Maybe this is the case everywhere, but I am often amazed at how wonderful the animal rescue community is in my great state of Minnesota. I have met some amazing people over the past few years, many of them people who have (and continue to) go above and beyond what is expected, just to save an animal in need. But, every once in a while I meet someone who just stands out in the rescue community.
That is exactly how I would describe Chuck Heubach, a man with a very big heart and a desire to help animals in need.
Chuck is the owner and creator of TwinCityDog.com, an artistic online studio specializing in the creation of animal friendly children’s books emphasizing the humane treatment of dogs.
I came across Chuck’s work after a friend (in rescue) shared one of his images on her Facebook page. It was a picture of Franco, a dog that had recently appeared on our local news station after he was abused by some kids in Blaine, MN. It was beautiful work and I was intrigued. I immediately went to investigate who had done it and where I could possibly get some images done of my own dogs. Following the Facebook page, I found many other images and a webpage. And that’s when I met Chuck, the owner of Twin City Dog.
After conversing over email, I found out that Chuck is not only active in several out-of-state Collie rescues, but he is also connected to people I know in Sheltie rescue. In addition, he volunteers his time (and his images) to help dogs who need a little extra help getting adopted. He offers his pictures for free to rescues and shelters with hard to place dogs. .
You will find his images to be unlike anything you have ever seen before. I have shared a few of my favorites below, but I encourage you to take a stroll through his gallery to get a real sense of his talent.
If you are interested in having Chuck do a print of your own pet, just send him an email at Twin City Dog. You can also upload a photo on his website here. There are two pricing options - $50 per image or $30 plus $10 to your favorite shelter in the name of Twin City Dog. Prints are not included, but you do receive a high quality pdf file that you can get printed.
I wrote this post because I love Chuck’s work and because I wanted to recognize him for all the great work he does for dogs.
If you have a moment, please leave a comment and tell him how much you love his work. Thanks!
Here is one he did of Jasper. Isn’t it incredible?
All images are the property of Twin City Dog and used in compliance with Twin City Dog sharing guidelines.
Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.
A few weeks ago I asked you “What has your dog learned by watching other dogs and you?”
The responses were funny and interesting, and they completely reinforced my belief that dogs are waaaaayyyyy smarter than we give them credit for. We still have so much to learn about them….
One of the things I often ponder is what my dogs have trained me to do, like playing ball when they want or letting them outside for a potty break or cuddling when they demand it. All three of my dogs have behaviors that indicate something they want.
Jasper will wave his paw in the air when he wants me to continue rubbing his belly. Daisy will pace back and forth, between her kennel and the living room, when she wants to go outside, and Cupcake will stand on her back legs and place her paws on my lap when she wants attention. All are behaviors that have worked for them in the past so they know it will likely get them what they want.
Of course, I really do know that my dogs haven’t trained me as much as I have trained them. By giving them what they want when they exhibit these behaviors, I am reinforcing in their minds that this is the behavior they must do to get what they want. It sounds like a circular argument doesn’t it? It is to some extent.
When Jasper wants to play ball and continuously drops it at my feet and I pick it up to throw it, I have told him that dropping it over and over again at my feet will get the desired behavior from me (i.e., me throwing his ball).
We dog owners all have these behaviors we do when our dogs give us a behavior or cue. They have learned from us what works because we reinforce it. Barking at something outside gets our attention, whether it be positive or negative. Jumping on us gets them attention too. Again, it may be a positive or negative response, but it IS attention.
One of the things Jasper has learned is that walks are really, really exciting. When we leash up for a walk in the neighborhood he starts barking and jumping and pulling. Up until last week, I was reinforcing his behavior by giving him attention (“Jasper stop it!” or “Jasper, no barking”). He had learned that barking, jumping and pulling were all behaviors that got him what he wanted… a walk through the neighborhood.
That’s when I realized I hadn’t been taking my own advice, the one I had been giving to clients for years – stop reinforcing the behavior.
