The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries from April 2008

My Lead Dog Was A Lesbian

April 30th, 2008 · No Comments · Book Reviews, Mushing-northern dogs

“There was an undercurrent of panic as we broke camp. Vague rumors were circulating about more storms on the way.I nearly lost it on Rainy when I saw her bite through another harness seconds after I had slipped it on. I smacked her on the nose with my mitt and yelled. The lesbian seemed not to hear me. Her lips were tight. Her attention was completely absorbed by the exodus taking place around us. My spares were shredded. I decided to let Rainy wear a crooked harness for awhile and see if that made an impression. I mushed from the village at 4:45 P.M., led by an unrepentant bitch trailing webbing in the snow.”

Brian Patrick O’Donoghue, newspaper reporter turned musher, has written a gritty and exciting account of his experiences in the 1991 Iditarod. This race is considered the ultimate test of a musher’s mettle. It is a 500 mile slog from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska. It can take several weeks to complete. The adage that to finish is to win is certainly applicable in this context. In recent years issues have arisen concerning the stress on dogs involved in the Iditarod; I don’t intend to address them here. As is the case in any extreme sport the Iditarod is not only a contest amongst the competitors but also a test of each individual’s inner resources. The weather changes, for better or worse, the mushers must adapt.The matter of logistics is complex and subject to various foul ups. Imagine being velcroed into a sled bag for the night while a blizzard rages, sucking on a piece of frozen salmon and wondering what the next crisis will be. O’Donoghue runs into plenty of them including frost bite,equipment problems, and dog management issues. Still he perseveres and finishes the race. Granted, he came last in 1991. But his tale is a fascinating and colourful account the kind of saga best savoured from the comfort of one’s favourite sofa.

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April 25th, 2008 · No Comments · Quotations

“A pet is a protection against life’s insults, a defense against the world, the somewhat vain conviction of being truly loved, a way of being both less alone and more alone.”

Roger Grenier

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For the Love of a Dog

April 22nd, 2008 · No Comments · Book Reviews, News From the Doggie Daycare

For the Love of a Dog (Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend)” by Patricia McConnell PhD is one of my absolute favourite dog books. It is a book that I return to again and again for practical help in addressing problems and gaining insight.

A quick glance at the bibliography will give the reader some idea of the depth of the author’s understanding of her subject matter and the scope of her research. She synthesizes a vast amount of material and presents it in a lucid and accessible form. Her writing is a pleasure to read. Her vivid use of specific case studies to illustrate various problems and their solutions draws the reader in on a personal level.

A strong proponent of the positive school of dog training McConnell is an associate professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin and is an Applied Animal Behaviorist. She lives and works on a sheep farm outside Madison. In addition she runs Dog’s Best Friend training school. Patricia McConnell is one of the brightest lights of the positive dog training approach. This book is inspiring and offers the reader insight into, not only the realm of dog emotions but their own as well. A must read for anyone serious about training and understanding dogs. Visit the author’s website at

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April 22nd, 2008 · No Comments · Quotations

“Amid all the forms of life that surround us, not a single species, except for the dog has made an alliance with us.”

Maurice Maeterlinck

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The Dog I’ve Always Wanted

April 21st, 2008 · No Comments · Introduction

The quest to find “the dog I’ve always wanted” is ongoing. I’d like to share my experiences which include raising a shelter puppy, going to dog school, visiting the vet, observing doggie playgroups and talking to many dog people.

As a dog photographer I am having opportunities to meet new dogs and learn from them and their owners.

There is a veritable mountain of dog books out there.  I have read many of them; books dealing with training, communication, health, emotions, breed differences and of course memoirs.   I will be posting reviews.

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