Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I see the light

Odin did a trick performance to the  Disney song "Friend like me" 

Passage from "Bones Would Rain from the Sky" by Suzanne Clothier
I need look no further than a dog's eyes to find the precise moment when my connection to that dog shifted away from clear and free agreement between us. Did my approach to the dog create resistance, fear,  distrust or pain, dimming the clear trusting light in his eyes? Then I had to find a better way. I began to evaluate all methods, philosophies, and techniques, against this simple standard: the light in a dog's eyes."

This book is highly acclaimed by one of my heroes, Jane Goodall.  I recommend it my whole heart. It will  open your eyes to how a dog thinks.

I am so happy to do my part in the world to help make that light shine and not tear it down.
Dogs can do amazing things that need to celebrated without force.
In this book, Suzanne describes a seminar where she took an action such as 'sit in a chair' and asks students to describe it to another student using a word that is a fruit. You cannot perform the action yourself, you are only allowed to use the word. No matter how enthusiastically you say that word it doesn't mean your partner is going to understand what you're talking about.
I believe this can really open your eyes to how your dog can perceive the first time you introduce a behavior. No matter how many times you say, "sit" it does not mean that that word has any meaning until you find a kind way to communicate. Classmates don't appreciate you screaming, "orange" as you grab their arm and set them in a chair in frustration.
My partner Paula and I, help our clients at Dog Blessed LLC train some dogs how to share their wonderful knowledge and gifts. We  have been helping to show them how to pick up items, and other useful behaviors to become service dogs.
We also have been teaching some dogs to track a young boy who is autistic and has been known to run away often.
I cannot tell you how much working with these dogs in a positive manner makes our hearts happy.
Paula shares the same ethics with dogs that I do. It makes us happy to see the bond grow as these clients work with their dogs and to see the joy in the dogs when they realize what is being asked. Dogs give us this gift and ask for nothing in return (well maybe a couple of treats).
Not all methods enhance relationships, many years ago I experienced a teacher use a shock collar over and over and over again, trying to get the dog to pick up an item. I left the class in tears.
Suzanne also uses a very appropriate analogy about you can get someone to to do what you want by waving cash in front of their face. You could also get them to do it by waving a gun in front of their face. The results would be the same, but personally I would choose the positive method. To see that light in a dog's eyes is what I strive for!
 My dog Odin and two of Paula's dogs recently received their Trick Dog Performance Titles. When we were doing videos together of our dog's accomplishments, we just had fun and if we made a mistake we just try it again and laugh about it. I can honestly say I had a great time. I believe our dogs did too. If you watch these videos you can see the joy in their eyes:
Pepper's trick performance was done  to song "Little Red Wagon"

When dogs 'WANT' to do what we're asking of them, it's because we are not forcing them. Every trick you see we shaped into something fun and we practiced with joy, not dread of the practice.
Every night before dinner Odin and I practice tricks, rally, dancing, finding an article of mine that I hide for him or whatever we're in the mood for. You should see him bounce like a puppy at 13 years of age when it's dinner fun time. I see his light!

Keep connected on Facebook: Memory Stones by Jodi, Furry Philosophy, Camp Kylee, Odin J.s Earthly Treasures, Dog Blessed LLC Also

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Remembering the true meaning of the Iditarod

"Most important is that you are out there with your 12, 16, 20 best friends—the dogs." ~Susan Butcher

Wade Marrs and Ashley Perry
Photo credit Kim Perry

Iditarod 2018. 

Before the Opening Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod I was rushing. As I was  hopping out of the shower,  I received a surprise video call.  I  could NOT miss this as it was from my friend Kim Perry, who was at the Opening Ceremonies with her family supporting Wade and other friends.  I met my favorite musher, Wade Marrs for a brief second and saw the ceremonial start  via facebook chat live in a towel, oh yes in a towel, who can say that?  Thank goodness you could pretty much just see my wet head and not the towel. I am so thankful to my friend Kim, it was so exciting to feel like I was actually there, the energy was amazing. 

"Perry" Musher Wade Marrs' dog named after his friends, the Perry family
Photo credit Ashley Perry

A Little Iditarod History
Grandpa Seavy and Ashley Perry
Photo credit Kim Perry

In 1925, a daring sled dog relay through Alaska in the middle of winter delivered life-saving medicine to the citizens in Nome. Children were dying from diphtheria. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is to commemorate this event.

