Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know

I highly recommend reading Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. Her approach is from the perspective of a dog lover as well as a scientist. Unlike the many authors who present inaccurate guesses about what is going on with our best friends, Horowitz provides personal experience backed up with scientific understandings.

Pumpernickel, her canine soul mate, is all dog and all best friend to her human. You can't help loving her vicariously, and being grateful that Horowitz knew her so well and presented her so respectfully and lovingly, yet honestly. They seemed to understand each other as well as any two beings of different species could.

Some of her most interesting chapter titles include From the Dog's Point of Nose, Unwolfy, Whimpers, growls, squeaks and chuckles, What a dog knows, and It either fits in the mouth or it's too big for the mouth.

Horowitz's writing style is invitingly informative. Besides shedding light on the human-canine bond, and educating us about canine senses, she entertainingly explains concepts such as attention seeking, theory of mind, telling time and reading us.

I came away from this book loving dogs more, if that is possible, and taking them less for granted. There are so many reasons why they are our best friend; this book provides scientific evidence along with celebration.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tell Discovery you won't watch Sarah Palin, wolf killer

Tell Discovery, You Betcha, We Won't Watch Until Sarah Palin Is Gone!

The number to call is 571-262-4899 to ask Discovery to reject the Sarah Palin, wolf killer, program.

A Discovery Channel representative returned my call expressing their acknowledgement of my objections to Sarah Palin. She mentioned that my polite message was appreciated. They are not so moved by the many nasty ones they are receiving.

Here's a petition I got in an email through defenders of wildlife.. has already gotten like 60,000 since I signed this morning. Graphic photos - I hold my breath, try not to see them, and sign.

Tell Discovery that Sarah Palin, wolf killer, is not someone you would watch!

Tell Discovery, You Betcha, We Won't Watch Until Sarah Palin Is Gone!

The number to call is 571-262-4899 to ask Discovery to reject the Sarah Palin, wolf killer, program.

Facebook page:

A Discovery Channel representative returned my call expressing their acknowledgement of my objections to Sarah Palin. She mentioned that my polite message was appreciated. They are not so moved by the many nasty ones they are receiving.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Dog's Eye View of The Misha May Foundation Sancturay, Training and Adoption Lodge by Lorraine May

Please read on to understand our dream of a non traditional rescue home, and help us realize it…

Dawn: Our Overnight Human Caregivers awake and prepare for the day. They immediately let us go outside. Some of us are more isolated due to medical or behavior issues; the rest of us slept in groups with the dogs we like the best. Our Caregivers sleep with, and check on, us all night long in our home-like environment. You will not find this level of 24/7 attention and care in very many animal settings.

I am your guide through this amazing dog-centered, yet human-friendly facility. I have been here the longest, since I have so much to learn, and also had so much to forget.

A Safe Haven for Learning What We Need to Know: Some of us are learning to like humans after mistreatment at their hands, so we get enough attention to make us happy but not scared. Others are learning that being alone is safe, after developing anxiety from being abandoned or frightened, so they receive less attention than they want, but enough to help them feel secure.

The original intention of animal shelters was to protect the public from dangerous animals, and to provide a safe place for lost pets until they were united with their owners. The traditional shelter model is obsolete in this current time of millions of family pets being abandoned. Meantime, these unfortunate throwaways deserve a life, as we work to change the public’s consciousness about when and where and why to get a pet, and how to create a lifelong joyful relationship.

The Morning Humans Arrive: Upon arriving, the Morning Humans clean our sleeping areas and dish out our breakfast, while outside we relieve ourselves, stretch our muscles and get reacquainted through greetings and play. There isn’t much waste to clean up inside since our routine is supportive of house training - just like in a real home (sigh). Special attention is paid to accidents to ascertain if someone is ill, needs more house training, or needs to join the "go-out-in-the-middle-of the-night" gang.

The Big Question: The Mornings join our Caretakers to discuss us. Who needs what? Who did what? Who is improving? And the biggest question of all - howls, barks & yips! - Who chose, and was chosen by, a Forever Caregiver yesterday? There is laughter and tears and excitement. There is also some disappointment for those who didn’t find a match. But we aren’t worried since we know that Misha May will make sure we get our turn.

Food, Glorious Food: Here we are, running inside (politely, of course) to get our breakfast. Food, glorious food! Soon, there is only the sound of munching and crunching, demonstrating our delirious satisfaction with each mouthful. After eating, we rest quietly, digesting, maybe even dreaming about this day‘s possibilities and adventures. Each moment, each day, is so very special at the Misha May Lodge.

