Archive for September, 2011

Wordless Wednesday and No Begging Dogs

September 28, 2011

Sephi and Maya are being good girls during mealtime.

Teach your dog not to beg from our post at

Check out more great dog blogs for this Wednesday’s edition of Wordless Wednesday. Since WordPress won’t let us use html, you can find other great dog blogs at The Pet Parent Diaries.

Book Review – “From Baghdad, with Love” by Jay Kopelman

September 27, 2011

From Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava

I really enjoyed “From Baghdad, with love“. The graphic language was disturbing but that is what made it such an interesting read. It was raw and real and opened my eyes to what our American soldiers have to deal with. “From Baghdad, with Love” is written by a United States Marine, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman with Melinda Roth. And I should warn that it should not be read by young children. The realities of war are ugly and this marine doesn’t hold back.

“From Baghdad, with Love” is about the Marine Jay Kopelman and a puppy he met in Fallhujah. This puppy was found in an abandoned house which the Marines were storming. As they eased into the house to do a search, they heard clicking noises and thought it could have been the enemy taking the pins out of grenades. They were awfully surprised when they found this cute little puppy instead. The Marines named the puppy Lava for the nickname of their own battalion, the Lava Dogs. The Lava Dogs are the First Battalion, Third Marines and they named themselves as such for hard rock in Hawaii where they trained.

Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman has a way of telling the story that is both humorous and intense. As I am reading this story, I am biting my nails one moment then laughing like crazy the next. One such quote sticks in my mind, “…the best part is how these Marines, these elite, well-oiled machines of war who in theory can kill another human being in a hundred unique ways, become mere mortals in the presence of a tiny mammal.”

Lava is a special puppy in the sense that the military is not supposed to keep pets. Under General Order 1-A, they are not to keep pets or mascots or to care for or feed any type of domestic or wild animals. Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman knows this but he can’t help but to risk breaking the rules with Lava. When the Marines found the puppy, they could have left him to fend for himself or killed him. But as Jay Kopelman says, The Marines are “Warriors, yes – puppy killers, no.”

As the Marines care for Lava, it soon becomes very clear that they will need to do something with him before they leave. Lava has become dependent on people and will surely die if they abandon him. But since they were not allowed to take care of Lava in the first place, finding a way to save him is difficult to the extreme.

But that is not the only thing that makes saving Lava problematic. It is not easy getting a dog out of Baghdad. Paperwork has to be completed. Borders are highly guarded and it is difficult for anyone to pass the border. The Marine couldn’t do it by himself because he was on duty. He got a reporter, an Iraqi, a military dog handler, and many more people to help.

Not only was there the risk of the Lieutenant Colonel getting in trouble for breaking the rules with a pet, but there was a risk to Lava as well. His very life was in danger. If a commanding officer gave the order to shoot all stray dogs, Lava could be a victim as well since he is not supposed to be a pet. Sadly, orders such as this are sometimes given out and then carried out meticulously. Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman says, “… and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone shoot my puppy.”

Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman also shares some information about the elite military working dogs. These dogs definitely save lives since they are a thousand times better than any machine that humans have designed to detect bombs. As such, they are treated extraordinarily well while in service. But the reality is that when they retire, most are unadoptable and so have to be euthanized.

I mention and Jay Kopelman mentions these dogs because it is through one of the handlers of these dogs that Lava gets help. As stated before, saving Lava was not easy. Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman does everything he can to get Lava to the US but he is forced to rely on others for assistance. He is oftentimes helpless as he waits anxiously to hear news on Lava’s status. “I pray that if Lava doesn’t make it through, he’ll find a body somewhere in Baghdad to keep him alive for just one more day.” “… I want Lava to stay alive… I want to know he’s breathing and leaping after dust balls and chasing imaginary enemies in his sleep.”

It took several tries before Lava finally made it to the US. When the Marine found out, he admitted that he cried with joy and relief. When Lava arrives in the US, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman is there waiting. While waiting, the news media asks, “What would you tell people who might suggest your time would have been better spent saving people instead of a dog?” He never answered the question, but this is what he would have liked to say, “… we’re not supposed to save anybody, it’s not our job, and if it was, we’d be shipping peace activists by the boatload over here to try to talk the insurgents into liking us.” He is also thinking, “Why wasn’t my time spent helping people instead of a puppy? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but at least I saved something.”

War is ugly. You have to wonder how these men and women involved make it through. How is it that they all don’t end up with post-traumatic stress syndrome? When all they are doing is killing and seeing death, how can they keep their sanity? “From Baghdad, with Love” is amazing because it shows that even when surrounded by the most inhumane conditions, that these trained killers can still be subdued with human emotion. If a fuzzy ball of fur can melt the heart of a trained killer, then there is hope for us all.

Playing Fetch with a Stick – Not a Good Idea

September 24, 2011

My dog Maya loves sticks. She loves sticks so much that she has torn down all the branches within reach from the trees in my backyard. At first, I thought nothing of it. She loves sticks, so why not? That is what I used to think until I read about the dangers.

