Guest Post Friday SF SPCA Senior Scholars Class

A few months ago, I attended the first Senior Dog Seminar at the San Francisco SPCA. For anyone with an older dog, the class gave you valuable information on caring for your beloved, ensuring their golden years are as happy and healthy as they can be. One of the speakers at the seminar was Lisa Dossey, an instructor at the San Francisco SPCA. Today Lisa has contributed a guest post detailing her new Senior Scholars class, inspired by her dog Bonesy.

Senior Scholars is the first public class to be offered at the San Francisco SPCA catering to people (of any age) and their Senior Best Fur Friends (ages 7 and up)

We had a full group comprised of eager wise canines and people gather for our first set of classes starting October 29th, 2011. The class is designed for Senior Dogs and our first and foremost priority is your Senior Dog’s comfort and happiness. This is a four (4) week class - the first class is an orientation for humans only - and the following three (3) weeks are for you and your Senior Best Friend!

Delilah[Precious Delilah taking a rest on her plush cozy bed in her beautiful graduation necklace!]

The first week’s orientation includes an eye-opening (and surprise!) team exercise as well as a “Sharing circle” when we share our dog’s name, breed, age, and any medical and behavioral issues we should be aware of in order to make the class safe and fun for all attendees.

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New San Francisco SPCA class “Senior Scholars”

You can teach an older dog new tricks! Coming off of the success and enthusiasm of the Senior Dog Seminar, the San Francisco SPCA is offering a new class just for senior dogs. Starting October 29, the Senior Scholars class will teach you how to create comfortable ways, to physically and mentally stimulate and soothe your aging best friend.


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Ask the Dog Trainer!

We love dogs. All dogs. We were lucky when we adopted our dog Cleo, because she came with some basic training. In addition, the SPCA we adopted her from, made a basic eight-week beginner manners class, a condition of our adoption. Maybe you weren't so lucky with your dog. This is where Grouchy Puppy and our dog trainer friends come in.


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Influence Positively Interview - Lisa Dossey

Lisa Dossey has loved animals since the time she was a tiny tot! She is honored to be doing what she loves and loves what she is doing! Lisa has worked in the animal welfare field for over 10 years. After moving to Colorado from the east coast, Lisa began volunteering at her local animal shelter; Lisa met and fell in love with an 8 month old Doberman/Lab mix. Lisa and her husband Brian and their fur child Bones, loved taking long hikes in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, while living in the ski town of Breckenridge. Lisa created and organized the first winter fundraiser for the Summit County Animal Shelter, and was also a member of LAPS (League for Animals and People of the Summit) offering assistance and support for local residents.

After moving to the Bay Area in 2001, Lisa began volunteering at the San Francisco SPCA, and was the top fundraiser for her team at the “DOGGONE FUN RUN” in 2006 at Golden Gate Park. All the proceeds went to the animals of the San Francisco SPCA and “PAWS”. She graduated from the San Francisco Dog Trainers Academy and completed their shelter in-house internship program. In 2005, Lisa attended the SF SPCA Public Class Curriculum workshop. Lisa is the current owner of Pups at their Peak Dog behavior consulting: offering private training, individual dog walking and dog and cat sitting, and she runs puppy and adolescent playgroups in Pacifica.

Lisa has written and introduced some new classes at the San Francisco SPCA: “Rocket Recalls” and “Loose Leash walking.” In loving memory of her beloved Bones, she recently offered the “Senior Dog Seminar” as well as a new class for just senior dogs and their people called “Senior Scholars” starting this fall. Lisa is an avid hiker, snow skier and reader. She completed her first half marathon in Lake Tahoe in honor of her girl, Bones, all shelter animals and turning 40! She is currently learning American Sign Language, with guitar and fiddle lessons next. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Healthy and happy loved ones. Cuddling with Bones and Brian in the mornings. Watching Bones roll in a scent; shred her plush toy; air hump and drool next to her favorite canine buddy; digging in the snow; watching her wiggle her stub and greet; and just being in her element, being joyful and being a dog. Reading the Sunday paper with Brian, and watching Bones read her “Sunday paper” - she loved to read a lot (taking in smells) on our hikes. 

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Challenging Canine Talents during Assistance Dog Week

This week is Assistance Dog Week. What better way to mark the occasion than to honor all the service dogs, guide dogs, and therapy dogs busy doing what they do best - help and assist humans. Why challenge this canine talent?

