A Farther Distance

November 27, 2012

Dear Diary,

Another walk with Mom today.  This time she said she was prepared to help me and encourage me. (I saw her put the treat bag in her pocket. YES!)

We went the same way as yesterday.  It is the way we usually go whether walking or biking.  Mom says we go this way because it is not too hilly and has very little traffic. We pass only one house, which is the Doggie
B & B  where I stay when Mom and Dad go away.  I always feel safe there.

So I headed out with great enthusiasm and confidence. Until we got to the point where we turned around yesterday.  I wasn’t going to go any farther.  We had been safe this far yesterday, but you can’t really see very far down the road from there.  And the scary sounds were somewhere that way.






(See what I mean.)

Mom made me sit.  She made me look at her.  She gave me a treat and then encouraged me to go a little farther.  I stayed right close to her.  Maybe she thinks that I was trying to make her feel safe.  Actually, I feel safest right by her side.

(This is my nervous look.)







I was a little nervous.  But she kept encouraging me (and rewarding me).  She talked a lot and sang to me.  Next thing I knew we were almost home.  SAFE!!

Owner of The Sensible Dog.com

Miles today: 2.


A Special Walk

November 26, 2012

Dear Diary,

I haven’t written in a long time.  But there is a special reason to start again.






Mom and I have a special project for the next 30 days.  From today (Nov. 26) until Christmas, Mom is going to walk the  same distance as Joseph and Mary walked from Nazareth to Bethlehem. (That’s about 70 miles.)   And I’m going to go with her!  She did this walk before with my predecessor and said it was very meaningful to her.
I’m not sure about that but I would ANYWHERE! with Mom.  She said that she is going to blog about our walk.  So I told he wanted to blog again too.  She said “yes”.

So, today was our first day.  We didn’t start yesterday because it was the last day of regular deer hunting season here in Vermont, and I am SOOOO afraid of guns shots.  Mom and Dad have tried a lot of things to help me.  (See previous posts.)  Now, I’m not afraid when Dad shoots his gun (I can tell it is him).  I’m not afraid of gun shots on the computer or on the TV; I know that they’re not real.  But I am still afraid of big booms that ring out thru the mountains from the distance.

Well, as I said, the regular season ended yesterday.  What are the odds that someone would site in their muzzleloader at 10 am this morning.  Pretty small chance.  But that’s just what happened.

Mom said that she felt so bad for me.  She could have had a wrap or shirt for me.  She didn’t even have any treats along.  (What’s with that?!  She ALWAYS has treats.  Just in case.)

We hadn’t gone very far when the first shots rang out.  I wanted to just turn around and head for home.  She said “no”.   We kept going – away from the house – but that’s where the shots were coming from.  They would come in sets of 4 or 5 and then a pause.  I was so scared.  Mom made us just keep going.    She said it was a good training lesson.  She didn’t let me turn.  She didn’t let me pull. (Yes, I was on leash.)  She encouraged me to walk right beside her.   If I got scared, she would just have me sit and look at her. ( Remember, she didn’t have treats to give me, so she would just tell me how good I was.)  Then, she started walking in some of the patterns we used to do (circles in each direction, serpentines, reverses, and such.)  I did settle down some. When I got scared, she would start the sits and patterns all over again.  By the time we got close to home, I did feel brave enough to bark at the mailman’s car.

The walk seemed to take a very long time.  Boy, was I glad to get home!!  I’ve stayed very close to Mom all day.  (Actually, not really too unusual.  After all, I am an Australian Shepherd and we are called “velcro” dogs.)

This may be more of an adventure than I was thinking.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Owner of The Sensible Dog.com

Dear Diary,
Last fall I was asked to review some dog treats by a premium dog food site. (My thoughts at the time are listed in  archived entries from Oct and Nov.)  Wow! What an opportunity!!  Well, I’ve tried many now and want to share some of  my findings. (I have nothing to gain by sharing these thoughts – other than I got to try the treats.)

Mom and I considered a lot of factors in rating the treats: if it was made in the USA, from “whole” foods, with organic ingredients, nothing artificial – sweeteners, colors, preservatives.  Then we considered factors like, if it was easy for Mom to break it up and give it to me in small bites (which she likes to do as training rewards). Then she would lay two or three out for me to try.  I got to vote by which ones I would choose to eat first (Mom knows that I usually got to my right first, so she tried to mix things up).  I also voted by either  gobbling the treat right down or picking  it up then dropping it and thinking  before I ate it.

