Good Dogs, Unleashed!

We’re hosting Obedience Lessons!
May 3, 2012, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We’ve been approved to host obedience lessons in Paper Mill Park on Tuesdays from 7-8, starting May 8th!¬† All breeds and ages are welcome, but all dogs must be vaccinated. We’ll be covering sit, down, stay, come, drop it, leave it, good leash walking, polite greetings and common behavior problem solutions. Clicker training will be offered but is not required. Contact us to register!


How to Pick a Great Doggy Day Care
April 5, 2012, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Doggy day cares are a great option for people who work a lot or can’t give their dogs the exercise they need. For dogs who love other dogs, it’s a great way to work off energy, play, make friends and just have a general good time. Now, day care isn’t for everyone, mostly due to the fact that it’s EXPENSIVE. Many of the places in our are are $20-30 a day and most of us aren’t able to drop that kind of money more than maybe once a week. For those of us who can, finding a day care worth your money is important, so here are some tips as to how to pick one.

  • Access to the outdoors- Many doggy day cares are just a giant warehouse with no windows and no where for the dogs to go outside. That sucks. A doggy day care with a fenced in outdoor area is ideal. Not only does this give your dog all of the obvious benefits to being outside (smells, sounds, fresh air, things to roll in..) it also helps to decrease the amount of accidents that are being had inside the building. If you don’t have any day cares with outdoor areas, make sure that every dog is taken on a leashed walk to go to the bathroom every few hours, and that they’re not expected to just eliminate inside whenever the need to go. Which leads us to the next point:
  • Cleanliness- When you go to inspect the day care, take into account how clean the place is. Obviously if you’ve got 20 dogs running around, the place is going to have fur and mud and the occasional accident, but it should generally be clean. This means no half dry puddles or piles sitting on the floor, no mop bucket full of cloudy brown water, no trashcans full of accident clean up. It also means that water bowls are cleaned often and fresh water is always available. The building shouldn’t smell like a latrine, but it also shouldn’t smell like the inside of a bleach bottle. While cleanliness is important, your dog shouldn’t be inhaling chemical fumes all day, especially in a building with little ventilation.
  • Dog to person ratio- Watching a large amount of dogs can be fun, but it can also be difficult. Scrums happen and there should be enough staff to monitor the dogs closely while also interacting with the dogs by playing tug, tossing a tennis ball or frisbee and giving out belly rubs. A 10:1 dog to human ratio is ideal and a 20:1 ratio is unacceptable. Also, it’s generally better to have 2 staff members available at all time in case something does go wrong.
  • Staff training- How well trained is the staff? Are they taught to recognize canine body language, how to identify and separate dogs who look like they may be getting too intense, how to break up a fight if one were to occur? What about first aid training? Do the employees know what to do if a dog is injured? Ask the manager or owner these questions and then, if you can, talk to the employees themselves about their experiences. Make sure that none of the employees are ever allowed to dole out physical punishments.
  • Veterinary partnership- A doggy day care that’s part of an animal hospital would be perfect, but since most aren’t, ask if they have a veterinarian who they have a relationship with in case of emergency. If an animal is seriously injured, where will they take the dog and what type of medical care are they willing to provide? In addition, make sure that they have basic dog first aid kits in the facility for minor injuries and that staff are trained in how to handle those injuries.
  • Separation of large and small dogs- This is a personal decision, there’s no reason that large and small dogs can’t play and interact with each other in a safe way, however it can lead to unintentional injuries. A pomeranian can easily be squashed or trampled by two fat labs tearing from one end of the building to the other. If you have a particularly small dog that you’re concerned may get hurt while playing with large dogs, find a day care that has separate areas for different sized dogs.
  • Application process- Anyone looking to bring their dog to a day care should be required to provide proof of spaying/neutering and vaccinations (rabies, distemper, bordetella [kennel cough] and canine influenza). Questions on the application should address the dog’s experience with people and other dogs, it’s overall health, any allergies or medications and any behavioral problems that may be an issue in a day care setting. After an application is approved, a dog interview should be held before your dog is introduced to the entire group. During this interview process, two staff members introduce your dog to other dogs one at a time and monitor your dog’s interactions. Your dog should only be allowed to join the day care program if she does well with small groups of dogs first. Dogs who show aggression or fear should not be accepted.
  • Webcams- Many doggy day cares now offer webcam service so that you can check in on your dog while he’s playing. This is great because it helps you keep an eye on what type of interactions your dog is having with other dogs and the staff. Is he hiding in a corner all day sleeping? Maybe day care isn’t the right choice for him. Are the staff members actually interacting with the dogs or are they suspiciously absent or distracted playing cell phone games or reading a book? If your day care doesn’t offer webcams, make it a point to drop by unannounced to make sure that everything is going smoothly for your dog.

