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from Sun, 23 Mar 2008; 10:16

Dog-to-Dog Communication

After many years of studying dogs - the same ones - year after year after year, along with lots of other studies of dogs, Alexandra Semyonova has come up with observed and collected information that can aid any human keeper of dogs.

As I write this, Thursday, 3 September 2009; 06:14:36, I have just finished reading her book, entitled The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs. The information Semyonova offers could be of great aid to Human DogParents, dog trainers and behavior counselors, veterinarians who treat dogs, and anyone else who meets or cares for dogs. To make best use of the material, the reader will need to take time reading, pay close attention to what Semyonova has to say, and apply all possible thinking during and after reading. And, as always, the reader needs to Question Everything, including what this book contains. Dogs will always give us the real answers to our questions. I believe dogs will thoroughly confirm at least most of what Alexandra Semyonova writes about them. I can't say all, because Semyonova has considerably more experience than I have - especially, in long-term observation of the same dogs. We need more of this follow-up observation, preferably by people who observe without prejudice.

The lesson here is that we need always to work with dogs on their own terms.

As I read, I felt repeatedly enlightened about one or another aspect of human behavior with dogs, and also about various aspects of dog-behavior. I felt I was honing my comprehensions about how dogs talk to each other and to us.

For those interested in a model that accommodates dog-dog communication in ways I hadn't considered before, but that seem to apply much better than I had originally thought, I suggest taking advantage of the free download of Semyonova's paper entitled The Social Organization of the Domestic Dog.

You can find and order the book, and download the paper, at Semyonova's web site. The book comes in soft-cover, or electronic form. You will find excerpts from the book on the site as well. If you visit the site, you will need to use your browser's Back button to return here.

For those who want a comprehensive education about dog-communication, please combine Semyonova's work with that of Turid Rugaas.

Alexandra Semyonova, "Sascha" - DogRead Guest

As I write this, on Tuesday, 2 March 2010, I have just learned that Alexandra Semyonova; also known as "Sascha," is the guest author on the DogRead Yahoo group this month. It should be a very lively month!


Despite continuing and updated research on the old myths concerning dominance in dogs, large numbers of behaviorists, behavior counselors and trainers continue to rely on various views that incorporate the notion that dogs somehow want to be the boss, or care about their status in some kind of hierarchical structure.

Careful and meticulous observers like Turid Rugaas and Alexandra Semyonova cannot, on their own, alter this continuing dependence on notions of dominance, "alpha," so-called pack structure among domestic dogs, and all the implications that go along with such notions.

Some trainers are reluctant to change views they have expressed decades ago, and cling to their old views. Others present themselves on television as knowledgeable and effective, and for some reason, viewers seem to miss seeing the details of what they actually do to dogs, or believe it is okay to lift a dog by its collar, far enough to remove the front feet from the ground.

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Ng for pointing out this useful link on Dominance in Dogs. To return here, use your browers' Back button.

Turid Rugaas

I need to repeat this link, to the site of Turid Rugaas, because Turid Rugaas has put long-term, meticulous study into dog-behavior, as well as physiology. As a result, she has worked out very basic ways of helping dogs adapt to their lives with us humans. Her work has been seminal, and formed part of a foundation for works by others, including Alexandra Semyonova. If you follow that link, you will need to use your browser's Back button to return here.

Turid's work appears simple, for two reasons.

First, she gears her presentations to a general audience - you. me, and the gal next door. However, she also teaches dog-trainers, and in doing so, covers the crucial details that allow trainers to work with The Creatures Who Are Dogs in a way that helps them live as The Dogs They Are, in harmony with each other, and with their Human families.

Second, she has worked out training techniques that work in harmony with the natural and instinctive behavior of domestic dogs. These are also apparently very simple techniques, though timing and consistency in application are, naturally enough, crucial, when we apply them.

You will find a list of Turid's works; these are small, simply-written - but powerful - books you can easily put to use on your own, along with videotapes or DVDs to help you pick up the techniques.

Foundation books

Coppingers, Sapolsky

Two books that I recommend reading at leisure and repeatedly are:

Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution (2001), by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger (ISBN: 0-684-85530-5). It doesn't surprise me that Alexandra Semyonova cites this work frequently.

In particular, the sections on genetics and early learning, and on behavioral conformation, are very enlightening to those of us who keep dogs as animal companions.

Reading this book with care, at leisure, also provides a kind of knowledge I think is quite indispensable to those of us who have diabetic dogs.

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping (2004), by Robert M. Sapolsky (ISBN: 0-8050-7369-8). Though not simple reading, for people not well-versed in physiology, skimming this book, without trying to memorize, gives a very good idea of how physiology affects activity - and emotions. People with diabetic dogs, would benefit greatly just from reading through this book.

