Thursday, August 5, 2010

So it's been a very long time since my last post, and a lot has happened with Millie. She finally got spayed in June which was a big relief. Poor Millie had something wrong with her uterus and was perpetually in heat! No wonder she was so anxious!
For the last month Millie has been in Vermont boarding and training with Kevin Behan while I've been travelling for work. On the whole, Millie is a much more confident and happy dog since I met her in January, but she is sometimes unpredictable. Some days she barks incessantly at guests, some days not at all. Some days she will lunge at a passerby or running child, and others she will let strangers put their face in hers and pet her. Every time a stranger leans towards her, I'm crossing my fingers! lol. So I thought it would be really good for Millie to spend time with Kevin Behan, who Lee Charles Kelley learned from, as well as take a lovely break from the New York City heat.
Earlier this week I went up to visit Millie and see Kevin and it was a wonderful experience. I had missed her a lot!
Seeing Millie out there in a forest reminded me that she is a dog, an animal...  All too often as owners we think of our dogs as people or try and relate to them on our level, but there is so much more enjoyment to be had just seeing them as an animal, as pure nature, and connecting with them on their level. Seeing her in her element actually made me understand what she is feeling and what she needs, as well as making me feel connected with my inner animal too!
And Kevin is so great with her and such a wonderful teacher. It's like music watching him interact with Millie and try to coax her to let go of all that anger/fear.
She certainly seems a much happier dog. She is softening up, looks a little less like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and has lost some of the excess weight she was carrying too. But she's still holding on to that bite of hers. No matter how much she is pushed (not physically!) , she still won't grab a toy and pull it lol. She is a tough cookie for sure. I think she's on the cusp though, and Kevin showed me some exercises he has been doing with her which I'm going to get going on when she gets back on Monday. It's certainly a much longer process than I ever imagined but I feel I understand much better now what Millie is feeling and what she needs from me to help her iron out those kinks.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Here is Millie in her 'down stay' which she is so good at! She learns so fast, I'm constantly bursting with pride! She has also learned "speak" and "touch" but I am having no joy in getting her to tug or play outside still.
I thought maybe getting her around other dogs might bring this playfulness out, so over the last couple of weeks I've been taking her to the dog run every day to try and slowly introduce her to other dogs and to socialise her. I still only put her in there though when I see the dogs are in a calm mood, but now we spend at least 45 minutes a day there and her confidence has really grown. She's not as nervous about dogs sniffing her, and will approach dogs tail wagging and even give chase some times. But she doesn't play yet, and she absolutely will not let them mount her. If a dog tries to, Millie lets out a very scary growl and snarl (similar to the one she gave the vet when he tried to lift her tail a few weeks back).
But plans for socialisation are now on hold. Poor little Millie went into heat this week - the second time in two months.. Her hormones are not in good shape.
I took her to see a different vet yesterday who is female and works above a pet store so I thought the new environment might set a different mood for Millie and we'd talked before on the phone about how Millie reacted in the vets last time so the vet said she would only just stroke Millie and see if she could feel anything. Despite me and the vet being very calm and positive about the whole situation, Millie sensed something was awry unfortunately and it took only a touch by the vet on her upper back for her to turn around and attempt to nip. That's very unlike Millie who lets complete strangers stroke her when we go walking.
These vet trips are getting increasingly worse, and I am worried about how she will react when it's time to get her spayed, and with these hormonal problems, I'm going to get her spayed in six weeks.... if only I could find a vet's surgery that I could hire to take her to every day up to then to desensitize her in the meantime!! I'm going to ask around..

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I'm saving a post on Millie's progress for later this week when hopefully I can get some nice photos of her outside - maybe with other doggies! But the weather has been so gloomy lately it has been hard. 
I have just changed my blog url to as I finally am getting it together to have my cards and website designed for my "eventual" doggie holistic business,, where I hope to combine healing massages and natural dog training. Can't wait for it to be up and running - although I have a steep learning curve ahead of me still on both services..
So I thought instead I would blog today about something a little bit different. I've been studying canine massage therapy (albeit at a very slow pace!), but yesterday had the opportunity to attend a workshop in New York with UK animal healer, Margrit Coates, pictured on the left.
