upset with the small stuff as I used to. That’s a biggie this year.

And the best mem… oops, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz–alarm going off! My 5 minutes is up! Memory fading…

What do you remember most in 2010?

This post is part of the #reverb10 project that provides daily topics throughout December to help us reflect on the past year and sets intentions for the year ahead.

Today’s topic: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

This year has been busy. In a good way, but also in an overwhelming way. Although I appreciate so many eclectic and creative things, the one thing that I most appreciate is time to myself. Reading. OK, mostly reading books about dogs and their behavior (one can never learn enough).

Read any good books lately?

My dog Frisbee and I read together. (Luna, well, she gets too bored–prefers squirrel watching and anything other than relaxing!).

Friz and I started our reading routine almost a decade ago, when he passed his Animal Assisted Therapy test at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. Two of our assignments were helping children read books at our local library, and working at a bi-lingual educational center, where Frisbee assisted children in learning English. We picked up a rhythm. Kids read, he listened. He looked at pictures. He snoozed. He snored. But he was there, always a calming presence.

Frisbee and I so appreciate well-written, informative, entertaining, and conversational books on any pet topic. In this photo, he’s surrounded by just a few of his several hundred favorites:

And, to help solve his sister Luna’s health issues (and to make sure I’m taking good enough care of him), Frisbee just ordered The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood, by Nadine M. Rosin.

Others in our top 100 are listed within this Bark Out Loud transcript:  “Read All About It: Favorite Dog Books”.

Expressing gratitude to the authors I appreciate means that I purchase their books; writing is a tough, underpaid, and often under-appreciated, profession. The information, talent, and entertainment they provide helped me further my dog training/pet health knowledge more than they will ever know!

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