Posts by Laura Reeves

255 — Lost Dog Found: Tips for Success in Emergency | Pure Dog Talk

Lost dog found

Today host Laura Reeves visits with Allison Foley of Leading Edge Dog Show Academy about some of the important steps to quickly and successfully find a lost dog.

The following is a partial reprint of Laura’s As the Wheels Turn column originally published in September 2015 for the online magazine Best in Show Daily. Many of us have lived this nightmare. Here are tips on how you can be prepared in case of emergency.

Lost Dog Story

Ours is a story to which every single dog lover can relate. Either you have lost a dog or you live in perpetual fear of the day it happens to you.

TiMI, the light of my life and last year’s #1 GWP, had gone to visit my friend and Spinone client in Carson City, NV in early August to get ready for the fall hunt tests. Since her husband had run TiMI for the first two legs of his JH this spring, it made perfect sense for him to go back there to finish up his title while I was busy running around the country showing dogs.

Stacey took TiMI out every weekend to refresh his training and ran him off the quad four miles a day to get him in condition for the hunt tests and the coming GWP national. I talked to Stacey Friday night and she was pumped. They were ready for the big double-double hunt test the next morning (two tests a day for two days).

Saturday morning, before the crack of dawn, in the excitement and confusion of getting ready for a weeklong elk hunting trip, Stacy’s husband let their young Spinone, Adele, and TiMI out and forgot to put on their invisible fence collars.

What WERE they thinking?

We can only guess from there, but I would assume the doggie conversation went something like this:

Adele: Hey, TiMI, guess what, the Mister spaced our zippy collars..

TiMI: Dude, how bout we go check out that bad rabbit down at the end of the driveway. I bet we can catch him today

Adele: Right on big guy Lets hustle before they holler at us

(Trot, trot, trot. ZING off goes the bunny, but today, instead of jigging right, he jigs left Two hunting dogs in hot pursuit in the wee dark hours of the pre-dawn, skirting yards and sleeping barns, off to the northeast)

Pant, pant, pant.

Adele: Whoa, that bunny was sure fast this morning.

TiMI: Wait, whats that? Hmmm. <Sniff, sniff> Something smells good up here Lets go check it out for a minute.

Adele: Well OK, but were going to get in trouble

TiMI: Yeah, yeah, this smells like a foxy lady just waiting for some company

Adele: You are such a BOY. (doggie sigh)

(Trot, trot, trot OOOOOOPS! Out of the gloom rise a half-dozen scraggly, doggy looking animals. Coyotes, including a female ready to breed, and her mate)

TiMI: Adele, we are in big trouble. You stay behind me and Ill try to scare them away

Adele: whimper.

TiMI: (Standing as big and tough as he can) RAWR

(Coyotes charge.)

TiMI: Discretion is the better part of valor, girl! RUN!!!

(Dogs run, coyotes chase into the mists)

That sinking feeling

Meanwhile, Stacy steps outside to load the dogs at 5:30 a.m. and finds nothing. She calls and calls. Then comes that sinking feeling in your stomach that leaves your ears ringing and bile at the back of your throat.

Stacey searched for several hours Saturday morning by herself, driving and calling and whistling. She contacted me in Oregon once it became obvious that the dogs were not going to reappear.

Critical first steps

From that point forward, the machine went into overdrive. Since I was a six hour drive away, I was the communication center, media center and public information center. I threw together a lost dog flyer from an existing template in my word processing program and emailed it to Stacey, who had it printed and posted around the neighborhood within an hour. As the deputy emergency manager of her county, Stacey has better than average resources. All of which were put to use with contacts and flyer distribution to all relevant authorities, animal shelters, vet clinics and more.

I shared the flyer on social media, Craigslist, lost dog sites, local television and radio sites and more. I know for a fact a half-dozen other people across the country with no actual connection to the dogs other than seeing the original post on Facebook were also sharing the information everywhere they could.

By Saturday afternoon, a dozen people were searching, in jeeps, on quads, in trucks and on foot in all of the expected places the dogs would normally have gone. Unfortunately, they had gone totally the opposite direction.

Home Again flyers with microchip information were faxed, animal communicators were contacted, tracking dog groups specializing in lost pets were called.

Late Saturday night with zero sightings, zero notifications, the dogs appeared to have disappeared into thin air. I made the decision to drive down to Carson City the next day.

Dog gone…

I didn’t sleep much that night, just kept muttering to myself, checking Craigslist, hunkered down in my chair on the deck.

