Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Patience with reactive dogs

Patience is the key which solves all problems. -Sudanese proverb

      This applies to all aspects of life , however I think we need to especially remember this when it comes to our animal friends. They have memories and fears just like we do. Sadly they do not understand English and we need to be patient. We need to particularly remember this when it comes to reactive dogs.
     What is a reactive dog?  Sara Reusche, CPDT-KA, CVT, ANWI  states, "Simply put, reactivity can be defined as an overreaction to external stimuli."  Personally living with a semi-reactive dog, I believe just like autism, it is not a disease, but just a handicap that we can work with. We do not turn our backs if a child is autistic or has learning disabilities. We find ways to make that light bulb come on over their heads and we don't set them up for failure . The same principles should be applied to our canine friends. We have to celebrate making it over the hurdles and celebrate the accomplishments, not punish their downfalls.
     In my case and in many others I have seen, reactive dogs are highly intelligent. It is so important to give those pets jobs, structure, and positive activities to celebrate that intelligence.
     There are many tools available for reactive dogs, and also for basic obedience for that matter. In my opinion, there should never be force,violence or hitting in training. Structure and positive reinforcement are the key.  One method that is highly effective in working with a dog, is to not free feed, but make your dog earn their dinner by watching  you , and performing basic obedience such as sit , stay , down, etc.  There are fun ways that will keep them thinking and earn  food. You can purchase puzzle and treat toys and hide their food around the house and teach them to "find".  Rally and agility are excellent activities that allow your dog to bond with you and teach them to pay attention and look to you with trust and joy for commands.

      Please make sure you take all proper precautions with a reactive dog, you want to protect your dog at all cost. If you know there are going to be small children or other dogs at an event and your dog is reactive to them , PLEASE DO NOT take your dog or take the proper precautions, such as bringing a kennel.
 Your dog would much rather feel safe in a kennel than to be thrown in a situation they cannot handle. Do not be afraid to be bold or even rude to protect your dog. If someone bends down to stick their face in my dog's face,  I have no problem telling them, "back off, he cannot handle that". When I teach kids bite prevention, I stick my face one inch from their nose and asking them if it makes them uncomfortable. We need to give dogs that personal space and not be afraid to tell others too. I suggest hanging a small sign on your door that says something like, "please be advised my dog needs space, please give it to him." You are your dogs voice and you need to speak for them.
     Some helpful tools to help you with your reactive dog are handouts and literature from Dr. Sophia Yin A gentle leader is a great tool to take a reactive dog into public. To make sure people are not rude and give your dog the space they need, I found a great snap on leash sleeve in bright yellow that says, "I need space". This reminds people to ask before they pet, so you can instruct them the polite way to approach a fearful or reactive dog. You can find these on this site
     I suggest contacting a kind, reputable trainer in your area that specializes in your problems. DON'T be afraid to ask for multiple references. If a trainer is rough, cruel, or in any way makes you uncomfortable, speak up for your dog and don't allow it. Force will only make matters worse and don't let any trainer convince you otherwise. There are so many positive activities now for reactive dogs. They can now even compete without being exposed to other dogs or people that they may fear in cyber rally and agility.
     If you are in West MI and want a trainer who specializes in reactive dogs and who can assist you with cyber competitions, I highly recommend Dog Blessed LLC. 616-430-0297.
Odin and I wish your pets a joyous stress free life.
 Please feel free to read the first chapter of my book and more articles at www. furryphilosophy.blogspot.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Paws and Remember the Magic of Christmas

Most of us remember the wise words from  Dr. Suess,
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more!"
"Well, in Whoville they say - that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!" 
     I believe, our pets often share the same message, gifts from the heart mean so much more; it is the laughs, homemade gifts , and the things you did to give back that will resonate the most in your memory. Our pets don't care the price of things, for them it's about the love and fun.
     There is something about Christmas that puts that sparkly fairy dust in the air. We bake ,we wrap, we want to give and make merry. 
      Odin,Raven and I would like to ask that you spare just a smidge of that magic in your heart and merriment and remember to give back in anyway that resonates with your heart.
    Giving back can be not only rewarding but fun. I really enjoy heading up charity pet photos with Santa. It is a evening of laughter, joy and giving back. You cannot help laugh at pets in their Christmas attire and feel their happiness as they know something good is happening. They enjoy getting special goodies thanks to our ever faithful and gracious hostess, Tonya from "Must Love Dogs Boutique and Spa".
     I recently interviewed a wonderful man, 'Grandpa Phil' who was one of the organizers of the first Iditarod. He now lives in Long Boat Key, Fl. and he protects the nests and aids  the  baby turtles to safety every year.  He is 88 years old and still running two miles a day on the beach. I asked him to share some of his secrets of longevity he would like to convey. He said, " If it ain't fun don't do it". He has spent his life enjoying it, but also giving back in ways that were fun for him. 
     Everyone has a talent. Aren't we put on this earth to share the gifts we are given? For example, I love photography and editing and tweaking photos. Every year I take and collect pet photos from others to collaborate a fundraiser calendar.  
       There are so many ways to give back. Follow your heart ,it will lead you. Do you have room in your home for a rescue? The love the can give is priceless. If you search, you can find the breed you are looking for from a rescue. If you can't rescue , please consider volunteering , donating or giving a small part of your heart. In return you will also feel your heart grow and fill up to the top just like that Grinch.

 This Holiday Season,Odin, Raven and I wish you joy, laughter , and unlimited treats for all the furkids. We also wish that all the homeless pets will find their fur-ever home and receive the love they deserve.