Call it destiny, but when massaging Millie over the last seven weeks, I've noticed that the area between her shoulder blades and on her shoulder blades burns very hot and when my hands are laid on that area my palms burn and tingle.
I thought perhaps this was a chakra but traditional research discards such a theory. But last week I came across an article in the Daily News of all places that said Margrit Coates was coming to town and that she is recognised as having discovered an eighth major chakra in dogs - the brachial chakra - which is.... on the shoulder blades! According to Coates, this chakra links humans to animals. So I thought I could not miss the opportunity to hear her speak.
To cut a long story short, it was a truly eye-opening workshop where we, the attendees, worked with the kind and very down-to-earth Coates on seven different dogs - all with different issues be those emotional or physical, and we were able to feel first hand how animal chakras feel when they are blocked - for me, this sensation is a burning and tingling on the hands.
If this all sounds a little fruity, listen further! Coates was healing a shitzu called Gibby when she said Gibby wanted us to know that an Edith needed some healing. No one knew an Edith, so I raised my hand and said I had fostered a pug called Edith not so long ago but that she was fit and well as far as I knew. Keen to share the story with Tim, her adopter, I emailed him after the session to tell him.
"Funny you say that," said Tim. Last week apparently Edith developed a problem in one of her hips and was finding it increasingly hard to climb the stairs..
So I'm now a complete fan of Margrit Coates, and am thrilled that I now have some guidance on how I can help Millie through her chakras. I can't wait for another workshop. For non-believers, then at least there is the pleasure of listening to someone who is so lovingly devoted to helping and healing animals. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Here she is! My dream dog, Millie back when it was snowy and not a sweltering 70 degrees like today (sweltering for Millie with all that fur. Personally I am happy Spring is here!) So it's been over a week now of trying to Millie to tug outside, and there has been some success! On our two long walks of the day we end up in a ball park where I get her to jump up and push at me to get her food (this was a challenge I will talk about later!) and then I run round to try and encourage her to chase me and a tug rope. The first day I tried this I dribbled a soccer ball around with her on a long leash beside me to see if being in a group chase mode might encourage her to tug, and it did! she tugged on her leash for a little while. So the next day I left the soccer ball at home and took a tug rope doing some pushing again, some running around and each time at the end she looks to the lead to tug and I replace it with the rope and we tug a little.
It's still slow going. She'll tug reasonably hard for about five minutes now and then she feels uncomfortable or is distracted so I leave it there. The last two days I've been practising getting her in a down stay where I back away about 20 feet and then get her to run to me and jump up for food and push with me again which she loves! I am almost bowled over by her jumping at me and the longer her stay, the more she seems excited to then look for the tug toy.
Why the fixation on the tugging outside I suppose one might ask. It's a natural dog training theory that maintains that tugging outside (and always letting Millie win!) gets her to express a lot of the energy that's balled up inside her in fear. It's a good way of her getting it out in a safe environment, and hopefully she learns that I am the one who helps her get this energy out. The aim is to get her tugging really hard for up to 15 minutes and enjoying every minute. It's not a replacement for exercise. We walk three hours a day, although I must admit I know I should be jogging with her. She's young and could do with higher impact exercise. Ah. I might have to suck it up and get jogging.
It is frustrating sometimes the slow progress with Millie. Today she pulled all over the place on her lead, barked at every movement outside the front door, and paced the apartment anxiously - three things that seemed to have subsided lately. But it is also easy to forget just how far she has come. I was reminded today when a man on the street called her to him, ruffled her cheeks and buried his head in his face to kiss her. When she arrived seven or so weeks ago, she would have barked immediately at him, jumped frantically around on her leash to escape with tail between her legs and then pulled me round the block. She may have even nipped him if he had got too close. Today, however, she wagged her tail, jumped up at him, and then, when his face moved in, jumped away, tail between her legs, but then recovered immediately and was calm. Similarly some neighbours were in the lobby yesterday and she ran out and jumped up then and wanted to follow them. Only three weeks ago she was barking at people in the lobby. So there is progress even though some days it seems there isn't.
So this week, all I want to do with Millie is much of the same. Patience is key. I'm going to add a few distractions to the downstay and try and increase the distance that I am away from her.