I left Sunday morning planning to borrow a horse to search areas the vehicles couldn’t go. Within an hour of my asking on Facebook for a horse, I had a friend, who was visiting England, able to use her connections to have a woman call me on my cel offering to drive her horse three hours to give me a mount for the search. I had a text from another friend with the names of every field trial person in town and their phone numbers. I heard later another friend had a horse lined up and ready to go.

Good news?

About three hours into my drive, I received a text that they had a sighting.

“Matt” was a young man out skeet shooting in a deserted area northeast of town. He’d driven past two “good looking” dogs just lying under a big shade tree and wondered where their owners were. When he came back the same way, in search of more fuel and water, he noticed one of the dogs (TiMI) had moved and was lying in the middle of the road, causing him to have to go around off-road.

It is one of mankind’s great endeavors, to anthropomorphize our animals sufficiently to understand their thinking. Did they go toward the sounds of shotguns, and skeet shooting, as safe and familiar and hopeful? Did TiMI watch that truck drive by and intentionally try to “flag down” the human? We can’t know, but I am willing to believe both to be true.

When “Matt” got to town, he happened to glance at the huge poster plastered on a pole at the corner of 5th and Carson River Road. Something must have caught his eye, because he stopped, saw the pictures, remembered the dogs lying in the middle of the road, and called the contact number.

Stacey, frantically trying to understand his information and directions on a bad cel connection, finally arranged that searchers would meet him and follow him back to where he’d seen the dogs.

When she told him the reward noted on the poster was his if the dogs were there, his comment was, I dont need a reward for doing the right thing. Needless to say, he got the reward anyway.

The first searchers to arrive at the site were known to Adele, but not TiMI. She was slowly going toward them when TiMI came up and put his head over her shoulders in a clearly protective stance. Fortunately, the rescuers were calm and quiet and gentle and were able to leash both dogs until Stacey could arrive for a joyous reunion.

By the time I arrived in Carson City Sunday afternoon, the dogs were home safe and remarkably unharmed.

The power of social media is such that we had hundreds, and I mean close to 1,000, shares from people, friends and strangers, all over the country.

What we learned

From Stacey:

  • I would call for help earlier. I was by myself so I couldn’t stay at home and be out looking for the dogs.
  • I would have moved faster and started searching earlier. I kept thinking they’d walk up, so I wasted 15 minutes.
  • I would go in a complete circle, ranging out. I didn’t search the direction they went initially.

From a communications standpoint, my first flyer did not have a good enough picture of TiMI. I wanted non-show photos which still showed face and body markings. Having candid file photos of all dogs is something I’m adding to my list of musts. I learned that Home Again will not fax a flyer which offers a reward, so had to remake the flyer for them. TiMI is microchipped, but in my disjointed thinking, I couldn’t for the life of me remember where the number was. I wound up calling to get it from my vet. Making sure microchip information is centrally located with each dog’s registration and other data is another “must” adjustment.

There are great websites available with outstanding “lost dog” protocols. What we learned is that even experienced, comparatively tough cookies such as ourselves can be reduced to the barest of coherence when a dearly loved companion goes walkabout. Being prepared and organized *before* the dreaded event happens will reduce confusion and response time, increasing the chances for a happy ending to the “adventure.”

254 – Purebred Dogs Get Their Own Super Hero Movie | Pure Dog Talk

Purebred Dogs Get Their Own Super Hero Movie

Super Power Dogs producer Daniel Ferguson, with host Laura Reeves.

Host Laura Reeves, live at the AKC National Championship brought to you by Royal Canin, visits with Daniel Ferguson, producer of the new super hero IMAX film — Super Power Dogs.

An exciting joint effort with corporate sponsors including Mars Pet Care and Wisdom Panel, Super Power Dogs is a story about the heroic achievements of dogs, Ferguson said.

“This movie is like the doggie avengers,” Ferguson said. “If features five breeds with different, specific abilities.”

Ferguson said he wanted sort of a “James Bond opening” to the movie. The opening scene of an avalanche shows Henry, the Border Collie, danging from a helicopter on the way to the rescue. Henry is actually the movie’s narrator, Ferguson noted. “It’s the voice of Dog.”

An eclectic background in film gives Ferguson perspective and creativity for the project.

Ferguson has produced, written and directed films for National Geographic Studios, the National Wildlife Federation, History TV, Smithsonian Networks, France Television and Discovery Channel. His IMAX®/giant screen credits include Lost Worlds: Life in the Balance, Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France, Journey to Mecca and Jerusalem. His most recent film is the feature documentary, Last of the Elephant Men.

“Cat” Labrada, Halo and Ferguson at the AKC National Championship in Orlando.

