Mar 6

Ruth & RustyWow, I can’t believe that it’s been 20 years since I jumped into the world of pet training.
I’ve been lucky to enjoy the last 15 of those years as a self-employed pet trainer/behaviorist.  I’ve met countless amazing dogs, cats & people along the way.  The true blessing is that they’ve all (humans & animals, alike) been my teachers & inspirations.  But, it’s time for a change.  I’m taking a break from training to follow my heart in a different direction:  writing for my new site, The Soulful Pet.

The Soulful Pet is a creative outlet where I can explore & celebrate the bonds we share with our pets.
Pet guardians know that a life well-lived with animals is a unique one.  Pets are family members.  We learn from them, share with them, care for them, & cry for them.  Of course, we hope that their lives are enriched thru these bonds, as well.

As a writer, trainer/behaviorist, & pet guardian/advocate, I am excited about the endless possibilities of The Soulful Pet.
I hope you’ll join me to create a community where we can share what we love about life with animals, on both the site & the FB page.  I’ll cover all aspects of this sweet lifestyle:  Foodie topics (recalls, recipes, healthy ingredients); product recommendations; social issues & commentary; pup culture; recommended reading (blogs & books); insights & inspirations; entertainment; and much more.  I also hope to spotlight special people who do great work with animals, as well as animals in need.  I’ll invite guest bloggers to tell their stories about how their lives have been touched by animals.

I did consider that there are countless blogs about people & pets.
But that’s a good thing.  The more, the merrier, I say.  It’s a group swim, and I’m jumping in to add my voice to the convo.  What’s changed?  I won’t be writing about the step-by-steps &  how-tos anymore.  They’re important, but talented others, whose works I’ll highlight, quite ably handle those.  Instead, I’ll focus on helping folks understand their pets better by relating to them on a more equal level:  We all share the same world & similar experiences.  If it affects you, it affects your pet – and vice versa.  If you see your pet thru your own experiences, you’re more empathetic.  (I’m keenly aware that we are different species.  Pets are not people, and I honor & cherish those differences.)  Empathy creates understanding, compassion & patience.  In turn, an enlightened human is a better teacher, companion & guardian for a pet.  If an enlightened human pays very close attention, she’ll learn about herself thru her pets.  It flows both ways, folks.

What else makes my voice worth adding to the convo?
In the last year,  I’ve learned that I need to listen to my heart more.  In doing that, I realized that I was ready for something new.  My journey will inform my writing.  In a way, The Soulful Pet is an integration of my spirit & my work that I’m sharing with you.  It will be different:  personal, honest & opinionated, non-PC, quirky-funny, philosophical, possibly political, random & heartfelt.   Dare I say, “smartly soulful”?

The Soulful Pet is an opportunity for all of us to thank & celebrate the animals in our lives.
Let’s collectively spread the word that understanding, compassion and a positive training approach enrich & save lives.  Along the way, we’ll laugh, cry & learn together, from each other.  I’m hoping for many moments where we find ourselves saying, “Huh, I never thought about it that way before.”  Or, “I can’t wait to try that!”   Hmmm……  Does that make me your critter-life coach?  Or you mine?  Or are our pets ultimately our best life guides?  So much to explore!


PS – My little muse, Rusty, will be hanging out with me on The Soulful Pet.  He’s relieved of his duties @ Rusty’s Dog Blog for now.  I’m thrilled to have him as my teacher & friend.  Join us there, won’t you?  Woofs & hugs from us to you!

© 2013 Critter Consulting

Mar 3

We love to help pet guardians see the world from their pets’ points-of-view.  Understanding & empathy create compassion.  Compassionate people are better teachers & trainers.  A great first step in better understanding, protecting, teaching & socializing your pets?  Learn their body language.  (Psssst – They already know yours.)

Let’s talk dogs here.  Humans often claim that their dog’s behavior “came out of the blue” or happened “for no reason”, “without warning”.  That’s rarely true.  Dogs speak volumes through their primary mode of communication:  body language.  We’re just not “listening”.  The more you practice observing Pup, the more you’ll really see the subtitles of her social communication skills.  A truly keen observer of dogs knows that each time you look, you see more.  We cherish the “ah-ha” moments that arise as we help clients see & decipher what their pets have been saying to them all along.  It’s a beautiful thing, because guardian & dog can continue to improve their relationship with a new understanding of each other.  It’s amazing how quickly dogs respond to their person’s new-found “bilingual” skills ….. Almost as though they’re saying, “What took you so long?!”

