Can your dog jump the Mississippi River?
Keep Calm and Carry On, Part One
Everything But The Kitchen Sink
Social Butterflies
But the Cat Gets to Poop in the House
Getting Down to Business
Stop Training the Dog and Train Yourself!
A Place For Everyone
A Place For Everyone, Part 2

Do you know anything about that, Dean?

While visiting the Kong plant in Golden, CO last week, their dog trainer gave a presentation and asked us, “Do you know what the number one thing dogs consume is?”

I responded, “socks.”

He laughed and said I hit the nail on the head, socks and underwear! He then asked me how I knew that…

And I replied, “Because I don’t have any socks left!”

You don’t happen to know anything about that, do you Dean?

Dean and a stolen sock.

Eat, Sleep, Poop, Repeat.

Dean at the Vet

It brings a smile to my face when my dogs enjoy being at the vet and behave so wonderfully!

Dean got so excited about Christmas that he got an upset tummy and some pretty stinky diarrhea! Haha. So….we made a quick trip to the vet.

Christmas decorating isn’t why Dino has diarrhea, but he’s had excessive and very loose stool for a couple of days so we are here getting a check up.

It’s always good to know your dog’s eating and bathroom habits so you can catch anything out of the ordinary quickly before it turns into something much worse. I always take time to walk my dogs to ensure they have a healthy poo after each meal. If you don’t know your dog’s bathroom schedule start paying attention so that you can guarantee they go often enough, and that its a good consistency and color. You never know when you might end up at the vet with an issue and the doctor might ask if you know when the dog had his last bowel movement and what it looked like.

Poop is a part of life. Pick it up and move on. 

Thanksgiving Feast the Ridogulous Way

The dogs waiting for turkey dinner.

Dean, Dolcezza, Lola, Smokey, and Danner are waiting to say the blessing and dive into that turkey dinner!

The Darby dogs have so much to be thankful for. I have no doubt that they realize just how blessed they are. Many of them remember their time on the streets and appreciate every meal in a special way. Others who never experienced being homeless see the rescue dogs that come to our house and understand how lucky they are. We work hard every day to try to make the lives of homeless dogs just a little bit better. Dogs love us, work hard for us, and give us unconditional love. They deserve the same from us.

I’m constantly amazed at the rescue dogs that have been abused physically or by neglect. They’re so quick to forgive humans. Even though sometimes it takes them awhile to be comfortable and trust us completely, they still appreciate everything we do for them and show their gratitude with every tail wag or lick.

Now to try and express how thankful I am for my dogs. This might be impossible to put into words. Actually, it is. I cannot even begin to imagine my life without animals. They give me purpose. They are my purpose. A very special friend of mine sent me some Bible verses after I lost Sloane. She included these:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. I Peter 4:10

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is.
I Corinthians 12: 7

God put each of us here for a reason, and my reasons have four legs. I haven’t yet figured out the whole story. I don’t know what His long-term plan is for me, and sometimes I question whether I’m following the right path. It’s hard to just close your eyes and believe sometimes, but guess what…my dogs are the very ones that remind me that He’s with me all the time, and I can put all my trust in Him. Without them, I would be nothing. I would have no reason to wake up in the morning. I would have no purpose. And I would have never invented my new pooper scooper blower (and I’m sure that’s going to be a million dollar idea soon)!!!

With each new furry family member that I find, my heart is filled more and more with pure love. And with the loss of each one, I endure extreme pain. But I would never take back the time I had with each of them. They each teach me something new and amazing, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.

So today, I’m beyond thankful for my amazing family (which is comprised entirely of animal lovers), so grateful for my friends who understand my love for animals (even though they might not be quite as extreme in their love of animals as me), and I’m forever indebted to the animals that give me purpose.

Can your dog jump the Mississippi River?

Because mine can!! 😉

Dolcezza had no trouble leaping over the Mighty Mississippi! ;)

Dolcezza had no trouble leaping over the Mighty Mississippi! 😉

Dolcezza and I spent the beautiful, sunny day at the Mud Island River Park in Memphis. The park, located on an island in the Mississippi River, has a scaled down replica of the river starting at Cairo, IL and ending in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a pretty cool place to visit and offers a ton of great training opportunities. The first one for my labs, of course, being all the water!! Cezza was tempted to take a plunge in the replica river water, but she kept her composure and performed like the service dog that she is, perfect!

Cezza chilling out in the scale model of the Mississippi.

Cezza chilling out in the scale model of the Mississippi.

Several training challenges that we found at the park included children running about playing and splashing in the water, crumbs scattered everywhere from their afternoon snacks, strange floating paddle boats, foreign visitors speaking in different languages that weren’t quite up on the current service dog etiquette, and various wildlife such as squirrels and ducks. Dolcezza handled them all with ease.

Remote stay under a bench near the Mississippi River.

Remote stay under a bench near the Mississippi River.

We had the opportunity to work on heel work with distractions, leave it, and remote stays. I also had the chance to introduce her to a few new and interesting things such as the paddle boats and the monorail.

We had a great visit to the park. It was beautiful outside and I can’t imagine anyone better to spend my afternoon with!

Dolcezza and me in front of the Mississippi River Bridge.

Dolcezza and me in front of the Mississippi River Bridge.