So, last week I stopped reinforcing the behaviors by taking away the expected response (i.e., continuing on our walk).. Instead of responding to the Jasper’s behavior with the desired result (to keep walking) I just stopped and ignored him until he stopped barking. When he was quiet for more than 3-5 seconds we started walking again. If he started barking again, we stopped and went through the whole process all over again until he stopped.
It didn’t take him long to figure out that he wasn’t getting the desired response he wanted when he barked and jumped and pulled. I was training him what desired behaviors would get him what he wanted (i.e., walking quietly and without pulling = moving forward and walking). we still have some work to do, but he is getting better about our walks.
I bet many of you have behaviors your dog has taught you to do too. What are you reinforcing with your dog? What behaviors does your dog do that leads to a desired response from you every single time? Have you tried changing your response? What happens when you do?
Recently a friend shared the news that one of her dogs had tested positive for Lymes disease. She was completely devastated and felt awful that her dog had gotten it in the first place. I immediately felt the need to respond and reassure her. Why? Because one of my dogs had/has Lymes disease too.
Jasper was diagnosed with Lymes disease a few years ago. Although, I caught it fairly early, I was still devastated to know that he had gotten it in the first place. Had I missed a Frontline treatment>? Had I missed a day. I was pretty sure I had given all my dogs regular treatment, but somehow a tick had still gotten past it. Thankfully, Jasper was easily treated with antibiotics, but unfortunately it also left him with occasional flare ups. Something I still awful about.
When my friend shared her story, I expected to be the only one admitting that my dog also had also gotten Lymes. Instead, I was surprised to discover that not only was I not alone, but I was not even one among two or three friends. My jaw dropped open as friend after friend admitted that their dog(s) had also gotten Lymes.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. It never occurred to me that so many people I knew would have dogs who at one time had had Lymes disease too. All this time I had kept my own sense of failure to myself, thinking I had somehow failed my dog, but as it turns out I was not even close to alone. The question is why? Are we all negligent owners? I find that hard to believe. Some people are more diligent than others in applying some sort of protection on their dogs. So, how is it possible that so many of us had dogs who had at one time had Lymes?
Maybe this story on a new study holds some answers: When Dogs Are Most Likely to Pick Up Ticks.
I encourage you to read the full story, but here is a brief synopsis of what was in the piece:
- Dogs are much more likely to pick up ticks when the temperatures rise.
- There are three species of ticks that are most common and each tends to flourish at different times of the year.
- Although the precise species of tick may vary with the seasons, dog owners need to pay attention to the possibility of ticks throughout the year, especially from March until November.
- Scientists discovered that the number of ticks per day on animals treated with an acaricide, either alone or together with a repellent, was not significantly lower than on untreated animals. Worryingly, the ticks were still capable of causing disease.
- Of the 90 dogs in the study, researcher Michael Leschnik was able to show that over half of them became infected with one or more of the pathogens during the study period. The chance of being infected did not seem to be reduced by the use of an acaricide.
- However, the researcher did mention that “the poor performance of the drugs in our study may relate to low owner compliance: many owners only applied the spot-on drugs after finding ticks and they did not use the drugs often enough. The efficiency is much higher under laboratory conditions, so we should try to raise the owners’ awareness of how to apply the products correctly.”
- Unlike on humans, where ticks tend to crawl to a warm and protected place and feed, on dogs ticks tended to largely confine themselves to a dog’s head, shoulder and chest, most likely latching on where they first arrived.
So is Jasper’s Lymes disease a result of my negligence? Or, were his chances of getting it just as likely as any other dog? I suppose I will never really know, but seeing this study, and knowing how many people I know with dogs who at one time had Lymes disease, makes me wonder. Maybe Frontline isn’t enough. Maybe checking each and every time we return from the park or from a walk is the only way to be certain. It certainly has me thinking.
You may have heard… Minnesota is in a perpetual Groundhog Day type of weather pattern this year. One day it is winter and the next day it’s spring. The next day it’s winter again, and then suddenly, spring makes a brief return (just to tease us).
It’s hard to know what month it is anymore. December? April?
The local radio guy even put up his Christmas tree again!
Think I am kidding? These are all pictures I took in the month of April.