Myth About Your Dog #1: Do Dogs Share Happily?

Filip and Liam with Liv-a-Little natural dog treats

I’m starting a little summer series of  “myth busters” about the way we misunderstand our dogs and cats, unwittingly applying human-type emotions and desires to animals, who are actually cut from a different piece of cloth than we are.  I hope these will serve as little reminder “taps on the shoulder” to us that we should respect other species for who they are, both as different mammals from us, and also as individuals.

Myth #1 – Dogs enjoy sharing the way people do.
Some of us like to think that our dogs are happy to share with other dogs. Share our love and attention. Share their toys. Share their sleeping places. Share their hunting spots. Share the back of the car. Share the prime spot on the sofa. Even share their treats and dinner!  Really!? We encourage sharing. We like to think that “share and share alike” is a positive quality that we can imbue in our dogs, even if they don’t come to us ready to embrace the concept. We expect dogs to share, we’re delighted when they seem to, and we even get annoyed if they don’t. (We’re a little unrealistic in believing that sharing is natural for people, too – but more on that below!)

It isn’t logical for dogs to share
Without specific scientific evidence close at hand, I’d have to say that it is rarely true that a dog willingly shares her valuable assets with another dog. Why would she? Where will that get her? “Survival of the fittest” is still at the root of it all, isn’t it? On a primal level, how would a dog survive as an individual – beginning with her littermates – if she always gave up her turn at the “milk bar” or the toy bin to those who wanted it more?  That’s technically called the runt of the litter! What creature has an innate desire to wind up at the bottom of life’s totem pole…which in the cold, cruel world of the animal kingdom is sort of where “sharing” gets you!

Hang on! But I’ve seen dogs who share and take turns
Yes, I’ve seen those dogs, too. My own dogs! But it doesn’t happen naturally or without constant and firm intervention. I actually raise all my dogs to share – and most of them join the family at random times in their lives from Weimaraner rescues, so who knows what their backgrounds were? Sharing happens because I play refere: “You wait: it’s Wanda’s turn to lick that pot, you’re next,” or “Let Maisie get on the bed.”

An exception to the not-so-quick-to-share can be when dogs have grown up together and developed “an understanding.” Most likely this is is simply a hierarchy in which one dog has evolved as the “top dog” so both dogs proceed on the assumption that “what’s his is his, and what’s mine is his, too!” That can look like sharing.

Wait! Do people actually share freely with others?
If you think that dogs should share the way people do, you clearly haven’t seen the vocalizations or physical expressions of indignation that can be expressed by toddlers (or older) whose snack or toy is under siege from someone else. Not to mention grown adults trying to get online at a wedding buffet or get a seat on the subway!

When dogs have high value treats or food they really love it can create an even greater reason not to share (my girls adore their Halo food – the kibble, but also the canned Spot’s Stew – so I’m extra careful to feed them at a distance from each other since Wanda eats a whole lot faster than Maisie).

Real Life Vs. Wishful Thinking
Sharing is a concept that might look good on paper, but in a dog’s real life (or ours) it doesn’t come naturally. Teaching a dog to share requires negotiation, patience, persistence and even the offering of bribes or recompense by referees  (like Halo’s Luv-a-Lots). For true harmony between dogs, you’re probably best off supporting the idea that each one gets his own stuff and his space is universally respected as his own.

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

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Saturday Survey: Your Dog’s Diet

I posted earlier this week about some potential problems with grain-free diets, and it got me to wondering what people feed their dogs. I am currently using the BARF (bones and raw food) diet, only because Penny is allergic to beef, so I can control ingredients better this way. Until next time, Good day, and […] Dog Blog

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We’re Back from Port Aransas!

I’ve been out this week; we took a three-night trip to Port Aransas with Barli and Tiki! This was our first time back since Hurricane Harvey–and our first time with Barli. He’s…

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A Summertime Trip to the Rockies

A couple of weeks ago, we took a 10 day trip to Colorado. The kids and I spent most of the trip in Summit County, at 9,000+ feet elevation, right in the middle of the Rockies. Robbie spent half the trip up there with us (and his parents and brother’s family), and the other half working at Red Rocks outside of Morrison, where the band did a 3-night show. (The kids and I also went down to Red Rocks for a couple of the nights, which was a special treat.)

I used to live in Leadville (fairly close to where we stayed), and this part of the country holds some magical memories for me. The people in my life who I consider to be my best friends in the world were met during my time living there. And it’s truly one of the most physically beautiful places in the world. It was really wonderful to see some of my dearest friends, and to spend so much time with Robbie’s family as well. The kids had so much fun hanging out with their cousins. It was an easy, comfortable trip (well, aside from the flights with Emmett, who thinks sitting still on an airplane is the worst idea ever – but that’s a whole different story to tell).

This was also one of the only trips I’ve taken in the last few years where I took a real chunk of time off work. I’m so grateful for that time I had to recharge in such a tranquil place – especially because the morning after we returned home, one of my best friends in the world passed away after a year long battle with ALS. It was intense and beautiful to have just been in the place where he and I first met 23 years ago, less than a day before we had to say goodbye.

I miss living in the Colorado high country, but I also know that where we are now is where we’re meant to be. We hope to make this summertime trip to the mountains an annual thing though. It’s nice to get that mountain fix and then come back to home sweet home.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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This Rescue Dog Rescued Her Owner!

Cynder the Dog

Photo Credit: The Plymouth Herald

Sometimes the shyest dogs are the bravest. Cynder, a normally docile German Shepherd, saved her mom this spring when a man mugged her near their home!

Michelle Fowler was walking near her home in the city of Pymouth in Devon, England this March. Suddenly, a man approached from behind her. He insisted she give him her bag, then punched and kicked her. Michelle fell to the ground but managed to call for Cynder, her eight-year-old dog. Michelle later described Cynder to reporters as usually afraid of her own shadow, but that evening Cynder realized that Michelle needed her. The dog came running up, barking, and scaring off the attacker.

Although he managed to escape with Michelle’s bag, Michelle was saved from further injury because of Cynder’s quick response. In light of the incident, Michelle’s fiancé is staying in her home and they have changed the locks on the house as a precaution. The real hero is Cynder – the dog who Michelle once rescued turned the tables and rescued Michelle in return.

At Halo we believe that every animal carries a halo that shines brightest when nurtured in a genuine, heartfelt, two-way, human-animal bond. It’s obvious that Cynder’s halo is shining bright after her heroic rescue of Michelle. Every year Halo, Greater Good, and Freekibble feed more than 1.5 million bowls of cat and dog food to rescue pets like Cynder every year. We’ve been told by shelter professionals that Halo food increases adoption rates. This means that more pups like Cynder will have a chance to unleash their inner hero for their adoptive families. Our pets do so much for us, Halo believes in doing everything we can for them, starting with high quality food. We’re sure that Cynder is receiving a hero’s reward of delicious food and treats from Michelle and her grateful family.

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How To Create Storage in a Small Space

(Click here to shop everything in this photo!)

Last week, I shared a remodel reveal post of our laundry room/mudroom. I mentioned several times in the post how one of the main motivators for us to redo the room was a severe lack of storage. The only storage options were a wire shelf and some stackable drawers that we borrowed from one of our closets, which resulted in a room that felt constantly cluttered and overflowing. Because the room itself is quite small, we brainstormed ways to incorporate the right combination of cabinets, shelves, and storage containers to create a space that would be as efficient  – and visually attractive – as possible. Ultimately, I think we came up with some great solutions. Today I’m teaming up once again with our favorite brand for home improvement, Lowe’s, to show you exactly how we did this!

The two images above give a basic idea of what we were working with in terms of storage in the room before the remodel. We were cramming necessities into cardboard boxes on top of the wire shelves and the stackable drawers, which we also used for shoes. (As you can see, there wasn’t enough room in them for all of our shoes, so they ended up spilling onto the floor.) There was also nowhere to fold laundry, so it was piling up in baskets. It felt chaotic, and even smaller than it was.

I’ve mentioned before that in my relationship with my husband Robbie, when it comes to home design, I am the visual/artistic person, and he is the practical/numbers person. I loved the idea of all open shelving with everything on display, and he loved the idea of functional cabinets where we could hide potential clutter. We sketched out some possible design ideas and agreed to put two rows of cabinets above the washer and dryer, and three rows of open shelves to the right of the cabinets. We also decided to create a counter for folding over the washer (which eliminates the need to take up more room with a folding table and allows space for baskets/additional storage), and to build a bench for changing shoes, under which we could keep two large baskets for shoe storage. For the cabinets, I chose White Shaker Door Wall Cabinets from Lowe’s (this 30-in W x 30-in H x 12-in D size and this 30-in W x 14-in H x 12-in D size), along with some pretty Stainless Steel Cabinet Pulls, also from Lowe’s. I also found this gorgeous Wood Wall Mounted Shelving that would be a perfect complement to the butcher block counter and bench.

After the counter and bench were essentially built and the room was painted (I talk more about these projects in the before and after reveal post) we got to work hanging the cabinets. Neither of us had ever hung cabinets before, but it was much simpler than we anticipated. We recruited my dad (who had experience) to help us, did a little research online and followed some simple steps:

1. Prep the room by looking for studs with a stud finder, measuring, and marking guidelines. (You can see my dad and Robbie doing this in the photo above, where we temporarily put the counter in place to determine exactly where we wanted the cabinets to hang.)
2. Using a level, attach a 1×4 into studs to use as a brace for cabinets.
3. Remove doors from cabinets. (This makes installation much easier!)
4. Starting from the left, measure from the edge of the cabinet to the stud, and transfer the measurement to the cabinet, accounting for the front frame.
5. Use a drill to drill hole in the back of each cabinet. Do this at top, middle, and bottom rails of each cabinet, with the top and bottom around 3/4 from the edge.
6. Hold the cabinet where it will be positioned and drill mounting screws into the wall, just tight enough to keep the cabinet in place.
7. Check to make sure the cabinet is level and plumb and shim behind it if needed. (We did.)
8. Now take the second cabinet and hold it in place, lining up the front so they’re even. You can now clamp the cabinets together if you want to keep them in position. Drive mounting screw into wall and use shims if needed.
9. Drill through the cabinet face frames and connect them with screws, then drill in the rear screams.
10. Take off the clamps and 1 x 4 board on the wall.
11. Repeat with next row.
12. Reattach doors.
13. For the handles, pulls, or knobs, measure and mark where each pull is going with a pencil, drill a hole in each door, then attach with a screwdriver and screws. (This was actually the very last thing we did in the room, but you can do it any time after the cabinets are hung.)

(Click here to shop everything in this photo!)

Once the cabinets were in, the counter and bench were installed, and then we hung the shelves. Hanging shelves is a really simple process, and only took about half an hour.

1. For rows of shelves, begin with the bottom shelf.
2. Using a level and tape measure, make sure the placement is straight and centered (we measured between the cabinets to the left and wall to the right.)
3. Mark guidelines with a pencil or painter’s tape.
4. Ideally you’d like to screw into a wall stud (which we did), so use a stud finder, then attach shelf to wall using screws and wall anchors (these were included in the shelves we chose).
5. Repeat all steps for any additional shelves.

We also cut down a dowel rod and used white shelf brackets (we painted one black) to make a laundry rod for hanging clothes.

And finally, once the main storage items were installed (the cabinets and shelves), we focused on creating storage using smaller objects: Large storage baskets for housing shoes, smaller storage baskets to sit on the counter for rags and miscellaneous objects, and storage jars for clothes pins, dryer balls, and pocket change (you can make similar ones with mason jars and chalkboard paint, or get these cool vintage looking storage jars).

Through this remodel, we learned that it’s easier than you think to create essential (and visually beautiful!) storage in a laundry room/mud room (or any smaller room) with the right combination of cabinets, shelves, and smaller storage accessories like baskets. For any of you looking to optimize storage, I hope this proved helpful! And as always, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

Large Cabinets: Diamond NOW Arcadia 30-in W x 30-in H x 12-in D White Shaker Door Wall Cabinet
Small Cabinets: Diamond NOW Arcadia 30-in W x 14-in H x 12-in D White Shaker Door Wall Cabinet
Cabinet Pulls: Brainerd Bar Pulls Center to Center Stainless Steel Cabinet Pull
Shelves: allen + roth 24-in W x 1.5-in H x 7.8-in D Wood Wall Mounted Shelving
Level: Johnson Level 48-in I-beam Level
Stud Finder: Franklin Sensors ProSensor 1.6-in Scan Depth Aa Metal and Wood Stud Finder
Shims: Nelson Wood Shims Shim (Actual: 1.25-in x 7.75-in)
Drill: standard drills
Screws: standard screws
Screwdriver: standard screwdrivers
1 x 4: 1 x 4 wood board
Dowel/Laundry Rod: Madison Mill Round Wood Poplar Dowel (Actual: 72-in L x 1.25-in dia)
Shelf Brackets for Laundry Rod: Blue Hawk Plastic 2.05-in D x 2.05-in L x 0.77-in W White Shelf Bracket
Large Storage Baskets: RGI HOME 18-in W x 12-in H x 14.25-in D Natural Fiber Basket
Small Storage Baskets: 11-in W x 9-in H x 10-in D Natural Water Hyacinth Milk Crate

Huge thanks to Lowe’s for partnering with us on this project and post! 


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Good shepherd


I always thought I’d be a golden retriever person. And I still am. Indeed, I am still very much into the gun dog breeds. I will always have one around.

But I’ve added to my canine tastes an entirely different sort of dog. Well, they aren’t entirely different. I really like the working shepherd dogs from the European continent. They are into retrieving, too, but their natural tendency is to retrieve with a very hard mouth. Half-wild sheep or cattle living on the North European Plain need hard tending.

Anka is a working German shepherd, whose ancestry I’ll never know, but I know she is from working lines. Her dark sable color predominates in those strains, and she is only 64 pounds.

She has decided that I am her main human and with me is as demonstrative and fawning as a golden retriever. With strangers, she is merely aloof. Aggression towards people really isn’t her thing. She loves children and will even adjust her wild playing to meet their needs.

I suppose now I will always have a dog of this type too. The two types of dog are an interesting juxtaposition to each other. Both are about seeking the approval of mankind. Both are about marveling at our species. As flawed as we are, there is something oddly comforting to look into the brown eyes of a dog like these two types.

A German shepherd is a wolfy enough animal for me to think of them as something truly primitive. But their primeval appearance is illusory. They were made wolves out of herding stock, and though they may have a bit of Central European wolf blood coursing their veins, they are working herding breed.

I suppose that as I gain more experience meeting dogs, I will have new ideas about them, and I have the right to change my mind as new facts and faces come to the fore.

I never thought I’d feel this way about a dog of this type, but I really do like her. I love her soft sensitivity, which she avails only to a select few, but it is so different from what I’ve seen in other “macho” breeds.  The boxer and working bulldog types I’ve been around are not like this at all. They are many things, but sensitive souls they are not.

I feel so embarrassed that I was wrong about this breed. Dogs barking like maniacs in backyards or the ones that you pass at the park that growl at you as their owners hold their leads tightly are not truly representative of the breed.

In fact, those same dogs in the right hands might be the most stable working dogs. and with their owners, they might be biggest babies that cower before the Yorkshire terrier or cat that lives in the house.

Anka has this odd sense of humor. It is developed and refined. She greets me with a lick on the face, and then when I’m not looking at her, she will pop her jaws just an inch from my face. I will flinch, and she will look back at me with this goofy grin. Her eyes are so soft and gentle, yet you cannot readily see them through her black mask.

And the way those eyes look at me, I know that I am hers and she is mine, and all will go right with the universe so long as we can be together.



Natural History

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To the water

ian casting

Bluegill aren’t the prized fish of any big-time angler. They are pretty easy to catch, and in some not particularly pressured bodies of water they will happily nail unbaited hooks.

But they have a special place in my heart. I’m fairly certain that the first fish I ever landed was a bluegill, and if I’m feeling that I can’t catch anything, I’ll always try to for the bluegill. I’ve never gone bluegill fishing and failed to land at least one, and if you’re just looking to cast out and drown some worms, they provide a bit of relaxation and hint of Zen-like meditation.

And they are beautiful fish. The males in spawning color have the most spectacular turquoise marking around the heads and gill-plates. Were they not the banal fish of every little fishing hole, they would probably be prized as a sort of temperate cichlid and cost at least $ 25 a pair.

The current project around the house is setting up a native fish tank. It’s a birthday gift to my partner, and what’s more, my partner’s son is spending a few weeks with us.

And I get to share that childhood joy of landing that first bluegill, which he did this week. I wanted to make sure he got the fundamentals of fishing before we went out “for real,” when we were going out deep in the quest for our new tank specimens.

I taught to cast using a Zebco reel. The Zebco was the reel I first learned to use, and in a about a half hour’s worth of casting practice, he was doing the job well.

So we went to the lake at a little state park not far from here. We threw some night-crawlers and mealworms in the blackness of a summer lake. The bright orange bobbers floated like alien craft on the surface of the water, and every once in a while, the bobbers would tense up and shift, sure sign that a creature was nibbling at our bait. And then the bobber would go below the surface, and I’d say jerk and reel, and we’d miss.

But then we didn’t. The little bluegill fought his hardest against the line being spooled back towards the shore. He was so small that I was certain he’d gotten unhooked, and the boy reeled in his line, expecting to be left with a bare hook. Instead, he pulled in the little blue.

And his eyes beamed with pride at having landed that fish. It was prize every bit as a great as that record-breaking muskie or that giant flat-head reeled on a hot summer night’s fishing foray.

To the water we have gone.  And we have gone in search of beasts. We cast our lines into the murky universe that we can never fully enter. We hope that our baits are good, that our hooks are sharp, that our knots are steady, and that we reel just right.  Our big brains and dexterous thumbs have made us masters of the land, but when it comes to the life aquatic, we are mere amateurs. It matters little if we’re casting into little farm ponds or into the deep swelling sea. The fish have the answers. We can only hope that we ask the right questions and hope that luck swims in our way.

I hope I have passed on some of this mystery to Little Ian. I know that I have given him a chance to have some fun and think about the world that is not ensnared in steel and concrete. To consider the organic world from which we all descend is a gift I wish every child could receive.

So now we’re ready to collect our first specimens. I hope we get some bluegills or, even better, some of their related sunfish kin. These are the beauty fish of North America, but they are so common that we never consider their beauty fully. They are bycatch for bass and crappie anglers or bait for the flat-head hunters.

But they are still marvelous. And yes, they are tasty.

ian catches fish.jpg


Natural History

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Ohio Cat Caught Carbon Monoxide Leak and Saved His Family

Mr. Boo the cat

Photo Credits: Kecskes Family

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and potentially lethal gas. Although many families now have carbon monoxide detectors by their smoke detectors, not everyone has the life-saving alarms. Luckily for one family that didn’t have an alarm, their cat, Mr. Boo, alerted them to a gas leak and saved the lives of all four family members.

According to daughter Ariana, her cat Mr. Boo “never meows. He usually just squeaks or doesn’t meow at all. It’s actually kind of a joke in our family” she said. Thankfully he meowed as much as he could when his family was in danger.

David Kesckes, his wife, daughter Ariana, and son were all asleep in their home in Green Township, Ohio. “I woke up to my cat meowing,” said Ariana. Mr. Boo then did more than meow. “He was sort of stumbling down the hallway and he just kept meowing. He seemed to kind of want us to get out of the house. He passed out so many times trying to wake us all up and that just amazing because he’s never really meowed before,” Ariana said.

Fox19 played part of the 911 call. You can hear David tell the dispatcher, “my daughter fainted in the hallway, my son fainted on the back porch, and our cat fainted in the living room.” David got his son up to carry Ariana outside. Ariana’s mom got Mr. Boo out. Even Mr. Boo’s feline friend, the family’s other cat, did his part. “Our other cat actually walked in and kind of revived him because he was knocked out…[he] sniffed him like ‘Hey, get up,’” explained Ariana. The reporter later tweeted a photo of Mr. Boo resting with Ariana.

Photo Credits: @Fox19_Mike

“That cat’s a hero for sure,” said David. According to, Ariana said that Mr. Boo is a rescue cat who has been part of the family for seven years. Not every rescue pet will be a hero, but we know that they all have the potential to be amazing. That’s part of why Halo,, and Freekibble donate over 1.5 million bowls of Halo food to shelter pets every year. Shelter professionals have told us that more pets get adopted from their shelters because the animals thrive on high-quality Halo food. The more pets who get adopted, the more families like the Kesckes, can have their own heroes.

“Had this situation gone on much longer, the outcome could have been different,” said Green Township Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Hummeldorf. Firefighters detected lethal levels of carbon monoxide in the house. “We’re celebrating the fact that we’re all alive,” David told reporters. Boo went missing after the ordeal but was thankfully found that afternoon, hiding in the family basement. The whole family, Mr. Boo included, were okay in the end.

Our pets do so much for us, Halo believes in doing everything we can for them, starting with great food. We hope Mr. Boo is getting a hero’s reward with lots of love and healthy treats. Reflecting on his heroic meows that fateful May morning, Arian said, “It’s like he’s been waiting his whole life to do this one heroic thing.”

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Grooming Fail

Donkey fauxhawk! A new trend perhaps? Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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