“You’re talking about an IMAX film, the screen is multiple stories tall,” Ferguson said. “The screen holds so much promise, you have to do it right. Getting the science right is important. There are so many stories to tell of dogs involved in helping people.”

Halo, a Dutch Shepherd, handled by Fire Captain ‘Cat’ Labrada of Miami Dade County, Florida is the “star” of the movie. The film crew followed Halo and Cat for three years as they developed the bonds they’d need for the emergency work they do.

Joining Henry and Halo are, Reef, a Newfoundland lifeguard with the Italian coastguard; Ricochet, a Californian surf legend helping people with special needs; and, the Bloodhound brothers, Tipper & Tony, who are leading the fight to save endangered species in Africa.

Super Power Dogs is set to debut at IMAX theaters around the country this spring. Check local listings for more details.




253 — Winter Workouts with the Big Moose… Keep Your Dog Fit in January | Pure Dog Talk

Winter workouts: Keep your dog fit in January

Kristin Sandstede, certified canine conditioning coach.

Kristin Sandstede, certified canine conditioning coach, says winter workouts featuring mental stimulation will help keep your dogs sane during dreary weather.

Sandstede offers concrete projects you can do to have dogs use their brains, when it is rainy, gray, cold or nasty, without having to brave the winter elements outdoors.

Scavenger hunt for dinner

Snuffle mats like this one allow owners to hide a dogs entire meal in a “game” that makes them earn their supper.

Meal time offers lots of ways to multitask for brain time, Sandstede said. Meal puzzle toys make the dog work for food, she noted. The Boggle ball and buster cube are two options Sandstede recommends. These toys force the dog to push them around to get food. The toys makes a lot of noise, Sandstede said. The upside is she can hear where the dog is in the kitchen and know she is safely occupied.

Sandstede said shaping behavior is a great tool, but it requires more patience than even she has on a regular basis. She uses it for very specific behaviors, including the retrieve. Perhaps fetching the Kleenex box? All of the games and jobs activate the problem solving part of the dogs’ brains, Sandstede said, so they spend less time in the reactionary part of their brains.

Lazy dog trainer workouts

Streeeetch…. Sandstede says, strengthen the core…

A competitive triathlete, Sandstede insists she is a “lazy” dog trainer and has a million lazy winter workouts to exercise your dog.

One of her favorite options is the “101 uses for cardboard boxes.” Sandstede suggests saving all the cardboard boxes from the holidays, tossing a few kibbles in each one and asking your dog to search for their dinner.

She also incorporates stretching exercises into her routine, using what’s in the house… step stools, couches, cushions, etc.

“We all need to strengthen our core,” Sandstede said. “People and dogs. It helps prevent injury with low impact exercise.”

For more information, check out:

“Kristin Sandstede has been teaching obedience since 1998.  Kristin spent 15 years working in the pet care industry, 2 of those years as a Veterinary Assistant.  She has a very good understanding of not only dog handling, body language, & behavior but she has a medical background as well.  Since 2002 Kristin has designed and taught such classes as:  Puppy Kindergarten, Basic Obedience, JV Puppy, Intermediate Obedience, Rally 4 Fun, Advanced Games, as well as developing and customizing behavior modification protocols for individual trainers ranging in topics from new puppy manners to dog-dog aggression.

Kristin is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for the American Kennel Club, which not only allows her to perform Canine Good Citizen testing, but also allows her students who have dog less than one year of age, no matter the breed, who participate in her basic obedience class to be automatically be eligible for the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program.  Kristin is certified through the Certified Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), an internationally recognized certification program for pet dog trainers, as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).    To achieve and maintain this designation she met and exceeded stringent criteria that include experience, education, testing, business practices, code of ethics and references from each of the following:  a client, veterinarian, & dog trainer.  Ongoing pre-approved continuing education is required to re-certify every 3 years. Kristin was a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA )from November of 2005 until December of 2011 re-certified fall of 2014, she is currently one of seven CPDT-KA in the state of Nebraska.

Her goal as a trainer is to help her clients shape their dogs to fit into their individual lifestyles & bond as a family unit, as well as educate owners to maximize their ability not only “hear” what their dogs are telling them but also to be able to provide the best environment they can to have happy, healthy, long-living dogs as members of their family.

Kristin has entered her dogs in AKC:  Agility, Competitive Obedience, & Rally-O.  Her English Setter currently has a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification, and her German Wirehaired Pointer has 2 of 3 legs towards both Companion Dog (CD) & Rally Novice (RN) Obedience titles.  She has volunteered with her local 4H club helping 4H kids prepare their dogs for 4H Agility.  And in her spare time competes in sprint triathlons.”

