Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday Funnies

A post shared by Mark Wood (@humphreypugcartoon) on
Note: Click on the image to enlarge!

Humphrey the Pug by Mark Wood @humphrepugcartoon

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday training tip: Au contraire!

It seems to me that we should have figured out our dogs by now. It’s not like we’re not trying to understand them. If you search “dog” in the Amazon book section, you come up with over 80,000 titles. Oh, but that includes books like “Lassie” and “Old Yeller,” you say. Reading inspiring novels about dogs saving Timmy from the well doesn’t really help with our little stinkers’ challenges, you explain. Okay, let’s search for “dog training books.” There are 20,000 results! And yet we still haven’t solved the mysteries of dog behavior.

I think I’ve found one answer. Perhaps we need to be a little more contrarian. Maybe if we say “on the contrary…” to some of the accepted maxims, we’ll be better able to discover the solutions that work best for our individual dogs.

This really hit home with me last week when I took Peaches to her cardiac exam. I found out how dire her heart defects are, and how high her risk is for sudden death. All of the articles I had read about subaortic stenosis stressed that the dog shouldn’t get excited. Ummm, Peaches is a Westie. And she’s a puppy. How in the world am I supposed to control her excitement?! Au contraire, the cardiologist explained. He and I have agreed that our goal is to let Peaches live a happy life, for as long as she has. Thus, his recommendation: “Please allow Peaches to set her own activity limits.” And she does!

Peaches lets me know that she tires easily on walks, so we use a stroller. Here, she makes a "rest stop" where she happily explores lots of doggie smells!

That got me thinking about other times I tried -- and failed -- to follow the accepted practices for controlling dog behavior. For instance, for the first five years of her life, my collie Rosie has barked at the mailman every single day we get mail. And Rosie knew she was doing her job; never once did that mailman succeed at burglarizing our house! At every obedience class, and at every dog behavior workshop, I’d ask how to stop Rosie from barking at the mailman, and the answers were the same as I had read in dog training books: 1) ignore her; 2) give her a “time out” isolated in another room; 3) install some blinds and make sure Rosie doesn’t see the mailman; and/or 4) keep music on to drown out the sound of the mailman. But especially #1 -- don’t “reward” her with any attention when she barks! (You will note that I never considered any correction that was painful, harsh, or scary. We can talk about some of those “alpha” techniques in another blogpost.)

After five years of Rosie barking at the mailman, I decided to go with my contrarian premise. I went against all accepted wisdom that had been passed to me. When Rosie barked, I went to the front door, looked out the door’s window, and said “Thanks Rosie, it’s okay now.” And she stopped barking. All these years, she was trying to get me to acknowledge the threat at our door. All these years, she must have been so aggravated that I never understood that she was trying to warn me. Now – you may not believe this, but it’s true, I swear – Rosie rarely barks at the mailman. She knows I have it covered.

Peaches and Rosie have a lot to teach me.

Dog trainers, behaviorists, and veterinarians all have a wealth of information that we need to pay attention to. We should remember, however, that our dogs also have a wealth of information, if only we listen to them.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Sweets!

Every Sunday we showcase the sweeter side of cairn terriers. If you would like us to consider your cairn’s photo for an upcoming "Sunday Sweets," send it to

(All photo submissions become the property of CPCRN and may be used for fundraising, promotion and/or outreach purposes.)

Foster Arvada

Foster Caylyn


CP Golden

Doris fna CP Carlotta

Foster Hollis

Foster Isla

CP Hidalgo

Foster Noelle Ann

Foster Bennie


Foster Lucky Toobee

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Funnies

                                             Note: Click on the image to enlarge!

 by Landysh for Livingstov

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thursday training tip: I have flying monkeys!

MISS GULCH: That dog is a menace to the community. I’m taking him to the sheriff to see that he’s destroyed.
DOROTHY: Destroyed? Toto? Oh you can’t, you mustn’t. Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, you won’t let her, will you? Toto didn't mean to. He didn't know he was doing anything wrong. I'm the one that ought to be punished. I let him go in her garden. You can send me to bed without supper.
MISS GULCH: If you don't hand the dog over now, I'll bring a damage suit that'll take your whole farm! There's a law protecting folks against dogs that bite!
AUNT EM. How would it be if she keeps him tied up? He's really gentle — with gentle people, that is.
— Wizard of Oz

I have a plaque that I keep on my desk: “I have flying monkeys, and I’m not afraid to use them!” There have been times when I’ve been tempted to release them, like when I discovered my chewed up reading glasses. “Fly, fly!!” But I’m joking at those times. Other times, our consternation is more serious, more reminiscent of Miss Gulch’s complaint against Toto.