Cleo is a furry version of Inspector Columbo, Dr. Phil and Jerry Seinfeld all-in-one. She uncovers missing items, listens to my problems and makes me laugh. However, the New York Times is reporting a challenge to the presence and ability of Rosie, the first judicially-approved courtroom dog in New York.

Is it work? Cleo might define herself as a guard dog, but I think she is an uncertified therapy dog. She comforts, she encourages, she gets us out of any dull mood and has us smiling again in minutes - that is a talent not all dogs possess. (Though you'll likely find many as Courthouse Dogs)


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Meet Kyla! She Shares Basic Writing and Communication Tips at BlogPaws 2011



Kyla Duffy, Founder and Co-Editor of Happy Tails Books. Kyla fell in love with dogs after becoming an emergency foster for a Boston Terrier with kennel cough. She lives in Boulder, CO with her husband, two rescue kitties, ex-puppy mill breeder Bill, and a perpetual stream of foster dogs. She enjoys rehabilitating the tough cases, and helps them build up muscle and confidence on long hikes through the beautiful Colorado Front Range

Get to know Kyla Duffy before BlogPaws 2011 by reading Kyla's February Influence Positively Interview. She will be at BlogPaws on August 25-27, in Tyson's Corner. Kyla will be leading a session called..

You Said What!?!! Basic Writing and Communication

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Win a Copy of Through a Dog’s Eyes by Jennifer Arnold

The paperback edition of The New York Times Bestseller, Through a Dog’s Eyes, written by Canine Assistants founder Jennifer Arnold, is being released. We have the hardback copy already, along with the DVD of the PBS documentary narrated by Neil Patrick Harris. After we had watched the documentary in 2010, we were so moved by the stories, the dogs and those they helped, that we took the opportunity to renew our membership to our local PBS station during a pledge drive. 

"Good With Dogs"

Through-Dogs-Eyes-Paperback The book includes stories from Arnold’s life and the lives of the dogs who were her greatest teachers, and provides convincing and compelling testimony to explain her choice and style of teaching. Early in her career, Jennifer was told that in order to be "good with dogs" you had to be tough with them. Now she knows how wrong that is and why it is wrong. She wants all dog owners to know what she had learned. The book truly is unforgettable and will forever change the way you view the relationship between dog and owner.

She describes a kind way of handling your dog can bring a happier life for both of you. Her opposition to dog management methods that have you dominate and become physically controlling when handling a dog is clear. Like so many dog trainers that I've met since starting Grouchy Puppy, Jennifer opposes shock collars and choke chains.

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Grouchy Puppy Salutes Open Paw Shelter Program

Blog the Change for Animals Today is Blog The Change For Animals and it takes place on the 15th of January, April, July and October annually. Have a blog? Write about a cause near and dear to your heart. Inspire your audience to get involved!

What I really appreciate about Blog the Change for Animals is that it is quarterly. For some reason that is the perfect amount of time to pass by, before I am introduced to a new and wonderful group, cause or just inspiring person that I want to share with everyone I know.  

Since the purpose behind Grouchy Puppy is the educate, inspire and motivate through humor and storytelling, it has been a wonderful experience to uncover groups like Open Paw.  I learned about the shelter program through my Kelly Gorman Dunbar Influence Positively interview. She is the co-founder and creative force behind this unique non-profit.

From our Kelly Gorman Dunbar Influence Positively interview:

Your proudest achievement so far?  Developing and spreading the Open Paw Shelter Program. Hands down. Open Paw is not your typical shelter program. For one, we're not a brick and mortar shelter, but rather an educational resource for all shelters, rescues, and even boarding  and daycare centers.

Eleven years ago we realized that while most shelters and kennels were very good at preventing and addressing the physical health of their resident animals, with rigorous cleaning protocols and guidelines, few facilities had sufficiently address the mental health needs of their charges. In fact, providing things such as companionship and environmental enrichment to kenneled animals was often seen as mutually exclusive to keeping animals physically healthy! 

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Influence Positively Interview - Deborah Flick

BoulderDog_Sadie_Deborah Deborah‘s life changed four years ago when she brought Sadie home. Deborah was consumed by Sadie’s fear and helping her to overcome it. She was two and a half years old when Deborah started blogging about the joys and heartache of loving a fearful dog. Deborah soon discovered a community of smart, compassionate, and very knowledgeable dog bloggers. What started out as a blog exclusively about their journey soon evolved into a vehicle for improving the lives of animals in community with other like-minded bloggers. Deborah has a Ph.D. in Communication and a M.A. in Psychology and resides in Colorado.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Hiking in the foothills west of Boulder on a cold, sunny day after a snowfall. I love to watch Sadie confidently dancing and prancing down the trail, invigorated by the feeling of snow between her toes. She's so joyful, jumping and spinning in mid-air between forays into the brush to sniff out new scents that the moisture of the snow has amplified.

