I am by all means a Cat person, I've been in love with cats of all sizes since I can remember.  My first word was CAT, as a little girl, my first love was a cat named Cheetah.  At one point in my 20s my friends referred to me as the Cat Whisperer.  

But today...

In my household we have two Dogs, and a Foster dog at any given time, our life tends to revolve around the Dog's lives.  My cat simply watches from the couch.   It's far more interesting to write about the antics of the Canine.  I hope you think so too. 

What's surprising about Dog Parks

May 10, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I've been bummed out lately, because of a sprained left foot, I haven't been able to take the dogs for our daily walks.  We were up to two miles a day, but because my foot got all banged up, walking just one block is very slow and it starts to ache badly.  The Doc says it can take up to 6 weeks to heal, that's a long time, and we are feeling it already. It's only been 2 weeks at this point.

So in lieu, I take them to the local dog park.  Tucker loves the dog park, Claire not so much.  She loves her harness, loves to walk and sniff and see new (or old) stuff in the neighborhood.  Tucker would rather run free and be careless. He hates the harness, he will zig zag to get in Claire's and mine way just because he can't be free.  But at the same time, if I leave him behind so Claire and I can walk alone, he has a fit and goes crazy. Go figure.  I endure this when we do walk, because in the end, it's all good.  But at the dog park,  Tucker will run like the wind, chasing every other dog who runs, and will play with any dog who shows enthusiasm.  Claire likes to sniff around for about 5 or 6 minutes, then will either plop down by my side or walk around to greet the other dog owners.  She doesn't do much, and the most common comment I get is "wow, what a mellow dog!"  yep, mellow is the perfect word for her.  Tucker on the other hand is a barker. He's mostly Terrier, and that's what Terriers do, they bark, that loud, high pitched, yelping bark, that most people can't stand to hear.  When he chases  other dogs he barks at them, mostly I think its to get them to play.  He's a very friendly little guy, just expressive when he plays.  Otherwise, he's kinda quiet at home.   So, at the Dog park, he's vocal, and wild, either people laugh and say he's high spirited, or they don't say anything and I can see the annoyance on their face ( it's not hard to miss folks)..   

There are two kinds of dog parks in my local area. A Park that is separated-by-size,  and a park that includes all sizes.   We have been to both but prefer the all included, mainly because I have two sized dogs, Claire weighs about 45lbs, Tucker about 16.  

Dog parks have their own fascinating culture within themselves.  I love it, and am surprised by it too. 

When I take my dogs to the separated-by-size  dog park, Tucker of course is welcome because he's basically the size of the others, in the small sized dog section.  What's nice, is that I don't see the annoyed faces directed at him, because the other owners simply know about Terriers, and the vocalization, the crazy while-at-play look.  What's bad, is I get the annoyed faces directed at Claire, because she does not like the big dog section, she doesn't want to interact with them, she'd rather just stay with me.  I've gotten comments like "my dog is intimidated by the big dogs"  or "your dog is supposed to be with the big ones, this side is for little ones" .  Well, OK.  I get that.  Truth is Claire actually prefers the company of smaller dogs  and Tucker will play with any size.   It's really surprising how indignant people can be when it comes to separating the sizes. 

At the All-sizes-included, both dogs are generally welcomed until Tucker starts in with his barking.   I've been told that it riles up the other dogs, that it creates an atmosphere of chaos. Really, I've been told that. One person who said that, immediately left the dog park, because she was fearful Tucker's verbalization would stir up the bigger dogs into fighting.  In all this time, I have never seen a dog fight in the park because of one dog's barking.  I've never seen it.  Tucker has gotten told off by bigger dogs, nothing violent, just a back off warning. Dogs are smart, they don't mess with other dogs who have issued this warning  (well, of course in the case of two Alphas, you may have a problem). But over all, they have some sense, Tucker isn't elusive to this sense.  It's really surprising how people tend to forget that. 

I guess, we all want to protect our dogs to our fullest ability.  It's natural. We love them, they are family, it's a good partnership. I would never say "dont",  they need us as much as we need them.   But this culture of dog parks is amazing.  To me, they are dogs, animals that have been on this earth for thousands of years.  For the most part they haven't evolved outside selective breeding. Science proves that the DNA of a dog is linked to the Wolf and Wild dog ancestors. The fear we feel, the want to protect, is only bred into  humans.  The dogs senses haven't changed, they know what's up. I think for the most part, dogs would rather protect us, than us protect them, it's in their nature,  it's in their soul. 