Verse yourself in canine-speak.  Review our post, “Are You a Close Talker?“.  It’s packed with video illustrations of polite interactions between canines.  In the post, we translate lessons learned from these dog-dog interactions into guidelines for how humans should approach (or not approach) dogs.  When you’re done, we’ll meet you back here with a current-event illustration of human-dog communication gone very wrong…..

If you follow us on Facebook, you know we covered in detail the case of the news anchor, Kyle Dyer, who was bitten on her face by a dog – on live TV.  The dog, Max, was setup by his unaware humans to feel defensive.  The encounter was too stressful too soon after his near-death rescue from icy water just 16 hours earlier.  He was “trapped” on a leash in a tight space in a new-to-him (& likely scary) environment.  The other oh-so-obvious-now lesson learned:  Never, repeat NEVER, kiss a strange dog on the face.  Watch the original footage here.  (You’ll only see Max during the bite, we promise.  Our heart goes out to Kyle, who, as you’ll see in the 3rd video, is healing nicely, physically & emotionally.  Max is OK, too, home with his family.)

Did you see the warnings?  This bite did not come out of the blue, or happen for no reason – as Ms. Dyer said on The Today Show last week.  Watch Michael Baugh’s excellent analysis & slow-motion video (again, dog only) of all the body language Max used to “say” that he was extremely uncomfortable just before the bite.  When we watched the original interview video @ normal speed, we could see it coming.  But this description & slo-mo video make it clear to all that Max was doing his best to inhibit himself pre-bite, signalling his fear & discomfort for awhile.  Having said that, we do agree with The Whole Dog Journal’s Facebook comment on the bite itself:  “That’s what ‘zero bite inhibition‘ looks like, folks, and why you WANT your puppy to learn good bite inhibition.”

Finally, here’s the follow-up interview with Kyle Dyer.  We commend her honest self-assessment & bravery in discussing her role in the bite.  She didn’t have the benefit of hind-sight & slo-mo video, so she didn’t know she was threatening Max.  We wish her a speedy & full recovery.

We hope, through Ms. Dyer’s experience, this blog, our Facebook page, and our work with clients, to further educate folks on dog body language, proper human-dog interactions, & scenarios to avoid.  Help us spread the word!

© 2012 Critter Consulting

Jul 22

As the summer sizzles, we wonder:  Exactly what happens when your pets drink water?  Watch!  (Keep yourself and your pets (dogs and cats) well hydrated in the summer heat.)

Via edyong 209

Via DiscoveryNetworks

Via whiskasnetwork

Via cbaumann

How do cats do that? Fascinating!

Via DiscoveryNetworks

© 2011 Critter Consulting

May 2

Wishing moms of fur-kids everywhere a very Happy Mother’s Day!  In light of the week’s events, we’ll let this oh-so-apropos video speak our hearts:

Related posts:

© 2011 Critter Consulting

Apr 3

We look forward to all things spring this year.  And we wish you and your pets lots of fun, sunny days!  Enjoy these tidbits of springy-goodness to get you off to a good start:

  • Flea & tick season is upon us, and it’s already a busy one!  Ask your vet about the latest & safest preventatives.  Be sure you use the correct, pet-specific product & dose.  Do not use over-the-counter products; buy them from your vet.  Read more – this could save your pets’ lives!
  • Avoiding tick bites (for humans) – a diagram from the CA Dept. of Public Health.
  • Easter safety tips from
  • “Spring’s here: Get out & play!” Visit our “evergreen” post from last spring.
  • There’s an app for that!’s fabulous list of plants (indoor & outdoor) that are safe for pets is now the “Pet Safe” app.  We love it because it’s portable, of course.  But now you can also identify plants by photo if you, like us, can’t name every plant in your yard.
  • Cute but smelly:  Keep your pets away from skunks!  Females den now thru May/June when the babies are born.  Cozy skunk cribs include under your deck or in your woodpile.   Block your pets’ access to both now.  Learn more about prevention & solutions if the worst happens to your dog or cat – ugh!  Visit our site for more wildlife how-to’s.  By the way – did you know skunks like peanut butter, too?  Watch!
  • Spring cleaning? Be pet friendlyhere’s how.
  • Early puppy & kitten training is the best way to enjoy the rest of the year with your pet.  We can help you start now!

