Does Your Dog Talk In Their Sleep?

In our home, the last thing we do in the evening is turn on the dishwasher. Eventually, Morgan learned that when the dishwasher door closed we headed to the bedroom. Now he races ahead of us. It’s so sweet.

Of course we let him up on the bed for a while. It’s cozy and we just love having him with us. But as Morgan relaxes he seems to spread out in all directions and our Queen Size bed isn’t big enough for three big bodies. Is there any doubt that we adjust? Then as Morgan falls deeper into sleep he often starts making noises. There’s these little trilling growls, followed by a high pitched yelps and then sometime even barks.

My other dogs did this too. But when we first got Morgan he didn’t make these sounds and I think it was because he wasn’t really home yet. Maybe he wasn’t falling into a deep sleep. I remember the first night when he made noises. It startled me, and I slid down and ran my hand along his head to make sure he was all right. He was. Now he does it on a regular basis. Sometimes he even moves his legs, like he’s running. I’ve heard some people call these moments, nightmares, but that’s not how I interpret them. I think he’s having a wonderful dream about swimming after the ducks on the Russian River or at Craigville Beach on Cape Cod. Or, maybe he’s playing with his best friend Cody. Or picking up a scent while hiking on a trail. It’s endearing and I wait for it. When he does it, I know everything is fine and Morgan is in a deep calm sleep and that we can sleep now, knowing he’s okay.

Many of us with pets are already aware of the kinds of things that scientists are just discovering. You know, things like animal emotions and language. Now there are actually studies coming out of respected places like MIT that prove that dogs and cats do indeed dream. In the scientific community, animals are often thought of as reflex machines, operating by instinct alone. But this view is slowly starting to change, and new information about dreaming in animals is unearthing.

I found this article by Maryann Mott, HealthDay from a USA Today Paw Prints post from 2010,

My favorite line from her article is where she quoted Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who said that one of his heroes, Charles Darwin, “basically claimed if you can prove that an animal dreams, then, in effect, you can prove that’s consciousness. Because after all, what is a dream other than a conscious image?”

Isn’t it wonderful when Science catches up with pet owners? Share what noises your fur babies make when they’re sleeping.


Out with the old…

It was Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who first penned, “Ring out the oldring in the new” in a poem called Ring Out, Wild Bells in 1850. Since then there have been many variations. One common contemporary saying is “Out with the old. In with the new.”

Like most people, my family and I have several New Year’s traditions besides making resolutions. Taking a hike with the dog on the first day of the year is one of my favorite. And to go along with the title of this blog, cleaning out my closet of clothes that I no longer wear and bringing them down to Revivals, the local second hand shop, is another tradition.

In preparation for this New Year, I sat Morgan down the day after Christmas, when all the packages had been opened and all the guest had left, and I told him about all the dogs down at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter who don’t have a warm home like he has, nor family and friends to love them and take care of them, like he has.

I told him that he had a lot of toys that he never played with and that now he had even more than before. Morgan got a serious look on his face and then without even the slightest pause, he gathered up all his old toys and put them in a basket. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do this and he nudged my arm with his nose. So we got into the car and drove down to the shelter. He told me he didn’t want to go in with me, that he preferred to wait outside. I couldn’t blame him, it breaks my heart going in there. At the Palm Springs shelter, most of the dogs are Pit Bulls. I hate seeing them there in the kennels, staring out, hoping for a miracle. The volunteers were grateful and said they’d be put to good use. When I came back out, Morgan had his old smiley face on. I think he knew he was helping his cousins. I thought the occasion called for a good hike along the Las Palmas Wash where Morgan gets to run free.

Morgan and I wish everyone a happy healthy New Year!   Share with us some of your New Year’s traditions.


The Christmas Wrap


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse. The stockings were hung on the mantel with care. My little Golden, named St. Nicholas, was asleep under the chair.

As I wrapped his first squeaky toy in red tissue and then meticulously covered it with Scooby Doo wrapping paper, I made sure to tape all the edges in a neat manner. Topping it off with a bright red bow, I couldn’t believe how much anticipatory glee I felt about giving it to him on his first Christmas Morn’.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, the red bow was torn off within 5 seconds and tossed into the sky.  30 seconds later the dog-themed paper was shredded into little pieces and scattered on the floor like new-fallen snow.

His eyes how they twinkled, his head was so small. His ears hung low and shook as he tore, the finely wrapped paper all over the floor.  I laughed at the sight in spite of myself.