We will still go to the dog park.  Tucker will still bark and chase and play.  Claire will still chill out and wonder why we aren't walking the neighborhood instead.  I will still see the annoyed looks on people's faces as Tucker barks, and gentle emotions lopped onto Claire as she gingerly stands by a their side.  I will still love to talk to the folks who feel like me, knowing their dogs are just dogs after all.  And I will still be surprised  talking to the folks who go overboard and forget that their canine isn't human.  



I have an Idea...

December 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


~So, this is the letter I sent to our President, Congressman Mike Honda and Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Gov. Brown, CA, other politicians and even the head of the NSA.   I don't know what kind of response I will get, if any at all. I'll hope for the best. My heart is aching for the families in CT, I've got two elementary school age children, and their school could have just as easily been the one. I think, if there was a police trained dog on their campus, I would feel that much safer. I don't know how other parents would react, but something has got to be done, right? Any way thanks for taking the time to read this, I appreciate it. Feel Free to pass along the idea if you agree. ~

Dear (Mr. President, Senator Boxer , Congressman Mike Honda, Gov. Brown, etc.)


I have an idea. I think it's a good idea. I would hope that as a nation of people who want to honor our Veterans who return home, many without a place to go, that this idea might serve everyone for a good cause.

In the wake of the Tragedy in Newtown, CT, many folks are calling for stricter gun control, while I agree with this, I don't believe it will be, and can be the answer. My idea rose as I walked my two dogs and thought about this new bill that has passed by the House and Senate.

What about training these Veterans and their dogs to protect our Children in Public Schools? Police Canines have proven time and time again their individual loyalty and overwhelming eagerness to protect those whom they are specially trained to defend. It would create jobs not only for the Veterans, who would most undoubtedly be willing to help, but the dogs themselves would be a valuable asset for the lives of many.

So many of our Veterans have families of their own, and I would believe they empathize with not only the families of Connecticut, but of all families who have endured the senseless massacres in recent history.

If one canine and its handler were available at the time of such horrible acts in our schools, it may not be that the perpetrator is stopped completely, but it would give school staff valuable time until Police & Authorities arrive on the scene. Maybe not every public school would adopt this notion, but it's worth a try, if taken seriously, it could in the long run, save lives.

It's a thought, an idea. I wrote this idea on some Facebook posts, and one person called me nuts. I don't think it's nuts. But I don't know where to start putting this idea out. I hope that you consider this, and pass it on to those who might listen.

Thank you,

Mrs. Karen French
San Jose, CA

when my heart takes a Flying leap.

December 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I heard it again the other day.  "I got him from a Breeder".  I've heard this twice this past month, one  Golden Retriever Pup and one Pit Bull pup.  My heart sank.  I didn't follow up on the conversation.  The two puppies I met looked healthy and were obviously loved and cared for, but my thoughts are not always good when I hear that sentence.  

Now, now, hang on, I will always say there are good, accountable, reputable breeders, the folks who genuinely care and go the extra mile for the dogs they bring into this world.  And there are folks who will only get their beloved pets from these breeders. I get that, and I say hey, as long as it's all good in person, not just on paper, I won't be the one to complain.   Puppy Mills, are a complete other story, my strong belief behind them, they need to be shut down completely, or severely regulated by top Authorities.  Puppy Mills have time and time again proven to be despicable, rotten places where the parent dogs suffer horribly, and greed is the only motivation for such a place.  Folks who don't do their research and who are moved by a photo on-line or a newspaper, without questioning are unknowingly, perhaps unthinkingly, keeping these places in business.   

Most of the dog owners I meet love their pets unconditionally, and when the discussion comes up about Puppy Mills, the conversation can become grave and unapologetic. The passion of hate behind the mere thought of Puppy Mill can not be mistaken.  No one I talk too, can think about  these places  without anger rising up in their eyes.  I am one of them,  It breaks my heart over and over every time I see a story about it.  Makes a person want to pound their head into a brick wall, screaming, "why why why!?!"  Because the unfortunate thing is, the general public across the nation,  especially in  places where Animal Education isn't a priority, or perhaps not even thought about,  they don't want to see the horror, they want to see a cute puppy face and hit the order button. It's the process of being duped into believing something that is not what it really is.  I could go on for pages but my rage might scare you off.  

Well, Let me tell you why my heart sank after hearing the sentence "I got him from a breeder".  It wasn't because I didn't think these two people didn't deserve the dogs they were holding.   I could tell these two pups were happy and being treated fine.  What got me sad, is thinking about all the dogs sitting in shelters, from age puppy to elder adult, who deserve the love these folks had to give. They spent breeder fees on a dog because, maybe it was extremely important to have a pure-bred,  maybe they saw the advertisement and couldn't say no,  maybe they've always had that breed and really didn't want to get used to something unfamiliar. I'll never know, I'm not sure I want to know.   Whaoh, again, I am not against reputable breeders.  I am, all for Shelter dogs, they need the chance we have to give. 