Below are suggestions on ways to give back this holiday season and always. Feel free to use my contact info below for more information on any of these:

* Best Pals animal Rescue charity calendar only $10 full of fun furry friends.
* Foster a pet for Christmas
*Volunteer with Heal with a Horse and be fortunate enough to spend time with those amazing creatures. The mission of Heal with a Horse is to enhance the quality of life of chronically ill and special needs children through equine assisted therapy. 
*Be fortunate enough to be in presence of rescued wolves, exotics, and other miscellaneous  rescues by volunteering at Howling Timbers Animal Sanctuary.
*Buy the perfect Christmas gift for animal lovers  of "Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone".  I feel it only fitting since I was given the  gift of memories from the animals to give back to them. $5 from every book sold is donated to the animals with love.  This month (and always on my list to chose from ) I will donate $5 to Best Pals Animal Rescue.
* If these don't resonate with you, remember your heart, it knows the way.   

  Read more Furry Philosophy in my book, “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.” It is available at or by emailing or calling 231-893-1227.  
Find more fun photos and updates by following me on Facebook  “Memory stones by Jodi” and “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Keeping your furry friend joyous and pain free

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."― Josh Billing
     A love that deep, deserves for us,our dog's caretakers, to do the very best we can by them. When we make the decision to be a caretaker for a pet, I believe we owe it to them to give them the best life they can.
     As I was walking through the woods today, hearing the acorns pop under my feet, and seeing Odin's white fluffy tail wagging in front of me, I thought about how thankful I was to have him romping ahead with joy, and not painfully from sore joints, as he has in the past.
     I would like to share some more ideas with you. Odin and I have found different techniques that have helped so  much on his aging stiff  joints, in hopes it can help your furry friend too.
      I few months back  I listed some items that have helped Odin so much. We continue to use these. I think sometimes the cure is not just one thing, but a combination of treatments, that help our friends. To see this list again please go to:
     After writing this article I read a piece by  Mary E. Haight from Dancing Dog Blog  that talked about Passive Range of Motion. I have added these stretches  to Odin's daily regimen and have to say I saw more improvement ! I searched for "how to" videos on passive range of motion and they were all similar. Here is a link that is quick, to the point, I'd like  to share:
     Even though I saw great improvement , I thought there had to be something I could do to help him even more. I continued to do research and spoke with contacts that raved about cold laser. I had to look further.
     This is a brief history and information on the subject:
 Mikaela Conely  stated " The cold laser therapy is a noninvasive procedure that uses light to stimulate cells and increase blood circulation. At the correct laser wavelength, pain signals are reduced and nerve sensitivity decreases. The procedure also releases endorphins, or natural painkillers, but it is not recommended for animals that have cancer because the device can stimulate blood flow to cancer cells." "The procedure is based on the idea that light is absorbed into the cells. The process, known as photo-biotherapy, stimulates protein synthesis and cell metabolism, which improves cell health and functionality."
     The American Chiropractic Association states, "Light in its various forms has been used for healing from the time of the ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations."
      Cold laser therapy is now being recognized as beneficial by many veterinarians and it is easy to find in most areas.
     If Odin needed something I would even sell plasma to make sure he received it. But I am also not rolling in dough, I always look for ways to save money. I looked at my options and found for our budget it would be most economical to purchase one and give him daily treatments at home. I found an affordable one called Tendlite Joint Home Therapy. It had very informative instructions and I also did more research on safety. Make sure you read the safety instructions. I found an important part of the body to avoid is the thyroid (throat area).

      I started this therapy on Odin, and MY joints, and found immediate, extreme relief and improvement for both of us . We give the cold laser a 4 paws up, 5 dog bone stars and cannot say enough good things about it !
     If you want to take this one step further I have also used the cold laser on acupressure points. A good reference book for this is, "Four Paws Five Directions" by Cheryl Schwartz. There are good clear charts in the middle of the book.
This is a page  from " Four Paws Five Directions" The BL 60 point is called the arthritis point. It  is a very beneficial point to rub and apply cold laser to.

     I now partner laser with  the passive range of motion and have special bonding time with Odin, that benefits him more than I can say.

Odin, and I wish your pet many fun walks, tail wags and a long, pain-free, joyous life.

Read more Furry Philosophy in my book  “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.” Available at or by emailing . If  you order directly through me you can choose from the list of my animal charities to have a portion of the proceeds to be donated. You can read the first chapter for free on my very first blog post:
Find more fun photos and updates by  following me on Facebook  “Memory stones by Jodi” and “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Be the voice for the animals!

“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”― Charles Darwin

Odin says, "Be the voice for the animals"

Definition of Vivisection viv·i·sec·tion-the practice of performing operations on live animals for the purpose of experimentation or scientific research

     It has always hurt my heart to think about this. Can animals feel pain?  YES. Did they sign up to be tortured this way? NO.  Is one life more valuable than another? NO.
Why does the human race think it is ok to  torture other species? Can you imagine committing no crime, and being locked up in a cage,and tortured until they eventually kill you?

     While reading one of my the best books ever written, in my opinion, "Dog 281" , it was reiterated to me, 'we can stop this insanity, we can make a change.' I am now reading "The Dog Who Spoke with Gods." It hurts my heart to read what can happen to  dogs in laboratories and how they can go insane from the pain. We are not Gods, as this poor dog believes, and we should NOT play God.

     There are alternatives , there are ways and we need to be the voice for the animals!
Information from NEAVS states, "Alternative scientific tests are often more reliable than animal tests. For example, experiments on rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, monkeys, and baboons revealed no link between glass fibers and cancer. Only after human studies related the two did the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) label these fibers as carcinogenic. The use of human tissue in toxicity testing is more accurate than the animal models.Non-animal tests are more cost-effective, practical, and expedient.. The traditional testing of chemicals using animals can take up to five years per substance and cost millions of dollars, while non-animal alternatives can test hundreds of chemicals in a week for a fraction of the cost."
     This is controversial, but what about testing on humans for human drugs? Test on humans that have committed horrific crimes and are already behind bars, instead of innocent creatures.
     One of my favorite books, by my hero Jane Goodall  states, "a great deal of animal research has been misleading and resulted either in the withholding of drugs, sometimes for years, that were subsequently found to be highly beneficial to humans, or to the release and use of drugs that, though harmless to animals, have actually contributed to human suffering and death.