That was a long time ago and though I always buy my doggies several presents, I now leave the majority of their gift-getting to their grandparents and uncles and aunts. I’m not as naïve to think that my dog’s Christmas toys will last more than a few minutes. There are no longer bows on top. No Scooby Doo wrapping. Now with poor Morgan, I’ve become the ultimate Scrooge, his gifts this year have been wrapped in old newspaper.

Holiday Dog Gift Survey

I found this chart and wanted to share it. Let us know which group you belong to.

Morgan and I say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all and to all a good night.

Dad’s Thanksgiving Gratitude Blog

Thanksgiving had been on my mind since Morgan and I drove by the town of Plymouth on our way to Nana and Grampy’s Cape Cod house. Last year Morgan got to write the Thanksgiving blog so this year it’s Dad’s turn. Click here to see Morgan’s blog:

I’m very grateful for my family, my partner and my country. But I want to focus on my gratitude for Morgan. It’s obvious from all the pictures I take of him that I adore him.  I felt the same way about my first two dogs, as well. But I’ve been trying to decide what it is that makes him unique from them.

Many of you are aware that Morgan was a rescue, and a damaged one at that. But from the get-go I knew he had a lot of love in him despite his problematic behavior. You can read the story about the first night we brought him home on the Rescued by Goldens web site:  We nicknamed him our little Terror-Dactyl and referred to him as a Jekyll and Hyde.

Thankfully, life with Morgan is now calmer. Often people comment about his smile. It fills me with wonder at how a creature who has had such a rough start can have such a joyous beam on his face all the time. I’m so grateful that I get to see that smile every day. Morgan what’s your secret? Can you teach Dad how to do it? Especially when driving in traffic?

Because of Morgan’s fear of other dogs, we learned that the best time to get him out and exercised was early in the morning when no other dogs were around. Now, it’s part of our everyday routine.  Whether we’re on Cape Cod or in San Francisco or home in Palm Springs we’re out the door before sunrise. So we get to see the morning beauty of Craigville Beach on Cape Cod or dawn at Ocean Beach in San Francisco when no one else is there. Even this morning in Palm Springs, to witness the crimson red glow on the San Jacinto Mountains before the noise of the leaf blowers – What a gift! I wouldn’t have this without Morgan. I have to admit that some mornings I just don’t want to get out of bed at that hour. I resist until I see his sweet face looking up at me with those bright brown eyes and goofy grin.

There’s a lot of discussion about ways to get a dog. Either from a breeder or a rescue group. Morgan has offered me the chance to rescue an animal. He’s my first rescue and I am grateful to him. Morgan has also given me the opportunity to thank the Golden Retriever breed for rescuing me. My way of saying thank you to man and woman’s best friend.

Please share what you are grateful for at this Thanksgiving holiday time.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

When my Dad moved from Sonoma County down to Palm Springs eleven years ago, he did so with the intention of always leaving during the brutal summer months. The plan was to travel either to San Francisco or to his parents’ Cape Cod house. Since I joined the family we’ve continued this tradition and this year just as the temperature broke into the 100’s we headed north for San Francisco on June 18th.

Usually on our journey North we stop in Santa Barbara to visit one of my best friends, Skyler the Basenji. But this year, poor Skyler got into a nasty dog fight and it was decided Skyler needed some rest before having a houseguest. I was sad for my friend Skyler and not being able to see him.

But the next day we arrived at our loft a few blocks from the bay. Right away my Dad took me to Crissy Field dog beach and I dove into the water and I felt like I was home. This year we didn’t go to Ocean Beach too often because of the Velella velalla – a small blueish jellyfish-like ocean animal that washed up, covering the entire shoreline. I couldn’t resist scoffing them up and my Dad was worried that I might get sick. I missed the beach but I couldn’t help myself, they were so delicious.

Every day we did something different. Sometimes we went to Golden Gate Park or for a long walk along the waterfront. One night we even went to ATT Park where the Giants play. We were able to sit in the infield and listen to a simulcast of the opera, La Rigattoni, or something like that.

My favorite part about visiting the city is leaving and going to Golden Retriever heaven – the Russian River, where I got to chase the ducks. I’m talkin’ lots of ducks and swim in the river twice a day. I got to meet a new friend, Rocky the Golden puppy. Rocky and I weren’t able to play this year as he’s still too small to horse around with big dogs like me. But boy was he adorable. I can’t wait for us two to play in the river next year. Of course, the highlight of the summer for everyone is my birthday bash on August 16th, when I get lots of cards, toys and treats. (See picture.)

