The Book!

Oh, they grow up so fast.

These ideas grow up and become fully fledged books with websites of their own.

Where did the time go? 

Considerations for the City Dog now has it's own website and it is now available for pre-order on Kindle.  I will have a pre-order link for the physical book a little later, but for now, I'm feeling pretty good about where things stand. 

After I go over my editors' notes this weekend, it will go through one final check and be ready for release by the 1st of June. 

See you all on the other side of June 1st. Send this along to anyone you think would benefit from a book like this. Wish me luck and most importantly, thank you for sharing your dogs with me for this project. I'm honored. 



City Dogs!

I've been working on a book, Considerations for the City Dog,  which is due out on June 1st. I was lucky enough to get submissions of photos for this project from all over the country and I wish I could have included all of them. 

As part of the countdown, I'm going to put some of the photos that I really wanted to add, but for some reason couldn't include (too dark, resolution not up to par, similar to other photos in the book, etc). I think all of the owners who submitted their dogs for consideration for Considerations are amazing owners who are doing everything they can to give their urban hound the best possible life. 

This is what this book is about. People and their dogs, in the city. 

Nyla Bonz (owned by Amy Parker) and Murphy (owned by Jocelyn Fassett), both of Somerville, MA.
They are enjoying a beautiful day at Zero New Washington Dog Park, the newest park in my fair city!

Lilah stretching her legs around Boston, MA.
(Photo submitted by Torrie Dwyer)

Tara Slesar took this photo of her sheltie,"Siena," with the Boston skyline in the distance.
This is how I feel about the 2015 winter. "Go Away, Winter! Go AWAY!"

I'll continue posting more photos as we get closer to the June 1st date, but for now, I did want to reach out and say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported this project and submitted photos for the book. Thank you, thank you, thank you.



Pro-Tip: Identification Tags

I was a dog trainer LOOOONG before I was a mom. I think that's critical to this story.

It breaks my heart whenever I see a lost stuffed animal, well-loved blanket, or toy with stickers all over it in my city. That indicates that somewhere, sometime in the likely near future, is a 1,2,3 or 4 year old child who is very, very, very sad. 

At least once a month on Facebook, I'll see an image circulating: 
"Have you seen my son's toy? It's his favorite. It looks like this and was last seen at the grocery store." 

"I found this on an airplane seat. I think a little girl left it behind. Can you share it? It looks well-loved and I'm sure she's missing her friend." 

It reminded me of the missing dog posters I see around my neighborhood. These toys are just as important to these kids as family pets are to the family. If you don't believe me, try to take my daughters favorite stuffed toy from her, even just to look at it. Utter panic, real emotion, actual tears. When she gets it back? Instant comfort. 

I had to bribe her to take Puppy for a photo session. 
"If I can borrow puppy, you can watch your show." 

I have been making dog leashes for my students for awhile now, and even tried to make a dog collar once, but couldn't figure out how to size it. Then it hit me: I could put a collar and identification tags on "Puppy," in the same way I tell my students to ALWAYS have a collar with identification on their dogs. As you can see in the photo above, Rohan my cat never goes outside, but even she has a tag with ID because you never know. One day she might slip out, or there might be a fire and she escapes. You never know. I'd rather be prepared for my pets. 

I feel that I should afford my kid the same comfort that if Puppy were lost, I did everything I could to make sure they would be reunited. So, I made Puppy a fancy, schmancy collar.

It's a little big, but it was my first try. 

Return to Aislyn 

Then, I made Puppy an ID tag. Ace and I went up the street to the pet store where she picked out Puppy's new tag. We made it an activity where she was part of the process. Now, if Puppy is ever lost in a grocery store, on a plane, or at the park, I can say that the dog "looks like this, has an orange braided collar, and a gold tag." If the toy is picked up and found, they can call the phone number on the tag, ask for Aislyn and say "I found Puppy!"

#DogTrainerMom  #Win  

I hope, just like with real pets, that we'll never need it, but if my pets, or if Puppy is ever missing, we have that safety net. 

What life hacks have you tried for your kids and dogs? 



Charlestown Fire - How To Help Local Pet Boarding Business and Family Who Lost Everything

It's with a heavy heart that a I say that a local dog walker and boarding business is in the worst imaginable position.

On Saturday, a house-fire tore through a Charlestown home, killing 4 dogs and 2 cats. Many of these pets were boarding with the family at the time of the fire.

Many of my friends board and walk pets professionally for owners who are out of town or work long hours. These pets become a part of each family who spends extended time with them - the family who loves the pets, and the families who care for the pets when the family is away.

