When I opened the floor to your questions, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would anyone even HAVE any questions? Well, it turns out… YEP!
In fact, there were a couple repeats, so I’ve compiled most of what came in via comments, email, and Facebook. Some I consolidated, but I maintained the integrity of the question. So, here goes!
Q1: A question came in via email that asked, basically, are you concerned about feeding your dogs non-GMO foods?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: It’s difficult to find non-GMO foods. This is something I’m concerned about for me and John, too. It’s some scary stuff when you really dig in and read the research. There is a strong correlation between genetically-modified (and “conventional” – i.e. not organic) foods and cancer. I’m no scientist, but having gone through a year of chemo, which included losing 22 pounds and half my hair among other not-so-fun side effects, I’m committed to eliminating carcinogens wherever I can. It’s not easy, and I’m certainly not perfect. But, I do feed my dogs Wellness, a brand that has undertaken a GMO-free journey. Again, it’s not perfect; but it’s a step in the right direction.
Q2. What is your biggest training challenge?
Each dog has his own biggest challenge. For Lucas, it’s reactivity. For Cooper, it’s keeping his head about him. My biggest challenge personally is that, because of their challenges, I can’t walk all three together. Group walking is, by FAR, my biggest training challenge. I tried several different tactics, but it just can’t happen. I blogged about that a while ago, and someone commented (I’m summarizing ): “I would never have multiple dogs that couldn’t walk together. I’d teach them to do so or, if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t have them all.” That stung. For like 30 seconds, then I got over it. I love my guys wholeheartedly. I can walk them in 2s if I want, but – and this is the whole truth – I LOVE taking them on individual walks. Yes, it sucks up a huge part of my day, but it’s so worth it to me. I can focus on them as individuals, take walks that suit their unique personalities, and feel confident that I can handle loose dogs/stray cats/whatever. No, I can’t take all three together, but I’m okay with that.
Q3. I wonder if when you walk them, do people move to the other side of the street? I love dogs, but I know alot of people are intimidated by big dogs and pit mixes. Can you walk them anywhere you want?
Yep! 🙂 When I have Emmett out or when I have Emmett AND Lucas, most people avoid me. And I’m fine with that.
Q4. Did you get to see Victoria Stilwell speak or present while you were at the expo and did you get to meet her or get any advice/tips for your boys?
I did, and she was fabulous! Her talk focused on the why behind positive training, and I just believe in her mission so completely, that the most important thing to do is to build a positive relationship with your dog so that he wants to do what you ask because of that relationship, not because he’s afraid of you or afraid of punishment. I bought one of her t-shirts, and I stood in line to get a book signed. For as forceful as Victoria is… she is TINY! Oh, and she mentioned that she has a new television series coming out! She didn’t give any specifics, but I later heard that it’s a series on the human/animal bond for PBS, so I’m keeping an eye out for that!
Q5. How much does it cost to have 3 dogs? We want to get another one but not sure I can afford to.
I can’t sugarcoat or fluff this in any way: It’s expensive. Throw a cat into the mix, and it’s a small fortune. I suppose a lot could depend on the size of your dogs… These guys go through a lot of food. But then there are the monthly medications to factor in, toys and treats, and if you’re taking any training classes. Plus, if your city/municipality requires you to register your pet, there’s an additional annual fee. But veterinary care is a huge part of our budget. Everyone gets their annual check-ups and vaccinations, of course. But then there are incidents like Cooper’s reaction to fire ants, and a series of blood tests for Emmett (more on that in another post – could be hypothyroid issue, but we’re not sure yet), and Lucas’ joint medication, and so on. From your question, it sounds like you already have two dogs and are thinking of adding a third. My advice: Calculate how much you spend on your two dogs annually, divide it in half and add that amount to the total – more if it’s going to be a bigger dog.
Q6. i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any help is very much appreciated.
This is the only blogging-related question I got because I’m sure you guys realize I know WAY more about dogs than technical stuff! 🙂 Anyway, YES, I get spam. I had a problem a few weeks ago when my site was under attack. I have a theory, but it’s unsubstantiated: Whenever I post a YouTube video, I get slammed with spam. Could be a coincidence, but it’s enough of a pattern that I switched all my own videos over to Vimeo. For a plugin, I strongly recommend Akismet. I don’t know the exact date I installed it, but here’s my behind-the-scenes stat to give you a sense of its effectiveness: Akismet has protected your site from 202,012 spam comments already.
Q7. How do you keep from getting burned out from writing? Also how do you work with 3 barky dogs and a cat in the house?
I love this from Adam of Singing Dogs! Burn out… It happens. Since I write for a living, too, sometimes it’s challenging to get motivated. Two things keep me on track: First, I LOVE writing about dogs. This truly is my passion, so it feels like fun more than work. Second, I allow myself a lot of time to get creatively energized (for blogging and work). I read tons of other blogs. I walk the dogs. I belong to a creative group on Facebook. I read books and magazines. Julia Cameron calls it “filling the well,” and I strive to do a bit of that every day. As for the 3 barky dogs and cat… it’s a challenge. The key is getting them thoroughly exercised in the morning. On the days we run, I have perfect silence until lunchtime. If they don’t get enough exercise, it’s a different – very barky – story! The other thing is that when I have calls or phone interviews, I go upstairs with Newt and close the door so that IF they do start a barking fit – say, UPS drives by – it doesn’t affect my call!
And, since this is now the longest post in history, I’m going to stop there!! If you have any other questions – or, if I haven’t gotten around to answering the one you posed – I’m compiling more for the next round, so please feel free to add to your comments!
Have a great weekend, everyone!!