Our two months in the Bay Area went by too fast and before I knew we were packing up and returning to Palm Springs. Usually this means the end of summer vacation. But this year, my Dad and I got on a plane and when we got off there was Nana and Grampy and I knew where we were. We spent a few days at their city house and it was good to see all my cousins, but I knew where I wanted to be and before too long we were swimming every morning at Craigville Beach on Cape Cod. I couldn’t believe my luck.

One day, Nana, Grampy, Dad and me all took a big ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard. It was so exciting to be on a big boat. You know that famous presidential dogs summer at The Vineyard. Then my Dad went to New York to see some people about this book he’s writing about me, of course. As soon as he got back we were at the beach again every morning. This time when we returned to the beach most of the people had gone away and nature returned. It was like somehow all the sea creatures knew. We explored from one end of the beach to the other. I got to chase the seagulls but I never caught one. Twice I saw the beach covered with hundreds of tiny sand crabs. I wanted to devour them but my Dad pulled me away. Seals were popping their heads up and we finally saw a blue heron.

We spent the last few days of our visit back at Nana’s city house where we walked every afternoon around Wollaston Beach. I enjoyed spending quality time with nana and it was an emotional moment when we said good-bye.

Finally we boarded the plane to come back to Palm Springs and can you believe that there were 5 dogs on the plane! I’ve never seen so many canines on a flight before. Luckily they were all lap dogs and didn’t bother me.  Now Dad and I are home. The weather has cooled down and we’re back to our old routine. I know I’ll be dreamin’ about my best summer vacation ever for a long time.

Labor Day: Let’s Honor Working Dogs, Too

Back in the 90’s, I began to have serious sinus infections that punctured my ears drums and soon I lost most of my hearing. At that time I was living alone in a house in a forest of Redwood trees above the Russian River.  If the phone rang I couldn’t hear it. If someone came to the door I didn’t know it. But soon Nicholas, my first Golden, would come sit by my side. At first I thought he was coming for a head rub but then I realized every time he sat next to me and nudged me there was someone at the door.

With the loss of hearing, taking my daily walk around the hill in my neighborhood became dangerous as cars came up from behind me without my knowing it. I learned to watch Nicholas more closely. When his ears would go back I knew something was there. Night time, alone in the house, began to frighten me. Not only could I not hear but in the dark I couldn’t see as well. Some nights my paranoia took hold and I would imagine hearing noises outside the house. But then I learned to trust Nicholas’ attention and he was always right.

My second Golden, Willy, who I got when Nicholas was 13, caught on quickly and soon assumed Nicholas’ duties. I’ve always wondered if perhaps Nicholas trained him.

Then, a friend highly knowledgeable in disability laws suggested that I make Willy’s job official. So with a doctor’s letter, I got Willy tagged as an assistance dog from the County animal control. Now I could take him anywhere: in restaurants and shops, on planes and buses. It changed my life for the better. Some readers may remember the story when Willy saved my house from burning down. Here’s a link to that story in case you missed it:

Now there’s Morgan, my rescue. Although it took some time to reverse his inappropriate behavior, we trained diligently for nearly two years and now he, too, looks out for me. He comes and gets me when someone is at the door or the smoke alarm goes off. He warns me about cars, even pulling me away from them.

Labor Day is a day to honor workers. I want to honor all of our canine working companions. Please share a story about how your dogs have served you or your family. Happy Labor Day Weekend.

Happy Birthday Morgan


August 16th is the day that we celebrate Morgan’s birthday. We don’t know whether that’s really the day he was born. It might have been. As many of you already know, Morgan’s a rescue and that’s the day that we drove him home with us in the back seat of my pick-up. The rescue organization, “Golden Retriever Club of Greater LA” told us he was about a year old. Morgan was small for that age and although he was adorable, he didn’t have that full face and body. We could feel his ribs. You could tell he had had a tough start.

While we were filling out paper work a car drove into the parking lot with a big white-faced Golden in the passenger seat. Morgan lunged towards the car and started barking wildly. It was then that we were informed that he had been turned in to a shelter for biting his owner.

Though Morgan’s behavior startled me, I was a “love will conquer all” kind of guy. I just knew with enough love and positive reinforcement Morgan would learn to behave. But it didn’t start out so well. Morgan had major issues around food that we didn’t know about. When we moved his food bowl he bit us.