The Office: Some Mornings will remain with us, allowing us to have outside time as needed. Everyone else heads to The Office, a very important place. Preparation for the day is important in order to offer what we call Great Customer Service to anyone who contacts Misha May. This is one of the places where Big-Heart Volunteers help us. They are so smart - they know about using computers, answering phones, finding money, cleaning, fixing, planning and leading and well, everything! Some of them also spend time with us walking, training, playing, bathing and comforting. I have so many favorite Big-Hearts!

The Front Door: It is very exciting to watch the front door. So many good things come to us through there: food, toys, donations, money, human friends, and dog friends who need us. People bring their Owned Dogs for training classes, traditional and holistic medical care, boarding, and that ‘special operation.' Radiant Rescuers bring their foster dogs for training and care as well. People borrow from our extensive library, listen to Dogsmart Speakers, watch DVDs, and share and learn at our Monthly Meet and Greets.

Misha May Excellent Owner Model: Rescue colleagues visit from other states and countries. They leave, feeling confident that by following our model, they will demonstrate to their communities how to value, choose, and commit to a new best friend.

I Remember: When I came through the front door, I was very confused and frightened. Immediately, the Greeting Friends helped me feel safe, and over time, convinced me that I would be able to trust and love again. I believe them now. I believe them so much, that I am ready to watch for the Forever Caregivers.

Watching for the Forever Caregivers: They come in looking and talking and wondering. Will they find their friend? We respond by watching, smelling and considering. Are they my new, forever family? Sometimes it is love at first sight; sometimes we are all awkward; sometimes our expectations and dreams match perfectly; sometimes it just doesn‘t work out like we all had hoped.

Quality Companion Animals: Most of us will make a better companion, than any typical non-socialized, caged animal you will buy at a pet store, who has been separated too early (8 weeks is the minimum) from their parents, who are living their lives in torture at a puppy mill, for breeding purposes only. (No reputable breeder would allow their pets to be sold through a pet store, where they have no control over their placement and future.) We are also right up there with any bought bred dog since we receive comparable or better care, plus training. Some of us have quirks which Misha May will be honest about and help the Forever Caregivers work out. None of us brings more money from our reasonable adoption fees than Misha May has spent on our care. Profit is not the focus at Misha May, our futures are.

Not Watching the Leave Behinds: The only time we don’t like to watch the front door is when a Leave Behind arrives with his owner. Sometimes they grasp their situation right away - their pain and confusion is difficult to witness. But, of course, we know that if there is space, Misha May will accept whomever is next, and get them what they need.

Examples of Rehabilitation: The training is reward based, anxiety reducing and primarily instructive in nature, rather than corrective or punitive. Each individual case, including Separation Anxiety and Human or Dog Aggression, is evaluated by an experienced behaviorist, after which a professional team creates a treatment plan. Everyone at the Lodge, from employees to volunteers, joyfully reviews treatment plans, and keeps all of their contacts with each animal consistent and supportive of the goal of adoptability.

Fearful dogs engage in confidence building activities. Unruly dogs receive instruction in manners and etiquette. Puppies are socialized and socialized and socialized some more. Clever, intelligent dogs are stimulated and challenged both physically and mentally. Very active dogs are exercised and entertained. All of us receive supplements, love, training and the time we need prior to facing adoption. Forever Caregivers are informed of everything known about the chosen dog, with the reminders that training is a lifetime process and all dogs are required to be returned if they don’t work out.

Discrimination Policy: Misha May does not turn away any breed, age, behavior, condition, illness, size, etc. The Caregivers are prepared to face each individual situation with compassion and creativity, finding and making available what this being needs. I have seen puppies of all kinds and very old dogs, too. I’ve seen mutts of every combination and purebreds of every type.

At least 25% of abandoned, homeless dogs are purebreds or designer mutts. This means that an irresponsible, uncaring store, puppy mill or breeder profited from their initial sale, while the ultimate price is being paid by the dog, and the financial burden is being carried by the rescue system.
Only about 10% of people getting a dog choose a rescued dog. No wonder so many of us are here!

More on Our Schedule: The remainder of our day until dinner, (food, glorious food!) will bring us what we need and want. Some of us will see a vet or a trainer. Others will play in a supervised group or in a game like agility (we have to keep those active breeds busy). Hikes and field trips are provided - so are swims. Our Lodge was designed for us, and our Humans understand. We aren’t just waiting; we are living. The plan is to help us improve everyday to remain or become exceptionally adoptable!