Dolcezza and the MS River Bridge

Dolcezza and the MS River Bridge

MS River Park

“Can’t I jump in the water just once?? PLEASE!” -Dolcezza

Keep Calm and Carry On, Part One

Cinder - Impulse Control

Impulse Control, Part One

Diabetic Alert Dog in training, Cinder, helps demonstrate ways to start work on training for impulse control in the video below.

Distractions can be dangerous for a service dog. If they can’t control their excitement and impulsively jump at, chase after, or grab something, bad things can happen. Cool, calm, and collected is the goal for every service dog.

To achieve this puppy “zen” in all situations I start small, in an area without distractions, and I present small, calculated distractions and reward when the dog chooses to focus on me. I wait for eye contact, then click and treat.

As he continues to do well, I continue to increase the difficulty. Take it slow! Don’t rush! I didn’t go as far as to bounce the ball on the first training session and you shouldn’t either! Make sure your dog succeeds at each step before moving to the next.


IMG_7033We have a little tradition at my house that we like to call Sardine Sunday. My dogs probably count down the week days to Sunday like the rest of the human world counts down to Friday! I look forward to Sardine Sunday just as much as they do because I know how much they love the tasty treat, I love watching them get so excited, and I know how many health benefits are packed into each tiny, little can!

I’m in no way a scientist, a nutritionist, or a veterinarian, but I’ve spent many, many hours over many days, months, and years researching canine health and well being. It’s important to me. My dogs give me all of their love and loyalty, and they look at me as their leader, their hero. Providing the best in health and nutrition is the least I can do for these devoted companions.


Be sure to buy sardines packed in water. Oils and other substances that sardines are sometimes packed in can be bad for your dog.

According to, sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids and Coenzyme Q10. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids range from cancer prevention, to reducing inflammation, and even giving the immune system a boost. The DHA and EPA are great for brain development and help improve the skin and coat. CoQ10 supports a healthy heart, improves circulation, and is great for preventing dental disease. When buying sardines, be sure to get cans of the fish packed in only water. Sardines packed in oils and other types of substances can contain ingredients that could be harmful to your dog. Also, always look for the lowest sodium content and purchase those sardines. Your dogs don’t need the extra salt.


This is what a good smelly, mushy sardine meal should look like!

Now, I’ll be honest…sardines can leave your furry little friend a bit gassy and if fed too many, too often, they can start to smell a bit fishy! Most dogs don’t need an entire 3.75 oz can every day, and according to the fatty acids are fragile and will perish quickly, so the sardines should be eaten immediately or frozen. Because of these reasons I started feeding sardines once a week instead of daily and Sardine Sunday was born! My adult labs (weights ranging from 55-75 lbs) get one can of sardines each, once a week. For my puppies, I open one can and split it between them. They get one fish per 20 pounds of body weight each.

After putting kibble in their bowls I dump the fish, and the water it’s packed in, over the food. In order to get all the smelly goodness out of the can, I fill the tin up with water, swish it around, and pour it over the kibble, too. All the while my dogs are lined up, ready to devour their special treat, drool dribbling everywhere from their anticipation.


Always wash your dog’s bowls after they have a special treat like Sardines. The excess left in the bowl will go bad and could make your dog sick if you don’t clean it out.

Be sure to wash your dog’ bowl after they finish eating the sardines! The smelly, mushy treat leaves quite a mess in the bowl, even after the dogs lick as much as they can out!

If you decide to give your dog sardines, let me know how much they enjoy it! I know they’ll be beside themselves with excitement. Sardines are the closest treat to a wild caught, fresh fish they can get!

Behind Closed Doors

Training Tidbits – Teaching Your Dog to Wait Patiently Before Exiting the Crate

Having a dog that understands they can’t barge out the crate door every time it’s opened is precious. It can potentially save their life by giving you the opportunity to put a leash on them and potentially keep them out of the street.

It’s such an easy and quick thing to teach your dog, and there’s an opportunity for training literally every time you get your dog out of the crate.

Here’s the low down:

  1. Open the crate door.
  2. If your dog begins to walk out shut the door before he reaches it. *Try not to slam their little face with the door!
  3. Wait quietly until he sits down then open the door again.
  4. Repeat until the dog waits patiently then release him with your exit cue. I use the word, “out.”
  5. Reward lavishly!

Check out the quick video below to watch Dean learn to wait patiently before exiting and to see Lola and Danner showing how this skill is useful!


Just Leave It

Just Leave It

Teaching Leave It, Part One

Leave it is probably one of the most useful cues you can teach your dog, and definitely one that can save their life. It’s so easy to teach that it’s a serious crime if your dog doesn’t know it!!

Start with these 4 simple steps: (You’ll need your clicker, your treat bag, and a place to sit.)

  1. Put your clicker in one hand and a few treats in the other.
  2. Close your treat hand and place it down in front of your pup.
  3. Wait until your pup stops licking, pawing, and nipping at your hand to get the treats, and click the very moment they look away.
  4. Give them a treat out of your clicker hand.

There you have it. It’s that simple. Once your dog starts to understand that looking away from your hand gets him a reward you can start to build duration by waiting a few seconds before clicking. Then you can add the cue by saying “leave it” as your pup looks away.

You can teach this to any age dog, so you can’t use the excuse that your dog is too old!

That’s part one of leave it. Trust me, it might take a few minutes for your dog to look away the first time, but then they will get it quickly and they’ll love this game! Check out the short video below demonstrating this training.

Practice with your dog and stay tuned for part two, coming soon!