Goldens had been there for me when I was sick and my life was in shambles. Now it was my turn to be there for one of them. I resolved to do whatever it took to give Morgan a good life.

Now six years later, Morgan has come around nicely. He’s still a dog who enjoys getting into mischief.  That’s a part of him that I love the most. But now when he gets into the trash he lets us pull food right out of his mouth. In the morning, he leaps up on the bed expecting his tummy rub. We’re inseparable. He’s laying right under my desk while I write this blog. I can’t imagine our life without him.

For more of Morgan’s first few days with us please check out the website and read the sample chapter from the book. Thanks.

Morgan asks, “Was it Sirius?”


Have you ever heard someone refer to the heat in August as the “dog days of summer?” Well at first, I thought it meant that August was so hot that us dogs (and probably cats, too) just laid around the house or in the back yard all day and did nothing. Too lazy and hot to get any work done like digging holes, swimming in a river or chasing the squirrels. But then I heard someone talking about “Dog Day Afternoon” and that really piqued my curiosity. So I went online and looked up “dog day afternoon.”

It’s a movie about a bank robbery that happens in August and it was so botched by Al Pacino that it became a circus. I’m sorry I still don’t know why it’s called “dog days” There was no dog. If there was, he would have gotten the loot and gotten away.

Then I saw that there’s a song called “The dog days are over” by someone I’d never heard of – Florence and the Machine. Check this link for the MTV unplugged video.

I listened to it. It’s a catchy little tune, I’ll give her that. But the lyrics make no sense. It’s all about trains and bullets and running. Again, there’s no dog in the story. It’s more about her fear of some horses coming. If anyone ever needed a dog in her life it’s Florence. In my opinion if she had a dog she wouldn’t have to worry so much about the horses.

Then finally I got to “dog days of summer.”  As I said earlier, most of us think that “Dog Days” are about human’s best friend panting in the shade of a covered porch sipping lemonade. As endearing as this image is, that’s not how the expression started. But a dog does have a role in the origins of this term – a celestial dog. The origins come from the ancient Romans who looked to the stars for guidance when August temperatures reached into the 100’s.

Many of you probably know of constellations that look like bulls, lions, and horses. Well, one constellation, Canis Major, depicts a big dog. And the brightest star in this constellation is Sirius, the “dog star.” Sirius is visible throughout the year, but in July and August, it rises during the day with the sun. The ancient Romans thought that Sirius, combined with the sun, pushed the summer temperatures up.  They referred to this time of the year as the “dog days.”

We now know that the reason July and August are so hot in the Northern Hemisphere is because of the tilt of the earth. But the term has survived our enlightenment and remains our favorite way to describe this endlessly hot time of year.

Whether it’s Sirius doing his job or not, August still sends dog and man/woman to the protection of a shade tree. The heat in August can seem like it will never end. But in actuality, the forces of Sirius are beginning to subside.  A few more weeks of the intensity is all that is left for this year. Soon we’ll be worrying about the next polar vortex and how it’s too cold to go outside and that all the swimming holes are frozen.  So savor the last month of summer enjoying the glow of Sirius who brings us the dog days of summer. Let me know some of the ways you keep cool during these dog days.


Hot Cats On a Bun

It’s Morgan here and I’m having a “Grand Old” time here in San Francisco for the summer. As some readers know, we live in Palm Springs where it’s 108 today so to escape the heat we drive north to San Francisco every June where Mark Twain once wrote, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Where the local electric company puts up a billboard that reads, “It’s summer in San Francisco. Time to think about lowering your heating costs.” Where the July Fourth fireworks typically disappear in a thick bank of fog.

The Fourth of July is one of our nation’s most important holidays. It’s a time when families and friends get together to celebrate our freedoms. It’s also a time when us pets get a lot of attention, too. People play with us and throw balls for us in the parks and back yards and the beaches. Some of us are dressed up like Yankee Doodle dandies and that’s OK. My favorite holiday food is hot dogs on the grill but I would like to change the name to hot cats on the grill. Doesn’t that sound way more appetizing? No offense to my kitty friends.

But then when the sun sets, the day is capped off with my least favorite part of the holiday – the Fireworks.  When those “rocket’s red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” start making their noises us pets get pretty freaked out. According to the Humane Society and the ASPCA more pets run away on July Fourth than on any other day and it’s because of all that popping sound going on around us. We just want to get somewhere away from them as fast as possible.