A corny but comedic video-montage wish from us to you:   As you bid a fond farewell to playing in the snow, welcome spring with a happy song in your heart.  Go enjoy a romp in the sun with your pets!

© 2010 Critter Consulting

Mar 4

What do we have in common with our pets?  Our food supply is one and the same!  And, a quality diet is healthier – mentally & Dog and man with bonephysically.  (For our pets, that translates into fewer vet visits, longer lives & better behavior!)  That’s why we mix pet & human diet info in this post series.  Dig into this informative, fun smorgasbord of foodie news!


Articles & posts of interest

Tasty & safe

  • New FDA widget! A glimmer of hope from the FDA comes in the form of their new “Pet Health & Safety” widget, designed to update you on the latest news on pet food, including recalls.  Find it on our homepage:  Scroll to the bottom of our sidebar.  Check back often, as it self-updates!
  • We love Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” by Michael PollanRead or watch interviews with the author about his new, quick-read book on human food safety.  Follow his simple rules to easily choose healthy, natural (single-ingredient) foods over what Pollan calls “edible, food-like substances” (processed foods in the modern, Western diet).   Example:  Rule #2 from the book is “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  Good advice that applies to your pets, too!
  • Did you know this is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month? Odds are your pup knows!  Here’s a recipe for Peanut Butter Cups to help Fido celebrate, courtesy of  Dogs-with-thumbs will love’s Peanut Energy Bars.  Yum!
  • Easter safety for pets


Three of our favorite foodie flicks: Slow-motion dogs catching treats.  (A sweet video, but we don’t recommend Pedigree products.)  Joris eating dinner.  (Good for a belly laugh.)  And, in the spirit of spring & Easter, Baby bunny eats tiny flower.  (Kids will love this one!)

Information provided on this site is not a substitute for veterinary care. See your vet before you begin a complementary health care or exercise plan. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Center for Veterinary Medicine, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© 2010 Critter Consulting

Feb 13

Everyday should be Valentine’s Day:  Give a gift from the heart, and you’ll brighten someone’s day, as well as your own!  We listed a few ideas to get you started, along with some heartwarming heroics to watch….

  • Help others locally: Donate time, money or supplies to shelters & rescues.  Offer to walk or care for the pets of a neighbor-in-need.  Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, or foster a pet until it finds its forever-home.  (We can help your adoption or foster go smoothly.)
  • Help others globally: Donate to trustworthy organizations working in Haiti, as they continue to need funds.  Visit American Red Cross‘ site to aid the people of Haiti.  Read their blog for progress updates.  Or, join the ASPCA in supporting ARCH (Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti).  Stay updated via ASPCA’s ongoing field reports & slide shows on the animal relief efforts in Haiti.

Do what you can to make a difference in others’ lives, and it will be returned to you ten-fold.  Need more inspiration?  Watch these amazing animal rescue videos.  (Nail-biters, we know.  But they all have happy endings!)

  • “Baltic” the dog rescued from atop an ice floe 15 miles from land in the Baltic Sea.  Read & watch!
  • “Spikey” the dog rescued from the raging L.A. River.  Watch the rescue.  (Yes, Spikey was so terrified he bit the firefighter who rescued him, but everyone’s fine, and all is forgiven.  Watch the interview with the rescuers & the follow-up report.)
  • “Sky” the cat rescued by Kay Leclaire.  Sky’s one lucky kitten:  Kay just happens to a champion climber who scaled Mt. Everest @ age 60!  Read & watch.

Happy Valentine’s Day – every day!

