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Friday, August 18, 2017

Benefits of Enrichment

What is all this talk about enrichment?  Enrichment is defined as improving or enhancing the quality of something.  So, enrichment in our dogs' lives is about enhancing their quality of life, giving them interesting things to experience and do, and in the process, we enrich our own lives too.  Providing enrichment for our dogs is fun and lets us use our creativity.

When we add these interesting things to our dogs' lives, however, there are other, extra benefits that may appear.  Every dog can enjoy and benefit from enrichment, no matter what senses they rely on or what their physical abilities are.  

Sometimes when our dogs have physical or sensory limitations, they tend to slow down their activity levels or the things they try to do on their own.  And we accept this as due to those limitations, but often it's because the way they experience the world has changed.  A dog that can move easily and freely and that can experience its world fully with all senses, gets drawn to different objects, movement, and activities in its environment.  If this changes and the dog doesn't see, hear and experience things in the same way, it may stop interacting with its environment.

Adding enrichment to a dog's day-to-day life can help to keep it interested, happy, and content.  It provides a sense of well-being.  Enrichment offers the power of choice.  We can empower our dogs to make choices about what they do during the day, so they aren't just sitting around waiting for something to happen. 

Enrichment builds a dog's confidence with new experiences.  Keeping a dog used to change is important, because our lives with dogs don't tend to always stay the same.  By continuing to introduce change into a dog's lifestyle, that dog will be better able to adapt to any changes that come its way.

Providing new experiences in your dog's life will help to enhance its mental sharpness and problem solving ability.  Enrichment keeps dogs busy and gives them a job to do.  Many breeds of dogs were originally bred to have a job to do every day. Sitting around the house is a poor substitute for a job, and this is where many dogs find their own "job" - one which people don't always approve of!  

Enrichment can help a dog to learn to enjoy quiet time alone and can reduce separation issues.  It can provide activities for dogs that are recovering from surgeries or injuries and may need to have crate rest time.  Providing new experiences can reduce stress and boredom, and hence, can reduce stress and boredom-related behaviors that people often don't appreciate.  

Whatever your reason for wanting to provide enrichment activities for your dog, I know you will find it FUN!  Fun for you ... and for your dog!  

If you'd like to learn more about providing enrichment for your dog, check out the new online class at Uniquely Paws-Able.  Every week you will learn new fun activities to do with your dog, as well as about the many enrichment toys you can buy - and many more you can make yourself with things you already have around your house!  You will learn some of the science behind why enrichment is necessary in a dog's life, and how to use enrichment activities to ward off behavior issues.  Class starts next week!  Hope to see you there!  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Classes and Resources - Uniquely Paws-Able

Hello White Dog Blog Fans!

I'm excited to announce that Uniquely Paws-Able continues to grow to provide you with new resources and opportunities to learn and have fun with your dogs!  Take a look at what's new:

NEW this class session is Enrichment and Games - 6 weeks full of fun activities for you and your dog to do together to enhance his/her quality of life, to build confidence, and to ward off boredom and the behavior issues that often come with it.  Enrichment and Games will be kicking off on Aug. 26th. 

Offered again this session will be Grooming, Husbandry and Handling Games, due to popular demand.  Many of you missed it the first time around and asked for it to be offered again.  We will use positive reinforcement to help our dogs learn to enjoy and cooperate with everyday husbandry and grooming behaviors.  Past Grooming students, feel free to join us again this session if you'd like.  You already have access to the course material - we'd love to have you offering support in the Facebook group to the newer Grooming students!  This course will also kick off on Aug. 26th.

Offered as an ongoing self-study course, that you can join at any time, is Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training.  This course will get you started off right on the road to training and communicating with your dog in a positive manner!  Start anytime!

The Easy Blog Reference Guide is offered FREE to students signed up through Uniquely Paws-Able.  With this guide, you can easily navigate The White Dog Blog and find posts of interest quickly.  Check out the Reference Guide today!

Another NEW offering is the FREE Library section - exclusive to Uniquely Paws-Able members.  I am building this Library as a resource center for those interested in double merles, blind and/or deaf dogs, training (for any dogs), wellness, and just wants to get into my head and see what I like.  There are some articles loaded there now - check back frequently!

I have new classes in the planning stages and would love to know what classes you're waiting for and would love to see!  Please reach out with your ideas!  This school is all about helping you learn more about your dog! 

Happy Training,


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Treasure Embraces Eleven!