Besides these few guidelines, your best bet is to ask around for recommendations. Ask your veterinarian, groomer or trainer who they recommend. Ask your friends if their dogs attend a day care in the area and if they’re happy with their experience. Once you find a day care you like, stick with it and try to bring your dog on the same day(s) each week so that she can form relationships with dogs she sees regularly. Good luck!

September 5, 2011, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

At the end of August, we finally moved out of the ghetto. While the house we lived in wasn’t terrible, it was definitely a stupid, impulse decision to move there and it was a poor choice. The landlords were nightmares. Constantly talking down to us, treating us like we were second-class citizens because we rent and just generally being difficult to deal with. On top of that, the landlord’s father would show up at the property unannounced on a regular basis to do yard work. Not only does this go against the landlord tenant code, and our lease, but is also disruptive to my schedule, freaks out Chomper and is creepy as hell. The week before we moved out, I found him in my kitchen window at 8 in the morning. Yes, he might have been pulling weeds or some crap, but I was in my pajamas and hadn’t even had my coffee yet. Rude and creepy.

So we finally were set to move out on the 31st, but spent our last night at the new place. We showed up the next morning to find our back deck painted, and all our back deck stuff gone. This included the $80 metal baby gate we use to keep the dogs on the deck. I freaked out and called the landlord who was rude and dismissive. The landlord’s dad showed up and told us he thought we moved out so he threw away all our stuff.. And not just threw away in our trash, but dumped illegally in the people across the street’s trash. The gate was obviously gone since people pick through trash there all the time and who wouldn’t want a free baby gate? The landlord’s showed up to do a walkthrough of the house and offered me their old, beat up baby gate that was missing pieces. No deal there bucko. They still refuse to buy a new gate, but I have an appointment with my lawyer on Wednesday and I think he’ll be able to handle it.

The other thing about us moving out, was that during the walkthrough, the landlord complained that the house smelled “like dog.” Now, we had permission to have Chomper, and Petey is a service dog who is allowed to be in any housing he damn well pleases. The house smelled mostly like rug cleaner since we were extra nice and got the carpets cleaned. Other than that, it smelled overwhelmingly like wet basement. Which is understandable considering this was what the basement looked like the morning after Hurricane Irene:

Dirty standing water smells bad?

But obviously it wasn’t the water that smelled bad, it was “dog piss.” Nice try landlord, but my dogs don’t go in the basement. Ever. It didn’t smell until we had a HURRICANE. Basements all over the east coast smell like this right now. Don’t be a jerk, jerk.

-By the way, the hurricane was incredibly anticlimactic where we live. I told everyone that it would be. We’re not near any bodies of water that would flood, so I wasn’t worried. Chomper, who is terrified of the average thunderstorm (see Petey Takes Drugs), spent the night sleeping and didn’t need any sedatives at all. Boyfriend and I had an epic, 4 hour game of Trivial Pursuit (I won, obviously) and Petey spent the night like this:

Hurricane? What hurricane?