As I take photos of loved pets, and thier owners say "she came from the shelter", or "he was rescued from a bad situation", I love hearing this, and I think that owner is so awesome for taking time to save a life that may have been over, either physically or worse, emotionally.    That owner will always know that they saved a life from a sometimes dead-end, and the love they receive is three-fold.    Then my heart takes a flying leap. 




Getting the Dog home

October 22, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I was Fortunate enough to save the life of a dog.  One that had gotten away from his owners, I don't know how, but he just happened to be in my path, and I recognized that he needed help.  

One saturday morning, I leashed up Claire to do our 2 mile walk.  Tucker was supposed to come with us, but being we had a foster puppy  to play with, he was too busy.   So Claire and I started off on our routine.   There are three routes we take, I almost went one way, and decided at last moment to change and go the another way.  As I rounded a corner I saw this big black dog on the other side of the street just kinda wandering and sniffing, I didn't think much of it, there were people around and I guess I thought he was one of theirs.   But he continued in the same direction we were headed, and I kept my eye on him, no one had called to him, as they went on about their own business.  About halfway up the street, this big dog,  crossed into the middle of the very busy street, cars whizzed by him, maybe slowing a little, and one or two actually weaved around in order not to hit him.  I knew he was in trouble.  But in all honesty I was a little afraid, one never knows what an unleashed dog will do around a leashed one.  I did call him, and after avoiding yet another car, he came to our side of the street, but went onto someone's lawn and sniffed around.  I stood there, watching him, and called to him to see if he would come over.  But Claire did her "back off growl" and he only got close enough to take a sniff then wander onto another lawn.   I walked on a little, but I was worried, I could tell he was lost.  So I called to him again, patting my leg, yelling "come on big fellah!"  and he indeed followed me, at a bit of a distance, but he did follow.  My goal at that point was to get him to a safer street, with less cars.  I was also desperate to see someone with a Cell phone, in case I could get him to stay with me, I would read his tag and call his owners.  After some coaxing, and a simple command of "sit!"  he did, and I was able to see that he only had a rabies tag on his collar.  This saddened me. My next thought was to get him to follow me home, and get him to a Vet or shelter, hopefully he'd been chipped, and we could contact his owners that way.  

We made it home, I got him leashed up in our front yard, my children  gave him a biscuit and water, and my husband tried unsuccessfully to reach the SJ Animal Shelter or HSSV.   I took a few photos just in case, if we needed to keep him, I would post the photo where ever we could.  You see, this big dog, was so  sweet, totally obedient and happy (albeit scared). He was in good shape, I could tell his owners loved him and they were probably in a panic.  I know I would have been!   

So, then we put him in our SUV and took him to the Folks at Banfield Vet Hospital, to see if they could read a chip with the wand. He did not have a chip.  The rabies tag was well worn and mostly unreadable.  But the nice woman who helped me, recognized the clinic where the tag came from, and she had the phone number on file. Oh Yes!   She wrote the ID number down and went inside to call the clinic.   I am happy to say that , the dog's owners  had called the clinic to alert them of their missing dog, Max.  I was so happy, so relieved, and just joyful that Max was going home safely.  We left him in the good hands of the Hospital and went home.   For the rest of the day, my children asked me, "What do you think Max is doing right now?"  I'd say "he's getting hugged by his mommy and daddy". 

I would never venture to lecture anyone on dog ownership, especially a loved dog such as Max, but I will say, please, ID tags are important. Just a name and reachable phone number will do.   A chip is a good thing, no matter how people think, it does work, I know personally, it brings your dog home with a short, simple phone call.  If you are worried about the price, the Humane Society offers specials through out the year, we got our dog Tucker chipped for $10, and It hurt the Vet Tech more than it hurt Tucker.   Max got away, most likely unexpectedly, a lot of dogs do, and so many owners have the right to be frightened because of all the danger their dog could be in.   A ID tag or chip can make a person just a tad, just a tad, less worried.  

So Max, where ever you are,  my family and I are happy you are home safe and sound with your family.  I am glad it was me who, maybe because of fate, chose to walk in the same path where you were.   

Dogs at the beach

October 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

My family and I enjoy the Beach, especially the Dog Beach in Santa Cruz, California.  I find it natural to photograph dogs in a great setting.  

We have two dogs, and one Foster dog at any given time, and the Dog Beach is an ultimate destination for family fun, human and canine children alike.  

Contact me! I can meet you and your canine companion at the beach for a photo shoot!


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