Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Funnies

click to enlarge

by Alex Martin

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Col. Potter Training Tip: The eyes are the window to the soul

I hope you’ll excuse me for ranting today. I am befuddled, confounded, and just plain angry at people who use pain to force a dog to “behave.” I’m even angrier at the trainers and pet product manufacturers who tell people that pain is a legitimate tool in dog training. If you look into the eyes of dogs subjected to pain, you’ll see a dog who wants desperately to connect with you – if her look can meet your eyes at all.

I am a dog walker and, let me tell you, there are some untrained and rambunctious pups out there. And that’s okay. I can work with that. What I cannot work with is people who expect me to use a prong collar when walking their beautiful dog. I’ll meet my obligation to provide the walk I’ve agreed to, but I’ll not accept another assignment with that client – UNLESS the client is willing to forego the pain and will learn to build a positive relationship with their dog.

Last week, I walked into a client’s home and saw a prong collar hanging next to the leash, waiting for my walk. Since the client didn’t specifically direct me to use that collar, I decided to spend some time developing a positive relationship before going on our walk. That dog was so ready for a human connection!

I couldn't put this prong collar on the dog I was obligated to walk.

Making that connection doesn’t require fancy equipment or special experience, as trainer Pat Miller points out in her article, “It’s All in Your Dog’s Eyes: How to get your dog to look at you, and why it yields better training results,” in Whole Dog Journal.

“Sit on a chair with your dog in front of you, leashed if necessary, and wait. The instant he looks at you, or near you, click (or use your verbal marker) and feed a high-value treat,” Pat explains. “You’re reinforcing offered attention – teaching your dog that if he chooses to look at you, he can make you click.”

Sandy T. discovered the value of eye contact when she fostered and adopted cairn terrier Oscar.

“Oscar was reactive to any sounds outside – cars, trucks, bikes, lawn mowers, people talking, dog's barking – and walking him was a nightmare,” Sandy says. “He would lunge and bark at every car and, since there are no sidewalks where I walk my dogs, it was darn scary!”

“I spent a couple of weeks teaching him to look at me when I said ‘look here.’ Once he would reliably look me in the eye when I said it inside, I moved to the yard and worked with him in the yard, getting him to pay attention to me instead of the car or bike that just went by. We then moved to walking and I used the same concept. Within a month, I could walk him without any reactions to cars, trucks, dogs in yards barking at us, etc.”

“I am using the same protocol for my Monty now as he just cannot help himself, he has to react to the dogs in yards barking at us,” she says. “All 16 pounds of him wants to take on that pit bull mix barking at us through the fence! LOL. He is making progress but he is not very food-motivated, so I’m still trying to come up with something that will keep his attention on my eyes instead of the other dog.”

I’ve found that pups will understand the eye contact even without words. I let the dog see that I put a treat in both hands, and then I hold my arms up at my sides, level with my shoulders. The dog will look at the hands holding the treats, but will eventually give your eyes a quick glance. When she does that, I immediately mark the eye contact with “yes!” and give the dog one of the treats. Then the arms go up again. As we progress, the dog will eventually understand that she gets a treat when she looks in my eyes. And then, while the concept is still fresh in her mind, we’ll go for a walk and she’ll get a treat every time she turns her head to “check in” with me.

Encouraging this dog to look into my eyes, instead of using a prong collar, made for a much happier walk with lots of check-ins. 

The eye contact protocol isn’t for everyone, although it worked with my Westie pup Peaches.

Making contact with these darling eyes is pure joy!

I also made the eye connection with my collie boy Nemo, but he decided he liked to check in so much that I have to remind him to look forward during our walks! And collie girl Rosie, who was severely reactive, is still a little too hyper during the walk to look into my eyes or accept a treat; however, she will gladly take her treats at the end of the walk when she can relax and look into my eyes.

Miller points out that teaching eye contact has a fulfilling aspect beyond training. When a dog learns to look into our eyes, he has the ability to communicate with us.

“As behavior science continues to explore and acknowledge the cognitive capabilities of our canine companions, we are realizing that our dogs may possess ‘theory of mind,’” Miller explains.

“Theory of mind... is the ability to attribute mental states – beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. – to oneself and others, and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, intentions, and perspectives that are different from one’s own.”

There’s a lot we have yet to learn about our dogs’ cognitive abilities. But, in the meantime, we KNOW that our pups will benefit from a closer relationship and better communication with us. And it starts with the eyes.


