Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: Because of Bentley (therapy dog, Cavalier)

Because of Bentley*, by Loren Spiotta-DiMare with Diane Zdrodowski (J. PacePublications, 2015, 28 pages, $18, ages 7-9)
Because of Bentley

For a Perpetual Puppy, the Royal Purple Treatment

Purple abounds and bookends this book. . . .

Bentley is a real Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (such a long name for such a small dog!), or “Cavalier“ for short, who resembles a perpetual puppy.  His puppy appearance accounts for the breed’s popularity: their small size (basically, a large toy breed) doesn’t hurt either but merely adds to their cuteness factor.

If you love Cav’s you will gravitate towards Because of Bentley. If you haven’t yet met a Cav or if you lean towards perhaps bigger breeds, you will be intrigued by the book’s title.

Kids love the large-sized illustrations on one page with the story on the facing page and they soon learn and long remember the real-life accounts of Bentley becoming a therapy dog and how he helps other kids and their people.

Effortless Education

Definitely a dog person, the author unobtrusively sneaks in little husbandry tidbits like Bentley attending puppy kindergarten (a great idea) after all his shots are complete but you may notice outdated terminology such as ‘commands’ rather than ‘cues’ or requests that positive trainers now use. (As a matter of fact, puppy kindergarten is now recommended for puppies who have started their shots and waited a week – no need to wait until all the shots are finished several weeks later if precautions are taken.)

Fun Illustrations

The large water-color illustrations by Jude Delaney are ‘spot-on,’ like my favorite on page 8 - three dogs swimming with just their heads above water: Bentley, a Corgi ,and probably an All-American pup.

Dog Camp? Dogs Have Careers? And What About Perseverence?

Yes! And yes!

I love it that Bentley goes to a real dog camp to play and learn with other dogs and their people.

But more than that, I love that Bentley takes a three-day course to become part of a therapy dog team but when the team does not pass the exam, they take another course and this time they do pass: what an incredible lesson for young readers to persevere for something they really want in life!

Just What Does a Therapy Dog Do Anyway?

Have you ever wondered what makes a therapy dog a therapy dog? And what a therapy dog actually does? Bentley will ‘show-and-tell’ you all about it from visits with children and their parents in a hospital to a special-needs child in the school setting to giving a troubled boy the courage to reach out and make new friends – all Because of Bentley. And when you notice the ‘because of Bentley’ stories, you will smile and remember them long afterwards.

Bentley may just spur you and your dog on to become a therapy team yourselves! If so, Bentley would be proud, and if not, you have learned so much about therapy dogs that you can share with others!


An added bonus: photographs of the real Bentley (to supplement the illustrations), a multi-faceted canine champion, and more about the author, Bentley's person (Diane), and the illustrator. 

*Purchase here or through Loren's Reading Room here

Caveat: This book was sent to me as a reviewer.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dogs and Allergies and Anxiety and. . . .

Allergies and. . . . 
We all know that having animals when growing up decreases the probability of having allergies (particularly if you live on a farm), but did you know that animals may also help prevent childhood anxiety?

Anxiety and. . . . 
According to a recent issue of Real Simple magazine, here is yet another reason dogs are man’s best friend, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC): in a study* of those boys and girls living with a dog, only 12% showed signs of anxiety. In the group that did not have a pooch, 21% did.

Good News. . .
Dog owners already know the joys of a four-legged family member, but the researchers noted that having a pup around the house actually lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone that dog trainers are only too familiar with if they work with reactive dogs, hyper dogs, shelter dogs, aggressive dogs, or sensitive dogs.

For Smokers
In addition** 28% of people who smoke said that knowing cigarette smoke was harmful to a pet’s health made them more motivated to quit!

Three Cheers
Let’s hear it for our canine companions!

"Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray!"

*The CDC followed more than 600 boys and girls from 4-10 years old for 18 months beginning in 2012

**from a survey by the Henry Ford Health Systems

Caveat: Don't confuse correlation with causation though.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Review: A Dog Named Jimmy (white bull terrier photos)

A Dog Named Jimmy, by Rafael Mantesso (Avery/Penguin Random House, 2015, 160 pages, $19.95)

Jimmy Who? Jimmy Choo, That’s Who!

The Jimmy in A Dog Named Jimmy is actually a dog named Jimmy Choo, named in part for the shoe designer – but only in part. The author-artist had a memorable 30th birthday - his wife left him and took everything. Everything, that is, but the most important thing: Jimmy the dog.

Five pages of a funny story worth reading followed by more than a hundred photos that are creatively remarkable, outstanding, impressive, extraordinary, unforgettable, and more.

As a buddy once told me when he saw a Bull Terrier, “That’s a dog so ugly only his owner could love him.” However, after seeing the cover of A Dog Named Jimmy, and reading the hilariously heartwarming story of Jimmy, and going over his photos over and over again, you will fall in love with Jimmy like I did.

Book reviewers obtain their material in one of several ways: usually sent by authors or publishers or purchased in bookstores (hopefully small independent bookstores) and sometimes in second-hand bookstores and, generally, when we are sent a copy, gratis, to review, it is not ethical to then sell that copy or even gift it (though when sent more than one copy, we sometimes donate one to a shelter or rescue for their library or silent auction). I purchased Jimmy and he is one of the few that I cannot bear to pass on to anyone else!

I keep thumbing through Jimmy, almost daily (well, nightly), changing my mind about which photos are my favorites.

What’s it all about?