     Amelia Kinkade's book  "The Language of Miracles" states when talking about animal activist Chris Derose from Last Chance for Animals going undercover in a laboratory that tested animals, "Chris had invited himself to take photographs and shoot video tape. His forbidden footage aired on CNN , allowing some viewers to actually identify their own animals on the news." "He was able to reunite some of the humans with their dogs. Other heartbroken people were only able to get collars and tags of their missing dogs." Amelia  Kinkade also informs us ,"one university in southern California was breaking the legs of animals and subjecting them to third degree burns with no anesthesia so that the students could face "realistic situations" during their final exam." "Other puppy lab 'research' has been funded by tobacco companies, whose researchers pump smoke into the dogs' lungs so that they can breathe nothing but smoke". All of this breaks my heart. We already know smoking is harmful. If humans want to do it, let them, but don't let the innocent suffer from our ignorance.
Did you know there was such a thing as people called bunchers? They either buy animals very cheap on craigslist (this is one of many reasons to NEVER advertise FREE to a good home) or they will actually steal dogs out of people's back yards. They then are sold to laboratories to never be seen again.
      I feel SeaWorld is just as torturous as laboratories. They only have  one thing in mind- making money. Animals are suffering more than we can imagine. Educate yourself and watch "Blackfish." Jane Goodall says "Sea World Needs To Be Immediately Shut Down" & "Dolphins are one of THE most intelligent animals on earth" - Sir David Attenborough
These amazing creatures are enslaved by SeaWorld for the whole of their lives. Never to swim free in the ocean, joyfully ride massive waves, eat fresh fish, live with their own kind. Instead they are forced by Sea World to work every single day to entertain humans until the end of their days."
     In my book "Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone"  I wrote, "Who are we to make that one life miserable? Please educate yourself and see how torturous circuses really are and please, refuse to support them. Watch” An Apology to Elephants’ on Please, see what goes on in factory farms and eat ethically. Please understand why wolf hunting is not the answer and how breaking up a pack can really cause imbalance. Please understand laboratory testing is VERY inaccurate and not necessary, only torturous. If we ALL say ENOUGH and act as friends to the animals who love and feel just as we do, these horrible people will be put out of business and this nonsense will have to stop! This is a dream of mine. TOGETHER we could make it a reality."

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

EFT and stress in pets

Odin got dressed up to share some new ideas with you 
"Handle every stressful situation like a dog: If you can't eat it or play with it...pee on it and walk away."  Author unknown
I feel this is great advice; however, there are hurdles we need to overcome, so this advice may need some tweaking.
      The past year, I was pleased to meet Scott Kennedy and allowed him to assist me with some hurdles. When we were chatting, we decided to experiment with trying these procedures with pets.
     Here is short blurb from Scott with a brief explanation of what I am talking about:
"Even though I have been using Emotional Freedom Techniques for 20 years, their power continues to amaze and fascinate me. EFT is a form of emotional acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments. These subtle energies have a profound effect on how our brains process physical and psychological issues. I have had wonderful results using a surrogate to balance the energy of people or/and infants that cannot communicate. This balancing allows their system to reprocess any conflict in the communication between the different hemispheres of the brain.  Resulting in being able to “let go” of negative issue or patterns.
Learning recently, with Jodi’s help, that the effects of EFT’s can be transferred to animals is extremely exciting!  Seeing behaviors, reactions, demeanors being changed in our animal friends with just a very basic and simple EFT is extremely encouraging.
 These early findings are very intriguing.  I am looking very forward to the opportunity to explore the use of EFT’s with animals much more."
Scott Kennedy CCH
Scott Kennedy is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist located Spring Lake, Michigan
Odin and Scott

     My dog Odin has some nervous issues. In previous writings I have stated, I believe it is not one thing that helps, but a combination of many things to treat the WHOLE body and MIND.
Previously I have tried DAP (Dog appeasing Pheromones), lavender and rescue remedy which all seemed to have helped my dog and cat in numerous ways.
     Now that I have met Scott and combined EFT, I can say my success has improved greatly.
These are some of the experiences I have documented:
     Odin came into Scott's office with me when we tried this exercise, the first time. It is so easy it just combines deep breathing with some light tapping with you being the surrogate for you dog.
Odin is very fearful, and if he is approached too fast, he panics, especially if someone comes out of nowhere. He also gets very jumpy when we drive on a rumble strip. After the appointment with Scott, someone walked in the door very quickly, and Odin acted like it was just fine, the same experience on the way home with the rumble strips. A few weeks later I was trying to get some tangles out of his fur, which he usually flails and protests very adamantly, this day was no different. I stopped grooming and perfumed some EFT, when I continued grooming I saw a measurable difference and calmness.
     In another instance I was giving my friend's dog Max a bath and he was panic stricken, shaking and cowering. I stopped and performed EFT and I was astounded at the dramatic effect. The shaking stopped and he calmed down. He did not LOVE the bath but the fear subsided so much!
     I have taken my kitty, Raven, in our motor home many times and after the first half hour she stops meowing and enjoys the rest of the trip. The pheromones seem to help a lot but when I incorporated the EFT the meowing lessened tremendously and she calmed down much quicker.
     Just recently a friend has been working with Scott. This dog, who is afraid of men, actually allowed Scott to touch him, which does not normally happen.
     We have only been experimenting with this for a short time, and I will keep documenting the progress. I did want to share with my readers the success we have had so far, in hopes to help other animals and also their owners. This method is amazing and I recommend it whole heartily.
     Odin, Raven and I give it four paws up!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Keeping Healthy and Active the Natural Way

"My face may be white but my heart is pure gold. There is no shame in growing old" ~E.H.G.