When we comprehend the basics of physiology, we become able to plan schedules for our diabetic (or other!) dogs in a way that supports their health and well-being.

Fortunately, it is entertainingly written, making it quite a lot easier to track through than one might expect!

Both these books should be available in most public, college or university libraries.

Learning about diabetes

On diabetes in dogs and cats

Here's a useful wiki site on Diabetes in dogs and cats

Another site that provides support for diabetic dogs is at Diabetes in Dogs. This site provides an Online Forum, where each dog gets its own thread, so that you can track each individual. Because diabetic dogs each respond differently to treatment, reading through these threads is a wonderful education for human keepers of diabetic dogs. This is made so partly by the work of the site owner, Natalie, and her cohort, Kathy. Forum members often have very good ideas as well. Kathy writes a lot also for the Pet Diabetes Wiki, which takes you through diabetes in dogs and cats also.

As always, with any email list or web site, including this one, take the precaution of checking and double-checking any critical information before using it. Make sure you have a really capable veterinarian, who will work with you and your dog (or cat).

Dr. Nancy Kay
Work with your vet!

Dr. Nancy Kay, board-certified veterinarian in internal medicine, recently published a book on how to make medical decisions, working with your veterinarian, even if you don't have medical training. Dr. Kay is a guest this month (December, 2008), on the Yahoo Group called DogRead, which can be found at DogRead

Speaking For Spot

Publication details

Author: Nancy Kay, DVM; Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Title: Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Paperback: 384 pages

Trafalgar Square Books,Oct 1 2008

ISBN-10: 1570764050

ISBN-13: 978-1570764059

Dr. Nancy Kay's Web Sites

Speaking for Spot

Dr. Kay has two web sites; the first, her main personal site, is at Speaking For Spot

The second a blog, Speaking for Spot Weblog is one that I personally consider immensely educational reading for any human who keeps companion dogs.

Jackie McGowan's Fanickally web site

Trainer Jackie McGowan uses much material as taught by Turid Rugaas, along with quite a lot of her own that she has thought about and worked with for many years now.

Jackie has consistently been a champion for dogs, in particular, those who suffer from over-reactivity. She insists, always and first, on respecting the dogs for who they are. I just cannot imagine a better starting - and finishing - point than that.

The point is to work with dogs on their own terms; to work with them according to who they are.

Our best chances to provide happy, healthy lives for our dogs is always to start and finish with that: work with the dog according to who the dog is!

As I write this, on 2 August, 2008, Jackie is putting finishing touches on her brand new web site, at Fanickally.

Jackie McGowan's Yahoo Group for Reactive Dogs

Jackie also hosts a Yahoo group, where she has been carrying on her championing for some years now. I recommend this group for further study for anyone insterested in dogs, most especially those who react strongly to events in their lives.

You will find Jackie and many other contributors at Pos-4-ReactiveDogs.

Monica Segal on Canine Nutrition

Monica Segal has put much study into canine nutrition over many years. She is the author of the well-reviewed, and, I gather, much-consulted, book entitled Optimal Nutrition. I encountered her work on the Yahoo group DogRead, in October, 2007, and shortly thereafter, I joined her own Yahoo group, at K9Kitchen. A group of very well-informed moderators assists Monica on the email list.

Monica and her moderators cover a wide range of approaches to feeding dogs, from raw to commercial diets, including home-cooking, and various degrees of any of these approaches.

You can find Monica at Monica Segal's web site.

Her book reviews page (writings) says this:

Monica Segal is certified in animal Health Care with studies in animal nutrition, human nutrtion, physiology, diseases and parasites, as well as pet care

The Ethical Dog Trainer - Jim Barry

Jim Barry, author of The Ethical Dog Trainer: A Practical Guide for Canine Professionals, published by Dogwise in 2008, operates a private dog training and behavior consultation business in Middletown, Rhode Island, U.S.A. As I write this (February, 2009), I am expecting a copy of his book in the mail, in a few days. Meantime, I am following his course-like discussion, again on the DogRead Yahoo Group (February, 2009).

You can find Jim Barry at R.I. Dog Guy

Return to Kumbi goes low again

Online Cushings forum has re-opened with a new host

Sun, 12 Apr 2009 21:42
Revised Sunday, 24 May 2009; 11:30

The former online forum has returned with an information-only section on the old host, and also, provided a new host for members to post. Members can find the new host at

You may need to re-register in order to post at the new host.

Massive information and support on Cushings Disease

Wednesday, 15 April 2009; 06:20

Diabetes and Cushings disease commonly occur in the same dogs. For those with diabetic dogs, or, of course, with Cushings, I strongly recommend the Yahoo Group called CanineCushings-AutoimmuneCare, commonly known as CCAC, because it offers so much that assists with taking care of diabetic as well as Cushings dogs.