Sunday, November 25, 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 Madden is eager to be adopted

Daisy Vinson guards the turkey 

Foster Dash will dash over to a new home soon

Doodle Bug was adopted so fast he never even made it to the site!

Foster Jameis has a face to fall in love with

Foster Fernando noses at the camera

Foster Mary Chilton is fresh off the streets

CP Raquel enjoys her first Thanksgiving in her new home

Roomba nearly blends with the quilt

Roxanne (front) joins half-sister Tess

Lucas sits pretty for the camera

Tess is quite the star

Foster Tuckie Bear is all tuckered out

Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday Funnies

Hugo Comics

by Coleman York

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Col. Potter Training Tips: Home for the holidays

This week, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, we are posting our training tips column a couple days early. Many thanks to Debra Ekman at Your Dog’s Friend for allowing us to reprint her tips for staying at home:

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s too late to train your dog before Aunt Mabel arrives. Even if you have trained your dog, the holidays present a whole new set of challenges. Your dog is excited (or stressed). You are excited (or stressed) and have less time for your dog. There are all sorts of distractions (including food). Be patient. This too shall pass.
  • Your dog may be excited when guests first arrive. When the doorbell rings, we rush to the door, talk with enthusiasm, hug. Obviously, the doorbell means that something exciting is happening. Before your guests are due to arrive, put your dog in another room or crate with a safe toy or stuffed Kong. Once your friends and relatives are in and settled, you can bring your dog out to greet everyone. 
  • Your dog should be on leash when greeting your guests. This will help keep your dog from jumping and running around. It's is more pleasant for your dog than being yelled at for saying "hello" the way that dogs say "hello."
  • Don’t assume that everyone likes dogs (even yours). Be sure to ask your guests if they're afraid of or allergic to dogs ahead of time. It's not fair to your dog or your guests if you allow your dog around people who aren't comfortable around dogs. Your guests will feel uneasy all night, and your dog will get in trouble for simply being himself around the wrong person.
  • If you have a timid, anxious or reactive dog, don't force him to be part of the activities. It's best to allow your dog to spend "guest time" in his crate or in a separate room with the door shut and something super yummy to chew. Be sure to do this at random times for weeks ahead and then before your guests arrive. Your dog would rather be in a safe place than around all those “scary” people.
  • Teach your guests, both adults and children, how to interact with your dog. It's a hectic time; so, if your dog joins your guests, either you or someone else responsible should have your dog's leash and keep your dog feeling safe. When people approach dogs head-on, look them directly in the eye, reach over them, pat them on the head, or lean over them, dogs feel threatened. So, ask your guests to angle sideways and pet your dog under his chin or on his chest. If your dog looks away or backs up, respect your dog’s wishes. He is not comfortable and would rather not meet and greet. 
  • Being around young children is stressful for most dogs. Kids have high-pitched voices, move quickly and are unpredictable. Don’t let children crowd your dog, chase him, pick him up, hug him or get their face in your dog’s face. Let your dog go somewhere safe, where he won’t be bothered by children’s antics. Even a good dog will bite when he has had enough.
  • If you have a small dog, don’t hold him when people approach. Small dogs may feel trapped and become growly if held during greetings. 
  • Ask your guests NOT to feed your dog. The emergency vet offices are full during the holidays with dogs that have had too much "holiday cheer". Well-meaning friends may not know that raisins are bad for dogs or that macadamia nuts (think cookies) could kill your dog. Instead, have some of your dog's healthy treats around for your guests to offer your dog.
If your dog ate something he shouldn't have, call ASPCA 24-hour poison control for advice: 888-426-4435
  • If you don’t want your dog to eat off the kitchen counter or beg at the dinner table, keep him out of those rooms. Put up a baby gate, or put your dog in a crate or room with a special treat – like a Kong stuffed with goodies or an interactive toy that will drop kibble if moved the right way. Don’t feel guilty:  Your dog will get plenty later when he helps you clean up by eating all the crumbs.
  • Don’t tempt fate. Even the most well-behaved dog will be tempted to commit "a crime of opportunity". If you're planning to leave your dishes out, so you can watch the game or move to another room for dessert and coffee, make sure your dog comes (and stays) with you. If your dog does get something such as a turkey bone, offer your dog something yummy in exchange, instead of trying to reach into his mouth to get it.
  • WATCH THOSE DOORS! Just as you should have your dog in another room/in a crate/on leash when your guests arrive, you need to do the same when your guests are leaving. People will be hugging, getting their leftovers to take home, and putting their coats on. No one will be paying attention to how wide the front door is held open or for how long. It only takes a second for your dog to bolt out that door or to follow a guest out and keep going!
  • Prepare ahead. Around the holidays, more pets get lost or sick than usual. It's hectic, and you may not be closely watching your dog. Get your dog microchipped NOW and register the number. For a membership fee of $20/year, you can join Home Again, a site that provides lost pet registration for any brand microchip; rapid lost pet alerts; and a pet medical emergency hotline. Want to help others with lost pets? Think about joining Home Again's lost pet network as a volunteer pet rescuer, and ask your vet and local shelter to join the network too!
  • When visiting a relative or friend on Thanksgiving, it's a good idea to leave your dog safely at home. Everyone is preoccupied, there are lots of people, a TV is blaring, and food, some dangerous to dogs, are there for the taking. If another dog lives there, don't expect him to welcome your dog with open arms either, especially with so much food around. If you must bring your dog, take a folding crate, a familiar dog mat, and chew toys. Help your dog stay out of trouble, and enjoy yourself!
 All of us at Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network send best wishes for a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 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 Tonga poses like a pro