Joe Redington organized the long-distance Iditarod Race. He wanted to save the sled dog culture and Alaskan huskies, which were being phased out of existence due to the introduction of snowmobiles in Alaska.  He also wanted to ensure the preservation of the historical Iditarod Trail between Seward and Nome. Dorothy Page became the editor of an Iditarod Annual.  She opened the world’s eyes to the Iditarod.

It seems that politics, and various people who are against the Iditarod or are corrupt are tarnishing what this race was intended to be. I believe this year’s race, more than any other, Joe Reddington's mission for this event and Susan Butcher's quote, "you are out there with your best friends", needs to be celebrated and held close at heart.

If you happen to know me, or ask any of my friends you would know that I am a huge animal lover. It takes me 1/2 hour to prepare my dog and cat's food. I cry if I see a hair harmed on any animal. I am a softie.

I practice positive training and feel it is our responsibility to be the voice for the animals that cannot speak for themselves. I believe in every aspect of life there are those that value life as precious. There are sadly those that do no respect that life as precious. I will be the first to call someone out on the latter.

I have been to an dog obedience trial and witnessed first hand a woman scruff and scold a dog, call it stupid, cover their cage up as a punishment when a dog missed a sit in a competition ring. This, is my eyes is cruel. My partner who I teach dog training with, have shirts that say, "Happiness does not come from points and Q's(denoting qualifying runs), but from playing the game with the dog you love". Having FUN with your best friend is what it's all about!

I believe this should be true in all aspects of life. We need to enjoy the adventure, not just keep our eye on the prize.

In every sport and everything in life there are going to be cruel, unethical people. It is a sad fact. However, I believe that you should not persecute the obedience trials, but the individual who makes poor judgment, just as you shouldn't persecute a pen for writing evil words. I believe, you should, of course report abuse, and try to stop it at all costs. However don't protest or persecute the sport of those who truly love the adventure with their dogs.

I believe Mother Theresa conveys a message. She said, "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”  Let's celebrate the good and give that our energy! I hope we can remember Joe Redintion's vision, and celebrate the sled dog. 

These dogs were bred to run. They enjoy it, they live for it. Labs were bred to be in the field all day. Humans created these breeds. In working with dogs, I see huskies and labs that are not able to do what they were bred to do and they find sometimes naughty, destructive ways to release that energy that was bred into them. They want to be active, they need to run and do what they were institutionally meant to do. Watch a dog in front of sled and tell me you can't see them smiling and howling with glee.

If anyone in the race is abusing this privilege, shame on them, just as shame on those who don't enjoy the game of agility, or any dog sport and are just in it to win, and scold the dog for trying. I believe that anyone who abuses the precious life of any animal should be punished, but let us not punish all for the deed of one.

I have followed this sport for some time now. The more I know about these mushers, from interviews and friends that have been to the kennels, the more I know the majority of these people love their dogs as family. I see them actually cooking for them. They are not just dumping dry dog food into a dish. They enjoy the time spent with their dogs, being one with nature and their best friends. 

This year they are going back to the true form of an adventure. Planes were unable to reach Eagle Island as a scheduled checkpoint to pick up food due to weather. Musher's must carry more and go slower to accommodate weight and weather. No more groomed trails, back to nature and the basics.
Ashley Perry drawing Wade Marr's bib number at Musher's banquet

So many mushers use their platforms to get their message of well deserved causes out in the community. Wade Marrs, an ethical,admirable musher, has gone above and beyond to help his friend Ashley Perry, who is affected by this syndrome,share the message of Turner's Syndrome awareness. Ashley Perry is a true hero in every sense of the word.Find out more about Ashley and her Shelter Reading program go to :

This year, Scott Jansen,"Mushing Moritcian" , is declaring it his last year to race. He wants to spend time spreading the word of the importance of keeping the race alive and help it to grow. Hugh Neff promotes literacy and the importance of learning and can be seen in the Cat in the Hat's red and white striped hat. 

Ashely Perry with musher Aily Zirkle
Photo credit Kim Perry
Most mushers appreciate the real things in life, the true solitude of being one with your team in the great outdoors. I have never seen such love in one's eyes as you can see in Aily Zirkle's for her dogs. In this year's race, Aily stated at a check point, that her dogs were healthy and well, but lacked "zip". She stayed upbeat and happy, saying, "I am not going to rally them up for 9 days straight, and nag them. That doesn't sound fun to me. So we decided to do what we do. We'll place where we place, we'll get to Nome and we'll have a party.

