Tutorial – How to teach your dog to scratch your back

This is the first step-by-step tutorial video that I have made on how to teach your dog to scratch your back. 1. Put a treat/a few treats under a container. …

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The Biggest Loser’s Dolvett Quince Creates Pet Workout Plan

As pet parents our pup’s poundage can weigh heavy on our minds. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, extra lbs. and obesity have increased by 37 percent in dogs in just the past five years, and…

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Little pink blankie

That thing? That Tuesday thing I’ve been fretting over for weeks/my whole life? Is now a Wednesday thing. No one in the universe is more anxious about this than me, but in case you were wondering why I haven’t posted any pictures of me popping a cork yet….yeah. But in this case, a one day delay is fine and I PROMISE I will explain everything then.

And in the meantime, a story.

On Friday, I told my colleague Dr. B, for whom I am now working once a week, that I would go to appointments with her to get a feel for how one manages the flow of a day when you are going into people’s homes, putting their beloved pet to sleep, then taking that pet away. It’s a little different than how one does it in the office; you’re not in an environment you have control over, you have no techs in the back to help you if you can’t hit a vein, and the owners are standing right next to you the entire time. I am convinced this is better for owners but, as you can imagine, the first few times doing this alone is a wee bit nerve wracking.

I thought the day would be mostly about the technical aspects of the process- which vein is best? What is your sedation protocol? How do you bring up the subject of payment? And while all of that was necessary and good, I also watched Dr. B and how she interacted with families. She is very, very good at this. After doing it for as long as she has, she doesn’t need to concentrate on the mechanics of where to put the tourniquet or the best angle for placing a butterfly catheter in the lateral saphenous. Muscle memory will come with time for me as well. But compassion memory is a combination of instinct and observation.

Uncharted territory

There are things you learn in school and things you do not. As I tried to explain to my husband when he looked at me with utter bewilderment as to why I was so nervous the night before, this is different. I have minimal training in grief counseling. Some people hate the Rainbow Bridge poem. Some people want to pray and others want to leave the room. And no matter what happens, I need to remain ever the buoy as the tempest of an awful event swirls around me.

Everyone is so very different in how they want to have the event happen; most of the time they don’t even know themselves what they are going to want. So you follow cues: talk a little first. Hurry up and get it over with. Give me a minute. I want a hug. I want a handshake. I want you to get out of here asap.

So you observe for those minute cues and hope you’re doing it right, and just kind of trust your instinct when it comes to how to respond to certain events, things that don’t go exactly the way you want, or questions you’re not certain you should say the answer to. This particular job is as much an art as it is a science. Obviously some people are more adept at this than others. I’m trying my best.

Towards the end of my day with Dr. B, as we were talking over her protocol, she paused thoughtfully and said, “You know, I’m wondering if I should bring a little drape to put over my hand so they don’t have to see the catheter.” Little things like that can be very nice.

I liked the idea, so before I had my first day on call by myself, I went through my linen closet trying to find a suitably sized cloth. All I could find were dishtowels or hand towels or facecloths. I didn’t like any of them. Better luck next time, I thought.


I forgot how soft these are.

And as I turned back to the washer, I saw a little pink blankie neatly folded, by itself, peeking out from under a box of cleaning supplies. It was my daughter’s baby blanket, one of those little waffle weave ones with satin piping. She lived in it for 6 months, swaddled tight.

I thought I had gotten rid of all of them months ago; I’m not sure how this one managed to stick around or why it was randomly on top of my washer- we’ve only been in this house since December, so it worked its way there somehow. I put it in the car, just in case I thought it would be helpful.

At the end of a visit yesterday, I put it on my lap and then tucked in the little pup, like I had done to my daughter for so many years. And the words just came out: ‘This was my daughter’s baby blanket. It’s filled with a lot of love.’ I don’t know if they needed to know that, or if it mattered, but I hope it did.

I hope when the dust settles and her owners look back on an awful day, what will remain is not the memory of a syringe, but the image of their dog bundled up by someone who knows how much they loved her.

It only works because it’s not cynical. If it ever becomes that, there’s my cue to stop.


Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Living With and Training Assistance Dogs

NEADS Graduation celebration

Graduation at NEADS!

I don’t need to tell you that dogs and humans share a special bond. Many species work alongside us, and many species live with us, but dogs occupy both of those roles like no other animal on earth.

Assistance dogs take that role to an entirely new level though. These dogs help people with a wide range of disabilities while quite naturally becoming their companions too.

In Another Language, Portraits of Assistance Dogs and Their People author Jeanne Braham, along with photographer Robert Floyd, present twelve oral histories from people that work with or are partners with assistance dogs. These deeply personal stories provide you with a unique window into the bonds that form between the dogs and the people working and living with them.

