This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Good News for Town of Oyster Bay Residents

Town Unveils New Dog-Friendly Neighborhood Parks

“Our pets are like family, and residents have been requesting that we give consideration to allowing them to enjoy our facilities with their dogs,” said Supervisor Saladino. “We are pleased to be able to unveil these new dog-friendly locations for our residents and their furry friends!”
“As a dog lover and owner of two, I understand how enjoyable it is to bring our pets on outings where they can enjoy the nice weather and get some exercise,” said Councilman Labriola. “I’ve spoken with many residents who have expressed their desires to walk their dogs at local neighborhood parks, and I immediately began working with the Parks Department to make that dream a reality.”
The Town Board recently voted to allow pets at neighborhood parks designated by the Town Parks Commissioner. Consideration was given to park utilization, location and usage. New signage has been placed at the designated parks advising residents that leashed pets are welcome. Dogs are only permitted at those locations specified by the Parks Commissioner, with the exception of serve animals. Current parks selected are:
  • H-16, Hunter Lane & Northern Parkway, Hicksville
  • H-18, Tudor Road & Lyon Court, Hicksville
  • F-6, Lincoln Street & Meadow Court, Farmingdale
  • J-1, Maytime Drive & Mellow Lane, Jericho
  • B-11, Flamingo Drive & Caffrey Ave., Bethpage
  • M-15, Burton Lane & Unqua Road, Massapequa
  • M-16, Clocks Blvd. & Bayview Place, Massapequa
  • M-17, Pittsburgh Ave. & Westwood Road, Massapequa
  • P-15, Sylvia Lane & Warren Place
  • S-20, Split Rock Road & Radley Drive, Syosset
  • S-30, Market Drive & Woodbury Road, Syosset
S-17, Townsend Drive & Cold Spring Road, Syosset

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Remembering my Charlotte

she climbs into my arms and gently lays her head upon my shoulder

the fur on the top of her head gently caressing my chin

i breathe in her scent as i rub my check against the softness of her fur

my hand against her delicate rib cage

just a thin barricade between bone and skin

between life and death

and i understand that this life i hold in my arms

so precious and fragile

will all too soon be but another memory

like all the others

who over the years

have graced my heart

another goodbye to a life i love

                                   written    3/17/2019

Rest in Peace sweet Charlotte. You fought IBD like a brave warrior but the disease was stronger then us both. 6/23/19

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Adorable Ziggy!

  Ziggy was a terror when I first met him last year. Biting guests as they entered his home, or once in, if they dared to get up from a chair or make any sudden movement. He also felt it was his responsibility to bark at anything that walked past his house. A typical fear biter who for many years practiced his craft on a daily basis.

 Fortunately Ziggy had committed owners who worked diligently at his training and Ziggy learned a better, more appropriate way to handle his fear.  As often happens, because Ziggy was behaving in a calm respectful manner, his owners over time became lazy with his training and so predictably, his bad behaviors started reappearing. Dogs, like people will, over time, revert back to old comfortable behaviors unless the new behaviors are reinforced on a daily basis.

   The owners have a toddler running around the house and a new baby on the way. They were worried that Ziggy would bite their child. I was called back to help them get Ziggy back on track. Ziggy was a willing student who remembered his lessons well but needed the gentle guidance of his owners to remind him of what was acceptable and what was not. I came at first weekly, then every other week, and finally once a month for a few months mostly as an incentive for the owners to keep up with the training. We had our last lesson last night. The new baby is due in September. Ziggy was unperturbed by the constant motion of the adorable toddler and happily went to his raised platform when told to go to place to get out of her way. I think this family has learned how important it is to keep up with the training and I believe they will continue.   

Good luck little man. 

It was a pleasure working with you!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

What Happened to Holly? | Reacting To Cesar's Worst Bite

Sorry haters but you don't get this kind of relationship with a dog by being abusive. Cesar provides an interesting interpretation of what transpired during that infamous bite episode with Holly, the food aggressive yellow lab.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


This sweet boy spent most of his young life in a crate because his elderly owners could not deal with his normal, puppy energy. Fortunately for him, his owners realized he was too much dog for them and turned him over to Long Island Golden Retriever Rescue. After a thorough evaluation Leo was adopted to a family who had recently lost their Golden and were looking for a new dog to fill the void. A little overwhelmed with his new found freedom, Leo was making poor choices and getting plenty of attention for doing so, which of course reinforced the very behaviors his owners were trying to stop.  Like many dog owners who have recently lost a dog, they had forgotten just how rowdy a young, energetic dog can be, only remembering the calmer adult years they shared together.  Leo's behavior was beginning to cause havoc to his new family and there was talk of returning him to the Rescue. LIGRR stepped in and asked me to help. Leo is very smart and quickly learned new calming exercises which provided the attention he craved, but in a calm, structured manner along with some basic obedience. His owners were taught new ways of dealing with his poor choices and soon, since they were no longer being unintentionally reinforced, began to decrease in frequency. The family began to see the smart, sweet, affectionate dog that Leo is and hopefully will continue with his training, building on the foundation skills they learned.

Monday, June 17, 2019


I have nothing against rescue dogs, in fact I own a few, and probably always will. But I also love a well bred dog with sound temperament and form. I respect specific breeds for the jobs they are bred to do. Let's stop demonizing breeders and consider what the future would hold for domestic dogs if we continue on this slippery slope of villifying responsible breeders and their many contributions. 
I'm sharing this post I saw on FaceBook. If nothing else, I hope it makes you think.