Anyway, other than the basement, the landlords seemed genuinely surprised that the house was in the exact same condition that they left it to us in. Uh, yeah, we’re not jerks like you people, of course we took care of your stupid, falling apart, poorly painted house. Do we seem like irresponsible people? No, obviously. The best part was at the end when the ass told us we should think about buying a house. I think he works for a mortgage company or some crap. Yeah, like we’d ever talk to you again after any of this. Don’t think so.


On to the AWESOME part of moving. The house we want won’t be ready until the end of the month, so we moved in with boyfriend’s parents. They have a huge fenced yard, and pool, a hot tub, and the best part is that their property backs up to a creek surrounded by tons of woods. The dogs are having a blast running around off leash back there, and Petey has even taken to playing in the water.

What? I've always liked water. Duh.

This is of course, awesome. Since I still can’t do anything to strenuous, and sometimes walking 2 dogs is just too strenuous, having the ability to take them for a walk off leash is perfect. Petey does superbly well with staying close to me and Chomper checks in every few minutes before running off into the woods again. Petey also lets me take glamour shots of him:

Dead eyes.

Today, Petey used a downed tree to balance beam himself right across the creek. I’ve been doing this every day, but this was the first time he followed me. It was awesome. He has amazing balance and can jump ridiculous heights and lengths. Agility trials here we come. But not really because I don’t have the self-discipline for that stuff. I will make him jump through stuff and walk across narrow things though, so that kind of counts.

The only problem, as usual, is the Chomp Star’s typical fear aggression issues. The house already had 2 large pugs and 1 large chihuahua/pug. All females. Chomper does not approve of this situation at all. The big pug is about 30lbs, deaf and mostly blind. Chomper ignores her completely, and Pudge ignores Chomper right back. The medium pup is about 25lbs, and apathetic toward Chomper, so she ignores her back too. The little pup weighs in at around 20lbs and is a yippy little bugger. She is terrified of both Chomper, and Petey. She hides from them, and as soon as they start to leave the room, she’s breaks into a fit of barking, “Yeah, that’s right, you keep walking!” Chomper does not like other female dogs. She does not like dogs that bark or act up in any way. This makes for a problem. Luckily, Chomper mostly just wants to herd all three dogs into a corner or under the table and then she’s satisfied. For now. We only had one little skirmish at the door when the pizza guy came. Mostly just a lot of noise and snarling, but I yanked Chomper up quickly and put her in the bedroom to cool off for a while.

Besides the dogs, Chomper has nipped at boyfriend’s brother while he tried to put bug spray on, and barked menacingly at brother’s girlfriend as she came up the basement stairs. Chomper’s original owner taught her that biting feet was a fun game, so the foot nip, while bad, is not surprising. Chomper’s veterinarian and I also believe that she may have progressive retinal atrophy. This manifests itself in crappy eyesight from a young age, especially in the dark. She’s always had issues with growling at the top of dark stairwells. Usually, once you get close enough for her to see who you are, she wags her tail and gives a little doggy apology. This of course, does not make it any less disconcerting when she’s growling at you. So mostly, Chomper has stayed close to me, in the backyard, or in the bedroom. So far, so good, considering. Then again, it hasn’t even been a week.


Petey Takes Drugs
August 22, 2011, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The day after Petey got neutered, he was quiet and sleepy most of the morning. This was highly unusual, but I wasn’t worried, I figured he was sore and hungover from pain meds. When he got up around 11 though, I started to get concerned. He was walking funny, and not the “I just lost my testicles” spread legged walk that I’ve seen before, but a woozy, legs coming out from under him kinda funny. I tried to walk him across the room and he was uninterested. I coaxed him with some treats and he started walking sideways. At this point, my overactive imagination slash worst case scenario pessimism kicked in. Clearly he’s neurologic. They must have done something wrong in the surgery. Maybe he’s having a bad reaction to the anesthesia (yes, 20 some odd hours after he got it, shut up). I switched my brain to tech mode and started a full exam. Heart rate slowish, but normal, reactions normal, conscious proprioception normal (flip over each paw and see how long his reaction is to flipping it back to normal). Clearly he is just in pain and groggy and I’m overreacting.