Elizabeth, her husband, her two children, and the other adults who lived in the building were not harmed during Saturday's fire. However, they lost everything. None of the pets survived and a firefighter was injured at the scene.

My dear friend, Michelle told me that she saw them bring out the pets, and place them under a white sheet. The firefighters did try CPR at the scene, but they couldn't do anything to save the family pets or the pets boarding at MonumenTails.

Charlestown is such a tight knit community. The pet community, specifically, is a tight knit community. If you don't believe me, look at the GoFundMe page for Elizabeth's family. The $5,000 donation ceiling was shattered just hours after posting about the family. We don't live in Charlestown, but every time someone in that community needs help, people spring into action and it's absolutely amazing.

I wrote this piece several years ago, and some of the links don't work anymore - but there is still good information specifically about pets and fires; how to give your pet the best chance of getting out; why a cop or a firefighter might tell you to step away, or brush you aside while they assess what's happening on scene; and to make clear that everyone is trying to help on a chaotic, horrifying, scary scene. The best thing you can do is be prepared, and understand why certain protocols are taken at the scene of an active fire.

My heart is heavy and sad for everyone involved. If you wish to help, Durty Harry's is taking donations for the family, their two kids (ages 2 and 4) and the GoFundMe page is open to people who wish to help.


It's not about the Q

It's not about the fastest time, the highest jump, or the best score. In Agility, Rally Obedience, Disc, Nose Work, Flyball, Dock Diving, or other sports - it's about the relationship.

Remember that. Always.

 Click here to see a sweet dog running his last agility run. Three Pines Productions, LLC and 3PBN.TV 

Now that Sadie is gone, I do miss the sport of disc, but that's not the crux of it. 
I don't miss ribbons.  
I don't miss demos. 
I miss her and what we did together as a team. 

The sports we were involved with were a means to build a relationship. I'll have another dog someday to do but I'll never have Sadie back. That's what I miss. 

Good dog, Lakoda. Good dog. 


Melissa Mullen Photography

One of the cooler things to come out of writing Considerations, is that I met Melissa Mullen.

She's a photographer who donates her time at the animal shelter in Kennebunk, Maine. She takes photos of these dogs in the hopes that it helps them find their forever home.

She also knows a girl I went to high school with because it's Maine, and it's a small, small world!

Melissa has graciously donated some of her professional shots, including one of my former student, Bruce the Vizsla (owned by Maureen O'Connor) as well as pro shots of dogs waiting for their forever homes.

Property of Melissa Mullen Photography
Pyr at the Kennebunk Maine Animal Shelter
Photo by Melissa Mullen Photography

Property of Melissa Mullen Photography
Bruce with tie.
Bruce is owned by the O'Connor family in Charlestown, MA.
Photo credit to Melissa Mullen Photography

Melissa, I can't thank you enough!

Here are some of her shots, her photography page and a huge THANK YOU!

All photos taken by Melissa Mullen of Melissa Mullen photography. Don't reproduce without express permission from the photographer..

Considerations for the City Dog: What's a "Behaviorist?"

A blurb from my upcoming book "Considerations for the City Dog" due out THIS JUNE! 

I'm so excited you guys - you have no idea! 

This is from Chapter 8: Trainers, Consultants and Behaviorists

What does the term “behaviorist” mean?
Is the guy down the street a behaviorist? If he’s putting prong collars on dogs and hasn't taken a single class in animal behavior, chances are high that he isn't a behaviorist. In our region, we have several “professionals” who use choke chains, prong collars, alpha-roll dogs and ask for submission while calling themselves behaviorists. This is (in my opinion) unethical and incorrect terminology.

While there is no governing body as to who can use the term behaviorist, the general consensus among professionals is that this term is reserved for those with a doctorate in a related field (such as zoology or biology). These applied animal behaviorists have a Ph.D. and are highly qualified to address behavior related issues. Because of their specialty, their expertise, and the fact that these professionals are few, the cost tends to be higher than for a behavior consultant or dog trainer. That being said, if the problem is significant, then this is perhaps the best bet for getting help. Consult with reputable sources, and just like everything else, do your homework before hiring a professional.

In addition to applied animal behaviorists, there are reputable behavior specialists who work with challenging behaviors who don’t have a doctorate degree, and are still highly qualified to assist with particularly challenging issues. These professionals, if they have the proper certifications and credentials, call themselves behavior consultants.  



Considerations for the City Dog: The Commandments of Working With a Service Provider

I worked with groomers, daycare providers, dog walkers, overnight care providers, animal control, and vets to come up with this cheat-sheet for working with a service provider. This can be found in my book, Considerations for the City Dog, out this spring. 