Odin staying active

     Although his face is always white, because he is a white dog, I unfortunately see other signs of aging in the love of my life, Odin J. He tires a bit faster than he used to and was getting sore when he played too long. I love him so much and hate to see him anything but joyous and happy.
     I do not take drugs to just mask pain and will not give them to Odin either. I believe that Mother Nature has a cure for what ails us. If we try to find and treat the cause, it is much more successful and healthier than masking the symptoms.
     I have tried many natural remedies, with success and failure. Every dog is different, just like we are. What may work for one, may not for another, but I would like to share some of my success stories with you. I hope your pet can benefit from some of these ideas. Remember, when trying a new product make sure you try one at a time and give it ninety days to be sure of the results. Do this to make sure you give the product enough time to build up in the system. This will allow you to know any adverse effects the product may have, even though it is natural. We can be allergic to grass and pollen, there is a slim chance your dog could be allergic to anything. You also want to do this to give the product time to repair. The damage takes time to happen to a body, it is only logical to allow time for the product to help repair the damage.
     You could opt for the instant fix and give pain killers such as Rimadyl. As a LAST resort this drug may help with pain, but it is not the cure all. I personally know of a dog that died after one week on this drug. Rimadyl had been known to cause GI bleeding and risk of liver toxicity. For a two sided view of this drug see: . I would only resort to this drug if you have exhausted all avenues and your option is either this drug or euthanasia. I want to state this is MY opinion based on research and personal experience.
    What are the other options? I have found in many cases, it is not one thing that helps, but a combination of many things to treat the WHOLE body. I am pleased to report that Odin is doing so much better and playing hard with my grand puppy Cash and all his other friends without being sore afterwards.
Odin and Cash resting after a day of play
     Odin is a 55 lb. dog; keep in mind you may have to adjust according to your dog's weight.
This is the regimen we have been using:
     ~ I cup of homemade bone broth which supplies the purest form of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Collegian. For the recipe see:
      ~ 4 oz. of raw goat’s milk. This not only will help the joints, but is one of the most amazing remedies for allergies I have ever experienced. It is amazing for digestion and is a pre and probiotic. If you have read about the canine flu, this is one of the best preventatives available. I cannot rave about this product enough. If you live in West MI you can purchase this product at "Must Love Dogs" in Grand Haven. You can purchase it frozen and keep a large supply handy in the freezer. If you don't live in West MI and want to find a supplier in your area go to:
       ~ Homemade tart cherry treats. Tart cherry juice is an anti-inflammatory. I personally make mine from pure pumpkin, coconut flour, coconut oil, flax meal and cinnamon. Read the dose for a human on the bottle and adjust to your dog's weight and multiply how many days of treats you plan to bake. You could add the tart cherry juice to any dog treat recipe but the coconut oil and flax meal are also great for joints. Just mix all ingredients to dough like consistency.
       ~500 mg of Ester C. This boosts the immune system and had been known to reduce swelling also.
       ~ Glycoflex 3 -2 x a day, that is a natural supplement for joints.

Odin and I wish your pet many fun walks, tail wags and a long, pain free, joyous life. 
 Side notes from the author:
After writing this article, I read a great blog by Mary E Haight that talked about Passive Range of Motion
I have added it to Odin's daily regimen and have to say I see more improvement ! I searched for "how to" videos and they were all similar. Here is a quick to the point one I found to share:

Also, Odin went swimming the day after they sprayed our lake with Diquat for weeds. Shortly after that he had severe stomach upset diarrhea. Coincidence?
Warning on Diquat  “Exposure to Diquat Dibromide can irritate the eyes, nose, and   throat and may cause  nosebleeds. * Exposure to  large amounts of Diquat Dibromide may cause severe poisoning with  nausea,  vomiting, diarrhea,  tremors,  convulsions, and even death.” 
I wanted to inform my readers that goats milk has helped heal his belly much quicker than normal GI upset in the past.
I am putting feelers for environmentally conscience individuals who may want to join an alliance to help educate ,and research alternative methods to his chemical and/or  college students looking for a project in this field in the West MI area.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nosey Dog

"The sense of smell in all dogs is their primary doorway to the world around them."
 ~Robert Crais

     Are you looking for a new activity for your dog? One that you can have fun playing and allowing your dog to just be a dog?  Are you looking for a sport for your reactive, fearful, or hyper dog? Look no further, NACSW K9 Nosework is a sport that is beneficial to every kind of dog. The NACSW was formed by three detection dog trainers in 2005. It has just recently gained popularity, and competitions are starting to pop up more and more. Whether you compete or just play this sport, it will bring out the best in your dog while bringing you closer with your best friend, more than any other sport you may have tried.
     You may be asking yourself, “How in the world does a sport achieve this?" The answer is simple, K9 nosework builds up the canine's confidence by allowing them to pay attention to their innate instincts and enjoy the thrill of the chase and independent hunting. K9 Nosework can help them come out of their shell in ways that will amaze you.
     Odin and I recently attended a seminar by Beth Bishop, which my UKC Muskegon Lakeshore Training and Obedience (MLOTC) offered. Odin absolutely loved this seminar and gives this sport four paws up! I think the reason Odin loved it so much is because this sport allows the dogs to train us, instead of us training them. It creates the expectation of the hunt, which dogs innately have. In the wild, dogs are born with the desire to find prey. This sport allows the dogs to abandon themselves to the hunt and forget that they may be surrounded by a room full of people. Odin is normally afraid of slippery floors and crowds and forgot all about them while playing this game.
Odin waits not so patiently for his turn to go find more treats in the boxes 