Well-meaning and loving folks are sometimes at wit’s end when they bring a new foster or adoption into their home. The new dog attacks the household dogs; or growls at a child; or lunges for an arm; or bites a witch. It happens all too frequently and, when it does, chances are high that returning the dog to the rescue organization is on the list of options.

In her book, Bones Would Rain From the Sky, dog trainer Suzanne Clothier points out that “normal, healthy dogs do not suddenly go berserk or ‘turn on their owners,’ or act aggressively without reason.” She suggests that owners look deeper into the dog’s feelings. Perhaps you are the (unwitting) cause?

Here are two scenarios, both of which actually happened, although with different rescue organizations. They illustrate how the dog experiences what you yourself experience: the last straw! Or, in dog training parlance, “stacked triggers.”

Scenario #1
Dog Artie (not his real name) was a wonderful, loving dog at the shelter and with his foster, getting along well with the foster’s dogs after gradual introductions. Within a couple of days of his adoption, his new owner was complaining that Artie “was not happy with the attention [from bigger dogs at the dog park] and started snarling when the other pups wouldn't leave him alone.” Yet the owner continued to subject Artie to the dog park and other “social” activities, despite Artie’s obvious discomfort.

Despite Artie's obvious discomfort, his owner constantly put him into the dog park.
In the following weeks, the owner reported that Artie had started to react to people (“he turns into a lunging, barking psycho”) so the owner started tightening the leash as she forced Artie to walk by the person who was setting him off. Within two months, the owner was posting on Facebook: “Artie didn’t try to bite me today.”

Scenario #2
This happens in foster care way too often. Dog Betsy (not her real name) was in the shelter when the rescue group got her. Betsy spent a week at the vets, getting the spay, vaccinations, and other care she’d need for a healthy start to her new life. Betsy was then transported by plane for several hours, then by car for several hours more. The foster parent was so anxious to socialize Betsy with her own dogs that she immediately took Betsy out of the crate – in the same room with her own two dogs, who were excited and happy to meet a new dog. Tired and scared, Betsy attacked both dogs.

In scenario #1, Artie had to face situations that made him uncomfortable, day after day after day, until he started responding in the only way he could get acknowledgement from his owner. Let’s face it, not every person is an extrovert, and not every dog is either. We need to consider our dogs' comfort levels and give them the life THEY need, not the one we imagine for them. Be your dog’s advocate. If he doesn’t like the dog park, don’t take him to the dog park. If he’s nervous about passing a stranger on a walk, increase the distance from the stranger and cross the street if you need to. (Tightening the leash just tells him that “stranger = unpleasantness.”)

In scenario #2, Betsy was way past her stress threshold. After weeks of being poked and prodded, she endured a long trip, only to find herself in a strange place with strange people... and then she had to deal with strange dogs pushing their noses over and under her. It was the last straw, and Betsy had to call a “time-out” in the only way she could. Imagine how much nicer it would have been if she could have relaxed in a room by herself for a few days while she got acquainted with her new owner and her new situation, and then met her new dog companions slowly.

“When a dog goes to their foster home, or to their new adoptive home, we have to assume the dog is stressed,” explains Sandy Tiller, CPCRN foster home director. “The dog is experiencing new people, a new home, new sounds, and new smells.”

“The dog may be fine with the first stress – the new environment – and be able to handle that, but then we add new dogs, new freedom, and new commands.”

Each of these stress points are called “triggers” because they cause a reaction in the dog. The reaction may be obvious, or the dog may internalize it. When these triggers start stacking up, the rescued pup may act “aggressively” when he wouldn’t normally do that if he was allowed time to handle/de-stress after each trigger or, in scenario #1, if Artie wasn’t constantly forced into uncomfortable social situations.

“When dealing with aggression in any form, we need to tread carefully, alert for the stumbling blocks of our own (often false) assumptions,” Clothier writes. “If we truly seek to understand a dog’s behavior, then we cannot ever forget that all dogs are dogs.”

We need to understand our dog’s stressors, and we need to learn how to avoid them, manage them, and hopefully overcome them.

We may also need to find qualified professional assistance. Dog behaviorists are almost always a better option than winged monkeys.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tuesday Tails: Manly Stanley

To look at Stanley Anderson Cooper now, you’d think this “adorable malcontent” (his owner’s description, not this writer's!) was a normal rescued cairn terrier. You know the kind, who live with a family for most of their lives and then get shuffled off to the shelter when vet bills get too high or the family moves.

Well, that would have been nirvana for Stanley, compared to what he evidently went through.

