What’s Your Dog’s Walk Profile?

dog training, dogs, humor

Each of my dogs has a distinct personality, even when confined to a leash

Fayston, Vermont. Despite the fact that spring seems slow in coming this year, my dogs and I are enjoying more time outside now that the snow is (mostly) melted. I am looking forward to walking on the hiking trails and public paths once those ways are dry enough for foot traffic. Meanwhile, we are meandering out on the roads, and I have noticed that each of my dogs exhibits at least one “walk profile” type when on a leash. Others have told me about their dogs’ distinct behavior while leash walking.

Recently, I devised a set of “walk profiles” to categorize dog behavior while on a leash.  The profiles are not exclusive to each other – dogs may show characteristics from more than one profile. Dogs may also morph from one category into another completely. Training is the biggest variable, but weather may also have a role in which behavior is exhibited. Equipment such as a special harness or lead also plays a part in behavior.

What type of “walker” is your dog?

  1. The Investigator. This dog loves to sniff EVERYTHING, even if the walk is on the same route taken earlier in the day. All of the day’s news is contained in the grass, but it takes time to weed out the gossip from the important stuff. This dog is thorough and curious as well as social. Perhaps even a little stubborn… Motivating to move along can be a challenge.
  2. The Fire Chief. Works a little faster than the Investigator, but is sure to put out each inflammatory remark with his own stream. The Fire Chief boasts an amazing reservoir to ensure coverage.
  3. The Motion Detector. Chases blowing leaves, butterflies, birds, and moving squirrels, the Motion Detector is energetic and enthusiastic. The Motion Detector needs frequent “SIT” time-outs to collect herself while on a leash. Can be difficult to handle in a wind gust.
  4. The Collector. Souvenirs of every walk line the driveway: sticks, dropped rotten apples, and even big branches are picked up and carried by the Collector during the walk and dropped once back at home. Sometimes these items are held in the mouth while in Motion Detector mode (see above). A collected item often serves as a pacifier. The Collector is known to carry multiple items at the same time. Caution: Large collected items can become a club – “drop it” is a good command to avoid being hit behind the knees with a large stick.
  5. The Tugboat. Harnessing the power of this type of walker is necessary, and with training, the Tugboat can become a well-mannered Pleasure Cruiser. The Tugboat is out in front, excited at being outside and stimulated by all he sees. His specialty is pulling arms: Avoid injury by using a no-pull harness/lead and engaging the tugboat in training to stop his pulling.
  6. The Hunter. Similar to the Motion Detector, but instead of chasing movement, the Hunter is scenting rodents. Squirrels, chipmunks, and gophers better beware if the Hunter is off-leash. The Hunter type is often paired with the Tugboat type, so a harness and training help keep hunting season closed during leash walks.
  7. The Pleasure Cruiser. With training and frequent positive reinforcement, this is the height of evolved dog walk behavior. The Cruiser is focused on his or her handler, does not pull or lurch or jump, and makes exploring the neighborhood a joy of companionship. Each of my dogs has flirted with this walk type, but none has committed fully to it. Yet. Our pursuit of Cruiser-ability is on-going.

What type of walker is your dog? Do you have any other types in your house? Please leave a comment!

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Three’s the Charm

animal rescue, dogs, photography
img_8223 copyright rsilbernagel

Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown at home.

Fayston, Vermont.  Wagmore is three! Well, almost. Launched three years ago on National Puppy Day, I started the blog to tell stories about my dogs and about those I meet in my community. Although I don’t have as much time to sniff out stories as I’d like, we’ve had a wonderful time exploring and sharing. I am looking forward to another year of happy tails!

For me, the highlight for this past year was seeing the photos of my readers’ dogs. As has been my custom with my anniversary post, the words are few and the photos are many. Have a look through the gallery of images from the past year.

National Puppy Day is March 23, 2018.  We will be taking a long walk and indulge in an extra cookie (or two) as we continue our training. Perhaps you will add (another) dog to your family. Or donate to your local shelter or rescue organization. (I shop on Amazon Smile to benefit my rescue – it’s easy to sign up.) Consider buying some new dog toys or a comfy bed for your pooch. Or meet a neighbor to take a walk together. Or, take a portrait of your dog… How will you celebrate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts of Love

animal rescue, dogs, Joy, Valentines Day
Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus at sunrise.

Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus at sunrise

To my dear pack-mates Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown on Valentines Day,

I love:

  • That you are ecstatic when I come home
  • That you are so happy to see me that you like to rub your blondeness against my black pant legs
  • That you use me for a pillow and keep me warm when you snuggle
  • That you use my pillow when I’m not home
  • That you are excited to see me each morning
  • That you are so excited to see me each morning that you begin to chirp at 4:30 a.m.
  • That you are up for any adventure
  • That you think when I have to go to the bathroom is an adventure
  • That you are always by my side
  • That you lie down in obstacle course formation on the kitchen floor when I am cooking
  • That you help with the dishes and vacuuming
  • That occasionally you leave a mess for me to clean
  • That you love me, always

I love my Lucy

I love my Linus

I love my Charlie Brown

Happy Valentines Day!

XOXOXO

 

 

Resolution Revolution: Seven Habits for a Wagtastic Life

dogs, Healthy Living, Joy, Resolutions
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Charlie Brown with his band mates Linus and Lucy on a recent winter walk

Fayston, Vermont.  Perhaps you’ve made a few resolutions, and you’re still on the wagon. I didn’t make any resolutions. Nope. Can’t break a promise I didn’t make.

Except for this: I vowed to continue the healthy habits I reinstated last year. I started using the gym last fall. I work there, so I should practice what I appear to preach, I thought. I’m now more active because the elliptical machine knows my name. I’ve cut my soda consumption way down, and notice I feel better when I don’t drink it. I’ve made a few other dietary tweaks so that I look and feel better, so there’s my incentive to keep it going. I’ve lost the weight I gained over the summer when my arthritis pain dragged me down, both physically and mentally. The pain is manageable, but still there.

My dogs have helped me keep my healthy habits because they have a keen sense of time and how to live a happy life.

The Pack’s Seven Habits for a Wagtastic Life:

  • They remind me when it’s time for a walk. And that a walk at sunrise is beautiful.
  • They make time for play. They take time to explore.
  • They always know when it’s supper time, and they remind me to eat and to enjoy my food.
  • They realize a reward for good behavior is mandatory. But too much of a good thing is too much.
  • They insist that regular massages (belly rubs, head rubs, etc.) are necessary for well-being. But they also let me know that bathing and grooming can be skipped, occasionally. (So much time spent on my hair when I wash it every day – it’s o.k. to skip that once in awhile…)
  • They know sleep is key to recovery. And that a nap helps pass a rainy day.
  • They show and accept affection and gratitude with joy, every day.

If you’re looking for inspiration to make changes in the New Year, look to your furry friends. They will share their wisdom with you, if you listen.

Putting on the dog this holiday season…

animal rescue, dogs, holiday events, Uncategorized

Happy Howlidays! Lucy looks festive in her garland of candy cane lights.

Fayston, Vermont. Whether you dress your dog in a holiday outfit to match yours or you wear the reindog headband because your pooch just won’t, celebrating the holidays is not just for humans. I’ve pulled together a short list of Vermont dog-friendly holiday events plus a couple of special events that benefit dog rescue organizations. (I plan to be at the Ugly Sweater Party at Prohibition Pig to benefit Golden Huggs Rescue. All three of my dogs were adopted through GHR.) Search your area for similar events if you can’t make it to Vermont!

To do with your dog(s):

Snaps with Santa
Saturday, December 10; 11 am – 2 pm
Pet Food Warehouse, 2500 Williston Road, South Burlington
Bring a donation for Claus for Paws.
More info: http://www.pfwvt.com; 802-862-5514

Dog Mountain Holiday Celebration
Saturday, December 16; 10 am – 5 pm (Tree lighting @ 4, bonfire @ 5)
143 Parks Road, Saint Johnsbury, Vermont
Free!
More info: http://www.dogmt.com/Events
1-800-449-2580

8th Annual Dog Parade & Canine Costume Party
Sunday, December 31, 1 pm
Sugarbush Resort, 102 Forest Drive, Warren, Vermont
$10 cash donation to PAWSitive Pantry
More info: http://www.sugarbush.com/events/dog-parade

To benefit dog rescue organizations:

Making Spirits Bright
Thursday, December 14; 6:30 – 9 pm
The Automaster, 3328 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, Vermont
Tickets: $35 per person, http://www.passion4paws.yapsody.com
Silent Auction proceeds benefit Passion 4 Paws

Ugly Sweater Party
Thursday, December 20; 4 – 9 pm
Prohibition Pig Brewery, 2 Elm Street, Waterbury, Vermont
Half price tacos if you wear an ugly sweater and for every house draft beer purchased, ProPig will donate $1 to Golden Huggs Rescue

A final note: As always, be careful of what you feed your dog – all those rich holiday treats might make your dog’s event experience memorable not in a good way. And be careful of what you consume so that you and you loved ones arrive home safely…

Wishing you all the season’s joys and a Happy New Year!

