Nominate Muttville

I just received a note from Sherri Franklin, the founder of Muttville, to help get them nominated to win $10,000 for their charity.

To help, all you need to do is to send an email to 7x7 Magazine, email address: and let them know that you want to nominate Muttville.

As you may or may not know, they're a great organization in the San Francisco Bay Area that is dedicated to finding forever homes for senior dogs. Every week they put out a post of the pets that they have adopted, so wouldn't it be great if we could get behind them to help do even more good.

You don't need to live in the Bay Area to vote. The contest ends on October 10, 2011, so get in there and vote!

More information on the contest can be found at this contest link

Senior Pooch Benefit 1: Been there, done that potty training

This posts kicks off a series on the benefits of adopting and owning senior dogs. I'd still like to hear from all of you and your experiences with older pooches, but I wanted to explain to those of you on the fence about adopting that there are a lot of great reasons why they should take the plunge. Conversely, I'll also be launching a series discussing the challenges of taking care of canines as they reach their golden years. The benefits far outweigh the challenges, but I wanted to make sure that everyone had both sides of the story. Check under "benefits" and "challenges" topics links to your left.

With that out of the way, let's talk about:

Been there, done that potty training

If you've seen it once, you've seen it a million times on ads for senior dogs: "already housebroken." Like any of these benefits, your mileage may vary; however not chasing around puppies who haven't figured out proper bathroom etiquette is pretty cool in my book.

Early on after taking in an older dog, it's always good to make sure that the dog understands that you're there to work with him or her on this most important aspect of their hygiene. Taking them out and finding a few regular places to go helps, as well as working in a few extra trips during the early days of your relationship, so as to not encourage accidents brought about by making your new pal wait too long.

Growing up with Penny

We got Penny as a puppy from my aunt.

It seemed like she was always part of us. Always around, but never underfoot.  Getting along with everyone, including the mailman, who would stop to pet her after dropping off the mail.

She was also a heck of a catcher, which was something that we found out by accident.  My dad would throw tennis balls to he to fetch and she would snag them out of the air. Pretty soon after, she would run out to the edge of the backyard whenever one of us picked up a ball, waiting for us to play catch.

Teaching Leave It

Once again, from the school of "You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks", I bring you "Leave It".

OK, so it's not exactly a brand new behavior.  It's been done a million times before.  The dog is taught to leave a treat with the command "Leave It", which can then be carried over into other situations.  I got the fundamentals from Rusty's foster dad.

Rusty picked it up after two or three times, which was pretty remarkable, considering how food motivated I thought he was.

I started by holding the cookie in my closed hand and telling him to leave it.  He'd only get the cookie when upon hearing the command he turned away.

Next I upped the stakes by opening my hand while repeating the command.  The first couple of times, I had to close my hand to preventing him from snatching the cookie ala Kung Fu, when Cain tried to snatch the pebble from his master.

Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable Pet 2011

Once again, the folks at shows how much they care by finding unique ways to promote the adoption of available, loving pets.  This time it's with their Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable Pet Week which is happening from September 17-25.

In addition to senior pets; blind, deaf, black-colored, pitbulls, FIV+, and pets with a variety of other conditions will be featured on in their gallery. Rescue organizations that are members are encouraged to pick one of the pets that they have posted on the site to be a representative of a less-adoptable, but otherwise deserving pet.  Take a look when you have a chance, you might just find that diamond in the ruff. will have up one of their banners promoting the event throughout the week.

Dreams of Mammoth Bones and Poodles

It might seem like a simple thing to you and me, but one of the great luxuries that you can afford any older dog is a comfortable bed and safe place where they can lay there head for the night. After a few brisk walks each day, Rusty is more than happy to camp out on his bed and call it a night.  Four months in and he's comfortable enough that he's not sleeping with his eyes open or popping up to check out every little noise, as long as he can see that I know where it came.

This picture is brought to you by the letter Zzzzzzz
Everything else we accomplish from here on out is gravy.

Five tips for choosing a great vet for your senior dog

Finding a veterinarian for a dog of any age can be a daunting proposition if you think about all of the very stressful reasons why you may have to go to one of them.  

I've been going to Pacific Petcare for the last four years and can vouch that they're the best in helping me to look out for the health and well being of my dogs.

Why do I think they're so great?  They hit all of my major criteria for what makes a good vet.

Take a gander at the list below when searching for a new vet for your old dog.

To being with, they have to...

It's a bath scrubber. It's a de-shedder. No, It's the ultimate canine belly rubbing accessory

I recently came across the Kong Zoom Groom by accident while shopping in Petsmart for a rubber scrubbing mitt for Rusty's first bath. I had a few criteria for what I was looking for, includung:
  • Soft bristles, long enough to work the shampoo through both his inner and outer coats 
  • Easy to hang onto 
  • Durable, in that I didn't want to have to replace it after 2-3 uses 

Milagro finds a home in Sunny San Diego

Nancy Stern, a training consultant, author, and speaker in San Diego, reached out to me recently to share  her experiences with her recently adopted senior lady, Milagro.  

What struck me about Nancy's tale is that it wasn't anyl that different from mine.  When I adopted my first senior dog, I wasn't sure I knew what I was getting myself into.  Happily, both of us are examples of us getting much more than we bargained for (in a good way.)

Rusty makes the big time: Coast News Coverage of

I've posted on Facebook and Twitter that this was coming, but Coast News did an article on Rusty, Boo Boo, and myself and the journey that brought us to  I'm extremely grateful to Lillian Cox for her beautiful article and Larry Abgarian for introducing us.

The picture in this post shows Rusty (wearing Boo Boo's scarf) posing for our photo shoot.

Wait, did I just say "photo shoot"?

It's still pretty surreal to me.  Rusty on the other hand was unphased, soaking in the attention from the patrons of Champagne Bakery in Encinitas where we met.

We both had a great time chatting with Lillian about our story, as well as learning more about her own adventures.  To learn more about what she's writing about, you can visit her blog: A Nose for News.

The article can be found at: Man's Passion for Dogs Leads to Blog

Photo by Larry Abgarian.

Listening is more than just using your ears

One of the more remarkable books that I've read recently on training is, The Dog Listener, by Jan Fennell.

The premise of the book is that dogs are happier when are free from being the boss for their household and can just be companions.  Like any book, your mileage may vary on the results and how it works out for you and your dog, but for me I find a lot of what Ms. Fennell says has real practical applications in getting your dog to trust you as the head of your household.  I think the book could have been considerably shorter, because she uses the same 3-4 tips for every single example that she uses.

The first half of the book uses stories from Fennell's experiences to get her points across.  The second half is written more like a how-to book, but in narrative form as opposed to show a bunch of training steps that once accepted are foolproof.  Both parts are entertaining and well worth your time to read.

The overriding message throughout her work is that consistency is the most important factor to reinforcing the behavior that you want.  It works for me, even with a dog with as big of a personality as Rusty has, so I think it's worth a read.

Book: The Dog Listener, by Jan Fennell
Kindle eBook: The Dog Listener (Kindle Edition), by Jan Fennell

You get the popcorn, I'll get the remote

Movie night back at the ranch

 Boo Boo was quite the connoisseur of fine television.  Most of it involved the Simpsons or anything with blonde women.  He used to pick up and sleep in the office whenever Star Wars came on the tube.  I can only attribute this to his aversion to loud sounds and his disappointment in the ret-conning of the original masterpiece where Han obviously shot first.