Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 New Year’s Resolutions for Alice the Chow Hound

Ok, so it’s that time of year again.  Is it me or does this get old?  Every year, many of us, think long and hard about what we can do to better ourselves in this next year. (Ok I said many, not all of us, and yes, I fall into the latter category.)  I grimace as I write this with that little nagging voice that says, “but Alice – you need to give it another shot.”  Alas, I will give into the little voice(s) in my head.  2010 here I come; I’m ready.  Well not yet, but I have a few more days to think about it. 

Ok, keep with it Alice, What to do? What to do?  Think, Think Think…Hhhhmmmmmm. Well, since I started working on with Nicki this year, I certainly have a new focus on dogs and their people.  Perhaps this is where I will find inspiration.  Maybe if I do it for my dog, it won’t be like I am doing it for me.  Maybe I can succeed because no one can give a better pity look that our dog, Tuppence.  She can guilt me into lots of things.  You know what I am talking about.  You just sit down to relax for a couple minutes, and over she comes with her favorite toy and hers eyes drilling a subliminal message into to your head, “Come on, please play with me.  Don’t you love me.” Go ahead, laugh at me, but you are laughing at yourself too.

OK – I got some ideas forming:

1      First, I need to get organized.  Let’s see – one central toy box, one grooming box, leads and collars, and all treats reviewed for healthiness, past due dates or opened too long

2      Assess her exercise routine, oops, maybe a little lacking like mine.  Better think about something that works indoors when it’s too cold out too.

3      Does she need to be trained on anything?  Better make a list.  Some things just need to be reinforced but others will be new.

4      Take a break – this was a lot of thinking.

I think I have a good start.  Will let you know how I do. If you have any pointers, please feel free to share them with me; maybe it will keep me in line.

Monday, December 7, 2009

HOWLIDAY Party at Wine Flights Bar and Bistro

The dogs are invited once again to join their human companions inside Wine Flights Bar & Bistro in southern Overland Park for good times, holiday spirits and a dog-gone good time on Thursday, Dec. 10th from 6pm to 9pm.

There will be discounted Flights and appetizers along with great dog-related conversations.

Reasons to attend this event:
  • It's the last party of the year.
  • It's warm indoors.
  • Half-price appetizers and wine flights.
  • And, of course, the dogs are invited!

Thursday, Dec. 10th
6pm to 9pm
Wine Flights Bar and Bistro
5408 W 151st St
Overland Park, KS 66224-8713

Newfie Holiday Walks on the Plaza

Calling all Newfoundlands and Newfie fans!

Quincy the Newf is hosting howliday Newfie Walks and this time they are on the Country Club Plaza so we can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Howlidays!

We're gathering together at Starbuck's on the Country Club Plaza at 6 pm. At 6:15pm, we'll begin the walk spreading good cheer and drool too!

So, if you have a Newfoundland or are a fan of Newfies, please feel free to join us.

We are also scheduling another walk on the Plaza on Saturday, Dec. 19th.

For those that are unfamiliar with the area, Starbuck's is on the corner of Nichols Road and Central, across from Halls. The official address is: 302 Nichols Road, Kansas City, MO 64112.

Howliday Photographic Opportunities in Kansas City

Now is the season to take holiday photos for your own enjoyment or to be made in to Holiday cards.

For more information on any of these dates, check out our Calendar of Events.

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Pet Photo Nights with Santa benefiting Animal Haven
Leawood, KS

City of Olathe Holiday Pet Photos
Olathe, KS

Friday, Dec. 11

Santa Paws for NAWS

Zona Rosa

Kansas City, MO

Saturday, Dec. 12

Petco Photos with Santa
Overland Park, KS

Santa Paws Photos by Yuppie Puppy
Mission, KS

Sheltie Rescue Santa Paws Photos
Overland Park, KS

Photos with Santa Paws
Fairway, KS

Monday, Dec. 21

Santa Paws for NAWS

Zona Rosa

Kansas City, MO

For more information on these events as well as many others, visit our Web site's Calendar of Events.