Bob Swain and Waldo

Bob Swain and Waldo

The combination of Mr. Floyd’s photos with first person stories bring you right "into the room" with the book’s subjects as they tell you their story. I was initially (as in before I started actually reading) a little put-off at the idea of oral histories since I have read books in the past where that format didn’t really work for me, but in this book it really is perfect. I have read plenty of descriptions of the work that assistance dogs but these individual stories, told in the first person, convey the impact these dogs have on the storyteller’s lives in a uniquely personal way.

The book centers around National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS). NEADS trains assistance dogs for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, people with balance and stability issues, people with a physical disabilities, combat veterans in need of assistance dogs, teachers, ministers and therapists, and children on the autism spectrum and or with physical disabilities. The majority of their dogs are also initially trained by inmates in New England prisons. (How cool is that?)

Puppies from NEADS

Suzanne Goodwin with her puppies.

Most of the interviews are with people who have dogs from NEADS, but several of the people in the book are also employees and volunteers, including a great chapter from a breeder of Labradoodles who is donating a dog (the first of her line) to NEADS at the time of the interview. As well as interviews with trainers and program administrators.

Beth Lewis, a psychologist who both teaches and also still does therapy, works with Grace. Grace was bred for assistance, but orthopedic issues made her unsuitable for service. However, NEADS staff was able to find her a very productive role in help Beth in her work. Grace’s story of how she has undergone multiple surgeries while still helping Beth in her practice is both fascinating and truly inspirational.

Jake Liptak is an inmate handler and has raised three puppies as of his interview. He explains how inmates are able to enter the program and then provides us with an interesting rundown of what behaviors the puppies are trained for.

NEADS program has had to change the past few years with the very large number of veterans returning to the U.S with serious injuries. Sheila O’Brien, who joined NEADS in 1978, worked her way to CEO in 2009, and then left that role to work as a director with America’s VetDogs explains some of the history of NEADS’ assistance program for combat veterans and how their program had to adjust to the veteran’s different needs. In that same chapter there is also an interview with veteran Kevin Lambert.

Another Language, Portraits of Assistance Dogs and Their People is more than just a book about assistance dogs. It's book of stories about the dogs, the people, and the programs that make up NEADS. Together these stories come together to reveal a larger story of how these dogs bring different people together to help each other, whether they came to NEADS for a dog or to work with a dog.

This is a book that belongs on the shelf of any dog enthusiast. Go get it!

Living With and Training Assistance Dogs is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Related Stories


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Nice Pet Scratch photos

Some cool Pet Scratch images:

The cat scratching log
Pet Scratch

Image by photogirl7.1
This is the universal scratching log for Casey and Whitey.

Sleeping on the scratching post
Pet Scratch

Image by rfduck
He’s far too big now for his scratching post, yet he still sleeps on it. I don’t know how he finds it comfortable

Scratching Post
Pet Scratch

Image by Hey Paul
Hey Paul

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May 19, About Best Dog Food Guide – and me

About Best Dog Food Guide tells you more about me, my website and how to contact me. So… see you on the other side ;-) .
Dog Food Blog | Best Dog Food Guide

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The Flight of the Pyr Fur

Wednesday was the shittiest day I’ve had in a long long time.  I mean it was unapologetically shitty maybe intentionally shitty maybe just damn mean and shitty

And as i was sitting there, perhaps feeling sorry for myself perhaps thinking things through, the mid afternoon sun and wind lit up a strand of white fur stuck to my desk and it was magical.

It danced oh so delicately like a single stranded symphony and it spoke to me.  I think I should thank Sam Mendes.
2 Dogs 2,000 Miles

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DrDonnaSpectorQuestion: I have a four year old pitbull my baby suffers from allergies every summer I need help to find out what I can do I have took in him to the vet and no one knows what’s going on.

Answer: Thank you for your question. With dogs who suffer from issues at the same time every year—the diagnosis is usually inhaled seasonal allergies called atopy. Here is an article with some tips on diagnosis and treatment of allergies: Allergies in Dogs.

Hope this helps.
Dr. Donna Spector

Answers provided to pet owners by Dr. Donna Spector should be considered information and not specific advice. Answers are to be used for general information purposes only and not as a substitute for in-person evaluation or specific professional advice from your veterinarian. Communications on this site are very limited and should never be used in possible cases of emergency.

Halo, Purely for Pets will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any information or content contained in a blog or article post. If you have consulted your veterinarian and if you are still concerned about your pet’s condition or if your pet has chronic, complicated or undiagnosed problems, Dr. Spector can offer consultations for you and your veterinarian via www.SpectorDVM.com.


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Please HELP!! My cats have pretty bad mange. Need home remedy known to be safe and effective for cats! Thanks.

