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2007-07-25 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." Words of wisdom from the ancient philosopher Groucho (1985-1977 AD). Author and certified animal behavior consultant, Darlene Arden combines both our best friends. Her latest dog training book delves deeply inside the canine psyche while also capturing Mr. Marx's warped sense of humor.

Arden's delightful new book Rover, Get Off Her Leg!: Pet Etiquette for the Dog Who Pees on Your Rug, Steals the Roast, and Poops in the Improper Places discusses everything you wanted to know about canine quirks but were afraid to ask. The book is a treasure, packed with practical tips, tied together with amusing anecdotes.

These embarrassing moments from fellow dog lovers, followed by Arden's expert advice, convince readers that they are not alone in attempting to handle their hounds' "hellish" habits including the unmentionables- humping, crotch sniffing, flatulence, furniture noshing, even intimacy interference. Although the names of those who confessed have been changed to protect "the guilty," I recognized some well known dog folks including a hilarious account from our past Dog Writers (DWAA) pres whose Katrina-rescued Sheltie, so used to foraging for food, ate three $100 bills in his bathrobe pocket. His family "retrieved" the shreds from her doggy deposits to piece together and mail to the Dept. of the Treasury for reimbursement. Their ordeal gives new meaning to the term "money laundering".

Arden stresses that laughing at your pooch's antics is never the answer. Dogs love an audience,so giggling at their indiscretions may reinforce the unwanted behavior. Darlene considers the common problem of pet/people love triangles, where the pup appoints himself as the "sex police" as a form of resource guarding, and explains how to redirect your dog duenna. She also gives suggestions on what to do if your dog doesn't particularly like your significant other, but does remind readers that dogs are good judges of character.

Darlene Arden is a dog's best friend- an internationally recognized expert on canine behavior, training, and wellness. Two of her past books, The Irrepressible, Toy Dog and Small Dogs, Big Hearts, are considered by many the definitive works about our smallest canine companions. Darlene is a proponent of clicker training positive reinforcement training and also a World Canine Freestyle Organization (WFCO) (competitive dog/handler dancing) judge. She just returned from the 5th international WFCO conference in Colorado where a Border Collie and handler took top honors with their "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" routine.

Darlene recently established a fund in memory of her mother, Marcia Polimer Abrams, at the AKC Canine Health Foundation (see www.darlenearden.com or call the CHF at 888-882-9696) that will benefit studies focusing on unlocking the mysteries of canine behavior. Solving behavior problems cements relationships with pets. So many adolescent dogs are surrendered to shelters because owners cannot cope with "issues" that training basics, and possibly better breeding, could remedy. Responsible breeders need to concentrate on producing dogs that are mentally as well as physically sound. As Darlene says, "behavior is at the very core of the human/animal bond."

Her newest, entertaining book- Rover, Get Off Her Leg!- covers the how-to-handle strategies for every possible pooch problem. Darlene tells you what tactics work and what doesn't even for the difficult deal breakers like aggression, incessant barking and separation anxiety. She shares her tremendous dog sense with all, often stressing the importance of teaching your dog a default behavior such as a "Sit" or freestyle practice to replace the unacceptable behavior. This book is a perfect resource for all who adopt a shelter dog…actually for every dog fancier, from novice to long timer owner. Add Rover to your own library or buy it for a dog loving friend. Available for $14.95 at bookstores, Amazon, and from the publisher, HCI Books-(800)441-5569 or www.hcibooks.com.

(Wow! I can picture the musical already. As the first dog training book turned Broadway extravaganza, Rover, Get Off Her Leg! will be a groundbreaking concept. Are you listening, Sir Elton John? The book needs a score. Nobody does dancing Poodles better than Darlene and her canine freestyle friends. Let's face it; the felines have dominated the stage with "Cats", "Lion King" and now the depressing "Grey Gardens". Time for the talented canines to take over the Great White Way.)

•Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon is packed with deserving dogs and cats this week, more crowded than it's been in a long time. There's an overabundance of small dogs also. Two of the tinies are the featured poster pets. "Philippe" is a playful Toy Poodle (about 7) who came in as a matted stray several weeks ago. He has a new coif, thanks to his shelter stylist. After his haircut, we discovered his repertoire. Philippe sits, gives his paw and spins for cream cheese. He considers doing a "roll over" but doesn't like going back into his cage. "Brigitte" is a sweet, small-boned Beagle mix, with possibly a dab of Chihuahua. Both are in the Puppy Room. See more photos, cats too, on the shelter's refigured Petfinder site.

Other Small Dogs: 3 male Jack Russell Terriers; a male Yorkie Cage 4; "Toto"-1 yr. Lhasa; female buff Cocker Spaniel Cage 89; effervescent Hound mix ( looks so Beaglish) Cage 9.

Bigger Dogs: "Muggles"- brindle Lab Cage 59; 2 purebred male German Shepherd Dogs; "Buddy"-Golden Ret. mix- 2 yr. Cage 19; "Zoey"- black Lab Cage 93.

• $20,000 Reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person/persons responsible for the horrific death of "Maximus", the trusting Pitbull found burned in Brentwood. All calls to Suffolk SPCA-631-382-7722- are confidential.

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