 

Line Item Missing

dogs, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus in their orange vests on a recent walk in a Vermont state park. Their leashes are at my feet.

Fayston, Vermont.  My apologies for once again not sticking to my first-Wednesday-of-the-month schedule. Our power was out for a couple of days last week, and our internet was down for over a week. I’m finally back on-line with a new, faster modem. But leash lines, not power lines, are this post’s topic.

Do you carry a leash?

My town’s leash law allows dogs to be off-leash if they are under voice control. I have yet to meet a dog during our wanders who is actually that obedient. Admittedly, mine are intermittently obedient. Know that I love to let my three dogs off leash. It is wonderful exercise for them as they run at least three miles to each one I walk. They are very happy to explore and play with each other. I have a couple of places where I can do that without too much worry, but the best place is on my own property, which is mostly wooded and has a trail looping through it.

We are working on the command “come.” Each of my dogs does fairly well when I work alone with one of them, but when they are together, not so much. Linus and Charlie Brown have selective hearing. They are usually not far; they are too busy to come. We have much work to do.

When we are out (and my dogs are on leash), we occasionally encounter unleashed dogs. “Oh, he’s friendly” – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line from an owner of an unleashed dog. That might be true, but one of my dogs is reactive.

Linus meditates…

Linus is not always friendly. He barks at dogs on t.v.  While we are working on that, too, it is the top reason I have him on a leash when we leave our property. It is also why I time my walks to avoid the other “regulars” in my neighborhood. Sometimes we meet, however, and it’s hard. My neighbors are extremely patient and understanding. 

So, while your dog might be friendly, another dog might not be – please keep that in mind when you let your dogs off leash on a public trail. Always carry a leash, and leash your dog when you come across others. Please.

Another reason for keeping dogs on leash during November in Vermont is because it is hunting season. My dogs look adorable in their orange bandanas and vests, but underbrush could conceal and camouflage them. A tired hunter might react simply to movement. To be safe, I keep my dogs leashed.

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Charlie perches atop a hay bale for a portrait

Third, some folks might not want to meet your dog, even if doggo is very friendly. About a month ago, I brought Lucy to the reservoir to swim. The park had just closed for the season, but it was a warm, sunny day. Lucy was on leash as we walked to the water. About 50 yards away, another woman was working with her young dog. The dog was much more interested in Lucy than the owner’s commands and treats. The lady persisted in struggling for his attention. Lucy was oblivious as she just wanted to swim.

Swim she did. I had brought my camera and started to take pictures. I noticed a hilltop that would provide a scenic backdrop for a Lucy portrait. After a bit of swimming, I leashed her to walk up the steep hill to see the view. At the top we were immediately and enthusiastically greeted by two off-leash black labs. Their owner was calling them to no avail. The meeting was friendly, but I was overwhelmed by our new friends. In the happy frenzy, I became tangled in Lucy’s leash between three large, wet, jumping dogs and was nearly knocked to the ground. The owner asked me not to unleash Lucy because her dogs had been attacked by off leash dogs.

Oh, the irony…

Lucy at the Waterbury Reservoir, post swim and Lab greeting

Snaptastic! Readers share their dog portraits

dogs, How-to, photography, Uncategorized
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In an image sent in by Carol, Bradley the Labrador (owned by Carol’s son) enjoys a dip in a lake in the Sawtooth Mountains.

Fayston, Vermont. After a couple of posts giving photography tips for capturing a good portrait of your dog, I put my readers to the test. (Well, it was an optional assignment.) I received excellent submissions through which I can not only see your dogs likeness, but I also feel how special your dogs are.  That emotion is the end goal of a good portrait, so congratulate yourselves on an assignment well done!

From Carol, in New Jersey, I received images of of her son’s dog, Bradley, and of her Labradoodle, Wilson. Kersten, also in New Jersey, shared photos of her dog Rhodie. Andrea in Connecticut sent in photos of her dog, Filbert. And Nancy, who lives not far from me in Vermont, forwarded photos of several of her dogs. Thank you all for sharing your images!

I’ve assembled the photos into a gallery, below. Click on an image to see the dog’s name or owner. Sweet!

Oh, snap! (Send your photos before it’s too late!)

dogs, How-to, photography, Uncategorized
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Linus, Charlie Brown, and Lucy take a break during our evening stroll.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017.

A gentle reminder: Dear readers, I’ve only had two of you send in dog photos for my October post! I am grateful to those faithful two, but I’d really like to show photos from a few more of you – especially if you have found my photography tips helpful!  So please give portrait shooting a go and email your images on or before October 1, 2017 (that’s this Sunday) to me at silvernaildesign@gmail.com. I won’t sell your images or give them to any other party to use, I promise.