     I recall reading awhile back, if you compare a dogs olfactory system to a humans,  a human's would be the size of  a postage stamp size , whereas a dog's would be the size of  a football field. When we attended the seminar Beth reiterated that fact by stating, if you walked into someone's house and they had stew cooking on the stove, your senses would say, "mmmm smells like stew" whereas a dog's sense would say," I smell, 1 lb. round meat, 1/2 lb. of carrots, 1 stalk celery etc." A dog can also smell a scent that is 2 weeks old.
Rue above and Lilo below following their nose

     Now that you know why this sport is beneficial to the dog's natural instincts, let's touch on what the sport entails. The sport is introduced by  just playing with every day normal various sized boxes, which you pick just one or two to put extremely high value, strong smelling food (such as liverwurst, fish, etc.) into only a couple of the boxes. Make sure you use the same boxes for the treats, as the dog will smell them long after they are removed. You start out by just arranging an assortment of five to ten boxes, and just let the dog find the treats on their own with no direction from you. Beth explained to us we must keep up their motivation by making it easy. After this no longer becomes a challenge you can start making it harder by stacking boxes, turning them sideways and hiding in different parts of your house for about a month. The next step is moving the boxes outside, where there is whole new realm of smells for them to differentiate between. After this game is mastered, you can move to getting little tins such as altoids containers and punching holes in them with food in it, and start the game all over. Eventually different scents such as birch, anise, cloves and myrrh are incorporated on q-tips in containers, and you add the scents in the containers instead, and set food in box with container. Your final step is to just have them find the scent and give food as soon as they find the scent. There are many little details, which I do not mention here or this article would be a book. You can learn these details once you start researching or practicing this sport.
     Odin says, "Just like Toucan Sam used to say, 'Follow your nose, it always knows.' and let your dog join in the fun."
Casey and Bonnie (above) and Bella Rae (below ) enjoying the game.

      For information on this sport in Michigan contact Beth Bishop:  phone 517-641-7345, or email . If you live outside of Michigan feel free to check out this website
Read more Furry Philosophy in my book  “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.” Available at or by emailing or calling 231-893-1227.If  you order directly through me you can chose from the list of my animal charities to have a portion of the proceeds to be donated to. You can read the first chapter of my book and more articles  at www.
Find more fun photos and updates by
Facebook –ing  “Memory stones by Jodi” and “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Furry Philosophy from Our Brother Wolf

For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

     Wolves are an often misunderstood and feared creature. Actually, we can learn many things from observing the wolves’ nature. We especially learn lessons in camaraderie and the structure of the pack. Pack members cooperate extensively with one another. Wolves work together as a team in hunting, and raising the young but also enjoy fun and play. In Alaska a wolf caught in a trap was brought food by other members of its pack. There is not one attack on a human, from a healthy wolf, recorded in history. The tales of the big bad wolf are just that, tales.
     Howling Timbers, located in Muskegon, is Michigan’s foremost wolf and exotic animal sanctuary. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, and funded by donations and fundraisers.
     The owners of the sanctuary, Brenda and Jim Pearson, have dedicated their lives to caring and protecting this often misunderstood and feared creature. Their mission statement is “to provide life-long-sanctuary to wolves, wolf dogs and exotic animals that have been neglected, abused, abandoned or relinquished by their previous owner.” The sanctuary is currently home to: wolves, African Servals, cotimundis, kinkajous, chinchillas, horses, pigs, bearded lizard, bunnies, turtles, chickens, guineas and prairie dogs. 
Jim Pearson loves his wolves . Photo by Jill Wood

     As sad as it is for the wolves to be caged, it is necessary. They have been in a situation that they cannot be released to the wild. Brenda and Jim have made sure their enclosures are large and provide wolf like shelters and some of the wolves have made their own underground dens. The enclosure, for the most part, contains two wolves, so they have companionship without disagreement. They were forced into this pack and were not born into it. This arrangement works well. The wolves show their camaraderie even in captivity. They are in enclosures close to one another. At any given time, it is quite magical to hear them unite in their song, howling hauntingly. They grow to be attached to their mate and rely on them for companionship. Usually, if one passes away, another is introduced into the pen with them. Sadly I recall one instance, when one wolf passed away, its mate went into the den and died of a broken heart, confirming wolves do grieve and love.

     I have visited and supported this Sanctuary. I see the wonderful care and love these animals are given. I have looked into the eyes of those wolves and know there is magic there. My hope is that these animals are honored and not feared. I hope we can learn from their willingness to adapt and their camaraderie.
     If you are interested in volunteering at Howling Timbers please go to:
     More contact info: Phone 231-736-0018 email:
You can donate by adopting a wolf and get a certificate of adoption by emailing. You can shop at:
     If you order my book “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone” by emailing and put “Howling Timbers” in the subject bar I will donate $5 from each book.
     Items needed at the Sanctuary, to donate include:
     Shovels, plastic totes, clean milk jugs, used or new rubber back rugs, can tabs. Deer hunters, at hunting season, the wolves would love your scraps.

      As I tell our future leaders, that I work with, “One by one we can all make a difference.” 

If you live in the area we are having a family volunteer night May 21 2015 6-8 pm . Please comment for directions .

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Animals are Divine Messengers

  “Animals are divine messengers of miracles that go far beyond emotional comfort and practical assistance. Talk to those who have been transported to a heavenly place by the gentle purring of a kitten or whose broken hearts, burdened by worry and pain, have been mended by a dog licking their hand. They will tell you that animals connect them with the River of Life in ways poets imagine and mystics contemplate. They will tell you that their deepest and most sincere relationships with animals are spiritual partnerships.” ― Allen Anderson