How did it happen that this amazing girl is 11 years old already?  I'm struck by a mixture of emotions.  I want to bring time to a screeching halt so she never gets any older and I have her with me forever.  I've only had her with me for 7 years and I want to make up those years that I didn't have her with me.  I adore her and my whole heart belongs to her - and she knows it.  I look back and I am amazed at all she has accomplished and all we have created together as a resource for others with double merles and with blind/deaf dogs.  She has been a trail blazer for so many others coming along in her path.  

She has touched so many people's lives - some in person and some from afar.  So many people know her and know of her, that I am humbled over and over again.  I go over so many moments in my heart that are etched there forever.  I see her slowing down.  I see her aging.  My mind doesn't want to comprehend that she's getting older.  

But then I put on her party hat and pulled out her favorite treat - homemade frosty snacks!  Turkey doggy ice cream with special dog treats frozen into it.  And she shows me that age is all a number in my head.  She has no concept of these things I burden myself with.  Her love of life and ice cream, the way she greets me when I come home, how she snuggles with me at bedtime and gently licks me awake in the morning, or how she puts her tiny feet on my leg to get my attention - these are the things that make my heart sing daily.  

Just looking at her brings a smile to my face and a rush of love to my heart.  She's my girl and I'm her person.  Together we are an unstoppable team.  I am so grateful that I started this blog 7 years ago when Treasure found her way into my heart and my home.  I started it as a way to share with others so they could learn along with us.  And I've created a beautiful memoir of Treasure's life and accomplishments.  I hope you take some time to go back and read some of our posts that you may not have seen before.  

Happy Birthday and Gotcha Day, my beautiful Treasure!  I raise a toast of doggy ice cream to the blessing of many more years together as friends and partners.  Love you, Sweet Pea!  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Invincible Vinny Branches Out!

Invincible means incapable of being defeated, conquered, or subdued.  That pretty much sums up Vinny's attitude toward life.  He is a full-speed ahead, always joyful, kind of guy.  And I haven't found anything that he won't put his whole self into doing. 

To help celebrate that invincible spirit, Vinny has branched out with his own Facebook page!  He will spread the word about being different and making the most of it, about positive reinforcement teaching, and about having great fun with your dog!  He will also educate about responsible breeding practices and why he was born the way he is.  

Come follow Vinny on his adventures!  There will even be some fun giveaways as the number of followers grows!  Here's his new address -

Congrats to Vinny on his new ITD title!  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Table of Contents for This Blog!


I'm pleased to announce a new, easier way to navigate The White Dog Blog and find that post you're looking for without a hassle!  Thank you Rose for the wonderful suggestion to create an ordered way to sort through all the great information here! 

Here's how it works:

I am adding to my online school, Uniquely Paws-Able, to create an online resource center.  All of my new articles, etc, will be added there over time.  The first free offering there is the Easy Blog Reference Guide.  

When you click on the link, you'll be taken to a page that asks you to enroll.  If you are already a Uniquely Paws-Able member, you can log in and then click the enroll button to add the Reference Guide to your classroom area.  If you are not already a Uniquely Paws-Able member, please create an easy and free log-in account.  Then you can enroll in the Reference Guide area and you will be able to access the Guide as often as you'd like.

The Guide is broken down into topic headings which will help you to find the type of information and post you are looking for.  When you click on the topic heading, you will be taken to a page with all the posts pertaining to that topic. From there, it is just an easy click which will take you directly to that particular blog post!  

There is so much great information in this blog, but it has gotten large enough now that sometimes it's difficult to find just the information that you need.  I hope you find this resource helpful and will use it frequently!  

While you're at Uniquely Paws-Able, check out our class offerings - Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training is now available as a self-study course so anyone can sign up and get started learning at any time without waiting for a class to start.  Grooming, Husbandry and Handling Games started this past Saturday, but enrollment will stay open through Thursday, June 15th!  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What's NEW!

Lots of new things going on here and I really need to sit down and catch up on posts telling you all about it! I'll begin here - there is a new bar across the top of the blog page where you can put your email address and subscribe to get all my new posts here delivered straight to your email box!  This way you won't miss any!  

Treasure, Vinny and I represented double merles at Double Merle Awareness Day on May 20th.  We had a table to greet people and educate about the dangers of breeding merle to merle, as well as about how even blind and deaf dogs can be amazing!  We had so many people come to meet the dogs and talk to us!  It was a great opportunity to get our message out.  Thanks to Keller's Cause ( for creating Double Merle Awareness Day, and for sending banners and handouts all across the country to make it easy for us to all educate others!

Treasure, Vegas, Vinny and I were featured in Effingham Magazine with another opportunity to tell people about how to prevent double merles (just don't breed two merles together!) and how to live with and train a dog that may have different abilities (blindness and/or deafness).  The reporter and photographer did a wonderful job on the story!

Uniquely Paws-Able online school is growing!  We are now offering Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training as a self study class, so anyone is able to take the class at any time that's right for them and their dog!  A new class is starting June 10th with the topic of Grooming, Husbandry and Handling Games!  This is very exciting, as there are so many dogs that find touch, grooming and veterinary exams to be stressful. Often these situations turn into a struggle for dog and person.  This class will show how to use positive reinforcement to create a dog that is willing to cooperate with every day tasks such as giving eye drops, cutting toenails, grooming and more!

If you haven't signed up at Uniquely Paws-Able, be sure to go check it out.  Creating an account will sign you up to receive updates as more classes and resources are added at the site.  And, it's very easy from there to look over the courses that are offered and enroll in the classes you'd like to take.  Everything is online and we have students from around the world.  We'd love to have you join us!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Vinny the Great!

Vinny was born into greatness.  Born from two merle parents, it was soon apparent that he could not see or hear.  The veterinarian was consulted about what to do - after all, what was a blind and deaf puppy worth? But one of the vet techs knew about Debbie and her experience with double merles.  A couple phone calls later, and Debbie had arranged to go pick up the special puppy.

Vinny was 8 weeks of pure Collie adorableness.  And even in that moment, he began his role as educator.  Debbie and Vinny explained to the breeder why he had been born blind and deaf.  The breeder had not been aware of this danger, and was grateful to know how to prevent this from happening in the future and was very relieved that Vinny would be safe.

Vinny has gracefully evolved into his role as ambassador for the humane society where he accompanies Debbie to work every day.  His many fans come to visit him, and he uses his special-ness to educate others about the dangers of breeding merle to merle, and about adoption.  He is a strong ambassador for blind and deaf dogs and that they are capable of living full and happy lives.  Through social media and a teaching blog, plus many videos, he is paving the way for other differently-abled dogs to be adopted and trained.

Vinny also spreads joy through visiting people in the community.  Young people are drawn to him and relate to his differences.  He teaches them acceptance and compassion.  When visiting with a group of Scouts, one girl said with disgust, "Eww, his eyes look different.  They look weird."  Very quickly, another said, "He doesn't know they look that way, and he is perfectly happy.  We should be too."  When Debbie looked closely, she realized the girl that had answered had a difference of her own and had related quickly to Vinny's differences.  These comments led to wonderful discussions of differences and acceptance.

The senior population have also been inspired by Vinny, who shows such happiness even though he can't see or hear, just as they are beginning to lose these senses themselves and are wondering what life will hold for them now.  One woman told Vinny that she was going blind, but seeing him and how happy he was made her guess that it was all going to be OK.  She thanked him and together they shared a private moment.

Vinny is a typical puppy - lively, playful, and yes, even a bit full of mischief at times!  But when he's visiting, all of that fades away and he shows calmness and understanding way beyond his age.  Although he can't see or hear, he finds a way to position his body next to someone with limited mobility so they can reach to pet him, and he gently puts his head under their hand.

This special dog and his person together spread joy, laughter, smiles, hope and inspiration.  Debbie teaches Vinny using mostly touch cues.  She touches various parts of his body in different ways to communicate her requests to him.  He knows basic obedience and manners, as well as many different tricks.  As a matter of fact, Vinny has already earned his Novice Trick Dog title and is working toward higher levels.  He loves to learn new things and is taught strictly through positive reinforcement methods.

Vinny also gathers lots of information about his environment by scent and by feeling vibrations.  He recognizes air currents when a door opens.  He can quickly  map out a new area when he goes somewhere new.  He loves to travel and has already traveled to several different states with his partner Debbie.  Vinny plays with the other dogs in the house and loves to play with toys of all kinds!  He gets lots of time to enjoy being a puppy, and he brings much joy and many smiles to Debbie daily.

Vinny's reach into the community and the world is already significant and will only continue to expand as he gains experience in his new role.  He and Debbie are amazing partners in advocating for rescue, adoption, responsible breeding, and the joys of differently-abled dogs.  They spread messages to everyone about compassion, acceptance and being kind to others - all things that the world needs so much of right now.  It is their hope that by spreading ripples in their own little corner of the world, that those ripples will continue to spread into something magnificent that blankets the world with love.

(The above was Vinny's nomination for the Collie Club of America's Shining Star Award.  Congratulations to Vinny and the other winners of this year's award!)