252 — Jackie and Terry Stacy on the Affenpinscher, Breeding & Mentoring | Pure Dog Talk

Jackie and Terry Stacy on the Affenpinscher, Breeding and Mentoring

Terry Stacy, master breeder and master of many roles in purebred dogs.

Jackie and Terry Stacy, of Tamarin Affenpinscher fame, bring a lifetime of experience to the sport.

Terry started as a teenager and finished his first Cocker Spaniel in 1955. His career spans the breadth and depth of roles available to purebred dog enthusiasts. From professional handler to superintendent; from AKC vice president, to the head of breeder services for the Mars Corporation, to well-known judge, Terry has literally done it all.

Jackie & Lucy

Jackie Stacy winning the national specialty with Ch. Yarrow’s Lucy in the Sky, the top winning bitch in breed history

Today, Jackie is an all-breeds judge. Twenty years ago, she successfully showed their original Affenpinscher, acquired from Beth Sweigart, to multiple Best in Show awards and a national specialty win.

Monkey Dogs

Often called the monkey dogs for their inquisitive and mischievous expression, Affenpinschers hail from Germany and are believed to date back to the 1600s, Terry said. The Stacys praised the foresight of a breed standard which allows the dogs to be cropped and docked, or shown “natural.” Their very successful foundation bitch, they said, helped lead the transition to more dogs being shown uncropped/docked.

The “shaggy but neat” outline of the Affenpinscher is a challenge to create and maintain, Jackie said. The coat doesn’t grow quickly and it’s easy to get carried away with pulling coat and be left with not enough furnishings.

Breeding for the Future

Breeding within a family of dogs, the Stacys said, while using judicious “phenotype” outcrosses to create the dog or bitch they want to have carry the program forward has been their secret to success.

Health testing, they noted, is imperative, as is maintaining proper temperament. Jackie’s sister is the president of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and Terry sits on the Board of Directors, so this is a front and center issue for both of them.

Stay Involved

As active, popular judges, Jackie said that she argues in favor of them “staying involved” in the sport with breeding and exhibiting dogs.

“It keeps you grounded,” Jackie said. “I think it makes us better judges because we know firsthand what it takes to get a dog on the ground and in the ring.”

Mentoring new and dedicated owners is a prospect the Stacys enjoy, as well as offering private mentoring to aspiring judges.

Listen to the podcast to hear more from a couple with decades invested in the sport.

251 – Trainer Suzanne Clothier on Relationship Building with Your Dog | Pure Dog Talk

Suzanne Clothier Talks Relationship Building

Suzanne Clothier has developed a training and assessment system built entirely around relationship building with our dogs.

“Animals have been my whole life,” Clother said. “It’s a lifelong passion, that has informed a fascinating journey.”

Clothier’s seminal book, Bones Would Rain from the Sky, was published in 1998. Her warm, down to earth, compassionate nature shines through as she shares her journey and what she’s learned.

Relationship building

“If you have a trusting relationship,” Clothier said, “it’s then about what you enjoy doing together.”

Training show dogs is a skill like any other, Clothier noted. She added that not all dogs have “the Sandra Dee gene” that makes them enjoy being the center of attention.

“We’re like crazy stage moms,” Clothier said, “asking our dogs to be on stage.” For dogs who train well at home but don’t give us the performance we’re expecting at a show, “It’s like singing in the shower,” she noted, “It’s not the same as auditioning for The Voice.”

Clothier’s goal is to evaluate all interactions with a dog through the prism of “How does this affect the relationship with me and the animal.”

Tools for the job

Her training goals are to stay humane, fair, loving and respectful, Clothier said.  She has developed tools for trainers to help diagnose both handlers and dogs.

Her Relationship Assessment Tool helps clarify “which end of the leash is contributing to the problem,” Clothier said. “What do I need to fix. And where’s the good stuff. What can we build on.”

She’s also created an ap, to be released this month, that enables owners, handlers and caretakers to literally track exactly how a dog is feeling on a given day. This Functional Assessment Tracking program provides feedback using the dog’s behavior, activity, food intake etc to determine, literally, “how are you today.”

For more information, visit:

250 – Veterinary Voice: Prostate Problems, Prevention and Solutions | Pure Dog Talk

Prostate Problems, Prevention and Solutions

Dr. Marty Greer gives us the low down on male dog prostate and reproductive issues. Additional discussion on emergency semen collection, dogs whose semen doesn’t extend well and more.

“This is an area that is often misunderstood by the general practitioner vet,” Greer said.


Symptoms of a prostatic complication include blood in the urine or ejaculate, straining to pass stool, blood dripping from the penis, Greer added.