The mean streets of Chester, PA – designated as Pennsylvania’s most dangerous city – were brutal to Stanley. This senior cairn avoided or survived the drug-infested dog fighting rings, but living on his own had its own price. It was almost the ultimate price – until Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network (CPCRN) angels took him under their wings.

It was June 2016, and Chester’s animal control officer picked up the stray cairn in the middle of the night. They brought him to the “night deposit” cage at the local SPCA, where the shelter workers found him, sleeping, the next morning. They took one look at him and named him Motley.

The shelter recommended euthanasia for Motley

SPCA’s vet gave Motley a thorough examination, and the results were so bad that the shelter recommended euthanasia. His problems were beyond extensive:

  • Large tumor on underbelly
  • Burned sore paws, possibly from urine burns
  • Severe cataracts and nuclear sclerosis
  • Very obvious ataxia and “myoclonic seizure” activity
  • Stiff, uncoordinated, faltering gait
  • Heart murmur, grade IV/VI

On top of all that, he was emaciated, matted, and frightened. They estimated his age at 9 years old (although two other vets have said he was probably 13 or 14).

Despite the recommendation for euthanasia, the SPCA contacted CPCRN. Motley didn’t know it was his lucky day. Judith Curcio, partner of CPCRN intake volunteer Julie Greystone, works in Chester and she thought maybe the coincidence was in fact a “sign” that they were meant to foster him. So they did… and within six months, they adopted him.

Stanley (formerly Motley) today

“He’s a pleasant but grumbly little fellow,” Julie says. “He sleeps, he eats, he paces and paces, and at least once, each and every day, he puts his paws in the water bowl and tips it over.”

“You’d think we would learn, but noooo. I suspect he used to soothe his burned feet that way.”

Being a street dog, Stanley is not house-trained and, at his advanced age, will surely never be. Julie and Judith provide a wardrobe of “manly-Stanley pants,” called belly bands in the normal vernacular. Their dedication is evidenced in all the medical attention they give him, in addition to normal wellness visits with his vet, so he can live his last days in relative comfort. Stanley’s schedule includes:

  • Cardiologist, twice a year
  • Neurologist, once a year (since he has myoclonic seizures that seem to be triggered by sunlight, even with medication)  
  • Ophthalmologist, at least twice a year (because of a persistent eye allergy)
  • Dental consult, as needed
Stanley's myoclonic seizures have been largely helped by medications

Stanley is very good with other dogs, but he is not fond of being held by humans. Like any street kid, he doesn’t seem to expect much out of life, so everything is a bonus now. 

“Judith and I believe that Stanley has his little life, he likes his life, and we feel he has the right to live it,” Julie says. “He enjoys love, food, sleep, and companionship – and he especially looks forward to cookies. He has let us know that he’s not ready to move on just yet, and the VMDs agree.”

Stanley is a valued member of Julie and Judith’s (mostly) peaceable kingdom of multiple pets. We feel sure his memories of his days on the streets have faded away in their sweet love.


Share stories about your CPCRN dogs! Send your stories and photos to

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Sweets!

Every Sunday we showcase the sweeter side of cairn terriers. If you would like us to consider your cairn’s photo for an upcoming "Sunday Sweets," send it to

(All photo submissions become the property of CPCRN and may be used for fundraising, promotion and/or outreach purposes.)

Hazel's Spa Day

Bacu fna CP Klara

Foster Lucky Toobee

Pepper fna CP Peata
Foster Doodle Bug

Foster Matagorda

Monty fna CP Moffatt

Foster Newell

Foster Sand

CP Stannis

CP Fargo
CP Truly

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Funnies

Note: Click on the image to enlarge!

 by Gemma Correll

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday training tips: Are we setting our dogs up to fail?

I admit it. I sometimes read through the hundreds of Facebook comments in response to someone’s question about how to handle an issue with their dog. When it’s a medical issue, I usually just want to scream “TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VET!” Facebook discussions about behavior problems can also send my blood pressure soaring, like it did earlier this week. A terrier owner was asking for advice on what to do to prevent her new puppy from chewing electrical cords, and one group member advised “Command him sternly to “leave it!” Sure, like a new puppy knows what those words mean… Following that advice, the owner would be setting her puppy up for failure, which can lead to frustration for the owner and the dog. In this case, it could also lead to a fried dog, literally.

Our goal should be to aim for the highest quality connection between our mind and and our dog’s mind. There are a lot of factors that go into that, but one of the most important is to be thoughtful about our commands. That begins with one of the most commands: Come!

Being thoughtful has helped me with 7-month-old Peaches. For instance, since I’m not yet confident that she will respond to my “come!” if she is observing a butterfly on the other side of the yard, I try to make sure that I always have her attention before I call her to me.