Question by onceuponatimeiwas: Please HELP!! My cats have pretty bad mange. Need home remedy known to be safe and effective for cats! Thanks.
Recently became aware that my cats itching was not b/c of fleas (tons of treatment) but from mange mites! I cannot afford a trip to the vet and am also weary of chemicals used to treat mites. I have found a number of mite remedies but all have been for dogs with no side notes indicating they are safe for cats. Please help if you have any information or experience.

Best answer:

Answer by tazzmainiandevils
Diet alone can treat mange. Mites are best treated from the inside out. Try a raw diet or switch to Wellness brand wet food with added vitamin C, E, zinc, and lecithin.

The chinese herb astragalus and echinacea.

There’s a natural skin tonic, but it’s lemon and cats aren’t crazy about citrus. It’s pretty diluted though, you could try it:

Thinnly slice a whole lemon, including the peel. Add it to 1 pint of near boiling water and let it steep overnight.The next day, sponge the solution on the animals skin and let it dry.

Homeopathic: Sulpher (the element) 6C 2X a day for a week to ten days.

Good Luck!

Add your own answer in the comments!

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The Veterinary Film Marketing Team Needs a Little Work

The American Veterinary Medical Association is not known for being on the cutting edge of pop culture or media relations. Like its cousin the American Medical Association, professional organizations like this all tend to err on the side of conservatism. That is just the nature of the beast, and I get that.


So it is with some degree of bemusement that I noted the AVMA has recently released a 30 second movie trailer in honor of its 150th anniversary. And why, might you ask, does the profession need a movie trailer? From the press release:

“The goal of the ad is to promote the veterinary profession to the public, and to highlight the many other things that veterinarians do beyond treating pet cats and dogs,” explains Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, president of the AVMA. “We hope that this will help boost public awareness of the important role veterinarians fill in our society, and across the globe.”

It ran all last week, but in case you didn’t catch it, here is the fruit of their creative labors:

Yes. Well. I’d say filmmaking is not the strong suit of my profession, no? I’m not even going to address the music, because that is beyond unforgiveable. There have been so many hundreds of thousands of instrumentals produced since 1995 that it boggles the mind why they couldn’t choose a single one that would be applicable. I’ll admit it. I cringed.

Speaking of cringing, can we talk about the Kool Aid man “OH YEAHHHHH”? Because I have never once used that term to describe anything about my professional career, as in “You know what I did today? A cystotomy OHHHH YEAAAAAH” *high five* I’m thinking back on twelve years of practice plus four of school and I’ve known a lot of nerdy types, and not one has ever been that nerdy.

However, all of that would be forgivable had the piece actually served its self-stated purpose, which to refresh your memory is “boost public awareness of the important role veterinarians fill in our society, and across the globe.”

I appreciate the idea behind the message and I would love to see it realized. I see they got the whole “beyond cats and dogs” thing down, but as far as I could tell the entire segment shows the standard coated veterinarians auscultating a bunch of not-dogs-and-cats over and over. Maybe my clients are savvier than most, but most people understand that veterinarians also treat horses and birds, unless there is a study I am not privy to that says the contrary.

Perhaps at the AVMA conference in July they will reveal the marketing focus group that determined 95% of children 8-12 who will be at Monsters University do not know that veterinarians treat lizards, and if we can get that message across… well, it will make all of us better and more successful. Or maybe this was simply a huge misfire.

I’m sorry, AVMA, as a member I want to love all that you do, but I have yet to meet a single colleague who liked this. I was messaged this 15 separate times by aghast veterinarians who are wondering why none of us were consulted as to why this might be a horrible thing. And it does pain me, because guess what?


My career let me go to Tanzania and meet all these people and give that dog a dewormer so he would not transmit disease to those young children. Can I get an OH YEAH!

Veterinarians ARE amazing. We do things like work with Maasai in dust filled markets to keep their punda healthy and economically viable. We send teams of students out to the most underserved communities on Native American reservations to reach out to not only the animals, but the children who live there and see a glimpse that the outside world cares about their health. We work with MDs to try and find the common links between canine cancer and human cancer. We fit elephants with prosthetics. We keep guide dogs healthy so they can give wounded veterans a reason to get up in the morning. My heart fills with joy every day when I see the jaw dropping work my fellow vets are doing out in this world, and not a single bit of that “HOLY FISTULATED RUMENS THAT WAS COOL” came across in that snoozefest.

To contrast, this is something I made in iMovie while I was in Peru with AmazonCares. I made it WHILE I was in Peru, on a boat. It took about 30 minutes. You tell me which one makes being a vet look like more fun.


We do some seriously cool stuff, and this was an opportunity to showcase that, that was totally squandered.

So, sorry about the trailer guys. Hopefully next time they’ll call Tarantino, or at least, you know, poll a few vets or something.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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