So of course, I text someone. This someone happens to be one of our foster pups new moms, and we talk on a regular basis. She’s hilarious and awesome and if we lived closer to each other, we would be best friends. Sadly, she doesn’t. But she does have a male dog who just recently got neutered and ended up with a terrible infection. He had some antibiotics and is fine now, but I thought I’d ask her if she’d noticed any of the same symptoms. Even in the back of my head, I knew he wasn’t acting normally, but I didn’t want to completely freak out. He still wanted food, so I took that as a good sign.

I decided to watch him for a while to see how things progressed. As I waited, I thought I’d do some laundry. Standing in our bedroom folding clothes, I noticed Petey licking the floor. Great, another button from the comforter. Nope. Crushed pink pill. Specifically, the half a sedative I had on my bedside table for Chomper and the loud thunderstorms we’d been having. In my half consciousness in the middle of the night before, I had taken out 1 1/2 pills for her. 1 I shoved immediately down her throat so she would stop clawing at my face in a thunder panic. The other I apparently sat on the table, so of course, Petey ate it.

This explained everything. Now that I knew what happened, I recognized all the same signs as when I drug Chomper. Woozy walk, slowed movements, droopy eyes, drunk crooked stare. I contemplated calling poison control or the vet, but only for about 2 seconds. First, poison control costs $75 a pop and they’d just tell me to go to the vet anyway. 2nd, I knew he had gotten into it hours ago, so there wasn’t going to be much they could do. They could induce vomiting, but the pill was probably already absorbed, and they could give charcoal, but I didn’t think he needed it. I decided to just watch and wait. It was a small dose and he weighed almost as much as Chomper. He was fine, but drunk as a skunk. By all reports, he was extra maniacal the next day while staying with my sister. Which was fine with me.

Petey lost a tooth!
July 25, 2011, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Every morning, after their walk, the dogs wrestle and run around together. Today, Petey came up bloody. We saw he was missing a toofer, but we didn’t think we’d find it. Normally, dogs swallow their puppy teeth, or they get lost in the carpet or grass or whatever. Lucky for us, we found it! Here’s a picture of the hole it left:

Tooth hole!

Petey’s First Outing
July 11, 2011, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today was Petey’s first outing into a public place to test his temperament for therapy work. This is separate from the psychiatric support he provides me at home. This is simply to see how he will do if we decide to also train him for therapy work with hospital patients (I’d really like to, he’s such a huge help to me, I think it would be great to share him with others). Here he is riding in the front seat (also a first). He did super well at the pharmacy, we only had to wait in line for a moment. I, on the other hand, didn’t do so well as I left my drivers license on the counter. ‘Tis the nature of the beast.

Welcome (again)
July 11, 2011, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Chomper, Uncategorized

Welcome once again to the Good Dogs, Unleashed Blog. We had a lot going on this year, so we let the blog fall down the priority list, but not anymore! We’re going to take a bit of a different tactic than before, but we think you’ll enjoy it none-the-less. So before we get started, a little bit about us!


Our dog, Chomper.

First, the important part…the dogs. Above is Chomper. She’s a pound puppy mutt from a shelter in South Carolina. The general consensus is that she’s a border collie/chow mix. She was born in September 2007, and I adopted her winter of 2008. She’s super affectionate and generally pretty lazy when we’re in the house. When we’re outside, she does nothing but run. Unless it’s hot, in which case she’s laying in whatever body of water she can find. She’s got a great personality, and is super expressive. She always has a a way of telling us what she wants, and that’s usually by staring at us while kicking out one of her back legs and chuffing. She’s also got some not great habits, that we’re trying to break her of. She’s very protective of me and the house, she hates children (but so do I, so it’s not that big of a problem for me) and she’s very reactive to other dogs while she’s on a leash. She’s also terrified of anything that beeps, thunderstorms and the ice machine. There are days I want to smoosh her stupid face into oblivion, but mostly, she’s a snuggle bug that I couldn’t live without.

