WINGING IT: OUR SMALL SCREEN DEBUT

Never a dull moment over here. A few weeks ago I had the exciting opportunity to take positive training on TV!

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Being that my full time job is in marketing, I’ve been on TV plugging fundraising events a handful of times (the first time I hung out with Johnnie Cash was when I took her on the news to promote our annual gala!). This time was different though – I secured the gig myself on behalf of Dog Latin and decided the content for the five minute segment. I pitched a “Clicker Training 101” angle and I was so excited to use this opportunity to spread positive training to the masses.

After I got confirmation that we had the segment, I realized I didn’t have a dog to come with me… oops. Minor detail, right? Luckily Dog Latin had just started working with this a-maz-ing client, a six-month old golden retriever named Scarlett. Despite being a young puppy, Scarlett was the absolutely perfect dog to bring with me to show off what clicker training can do. Her owner has been teaching her different manners, behaviors and tricks using the clicker since she was just eight weeks old! Not only does Scarlett have a large repertoire of behaviors, but her focus is unbeatable – especially for her age.

To prepare for our taping, I took Scarlett out on the town to work around distractions. As I’m sure you know, your dog’s ability to respond to cues out in the “real world” is a whole different ballgame than in your living room! The last thing I wanted was for her to see the studio, the cameras and all the people and freak out or be unable to work. So we went to PetSmart and to outdoor town squares and I did my best to create challenging environments for focusing – and Scarlett rocked it each time. We went into our TV debut with a bangin’ reinforcement history.

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We were appearing on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy. I admire Dr. Katy because she’s so successful in what she does – helping the public with their pets – and she has a blast doing it. She also doesn’t compromise who she is just because she’s in the public eye. Her twitter handle reads, “Veterinarian, Mom, Writer, Rabid LSU Fan. Snarky stiletto loving country girl rockin’ the big city.” Love it, girl – you do you!

Scarlett and I showed up to the studio armed with roughly one zillion hot dogs and pieces of cheddar cheese. I knew my reinforcer had to be a goooood one if I was going to keep her attention over the crazy sights and sounds of the news station. I was so relieved when she still had her sparkly, perfectly attentive face on at the studio.

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I was a little nervous, but once the cameras started rolling all of a sudden it became easy. As I settled in and started talking about training, I immediately relaxed. I had plenty to talk about – from switching to functional rewards, to how to get behaviors we like, to showing off Scarlett’s tricks – the five minute segment flew by. Scarlett did unbelievably well, and Dr. Katy was a gracious host.

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So, like I said, never a dull moment! I am so beyond thankful for this opportunity and the many lessons learned from the experience. I look forward to making next time (because there will be a next time!) even better.

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Technology wins again and I can’t figure out how to embed the video, so to watch the clip you have to head to the website. We start at about 8:10!


Saying Goodbye to Profitta

I know I promised you guys I’d tell you all about the reunions with my foster pups, but unfortunately I have to interrupt those stories for one post. On Friday we found out that Mark’s family dog Profitta passed away.

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You might remember her from the many posts she’s been featured in on this blog. Two of my favorite entries in particular were the guest posts from her family members: Mark (foster dad) and Mark’s mom, Mrs. B. It’s always been clear to me how much Mark’s family loves Profitta. When I met Mark, Profitta was about nine and he still talked about her like she was the puppy of the family. They got her when she was an adorable eight weeks old.

proMrs. B wrote in her guest post about how much work it was to raise a puppy, but how rewarding it was to bring this amazing dog in as a member of their family. The bond between those two was always special – as I’m sure any of you out there who have raised a puppy can imagine. In a house full of boys, Profitta and Mrs. B had to stick together!

Mark’s family paid the love forward by taking in another golden, Seamus, who needed a home. The two pups became fast friends, and the new “babies” of the family.

samprobedWe have so many fun memories with the two pups, Profitta always being the older, wiser and just-as-mischevious one.  One thing I remember most about her is how she would always come find your knee when you were sitting down to rest her head on it. She was such a sweet, gentle and loving dog.

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Recently, Profitta’s older sister status became even more important when Mark’s brother welcomed the first baby of the next generation to the family. Profitta took her duties very seriously, as you can see.

Pro1She was such a special part of the family, it’s been tough to say goodbye.  We miss you so much, Profitta!

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Guest Post: Work of Passion

I’m actually pretty excited to have this break on the blog between dogs to share posts related to other things. One of my favorite in-between-fosters posts are the ones written by guest writers. My boyfriend Mark stopped by the blog in March, and now his mom is taking a shot at it. I love hearing what other people have to say, and I love giving them an opportunity to share it – so I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

“ONE PERSON WITH PASSION IS BETTER THAN 40 PEOPLE MERELY INTERESTED”     –  E.M. FORSTER English Novelist

Hi. I am Profitta and Seamus Mom (Mark’s too).  After moving to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh (where our house and yard were too small for a dog- at least according to my husband!) we were waiting for our new house to be built, so I researched the golden breeders in the area and found one that breeds to the size I wanted and Profitta was born April 2001. Raising a puppy is a WORK OF PASSION! Among other puppy traits, she loved to eat our new dry wall.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008 when our third and youngest son, Mark went to college.  Thinking back I was so excited anticipating him leaving but…..? On the day we dropped him off at the dorm, I became very depressed and on the way home I called my kennel  who I knew had a 14 month male golden that was given up and said to have him ready in the morning. I was coming to get him. When my husband got home from work the next day, he asked “if this was permanent????”  I gave a non–committal answer, but I knew it was. Seamus had been neglected by well-meaning but elderly owners and possibly abused as well, as he was very shy and fearful of everything. Now, 4 years later, he is much better (but still leaves the room when he sees a broom!).  After going to a dog behavior therapist with both dogs we worked it out. Thus another WORK OF PASSION.

Now Mark has graduated from college and I have completed another WORK OF PASSION with all of my boys living on their own.

I met Juliana in September of 2010 and since she started fostering dogs in the summer of 2011, I have seen her WORK OF PASSION.  Her Peace Love & Foster Blog is a constant homework assignment Sunday thru Thursday nights that is meaningful and compelling every day.  Good blogging makes me want to start my own blog and that’s why I asked to be a guest blogger today. I am an avid gardener and keeping “the goldens” out of the tomatoes makes my life very interesting.

You take the very best things in life along with the disappointments and thus life is a WORK OF PASSION.

As Bill Cosby has said ANYONE CAN DABBLE, BUT ONCE YOU’VE MADE THAT COMMITMENT, YOUR BLOOD HAS THAT PARTICULAR THING IN IT, AND IT’S VERY HARD FOR PEOPLE TO STOP YOU. That pretty much defines the meaning of WORK OF PASSION for me.


Maine Dogs

Today is Labor Day: the unofficial ending of summer. It’s a day to celebrate with a big party to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall – a time to look back on all your happy summer memories.

For me, one of my best summer memories is always our trip to Maine. When I was in Maine this August, we stopped by the SPCA of Hancock County‘s Pet Show & Fair. I love going to other organization’s events to see their best practices, and of course hang out with a whole different group of dogs!  This event was smaller scale than ones in the DC area, but their sense of community made it different than many of the events I’ve attended. I loved it!

No matter where you go around the country, there’s always going to be something in common: awesome dogs. Here are some shots of pups I met on that drizzly afternoon.

THREE LEGGED PITTIE!!?!? Not sure her story – but this gal was a total lovebug!

Hope you all have a great Labor Day!