The Right Paw Wins Again

One thing that surprised Mom at first was how much I liked the blueberry treat (Bite O’ Blue Wild Blueberry).  I would pick one up and then combine it with another treat and eat them together.  We gave this treat the second highest ranking.  Blueberries are supposed to be really good for people – and dogs, too. Mom then realized that she shouldn’t have been surprised. She had taken her collie Hope with her one time when she was picking wild berries, only to discover that Hope was eating then out of the pail when Mom’s back was turned.  I guess Hope didn’t get to go along picking berries after after that. (Remember that not all people foods are good for us dogs.  Always check   the list before you feed us something.)

Yesterday, Mom  read some information about what dogs taste.  I guess they’ve done studies at places like Cornell and Tufts and have determined that dogs have only 1706 taste buds, while humans have 9000  and cats have 473.  Dogs have “type D” taste buds that respond to  fruity-sweet compounds, while cats don’t.  That explains why I like both meaty and sweet treats while Fluffy and Reilly aren’t so excited by sweet foods.  Fluffy proved that last night.  He gets to lick Dad’s plate after dinner. (Not fair!  I get in BIG trouble for doing that!)  Anyway, he licked the part where the hamburger had been but wasn’t interested at all in the fruit ambrosia.  Cats are more truly carnivores than dogs.  I wonder – do they eat meat because that’s what they can taste or do they not have sweet taste buds because they aren’t going to use them anyway.  In either case, I’m glad I can taste sweet.That makes me “sweeter” than the cats. Right?!

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, check out  The Sensible Dog
or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

PS More reviews in the days to follow.

Dear Diary,
Mom says that I am really good about a lot of things, but dealing with loud noises is not one of them.  She and my trainer Nathan have worked really hard at helping me with this problem.  Right now, my biggest fear is gunshots, or anything that sounds similar, like a car backfiring or balloons popping.  I get scared and panicy and want to run home and go inside.

It seems that lots of dogs have this problem.  And there are lots of theories as to why.  One theory is that herding breeds needed to be very aware of sounds so that they could listen for verbal commands from their handler, sometimes at quite a distance in the midst of a lot of background noise. Well, I am a herding dog, but not all scared dogs are.

Another theory is that dogs react to new sounds, that puppies raised in quiet settings can be startled by strange sounds.  Well, my breeder did live on a quiet back road and we now live on a quiet back road.  But my breeder and Mom both tried to expose me to lots of things.

Another theory is that dogs react to their owner’s reactions.  Well, Mom has said that I read her very well and that she has tried to learn to be very calm.  (But that’s a story for another day.)

Whatever the reason, dogs that get scared by noises can get in a lot of trouble.  They can get out, run away, get lost, get hurt.  Like there are lots of theories about what causes the fear, there are a lot of thoughts about what might help.

One theory is controlled exposure. There are tapes that you can buy that have all kinds of sounds on them – cars, trucks, planes, trains, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, and on and on. The person can play them at a very low volume and do something really fun with their dog while the sound plays.  This is one of the things that Mom has tried for me.

Tucker and tunes

Listening to Tapes

No, I’m not really listening to tapes thru a headset.  It’s  Mom being funny again.  She plays the tapes on our computer,  in the back ground.

We  just found out about a research project at Tufts University.  They are “investigating the therapeutic effect of a body pressure wrap on thunderstorm phobia in dogs.”  You wouldn’t have to go to the school for the study and the wrap is free. Fear of thunder can be a big problem.  If you would like to participate in the study, you can visit http://www.tufts.edu/vet/behavior or contact Nicole Cottam at 1-508-887-4802, or email nicole.cottam@tufts.edu.

I love to help other dogs.  Maybe this is the right thing for someone out there.

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, check out  The Sensible Dog
or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

PS If some reader  dog does get to be part of this study, please let me know.  I’d love to able to update other dogs about the results.

Dear Diary,
Mom is working on the schedule for the Pet Tech Pet CPR and First Aid classes that we will teach this year.  (I am Pet Tech Assistant Instructor #5.  And I have the scarf to prove it.)  That got us to thinking about some of the tips that we teach in class.  Accidents happen, so we help people be prepared for an emergency.

We suggest that people have a card with emergency phone numbers written on it. It is one of the things that they can put in their first aid kit.  (Sure, first everyone should have a pet first aid kit.)  One of the numbers you should have is the ASPCA Poison Control number (1-888-426-4435).

If you  call the poison control number, they may suggest that you make your pet vomit.  Do you know what the approved method is?  Giving your pet hydrogen peroxide.  Mom says that lots of stores have these 3 oz. travel bottles that are perfect and fit right inside the first aid kit.  The recommended dose is 1 Tablespoon per 15 pounds of pet weight, so these little bottles hold about 2 doses for a dog my size.  And you can squeeze the bottles and they squirt. (Vomiting should be induced only on the advice of a vet, or emergency animal hospital, or the poison control center.)