We're also going to try and work on dog socialisation! This I really need to not push her on as she has a lot of fear there. While she wags her tail around dogs, if they go to sniff her backside her hair goes up and she growls a little. I've started taking her to the dog run for five minutes at a time when there are only a handful of very calm dogs in there. In Tompkins Square Park that really is only five minutes a day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


So it's been a crazy few months and while no postings (tsk tsk), there have been foster dogs! First up was Jake, a mini-pin who came just for one night but managed to poop nine times in my living room over that night! Next up was Toto, a 6-year old shitzu. Toto was the cutest little dog ever. He would jump up at your knees with big puppy eyes, yelping sweetly to be petted. But pity the fool who fell for his charms, as Toto would have your fingers off if a hand came anywhere near his head. After four days of lassooing him with a leash to go out, Toto went back to Kansas (well, PoshPet's Linda), as Linda it seems is the only one Toto trusts. 
From a hand-biting shitzu to an ankle-biting pug.. Edith was next up. Here she is in the photo. A very fun and sweet 2-year old pug who loved to attack ankles in the evening time, and who sadly had terrible separation anxiety. She found her forever home with Tim from Harlem, and reports back are that she has calmed tremendously and has a new streamline physique.
Realising that small dogs are no easier than large dogs, I succumbed to foster a shepherd mix called Millie six weeks ago. At 18 months, Millie was found as a stray in Brooklyn, about 15 pounds underweight, and terrified of her own shadow. And..maybe it was the moon, maybe it was the relief of a large dog back in my home; maybe it was the way she howls cutely when a fire truck passes.. but I decided that foster number 17 I couldn't be without, and so adopted her! 
I am hoping the fostering will continue. It saddens me to think I can't do any more for the rescue group. I have tried one foster since adopting Millie. A terrier called Magic came and stayed, and while Millie was quite excited by having a new friend, Magic was not so thrilled. After passing 48 hours pulling Magic's teeth out of Millie, I decided my girl needed a break and the Magic was gone. 
Before I take on another foster dog, I realised I want to spend some time on Millie's issues. And yes, she has plenty! She barks at people on the street - often without a trigger. She is all over the place on a leash. She must sniff every single bike, lamp post, patch of grass, bin. She must pee at least 30 times on a walk. She barks at guests - the entire length of their stay unless she has a bone to chew on. She has no idea I exist when we enter an empty dog run - empty because a) she's been in heat, and b) she twice tried to jump out of the dog run when a boisterous dog approached her. She also nipped the vet's assistant yesterday. 
Challenging, yes? But a terror, she is not. She's a big mush who wants to have her tummy rubbed, play tug with her toy (indoors only), learn new tricks, and be loved by everyone. Already in just six weeks she has significantly improved. I can, for example, now take a bone from her without a growl. She can now go to the pet store without barking at the owner. She now meets dogs on the street and the hair on her back does not go up, but instead the tail wags. She doesn't always bark at workmen, and not all night at guests.
Over the next few months I'm hoping to be blogging on her progress as I try to build her confidence and calm that unpredictableness. This week's challenge: getting Millie to chase a toy or tug a toy outside. If I can get her to do this, it will give her something to focus on outside, and will make her focus more on me, and should get out some of that pent-up energy that's throwing her off-balance.  

Friday, December 18, 2009


So Christmas is almost here, and Marvin found his forever home last week with a lovely couple called Jen and Michael in Hoboken. How I cried when he left though! They've very sweetly kept me up to date and it sounds like they are all in love with each other which is such a nice Christmas story for Marvin, and for them!
He is such a good little puppy, and even the scavenging waned somewhat by the time he left. No surprise – when he arrived he was just 15 pounds, but when Jen and Michael took him to the vets this week they reported Marv now weighs a whopping 46 pounds! He is going to be a big one!
Talking of big ones, Maria, Wilson's now owner emailed some photos of him. I barely recognised him he has grown so big! And Maria and her family have also adopted another puppy rottweiler called Rocky who is about the same size Wilson was when he was adopted. They look like best buddies. 
Here is a photo of Peanut. I fostered her last Christmas, and is actually how I ended up meeting Lee Charles Kelley. She was the most popular gal on the block, but she had the energy for six dogs when outside so I took her to see Lee when he was giving out training tips at Whiskers Pet Store.