Prostate cancer, benign prostatic hypertrophy, prostatitis are the most common complications. Dogs over five years old are the most commonly affected.

Greer advises that neutering is not absolutely necessary for dogs with non-cancerous prostate disease.

Dogs with a prostate infection are very sick, typically run a fever and clearly don’t feel well, Greer said.

Prostatic cancer manifests in two different forms. Which type the dog has needs to be confirmed with a biopsy.

“Both kinds of prostate cancer are quite serious,” Greer said. “Counterintuitively, it is almost always a neutered dog that has these cancers.”


Benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate) is a hormonal disease, Greer noted. Dogs don’t need antibiotics, neutering isn’t required. The condition can be successfully treated with hormone therapy.

“Neutering will cure BPH and prostatitis. However, it is very difficult to breed neutered male dogs, unless they have had semen frozen. The best time to freeze semen is when a dog is between 2 and 5 years of age. The dog should be healthy and producing great quality semen. It will cost you a lot less money to freeze a canine’s semen when he is young. If he later turns out to have a disorder that you don’t want in your breeding program, you can either wait until a DNA test is conducted to determine how you can use him in your breeding program or discard the semen.” — Dr. Marty Greer

249 — Elliott Weiss, AKCNC BIS judge, on “Pleasing his Eye” | Pure Dog Talk

Elliott Weiss is Looking for the Dog that Makes the Picture

Elliott Weiss, BIS judge for the 2018 AKCNC.

In 1956, Elliott Weiss attended his very first dog show, Westminster Kennel Club, as part of an art class project.

Weiss spent 24 years as a top professional handler from 1969 through 1993. Among his big accomplishments, he handled the Irish Setter, Ch. Meadowlark’s Anticipation, to a Sporting Group win at Westminster in 1984. He started judging in 1994 and has judged all over the world. A native New Yorker, he now lives in Eagle, Idaho. His initial breed was Cocker Spaniels.

Make the Picture

“I want to please my eye,” Weiss said. “The first thing I’m looking for is a picture. I have a picture in my mind of every breed I judge.”

Weiss also noted that too many people bait the dog in such a way that their hands are in the way of the judge seeing the dog’s expression.

Amateur vs Professional

The Owner Handler-Professional Handler battle is nothing new, Weiss observed, it has been a big thing forever. “If you look back, there are always top winning owner handlers. The cream always comes to the top,” he said. “I think of Walter Goodman, Pat Craige (Trotter)… Sunny Shay.”

Mentor the Future

“I think we don’t do enough for junior handlers,” Weiss said. “We need to teach them conformation, have them join clubs, offer Junior workshops. I think we should start thinking how we can increase the sport in 5-10 years, not tomorrow.”

That ONE Dog

After 60 plus years in the sport, the dog who stands out, to this day, in Weiss’ mind is George Alston’s English Foxhound, Winslow (Ch Mr Stewar’s Cheshire Winslow, hound group winner in 1984). “I watched this dog walk into the ring and I froze. I put down my brush and just looked at him. Everything flowed into the next piece.”

Watch Weiss judge Best in Show at the nation’s largest dog show on national television. AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin will be broadcast New Year’s Day, at 6 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet.

Learn more:

248 – LIVE: Laura on Breed Specific Presentation Featuring Sighthounds | Pure Dog Talk

Commonalities and Differences in Sighthounds

LIVE seminar hosted by the Saluki Club of Greater San Francisco

Live from the Harvest Moon Cluster, your host Laura Reeves talks sighthounds. The seminar was sponsored by the Saluki Club of Greater San Francisco. Watch and listen to the entire seminar here.

Temperament and showmanship are part of breed type. Our job as handlers is to showcase our breed’s character and personality accurately, not make our Wolfhound show like a Doberman. For breeds with less “flash” that might be overlooked in group competition, it is incumbent on us as handlers to provide an engaging, effortless back drop.

Pretty Hands

Our hands tell a story in the show ring. How and where we place our hands on the dog is part of the presentation. Sighthounds specifically call for soft, quiet, elegant hands. Holding the collar, placing the feet, should be done gracefully. Quietly drawing the judge’s eye to our dog’s finest features while using our hands as a “frame,” we actually can “talk with our hands” and subtly communicate with the judge.

Dog handling in general is best done when we are judicious and smooth with our hands. The unique nature of sighthounds means than keeping your hands on the dog at all times will help steady the dog and allow him to be balanced on his own feet.