Save the Date - week of Dec. 7 - Dec. 12

Tuesday, Dec. 8

German Shepherd Dog Club of Greater KC

Club Meeting

Kansas City, MO


Wednesday, Dec. 9

Pet Photo Nights with Santa benefiting Animal Haven

Leawood, KS


City of Olathe Holiday Pet Photos

Olathe, KS


Thursday, Dec. 10th

HOWLIDAY party for dogs and their people

Wine Flights Bar & Bistro

Overland Park, KS


Friday, Dec. 11

Santa Paws for NAWS at Zona Rosa

Kansas City, MO


Newfie Holiday Walk

Country Club Plaza

Kansas City, MO


Saturday, Dec. 12

Santa Paws for NAWS at Zona Rosa

Kansas City, MO

Petco Photos with Santa
Overland Park, KS


Santa Paws Photos by Yuppie Puppy
Mission, KS


Sheltie Rescue Santa Paws Photos
Overland Park, KS


Photos with Santa Paws
Fairway, KS


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Volunteering with your dog - Pet Therapy

Many member of the DogsLifeKC pack as well as its supporters are active in the field of "therapy dogs."

When we're "Hitting the Town with our Hounds" that topic frequently comes up and often people ask how they and their dogs could participate as therapy dogs. So, here is the scoop!

***** What is a therapy dog?

In the most basic of terms, a therapy dog is a highly trained volunteer.

The dog is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in retirement homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, schools, detentions centers and libraries. Often the people they visit have physical impairments, learning difficulties or are under extreme stress.

***** What does a therapy dog do?
A lot depends on the size of the dog and where it visits.

A therapy dog's job is to allow strangers to pet it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog or touching it and talking.

At a hospital, a dog might need to lay next to someone on a bed or simply sit in a chair next to a person while being petted.

At a nursing home, a dog may go from room-to-room to say hello and if it is small enough, it can sit in someone's lap while being petted.

At a school or library, a dog will lay down next to a child and listen to the child read aloud.

At other facilities, the dogs may perform tricks, play ball and be groomed or simply listen to somebody's secrets.

***** Does a therapy dog really provide help?

Yes. There are many univierisities, organizations, including the Delta Society, and hospitals that have proven repeatedly through scientific investigations that therapy dogs can provide mental and physical benefits to the people that they visit and interact with.

  • Improve fine motor skills
    Improve standing equilibrioceptions (AKA balance)
  • Lower blood pressure,
  • Lower risk for stroke or heartattack
  • Decrease depression.


  • A 2007 study found that animal-assisted therapy is associated with moderate effect sizes in improving outcomes in autism spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being.
  • Increase verbal interactions between group members.
  • Increase attention skills (i.e., paying attention, staying on task).
  • Develop leisure/recreation skills.
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce loneliness.


  • Increase vocabulary
  • Aid in long- or short-term memory
  • Improve knowledge of concepts, such as size, color, etc.


  • Improve willingness to be involved in a group activity.
  • Improve interactions with others.
  • Improve interactions with staff.

***** What types of dogs make good therapy dogs?

Therapy dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds, including limited editions breeds (also known as mixed breeds).

The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, and gentle. They must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

***** Do I have to take a test?

Yes. All organizations that provide therapy dog certifications require testing of the dogs and humans as a team.

Tests are similar to a basic obedience test or the equivalent of the AKC's Canine Good Citizen test. Can the dog walk on lead without pulling? Can you meet a friendly stranger without the dog jumping on them? Does the dog know sit and down? Can the dog do a 1-minute down stay?

These tests, while different with each organization, ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises, can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably, and is not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving.

The human part of the team is also generally required to take a basic open book test on visiting procedures.

***** If we pass the test, does that mean my dog can go everywhere with me including stores and restaurants?

Therapy dogs are not service dogs and do not have the same rights.

Service dogs directly assist humans, and have a legal right to accompany their owners in most areas. In the United States, service dogs are legally protected at the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance and are not mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

***** Where can my dog and I visit?

Where you and your dog visit depends on where you're located, what interests you, the time of day that you're able to volunteer, etc. And, where you AND your dog are most comfortable.

Places that are visited in the Kansas City area:
  • Schools
  • Alternative Schools
  • Head Start programs
  • Libraries
  • Women's Shelters
  • Hospitals
  • Group homes
  • Hospices
  • Nursing homes
  • Retirement communities
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Detention centers
  • Menal health facilities
  • and many more.
***** What will my dog and I do on a visit?

That depends on you, your dog and the place you visit.

If you're part of a READ program, you and your dog will go to a school or library on a regular basis. Kids will read aloud to the dog while you and the dog listen.

At a nursing home, you might visit certain residents that are bed ridden to "say Hello" and chat for awhile about your dog, the weather, etc. Then, you go out in to an activities room to "say Hello" and then have your dog play ball or do tricks.

Truly, all of it is dependent upon you, your dog and the facility.

***** How do I get involved?

There are two animal therapy programs in the metropolitan area: Pets for Life and Mo-Kan Pet Partners which is affiliated with the Delta Society out of Washington state.

Both organizations provide certification and will assist you in getting started as well as setting up visits.

In my humble opinion, which is simply my opinion, Quincy and I have been certfied through both groups and done visits for both. But, the groups are different.

Pets for Life has more visits available throughout the metropolitan area and at different times of day which allows more flexibility for those that work.

Mo-Kan Pet Partners is a more intensive test and is geared more toward assisting facilities in goal-based animal-assisted therapy. When working in this type of pet therapy, the visits are more likely to be during the day.

***** Good luck and happy volunteering!

Monday, August 3, 2009

How to find a dog trainer to help you and your dog.

Since many of the Dogs Life KC pack is out "Hitting the Town with our Hounds," we're often how we got our dogs to behave like they do.

"We train them."

When asked who trained them, the answer is the same.

"We train them."

One of the most popular responses by far then is: "How long did you have to take him to obedience school to act like that?"

My favorite answer is, "He's 7 years old and we still go to school once a week."

The training level I want from my dogs is different than the average person that we meet on the street. And, I can easily say that for each of the Dogs Life KC pack members. Our dogs are active as service dogs, therapy dogs, show dogs, search and rescue dogs, etc. That means many hours are put in "teaching" the dogs each and every week.

So, if the person is still talking to me after I say that I have been taking my dog to obedience school for his entire life, then he or she will ask "Can you recommend a dog trainer to help me?"

That is a sticky wicket. Recommending a dog trainer is akin to recommending a church. You really don't want to offend someone accidentally.

I used to recommend different trainers in the area. But, after a bit, I've learned it is safer to ask:
  • What are you REALLY wanting from your dog?

  • How much effort are you willing to put in to the task?

  • How far are you willing to drive?
From those questions, I'll get a feel for what the person truly wants and maybe from that, I'll be able to recommend a few trainers that are agreeable with the goals and driving distance.

Some people laugh at those questions. But, they're actually quite serious when you think about them.

1) If someone is wanting their 5 month old Golden Retriever to act like my 7-year old Newfoundland within two months, that is just not going to happen without a lot of time and work.

2) If a person has a 9-year old Labrador/Great Dane mix that has always been food aggressive but they now have a toddler that likes to annoy the dog chances are they want the issue fixed NOW if not yesterday. But, they'll have to work and be diligent.

3) And, yes, travel time has to be taken in to consideration. For example, I personally have no issues driving from Lenexa to Lawrence for a dog class once a week. But, I enjoy the quiet time with my dog and it gives me a chance to catch up on phone calls. Other people balk at that time though.

Finding a dog trainer that fits you, your needs and your dog is a quest. The quest is similar to looking for a new pair of casual shoes. What looks good on the surface may not fit well or it may fit but doesn't look great with the majority of outfits owned.

So, before you go out looking for a trainer, decide what training style fits your personality.

I've met dog people who are hard core believers that a dog should never be punished or forced to do a thing. We as humans should "shape" their behaviors and never "lure" them or force them by putting our hands on them.

Are you a fan or foe of Cesar Millan - The Dog Whisperer guy on TV?

Are you open to the idea of using a clicker? This is a method similar to dolphin or whale training at Sea World.

I've even heard people tell me that their dog works purely because of love. Treats and praise are not necessary because their love is strong.
With all of this...I can honestly say I believe that IF you pick a method of training that you believe in 100% and you use that method 100%, the odds are good that eventually your dog will be trained.

True, your dog may not be originally aligned for that method. But, if you stick with it then eventually you'll get some compliance and training will have results.

How do you pick a trainer for you and your dog?

Watch a class or two.

Watch the trainer in a couple of classes. Then answer these questions:

  • Is the class too big for the instructor?
  • Does the instructor allow questions?
  • Does the instructor give attention to those needing it?
  • Are the students and dogs comfortable in the class?
  • Are the dogs excited to see the trainer?

What is the trainer's background and experience in dogs?

Ask the trainer about his/her background in dogs and what it is they like to do in regards to training. If the trainer just has a "pet dog" at home then maybe this person doesn't have the experience you personally need.

You must be comfortable with the person's experience because this means the person is aligned to a certain method or style of training.

What equipment is the trainer and students using on their dogs?
flat or buckle collars?
Head halters?
Pinch collars?

Are you comfortable with the equipment the trainer is using? If not, then look to a different class.

What is your gut reaction?
Is this a trainer you can work with? If you hesitate in your answer then move on. There is a trainer out there for everyone.

So then...what is in my personal dog training toolbox? I have a little bit of everything.

I've taken well over 1000 hours of dog training classes in a variey of subjects:
  • puppy kindergarten
  • canine good citizen
  • basic home obedience
  • novice
  • advanced
  • compeition obedience
  • therapy dog training
  • head collar training
  • e-collar training
  • agility
  • off-leash
  • rally-obedience
  • basic clicker training
  • trick training
  • basic scent work
  • advanced scent work
  • tracking
  • human remains detection
  • collapsed structure search
  • water searches
  • basic avalanche work
  • air-scent
  • reading calming signals from dogs
  • canine body language
  • form follows function in canine structure
  • and the list goes on, and on, and on
But, here is the kicker, I love this stuff. I find it immensely exciting and I'll go to classes that I don't always a strong interest in because I want to hear the trainer and observe the dogs. I love watching the dogs learn, and think. I think it is exciting to watch the light bulbs go on for the dogs and I sincerely believe that the dogs have a great time learning things and being able to conquer new tasks.

From all of those classes, I have a fairly interesting tool box. I don't conform 100% to any method of training. I use a variety of methods and skills dependent upon the dog and situation presented.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Wines with Canines

Wines with Canines

If you missed our first ever Wines with Canines event, you really missed out! But, never fear! We're going to do it again.

Join us for wine and appetizer specials at:
Wedneday, August 19th
a wine flights bar and bistro in Leawood, Kansas
6pm to 8pm.

a wine flights bar and bistro will have the following specials for all dog people attending:
  • the infamous Three Dog Flight of Sangrias
  • half-price appetizers along
  • wonderful dog people to hang out with!

And, thanks to feedback from those attending, we'll be hosting other "Dining with Dogs" events very soon around the metro area, including a Paws for Pizza event that will be fun for the whole family.

DogsLifeKC Newsletter - July 31, 2009

August is just a few days away and there is still so many fun things to do in the city with your dog even though the weather is H-O-T! Have you considered attending one of the local outdoor concerts or outdoor showings of movies?

Check them out on our Around the Town calendar!


This weekend... enjoy the tunes
Saturday, August 1
  • Country Club Plaza
    Enjoy FREE, live outdoor music every Saturday afternoon from 2-5 pm from now until September. Come join the fun as the Plaza courtyards are filled with the sounds of reggae, rock, bluegrass and R&B.
  • The Legends at Village West
    Turn up the volume on summer fun with FREE concerts at The Legends every Saturday night plus Memorial Day and Labor Day. Enjoy Kansas City's finest local and regional musicians, a brew patio and even a play area for the kids, all surrounding the fountain in the center courtyard. 5pm to 8pm
  • Zona Rosa
    Gather in Zona Rosa's Town Square for a wonderful FREE!!!! concert series every Saturday night throughout the summer.

Looking for...Dining with Dogs
We're looking for places that will allow Dining with Dogs. If you know of any spots that are "rumored" to allow dogs on their patios, please let us know:

Particular places that we're interested in finding restaurants:
  • The Northland
  • Overland Park
  • Independence
  • Lee's Summit

Next Week... Dog Retreat at The Elms
Aug. 7, 8 and 9

For more information:
Dog Retreat is a fundraiser for ESFOA. This fun family Dog Retreat is a great getaway weekend you can enjoy with your pet. Enjoy the Movie Friday, Pet Expo, Demos Dog Contests , Art Show and more all day on Saturday and for breakfast on Sunday.

Questions: Call Marilyn (816) 838-7490

Spotlight on - Dock Dogs

Come try the fastest growing dog sport - Dock Dogs. It's open to all breeds and experience levels.

Mo-Kan DockDogs Practice
Sunday, August 2, at 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Kemper Outdoor Education Center

8201 Jasper Bell Blue Springs, MO 64015

Noon -1pm - Beginners & Volunteers
1pm -3pm - Open Dock practice
3pm - 4pm - Extreme Vertical

To reserve your sport or for more information:


Mark your calendars

Save the date for these dog events!

  • Saturday, Aug. 15th - Tails on the Trails in Lenexa
  • Saturday, Aug. 15th - The Crossings at Barry Road's Off-Leash Dog Park Grand Opening
  • Saturday, Aug. 15th - Three Dog Bakery's Bark-to-School portraits
  • Thursday, Aug. 20th - Dogs Days of Summer at Prairie Village Shops
  • Saturday, Aug. 22nd - Doga in the Park at Mill Creek Park on the Plaza

For more details on these events and many others, visit our Web site:


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What would life be like without a dog?

I readily admit, over the years, I have gotten spoiled. For my entire adult life, I've had a dog with me.

When I leave for work, there is a fuzzy face peering out the window as I pull out of the driveway. It is that same face that greets me when I get home and pushes through the door to see if I brought something home for him.

There used to be three black, wooly mammoths in the house to watch me leave, welcome me home, share the couch space and accompany me on walks and trips. Now, there is just one, Quincy, affectionately known as the Q.

He used to be the youngest of three and now is the remaining, reigning king of the house.

The last two years have been hard on us. Calvin, the middle Newfie, passed away. I lost a job, got a job and we had to move. Of course, all of this not only added stress to my life, it had an impact on Quincy, too. And, to makes things worse, he was gravely ill twice.

Luckily, we had each other and we pulled through everything. He got me through the rough times and I took on the role of nursemaid when he was sick. But, it also made me contemplate, what would life be like without a dog?

The only thing I could think of was "extremely lonely." True, I have friends and family, but the thought of possibly losing the Q made me ill. He is my constant companion, my confidant and my BFF. :-)

I have had friends say that they enjoy the dog-less life. They can come and go as they please. IF they want to go to Chicago for a weekend, they just go.They're not shelling out $$$ for special foods, vet bills and pet sitters. And, they don't worry about rushing home after work to let the dog out.

A few speak of these things as horrid obligations and a reason not to have a dog.

I don't see those as horrible tasks. I see them as really cheap payment for all the companionship and enjoyment I get from them. What I have to do is a drop in the bucket for what I get and I do feel that having the Q in my life helps me structure and schedule it so I can get more accomplished.

Two weeks ago, Quincy's daughter, Darla, had a gorgeous litter of Newfoundland puppies. And the lovely "puppy-itis" started.

I had been waiting for this litter, particularly after freaking out last fall over Quincy's illnesses. I was seeing this as an opportunity to add to the fuzzy family with a new, little boy. I had picked out names, planned puppy classes, and all the cool things we could do.

Alas, the litter was all girls and I was greatly disappointed.

True, they're all extremely beautiful and have all the potential in the world. And, LOADS of my friends have girl dogs and adore them to no end. But, I couldn't get past my "sex prejudice." I wanted a boy.

After the arrival of the "girls," I talked to the lady that I got Quincy from and she had a litter on the ground with 7 boys. She couldn't promise me that the right one would be there for me but she said I could get on her waiting list. So, I contemplated that over the weekend.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I heard that over and over from my friends.

I agree with that, but couldn't figure out for the life of me what that meant at this moment. I have 5 girl puppies and wanted a boy. Do I change my expectations? Do I get on the list for a boy? Or, do I come up with another plan?

I hemmed and hawed. I made pros and cons lists. I tore them up and started over again.

Last night, I sat in the whelping box with Darla and looked at her beautiful babies. I kissed them all and assigned them to their new homes:
- one goes to Florida;
- two go to families in Kansas;
- and the rest go to Michigan

None will stay with me. I'll see the ones in Kansas on a regular basis. I'll help with grooming and training them. But, none will stay with me.

After I notified all the new homes their precious package would be ready to leave with them in 8 weeks, I got on email and took my name off the waiting list for a boy.

I then took Quincy for a walk and told him that it was "just you and me kiddo."

Scary as it is to contemplate the thought of being without a dog, I realized that I'm booked to the gills right now with work, the Web site, and other commitments, not to mention the fact that Quincy is not ready to retire.

Yes, I would love the dog: boy or girl. It's just my nature. I'd love it no matter what. But, I would rather those dogs go to homes where they'll be the star. I don't have the time to devote to that at this moment.

Right now, Quincy and I have the task of helping others make their dogs the light of their families life.

Very Drooly Yours,

Nicki & the Q

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why create DogsLifeKC?

After having several people comment, "Why do all that work?" I've now become a bit sensitive to the question.

Originally, my response was "Why not? It interests me." But, after receiving the question so many times and contemplating the hours, leg work and money put in to it, I've had to ask myself, too.

What has actually surprised me is that the people that I thought would be "in to" the project were those that had the least amount of interest. And, it has been less dog-centric friends and associates that have had the most interest in the Web site and have volunteered their time, money and efforts in support of it. To them, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude because without them, I would have quit the project long ago!

The question remains, "Why create DogsLifeKC?"

Personally, while growing up, I didn't have any siblings, but I had dogs with me all the time as well as an active imagination. I talked to my dogs, read to them and played games with them. And, when it was time to go on family vacations, the dogs went too. So, to me, a person that didn't treat their dogs as members of the family were odd. I couldn't understand why someone would not try to include their dog in as many activities as possible were "off."

While in college, my interests in dogs grew a great deal. I began training them for search and rescue (SAR) work and that eventually evolved to include animal-assisted therapy visits and crisis response work. Through those experiences with the dogs in SAR and therapy, I spent a great deal of time traveling with them, going to presentations, trainings, searches and it became rather unnatural not to have them with me.

I started to look for fun activities to do with the dogs as well as events where I could take them to accompany me. I'd talk to friends, listen to others and as I started to write things down so I wouldn't forget. After a period of time, the framework for DogsLifeKC site was born.

Why share the information?

DogsLifeKC freely shares this information we have collected with the dog community of Kansas City with a hope that it will inspire more people to train their dogs and mold them in to good canine citizens. Dogs that are well-behaved and active members of the family and community are less likely to end up in rescue organizations and shelters. They also get to share more of their family's time. All of which leads to a win-win scenario for all involved on many levels.

I know that believe that having the dogs in my life has been a joy and I do want others to have that joy, too.