The Chosen: Forever Caregivers will choose some of us today, and it will be obvious that we have chosen them too. References are called, homes are visited, contracts are signed, and then….what we have dreamed and been patient about, what we have built trust and waited for, is really coming true. As those fortunate ones leave us behind, they feel confident that they have the skills, understanding and matches to live well with their new families. They are also relieved to know that we, their friends who are left behind for now, will have the same opportunities. They are proud to be Misha May success stories, proving that there is a home waiting for nearly every dog.

Evening: For those of us still here, we eat and rest and play and have one last time outside. We bless all living beings and give thanks for our merciful reprieve.

Quiet Time: We settle in with our buddies in our comfortable, and comforting packs, to live and love and play another day…..

Imagine our doggie lives without The Misha May Sanctuary, Training & Adoption Lodge - It isn’t here yet but it will be, won’t it? Will you please donate, fund raise, and network to help us
get the safe haven we so badly need? Please…

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What students think about the UNDERSTANDING DOGS class

A Different Type of Training Class, presented by The Misha May Foundation.
Instructor: Lorraine May, M.A.

An integrative, holistic approach to training, behavior, health and healing, including obedience, flower essences, calming techniques and communication. Includes a behavior consultation / coaching session / treatment plan for each dog. Learn how to solve canine behavior problems! Better yet, be confident that you can avoid creating or encouraging them!

Diane: The Understanding Dogs Class is an innovative way to learn about dog behavior, human behavior and how to integrate them together to enhance the lives of both. The approach is unique in that participants do not bring their dog to every class. Only one participant brings their dog to class, thus giving all participants an opportunity to focus on the lecture material and demonstrations.

The other benefit is that each night is dedicated to a “case study” format for the dog attending class that evening. The lecture materials, demonstrations and lesson topics focus on the particular dog of the night, giving the owner hands on, specific actions they can take home to help improve behavioral issues and address their concerns. I learn something new every session because of the dynamics of each owner and their dogs. Everyone is unique and this class addresses their uniqueness in a very special manner. You will not be disappointed.

Richard: I found this training to be very helpful. I learned things that I had not anticipated but that have helped me understand my dog and dogs in general. I have owned many dogs, most of them rescues of one sort or another.

The dog that Lorraine helped me with in her class is Abby, who is a three year old golden who has had a very difficult life with lots of trauma and subsequent fears. Her fear of humans and her behavior related to those fears had deemed her “unadoptable” from the rescue group that was trying to help her. I knew I needed help with this dog as I did not have the understanding of what she needs in order to feel safe enough to learn and adjust. Like many people I thought she needed discipline and rewards to change.

What I learned in this class was first how animals learn and the types of conditioning we teach them unintentionally which can either help or hinder them. Then I was able to understand more about how the dog needs to be in control of a frightening situation and not the other way around. Instead of dragging her over to meet people she is afraid of, I learned to let her know that she is able to go as far as she wants without any coercion. This allowed her to calm down knowing that she was not going to be forced into a panic inducing situation and therefore eventually she would come in and exhibit the desired behavior on her own accord and this in turn would lead to less stress in other situations now that she has learned how to deal with one.

It is like building a foundation of trust beyond what we already had. She now knows that I understand some of her fears more clearly and that allows her to deal with them. I have noticed that she seems calmer and her behavior has improved markedly.

I will probably ask Lorraine for some additional training for some specific guarding of the car behaviors. She is a much happier dog and much easier to live with now thanks to what I have already been taught.

Chelsea: Thanks so much for the class, I really enjoyed seeing the techniques you used with each different dog that was brought into the class. I really enjoyed the fact that you let the dogs do things at their own pace and did not let the owners force their dogs into a situation that would be too stressful for them to handle.

I think the main thing I got from your class is that everybody needs to know that there is a kind and loving way to help your animals live in a world that is comfortable for them and not full of fear and unwanted experiences.

Jenny: I found the discussion on desensitizing most helpful. For a dog who has issues, to try and minimize or eliminate the fear of certain triggers is extremely important. (e.g., the sound of another dog's tags rattling). It makes sense but I would not have thought to do that on my own!

Sue: I have a perfect example of what works beautifully with a dog. I took Bailey for a walk in the park yesterday, I reigned him in by my side as we approached two other dogs. They were not jumping, they were not aggressive, they were just looking at Bailey as we passed by.

The woman then jerked her dog and actually pulled her up on two legs and was harshly yelling something at her so she would not look at Bailey. This broke my heart. I almost stopped to tell her about your classes but felt it would not be received well. Lorraine teaches with kindness.

In this situation I applied a training technique I learned. I had tasty treats in my pocket, and as we approached the other dog, I distracted my dog by doing the "dance". I put the treat down to his mouth and said sweet things and we literally turned in a circle away from the other dog or distraction.

I wish everyone would take Lorraine's classes because of what I saw in the park yesterday. You do not teach pets with cruelty, they just learn fear.

Cheri: The Understanding Dogs class was a great opportunity for me to work with my dog, Heidi. She had a bit of a rough beginning as a puppy, and so have been working hard with her since to gain a better understanding of her needs, but had a couple areas to continue to work on and thought this class might help and it did. As usual with one of Lorraine's classes, the training seemed to give me more training than to the dog, which is a good thing.

The main issue I had with Heidi was that Heidi wouldn't come back to me off leash or when outside in the backyard when called. After hearing others in the class with similar issues and after talking about how perhaps the dogs aren't understanding what we're asking of them, several training options were presented to try, including trying a different word other than her name or 'come' which I've probably worn out by now. 'Treat' was suggested with a different dog so I thought I would give that one a try. Sure enough, it worked. She came to me like a bullet when I called her in from the back yard, and is consistently doing it ever since. The strange thing is that I have never used that word as she was not a treat motivated type of dog so I was really surprised that word meant anything to her. Now it means 'come' and she sure does get a treat.

I had an unfortunate opportunity to try it off-leash about a week ago when she got out of the back yard through an open gate I accidentally left open and she ran off. I was just sick and she was no where in site. I ran into the house to get the car keys to go look for her and when I ran out again, there she was running right back to me! It was the very first time she didn't run away. I was just thrilled and am sure it's a result of Lorraine's wonderful advice and the training and practice Heidi and I continue to partake in. Thanks Lorraine!

Maureen: I'm a great fan of Cesar Millan. I watch his TV show, read his books and own his DVD series on training your dog. Unfortunately, I have not been able to become him and I always felt inadequate. Since taking Lorraine's latest class, I feel much better about myself. My dog, Nelson, is better behaved and I feel good about his progress. I plan to take more classes.

I especially liked the class where Nelson was featured. It was very helpful for Lorraine and the others to watch me interact with Nelson and get pointers on how to do better. Nelson has a problem walking on a leash. He recently started barking at other dogs on leashes. The last public walk we made, I carried treats and whenever a dog approached, I made Nelson sit and fed him treats. He didn't bark once at the other dogs. I felt it was quite an accomplishment.

Classes are offered in Arvada, Denver, Englewood, Littleton and more. For additional dates and locations, or to invite us to your location, please visit, email or call 303-239-0382.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


need adopted and fostered

Every now and again The Misha May Foundation takes in cats under special circumstances. You will be touched in particular by Amy, as you read below. Let us know if you are interested in adopting, or would like to give fostering a try.

Email or call 303-239-0382.

Pearl is actually a very soft gray, although she appears black in this photo. She is a 3.5 yr old spayed Domestic Shorthair. She is up to date on all vaccines and is FIV negative. She is calm and sweet, rode in a carrier in the car well and is curiously exploring her new surroundings. She likes being petted and immediately laid down to receive more! She would probably do well with another friendly cat. She is petite. We don't have any other history.

Clifford is a neutered 4 yr old Orange Tabby who is a very fit 17 pound cuddleboy. He is confident and very companionable. You can tell he is used to love - his owner fell on hard financial times and had to give him up. He is up to date on vaccines and is FIV negative. He rode well in the car and seemed fine with having new surroundings to check out. When I walk into the room, he comes to greet me. A fine boy who seems quite mellow and friendly.

Amy is a spayed 3 yr old blue & cream Calico who is up to date on vaccines. You can get a sense of how striking she is from this photo. She is very sweet and calm and very companionable. She jumps into your lap but also likes to explore.

She was declawed already (Misha May does not support declawing). The bad news is that she is FIV positive which means she is considered unadoptable by most shelters, and had to get out to a rescue who would work hard at finding her placement.

As I understand it, FIV is passed through bites between cats. The most common placements are as only cats or with others who have FIV. Although, there are some cat owners who confidently mix positive and negative cats, and report no problems.

The right person will come along. Of that I am certain!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome the Winter Power Animals

by Lorraine May

Winter is a time for resting, dreaming and awakening to inspiration. When we are prepared, we can luxuriate in this fertile darkness accompanied by our best ideas, our purest insights and our deepest spiritual understandings. As we draw near to our winter reverie, we can harvest what has value during autumn, while allowing that which is useless and outdated to wither and die, and pass away from us.

Echo aka Hank - my favorite power animal no matter what the weather!

Are you anticipating winter with its hush of snow, its dark serenity, and its frosty cleanse? Are you eagerly awaiting the opportunity to blast your way through deep snow banks like Misha, my black Labrador Retriever mix, used to do?

Or, are you dreading the inevitable decline of your immune system, the uncomfortable depression of your mood, and the impassable conditions of our highways? Do you, like Oscar, the Miniature Poodle, try to convince everyone that going outside is senseless, and that instead, you will wait for them, nestled in your robe by the fire?

Whether you are anticipating or dreading winter, the wisdom of the Winter Power Animals is available to guide and direct you. Preparation is key. Acceptance is crucial. Self-care is critical. Gifts abound. As winter approaches, the animals prioritize this sometimes-difficult transition. Following their lead, we humans can take cues, and copy strategies, from the animals near and dear to us.

Begin by observing the animals in your household for their cold weather adaptations. Has their appearance, appetite, or energy level changed? Have you found them sleeping in a patch of sunlight?

Next, notice any differences in the appearance and habits of our blessed wild animals. Perhaps you don’t catch sight of them as often, or maybe not at all. Some may even have become more daring in order to gather what they will need for the cold, barren months ahead.

As fall ends, Moose comes into power, having survived hunting season and completed the mating rituals. Moose is a solitary animal and can be called upon to help us tolerate the isolation that winter weather can impose. Moose, who is almost totally fearless, can also share his ability to navigate great depths of snow.

As winter approaches, look to Mountain Goat to learn how to receive and offer support for what lies ahead. Don’t rush into the season, but prepare with certainty. If you need to regain balance, employ flexibility or expand your perspective for the winter months, mountain goat energy can aid you here as well.

Raven and Goose are spiritually linked to the sacred time around Winter Solstice. Solstice is the shortest, darkest day of the year, during which the sun shines the least. Raven is particularly important regarding this darkness, as her magic helps us learn to bring more and more light into our lives. Raven helps us to maintain a sense of playfulness, and to develop resourcefulness. Raven is not easily intimidated and awakens our courage. Through Raven, we have a path to understanding all other animals more completely.

Goose improves our ability to communicate. Perhaps this winter you will begin to write, or make more time to read. Goose encourages a healthy diet including fresh vegetables, and makes a vegetarian diet more attainable. Just thinking of Mother Goose can enable us to transform any remaining negative childhood memories into bright adult opportunities.

During the winter, call upon Swan and Groundhog for their abilities as teachers. The large and graceful swan, who prefers colder climates, helps awaken you to your inner beauty, which you will be able to share with the world in the spring. Parents are guided to enrich their children’s winter journey with the mysteries of song and poetry.

Groundhog, the only true hibernator in our group of Winter Power Animals, falls into a deep unconscious sleep for approximately 4-6 months in his underground burrow. This state is conducive to lucid dreaming, facilitates healing and initiates out of body experiences. Groundhog enlivens interest in new areas of study for our rebirth in the spring.

As winter ends, Lynx energy is profoundly significant. At this time, Lynx kittens are mature enough to separate from the family and create independent lives. Mother Lynx taught hunting skills to the kittens in autumn, and kept watch as they achieved competency in winter. At winter’s end she sends them off with skills that will ensure their survival. Lynx energy can aid us as well, in a spring launch of newfound independence. Those connected to Lynx energy have an uncanny ability to fathom deception, to intuit the deepest truths, and to keep silent when appropriate.

With winter rapidly approaching us now, it is time to meditate upon, and welcome in, the Winter Power Animals. Establishing a reliable connection will trigger a daily reminder to thrive, not just survive.

Rufus, another example of my favorite animal!

Even now, there is still time to prepare. There is still time to release physical toxins and begin a healthier way of eating. There is still time to let go of crippling emotional patterns. There is still time to say farewell to thoughts that will poison our dreams. Let’s plan to awaken in spring to plant our seed ideas, having tenderly nourished them and ourselves, during the winter respite.

Many Blessings. Blessed Dreams.