While showcasing our dogs involves a bit of “sleight of hand” in terms of maintaining emphasis on the good and not the faults, Laura shares her 1-2-3-4-5 hand stacking method as a refresher course. Hear more in depth discussion on this topic in episode 2, “How to Stack Your Dog” or in our new audio book, debuting in January.

Give Your Dog What it Needs: Confidence and Focus

All dogs take their cues from us as the handlers. Sighthounds are particularly in tune with their people and draw their confidence from us. Be sure you are relaxed and enjoying spending time with your dog for your best result.

Moving Gracefully – Float with Your Dog

Drive from the hip and a gradual and collected acceleration are keys to showing the judge your dog’s best movement. Don’t let your dog look like “an octopus on speed” by following these suggestions. More discussion in episode 3 and in the audio book.

Ears and Tails

Each of the sighthounds, and really all dogs, have a correct ear and tail carriage to “make the picture” for the judge. Learn how to work with your dog’s attitude to get the best results.

247 — Christmas Dinner with Dogs and Why it Matters | Pure Dog Talk

Christmas Dinner and How that Applies to Dog Shows

Now that most of us are home for a couple blessed weekends, we can all, even the most diehard of competitors, relax, restore, rest and recharge. The Christmas and New Year’s holidays give us a chance to take stock of the year past and plan for the one upcoming.

Christmas and Thanksgiving are my very favorite holidays of the year. To me it is all about the food and the family and friends who become family. Which, of course, includes our dogs, usually a plethora of them underfoot while cooking and eating. We exchange a few small gifts at Christmas, but mostly we hang out and eat good food.

JUST like dog shows, the profusion of cable cooking shows, and dog shows, have turned chefs and dog handlers into celebrities, but the reality is, ANYONE can do this!!! Just to give you encouragement in this area, I’ll give you a brief tour of my own “cooking history.” I have many friends and family who are trained professional chefs. I, on the other hand, learned at the school of “well, hell, the dog won’t eat it either”….

It’s not WHAT’s under the tree that counts, it’s WHO’s under the tree that truly matters.

Growing up in Southern Oregon in the ’70s and ’80s in a one-earner household of four, meant Mom had to be very creative in her food budget. I was raised on home-cooking, home-canning, wild game and garden produce. Chicken, from the store, was a special treat. Lamb chops were a once a year birthday dinner. Mom and Gramma were the cooks. I was shooed out of the kitchen.

Milk came from a friend down the road in gallon glass jars with three inches of heavy cream on top. My kitchen skill was to “skim the cream” from the milk using my tin baby cup. Mom used the cream to make butter as well as the richest, most amazing sauces you have ever tasted. I was proud of my ability to get all the chunks of cream, leaving just the whole milk for drinking with dinner.

Mom was ridiculously good at this sort of pioneer lifestyle, particularly considering she’d been raised in a very urban setting. She also made her own soap from rendered lard and lye; butchered, trimmed and cut all our wild game meats; made Chinese food, including homemade egg rolls; taught us how to use chopsticks, even before a fork; and, canned anything that you could name. But that’s another topic for another day.

Fast-forward to life right after college. My refrigerator typically contained pickles, ketchup and beer. Maybe peanut butter and bread. I was working for a weekly newspaper as a reporter. My before-tax income was $1000 a month. My father literally laughed at me. He said a college education meant I was supposed to be able to eat something other than PBJ…. Hah! That was all I knew how to cook!

As life trundled on, I had more money and less money at times. I ate out, ate in. Mastered scrambled eggs. And tuna salad sandwiches. I learned to cook by doing it. I had a definite ace in the hole, though, since I could call Mom anytime and ask her what to do.

One of my most treasured possessions is a cookbook of her old recipes, food I grew up eating. Mom hand-wrote each of these recipes. I’ve added to it over the years with recipes cut out or printed out or made up. I would rescue that book from a house fire.

During the “lost years” spent in Nebraska, where good meals at restaurants were both very difficult to find and impossible to afford, I did a LOT of cooking. It was during this time that most of my trial and (lots of) error occurred… I’ll never forget the carrot cake that had baking soda instead of baking powder…. Oh, dear Lord…

At any rate, the point I’m rambling toward here is that *anyone* can learn to make simple, healthy, fresh, whole food meals. Literally, if I can do it, YOU can do it!! AND you can learn to show your dog!

While we’re on the topic of learning, here’s your “this podcast is about dogs moment”…. As dog handlers go, much like cooks, there are two schools of thought. I describe it as the classical music conductor and the jazz pianist.