Odin and Cheyenne, at the magical spot . They have the fall bows on so hunters didn't mistake them for deer.
     I feel extremely fortunate to be able to resonate with this belief. I believe in this fast paced world we live in, some people are not as fortunate to have experienced this or maybe I should say, some have not been able to take the time to pay attention to the animal messengers sent to us.
     In my book “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone” I told a story about an experience I had that emphasizes this point. It was about my dear dog Cheyenne who is now at the rainbow bridge:
‘When Cheyenne was still in this world, she, Odin and I would sometimes stop at one particular spot. I would let the dogs sit and I’d take their photo. It is a spot where nature made some pretty unique steps.  Not too long ago Odin and I stopped at that spot. When we do I always think of Cheyenne. I say to Odin, “Say hi to Chey Chey.”  On this particular day we stopped, and I said that. Right at that exact moment a huge bald eagle flew out right above my head with such a magical, swooping sound. I KNOW in my heart it was Cheyenne saying, “Yes I am with you.”’ 
      I KNOW in my heart this was Cheyenne; although others may say this is just a coincidence. I call it faith.
     Sadly, a few weeks ago, my dear dad went to the next world. It’s so hard to lose a parent. I miss him so much. Dad was sick for some time and I understand when people say it was a blessing. As much as you want them to not suffer anymore it is so hard to say goodbye. You try to think comforting thoughts. One thought that made me smile was that my Cheyenne and Kashmir, who loved their ‘Papa’ so much, would have him on the other side with them.
Dad loving his grand dogs on the boat
      My dad was quite a character. When he would stay at my house, he would wake up before all of us and sit out on the deck. We occasionally see bald eagles by our house. When we would get up dad would tell us jokingly “I saw an eagle on the birdfeeder this morning while you were sleeping.” We would laugh and say, “Right Dad.” Dad LOVED eagles, they were his favorite creature. When we talked every day, one of his favorite questions to ask was, “Have you seen the eagles lately?”

      The day after my dad passed, I was walking in the woods, thinking about my dad and trying to embed a permanent memory of his voice in my head. Whenever my dad would call me in the past and I was not home, being a creature of habit, he would leave the same exact message every time. It would say, “It’s your dad. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”  As I was walking in the woods, I heard that message, in my head in my dad’s voice, at that EXACT moment an eagle flew over my head and screeched.  To me that is a message Dad sent through this magnificent creature and I heard it loud and clear. I cannot believe how many eagles I saw that week. When I opened the patio door, one was right over head, and later that day four of them were playing right in front of my house, swooping back and forth. The other morning I was lying in bed watching, and watching the birds at the feeder when a hawk swooped down and hovered over the birdfeeder like it was going to land, and then it just took off. I thought to myself, “Very funny, Dad.”
Eagle pair on  "Big Blue Lake"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Find the magic in everyday

“Magic is where you find it; the only thing that matters is that you take the time to look for it.”
~Tom Ryan

 This time of year in Michigan is  muddy, slushy, and grey! Odin wanted me to share some joy and sunshine with you, with an excerpt from our book "Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone"

"When he sees a mud puddle he runs right into it, mouth wide open, slurping mud all the way. I can almost hear him saying, (to the tune of Dr. Seuss’ Green eggs and ham), “I like mud. I do I do. I like mud. How bout you?” The bigger the mud puddle the more excited he gets. When it is a really big mud puddle, you can hear him sing (to the tune of ‘I like big butts’), “I love mud and I cannot lie. No other doggies can deny, when you walk in with a muddy dirty chin, and dirt caked on your fur, you look hot. “
Needless to say if I see a mud puddle I’ll get Odin’s attention (to get him to avoid it), or put him on a leash. It is not my idea of a great time to be giving my white dog a bath every day. Often we do off-leash training. One day we saw a huge mud puddle, so I called Odin into a heel. We walked by the mud puddle and he stayed in a heel like the good boy he is. When we got to the end of the mud puddle I told Odin what a good boy he was and told him Yeaaaaaaaaa and gave him a treat. He danced around proud of what a good boy he was and I swear I could hear him say, “I was such a good boy. Let’s celebrate!” Then ran right back into the mud puddle, open mouthed and slinging mud every which way, in a grand celebration. OKAY….how can you get mad at that? Bath day it is.
On another occasion I was in the kitchen and I happened to catch something out of the corner of my eye and thought to myself, “Whose orange dog is in the yard?” The closer I looked I realized to my amazement that it was MY orange dog. He wasn’t just a little orange; he was bright, raging orange from head to the tip of his tail. I could not imagine what the heck he had done this time. Once I walked outside I realized it was bright, PUMPKIN orange. Odin had found the Halloween pumpkins we had put in the woods for the critters. It just so happened that the pumpkins turned to mush. He was so overjoyed he was running around doing the happy dance as if he was saying, “Look how handsome my new dye job is!” Needless to say it was another bath day for Odin.
As much as you may think the habit Odin has of getting into dirty mischief is an inconvenience you have to stop and ponder the happiness. When he does these things so joyfully it gets me thinking -Sometimes in life we become concerned with trivial things: what others think, how we look, keeping up on appearances. Maybe we should take this as a lesson to take the time to enjoy life while you can… even if it means getting a little dirt under the nails in the process. Try not to worry about what other people think; just do what brings you a little joy in life. Skip in the mud puddles while singing once in a while. Life is too short to worry about keeping up with the Jones’ or stress about the repercussions, aka the ‘baths’, which follow.
Odin reminds me to find the “magic” in every day"
Odin J. always looks so marshmellow fluffy after his baths 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Iditarod , a lesson for our future leaders.