The first time I heard about the dangers of chewing on or fetching sticks was in the book, “On Toby’s Terms” by Charmaine Hammond. This book is mostly about a dog named Toby who has issues with separation anxiety, but it also talked briefly about Toby’s incident with a stick. See, while Toby was playing fetch with a stick he accidentally ran the stick into the ground while he was carrying it. The stick tore a hole in his esophagus. It was so bad that the vet could not do surgery to stitch it up. Toby’s injury had to heal on its own and there was a very good possibility that it would not heal at all. If it did not heal, it might have been the end of Toby for his injury was painful and he would have been left to suffer. In “On Toby’s Terms”, Charmaine had said that the vet mentioned that he sees cases like this all the time and not all dogs were as lucky as Toby.

Another thing which sticks could cause is splinters in the throat or intestines. If a dog swallows a big wooden splinter, the splinter could get lodged and/or it could puncture a hole. Both situations could result in having to do emergency surgery or it could even lead to death.

When I took the photo above, I did not know the dangers. And I thought it was silly that Maya had discovered that sticks grow on trees. But Maya does not get to chew or fetch sticks anymore. I have picked up all the sticks from the back yard and there are no longer any within reach on the trees. For your pet’s safety, we strongly urge you to do the same.

Saturday is the day for the Saturday Blog Hop. Since we are not able to put html code on this wordpress site, here is a link to a dog site that has the Saturday Blog Hop and lots of other dog blogs –

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

September 21, 2011

Trouble Comes in Threes

My WordPress won’t let me put in the code for the Wordless Wednesday blog hop so visit AllThingsDogBlog‘s Wordless Wednesday to hop along and visit other great dog blogs.

These three little guys belong to my aunt. Their story can be read at

Learn about Dachshunds at

From Mini to Giant, Information on the Schnauzer

September 20, 2011

Check out our article on Hub Pages on the Schnauzer dog breed. Learn the difference between the three varieties of Schnauzer. There is the Miniature Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, and the Giant Schnauzer. Although they are very much alike, there are some differences (and not just in size). Also learn the history of the three Schnauzer dog breeds, whether they are good with other pets, children, and strangers. A Schnauzer dog breed needs to be groomed too so our article includes a helpful video.

Please visit our article on Hub Pages titled “The Three Varieties of the Schnauzer Dog Breed“. There are more great pictures and more information on the Schnauzer dog breed than you can throw a stick for!

Dog Blisters – Does This Happen to Your Dog’s Feet?

September 17, 2011

Dog Blisters

Do your dogs get blisters on their feet? My dog Maya gets dog blisters on her feet almost every time we go someplace where there is concrete. Remember the post about Maya getting to swim in a public pool? It happened there too because she was running on the concrete area around the pool.

Did you know that the black pavement of the road can be very hot in warm weather? It can burn your dog’s feet and cause worse dog blisters than the one photographed here. Try walking barefoot on it on a nice sunny day and see for yourself. Thankfully, when testing the white concrete of a sidewalk, it wasn’t hot. White concrete does not absorb heat as much as the black pavement of the road.

But Maya wasn’t walking on black pavement. So why did she get dog blisters on her feet? No worries, the vet said she was fine. He explained that it is happening for the same reason that we get blisters. If we walk around barefoot or wear shoes that we are not used to, we get blisters. But if we get used to walking around barefoot or we get used to wearing those shoes, our feet toughen up and we stop getting the blisters.

See, Maya is a pampered house dog. She walks on carpet and hardwood floors most of the time.  She does go for walks every day and plays around in the soft grassy yard. But she doesn’t run on concrete very often. If we go for walks, she is fine. But if I were to decide to take her running on the sidewalk, she would probably get blisters. She also gets blisters if I take her to the waterfront area of the dog park. The waterfront has concrete and lots of sharp rocks.

Thankfully, the dog blisters heal fairly quickly. According to the vet, no treatment was necessary for Maya. I just needed to keep an eye on her feet to look out for infection. Maya does a good job of keeping her feet clean (vet says it is okay if she licks them). So what can I do to prevent Maya from getting dog blisters on her feet? First, I shouldn’t let Maya overdo it in areas where there are lots of rocks or concrete. Second, while I should cut down the time spent in areas that irritate her feet, I should also take her out more often in order toughen up her feet.

If this happens to your dog, you probably won’t need to be too worried unless the dog blisters are worse than the ones of Maya’s feet photographed above. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns.

Cute Things Dogs Do – Part V – Play

September 15, 2011

Of all the cute things dogs do, I think that playing is the most entertaining.  And unlike singing, dancing or begging, it is not something that has to be taught.  They just do it.

I love playing with my dogs.  Both of them growl viciously when they play (Maya learned it from Sephi), but it is a play-growl not a mean one.  When Sephi plays, she turns her butt to Maya in order to keep Maya from pawing at her or mouthing her face.  Even when just Sephi and I play, Sephi uses this tactic.  It cracks me up!  Maya, on the other hand, is all in your face and she has her paws a-swingin’.  Imagine a 60+ pound dog jumping and throwing her paws high up in the air!  It’s hilarious!  No matter how many times I see Sephi and Maya play, I can’t help but to smile.  Oftentimes, I laugh until my cheeks hurt and there are tears in my eyes.

Playing fetch with Sephi and Maya is always fun too – for both them and me. Sephi is getting old now and will only fetch about 4 or 5 times.  When she is done, she lets me know by taking the toy somewhere off to the side rather than bringing it back to me. Maya won’t play fetch if Sephi is in the yard. If Sephi is in the yard and I throw the toy to Maya, she will look to see what Sephi is doing first. Because if she chases after the toy, Sephi might chase after her and that is no fun at all for Maya.

I have not had much luck playing fetch with a frisbee. Sephi won’t even try. Maya tries, but she only catches it 1 out of 15 times. Eating the frisbee is her favorite part.

What do you love about your dog’s playing techniques?

Why Dogs Growl and Why They Should Be Allowed to Growl

September 14, 2011


Why Dogs Growl

Why Dogs Growl


I just read this fantastic article at titled “Growling is Good”.  The article starts out by describing a situation where a woman told her dog “no” whenever he growled around children.  So the dog learned not to growl at children.  Good, right?  Wrong!  What happened next was much worse.  Instead of growling at a child, the dog skipped the warning and bit the child instead.

Dogs growl for a reason.  The dog in this story felt threatened by children.  His growl was a warning.  He was trying to protecting himself from what he perceived as a threat by telling the children to stay away.

If your dog growls at anyone, instead of punishing him or telling him to stop you should lead your dog away from that person.  Work on trying to help your dog be comfortable with the situation instead.  The owner of the dog in this story, for example, could have worked with her dog to show him that children were nothing to be frightened of.  An animal behaviorist would be able to help with this.  Or if you are good at training dogs, consider reading up on the subject and taking on the task yourself.  “Help for Your Fearful Dog” by Nicole Wilde has a lot of great information for helping dogs who are fearful, whether it be fear of people, children, noises, etc.

Read more detailed information about why dogs growl and how to help them at

Help for Your Fearful Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Dog Conquer His Fears

Maya isn’t Ready for Summer to End

September 14, 2011

Maya wearing her summer-fun dress

Maya’s dress is made by
Maya gets a treat for looking so pretty

Book Review – “On Toby’s Terms” by Charmaine Hammond

September 10, 2011

On Toby's Terms

I didn’t realize when I bought this that a short story about Toby story is also in “Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul, What I Learned from the Dog”.  In the “Chicken Soup” book, Toby was featured as a great therapy dog.  With his help, people at the hospital were taught patience, assertiveness, and more.  But “On Toby’s Terms” by Charmaine Hammond was about much more than just how Toby helped people at the hospital.  Toby had some issues… some fairly severe behavior issues which the owners Charmaine and Christopher had to work through and eventually accept.

This is a joyous story.  I love reading stories about dogs, especially real dogs who have made a real difference in people’s lives.  Charmaine stated in her book that both she and her husband Christopher are better people because of Toby.  But according to Toby’s story, they aren’t the only ones who were touched by this special dog.

Toby’s behavior issue was a severe form of separation anxiety.  When Charmaine and Christopher left Toby alone for even a short time, they often came back to a house destroyed.  he tore up closets, emptied bookshelves, and broke the lid on the toilet.  Charmaine jokes about how many toilet lids they have to replace, but coming home to such a mess was not funny.

Charmaine and Chris tried everything they could think of to help Toby with his problem.  They hired a dog behaviorist, tried crating him, and they gave him a job.  It was the dog behaviorist’s idea to give Toby a job.  Toby’s separation anxiety probably stemmed from losing his previous owner who went to the hospital and never came back.  Toby was probably unsure about his place in the world and having a purpose might help.

So Charmaine got Toby enrolled as a therapy dog.  Ever Wednesday, he went to the hospital and brought joy to many of the patients.  Toby excelled, but his separation anxiety did not go away.  It lessened and Toby made great improvements, but even today he still has issues.

So “On Toby’s Terms” isn’t about how Charmaine and Chris cured Toby’s problems, it is the journey of how Toby came to be a better dog and Charmaine and Chris had their lives enriched because of him.  Toby did some naughty things, but he is such a happy-go-lucky dog that a his owners still cherished him despite his short-comings.  If a dog can give unconditional love, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should give it back in return?

On Toby’s Terms” is an inspirational story that we can all learn from.  No one and no dog is perfect but we all have something to give if only given the chance.  Read about Toby’s journey and adventures in “On Toby’s Terms” and you will not be disappointed.