Joey Scared Us Yesterday

Yesterday morning, Joey was struggling to walk.  His back was hunched over and he was obviously in pain.  Since Joey is a 10 year old Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix I was greatly concerned.

I took Joey to the veterinarian.  They did x-rays and gave him a full physical, but couldn’t find anything wrong.  The doctor decided to check Joey’s anal glands.  He wasn’t dragging his butt on the ground, so it wasn’t the first thing that came to mind.

She discovered Joey’s anal glands are infected.  All he needs is some antibiotics and he will be fine.  The Thaler family let out a sigh of relief.  We all love that old dog.


Three Dimensional Dog


I enjoy working with and training my dogs.  I’ve read a ton of books on dog training and attended several different training schools with my dogs.  However, the book “Three Dimensional Dog” by Aaron McDonald is different from anything I have encountered up to this point.

It was eye opening and changed my entire approach to dog training.  While I was reading the book, I was wondering why didn’t I think about these issues.  It seems so obvious now.

The first part of the book explains the differences between trick training and cognitive behavior training.

Most dogs are trained to perform an action for a treat.  The training is focused only on the outer behavior of the dog.  This is known as trick training.

Cognitive behavior training looks at the whole dog.  It addresses the inner mind and emotions of the dog and uses that information to teach the dog how to live peacefully within the family unit.  The three dimensional approach to dog training is based on cognitive behaviorism.

The first dimension that needs to be addressed is the dog’s emotional needs.  Does the dog feel safe and have appropriate boundaries?  Are the dog’s physical needs being addressed?

The second dimension is concerned with what the dog is thinking.  Before a dog does anything they will develop an intellectual plan.  Paying attention to the dog’s body language will tell you how the dog is feeling and give you insight into what the dog is thinking.

The third dimension involves action.  It is everything the dog does with their body.  This is where traditional training methods actually start.

Addressing the dogs physical, emotional, and intellectual needs will allow the dog to reach a state of actualization.  Also, focusing on the three dimensions help the dog achieve a balanced emotional state.  This allows the dog to reach their fullest potential and be a functioning member of the family unit.

National Love Your Pet Day

When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it.  And we do it for a very good reason:  They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness.  They attack every moment of every day with that attitude. (Bruce Cameron)

Pets are humanizing.  They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to persevere and nurture and care for all life.  (James Cromwell)

Anthropomorphized my Dogs

I got to wondering what my dogs would be like as people.  This is what I came up with.

Ben is a Great Pyrenees and the laziest dog I have ever seen.  I think Ben would be a mid-level office worker that spends all his free time watching T.V.


Blue is an Australian Cattle Dog.  He would make a wonderful drill sergeant, because he loves barking out orders and telling everyone where they should be going.


Joey is a Labrador/Pyrenees mix.  He is hyperactive, stubborn, and goofy.  I can picture Joey as an excellent high school P.E. teacher.


Norton is a terrier mix.  He may be the smallest dog in our family, but his brothers never mess with him.  He has a big attitude.  I think Norton would be a successful politician.


Buddy is a Rottweiler/Beagle mix.  He is all about fairness.  In fact, if Buddy sees one of his brothers being mean to another brother he will jump into action and defend the one being wronged.  That’s why I think Buddy would be a social worker.


Joey’s Journey: Shelter dog goes from stray to samaritan

I was going through some old files and found a copy of this article that was written about my dog, Joey.

Joey’s Journey: Shelter dog goes from stray to samaritan


They say that every dog has his day. For Joey, that day came in December 2010 when, against all odds, he was adopted from the Bedford County Animal Shelter  Joey, a yellow lab, was brought in to the shelter as a stray. Looking back, that might have been a godsend in itself.  How could that be?

Hands to paws – Brenda Goodrich, director of Bedford County Animal Control is very active in the “re-homing” of animal occupants, using websites like and programs such as PetSmart’s Rescue Waggin’.  She’s even come up with a nickname for the shelter, tributing its rescuing nature: “The Doggie Underground Railroad.”  Joey came to find a new home through Goodrich’s efforts on, and his adoption story is one that she’s very fond of.  Shirley Thaler of Harvest, Ala., had recently suffered the passing of her longtime canine cohort of 14 years, Brownie, and was in the market for another pup. She came across a picture of Joey, and that was it.

Picture tells story – “Joey’s picture popped up and he had this big, goofy grin,” Thaler says. “He just looked so happy and friendly. Shelbyville’s about two hours away, but Joey’s picture stuck with me so I decided to call and see if he was still available.”  Joey and his ever-smiling mug were still waiting, so Thaler took a day off from work — kindly granted by her animal-loving boss — to drive to Shelbyville. Joey’s lucky day had finally come.  The beginning of Thaler and Joey’s relationship was not as peachy as the story of their fateful meeting, however. There was no denying that Joey was an exceptionally hyper animal.

Wild, crazy guy – “He was buck wild when I got him,” Thaler says.  As it turns out, Joey was a tornado of destruction, tearing up everything he could get his teeth on. He was even a threat to himself.  “I asked the vet to put him on tranquilizers for his own protection,” says Thaler. Evidently Joey had a knack for running into things without looking. One night, he ran into a low branch, cutting his eyelid and scratching his cornea.  Eventually, Thaler signed Joey up for doggie day care, where he ended up getting suspended.  “I thought that was kind of stupid,” Thaler says. “I thought, ‘is he going to sit at home and contemplate what he did wrong?'” A week later, Joey was expelled.  It took Thaler two more tries at obedience schools to find the right fit for Joey. This came at the facilities of Steve Russell in Toney, Ala., where Joey was trained for a year.

Calmer demeanor – Albeit still energetic, Joey progressed into being a much more manageable companion. So much so that Thaler enrolled Joey at Kind Hearts Behavior Center in Huntsville.  Now, Joey is on track to become a therapy-certified dog. And Thaler and Goodrich couldn’t be more proud.  Joey has made a few trips to rehabilitation centers to visit with patients, picked up litter with Thaler at Adopt a Mile.  One could even say that Joey’s first therapy work was done with his owner.  “They always say that you should find a dog that matches your personality, and there is definitely some merit to that,” explains Thaler. “But with Joey and I, we were exact opposites. I really think that has made my life a lot better, because now I’m active in the community and meeting new people.”  It’s all too rare that stray animals who wind up in shelters are able to find good, loving homes … and even more uncommon that they are able to make a positive impact on their community, such as Joey has. Goodrich hopes that Joey’s story encourages more adopters to gear their searches toward shelters like hers.

Happy ending – “Most of our strays aren’t bad dogs, they’ve just had bad owners,” Goodrich says. “I’m so proud of how Shirley’s done with Joey. They’re just such a great adoption story.”  As for Thaler, she’s glad that she endured Joey’s early growing pains.  “In the beginning we had our differences, but I’m really glad that I stuck it out with him because he is so friendly and affectionate,” Thaler says.  Joey’s journey from stray to samaritan hasn’t been an easy one. But in the end, he’s found a new home and Shirley Thaler has found a new best friend.

© Copyright 2012, Shelbyville Times-Gazette Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why I Admire Dogs

I was watching my dogs play and thinking about how they were rescued.

Norton was living behind a dumpster.  Buddy was found as a puppy in a box with his siblings and they had been abandoned.  Joey and Blue were both strays found on the side of the road.  Most of them exhibited signs of abuse.

With time, each dog discovered this would be their forever home.  They would always be loved and have plenty of food.  As they relaxed and grew comfortable in their new home, their true personalities began to shine through.

They all live in the moment and never dwell on their past.  They are happy and care free.  I admire them for that ability.