So I started to write this blog and Mom asked if I wanted a picture to go on it.  I panicked. No, Mom, please don’t make me demonstrate throwing up.  I’ll do the muzzle thing and bandages and splints and even tooth brushing. I’ll even do “dress up day”. But not throwing up.  Please!!  Then I thought maybe she had bought some fake throw-up stuff.  I’d pose with that.  Wow, that could be way fun.  Imagine people’s reactions.  And maybe I’d get to play with it when we were done with pictures.  And she could take pictures of that.  And then…

Mom said “NO”.  She meant this one, just calmly sitting with my first aid kit. Oh. Well.  I guess I can use this.

I love Mom but sometimes her ideas aren’t as much fun as mine.

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, you can read more about me
at The Sensible Dog or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

What to Name a Puppy

March 10, 2010

Dear Diary,

On the calendar of weird holidays, today is “Middle Name Pride Day”.  In discussing this day, they suggest that you find out why you were given your middle name. Well, since my name is “Never Tuckers Out”, I guess Tuckers (or Tucker)  is really my middle name.  Why was I given that name?  What does it mean?

Mom says there are lots of things to consider in giving a puppy a name:
1. You have to make sure it doesn’t sound like a command that you are going to use in training. “Skit” might sound too much like “sit”. Tucker doesn’t sound like any command, so I guess that’s good.
2. You have to make sure that any shorten version is still acceptable.  “Tuck” seems ok.
3. You have to make sure that it is easy to call.  Say it several times quickly to see if it works. In class, Mom always called “Tuck.  Tuck.  Tuck.”  I guess that’s easy enough.
4. You have to decide if you want to use a popular name, that everyone will be calling out.  She wanted something a little different. Tucker is 25th on the list.  Not the most common, but not way weird either.

OK, so my name met those suggestions, but what does it mean?
First meaning I found: one who folds cloth.

Tucker dog diary

This is how I fold cloth.

Next meaning: a car from the 1940’s.  Well, the car still has a club and a website and all, so that’s cool.

One source said that it was a nickname given to a “courageous person”. I like that one a lot!

In Aussie slang, it means “a snack”.  What?  I’m a quick bite of food.  Don’t like the sounds of that.  And then “Never Tuckers Out”.  What – I’m never supposed to eat a snack outside. (I can eat anywhere.)

This is like a picnic. FUN.

I went back to Mom and asked again.  She said that it reflects my energy.  The whole name, “Never Tuckers Out”, means that I never get tired from my work.  She also said that many people told her I looked like a “Tucker”. Well, I WAS a VERY CUTE puppy!

Don't you agree?

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, check out  The Sensible Dog
or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

Good Job for a Cat

March 8, 2010

Dear Diary,
I am a very busy dog.  I have many jobs to do. Like today: I had to help Mom feed the horses. I had to ride with her to town when she went to the dump and the Post Office.  I had to tell her that there were squirrels at the bird feeders.  I had to tell her that there was a delivery man at the door.  With the new phone system, I can tell a call is coming in even before Mom hears it, so I had tell her to get ready, several times.  Tonight, I’ll have to tell her when Dad gets home.

I wonder sometimes what jobs the cats have. Reilly is always spilling Mom’s coffee in the morning, by head-butting her hand.  I don’t think that’s a job.  Fluff is always pushing things off the kitchen table onto the floor.  I don’t think that’s a job.  They don’t go for rides or walks with her.  So, those things are not cat jobs.  Right now, while I’m hard at work, they are both sleeping.  They seem to sleep A LOT!!  I don’t think that’s much of a job.

Reilly - maybe getting cat hair on furniture is a cat job?!

Fluffy - working hard or hardly working.

They do catch mice that come into our old house.(It’s 225 years old. WOW. In dog years that would be…)  Now, catching a mouse  seems like a cat job, but even then, they don’t finish the job and I have to help out.

It went this way, Mom.

I remember that one Tucker Says article (that’s my newsletter) talked about the benefits of having a dog.  What did it say?  The first benefit was laughter, which does all kinds of good things for people. Wait a minute; the article said “pets”.  Not just “dogs”.  Well, Mom and Dad certainly do laugh at  me, but they laugh at the cats, too.  Another benefit was “emotional support”, for everyone from a child to a senior citizen.  Wait a minute; there was that word again, “pets”. That would have to include cats.  Then, there were physical benefits discussed, from lower blood pressure to increased chance of surviving a heart attack. You guessed it: “pets”.

I guess maybe the cats and I share a big job – just being “pets”.

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, check out  The Sensible Dog
or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

If I had Thumbs

March 3, 2010

Dear Diary,

Today is “If Your Pet had Thumbs Day”.  That got me thinking.  What  would I do if I did have thumbs?

The dog on TV would get treats for himself.  Well, you don’t really need thumbs for that.  Teeth work well to open a bag and then you just stick your nose inside.

tucker dog diary dog treats

Oh No - is that Mom coming?