Jessie Royer, who came in with fifth last year, with all 16 healthy dogs, can't wait to be away from the commotion and craves being on the trail alone with her dogs or at home riding her horse in solitude. For her also it is about the experience. 

Who will win this year's Iditarod? At the time of this article, is yet to be seen. In my eyes, everyone that treats their dogs with love and respect are winners. Those that exude the message of determination and becoming one with nature, are also winners.

Cheers and Race on!

Ceremonial Start Iditarod 2018
Photo credit Kim Perry

To help support Wade Marrs and bringing awareness to Turner's Syndrome you can go to:

To help support the Iditarod and keep the dream alive and see footage from the race, GPS tracker , Ceremonial Start, Finish and more go to Iditarod Insider There is so much money needed to keep this race alive. They need to pay veterinarians to assure the safety of all dogs, pay for plane transportation to drop food off at different locations throughout the race.  Little things add up and it costs over a few million dollars in operating costs to keep it running.

Read more Iditarod articles and other furry philosophy's messages at

Sunday, March 4, 2018

West MI Spay and Neuter, a true gift in our community

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. ~Pablo Picasso

West MI Spay and Neuter wonderful staff

To do what you love by helping others at the same time is a true gift.

Recently, a good friend's sweet dog, my dog Odin's good buddy, Roxy, came to stay with me for a week. I took her to the West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic. They are a non-profit, low-cost spay and neuter clinic. When I visited the clinic I observed a group of individuals who have huge hearts. I found that meaning of life by giving back with all that they are.

 West MI Spay and Neuter's mission statement is to: "significantly reduce the number of unwanted and homeless dogs and cats by providing the public with high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services in a non-profit setting."


 I felt compelled to share with my readers a little more about this group. I was so impressed with how extremely kind they were to the pets, how efficiently that have things set up so everyone gets ALL the information, instructions and care they need.  I was also impressed with the cleanliness, and all around care.

 Everything was run so smoothly. You were checked in and given the option of paying for a rabies vaccine at a low cost price also to be given to your pet if they needed it. We were then sent to our vehicles to wait to be called, one at a time, to bring in your pet. It was a very good way to allow you to sit with your pet, waiting comfortably without a zoo of dogs in one waiting room.

 It was very quick and efficient.  They were very kind to Roxy when it was her turn, she went with them, tail a wagging, as they talked very sweetly to her. We were given an exact pick up time to get after care instructions. At pick up time, everyone congregated in a room where you were given very specific after care instructions all at once. I thought to myself, "What a great way to give the best care and serve the most people in a time effective way." You were given an opportunity to purchase a cone (of shame) in your pet's size at a discounted price, to prevent the pet from licking open the wound. They had a size to fit every animal perfectly.  We had the opportunity to ask any questions and were given a 24 hour, after care emergency number just in case.
Odin keeping an eye on his buddy Roxy after surgery

This was not a cold clinic, quite the contrary.  This is a caring place with a wonderful staff. They really care. Roxy wasn't even mad at me when I picked her up, and the staff was very kind when they brought her out to me also. Roxy and I say, "4 PAWS UP", except Roxy says, "The cone of shame is not her favorite." She kept grabbing a toy and it would just sit on the edge of the cone, putting a very confused look on her face. She healed up nicely with no complications at all.

Thank you West MI Spay and Neuter for being such a wonderful asset to this community! 

To see how you can help or donate please go to or you may also donate by sending a check to:

West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic Inc.
6130 Airline Rd.
Fruitport, MI 49415

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Canine Rally, a fun sport for you and your best friend

"Play creates laughter, joy, and a feeling of inner peace. It is almost impossible to stay stuck, angry or frustrated when you are playing"~ Marriane St. Claire