Trainers Patricia McConnell and Brenda Scidmore are quite explicit about this in their book, The Puppy Primer:

“Be thoughtful about when you call your dog to come… Avoid calling your dog to come if he’s intensely focused on something else. Your goal is to create a foundation of coming every time he’s called, so don’t set your dog up to fail (and to learn to ignore you when he feels like it).” 

So what do you do if your dog ignores you? Do you shake a can full of pennies in her face, or spray her with water from a squirt gun? Well, you know those aren’t appropriate responses, don’t you?

I was discussing this issue with some lovely friends who share my belief in positive training. 

Gail G. tells me that one of Maryland’s best trainers, Cindy Knowlton, explained that “if you ask your dog three times to do a known behavior and he doesn’t do it, assume that he can’t do it.” 

Was she referring to a behavior that was known to the dog? Like asking him to sit (when he's done it all his life) and he doesn't do it?  

“Yes, a well known behavior,” Gail confirmed. “The environment might be too stressful, the dog’s behavior might not be as well-learned as you thought, or maybe sitting is painful -- or something else.” 

So I guess that means we shouldn’t keep screaming at a dog to “come” when he’s having a meltdown. It also means that a trip to the vet may be necessary. Or, as another friend pointed out, we need to “remember that we often think a behavior is ‘known’  when it isn’t -- or at least not known in the way we think it is.”

Nan M. used one of her dogs as an example. 

“Maybe you think you know which cue will trigger the behavior you’re asking for, but you can be wrong,” Nan said. “I knew my labrador was at great risk for blindness, so I thought I had taught her every behavior carefully using verbal commands. When she became blind it turned out I was mostly right; she could do all sorts of complex behaviors and even competed in freestyle. But she couldn’t do one fairly simple ‘known’ behavior. So I had myself video taped. When I said that word, my right hand moved slightly at my side. It turns out, she knew the hand twitch cue, not the word I was so sure she knew.”

Eileen B. added an important reminder. “My dog’s trainer told me that dogs often forget a learned behavior the first year after you think they’ve nailed it,” she said. “He told me to reinforce training regularly.”

Following all of this great advice, Peaches and I are having fun learning the basics, and I have no doubt it is setting us up to succeed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday Tails: Pablo's Excellent Adventures

Some dogs have all the luck! Col. Potter rescues are among the luckiest, but Pablo is especially fortunate. His adoptive family – Rod  and Nancy K. – is the perfect family for this little adventurer.

We don’t know what Pablo's past was like; all we know is he was voluntarily surrendered to CPCRN when he was five years old.

“Pablo was a challenge to us as foster parents in a number of ways (and mind you, we had fostered some of the most fearful ‘mill mommas’ you could ever imagine),” says foster Lynne Prokop, “but he is also such an incredibly loving and funny little man!”

“When Rod and Nancy came to pick Pablo up, the little stinker jumped into Ron's huge pick-up without looking back. I knew right then that he had found the best forever home!”

Wearing his life jacket, Pablo enjoys kayaking with Ron as they watch the birds, dolphins, and manatees.

He also loves boating, and is very comfortable on the high seas.

Roaming the beach is cool too!

Pablo is a natural biker, riding alongside Rod and wearing a special pair of "doggles." He is an honorary member of the Aleppo Shrine Motorcycle Unit.

Don’t get the wrong idea about Pablo. He is not some shallow gadabout. He gives back to his family, as well. For instance, Pablo is a big hit at the assisted living facility when he visits Rod’s dad.

Of course, Pablo has his special moments, like any other cairn.

And he shares common doggie fears, as well...

"The other night we had a very bad storm with lots of thunder. He doesn’t do well with that or with fireworks,” Rod recently wrote to CPCRN. “I stayed up with him and comforted him. The next day he woke me up with licks and never left my side.”

“Nancy and I couldn’t love this guy any more than we already do. We were so lucky that we all found each other.”


Share stories about your CPCRN dogs! Send your stories and photos to

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Sweets!

Sunday is full of SWEETS!  Each week we showcase the sweeter side of Cairns.  If you have a sweet filled Cairn and would like us to consider YOUR photo for an upcoming "Sunday Sweets!" send it to us at (All photo submissions become the property of CPCRN and may be used for fundraising, promotion and/or outreach purposes.).

Foster Arvada

CP Wells

Foster Sand


Orval and Doris

Oonagh and Donegal

Foster Jim

Foster Claymoore

Foster Raquel

Foster Breckenridge

Riley fna CP Beauregard and Clyde fna CP Trent

CP Hidalgo
CP Fargo

Zeus fna CP Wooster, Kady fna CP Kea, Foster Sondra Dell, Foster Volusia