Enzo, the lab mix in Stein’s book  The Art of Racing in the Rain says that he would drive a race car.  (Read  Mom’s review of this book.)   Well, if you’re driving the car, you can’t just curl up in the back seat and take a nap.

Mom says I'm a back seat driver.

I think if I had thumbs, I’d take pictures with Dad’s camera, so everyone could what life looks like from my point of view.

Those buttons are tricky to push.

Here is what my world looks like.

What I see out the Kitchen Window

Maybe, people could paint the bottoms of things – like the bird feeder.  I see a lot of things from below.

Under the Kitchen Table

This is my favorite place in the kitchen.  Close to everything, but you don’t get stepped on.  Mom even bought a nice rug for me.  Again, the underside of  the table isn’t all that pretty.

In the Dining Room

The addition of a colorful table cloth turns the space under the dining room table into a really cozy den.  No wonder some dogs chew on the legs of chairs; we do spend a lot of time looking at them.

Taking photographs is fun.  Now I understand why Mom and Dad spend so much time with the camera (often aimed at me).

What would you do if you had thumbs?

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, you can read more about me
at The Sensible Dog or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

What Breed of Dog?

February 27, 2010

Dear Diary,

We were supposed to have all kinds of company today, including my friend Songo, but not including  Blizzard, who always growls at me. (Check out the picture of Songo,  the Golden Retriever,  pulling Blizzard  in the sled.)  But with the bad weather, nobody came.  Boring!

Then Mom  found this site that has a game called the “Canine Algorithmic Transfer System” (Click game.)  A person  answers a bunch of questions – about  size, build, personality, intelligence, etc.  Then, the  CATS determines which breed of dog that person would be , if they were a dog.

Mom answered the questions for herself – they said she would be a Chinese Crested. How funny is that?!  She is short and smart – but I’m not sure she’s that unusual looking. Well maybe a little when her hair is all messed up.

She answered for Dad – they said he would be a German Pointer, either variety.  Interesting – he is German (well, Pennsylvania Dutch – which is German and not Dutch at all.)   He likes the outdoors and  he is athletic.  He’d have to be “short haired” since he’s what people call “bald”.  Guess that’s pretty close.  Mom told a friend once that if Dad were a dog that she thinks he would be an Aussie.  Well, he is fun enough to be one!

The Mom answered the questions for me – as if I were a person.  They said I would be a Border Collie.  Not too far off.  But I think I have more sense of humor than most Border Collies I’ve known – I laugh a lot more.  People do often ask if I am a Border Collie mix, because of my black coloring.  People tend to think of Aussies as blue dogs, but we really come in  “blue merle, black, red merle, red – all with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points”.

Nothing like a Good Laugh

Some fun for a dull winter day.

Signed, Tucker (owner of this  Dog Diary)

If you enjoyed this dog blog, you can read more about me
at The Sensible Dog or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

PS All kidding aside, people who are considering getting a dog  should find out the characteristics of that breed before making a decision.  They should select a dog that matches their lifestyle, because that decision should be a lifelong commitment.

A Dog in the Dark

February 25, 2010

Dear Diary,

Yesterday was a really strange day.  It snowed very hard from the moment that we woke up.  Dad went off to work like normal and Mom and I went to our upstairs office like normal.  Usually she and I work a lot on the computer .  I blog and tweet and sometimes work on the newsletter to my “Sensible Dog” members.  (Mom does a lot on the computer too – although I don’t really know what she does.)

Busy Working

Well, suddenly she said that we couldn’t work anymore.  No computer on, no lights on, no clocks on. Very Strange!!  She went outside and moved snow around for quite a while.  Then Dad came home and he moved snow around.  I’m not sure why they worked so hard.  The snow  wasn’t any more fun where they put it.  In fact, the snow wasn’t really fun at all.  It was deep and it was heavy and it was wet.

Then they came inside.  It was dark.  Still no computer on, no lights on, no clocks on.  Very, very strange.  Mom lit some very dim oil lamps.  They ate dinner in a very dim dinning room.  That was kind of nice, but I ate in the very, very dark hallway.  Why no oil lamps for me?

Black Dog in the Dark

Maybe, I should have worn my harness -the trim is very reflective.

Reflective trim is a good idea

Then Mom and Dad got  their flashlights and went to the barn to feed the horses.  They were gone and all of a sudden the lights were on, the computer was on, clocks were on.  Wow.  How did that happen? There was no one around!  Very, very, very strange.  But lights are good.

Signed, Tucker (owner of this Dog Diary)
If you enjoyed this dog blog, you can read more about me
at The Sensible Dog or follow my dog tweets on Twitter as sensibledog.

PS There is a cool picture of my friend Akki from the Czech Republic on my Best Friends page.  He’s wearing his harness.