An Excellent Problem to Have


I thought I had created a slight problem with Freya when I recently did a little bit of box-work with her inside the house. I used her crate as the box, and it seemed to have all gone very well, helped her settle and find her “place.” After a few times of successfully settling on the box, I now had an issue getting her in the box when I simply wanted to crate her and not do a box challenge. Whenever we got anywhere near the crate, she was surging upwards to get “on the box.” So I found myself muscling a 65 pound dog into her crate. She was panicky because I was leaving, I was stressed because I was late for an appointment, and it was quite a struggle. This had never been an issue for us before! Ugh…

I pondered my dilemma as I drove away. I was kicking myself for creating this problem, but then the answer came to me: “I need to get the inside of the crate to be the end of the box challenge.” But would it work?

When I got home, I let her outside while I rearranged the furniture in my office. I took my flimsy folding table and put the crate on top of it. As soon as she came back in, I had her hop into the crate, easy peasy! She actually wanted to get in the crate (which was now also a box). As an added bonus, the table was wobbling under her weight, just like a balance board. So she had to settle herself in the crate in order to find solid ground. Cha-ching! I’d struck gold.

Later in the day after she went out again, I invited her back into my office while I was working (since she still needs supervision in the house). The Pergo floor doesn’t offer much comfort for a dog and she had no soft place to lay down. So she actually went over to the table where her crate was and asked to get in! Brilliant. I opened the door and she hopped in. There’s a wool blanket in there, and after rooting around for a minute while the table gently wobbled, she plopped down and had a nice snooze.

When Your Adopted Dog is… Pregnant

And she gives birth to the most adorable puppies, but only one survives and then you have to give that puppy up for adoption. Yeah, it sucks. But, at least we saved two dogs from certain death. And gave the lost pups a proper funeral.

Freya Falcon Wings

Freya, the wonder dog, flew from Miami to Maine to find a home with me.

Preggo Freya

To many this dog would appear obvi pregnant, but me, I thought she was just a bit more oblong than my other females.

She had seen three different vets after being released from Miami Dade Animal Services, and NO ONE guessed she was preggo?! They kept saying, she must have just had puppies. Hello, milk!!! Where are the babies?


Selena My Moon Goddess

My name is Selena and I’m sweet as pie

Cutest Pit Bull Puppy

After I was weaned from mum, I got to go live on a horse farm in Durham, Maine, with a super nice lady named Pam.

This photo essay is just to get you caught up on the drama. You can read a fuller version of the story here: Just Say No To Dogs (Don’t Be a Hoarder).

Training at the Farm

Fond memories are always made in Newfane, Vermont. This is a throwback to last fall when Freya and I were still getting to know each other. Kevin Behan, creator of Natural Dog Training is helping us overcome her dog aggression issues. Photos by my dear friend and fellow NDTer, Melissa Ong. And the one of me and Melissa together is by our friend, Ariel Goettinger, another student of Kevin’s. We learn from the best!

When the Shit Hits the Fan and the Puke Hits the Carpet


After four and a half years of using Natural Dog Training with Eva, my pit bull rescue, we were finally getting somewhere. She had just turned eight years old, and we had completed a full month straight of really nice work together. We had been cycling through the five cores and really working the heel and down stay (collection). She was getting light on her feet and we both felt calm and quiet. Then the day I decided to take a rest, she gorged herself on our training kibble (after I had fed her a raw breakfast to celebrate our “day off”). OOOOOffff. She also chewed up a bunch of empty Tupperware containers that were sitting on the kitchen counter and dragged some tampons out of the bathroom. So when I got home to this mess, I thought wow, she must really be regressing back to puppyhood and now we are getting somewhere. So I wasn’t that upset about it.

But then she kept me up all night needing to go out every couple of hours to dump the kibble load and I STILL woke in the morning to one of the most putrid vomit piles ever and had to call Stanley Steemer to clean my roommate’s rug. I was livid. I was tired of putting up with this bullshit.

I had to go to a networking breakfast that morning, so after cleaning the vomit, I put Eva in the car (in a crate) and she was still panting and whining and acting like a complete lunatic. After I came out of my meeting, I found that she had broken the door to this new crate. I thought I was literally going to kill this dog (this is the 6th or 7th crate she’s broken, so many I’ve lost track). I’ve never been so angry in my life. I started crying because I had this dog who couldn’t be crated nor it seemed, healed.

I took her home and basically we had it out with the bite toy. Then we did some really nice box work, and she seemed calm (or despondent, could have been either!). I was sort of losing my cool but channeling it into the training and feeling pretty okay. On the way to our next appointment, I ranted at her a bit in the car (I had to let off some steam). I think she got the point but didn’t take it personally. She stopped barking in her crate until a few hours later when we headed for home and she started feeling her oats again (or the charge of homebase?).

So we got home and I think I finally got to a deeper level of her DIS, because after a good fight over the toy (and some junky rage noise), followed by a smooth carry, she went into a down and flopped voluntarily to give me belly. We were both still a tiny bit edgy (okay, maybe just me) but she got a really good belly rub.

Now that I’ve also dumped some DIS, everyone is calm and quiet in the house. I’ve been crating ALL the dogs whenever I leave the house and Eva has been miraculously staying inside her crate until I get home. She’s turned into my best “belly girl,” and also not afraid to show me her lip-curling smiles when she feels fear.

I’ve dispensed with the headiness of the Byron Katie turnarounds, the addiction to Buddhism, and just focused on the pushing, as well as the Rage that my dogs bring up in me. And it’s really giving me courage and helping thaw my emotions. Yay for Eva the Don Diva! And the dogs that drive us crazy, forcing us to take it to the next level. Stay tuned for more updates… now that I’m finally getting the feel for this stuff, exciting things are happening!


Puppies Are Terrible


My top ten list of why puppies are terrible:

10. They are soft. People want shoes made of my puppy. This is frightening.

9. They make cute noises just like a baby. In the middle of the night. #Mommybrain

8. Puppies manipulate your emotions more than any other animal. You must have nerves of steel to avoid spoiling your puppy and ruining his temperament for life!

7. Obviously, there’s the chewing, and the needle sharp teeth. And you can’t correct him for biting, lest you scar his developing ego.

6. People will want to be your best friend so they can hang out with your puppy, but only while it’s “cute.” They will demand puppy visitation even though you are exhausted and obviously have nothing better to do than provide all your friends and family with their “puppy fix.”

5. You will fall in love with a puppy faster than anything. Then they will drain your bank account. The original gold-diggers.

4. Crate training is a bitch but absolutely neccessary. Even with the crate, you will still need all your carpets cleaned. $$$

3. The eyes. Don’t stare at the eyes! Puppy can gain control over your soul this way.

2. The ears. Silky soft and so floppy! Don’t chew off the ears, they need those things later.

1. Puppy breath. People get drunk on this stuff and then require rehab services.


Don’t forget, you can learn all about how to raise your puppy right at the Natural Dog Training Conference October 3rd and 4th in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.