Her owner of a year now, Angela, in Brooklyn dropped me an email this week to say how she couldn't have wished for a better dog than Peanut, and photo of Peanut looking very pleased with some shoes she had just eaten! Ahh, what is it with dogs and shoes? I lost two pairs to Marvin. Thank God it's Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Marvin is still with us! There has been only one interested couple in him so far, and sadly they decided a puppy was too much responsibility for them right now. He didn't portray himself in his best light, bless him, as he would not stop humping their legs. Oh Marvin!! But it's a pleasure (if sometimes exhausting) to have him here still. He barely puppy bites now and instead loves to lick which just goes to show again that there is no need to reprimand your puppy for biting - they will just stop!
In housetraining, I still can't get Marv to go more than three hours without peeing, but now at least he walks to the door and sits there so I have a clear sign of when he needs to go.
His best friends are now dogs, particularly Violet, a french bull dog who lives in the block opposite. Marvin simply cannot wait to get in the dog park and wrestle with big dogs and small, and yet he is never too boisterous. I trust him entirely and I'm so proud when I see how well-behaved he is compared with other puppies in the park. 
Not that Marvin is without issues. Here he is in the photo looking so happy! That's because he just snaffled himself a wonderfully large discarded pizza crust. Oh the scavenging! and the resulting upset tummy! On the short block to the dog run, Marvin keeps his nose to the ground ready to hoover up anything edible (or seemingly edible), and it's a tremendous effort trying to stop him. East ninth street seems to be the dumping ground for chicken bones, rice dishes and pizza crusts, and at the moment, all those tasty morsels are cleverly hidden from my view by piles of leaves.
I know Marvin is fed enough that he is not scavenging because he is hungry, but rather because he is anxious and needs to bite or chew something to calm his nerves, and I blame myself for not being more sensitive when he arrived. After all, before coming here I would guess the only walk Marvin had been taken on was when he was walked to the shelter gates and left there.
In hindsight I should have taken treats out in those first few days and toys for him to sink his teeth into on the way to the park to help him overcome those fears. To further aggravate the matter, my natural reaction when I see him lunge for a scrap is to jerk him away. I'm pretty sure this has only added to his anxiety. It certainly isn't helping.
So under Lee's advice, I'm going try and not pull him away from the scraps if I see them, but simply stop in my tracks so he cannot get to them, and then entice him back to me for a treat. The aim being that, when he sees a scrap, he will look to me first. I'm also going to look for a toy that resembles a stick that he can carry in his mouth. A ball I fear would roll into the road if he dropped it. I think having something in his mouth will really calm his nerves. I noticed if he picks up a leaf in his mouth, he can get all the way to the park without scavenging, so I think that is the solution in the short term, short of becoming a street cleaner!
I also think he needs his confidence building up some more still. When things get hectic in the dog run, he runs away to dig a hole - a clear sign of nervous energy needed to be let out.
But Marvin and me have some time to work on this. Sadly Posh Pets Rescue adoptions have completely dried up with Thanksgiving approaching and no one has expressed an interest in him in over a week which is unheard of for a Lab mix puppy as cute as Marvin. I'm sure the right family is out there waiting for him though, and when they come to see him, hopefully I'll be able to show them what a confident and happy little walker he is. It'll be up to him to control his humping urges though!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Almost a week on and Marvin is doing great! The humping has calmed down, and only now on very excitable occasions might he accidentally pee inside. He's a gentle and happy soul who does what he is told to do with a wagging tail. He plays with his toys, fetches balls, won't jump on the sofa or bed (unless we go out..), and chews only what he should (okay.. I lost a pair of training shoes to him on day two, but..), and he's very warm and friendly with people on the street.
He's a little unsure at the dog run still but has been in a couple of situations where he has happily wrestled nicely with another dog of his size. Unfortunately this morning a shitzu got out of bed the wrong side and took her mood out on Marvin, so that has set us back today, but he's definitely getting there. And he so loves the outdoors, I can take him anywhere. Here we are in Stuyvesant Town on Halloween.
He's still a little thinner than I would like, even though he is getting three mugs of puppy food, a breast of chicken and countless organic doggie treats and cheese cubes a day. I've bought some doggy fish oils to go in his food now as I noticed his coat is quite dry. Puppies cost a pretty penny!