Foster Dash is all smiles at intake

Foster Pretty Miss Giselle lives up to her name

Foster Madden

Foster Roomba

CP Pablo is dog park tired

Foster Princess Sophie is bright-eyed (but not bushy-tailed)

"I can see you now!" says Foster Sadie Rose, after a haircut

Sal is a happy boy

The majestic lion (aka Foster Skipper Lee)

Best buds Willow and Sadie Jo take a well-deserved rest

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Funnies

Mutt 'n' Busted 

click image to enlarge

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Col. Potter Training Tip: Great ideas for repurposing

Have you noticed that you are paying more for your dog’s care than for your own? I love getting catalogs and emails showing the latest pet products, but holy moly this stuff is getting expensive! If you are tired of dishing out the dough, join me in discovering how to repurpose* items to cut down on costs while keeping your pup healthy and happy. (*definition: repurpose: to use something for a different purpose than the one that was originally intended.)

If you’re like me, you’ve amassed dozens (hundreds?) of dog toys. It’s time to call a halt to the madness. My friend Terri shared her fun idea: “I save all my cardboard product containers and fill up a grocery store paper bag. I put a treat in each recyclable box, pack the boxes back in the bag, and then let the dogs go at them!” What great mayhem! My pup Peaches thanks you, Terri!

Peaches' new favorite game is tearing apart recyclable boxes, looking for treats.

Or try Janet’s way to beat the high cost of noisy toys: “Our puppy likes to play with empty water bottles. We remove the cap, the plastic ring and the label, and he carries them around the house crunching them lol.”

Marianne has an alternative to those expensive beginner’s puzzles: “An old muffin tin and tennis balls can be used as a puzzle (with a treat under one tennis ball, or ALL the tennis balls).”

And about those treats… There’s nothing better than homemade, but we need to avoid handing out Oreo-sized dog cookies, especially if games are going to last a while. The blog “Eileen and Dogs” has a great idea for repurposing a silicone mold so you can easily make 500 tiny treats!

My senior collie rescue, Eddie, is finding it difficult to make the 5-inch step from my back porch to my kitchen. I searched all the dog product sites, looking for a ramp. My goodness, those dog ramps are expensive -- and not entirely secure for a big, elderly dog. Instead, I found an industrial ramp that movers use at curbside. This heavy-duty rubber ramp costs much less than the pet products, and after a few tentative tries Eddie can now walk into the house like the dignified gentleman he is.

Deb shared her repurposing idea for helping her senior dogs into the car. “I repurposed my mounting block from horseback riding so Emily could get on the bed and into the car. Even better, Gail discovered the value of applying non-slip tape to it. It was the best idea ever. P.S., I’m not promoting this as a dog chew toy, LOL.”

Deb's smooth collie Maple loves the mounting block!

So, what are some of your repurposing successes? Post them in the comment section, or send them to us at We’d love to share more ideas!

Sunday, November 11, 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.)

Frosty looking all photogenic

Ernie Jay does his best impression of a panther

"I can't see or hear so good," says Foster Fernando, "but I can love you!"

Foster Miss Giselle gets distracted by a squirrel

Foster Lil Pumpkin is ready to play

Obi Wan brandishes a bone like a light saber

Former Foster Raquel artfully arrays herself as a turkey on a platter

New foster Roomba, about to step in to the spa

"Make sure to get my best angle," says Foster Solovey.