If you don’t have a dog, I will post your portrait of another pet or a favorite person of yours. The idea is to have you try the tips I gave you to see if they help you take a better picture. (I’m betting they will! To review my last post, please click here.)

In addition to sending your portrait to me, I’ve found a few more places for you to submit your dog’s photo. Two of the three are time-sensitive, so start snapping!

  1. Orvis is looking for a catalog cover dog. Submit your photo by September 30, 2017.  Prizes, Orvis merchandise, and the coveted cover are at stake! Check out their gallery of entries for inspiration.
  2. Adventure Dogs Official is an Instagram account that features fun reader-submitted photos of dogs out having a great time. It’s a wonderful account to browse for ideas and just be bow-wow-ed! They are always looking for dogs to feature. Send a high resolution photo with caption and location of pic to advernturedogsco@gmail.com or tag #AdventureDogsOfficial on Instagram.
  3. Smithsonian Magazine is also holding a dog photo contest. Actually, Smithsonian offers many categories for its annual contest. Even if you don’t want to enter, it’s worth browsing through the submissions. (I feel so boring and landlocked after I viewed some of the wonderful entries. Maybe I just need another glass of wine.) Contest entries are due November 30, 2017. You must create a profile before you can submit a photo.

If you have any questions, please send an email to me or use the contact form, below. Thank you for your participation. I’m looking forward to seeing your photos! 

Kind Regards,

Rebecca

wagmorevt.com

Picture Perfect Dog Portraits, Take 2

dogs, How-to, photography, Uncategorized

Lucy on a sleepy Sunday morning

Fayston, Vermont.  Still struggling with taking a decent photo of your dog? To follow up on my post from May 7, 2017, Picture Perfect: Tips for Taking Dog Portraits, here’s a simple exercise to start you on your way to taking better dog portraits. Yes, a little homework – it is back-to-school time – then, please send your assignment photos to wagmorevt.com and I’ll post them next month.

The assignment theme: “Let sleeping dogs lie”. I heard from some of you that your dog just won’t sit still long enough for you to take a decent photo. Training tips aside, let’s remove the action bit as much as possible and start with a tired pooch.

Step 1: Take your dog for a good walk. The light will be best for photos in the early (early-ish) morning or early evening, so time your walk with your mission. Tidbit from Captain Obvious: Pick a day that’s not raining or about to rain. You want good light. Wet dog is your call.

Step 2: When your dog settles down for a post-walk rest, take out your camera or smart phone. Hopefully your dog will be some place where you will have natural light, like through a window or outside on your deck. Turn on your camera or the camera on your phone.

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Charlie Brown does not like mornings. To take this shot, I steadied my smart phone on the deck while I crouched super low, almost lying down, to take the shot.

Step 3: Set up your shot. Focus on the dog’s eyes. (With the smart phone camera open, tap on the screen over the dog’s eyes.) The dog’s eyes will probably still be open, and that’s good. Figure out which way the light is hitting your dog’s face, and set yourself up so that you see that light on your dog’s face. Hold your camera/phone at dog eye level, which might mean getting down on the floor. I do this all the time…

Step 4: Take the picture! Take several pictures: Try different angles, like above and below your dog, and take multiple shots. Try moving in very close for just the face, then farther away for the whole dog.

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Linus rests after his morning walk, Note how the soft light coming through the windows hits his face from the right side and behind him.

Step 5: Edit your image. Simply using the auto-enhance feature in iPhoto (or whatever you have) is often all you need. If you still have a lot of shadows, move the shadows slider in iPhoto to the right to lighten the shadows. Use the brilliance slider to lighten up dark photos, too. Cropping unnecessary bits will help your composition by “focusing” the attention on your subject.

Step 6: Send your finished image to wagmorevt.com! I’d love to see them, and I’ll share them in next month’s post. Please tell me your dog’s name, your name, and where you took the shot (town, state, and then anything else – living room, under the bed…) Your deadline for inclusion in the next post is Sunday, October 1, 2017.

Email photos and information to: silvernaildesign@gmail.com

Note: If you don’t have a dog, improvise! A cat, a teddy bear, your spouse;-)

Have fun!!! And, happy snapping!

Rescue Squad Leader

animal rescue, dogs, Interview, Uncategorized
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Cindy Thrasher, Golden Huggs Rescue (GHR) Foster Extraordinaire, at the GHR Yard Sale, July 22, 2017

Editor’s note: Although I adopted all three of my dogs through Golden Huggs Rescue, Cindy was not the foster for any of them – I had never met Cindy before the interview.  And, while this post has been percolating, National Mutt Day (July 31, 2017) came and went.  This post is dedicated to all those volunteers who work in animal rescue.

