Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My dog had issues

Buddy was born November 26, 2001. He lived with another family and was a customer at our kennel until he started biting their children. When his mom called in tears looking for a new home for him, we took him in.

His food aggression was bad. When putting his bowl down, he would turn to us, bare his teeth and growl. It wasn’t just a little “shoo, get away” kind of growl, it was more of a stare you down, toothy “take one small step closer, and your face is gone” kind of growl.

We immediately got him fixed. And we immediately worked on his food aggression.

We did everything. We talked with our vet. I took a course from Sue Alexander, who specializes in rehabilitating aggressive dogs, and read about Ian Dunbar and Jean Donaldson positive training techniques. We treated him with Bach Flower Remedies. And we did as Ceasar Millan would say, acted in a calm assertive manner.

It took a lot of time and even more patience. Today he’s better, but not perfect. He’s our couch potato snuggler, and we love him dearly.

Dan and I are sure that Buddy came to live with us to teach us about what other families deal with. So there’s our silver lining.

If your dog shows aggressive tendencies, please don’t give up. You’ve got lots of options – try many and use the ones that work.

Here are some resources to start you on your journey:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our furry family

Our dogs Daisy and Buddy are the best dogs in the world ... yes they are. (That's Daisy on the left and Buddy on the right.)

Daisy was born February 14, 2001 in Turner Valley, Alberta. She came to live with us eight weeks later. We lovingly refer to her as the Queen of our kennel. She’s a real doll. Her favourite things are running, chewing and barking.

Normally she’s an extremely healthy, very happy little girl. One evening last summer – completely out of the blue she ran over to me, and dived under my chair. It looked like she was chasing something. Then she just lied there and twitched. Holy crap. She was having a seizure. I knew to stay calm, comfort her and let it pass. It didn’t last long. Once it was over, she looked confused, and stayed very close by my side. Her tail was straight up and her body was on full alert. I called the vet that night who said I could bring her in the morning.

Blood tests were inconclusive. My veterinarian recommended that, if episodes are short in duration and infrequent, I shouldn’t worry. Since then, we know of only one other brief episode occurring exactly like the first – starting with her diving under my chair.

A few of the dogs who visit our kennel have epilepsy and are on medication to control it. They tend to look a little stoned - drooling a bit and being a little dopier than normal. But they seem happy.

A friend of mine didn’t realize that her dog was having seizures until she was on maternity leave – so if you're out a lot, it may be happening to your dog, but you may not know about it.

If your dog has a seizure, stay calm and let it pass, then call your vet and ask for advice. If it lasts a long time, it may be an emergency needing immediate medical attention. When coming out of seizure, some dogs turn aggressive for a few minutes, so be safe and be alert for that possibility – especially if you live with young children.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Hi. I’m Louise – married to Dan Yates, or as the neighbours call him, dog boy. Our lives revolve around dogs. We share our home with two beautiful, gracefully aging golden retrievers, Daisy and Buddy. We own and operate K-Lane Kennels, a very special dog place. I love my job. In my spare time, I volunteer for our local animal shelter and read about dogs. Yes, I’m one of those special dog freaks.

Buying a kennel was Dan’s mid-life crisis. Expanding it was mine. For 16 years, he was a milk man and each day, I left the sanity of reality for corporate land. We’re both farm kids, so each spring, we talked about moving out of the city to an acreage. We both absolutely love dogs. And, Dan was looking for a change.

We were heading out for a camping weekend in the Rockies and our darling little Daisy needed a place to stay. My very good friend Brenda recommended K-Lane Kennels. When Dan brought Daisy out for her weekend visit, it was as good as Brenda described it to be, and it was for-sale. The stars aligned. We bought K-Lane in 2002. What an adventure – oh, I wish I had blogged then. Learning how to operate a kennel, moving to an acreage with adventures in water, sewer and snow removal, living in an old mobile home and building our new dream home. What a rush.

Stars aligned once more in the summer of 2008. Even after 24 years of marriage, I still really, really love my husband, and he’s pretty fond of me too (that’s what he says – he really does…). And, darn it, he was having a lot more fun at our kennel with our doggie guests than I was working in an office. I quit the corporate gig and we expanded K-Lane. We’re both super pumped about our change.

We believe that all dogs should be treated well. And, I find that people want to do the right thing for their furry kids, but unless they work with dogs, they some times don’t know what the right thing is. There’s a lot of information out there that’s geared toward animal professionals – groomers, trainers, breeders – rather than pet guardians. It can be quite scientific, snobbish or generally irrelevant for your basic, every-day pet owner who just wants to do a little better.

I teach Pet First Aid. I love teaching the class because I get to hang out with other dog freaks – we share stories and ideas about ways to keep our dogs healthy and happy. It’s the stories that help people learn. So that’s what this blog is all about. It’s real-life stories about real-life dogs to help real-life pet people. I’ll share insights and recommend books, internet sites and other references that I find interesting.

I'm not a vet, nor do I pretend to be, so please take my perspective as that - my perspective and my observations from watching and working with dogs, and talking with their people. I always leave medical diagnoses to trained professionals.

If you have topic suggestions, please send me an e-mail. I hope you enjoy learning about dogs and meeting our canine friends.