Petey in the Car


This is Petey. He’s the best puppy ever. He’s super calm, doesn’t chew anything, loves to get in your lap and snuggle, and is smart as a whip. We assume that he hasn’t been adopted yet because of his minor underbite and pittbull look. Everyone that meets him falls instantly in love with him. He gets along with everyone, other dogs and really couldn’t care less about cats. He’s made such a change in Chomper’s fear level, and we’re so crazy for him. I’ve gotten a letter stating my need for a service dog, technically a psychiatric support dog. While he’s not allowed public access due to changes made to the definition of the word service dog (these changes are being appealed by a variety of mental health organizations, especially veterans groups that work with PTSD dogs), he is going to be a wonderful addition to our family of crazy.

Petey and Me

Posing with Petey

So now for me. I’ve been in love with dogs since before I can remember. I begged for a dog for every holiday from the time I could speak. I had dozens of stuffed dogs that I would “feed” and “walk” to prove that I could be responsible. I had a Dalmatian birthday party when I was 5 that was all about the dogs and nothing about the movie. I used to make my parents keep a box of dog treats in the house so I could feed the neighbor’s beagley mix named Snickers. I cried when I saw her owner hit her. I checked out every book on dogs in my elementary school library, and 4 years later, my sister checked out the same books, with my name still on the cards (remember when you signed out books?). When I was 14, my parents finally decided we could get a dog. We got a gorgeous mutt from the local humane society and named her Sandy. She was absolutely the perfect dog. She still is. She never gave us one problem, and she learned tricks like it was her job. That year I decided to apply for a job at her veterinarian’s office. I worked in the kennels scrubbing cages, walking and feeding the animals who were boarding, and scooping pound after pound of poop. It was hard and dirty and kids that age aren’t even allowed to work those jobs anymore, and I loved it. Over the years, I worked in multiple hospitals, first in the kennels, then as an assistant, then as a technician, which is basically a nurse for animals. In between hospitals, I also got trained as a groomer, and although I wasn’t bad, I didn’t feel like I had the artistic eye that it required. The hospitals were where I was the happiest. It brought my 2 life-long loves together, science and dogs. I loved the medicine and the lab work and the fact that I never knew what the next shift would entail. Unfortunately for me, I was injured in a car accident, when an 80 year old idiot drove through a stop sign across a major road, totaling my car and ending any career with physical exertion. A nurse with spinal issues is an unemployed nurse. Lucky for me, I had another experience with dogs to fall back on.

When I was in college, I helped to form a university club with The Seeing Eye, raising puppies to be guide dogs. We got dogs at 7-8 weeks old, lived in the dorms with them, took them to classes and out shopping, and trained and socialized them for their future careers. After a year and a half, we gave them back and crossed our fingers that they would pass even more rigorous training and be paired with blind graduates. My close friend and I each raised our own dog, and we helped raised each others as well. Both of our dogs went on to graduate the program and as far as we know, are still working as guide dogs today. I had really enjoyed the process of training these dogs, and had continued to follow the training world while working in the veterinary one. I had luckily started my certification process the year before the accident, and being off on disability allowed me a chance to read dozens of training books (when not doped up on narcotic pain medication or sleeping through muscle relaxers). After months of physical therapy, I started up a training business and fell in love with it. I love helping people find a better way to communicate with their dogs and helping dogs with behavioral problems stay out of shelters and off the euthanasia list. I also really like having a way to educate people about dog health, behavior and training. Plus, I love to hear myself talk, so there’s that.

So that brings us to now. I’m still unable to do anything too strenuous, and since most of my training clients are in the evenings, I find myself with a lot of free time on my hands during the day. I still have a lot to say, and I still stay up to date on all aspects of the canine world, so I thought I’d start this blog back up. I’m not sure what exactly it will be, but I think I’ll just wait and see what happens.