Shelburne, Vermont.  With Cindy Thrasher, a volunteer foster “mom” for Golden Huggs Rescue.  Cindy, who lives in Columbia, Kentucky, was recently in Vermont to support the GHR fundraiser held at Collette’s Furniture in Shelburne, and to visit with friends.

How long have you been with GHR?
I’ve been involved with GHR since 2009, but I was with Border Collie Rescue before that. So 11 years total in rescue.

What got you started?
A friend of mine at work had Border Collies, and she was involved with Border Collie rescue. I went to a shelter to assess a Border Collie for her, and I picked it up. Once I started doing it, I really felt it was my calling.  I didn’t know anything about rescue; I didn’t even know it existed. I knew that we had tons of animals in need. Since then, I fostered over 600 dogs and puppies.

What are some of your favorite stories from your rescue work?
Most of the dogs we get are strays, so they come with a lot of stories we don’t know. Sometimes we can tell physically or by behavior what’s happened to them. Some that are special are if they’re a senior and they get adopted, and they get a second chance at life.

Black dogs – since I’ve been with GHR, they’ve been pretty liberal with me about having black dogs on our site, even though they’re not golden retrievers or golden mixes – because of “black dog syndrome”, where big black dogs are the last to get pulled out of shelters and they’re the first to be euthanized. We see many more Labrador Retrievers where I live than Golden Retreivers because they use them for fowl hunting. We have tons and tons of pure-bred Labs and tons and tons of Lab mixes, and they tend not to get out. I try my best to keep at least one black in foster care at all times. They’ve [GHR] been very liberal with me allowing me to do that.

Everybody’s a great dog – eveerydog is perfect – for the right home. That’s why it’s so important for out adoption process, the way it works. Because we’ve had very few of mine that have had to be moved around after, and usually it’s the humans’ fault. Not the dog’s fault. It’s important for them to have their forever life.

Do you have any dogs of your own?
I have three that are permanent fosters that were deemed unplacable for behavioral reasons, and I have two Border Collies, and several mixed breeds at my house.

I keep about 18-25 dogs at a time. I try to move them on. I’ve had fosters for over a year because no one wanted them, but I always tell my board members that the right person comes for the right dog at the right time. I takes awhile sometimes.

I had one last year, she was wicked female alpha aggressive, so she wanted to attack all the females. You can’t place a dog like that everywhere – that’s not a dog park dog, a dog you can walk around the neighborhood. She lives in Massachusetts now. She’s stunning. Brilliantly smart. She’s an only dog in a fenced yard, and they love her.  She’s living a great life.

I commit to each one, whenever their life to be realized, realizes. I’m the only one they have. Many times, they’re moments before the euthanization. I was lucky to go to Maine and visit a couple who have adopted three dogs from me, two I had in foster for over a year. One I got from a shelter I stopped at on my way to somewhere else. It was 4:30 on a Friday. The vet was coming at 5 to euthanize everything there. There were 30 dogs there. I had to look at those dogs and know that they were going down. This one sticks out to me more than any because it so explains the plight of these animals. There were three little puppies in the crate next to her. I was getting the puppies because they were fluffy puppies and I knew we could place them.  She’s a red cattle dog mix, solid red, and she was reaching through the kennel, screaming at me. Like she knew what was going to happen. I’ve never heard anything like it, before or since. She’s never made that noise again. She was literally screaming to me to get her.  I couldn’t leave her. I had to walk away from 20-some others, but I couldn’t leave her. I had her for 13 months in foster. She’s not what people look for from us, but she’s got a great life now. She lives right on the ocean.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say our culture’s different down there. Human life isn’t valued much, and animal life isn’t valued at all. Animals are considered disposable. While there may be reputable breeders, most of the ones are from back yard breeders. They’re just doing it for the money. They don’t keep their dogs healthy. They adopt out dogs that are not spayed or neutered.  That just becomes more puppies that don’t have homes.

I would encourage anyone up here, if they have any influence at all, to push for Federal legislation for pet protection. KY ranks 50th in the nation for animal cruelty and neglect for 10 years in a row…

It’s a struggle. I encourage people to adopt rescue dogs because they are perfect. They may not be purebreds, but they are pure of heart.

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My Charlie Brown, center, with Golden Huggs Rescue volunteers at their fund raiser yard sale held last month at Collette’s Furniture in Shelburne, Vermont.  Thank you – your work makes a difference in the lives of so many dogs and their people!

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