© 2010 Critter Consulting

Oct 6

More foodie news for you & your pets, including the latest in pet food recalls & meat safety:Moment before the feast


Food source safety

  • Ditch those hard, plastic drinking bottles.  A new Harvard study says the plastic used leaches BPA.  While you’re @ it, switch Fluffy & Fido to stainless steel or heavy glass food/water bowls.  Avoid plastic or ceramic food bowls.
  • Understand how E.coli gets into ground beef, despite inspections & regulations.  Watch the video, “Tainted Meat“.  Read the accompanying article, “E.Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection”.  We recommend purchasing whole cuts of beef and having them ground for you @ the meat counter.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
  • Can you prevent E.Coli contamination @ home when you prep ground beef for cooking? explores this question in their video, “Hamburger Confidential“.  (Not recommended viewing for hypochondriacs!)

Fall fun!

  • Coffee cat stencils for the cat-loving, caffeine fiend in your life.  A nice way to warm up! 
  • It’s pumpkin time! We love “Pumpkin Pieces” Kong stuffing recipe from  “Combine some plain yogurt, canned pumpkin, and cooked rice in a small baggie.  Mix well inside the bag, then snip off a corner of the bag and squeeze it into the Kong toy.  Freeze.”  Yum!
  • Amy Shojai, CABC, recommends a canned pumpkin treat for cats that can also act as a home remedy for hairballs:  “Divide the pumpkin into tablespoon dollops in an ice cube tray, freeze, and thaw one dose as needed.”  (Cats love the flavor of pumpkin, but often don’t like to eat cold things.  So thaw the pumpkin to room temperature, no hotter.)
  • Pumpkin & bananas are good for humans, too.  Try this Low Fat Pumpkin Banana Bread from  Careful – If you add the chocolate chips, as one reader recommends, keep Fido out of the kitchen!

In case you missed it, we love the SNL short video, “Mostly Garbage Pet Food”.  (We also noticed the uncanny resemblance between the mock food bag in the video & a Pedigree food bag.  Enough said.)

Information provided on this site is not a substitute for veterinary care. See your vet before you begin a complementary health care or exercise plan. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Center for Veterinary Medicine, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© 2009 Critter Consulting

Jun 7

fathers-day2June’s a busy month!  Here’s what’s happening:

  • Happy Father’s Day! – We’ve got lots of great suggestions for celebrating Dad’s big day in our post from last year, as well our Mother’s Day 2009 post.
  • Circus in town – As animal lovers & positive, pet-friendly trainers, we’re saddened.  The Carson & Barnes traveling circus will be in Santa Rosa @ the Wells Fargo Center (6/8 – 6/9), then @ the Petaluma Fair Grounds (6/10-6/11).  In 1999 a videotape was released of a “training” session in which bullhooks & electric prods were used on elephants in this circus.  Folks will be protesting the treatment of elephants & other animals “trained” to perform in this circus.  Local animal welfare groups are speaking out & standing up.  Read the Press Democrat article and the SCHS’s info on the circus & how you can protest.  Want to know more about the emotional lives of elephants? Watch this touching video of the bond between Tarra the elephant & Bella the dog from the Elephant Sanctuary in TN.  And read “When Elephants Weep:  the Emotional Lives of Animals” by Masson & McCarthy.
  • Dog Bite Prevention week (5/17 – 5/23/09).  But we think every week is bite prevention week!  Listen to Dr. Bonnie Beaver discuss bite prevention techniques.  Read Andrea Arden’s article on the American Humane Association’s (AHA) new dog-bite prevention program for kids age 7 years & younger called:  “American Humane KIDS: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely”.  Visit the AHA’s store for teaching materials for the kids in your life.  Plus, we have lots of goodies on kids & pet safety on our reading list, including free materials to download!
  • June is “Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat” month because so many kittens are born in the spring & end up in shelters.   The American Humane Association (AHA) and the ASPCA both offer tips on adopting & reasons to adopt.  Check your local shelters for animals in need of a home.  And don’t hesitate to contact us.  We can help you consider:  characteristics to look for in your new pet; compatibility with your current pets; and how to introduce a new pet to resident pets.

Just for dad:  We found some cute videos of guys “exercising” with their pets (dog & cat!).  As always, we’re here to help you have a well-mannered family pet!

© 2009 CritterConsulting

May 31

Did you miss these? Animal-dog-tiger-cubrelated stories that caught our interest:

We’re happy jump start your summer reading. (And, if you find yourself tripping over Fluffy & Fido, as in the article above, contact us.  We’d love to help!)

© 2009 Critter Consulting

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