When training with dogs I believe it is important to keep it FUN and positive. This will ensure you have a dog who wants to please,and trusts you because you have become a TEAM. If you chose to train in a harsher manner, you may get results and have a dog that obeys you but only because it fears you. Personally, I would rather have a bond based on mutual trust.
I believe canine rally helps to promote this kind of bond.
Victoria Stillwell, Dog trainer, Television presenter, and Author supports this sport and states , "Rally encourages human/ canine verbal communication, eye contact and teamwork."
I have mentioned in previous articles my dog, Odin, has some fears that have caused him in the past to over react when he is afraid.However, that being said with bonding techniques and fun training he has learned to trust me to keep him safe and is much more at ease. He still has his fears but I know not to set him up for failure, and give him a safe retreat when he feels threatened. We have learned to redirect those fears in a way that allows him to live a happy fulfilled life and still participate in fun events.
One of his favorite fun sports is canine rally. I believe practicing this is a huge factor in Odin learning to focus on me, resulting in strengthening his trust.
Rally helps to keep your dog focused on you when in a distracting environment. A dog learns to stay in heal position on/and or off leash through a series of stations, that may consist of cones, jumps, sits, turns, and more. Rally is set up as a course of designated stations with the dog in heel position. The course consists of 10 to 20 signs that instruct you what to do. Unlike traditional obedience, handlers are allowed to encourage their dogs during the course, stay animated and have fun. The signs may have words, symbols or arrows on them instructing you what to do. A sign can vary from something as simple as a sit and stay while you walk around them, the next sign may tell you to weave in between the cones with your dog in heal position. The next sign may send dog over jump and then come back to heal position. When I am performing each sign, I tell Odin to watch me and use a combination of verbal and hand cues to encourage what I want him to do next. I stay happy, bouncy and make it a game. He prances like a horse skipping for joy when it is time to practice. This has encouraged him to look to me for guidance in other situations.
I never intended on competing in rally. I just practiced it to assist with training, but Odin had so much fun,I thought, 'why not?' We don't compete a lot but I am proud to say my rescue dog has earned himself quite a lot of blue ribbons and titles, when we do.

There are trials in most areas put on by UKC, AKC and more. Recently we have offered our students at Dog Blessed LLC. a fun course that we video record them doing. We then download it and give them a link so they can send it into Cyber rally to be judged and earn titles cyber-ly.
This is a great opportunity without travel. It is also a great opportunity for dogs that have a fears and /.or are reactive, to compete in a non- stressful situation.
Odin and I give rally a 4 paws up. If you would like to  see videos and more about rally feel free to  go to Dog Blessed LLC's facebook. If you are in West MI and would like to  attend a rally class, that we also combo with AKC trick classes please contact Dog Blessed LLC.
Rally is just one of many fun games available to play with your dog. Remember to find your inner child, be joyful and create a special bond when playing whatever game you chose.

Keep connected on Facebook: Memory Stones by Jodi, Furry Philosophy, Camp Kylee, Odin J.s Earthly Treasures, Dog Blessed LLC Also

Saturday, December 30, 2017

You are what you eat, Canine Nutrition with Paula Smith

Paula Smith and Kylee

"You are what you eat."

A phrase often used by grandma, that rings true for all of us, especially our pets.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian and an animal advocate.  I admire her very much.

In a interview I recently watched she explains why nutrition is so important for our pets, stating, "Dog and cats are naked, they don't wear shoes or socks. Their environmental burden is much heavier."  Toxins are absorbed into their system through the feet and unclothed skin.
Dr. Karen states, "As long as a pet is cellularly well nourished detoxification mechanisms kick in and they are able to kick out some of those toxins out." When a pet is not given the proper nutrition that is when toxins build up and cause disease.  Sadly what we may think is good food for our pets may not be. Most dry pet food is processed in a manner that depletes it of the nutrients our pets need and even sadder creates known carcinogens.

How can we keep our pets properly nourished? Educate yourself, on how to incorporate fresh foods and clean unprocessed whole foods in the proper balance. When my 7 year old dog Cheyenne was diagnosed with pancreatitis I started an independent study on nutrition, which thankfully allowed her to live to 15 years old.

My good friend Paula Smith is also studying nutrition, and I am thankful that she is sharing her experiences and knowledge with us.

Reluctant Journey into Canine Nutrition
by Paula Smith

Paula with Kylee Pepper and Eli bottom right 
Kylee is a beautiful active border collie that I adopted 8 years ago and is estimated to be about 10 years old. She changed my life when I adopted her because like a typical border collie, she is incredibly smart and more high strung than my golden retriever I was blessed with previously.

This spring my life with dogs changed again.  It started when I noticed a lump on Kylee’s belly that looked and felt like just another fatty tumor. This summer when my vet aspirated that new lump and said she didn’t like what she saw in the cells. So while shedding a few tears, I scheduled Kylee to have that lump (and two others) removed.
A week later, my vet called to tell me that the new lump was a Mast Cell Tumor. A what? This was cancer. The good news is that they were able to get it all. Nothing else could be done except to be diligent and watch for new lumps.

I began to learn everything I could about Mast Cell Tumors.
We lead a crazy life style, so (like many) I was perfectly happy to be able to scoop little pellets out of a bag that can be on the shelf for over a year into my three beloved companions’ food dishes twice a day. (…and I ran through a fast food drive through for myself!) It was good quality and expensive kibble, so I thought it must be good for them. But once I started researching how to help a body fight off cancer I quickly learned that the kibble had to go. By its nature it is very processed, dry, and full of carbohydrates that the body turns into sugar.  (Sugar is apparently cancer food and helps the tumors grow.)

Once I was over the shock of the cancer diagnosis and able to talk about it, I reached out to friends that studied the affects of food on their dogs’ bodies. The biggest thing I learned is that good, quality foods, helps dogs maintain optimum health.  To prevent and fight cancer, we can boost the immune system through food and natural supplements.

With the help of many friends that I have made through dog sports and rescue work, they helped me channel my feeling of helplessness into a feeling that we can fight this cancer!   
This journey has just started for me, but I hope it not only makes me a better dog guardian, but helps be take better care of my own body and those I love…human and canine. I am not a doctor, just a dog lover who wanted to share what I recently learned with as many people as I can.  Each day we can only do what we can afford in time and money to do for ourselves and best friends. If you would like to learn more about canine nutrition, I suggest reading Canine Nutrigenomics by W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Diana R. Laverdure

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. ~Brian Tracy

OH the greatest gift of all.... UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! I have received this gift from my "greatest gift" that I rescued, my dog Odin J. He returned the favor by rescuing me!

When I think of the words "unconditional love" I know animals have much to teach us on this subject. Odin has so much to teach me on this subject.

Have I or any of us, humans actually ever given true unconditional love?
Can any of us TRULY say you have loved unconditionally?  If you can say you have never said in anger, or silently in your head," I hate you", then I admire you.  You are an enlightened zen master and I have as much to learn from you as I do from our furry friends.

I feel these angels with fur are here as "Teachers and Healers" and "Guides for the Soul" as one of my favorite authors, Susan Chernak McElroy, so appropriately describes them.
Have you ever seen your pet actually show hate? I love analogy  that asks,  if you lock a man and your dog in a trunk of a car for 5 hours, when you open it up, who will be the only one happy to see you?  The dog, of course, will be wagging, his tail happy to see you!

Odin is my greatest gift of all, but I was prepared for another dog to care for. I was committed to keep him in my home for the rest of HIS life. If a pet  has fears we should be prepared to help them learn how to cope and not turn them into a shelter for someone else to deal with. When you take in a new pet I believe they are a family member and not disposable. When you bring them home, please be ready for commitment.  There are more pets, that are Christmas puppy or kitten gifts, surrendered to shelters six months after Christmas than any other time of year. During the holidays, I always feel obligated to send out a gentle reminder. Please remember that cute snuggly Christmas puppy you are tempted to give your kids or your grandma, will be a grown dog soon with puppy energy that your kids will forget to take out or grandma can't handle, six months later.

Now that I have written the obligatory disclaimer my heart insists I write, I can get to the good part. When you are ready, and prepared for an approximately 10-17 year commitment, there is no greater reward as the love of a pet.

I want to express my gratitude for my soul dog on his Thirteenth Year on this earth. I could not ask for a better gift this holiday season, or EVER!   I don't know his exact birthday, but we celebrate it November 2nd, All Saints Day. The older he gets the more I want to celebrate and appreciate our time together. I strive to make little things special for him. This year he celebrated with a few of his best furry and his two legged people friends. There were five dogs and they had a real birthday party. It included party hats, which were hard getting them all on at the same time for ONE PICTURE!!! There were dog toys for everyone. And finally what is a birthday without a birthday cake? It was a homemade heart shaped apple doggie cake with peanut butter and yogurt frosting. It was a great tail waggin time.

"Saving that one dog (one cat or one horse) will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever." We make a Christmas wish that all the homeless pets and those in shelters will have their world changed for the better. We hope they find their perfect fur-ever home and never feel lonely again.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday, from Odin J., Raven Roo (kitty) and myself. We hope it is full of furry unconditional love, the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017