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Maggie is terrified of the vet!


Unwelcome behavior and fear.


Dog tales

What are unwanted and undesired behavior in your canine friend. Well, obviously there are many. Barking at the mailman, inappropriate welcoming of strangers at the door, mania when you are trying to leave your home for work in the morning, digging up the garden, and countless other things. Many times, people are so frustrated that they end up relinquishing their friend to a shelter, or even being extricated from their homes, either apartment or home rentals. This does not have to be the case but may require knowledgeable help. Obviously, this is unwelcome behavior.

There is another kind of undesired behavior that is often even more disturbing. Fearful things can be difficult for owners because people do not want their beloved dog to be so disturbed. Fear can also become something even more disturbing than salivating and shivering, Dogs can become “fear biters”. Fear can make an animal submissive and having a lack of control, lash out and bite. Surely not wanted.

Things like fear of thunderstorms will probably not advance to biting, but it is disturbing to us.

Maggie was a seven-year-old German Shepherd who was terrified of the vet, the clinic, and the parking lot in front of the hospital. Taking her in just for check-ups and shots was an ordeal. She would salivate and shiver uncontrollably
Unfortunately, she began having problems with her back. After x-rays and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, it was determined that she would require disk surgery. Bridget did two very dramatic things that, though well intentioned, were the exact wrong things to do.

What an anticipated ordeal that was going to be! There would be pre-surgery blood tests, the day of surgery, suture removal, and countless sessions of physical therapy. Maggie was certainly Bridget’s world and she was very concerned about tormenting her special girl continuously.

I asked Bridget, “how do you feel the day you have to take her in?” She told me that she absolutely hated it and certainly never looked forward to it. She always nurtured Maggie and stroked her trying to make her feel safe and loved, willing her to be calm. She whispered to her and gave her yummy treats wishing to relax her. Bridget was so worried and nervous for her that she was almost shaking herself.

First, the most important thing you need to understand about your canine friend is that you transmit your emotions directly to your dog. If you want Felix to come to you, he is more likely to come to you if you are happy and welcoming. Try to understand how Felix thinks and sees the world. Observe his behavior when you are happy and when you are sad.

And also learn how they think.

Dogs are quite empathic creatures and they know when you are happy and when you are sad. Charlene(my Rottie), and Devin(my Min Pin) got me through my 20s when I was generally clinically depressed. There were mornings that I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed if I did not have to take them for a long walk. What could possibly be better than happily going to the lake for a swim? They really do know exactly how you feel.

So how was Bridget feeling the morning that she took Maggie to the vet? She was anxious, on edge, regretful, anticipating, and even fearful knowing exactly how her girl would react. Woah! Hold the phone! How many more powerful negative emotions could one possibly be transmitting to another soul. Even humans, though not as evolved, share and spread their emotions to those around them. Maggie didn’t stand a chance of being calm or peaceful.

The second wrong thing that she did was reward her for being afraid. The thing that dogs most crave, is attention. The more she stroked her and gave her treats, and whispered softly and endearingly to her, the more attention Maggie received. She was enabling, even rewarding her bad or unwelcome behavior.

I counseled Bridget to go to bed the night before anticipating that she would be receiving a soothing and a well-deserved facial in the morning. We are allowed to lie to ourselves, if it makes us happy. Then when you get ready to leave, be excited because Maggie really loves going for a ride. I told her that when she got to the parking lot of the hospital, she should leash her, as always, and then head out across the parking lot, not in the direction of the door. Let her walk calmly around the building with you and then confidently open the door.

Anticipate that everything will be fine. It is, after all, just a very pleasant facial.

Well, eureka! Bridget did actually follow my advise. Maggie entered the clinic and immediately made very good friends with the very happy front desk person, who rewarded Maggie with a treat. From that point on, it was always happy sailing. There are no more problems.

Have you ever had a problem with your dog being afraid of something? Let's talk about it!

Tip of the dog’s tale

Do you love going to the lake? How about fireworks, or outdoor fairs or shopping malls?

You would love to take Lucy but are absolutely sure it would be an ordeal.

Obedience classes are always helpful, but are you are not able to take on that commitment.? If you wish to actually have fun with your fur-kid, it is essential to have some measure of control You can actually do that by teaching her some simple manners.

Get her attention focused on you. Start with

Then, it is imperative that she learns to walk with you in a civilized manner.

These simple things are designed to gain her rapt attention at all times.

Now it is important to get her used to a vast number of very different environments and locations. Desensitization, as it is also known. Don’t start out with an amusement park, but advance incrementally. I will give future lessons on how to distract her from that very interesting and colorful clown, the popcorn vendor, or that little Poodle. But first, you need to work on maintaining her rapt attention at home.

Soon, you will simply have fun, for all, and it won’t even be an ordeal.

If you have any questions about a strange behavior quirk, any tales to tell,  or any funny stories, please leave in comments or send me an I do just mean about dogs or cats!

Cat tales

I need some help. Having always been a "dog" person, and only having had a great deal of experience with cats in just the past few years. I would love to know what it is that people particularly love about their favorite breed of cat.

Margaret just this past week asked me to help her find a Himalayan. She knew that I had "Heemi-girl", a foster kitty in my custody. Read "Tip of the cat's tale" in She absolutely adores Himmies and had lost one. I asked her what she loved about them. She said, "Himalayans are called "purrs" - and because they are purrers.  They don't stop.   They are lap cats, and sweet as honey.
What else can I say?  Besides that, they are pretty, I love their faces and markings."

I can absolutely testify that "Heemi-girl" was all that, and more.

Which breed do you adore, and why? I  would really love to know! Please tell us in comments or email me at