Jimmy is a collection of photos of a mostly white dog on mostly white backgrounds with simple-to-intricate objects drawn in, in black. For example, the cover shows Jimmy’s head, mouth open wide as if singing – so a microphone is drawn nearby! Mostly Jimmy is sleeping in different positions, as dogs are wont to do, or sitting and looking up.

Drawings with Jimmy illustrate the culture of the world, even the world of literature, and you will smile when you recognize Jimmy sitting next to ‘Charlie Chaplin,’ or leaping over a ‘fence’ chasing ‘sheep,’ or with ‘antlers’ drawn coming out of his head making him a four-point buck, or wearing ‘dark glasses’ and ‘playing a piano’ a la Ray Charles, or peering into an old ‘Victrola,’ or ‘juggling tennis balls,’ or wearing the ‘cone of shame with someone inserting a huge olive on a long toothpick into the cone’ as if putting an olive into a martini glass or. . . .

Is it too early to pick DogEvals’ Book of the Year?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Update on Rocket Recall! Workshop in March!

Rocket Recall Workshop this Month in Georgia!

Are you (or your dog) desperate for a rock-solid "rocket recall" and want it NOW? Are you intrigued by the idea of a Rocket Recall after reading the review about the DVD in DogEvals' last post?  Did you purchase the DVD and now you want more personal instruction? Are you available the weekend of 19-20 March and can drive, fly or hop to the Atlanta area? Do you want to just skip the DVD and learn the rocket recall in person WITH your dog?

If so, you are in luck! 

Cold Nose College (www.ColdNoseCollege.com) offers weekend workshops on several topics (with or without your dog) which is an idea I wish I had thought of! It is so much easier to learn a new skill (both you and your dog) when you can devote several hours to it in a short period of time rather than just one hour a week spread out over too many weeks. It is so much easier to have hours of one-on-attention and personal direction. It is so much easier to learn an approach, a method of problem-solving than merely to learn how to do one skill. Wouldn't you rather take home knowledge to work things out yourself in the future than to just have one behavior 'down pat'?

Cold Nose College's Brad and Lisa Waggoner ("We make training fun!")
have scheduled a Rocket Recall weekend for 19-20 March in the Atlanta area (Marietta) area and - the price is right! For both dog owners and for dog trainers who want to brush up on their skills (CEUs are available).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

DVD Review: Rocket Recall (“Come,” dog training, treats, positive reinforcement, reward, recalls)

Rocket Recall: If you build it, they will come, by Lisa and Brad Waggoner (Tawzer Dog, 2015, 65 minutes, $29.95)

Yippy, Skippy!
DogEvals has been aware of Cold Nose College (North Carolina) with Brad and Lisa Waggoner for quite some time now but we just recently purchased one of their DVDs and . . . are we ever glad we did!

Perhaps the Most Difficult Skill for Your Dog, and You. . . .But You CAN do it!
First of all, Lisa and Brad, the dog training “professors" at Cold Nose College, truly make you believe you can teach your dog to have a reliable off-leash recall. Cold Nose College, “where cold noses meet warm hearts,” is where “We make training fun!”


They break down the process into teeny tiny bits so that you are successful every inch of the way plus they are full of easy-going praise for you (and your dog). We all know that when people receive a reward (for us, that may be praise or just seeing our dogs succeed), we tend to repeat the behavior and have fun with it! Rocket Recall is easy, effective fun personified – I would watch any DVD by Brad and Lisa, attend any seminar, workshop or class. (Wish they lived a few hours closer to Maryland!)

Rocket Recall also reviews the Four Stages* of Learning and the Twelve Rules of Rocket Recalls, then Premack it! (Grandma’s Law), ending with R&D – not research and development, but reinforcement and distractions. Catchy terms make quicker learning and easier remembering.

The Kitchen Dog God
Many dogs are “kitchen dogs”: that is, they quickly learn to give an automatic Sit in the kitchen because that’s where the treats are. This is what Cold Nose College refers to as having a dog with a high school diploma.

But you probably want your dog to get his or her PhD and come when called outdoors, off-leash.

That is where Rocket Recall comes in with plenty of small, doable baby-steps starting with a captured check-in which is clicked and treated.

Hint, Hint
Helpful hints abound like which hand to hold the leash, the treat, and the clicker when you have only two hands, not three. Thoughtful treat placement sets up your dog for success, then and only then can you graduate to a long line and distractions. You can also change the word, Come! to something fun like Cookie! or Shazaam!

Cues (not commands) can be visual, auditory (voice or a whistle) or environmental (less controllable, like a knock on the door).

If you ask me, . . . .(but you didn't)
The DVD may be too long and repetitive in that there are a few too many (for this reviewer) demonstrations of the same technique or behavior being trained with so many different dogs -  either clients and their dogs, or the trainers’ dogs themselves. In addition, I would have liked the slides with writing on them to be shown for a few more seconds – there were times when I was taking notes, looked up to see some worthwhile words, looked down to jot them down, looked up at the slide to catch more of the memorable words – but we had gone on to the next demonstration (guess I will just have to watch the DVD again!). And finally, there were a few places where a voice-over would have been more effective in explaining something.

However, . . . .
Having said all this, Rocket Recall is still perhaps the best bang for your buck and will become a treasured resource for teaching a rock-solid recall to your clients and to dogs alike.

Hmmmmm. . . .
I wonder if Rocket Recall works on kids. . . .

*acquisition, fluency, generalization, maintenance