Why dogs?

This question haunted me for decades–but dogs have been a part of my life since I can remember. They’ve molded our days, slept with us, hiked with us, and sailed the San Juan Islands with us. They’ve traveled with us and kept us from traveling.  They’ve filled me with joy and anguish and continue to do so.

Kerry and Annie
FindingVera Best quality

For years, sensing they had bewitched me, I sought out activities that excluded them, reluctant to narrow my world and fall completely under their spell.  But dog training and my work with reactive dogs, the study of their behavior, and finally the writing of their stories inserted themselves into my life. I’ve now lived with dogs for most of my life, been a dog trainer for thirty years, volunteered at a shelter for fourteen, and written their stories for six.

In this blog, I wish to share some of their stories, their behaviors, and the things they have taught me.  Finding Vera, my first novel, tells the story of Vera, a reactive German shepherd and her two sisters—partially from their points of view. Writing it helped me to better understand the evolution of their behaviors and motivations, their political interactions, and who they are.

But there are other stories to be told and insights to be gained, and in my blog, I’d like to share some of these lessons with you.

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I’ve been a professional dog trainer for 34 years, and dogs have been my passion for even longer. When I started training, we followed the corrective methods forged in the military: put a chain or prong collar on a dog and jerk to get the behavior we wanted. Sometimes, if our dogs did it right, … Continue reading Say YES! instead of NO!: thoughts on positive-reinforcement dog training.

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