Quote from the CCAC guidelines

We strive to present balanced content and factual information to our members. There aren't any "sacred cows" here; we discuss the pros *and* cons of issues and try to cut through the hype and myths associated with canine health care, nutrition, disease and prevention. This enables our members to make educated and responsible decisions on behalf of their pets.

Quote from the CCAC Home Page

CCAC is an international community of lay people and veterinarians who have an interest in hyperadrenocorticism (Canine Cushing's syndrome), steroid hormone aberrations and associated medical disorders (e.g. liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, IBD, kidney disease, UTI, bladder stones, incontinence, heart disease, hypertension, thromboembolism, hypothyroidism, myotonia, arthritis, osteoporosis, calcinosis cutis, SARDS, cancer, pituitary/adrenal tumors, seizures, Alopecia X, hyperestrinism, congenital hyperplasia-like syndrome, autoimmune polyglandular syndromes, iatrogenic hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's), Addisonian crisis, etc.).

Coping with IAOANABS or GES

If you suffer from "I Am Overwhelmed And Need A Break Syndrome" or "Glazed Eyes Syndrome," here are suggestions for coping. Just do as I do: Set the material aside, get up, walk away, BREATHE, and Return When Ready. Take One Step At A Time. You may require numbers of walk-aways and returns before you can settle easily so as to sort the information you get into manageable stacks.

You may also suffer from difficulty translating Big Words. There is a very easy solution to that! Simply ask what they mean!

Be willing to be confused!

My greatest trade secret for learning, especially when overwhelmed, is that I am willing to be confused. I merely notice that I am confused, and let everything go, then and there. Then, whenever I feel able, I look at one bit, and, when I feel up to it, another. Using this method, it's surprising how much I can learn; it just takes a little time, and a reminder to myself to Breathe!

Two forums, dual-purpose support for Cushings

The online forum, Canine Cushings Net provides another source for support and information. The forum organizers provide one thread for each dog, and reading through the different threads gives you a great introduction to Cushings! Also, you get a chance to chat with other CushDog-Parents.

Where CCAC resembles a huge university library, seminar and workshop, CanineCushings.Net resembles a local, interest-oriented enclave, where you and your neighbors can gather to work and chat together. It's rather like a rural neighborhood, where common interests hold residents together in a friendly and informative support group.

I'd recommend to anyone who has a Cushings dog that you join both forums, and stay with both of them, too.

Previous Links

from before March, 2008

Learning to Learn

Straight and Crooked Thinking

Another useful book

Robert H. Thouless wrote this wonderful little book in 1930, with revisions in 1953 and 1974. This is indeed a useful primer on the topic of its title.

For anybody who gets caught up in a need to Bunk-or-DeBunk, or who feels assailed by what seems obvious - but annoyingly ever-present - nonsense, the book is a mind-saver. Yay for Thouless!

You can find a short biographical note, but the pages that used to contain a list of his 38 dishonest arguments or tricks seem to have been taken down permanently. So you would need to find a copy of the book to get the list. In the world of dogs, dog-training and dog-behavior, and also, in the management and treatment of diabetes in dogs, such clarity of thought and argument can only be a blessing.

I strongly recommend that you use principles as taught by Thouless, along with ethical principles as taught by Jim Barry, when looking for information about dogs, whether behavior, or diabetes. Vekkie is also always available to you, here on Coherent Dog

I have a trade secret

What does the phrase "trade secret" evoke? Likely, the idea that something special, specially hidden, is about to be revealed. The phrase is a come-on, a catch-all, intended to arouse interest, as though you're about to be let in on something special. It has emotional overtones to it, and can lead to social traps, or, as the computer-people call it, "social engineering."

But my little trade secret really is nothing but a habit I hope to nurture for myself for my entire life: that of asking MYSELF: "What if...?" And the first "What if...?" is, "What if I'm wrong?"

So, in an instance where I might feel confused, I court further confusion in myself, by asking, "What if I'm wrong? What then?" And so, I go on a search for alternative possibilities.

Return to Ramble-Forest

Sorting out fallacy in discussions

I don't know why, when I found lots of fallacious argument on lists concerning dog-behavior and training, I thought I wouldn't find the same in discussions on canine (or feline) diabetes.

Just shows to go that I can have expectations that are Quite Unrealistic.

I am a lousy logician, but I suddenly found a lovely site on Fallacies - oh! I recommend this site to anyone, not only for education, but for lots of laughs as well! Vekkie highly approves.

It could be a lot of fun to use some of these deliberately, though that might not always be wise when discussing somebody's diabetic dog when the Somebody could use some helpful education, rather than just a bunch of rotten jokes, or TidBerries.

Other Links

I will add other links as the occasion arises.

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