Saturday, June 15, 2019


I fall in love with all the dogs I work with, but some, like Adie, simply steal a piece of my heart. She's one of the sweetest dogs I've had the pleasure to work with. I'm going to miss you sweetheart. I wish you a wonderful life full of love and adventure!!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Trainers Say the Darndest Things

Too good not to share!

Trainers Say the Darndest Things

Nicole Wilde
Wilde About Dogs

I went to see a new training client last week whose dog has separation anxiety. She lives in a two-story house, and whenever she goes upstairs even for a moment without the dog, he panics and barks non-stop. When she leaves the house, he howls and howls. In the course of our session, she mentioned that she had spoken with another trainer before she’d called me, and had described to him what her dog was doing. His response? “He’s being a Beyonce.” Huh? This baffled me. What does that mean, I asked? That he howls beautifully on key? No. The trainer had explained that the dog was being “a diva.” Really? I took a deep breath, bit my tongue, and rather than disparage another trainer, explained the difference between “being a diva” and experiencing serious anxiety.

A friend recently told me a story about a trainer she once had, who told her that her dog was being manipulative. What was the dog doing? Squatting to pee frequently. This, according to the trainer, was the dog’s attempt to extend walks and to get attention. Beyond the fact that this makes no sense logically, it turned out that these were the first signs that the poor dog had bladder cancer. A recommendation to see a veterinarian would have been a lot more helpful than the half-baked attention theory.

I could go on and on. And it’s not just me. Ask any professional who’s been training for years and they’ll tell you about the strange things their clients have heard from other trainers. This is no slam on trainers in general. I love trainers. Many of my friends are trainers. Hell, I write books for trainers and have mentored many along their paths. I believe trainers should support each other, not tear each other down. However. Along with the ones who mistreat dogs, the ones I take exception to are the working trainers who have no real training themselves or any real understanding of dog behavior. It might surprise you to know that in most U.S. states, no license is required to open a dog training business. There is no obligation to demonstrate proficiency. Nothing. You could hang out a shingle and start seeing clients tomorrow. (Please don’t.) And just as in any business with zero regulation, practitioners range from very experienced, ethical professionals all the way down to those who don’t even know how little they know. Even if an inexperienced trainer means well, they can endanger dogs if they’re taking on serious issues like separation anxiety or aggression.

There is actually a certifying organization called the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). Becoming certified is voluntary, but is not effortless. It requires having hundreds of hours of training under one’s belt, taking a written exam (as well as a physical hands-on test at higher levels), and providing peer and professional testimonials. The test is not easy; I know, because I took it many years ago. Does having this certification guarantee that a trainer is perfect? Of course not. But it does prove the person has a certain amount of experience and a solid knowledge of modern, positive training methods. There are also organizations whose websites feature a trainer search where you can enter your zip code to locate a trainer in your area. A few that come to mind are the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). (The CCPDT site has this feature as well.) While members are not individually grilled on their experience or training philosophy, these organizations do promote positive, gentle training.

Wherever you find a potential trainer, ask a lot of questions beyond just pricing and availability. I cannot tell you how few people who call for training actually ask about training techniques. If someone were coming to train my dog, I’d sure want to know their training philosophy and whether they use tools I’m comfortable with. Some of this information may be on the person’s website, but if not, don’t be shy to ask. If a trainer is working with you in person and you’re not comfortable with something he does, say something. Just because someone is a “professional” does not mean they know your dog better than you do. If your dog appears scared or uncomfortable, or is becoming reactive with the trainer, that person is doing something wrong. Positive, gentle training does not push a dog past his comfort zone, and you should be comfortable as well.

Years ago one of my training clients told me about a group class she attended where the trainer taught the dogs the meaning of “no” by whacking them over the nose with a piece of rubber hose while shouting, “No!” The woman was appalled. She told the trainer in front of the entire class that she would never do that to her dog. She then took her dog and left. That woman is a hero. Standing up to a professional of any kind can be uncomfortable, and peer pressure makes it even harder. But whatever the scenario, if a trainer advises something that clearly doesn’t seem right, or does something with your dog that doesn’t sit right with you or your dog, just say, “Sorry, I’m not comfortable with you working with my dog.” Because hey, trainers aren’t the only ones who can say the darndest things.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Just a cat on a box


Sage advise from PAWSitively Calm

Too often I am called to address the behavior problems of recently adopted rescue dogs. More often than not, these problems are caused by loving, though misguided people who have inadvertently created the very behaviors that now need fixing. Contrary to the Beatles, 'love is all you need', it is struture, rules and routine that are the building blocks for a well balanced dog.
 I read this on a PAWSitively FaceBook post today and thought I'd share.
When our eagerness to make a “poor” rescue feel loved and secure OVERRIDES her need for structure, rules, boundaries, and accountability, we quickly see why the dog feels an obligation to take control of the home. All our unearned love and kisses will have a dog quickly conclude who the actual leader is in any situation.
All our loving care is provided with nothing but the best intentions of course, but soon you will see it backfire when control over couch time, demanding affection, unearned privileges, and allowances associated with being the leader, come from DEMANDS FROM THE DOG rather than you.
When these are given at the dog’s request, these valuable resources are interpreted as proof of the dog’s role within the home. Rule setting then becomes the dog’s privilege, where in canine fashion, she feels growling, snarling, or snapping will enforce such ruling. We humans may be thinking “I love you, you will need for nothing ever again,” while the dog hears “Your wish is my command”.