Three Cairns come a'callin'
(Sammy, Maddy Clancy and Murphy + cousin Finnegan)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday Funnies

Cugo 'n Me

by Rajayasree Sakar

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Col. Potter Training Tip: Do your best and your dog will love you

We all try to do what’s best for our dogs. But sometimes it is hard to know what is “best.” And best for who? Thankfully, our dogs forgive us as we mere humans try to understand and fulfill their needs.

I recently thought my little Peaches would love giving Li'l Punkin (a Col. Potter cairn terrier puppy) a temporary place to stay while he waited for his real foster home. I thought she would benefit from some socialization with another terrier. Well, that didn’t work out – for me. Peaches and foster Li’l Punkin had a wonderful time, but I was having angina!

As you recall, Peaches has subaortic stenosis. The severity of SAS is measured by gradients, from 16 (mild) to 80 (severe); Peaches’ gradient two months ago was 236. (The cardiac vet will re-examine her and re-measure the gradient again at the end of this month.) Anyway, Peaches has to avoid sudden excitement, so I thought playing with a terrier who was closer to her size and her play style, rather than with her 4-year-old 70-pound male collie companion, would be good for her.

Peaches plays with collie Nemo every morning, but I thought she'd enjoy playing with a terrier instead.

Dear me, I forgot about puppy play! I didn’t remember how quickly puppy play can escalate into a noisy and scary argument. One of the pups must have nipped the other, or took a toy, or heaven knows what, but their loud argument set me running. After I gave the pups a 60-second timeout, they went back to gentle play, but I reached for my nitroglycerin tablets.

Peaches and Li'l Punkin played gently – most of the time.

I let the Col. Potter intake coordinator know of my fears about Peaches getting too excited, and she immediately found a new “bed & breakfast” home for Li’l Punkin while he waited to join his foster family. Because that’s what CPCRN does: they do everything they can to find the best situation for their dogs, their foster families, and their adopters.

I love that about CPCRN, and I love when I see it with my friends, too.

One friend has a long and successful history of raising and training dogs for competition. She gives her dogs all they need to succeed, and they thrive under her care. It has become increasingly obvious, however, that one of her dogs simply does not enjoy her time in the ring. My friend's dog is much happier with a long trek on the walking trails. So, despite pouring all the training hours and all the money into competition, my friend decided to let her dog decide her own “career” and took her out of the ring. I think that’s one of the most loving gestures an owner can make.

I once wanted to see if Nemo (the aforementioned 4-year-old collie) liked agility. We took an Intro to Agility class, and he loved it!!! He learned so fast, and he was fearless on the equipment. He mastered the tunnel, he loved the see-saw, and he was progressing on jumps. He especially liked to scale the 6-foot-tall a-frame. In fact, he enjoyed it so much, and was so proud of his accomplishment, that when he got to the top he turned around to find me, to get my approval. When he turned, he lost his footing – and he came crashing down to the floor, falling on his shoulder. My heart stopped.

Nemo is a confident goofball (shown here carrying a roll of tape, for some unknown reason)

Nemo was fine. I never recovered. From then on, I couldn’t get over my fears about agility. So I am gradually buying equipment for a backyard obstacle course – minus the a-frame – and hopefully Nemo will forgive me for blocking what would have undoubtedly been a stellar career overflowing with blue ribbons.

But that’s the point. If we all had unlimited money, time, courage, and insights we would create utopias for our dogs. As it is, however, we have to be happy with giving our dog the best life we can, under the circumstances. Like my friend paying attention to her dog’s happiness (or lack thereof) in the competition ring, like trying to give Nemo the activities he enjoys without giving myself a nervous breakdown, or like CPCRN working with a myriad of unknowns while trying to give every dog the best chance for a good life… Just do your best, and your dog will see you as the awesome, quirky, flawed and beautiful person you are.


Sunday, November 4, 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 week, 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 Skipper Lee is all smiles

Foster Andy Dandy poses beneath the Magnolia Silos

Foster Tuckie Bear is eager to meet his new family

Foster Bitsi is ready for her close up

"Age is but a number, baby," says Foster Pops 

Handsome Zane is all ears 

Sweet little Sandy shows off her new 'do

Foster St. Lucia, all tuckered out after keeping up with her pups! 

Nevaeh has a special name (hint: read it backwards)

Fall greetings from best pals Bentley (fka CP Lawrence) and Baxter (fka Steve)

Fashion models Maggie, Sadie, and Taryn 

Foster Babalou Bouy lights up for the camera

"We're walking now if I have to walk you myself," says Doris to reluctant Foster Solovey