The classical music cook, and dog handler, are those individuals who pay exquisite attention to detail, are beautifully prepared and outfitted. These outstanding folks handle every situation carefully, by the numbers and make very, very few mistakes – either in the ring or in the kitchen. Their results, while not necessarily exciting, are satisfying and genuinely successful. They can make a picture better than anyone and never, NEVER have an unforced error.

The jazz pianist cooks, and dog handlers, are fewer and farther in between. They lean toward the flamboyant. They have good bones, if you will, in terms of their technique, and never take chances with safety, but they are much more willing to go out on a limb. In the kitchen, there is no such tomfoolery as *measuring* much of anything and it’s a gut instinct, sort of pinch of this and dash of that. In the show ring, the handlers of this school are much more likely to “take a knee” or make the big gesture. They are often, I have found, the handlers who will enable the more challenging dogs to shine by working with them rather than forcing them into a mold that is comfortable for the handler. As cooks, we sometimes have “crunchy rice” episodes (yes, a topic for another day….) As handlers, that grand gesture can have unintended consequences (bouncing bait off the nose of the dog that can’t catch into the path of the dog moving on the down and back at the Garden comes to mind as one of my own errors in judgement….)

For the last couple years, trained chef and dog handler, Anthony Cantor, and I have had a Bobby Flay style BBQ throwdown at one of our pacific northwest summer shows to highlight exactly this compare and contrast of style…. We’re tied at one all, so be on the lookout for this year’s tie breaker event…

So, as you work up your Christmas dinner menu, and your plans and goals for next year’s dog show season, think about ways in which you fall into one of these categories. And maybe practice pulling something from each school of thought that will help you with your current dog.

Now, for the meat and potatoes, as they say, of this show. I’m sharing with you a Christmas dinner menu from my home a few years ago. Complete with appetizer through dessert. From fancy to soothing, these recipes were featured on my Auntie Laura facebook page (which is sadly lacking in current updates, as I’m WAY too busy to keep up on posting to it)… Feel free to check it out if you’re looking for inspiration for upcoming parties, meals and feeding a horde on a budget.

Remember, ALL events held in the homes of dog lovers will feature a little bit of extra protein (sometimes called dog hair) somewhere along the way… nobody ever died from it… enjoy the love from our four-legged family, politely and quietly remove the hair and keep on eating.

The starting dish at every. Single. Family feast in my entire life is Gramma’s clam dip. It’s simple, soothing and satisfying. Recipes for all menu items included in the blog post. But straight up, sour cream, cream cheese, lemon, minced clams, dried onions and a dash of Worcestershire sauce… The secret is to blend the cream cheese and sour cream thoroughly w/ the lemon and clam juice, using a hand blender, before adding the clams and dried onions. MOST important, make ahead item and let sit overnight to blend flavors. Even more important for the full, authentic Gramma’s house experience, is to serve ONLY with Ruffles potato chips.

The menu I’m sharing includes herbed leg of lamb with oven roasted root vegetables, morrocan beets with mint, winter fruit salad and chocolate coconut pie. In the “make the picture” category, design and print a beautiful menu to share with your guests! It feels special and personal and exotic all at once.

On the year in question, I’d found a great leg of lamb on sale for a reasonable price (hook up with a local farmer for your very best lamb…)… Root vegetables can be mixed and matched, I used potatoes and carrots and onions.

With that theme and the lamb on the menu, I added the Morrocan spiced beets with mint. And for a palate cleansing salad, the fabulous winter fruit on a bed of butter lettuce.

My favorite piece was the gluten free Chocolate silk pie in a chocolate-coconut crust with homemade whipped cream … holidays, and dessert especially, are always a challenge for folks with dietary needs. this enabled us to have a sweet treat that wouldn’t bust the diet, the budget or the gut.

Ya’ll have a wonderful, happy, merry holiday of your choosing. Laugh, love, treasure and never, ever, forget that life is ridiculously short. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


Gramma’s clam dip

8 oz sour cream

8 oz cream cheese

Juice from 1 lemon

2TB juice from one can of minced clams (save some to thin the dip if needed while mixing)

1TB dried minced onions

A dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Put these ingredients in a medium mixing bowl & beat on high speed with electric mixer.

Add 2 cans drained minced clams

Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate.

To have the most authentic experience, serve only with Ruffles potato chips. Yes, this is one of the exceptions to healthy eating! To have a healthy experience, use gluten free crackers for dipping…

This is the recipe I followed, for the most part, for the Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb and gravy. Turned out SUPER yum!! I marinated the roast for 24 hours in a tupperware container, rotating and shaking several times during the course of the time. I used an excellent stone ground mustard in place of the Dijon (just like it better). I placed one onion, quartered; three large peeled carrots, cut just in half; and, a half dozen rose potatoes, unpeeled, halved, in the bottom of the large Dutch oven roasting pan and tossed them with an olive oil, mustard, vinegar glaze. I placed the roast on top of the veggies and poured all of the marinade over the roast and veggies. Cooked as directed. Did pull out the roast and let the veggies cook another 20-30 minutes while the roast sat under foil.

