The More People I Meet …

My BoysI am a Dad, a moniker I am proud of. I am happy to say I have two “perfect kids”. I know that everybody thinks their kids are the best and the cutest, but mine really are!

My two kids meet me at the front door if I’ve been gone, spin around in circles and are always happy to see me. They love me unconditionally and smother me with kisses. When I am sad they sense it, and try and comfort me by snuggling close … I have seen them literally lick tears from my eyes. And they are always ready to go on an adventure … all I need is a bowl and some treats. No lugging around diaper bags, play pens and bottles. No heavy suitcases to cart through an airport.

They never get angry, mad or moody. If I get angry, they might be upset for a second, but it quickly dissipates and they forget it ever happened… I don’t have to listen about it years later! They don’t keep me up at night worrying about their safety like most teenagers do.  They have never spoken an unkind word about me. How many people can you say that about?

When we are riding in the car, they let me pick the radio station I want to listen to. Imagine getting to listen to the music you actually like, versus “rap” blaring from your speakers!

They are my best confidantes. I can tell them anything and they can keep the secret. They are the best listeners, and never offer a negative opinion. They don’t nag or preach at me and unless they are sick, they always have a positive attitude.

They are pretty low maintenance. Like a toddler, I have to bathe them, brush their teeth daily and feed them.  Simple things.  I don’t have to worry that they don’t have enough clothes, the right “fashionable clothes” or that they have outgrown their clothes. And, they love my cooking! I don’t have to fix gourmet meals for them and they never complain that the meat is overcooked or the vegetables are undercooked. They are always in the clean plate club!

And they are my best workout buddies. I run 2 miles a day, and they keep up with me. On days that I don’t feel like running, they remind me that it is time to get up and go! They never complain about the heat or being tired. We play hide and seek, Frisbee and take long walks together also. They keep me young versus my teenagers who have put every gray hair on my head.

I have two boys. I never have to worry about them getting pregnant or bringing home a spouse that won’t be good for them! And smart? They are brilliant. All the “schooling” they needed was through Bark Busters and that took less than a month. Sure we did our homework together, but there was no expensive college tuition!

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I am the father of two male Labradors. It’s a role I love! As Mark Twain says: “the more I know about people, the more I like my dogs!”

So to all the dads out there, whether you’re the father of a human or canine, Happy Father’s Day. My boys and I are going to spend the day fishing and living the good life!

By: Todd Smith, Guest Blogger

National Dog Preparedness Month

The thing about a disaster is you never know when it is going to strike. When a hurricane, tornado or other catastrophe occurs, chaos usually ensues. That’s why it’s so important to not only have an emergency plan for your family, but your pet as well. We often don’t think about it until it’s too late. That’s what Natural Pet Preparedness Month is all about – to bring awareness to establishing an emergency preparedness plan.

What Your Emergency Pet Kit Should Contain

  • Food (your pet’s regular food)
  • Two week supply of medications
  • Two week supply of bottled water
  • Sturdy leash and collar with ID tags
  • First-aid kit including bandages, tape, tweezers and anti-bacterial ointment
  • Photocopies of health records and a recent photo taken of you with your pets or lost posters
  • Favorite toy or bedding (familiarity in unfamiliar surroundings)
  • Carrier or crate
  • Clean up supplies (poop bags and paper towels)
  • Contact information for local veterinarians, pet friendly hotel and shelters and family members willing to take in pets
  • Flashlight and batteries

A Safe Place
Where will you and your pets go if a hurricane is coming your way? What is the safest room in your house? If at all possible, take you pets with you. Animals left behind can be injured, lost or killed. If you must leave pets behind, secure them in a bathroom (with drinking water in the tub) and leave out plenty of food. Get a window decal so that rescue workers know there are pets in your home. These can be obtained from your local Bark Busters trainer.

Here’s a list of pet-friendly hotel websites:

After the Emergency
Having a “go bag” will help you evacuate quickly in an emergency! Once emergency officials say your environment is safe, walk pets on a leash until they are re-oriented to the area and your home. They may be a little freaked out! If you have lost your pet, contact local animal control officers to find where lost animals can be recovered.



Happy Mother’s Day To My “Dog Mom”

ocarWhen most people think of Mother’s Day, they think of Mom’s who have children. I’m a child too – I just happen to be a dog!

I am an 11-year-old Labrador mix named Oscar. My Mom rescued me from a shelter in Colorado when I was 4-years old. The shelter was horrible. The other dogs barked all night, some had diseases and others taunted me with their aggression. You definitely had to watch your back.

I was abused in my first home, left outside in freezing cold weather with no food or water. It was so bad, I ran away. Living on the streets seemed better than having an owner who beat me. I had some broken bones and my hips still hurt when it is cold outside.

Because I am a “black dog”, there was some prejudice against adopting me. Really? That is the silliest thing I have ever heard of. I languished at the shelter twice as long as other dogs, especially the puppies who everyone thought were so cute. So I had two strikes against me – I was a black dog and I was older. Couldn’t anyone see past my fur to know how much love I had to give? I wasn’t a bad dog. Okay, I picked up a few bad habits on the streets, but nothing that a little patience couldn’t fix.

Fortunately, my Mom didn’t have a black dog bias. When she walked into the shelter, my ears perked up. She had a kind voice and our eyes connected. It was love at first sight. And guess what? She picked me! Me, me, me!

A Rocky Start
Without a doubt, we had a few rough patches in the beginning as I got used to my new home. First of all I had a brother – a yellow lab named Buddy – who was used to being an only child and the “top dog.” We had some sibling rivalry going on. Second, I was afraid she was going to abandon me, so when she left the house I howled. I was not popular with the neighbors!

With the help of a Bark Busters dog trainer, my Mom got me straightened out. At first when she tried to kiss me I cowered, because I thought she was going to hit me like my old dog owner. Now I realize she is just giving me some loving! Now I am fiercely protective of her and my brother and if anyone tries to mess with them, they have to go through me first.

Thanks, Mom
So to my Mom, I say thank you. Thank you for giving me a forever home. Thanks for all the hugs, cuddles and the long walks we take. When I am sick, you take me to the vet and nurse me back to health. When I throw up accidentally in the house, you don’t scold me because you know I can’t help it. You give me medicine (which is icky tasting) to help with my bad hip. You brush out my long coat all the time so I look more handsome than ever. I don’t like it when you brush my teeth, clip my nails, or give me a bath, but I know you are probably doing it for my own good.

I have heard you humans say that a mother-child bond is often unconditional. I want my Mom to know I love her unconditionally too. Every day I am happy when she comes through the door. No matter how busy she is, she makes time for me. Being a doggie Mom is a 24/7 task that you don’t get paid for.

I just want you to know that you are the best doggie Mom in the world and I love you!




A Safe Fourth of July For You and Your Dogs

Independence Day celebrations are great fun for people, but the loud noises and bright lights can be traumatic for dogs. The explosions, excited voices and visual stimulation can create confusion and fear.

Animal shelters report that the July 4th holiday brings record numbers of runaway dogs to their doors. These dogs have been frightened and made frantic by fireworks. But by being aware and thinking ahead, we can keep our dogs as safe and comfortable as possible during the revelry.

Bark Busters wants you to keep your canine companion safe with the following tips:

  •  If you are going to a fireworks display, leave your dog at home where he will be the most safe and comfortable.
  • If you go to a holiday event, never leave your dog in the car. A partially opened window does not supply sufficient fresh air, and it creates an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
  • Always keep proper identification securely fastened to your dog’s collar in case he gets out.  Talk to your veterinarian about implanting a universal microchip in your pet, and make sure that your veterinary clinic and animal shelter have your correct contact information in their database.
  • Don’t leave your dog outside. If you cannot bring him inside, cover his dog house with a blanket to protect him from the bursts of bright lights and loud bangs.  A  dog’s sense of hearing is acute-over 10 times more sensitive than humans’.
  • Create a special den-like area in your home where your dog feels safe. A properly introduced crate or kennel can be a calming refuge for him.
  • Some dogs become destructive when frightened. If you don’t use a crate, remove any items in the room which your dog could destroy or which could hurt him if he chewed them.
  • Keep your dog away from the front and back doors. Your dog may be under significant stress, which could result in unnecessary injury to others or cause him to dart out the door and become lost.
  • Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and bright flashes.
  • Turn on a TV or radio at  normal volume to distract your dog from loud noises and help him to relax.
  • If possible, stay with your pet during the majority of the fireworks. A dog often reacts more intensely to loud sounds and flashes of lights when you are not with him.
  • Consider hiring a pet sitter to stay with your dog while you are away from home.

July 4 is a time for fun and celebration. By taking these precautions, you and your pets can have a safe and happy holiday experience.

Preventing Dog Bites

Every year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs with 800,000 requiring medical care. Unfortunately, most of the victims are innocent children or senior citizens. As summertime rolls around and more children and dogs are outside, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from aggressive or ill-trained dogs.

Even the cutest, most cuddly dog can bite if it is threatened, scared, startled or hungry. Dogs can bite regardless of size or breed.

Just as we warn our children about “stranger danger”, it’s important to warn them about how or if to approach unfamiliar dogs. Many dog bites are preventable and are caused by dogs the child knows – his or her own pet, a friend’s or a neighbors. Here are some tips from Bark Busters Home Dog Training to minimize your chances of being bitten by a dog.

  • Always ask the dog owner if it’s okay to pet the dog.
  • Don’t turn, scream and run – dogs naturally love to chase and catch things.
  • Stand still. More than likely the dog will determine you are not a threat and go away.
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
  • Never  leave young children alone with a dog.
  • Don’t  allow kids to play aggressive games (like wrestling) with dogs and don’t let them pull on the dog’s tail or ears.
  • Don’t let kids discipline dogs.
  • “Let sleeping dogs lie” is a good rule to follow. That goes for a dog that is eating or drinking as well.
  • Mother dogs can be overly protective of their puppies. Be extremely cautious.
  • A dog may be possessive of his space. Do not try and pet a dog through a fence as he may regard this as his personal property and fight to protect it.

On the flip side, if your dog is prone to biting, this can be a serious behavioral issue. Let Bark Busters help you to prevent your dog from biting through our proven behavioral modification techniques.