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The Power of Veto


noun \ˈvē-(ˌ)tō\

plural: vetoes

Definition of VETO

1 : an authoritative prohibition : interdiction

2 a : a power of one department or branch of a government to forbid or prohibit finally or provisionally the carrying out of projects attempted by another department; especially : a power vested in a chief executive to prevent permanently or temporarily the enactment of measures passed by a legislature

b (1) : the exercise of such authority (2) : a message communicating the reasons of an executive and especially the president of the United States for vetoing a proposed law


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Kylie needs a new home!

  • 1yr old spayed female, 45lbs Shep/Spitz type
  • Adopted from TAS (stray), has been in current home for about a month.
  • Her current owners adore her and do not want to let her go, but rehoming is necessary for the safety of cats in the home.
  • House/crate trained. She will bark for a couple minutes when left but settles quickly.
  • Gets along well with other dogs, friendly with kids, very social and elicits attention
  • Needs training re: chasing moving objects outdoors (cats, squirrels, bikes, etc.), as well as some good recall training
  • No known medical conditions
  • Started on clicker training, very motivated by food and enjoys tug/toys. Owner reports “I could not believe how fast she can run and how high she can jump!”
Looking for an active owner with positive reinforcement/clicker training knowledge and experience, no cats/small furries in the house, ideally someone who can put her enthusiasm to good use! (sports, etc)
Please contact me if  you are interested apply through Speaking of Dogs at
See Kylie’s webpage at  (More pictures here!!)

I’m happy to say the Kylie found a great home in the GTA!! 

Applauding Bee's Resilience, and a Note on Rude Puppies and Behaviour Chains

Applauding Bee’s Resilience…

When I first started walking Bee, she couldn’t pass another walker’s group on a path in the park.  A dog within 5ft-10ft of her caused her to flee, and if cornered she’d snap.  Her original owner purchased her as a pup from PJ’s (read: puppy mill) only to leave her in a crate for long hours for the majority of her first year – definitely not a situation the promoted a well-socialized dog! Luckily, this person eventually thought better of keeping Bee in this situation, and re-homed her to a lovely couple who could better meet her needs. A dog’s early life (genetic, prenatal, neonatal, and puppyhood) has a profound effect on later life, and Bee is a good example of this. When I started walking Bee, her owners left her harness and leash on her so I would have no need to touch her to get her in and out of the house.  She stayed on leash in the park, and we hid off to the side of the trail to let other dogs pass. Luckily, she would stay under threshold so long as there was no risk of a dog getting in her space.

Continue reading Applauding Bee's Resilience, and a Note on Rude Puppies and Behaviour Chains

Hi Yo Squirrel, Away!!

Don’t anyone tell Elsie she’s an old lady!

One year ago, Elsie was picked up as a stray in Etobicoke by Toronto Animal Services.   I retrieved Elsie from TAS as a foster for Speaking of Dogs – I was going on vacation in three weeks and thought “No way I’ll want to keep an 8yo shepherd! No problem taking on a foster now…” – but as the story so often ends she became a “failed foster” and took up permanent residence.

I don’t know what her life was before that, but I have no doubt that she had a damn good time chasing wildlife once she hit the streets! All last summer the bane of my existence, and the glory of Elsie’s, were the squirrels in the parks, the cats on the fence in the yard and both critters during neighbourhood walks.  If Elsie thought she may perhaps just might have seen a bit of movement, or heard a little noise, that may have been a cat or squirrel her brain would disappear into an alternate universe.  She would freeze, stiff as rigor mortis, and her eyes would go completely blank as she stared (and sometimes drooled). The other half of her reaction to critters was full-out hurling herself toward the suspected Squirrel Zone, sometimes screaming like I was killing her, and also running backwards like a crayfish, just about popping out of her collar (this is why she wears a sighthound martingale collar). While there were some squirrel-safe parks, other parks were off-bounds because she would disappear into the forest in hot pursuit of her fluffy-tailed friends.  She would not only tree the squirrels, but also chase them from the ground as they ran through the leafy canopy 50ft above.

It’s easy enough to say “work at a distance, wait for her to look back at you and click and feed attention.”  Sure, the basics are there.  Decrease distraction with distance, mark and reinforce a desirable behaviour. But I had to ask myself: what on earth could I have possibly offered Elsie that was more potent than a squirrel, even at a distance?

The Answer? A squirrel, of course.

Continue reading Hi Yo Squirrel, Away!!

Rally Trial, June 26/11

We just got home from trialling at The Poodle Farm, and I am knackered.

Elsie is pleased with her two Q ribbons and her 1st place ribbon

Yesterday Jen (partner), Nancy (friend) and I packed up Arlo, Sophie and Elsie into Bernard (tiny green car) and drove two hours to Debby DaCosta’s wonderful facility outside of Vanessa, ON.  The trial started at 8:30 this morning, and we weren’t too keen on leaving the house at 6am to get there on time! We pulled in around 7pm to be welcomed by Debby and Al and directed to a grassy knoll behind the barn to set up camp for the night. I was glad to see the lay of the land before the stress of the trial the next day. The trouble is that sleeping moments were few and far between, interrupted by various dogs, outside noises, uncomfortable bedding, cold, and poorly-folded sweatshirt-pillows.  For some reason, not so restful as camping usually is!

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Getting ready to Rally!

I’ve finally entered Elsie in a CARO trial, coming up on June 26th.  I’ve been working a lot this week (since I registered!) on getting the stand on cue, as well as more stimulus control on positions.  Despite my earlier work on fronts, I need to do a little more on getting the front smoothly from moving in heel position (call front signs).  I take a step back in the video, which isn’t a problem for CARO, but I’d rather not have to. Earlier in the training session she was coming in very crookedly, as well.  Other than that, I just need to remember how to read the signs and not screw up all my subtle (or not so subtle) body cues, which would totally throw Elsie off in the ring.  I am liking her heeling, she’s got pretty good duration despite a fairly low rate of reinforcement.

I’ve entered three runs in Novice, and I’m hoping to get that title soon so I can get started on advanced.   I’m not competitive, I don’t think well under this type of stress,  and I don’t like performing… The behaviours in Novice are not particularly hard, but I know I’m going to screw something up bad when I get into the ring (read: and piss myself), so I think I won’t set my sights on coming out of this trial with a Novice title!!

So, here’s how things have been going:


Sound Sensitivity – Part Two

Back on the topic of sound sensitivities… unfortunately we’re now fully immersed in the season of fireworks and thunderstorms.  Arlo is actually holding up very well, especially considering recent history.

For a time, Arlo was triggered on nearly every walk, and it was difficult to find a day that he wasn’t triggered. His reaction was generally one of two things: shutting down and marching or frantically pulling, frequently towards the house or car.  Luckily, the majority of his reactions were of the first, somewhat milder, variety.  Increasingly he was being triggered by things imperceptible to me. This was also happening on the street when it previously appeared to have generalized to only parks. I was getting a little bit frightened that he was really going to go down hill.  I thought his world was going to get smaller and smaller as this fear generalized…

I’m happy to say, however, that I have seen a lot of progress for the better in the last couple of weeks. Below I’ll go over what I’ve done and what I have yet to do:

Continue reading Sound Sensitivity – Part Two