This is the recipe for the spice blend I used on the Moroccan Beets with Mint. Parboiled and peeled first. Sliced and marinated in the spiced olive oil at room temperature until ready to cook for about 45 minutes at 350.

Winter Fruit Salad. Peel and dice two Asian pears and three nice crisp apples (in this case Pacific Rose). Spritz with fresh lemon juice as you work to prevent browning. Add 3/4 C dried cranberries and 3/4 C walnuts. Toss with 1 small jar pomegranate vinaigrette (in this case a store bought item), cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Place a handful of torn butter lettuce leaves in a bowl. Add two heaping spoonfuls of fruit salad. Top with goat cheese.

Chocolate silk pie in a chocolate-coconut crust. (NO BAKE!)

This is the recipe for the pie filling.

Chocolate coconut crust from Fannie Farmer:

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

2 TB butter

1 C powdered sugar

3 TB hot water

1 1/2 C flaked coconut

Melt chocolate and butter in a small pan over low heat. Mix the sugar and hot water together in a wall bowl. Add the chocolate and butter to the sugar, then stir in the coconut. Press the mixture firmly into a pie pan and chill.

I did pie crust first. Let it chill in the fridge while I made the filling. Let the filling cool a bit and then just poured into crust, covered and ate the next day! Serve with a sprinkle of coconut and homemade whipped cream. The real thing! Buy a small container of whipping cream. Put a metal bowl in the freezer. Pull out when ready to serve dessert. Pour in cream. Add 2 TB sugar. Beat with electric mixer on high for 5-10 minutes. Bite me Cool Whip!! LOL

246 – WSU Researcher Discovered the MDR1 Gene that Saves Lives | Pure Dog Talk

Meet the Researcher Who Discovered the MDR1 Gene

Herding dog owners everywhere should know their dogs may be sensitive to ivermectin, the powerful antiparasitic drug common in most worming medication. Now you can hear directly from the researcher who discovered the MDR1 gene mutation that causes this reaction.

Dr. Katrina Mealey, Ph.D, DVM, WSU Researcher, who discovered the MDR1 gene mutation.

Washington State University’s Dr. Katrina Mealey, Ph.D., DVM discovered the gene literally by serendipity. While studying for her advanced degree, she encountered a journal article from the Netherlands. The article discussed treatment of a routine case of mites in laboratory mice, some of which had been engineered to remove the MDR1 gene. All of the mice who were missing the gene died from the treatment.

This caused Mealey to begin research to locate the gene in dogs.

From the WSU Foundation: “Mealey had barely graduated from high school when the antiparastic drug ivermectin came on the market, which quickly became known as a super-weapon for animals and humans against parasites, such as mites, heartworms, and lice. In a small percentage of certain dog breeds, however, veterinarians found an ivermectin treatment could prove fatal. While the antiparastic could cure a poodle, it might kill a collie. Based on those results, veterinarians followed the guideline, ‘White feet; don’t treat.’ But, no one really understood the why behind the differing responses.”

Mealey also invented the cheek swab that tests whether dogs carry the MDR1 gene mutation or not.

“Seventy five percent of Collies have the MDR1 gene mutation that makes them susceptible to fatal reaction to antiparasitic drugs like ivermectin,” Mealey said. “Whereas, Shelties only have 10 percent of the population affected.”

Dominant mutation

The MDR1 mutation is a dominant trait, Mealey added. If a dog has one copy of the gene, it will have drug sensitivity. If it has two copies, it will have more severe sensitivity.

Mealey’s ongoing research has indicated that dosage is the critical component to sensitivity. The low-level dosage of ivermectin contained in heartworm treatment is generally safe, she said, but the super high doses required to treat mange, for example, can be deadly.

Mealey has found the mutation in Silken Windhounds and even a very small number of Boxers.

Early effect of popular sire syndrome

According to extensive research at UC-Davis, Mealey said they have concluded that the MDR1  mutation originated in a herding dog before specific breeds were established.

“They theorize this was a dog particularly good at herding sheep, that became a popular sire. By the time breeds were established in the British Isles, they all carried this mutation,” Mealey said.

Researchers have not identified the mutation in herding breeds that originated in other parts of the world. It is seen primarily in Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, etc.

For more information on Mealey’s work, check out: