Category Archives: dog ownership

Personality match

When I heard about Paws Like Me, a site with a personality quiz for matching prospective adopters with dogs up for adoption, I had to go look.

This site provides people who must re-home their dogs with a place to list them as available for adoption.  The site encourages shelters, through its partner program, to refer people to list their dog with them directly so that shelters have more room for other needy animals.

Sorry, this site is only for USA adoptions – not available in New Zealand.

I took the personality test, which took less than 5 minutes.  It seems pretty accurate based on the types of dogs I have had during my life:

Your ideal dog!

You are a very active person, but because the dog will be home for long hours alone you need a dog with less energy. High energy dogs do not do well with long periods of down-time and are likely to find their own outlet for their mental and physical energy. You like a dog that is fairly easy to train to basic commands and a few fun tricks. The dog should be able to focus his attention on something for a decent amount of time. You don’t mind a dog that is a bit reserved in new situations or around new people. You can be patient and take the time to teach him that there is nothing to fear. You like an affectionate dog that will snuggle with you, but you don’t want him to be in your face trying to get attention constantly.
Izzy the Greyhound riding in the car


I think Izzy would agree that we have been a good match!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Grieving for a pet

Don't weep for me gravestone

Today I have been thinking a lot about pet loss and grief.

It’s just been one of those weeks – a few older dogs who are clearly reaching the end of their lives and one client in particular who seems to be on the verge of needing to make an end-of-life decision for their aging dog….

Most pet owners have experienced grief at the loss of a beloved animal.  I know I have.  And even when you know that your dog is reaching the end of its life, the loss is still shocking when the end finally arrives.

And then I read this Wall Street Journal article, decidedly focused on US employment and employers, about the decisions employees face when grieving for a lost animal.  It’s a little shocking (but not surprising) to know that employers have asked employees who are euthanising their pets to report to work before/after the event.

When I used to be employed in a large public sector organisation as a senior manager, I commented on a proposed bereavement policy.  I suggested that managers should be able to use their discretion and grant a day of bereavement leave based on the loss of a pet.  Managers would know the circumstances of their employee and the role of their pet in their lives because they were expected to know their staff well.

I also saw it as a leadership issue – large employers have the ability to support staff with benefits that smaller firms may not.

The CEO declined (actually, he never declined he just ignored the submission). I found out later from someone in HR (because I asked) that the CEO felt he ‘had to draw the line somewhere.’

Despite the growing research-based evidence of the role our dogs play in our emotional and physical health, owners are not supported through the inevitable grieving process that follows their life-long commitment.

It’s sad.

I’m very proud that I support my clients in assessing quality of life and I follow up with them after their dog passes; many have stayed in touch as colleagues and friends long after their dog has gone.

My only hope is that our workplaces and their policies catch up on what it means to be truly family-friendly.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Promises to my dog


Promises I make to my dog

  1. I promise to have realistic expectations of the role my dog will play in my life. I will remember that she is a dog, not a furry little human; she cannot satisfy all my emotional needs.
  2. I promise to protect my dog from dangers, such as traffic and other creatures who might want to hurt her.
  3. I promise to keep her well dressed with a collar containing up-to-date I.D.
  4. I promise to learn kind and gentle training methods so that she can understand what I am trying to say.
  5. I promise to be consistent with my training, since dogs feel secure when daily life is predictable, with fair rules and structure.
  6. I promise to match her loyalty and patience with my own.
  7. I promise that my dog will be part of my family. I will make a commitment to schedule time every day to interact with her so that she will feel loved and will not develop behavior problems from a lack of stimulation and socialization.
  8. I promise to seek professional help if my dog develops behavior problems that become unmanageable.
  9. I promise that my dog will have opportunities to exercise and honor some of her instincts. She’ll have walks and runs outside of her daily territory, so she can sniff and explore.
  10. I promise to provide veterinary care for her entire life. I will keep her healthy and watch her weight.
  11. I promise that if I move, marry, have a baby, or get divorced, she will continue to share my life, since she is a beloved family member.
  12. I promise that if I absolutely must give her up, I will find an appropriate home for her that is as good as or better than my home.

Source:  Best Friends Animal Society

Dog bite prevention – we may be on the wrong track

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown that educating pet owners about canine body language may not be sufficient to preventing dog bites.  They’ve published their research in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour.

Dog bite photo

At a time when data suggests dog bite incidents are increasing, the team at Liverpool interviewed victims of dog attacks to gain further understanding into their perceptions of the experience.

They found that in some cases there was no interaction with the dog before the bite occurred and therefore no opportunity to assess behaviour.  There was a common tendency for victims to blame themselves for the attack, rather than the animal, or in cases where the dog was not known to them, they blamed the dog’s owner.

Warning signs

Even those who felt knowledgeable about dogs, perceived that a bite “would not happen to them”, and so despite the warning signs would continue acting in the same manner, suggesting that education on body language was ineffective as a preventative measure.

My comment:  This particular part of the research resonates with me.  I’ve seen dog trainers, working with client’s dogs, be super-confident despite the feedback that both the owners and myself would be giving them.  And then, they’d do things with the dog – such as reaching for their collar – which would instigate a snap. 

Working with dogs is a privilege, but we should also be humble enough to treat each dog as an individual…

“Preventing the situation from arising at all may not always be feasible. Reducing the damage caused when a dog does bite, through careful pet dog selection and training, is something we should aim for.”  says Dr Carri Westgarth, a dog behaviour expert at the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health.

Raising awareness

The researchers highlight that there is not enough knowledge of how dog bites occur to know how to prevent them entirely. Raising awareness that ‘it could happen to you’ as often used in other campaigns such as drink-driving, will be required for successful dog bite prevention.

More work is also needed with dog breeders to supply dogs that are less likely to bite and that have inhibited bites that do less damage, moving away from a victim or owner ‘blame’ model to explain dog bite injury.

Source:  University of Liverpool media release

How much will a pet really cost you?

Izzy adoption announcementIn case you haven’t guessed, I love dogs.

But any way you look at it, dogs are a responsibility and they require commitment in time and money to support and to care for them throughout their lives.

That’s why this article, How much will a pet really cost you? A cat vs dog breakdown, caught my attention.  Published in the Christian Science Monitor and using costs in US$, it shows the cost of owning either a cat or a dog and the money you need to expect to pay on a monthly and yearly basis.

I would add that if a dog develops a special health condition, or when it ages, your costs are likely to increase.  Here in New Zealand, I am finding too many owners who are in a financial pinch because of the care of an elderly or special needs dog.  In some cases, and in my opinion, the dogs are not receiving everything that that could to make them happy and comfortable (possibly extending their lives by months or years) – because the owners don’t have the finances.

Think before you adopt (or buy).

A dog is a lifetime commitment and one that costs money.  The benefits of ownership are a great investment.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Spending eternity together

In 1991, when my beloved Husky/Lab cross Porky passed away at the age of 14, we decided the best tribute to him was a burial in the Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery.  Whenever I visit the area, I stop to give him flowers.

Porky's grave

And for the dogs I have had since then, I have made plans in my will which say that their ashes should be cremated with me.  I often talk with my clients about making their plans for when they and their dogs pass away.

Now I hear that the State of Massachusetts is debating House Bill 3272, which would allow the state’s 5,000 municipal, private and religious cemeteries to designate land for the “co-internment … of the bodies of humans and their pets.”

It’s not a law yet – but it’s a start of a welcomed, larger debate.  There will be sensitivities around the internment of animals alongside people already buried in regulated cemeteries, with some having objections on religious grounds.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

A different way to encourage owners to scoop

Let’s make the world less crap…

That’s the opening line of a current Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for Poopins, a biodegradable marker for piles of dog poo that haven’t been removed by unthinking dog walkers.

Scoop Ya Poop

Motivated by walks on Sumner Beach here in Christchurch, where numerous piles of dog poo have been observed, local man Stephen McCarthy came up with the idea of Poopins  (think ‘poo’ and ‘pins’ combined).

I’m not sure if this product will ultimately get funded.  But, the fact that someone is thinking of this type of open reminder to dog owners, points to the fact that we have too many irresponsible dog owners in this city.

Picking up your dog’s feces should be non-negotiable.  Today, as part of my weekly shopping, I bought a package of nappy bags (diaper bags for Northern Hemisphere readers) for picking up poop.  Bags are probably the easiest thing to get hold of; I re-use bags when I have them available, and then the nappy bags the rest of the time.

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

I personally would like to see the City of Christchurch become more dog-friendly with urban design that makes responsible dog ownership the norm – and apply peer pressure to those dog owners who are not responsible.  When dog owners don’t clean up, they make it harder for the rest of us to enjoy our dogs openly and with a variety of locations to choose from.

My other posts on this subject include:

Please – no matter where you live in this world – clean up after your dog.  It’s the responsible thing to do!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand