Archive for May, 2008

High five from The Pet Blog

The Pet Blog had some nice things to say about Dog Park Wisdom this week, including (but not limited to):

There are great anecdotal stories from the author, her friends, family, and sometimes from complete strangers. My favorite among these is why you should wear a belt when visiting the dog park. Photos by Bev Sparks make Dog Park Wisdom visually a pleasure as well as a fun read.

I include the belt bit here as a teaser!

Chair mat? No. Couch protector? Yes.

Recently, I received this ingenious tip for keeping dogs off the furniture from Amanda Brothers, certified trainer and owner of Sidekick Dog Training in Seattle:

At our old house, we resorted to putting our coffee table upside down on the couch whenever we left the living room to prevent our dogs from turning the couch into a jungle gym. For our new house, my husband bought a square sheet of plastic at Office Depot to use under his desk chair so it didn’t get bogged down in the carpet. Turns out the bottom has little plastic nubs on it, and it is the perfect size to be cut down the middle and placed nub-side-up on the couch, which keeps dogs off and actually looks pretty okay (much better than an upside-down table and kinder than many other options).

With its poor reviews as a chair mat, Amanda’s right that this office product might do better marketed as a dog deterrent. Discover more of Amanda’s dog-life smarts in her monthly column for the Journal Newspapers.

Better than Prozac, funny dogs

I never cease to be amazed by how efficiently a silly dog can turn a blue day around. It’s not just that unconditional devotion, which gets all the press. It’s the canines’ comic stylings — their quirky habits, campy begging, penchant for trouble, and not-so-sly moves. I know a couple with four Dachshunds, who watch their quartet raise Caine with all the satisfaction of a 13-year-old Serena-wannabe watching Gossip Girl. (The dogs are more engaging and less predictable than the TV actors.)

Dog Park Wisdom tipster Phil Juliano has channeled the antic inspiration of his four-year-old, lean, mean, tennis ball-chasin’ machine (a Labrador Retriever named Spencer) into an autobiographical comic strip, Best In Show. I am grateful for how dogs not only make us laugh, but how they encourage us to be patient, attentive, and compassionate, and in Spencer’s case, to make art. That idea, that our dogs bring out the best in us, was something that drove my book. Phil recently moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where his strip runs (or soon will run) in Critter, Rapid River and Asheville Unscene.

A nod from Dayton

In a story about canine road trips, the Dayton Daily News recommends Dog Park Wisdom, and says, “[Lisa Wogan] answers questions you never thought of before you even get the chance to think of them.”

Get jiggy with your bicycle

At a holiday mutt mixer last December, I met David Sylvester, a Seattle vaccine scientist, and his gorgeous Shepherd/Husky mix dog, Chiva. They were preparing to cycle around the country and climb the highest peak in each of the Lower 48 states. In addition to providing a chance for adventures together, David and Chiva’s Tour de Dog aims to raise awareness about and money for the fight against animal cruelty and environment destruction.

I like hearing stories of novel ways to incorporate dogs into formerly human-only activities. But I was behind the curve on this one. For example, during the cycling legs, Chiva rides in style in a DoggyRide trailer. It’s a sign of the times that folks aren’t simply modifying child-carriers anymore. Companies are actually manufacturing “sidecars” for dogs.

My favorite adaptation for a cycling dog is the Xtracycle, sport utility bike. This cycling-dog option requires a game pup with excellent equilibrium, such as Jiggy, Ken Hoeve’s Pit Bull, who balanced on a skateboard-like platform at the back of an Xtracycle for much of an 800-mile trek from Savannah, Georgia, to Key West, Florida in 2001. Jiggy also floated along in a raft, pulled by Hoeve in a kayak, during watery stretches. Ken with Jiggy (at home in Colorado last year) shared his story with us for Dog Park Wisdom. After a life of exuberant adventures, Jiggy succumbed to cancer last year. I’m thrilled to include his photo in the blog.

D-I-Y plastic bag dispenser

When she’s not hiking with her Catahoula leopard dog, Beau, Amanda Tikkanen is probably going all MacGyver on some forgotten nylon remnant. With a passion for trails and dogs and the self-reliance of a pioneer, Amanda generously shares her insights and perspectives at UberPest’s Journal. She’s not a daily blogger by any stretch, but her archives and do-it-yourself instructions could keep a motivated, tree-hugging, dog guardian busy repurposing everyday objects for a long while. A March 2008 entry on converting a plastic, gallon jug into a waste bag dispenser is just the sort of practical wisdom we can all use in these belt-tightening times. (Extra points for using a pet-stain removal jug for poop bags!)

Agility garden?

I love the idea of adapting your garden to your dogs, rather than constantly struggling to keep your dog out of the garden. So how about incorporating agility training into your planting plan? Dog Park Wisdom photographer Bev Sparks suggested growing corn as weave poles in the backyard. Robin Haglund, owner of Garden Mentors in Seattle, thinks mammoth sunflowers might be a sturdier–and probably prettier–option. “They tend to have really strong stalks when they get going — so strong that I have to let them rot over the winter in order to get them out of the ground,” she says. She also suggests using inexpensive bamboo pools planted with climbing beans. (The photo is of Robin’s dog Shiloh, who has inspired many landscaping workarounds.)