If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? Well, it depends. If I could come back as my sister-in-law's cat, then a cat, definitely. On the other hand, if I could reincarnate as my friend's dog, I think I'd rather be a dog. I'd have fresh food prepared for me daily. We would hike, off-leash, on a different trail everyday with my doggie BFF. Then I'd go to work with my person where I would make the rounds of her colleagues offices and soak up 'ear scritches' and goodies. After that I would be tired and take a nap in my comfy memory foam bed next to her desk. 

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Dog Household Tips: Ways we can help our dogs as they age

Cleo Navigates StairsAccording to a 1998 Gallup Organization survey, pet owners regard their animals not only as part of the family, but also as better companions than some human members of their family.

This survey might be more than ten years old, but it's truth rings even more loudly today. We approach the care of our beloved pets with the same intensity and commitment as we do human family members.

I started to write this post about my dog Cleo and how as a senior dog now she courageously tackles three flights of stairs everyday.

Rather than focus strictly on applauding my dog, like a proud parent at a track meet or science fair, I decided step back and instead share the advice and tips that I've learned for households with aging pets. 

Bragging about how clever Cleo is, is fun don't get me wrong, but I'd rather share real ways we have worked with Cleo in the hope that it helps others. At the end of this post I will share several links to senior dog blogs and other resources for senior dog health.

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Can dogs be happy?

Dogs look like they can smile and their tail wagging seems to say something too. For those of us dog owners who clearly love our pets, we focus a lot on trying to understand, to decipher, what Fido is "saying". 

We want the best for these members of our pack. I know that at the end of the day my knowledge of Cleo, my adult rescue dog, is limited to what I can uncover on my own.  And because I care, I want to know if she is happy. 

Ever since I adopted her, feeling that I am doing a good job - that I'm making her life better than what it was - is important to me as a responsible canine guardian.  Therefore, even debatable emotional indicators such as a smile, I will take this superfluous information and hold it close.

This guest post is from Deborah Flick, of Boulder Dog, and helps us put into context these notions of whether our dogs are really happy and she discusses the question, what is a normal dog?


You will never have a ‘normal’ dog no matter how much counter-conditioning and desensitization you do. No matter how many hours of training you invest. At least that’s how I condensed Dr. Nicholas Dodman’s lecture on fearfulness and fear aggression.

“You can rehabilitate, but there is no cure. And, there is a tendency to relapse.”

Thanks. I needed that.

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Dog Training and Never Shock a Puppy Campaign

Maggie and my Mom I've mentioned here before that my mother was a dog trainer during my childhood in the 1970's. Her school of thought and style for her puppy training and obedience training was to use a slip collar or choke chain.

When I would watch the classes, she was clearly humane towards the dogs but she was also firm in her instruction and expected response. My mother taught dog owners how to properly put a slip collar on their dog. She showed them how to find the proper size collar for their dog. She demonstrated with one of our dogs how to "correct" the dog firmly yet humanely, using the collar's quick release.

Her technique was firm and direct yet never cruel. To my adolescent eyes and ears at times though, it was quite the opposite. However she also struck me as confident and strong, the person you could trust to be a worthy pack leader.  Our dogs certainly saw her that way.

Now that I have my own dog for the first time, it is up to me to choose how I train her. And Cleo needs training, no matter how wonderful and perfect I think she already is.  We currently use a harness for Cleo.  She has such a furry fat neck that it makes a collar of any kind seem cruel.  And with her deep chest, the black harness we current use for everyday is like a big hug with soft sherpa fur under her arm pits. She also now has a red one that is strictly for beach days because she always jumps into the ocean or rolls in something stinky.

[ Cleo happily in her red "stinky" beach harness]

If it was up to my mom, we would do things differently I'm sure. However, this style works for us. Personally I believe most people and their dogs are better off using collars and harnesses that do not pinch, shock or choke - even briefly.

Starting today, everyone can learn humane dog training options through the Never Shock a Puppy Campaign. 

Never Shock a Puppy badge big

Over the next eight weeks, they hope to raise awareness about humane (pain-free) alternatives to dog collars designed to hurt, startle, punish AND

To learn more go to Never Shock a Puppy

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