Martin Buser's dog , Seattle photo courtesy of Happy Trails Kennel
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."- Unknown

      Who really won the Iditarod? I think Mr. Dallas Seavy would be a little upset by that question, but I mean no disrespect. I do take my hat off to Dallas for being the first to cross the finish line of the 2015 Iditarod.This is  his third time to do this, not to mention the youngest musher to ever to accomplish this feat. This is quite an amazing accomplishment and I give him my utmost respect.  What I mean by my  question of ‘who really won’ is that  I believe all who participated are winners, in my eyes. I give each and every one of them my utmost respect and admiration. This is an accomplishment of a lifetime that I admire more than words can say!
     Erin Montgomery, teacher on the trail, writes this when speaking about Iditarod musher Cindy Abbot, “students asked Cindy which is harder, climbing Everest or running the Iditarod. Her answer shocked the students. She told us that the Iditarod is much more difficult. Her reason is because in the Iditarod, not only are you caring for yourself, but you are responsible for the care of your 16 best friends.”
 Dallas Seavy Photo courtesy Alaskan Dispatch Loren Holmes

  I believe, just by participating in this, all 79 participants and especially the 65 that finished the 1049 miles of the Iditarod, deserve an award. This year they faced temperatures of -40 below, and such high winds that Wade Marrs, one of my very favorite mushers, lost the trail for a brief time. Can you imagine just being out there in the middle of nowhere, in a snow globe someone won’t stop shaking? As scary as that sounds, to me, I can feel the exhilaration and just imagine the wonderfulness of it all.
Friend of Wade Marrs, Ashley Perry, who had Turner's syndrome ,Marrs dedicates his miles to her and bringing awareness to the disease. Photo courtesy of Jeff  Schultz
      I think Dallas Seavvy explains what I feel on this matter so well, by what he expresses, at an interview, at a checkpoint, during the race. He is talking about his dogs, “We love the life style, every single day of it, every single run out here. We go through it together. You can’t race just to win, you gotta love it!” He reintegrates  his love for the race by stating, “Gotten to see some of the most amazing country in all the world by dog team and had success in racing while doing all that, I feel pretty blessed on that account.”
Artwork courtesy of the official Iditarod artist John Van Zyle

     Another reason I believe they are all winners is the way they treat their dogs and put them first. I admire the camaraderie so very much. The Iditarod is not only a race but a time to spend with your dogs. It is a time for our youth to see what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.
Martin Buser in Huslia , photo courtesy of Matthew Smith KNOM

     I believe most of the contenders in the Iditarod have wonderful morals and integrity. This year my favorite musher, Martin Buser, decided to not push his dogs too hard, he thought of the big picture  after spending time thinking on the trail. As he came into a checkpoint he states he saw a sign that read, “We teenagers look up to you.” Martin says, “It made me choke up alittle bit. Maybe the local teenagers might actually have some meaningful lessons learned by us old timey mushers. Maybe I touched somebody just by being me, by doing what I do.”  He also states, “That’s when you can really lead by example. That’s maybe when in the darkest moments you can make a difference. When somebody thinks about checking out, but they don’t. People can overcome, people can tough it out. If I make this race so important that I compromise my values, then I’m a loser. That’s what I don’t want to happen.”  Martin ended up placing 22nd this year. In my opinion, by putting his dogs first and knowing they were not up to being pushed hard this year, and deciding to just let them enjoy the ride with him, makes him also a WINNER!
     Yes, Mr. Dallas Seavey is the first to cross the line but what makes him a winner in my eyes, was when talking about his dogs he stated, “They trusted me and put everything on the line and got us their fast and I trusted them and gave em back more rest and I knew they’d give it back to me on the next run.”
     There is true love being shown for these dogs and you are always a winner when you spend time with your dogs.They always give you their all and a bond is formed that words cannot describe.
Fifth place musher Aliy Zirkle photo courtesy of SP Kennel

     Camaraderie , care for our dogs, feeding them first before you eat, being a good team mate, and having a goal and achieving it are wonderful lessons and  is what the Iditarod is all about . These ethics , in my opinion, are a lesson  worth sharing and most importantly, as Martin states, ‘leading by example.’
Martin Buser with a young fan , photo courtesy of Erin Montgomery

Friday, March 13, 2015

“The Iditarod, where nature crowns the champion”

photo courtesy of Chris McLennan
   “The Iditarod where nature crowns the champion” was heard by all from one of the telecasters at the 42nd annual Ceremonial Start of the 2015 Iditarod.  If you follow the Iditarod you know this is the truth! If you don’t, let me fill you in a little bit on my favorite and only sport I follow.
      A few years back I stared to read a little about the Iditarod and mushing. My friend Deb told me I had to meet her friend Janet, who was a teacher who had received a grant to teach the Iditarod as part of her class curriculum. I was invited to the class as a guest and met Janet’s fellow teacher and friend Kurt who also became involved. Kurt loved it so much he now has his own sled dog team. The rest is history; I have to say I actually became addicted in following the sport, reading about its history and learning all I could about it.
     I am a HUGE animal lover and advocate. If any animal gets the tiniest of scratch it upsets me, I am a big ol’ softie when it comes to animals and their welfare. That being said, I have had people say to me, “I don’t like the Iditarod, they whip the dogs.” and many other similar things. I have to say that if that were true, I would not follow this sport. Do these dogs look unhappy to you? If you read about the current Iditarod nothing could be further from the truth!
photo courtesy of USA Today

These dogs are bred for this and get so excited they can’t wait to run! There are very strict rules for the animal’s safety and these mushers love their dogs more than life. When you watch footage of the check points the mushers stop at, the start and finish line, these mushers acknowledge and show love to their dogs before they do anything else. I have heard of and seen more harshness at an obedience trial than I have ever read about on the Iditarod trail. Some mushers such as my favorite musher, Martin Buser, sleep outside with their dogs rather than seek shelter at the checkpoints. Martin has said, ““I eat beans and rice while my dogs eat steak and eggs.” They have no need to use harshness with the dogs, the dogs love it.
Martin Buser photo courtesy of David Dodman, Here Martin thanks his dogs before acknowledging the microphone
I dream of being out in that silent snow with just the sound of the dog’s feet padding on the snow, being away from all humans with just the company of your best furry friends. Some people say I am crazy, but the silent cold is my very favorite time of year, there is a magical quality about it. It is exhilarating and reminds you that you are alive!  My dog Odin feels the same way; we love being out in the winter together as one in the magic. The beauty and magestic-ness  I have seen in photos of the  Iditarod trail are breathtaking!
Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan

 That is the upside of this sport. The harshness of it is the man against nature factor. Mushers run into extreme weather, moose, flooding, you name it. It is a sport for only the most dedicated, conditioned and prepared. You are not just tossing a ball around. You must be ready and prepared for the most intense opponent, Mother Nature. That’s what I thinks makes this sport incredible to follow, there is no way to predict what will happen next, and it is a true adventure!!!!
I have read about 4 time winner, Susan Butcher fighting off a moose with an axe. In 2014 everyone thought Jeff King was going to win, and he almost did, until hurricane strength winds took a hold. Like all good mushers do, he took care of his dogs first. He ended up having to scratch and pull from the race.
 Susan Butcher photo courtesy of

 In this sport I see camaraderie and friendship, there will be no pulling off the gloves and throwing down here! The local people along the trail, donate , spectate and get quite involved. There is one town that makes dozens of pies. others that make hand made beaded awards for being first to their town. It is a grand time of fellowship also, almost like a parade.
The Mushers and their dogs are out there not just to win but for the love of the sport. As I stated in my book “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone”, “DeeDee Jonrowe, a wonderful, and kind Iditarod musher and animal advocate, states “Musher’s win in the manner they take care of their dogs, in the way they treat people in the villages, and how courteous they are to the volunteers .There are many ways to win in the Iditarod.” This year when  Martin Buser was interviewed he talked about how  he cannot compromise his values or beliefs to win his 5th Iditarod. He states, "I would rather sit in an unnamed lake and give the dogs the desired breaks that they deserve, and if it's 27th place, so be it and if it's 2nd or 1st so be it." This year another one of my favorite mushers is running for the awareness of Turner's syndrome, giving back and being a winner, just by being him. 
In the Yukon Quest, a similar race, last year Brent Sass was injured and Allen Moore, who was in first at the time went back to help him.
DeeDee Jonrowe photo courtesy of AP Photo/Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News

 Now if my over exuberance for the sport has gotten you intrigued then read on for some history and specifics of the race,  When you get as addicted as I am, you will be able to know what is happening.  I believe the history is part of the race’s charm!
Balto statue courtesy of Xen Xen

 In 1925 a diphtheria epidemic struck Nome, Alaska. It was the dead of the winter and the anti-serum to stop the epidemic needed to be quickly transported to Nome, No roads existed, air travel was too dangerous and all waterways were packed with ice. The Iditarod trail was the only solution. The serum was transported 674 miles from Nenana to Nome by a group of 18 dog teams and mushers. This is the well-known story of “Balto” who now has a statue erected in his name to honor him and all the sled dogs that saved many lives.

Joe Redington Sr and Dorothy Page worked very hard with others to get the first Iditarod going in 1973. It is now an annual event that has grown in leaps and bounds. The Iditarod is a race that is 1049 miles long. There are checkpoints the mushers must stop at along the way. There are also veterinarians at those points if any are needed. Also if there is an injury, or a dog just gets too tired , a musher may ‘drop’ a dog and that dog is brought to a warm place with volunteers to care and love the dogs until the race is over. The average distance between checkpoints is 60 miles.
The Red Lantern Award , photo courtesy of the Kaiser Racing Kennel
The Red Lantern award is given to the last musher to cross the finish line. A lantern known as the
Widow’s lantern is lighted at the finish line at Nome at the same time the mushers start the race. It is sort of an Olympic torch that once the last musher crossed the line, it is his job to extinguish it.  It is known as a guiding light, to the teams on the Iditarod trail and also a signal to the people of Nome that there are teams on the trail.
Mushers do not carry all their food on the sled. There is a however a list of necessities that must be on their sled and there is a long checklist. 18 of the checkpoints are “food drops” where mushers have their carefully packaged and labeled supplies delivered to.
When the race starts not all mushers leave at the same time. How is this fair? They use the “Common Start Differential Rule” to equalize the times in the middle of the race. During the race at one of the checkpoints  all teams except for the last to start team must be delayed the exact amount of time of each particular  team’s head start by staying at that checkpoint that amount of time.
Each dog team consists of as many as 16 dogs. The minimum number they may start with is 12.They must have at least 6 to finish the race, if they have “dropped” any dogs along the way.
All dogs are treated with great care and if the weather is extreme or the trail rough they wear their special booties.

Martin Buser with dogs with booties photo courtesy of

I hope I have peaked your interest. If you start to follow this race,  I am certain you will become as intrigued and addicted as I am! 
photo drawn by John Van Zyle the official artist of the Iditarod

To follow this race and /or get a paid membership check out Iditarod .com.The race always starts the first Saturday in March and lasts about 8-10 days.The live videos will take your breath away!
You can also follow the Yukon quest for free at Yukon

Some suggested reading about the Iditarod, mushing, and sled dogs are:

~Dogman: Chronicles of an Iditarod Champion by Martin Buser
~Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail by Ellen M. Dolan (this is great book for all ages, and has a lot of history and Iditarod basics)
~Any and all books by Pam Flower, a great adventurer and musher.  Her books are geared towards our youth but I enjoyed quite a few also. Her stories are amazing and her lessons for our youth are incredible.  I Tespecially enjoyed, “Alone Across the Arctic”
~A good adult fiction read is “An Echo through the Snow “by Andrea Thalasinos
~Another good one for our youth and adults is “Rivers: The Diary of a Blind Alaskan Racing Sled Dog”
~Iditarod Dreams: A Year in the life of an Alaskan Sled Dog Racer by DeeDee Jonrowe

This is a sport that definitely portrays the quote “It’s not how you win or lose it is how you play the game.” In this author’s opinion it is the most intense, exhilarating game of them all!

Till next time
Mush on!
Odin and Jodi

Odin J.  and I spending time out  during our favorite season