I received an email today from a lobbying/rescue group in California that is actually pushing for pet owners to be granted tax exemptions on part of their annual pet-related outgoings. Because of the recession, an increasing number of pet owners have surrendered their animals as they simply cannot afford them. California's shelter numbers are up 12% since the end of 2007, for example.The ASPCA estimates the number of dogs and cats to be dropped off at shelters to have been as many as 8 million in 2008, and only 25% to 50% of those animals end up rehomed.
The HAPPY Bill would allow pet owners to deduct up to $3,500 of pet-related expenses a year from their tax returns and may help to keep owners and their pets together when the going gets tough. Here's the website:

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Marvin has arrived! An adorable energetic little ball of hormones with an uncontrollable bladder to boot, we named him Marvin after Marvin the Martian as he looks so alien with his webbed-like paws, bat ears and turned-up nose. 
Marvin is four-months old, with maybe some labrador retriever in him, but certainly some sort of staffordshire terrier. He's a beautiful chocolate colour and has big doleful eyes so is certain to be adopted soon. 
Marvin was left tied up to the gates of the Brooklyn Shelter so I don't know what his background is (other than possibly coming from outer space!). I'd guess he was kept somewhere confined. He likes to sleep in a different room on his own, and initially dragged his treats into the bathroom to chew. His nails are very long too which suggests he hasn't been outside a lot. It's interesting to compare him to Sammy and illustrates what damage a few months can do. While Sammy at 11-months had never been outside and even with a week of gentle coaxing was still no better, Marvin, just seven months younger, was nervous the first few times but now will run down the stairs into the yard and cannot wait to get out and explore – so much so we've had to put a gate up!He's a little on the skinny side and is more excitable than a less stressed dog would be but I am hopeful that Marvin hasn't been physically abused. He's a little handshy but will bound up to everyone he meets on the street to say hi and seems very happy!. He loves playing and chasing balls and is already much more cuddly after just two days. He's also more sure of himself in the dogrun than Wilson was at 3.5 months, although still runs for cover if play gets too much. It's so interesting looking at the differences between the two. Wilson was all about chewing trouser legs. Marvin is all about chewing hands!
Having only been neutered on Tuesday, Marvin is a bundle of hormones still and is having to be pulled off legs constantly! I gather this is usually the case for up to two weeks after neutering. And can only be aggravated by the amount of stress he has had recently.
But boy can Marvin pee! He's a constant hose - mainly because he gets excited about EVERYTHING! Infact, he's just peed again so I'd better go clean up!

Monday, October 26, 2009


So Sammy left on Saturday. It was heartbreaking putting him into the van where he joined another rescue dog, Chance, who was also heading to the Sanctuary. Chance suffered from terrible separation anxiety and had to be with other dogs.
Poor Sammy looked so scared as we piled him into his crate although we tried to do it as calmly and happily as we could muster so as not to scare him further. He's still on his journey and will be arriving in Florida tomorrow, so I look forward to hearing how he is. I miss his big old mush face and I still feel sad that with just the right environment and time, Sammy could have found his way to finding a wonderful family. 
The charity event for Posh Pets Rescue at the Boat Basin was Saturday afternoon, and despite the rain, people came with their adopted dogs and foster dogs. It was comforting to hear stories of success. A lot of these dogs have come a long way. Eli, here dressed as Michael Jackson for the costume competition, has gone from being rescued to becoming famous! He was adopted by Karen Biehl as a puppy having had a prior series of owners, and became the face of the Milkbone puppy boxes. He's now quite a celebrity in New York and has appeared on fashion runways and has had a few cameos in films. He even has his own website! 
In total, the event raised $7,500. That equates to almost a year's worth of emergency overnight boarding fees as dogs await a foster or permanent home. Or it could send seven dogs that are unadoptable to the sanctuary. It's a small amount of money but it will help many dogs. 
After the emotional time of having Sammy, and having thoroughly scrubbed the floors after his departure, we decided to take a break from fostering. But we always say that. Sure enough, Linda called today from the shelter with a four-month old Labrador puppy in need of an urgent home.....What could we say? He's being neutered tomorrow and will be with us by Wednesday. With Halloween next weekend, and inspired by Eli and the other dogs in outfits from Saturday, I'm already wondering if maybe I should get him a costume....