The Commandments of Working with a Service Provider:

      You should work in partnership with us, just as you should with your kids’ teachers and coaches. Yes, we are being paid, but in order for the relationship to work and your dog’s safety ensured, you have to work with us every step of the way.
      You need to share everything, everything, about your dogs with your provider, including that Sparky had French fries the night before, and that he once got away from you and disappeared for a week.
      You need to have reasonable expectations of what a professional can accomplish in the limited time we spend with dogs. A trainer can only get so far if you aren’t putting in the time to work with your dog after a class. A dog walker can give your dog a nice little outing, but your dog might still need to run with you when you get home. A groomer can only do a light trim if you are also brushing at home- otherwise, it’s “shave and a haircut-two bits!” A vet can only diagnose and give you a plan - it’s up to you to follow the plan.
      If you are going to frequent dog parks and other dog recreation areas, you need to learn what constitutes healthy (and unhealthy) dog play. “Just let them work it out” works in some cases, but not all cases. If you want to study on your own, pick up Patricia McConnell’s book on safe play[1] or look at Dr. Sophia Yin’s website on safe dog park etiquette[2] so you know when to intervene, when not to intervene, and how to diffuse a situation safely. You can also talk with qualified, certified trainers to help you.
      You need to know about common illness that spread when dogs play in groups, like giardia, coccidia, papilloma and kennel cough. You should be aware of the symptoms of these common ailments, recognize them, know how to prevent them, see a vet for diagnosis, get treatment when applicable, and report them to your provider.
       See a vet if your dog has diarrhea, signs of any skin infection, an ear infection, limping, and coughing. We are all dog service providers, but we are not all medical professionals, so please, please, please see your vet for any ailment. (I personally can’t tell you how many times I’ve told students “he’s limping. I think it might be his knee, but you need to go to the vet” only to have it be the shoulder, the neck, a toe, and in one really bizarre case, an ear infection.) We can only tell you that something’s wrong, but the vet can tell you what is wrong and how to fix it. We are all part of the same team. Put another way - while Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he’s not going to be an effective lineman. If you are not sure if it’s serious, call the animal hospital and ask if your pet should be seen.
      If your dog has diarrhea, please don’t bring it to the park, daycare, or participate in group activities.
      The same goes for pink-eye...
      ...and puppy warts.
      If you are calling a service provider into your home for help, please tell us in advance if the dog is going to jump on us, run away from us, bark at us, or try to eat us. It’s just a nice thing to know walking in.
      You need to be willing to call the Animal Control Officer when a situation arises that poses a threat to other dogs and owners. Additionally, you need to know what information to get from another owner if your own dog gets attacked, or is the attacking dog. Fear of quarantine is not justification to avoid calling animal control. You should have this number in your phone. When in doubt, call. 

Thanks so very much to Pat Dains of On the Run, a dog playgroup service in Somerville MA for helping me with this list!

[1] Patricia McConnell, Off-Leash Dog Play: A Complete Guide to Safety and Fun! (C&R Publishing, 2008).

[2] Sophia Yin, "Dog Park Etiquette: Rules to Help Dogs Get Along," August 23, 2012 (http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/dog-park-etiquette-rules).


Looking for Photos for "Considerations for the City Dog" Book

Hey guys!

With your help, I got almost 200 photo submissions! I'm totally and completely floored by that number. I thought I'd get 30, max. The photos came as far as Washington State and California and as locally as my own back yard. This truly is wonderful and I can't wait to share all of these urban dogs with the world.

With that said, there are still a few holes in the book that need to be filled so I'm reaching out for a few specific shots.

  • Photos of dogs walking in head collars and harnesses.
  • Photos of dogs up to typical antics to drive us nuts (chewing our stuff, jumping on people, pooping in the living room....
  • Dogs using a variety of puzzle toys and other types of mental stimulation (finding something, in a dog training class, working for a CGC, using their brain to accomplish a task) 
  • Dock Diving Dogs 
  • Flyball
  • Earth Dog

If you have any of these things, I'd love to include them in the book! As always, thanks so much!



This Photo: I Love This Dog And His Spirit

This photo came through last week.

The quality of the photo is blurry so it's not going to cut it for the book. However, the story that came with it, and how far the story came made me want to commend this dog for being a trooper!

Here is the story and the photo:

Picture of my best buddy Ty. 
He is a twelve year old Black Lab/Chow mix. 

We are in the city of Olympia WA and he is at the vet getting laser treatment for his hips. He is wearing the Doggles to protect his eyes from the lasers. 
Best wishes with your city dog book! 

Thanks for sharing, Tonya! Ty gets the "What A Trooper" award!
You're doing good, champ - I wish you a speedy recovery!