Mission Statement

Happy New Year.  This year Dixie’s Critter Care & Dog Training celebrates 10 years in business.  That is 10 years of providing quality care and training for critters great and small.  From the beginning I had a slogan and that was and remains “Where Pets are Family”.  After 10 years you would think I also had a mission statement, but I have never gotten around to putting that in words.  So I’ve decided with this being my 10th year in business it is time to set a mission statement for the business.  So here goes:

It is the mission of Dixie’s Critter Care & Dog Training to provide loving care and training utilizing positive methods and knowledge obtained from continuing education to serve the needs and wants of our clients both four legged and two legged at affordable rates.  It is also our goal to work closely with rescue groups and shelters on a volunteer basis to help ensure that pets adopted out find their forever homes.

Happy 2012.

Giving a Pet for Christmas

This morning in our local paper I read a very disturbing headline “Pets make Perfect Gifts for the Whole Family”.  One of the local rescue groups has reduced the cost of adopting pets for the Christmas Season.  I will agree there are so many homeless pets looking for their forever homes, that placing as many as we can into those forever homes is the goal of rescue.  However, like I said “forever” homes.  It would be wonderful if every rescue pet could have a Home for the Holidays but I can never advocate giving pets away as Christmas presents because too often these are the pets just like the Easter Bunnies and chicks given away at Easter that wind up back in the shelter.  Getting a pet requires research and commitment.  You need to know that this is the right pet for your family so it is important for the entire family to discuss getting a pet.  Then there are considerations for the other pets in your family and helping them to adjust to the newcomer.  Allotting money for basic and emergency vet bills. Making sure you and your family have time to spend with your new pet including considerations for obedience classes.  So in my opinion Pets do not make perfect gifts and should never be given as a gift.  Every critter deserves a home, but it must be the right home for it to be their forever home.

Do Dogs Dream?

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Early this morning my husband and I leapt out of bed and went racing to the bedside of our 3 year old Husky Alusia Sue thinking something was wrong.  Alusia was screaming out in a tone that clearly was stating distress.  So I shook her awake and she looked at both of us, did a husky talk, and rolled over for a belly scratch on her bed.  Huh?  We thought she was in pain by the sound of her screams.  Obviously so did Yukon our shep/husky since he started throwing himself against the crate.  Our coon hound slept through the entire incident in the bed right next to her.  Clearly Alusia had a nightmare which made me want to do more research into the question Do Dogs Dream?

We often see our dogs move their legs along the floor and twitch their nose when sleeping as in pursuit of a varmint. Stanley Coren, Ph.D in Psychology Today states “Actually if dogs didn’t dream this would be a much greater surprise given that recent evidence suggests that animals that are simpler and less intelligent than dogs seem to dream. There is also evidence that they dream about common dog activities. This kind of research takes advantage of the fact that there is a special structure in the brainstem (the pons) that keeps all of us from acting out our dreams. When scientists removed or inactivated the part of the brain that suppresses acting out of dreams in dogs, they observed that they began to move around, despite the fact that electrical recordings of their brains indicated that the dogs were still fast asleep. The dogs only started to move when the brain entered that stage of sleep associated with dreaming. During the course of a dream episode these dogs actually began to execute the actions that they were performing in their dreams. Thus researchers found that a dreaming pointer may immediately start searching for game and may even go on point, a sleeping Springer Spaniel may flush an imaginary bird in his dreams, while a dreaming Doberman pincher may pick a fight with a dream burglar.”

This leads us to the next question: Do dogs have nightmares?  Nightmares are pretty much the same thing as dreams.  Both dreams and nightmares occur during the Rapid Eye Movement portion of sleep.  Since humans and dogs are thought to be about 95% similar in genetics it makes since that yes dogs would have nightmares.  Although unlike humans since the nightmare may not be considered by the dog to be unpleasant they probably won’t remember the nightmare at all.  Thus Alusia rolling over on her back following the screams and looking at us like wow I get doggie attention. So obviously this incident was harder on us and Yukon then our husky.

So bottom line is dogs dream and dogs have nightmares and Alusia Sue will never be able to share with us the details of that dream so we will be left to wonder.

The Reality of Life with Dogs

As a dog trainer I enter many homes where LIFE is crazy busy.  Honestly what home isn’t like this now a days with work schedules, recreational activities, etc.?  I often hear from these clients that they don’t have time to walk the dog on a daily basis or that they don’t have time to spend hours throwing the ball for their dog in the backyard.  I understand completely. The question I often get asked is should we find another family that can spend more time with our dog?  My answer is that depends and lets see first what we can do to make having a dog work for your dog and your specific family.  Yes in an ideal world you would be able to take your dog out for an hour walk each day, throw the ball for a few hours, work on training commands, etc.  Now back to reality.  Very few people today have that kind of time.  Does that mean you should not have a dog or you are a bad owner?  No, but it does mean that you need to carefully consider what the dog you are getting is bred for and the overall energy level of that dog.  I also remind owners that the more you can get your dog out and exercised the less behavioral issues you will have.  That being said most people are not able to walk their dogs for an hour or more depending on the needs to that specific dog.  But there are tons of options available for you and your family.  Consider the following questions:

Can you walk your dog for 10 minutes each day?  Can you take your dog on longer family walks and hikes on the weekends?  Can you purchase puzzle toys, treat balls, dog sandboxes, duck scent, etc. to ease boredom during the day while you are at work?  Can you hire a dog walker, petsitter, the neighbors teenager to play or walk your dog while you are gone during the day?  While feeding your dog, putting your dog to bed, answering the front door, etc. can you work with your dog on commands?  Can you take your dog to the dog park on some weekends or the dog beach?  Can you purchase Nylabones and other chewies for the times you are away?  Can you take your dog with you on your morning run?  Can you attend a dog hike? (I offer monthly dog hikes and there are also many dog clubs on Meetup that offer dog activities).  Can you buy a leash extender for your bike and take your dog out when you ride your bike?  Can you do agility with your dog once a week?  Or maybe Treibball or Scent work? Do you have an hour one day a week for Basic Obedience Class?   If you answered yes to any of the above then yes you can own a dog.

As a trainer I know that it is ideal if you can exercise your dog a minimum of an hour a day but as a trainer I also know the reality of that.  That is why I create individual training plans that work with my clients and the needs of their specific family. We brainstorm together to find what works best for everyone.  Besides you already made that first step and blocked out an hour of your time to call in a dog trainer, that speaks volumes.  Owning a dog should not be another chore, it should be enjoyable for both the dog and the entire family.  Whatever your schedule is, we can and will make it work for every dog deserves a loving family.