We’re pretty clever, us pets. We can dig under a fence. Squeeze through an opening. We can jump over a fence. We can unlock a latch. We can jump out a window. We can come loose from a rope or just bite through the rope. With all that noise we do things that we don’t ordinarily do. Also, don’t forget that with so many people coming and going someone might accidently leave a door or a gate open. And once we’re out – we’re gone. We don’t stop running until we find a quiet place.

We have a holiday tradition at our house. Just before sunset my Dad closes all the windows and sets up a spot for me in the closet where I like to hide when I’m nervous. He stays right near with treats for me. He plays background music to drown out some of the noise.  But that’s only because my Dad has learned from past mistakes. He told me about Willy, his second Golden, and how he got loose one holiday afternoon when neighbors across the river lit off some firecrackers. Luckily he found Willy up the hill safe at a neighbor’s house. People who have never had a dog might not know what it’s like for us and in the excitement of the holiday it’s easy to forget.

So, my Fourth of July holiday wish is for everyone to have a safe and fun Fourth of July. But for all of our sake, before you rush off to get more sodas or an extra package of hot cats and buns for the unexpected guests, take an extra minute to make sure your four-legged kids are secure and safe.

As I mentioned, my favorite 4th of July treat is hot cats aka hot dogs. What’s yours?

How To Prepare For Your Pet’s Vacation

It’s June and the weather is heating up – well it’s been hot here in Palm Springs for some time but I know for the rest of the country it’s been a cold long winter. But as the Beatles sang – “Here Comes the Sun.” We’ve been planning our summer vacation for months. We’re heading up to cool foggy San Francisco. It’s great place for Golden Retrievers. Besides the usual planning and preparation when you have a pet there are additional considerations.

First is a check-up from the vet. We don’t want to start the trip out on the wrong four legs. Today I made sure that all of Morgan’s shots were current. It’s important with a retriever to make sure his or her ears are clean and clear. With the amount of water Morgan gets into that’s always a concern. And of course his eyes. Here in the dry desert heat and with chlorinated pools that’s always a body part that needs diligence. I always make sure I carry his eye lubricant and eye drops.

Besides my own medication I also need to make sure I have ample supplies of Morgan’s. Due to Morgan’s back leg injuries, he has early arthritis, so I always carry his pain medication for an as needed basis. As you might know from following Morgan’s Facebook page he’s quite active and my approach is to let him keep going for as long as possible. However, some days we both overdue it. I know from my own experience that with body pain, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep, so I keep a supply of Morgan’s pain meds around. It settles Morgan down nicely for the night without causing grogginess the next morning. And then he’s ready to go again.

We will be spending July 4th in San Francisco. The loft we stay at is close to the Bay where they set off the fireworks celebration. As many pet owners have experienced, this is a traumatic time for animals. And sometimes it doesn’t end on the holiday. A few years ago when we were on Cape Cod the neighbors up the street lit fireworks for the following two weekends. It was hell. Also, the loft that we stay at in San Francisco is located near the Giants ball park and whenever they win the set off fireworks. Last year, fortunately for Morgan’s sake, they didn’t win too many games but this year they’re in first place.

Another time, we were at a motel in San Francisco and there was a loud banging coming from a construction site next door. The wind was causing something to bang on the roof. In this particular instance I had run out of his meds and I called the vet and asked what I should do. He suggested Benadryl. It worked pretty well. Eventually Morgan slipped off to sleep.  I don’t suggest you give your pet Benadryl – I suggest that you talk to your vet about this possible option.

I know that many readers live in parts of the country that gets severe thunderstorms in the summer and this gets the pets nervous, too.

I keep Morgan’s fur really short for the summer for three reasons. First and obviously is that after he’s been swimming in the bay and rolling in the sand it’s easier to clean him up. Second, out here in the dry West during the summer there’s lots of fox tails to be stepped on and run through. Foxtails are the spiked like seeds of the wild grasses here and can get into a dog’s paws, ears, eyes, anywhere really and can be very painful. Having a summer clip makes it easier for me to keep an eye on his paws and anywhere else one might lodge itself. Like his ears. What I do ahead of time is practice running my fingers in between Morgan’s toes so he gets used to the feeling. I remember when I first got Morgan he refused to let me touch him in this manner. Now he likes it. I can tell. If we’re out on a hike and he steps on something he stops immediately and lifts his paw and waits for me to remove it. It’s so touching.

And lastly, as many of you are aware there is a growing outbreak of Lyme’s Disease, particularly in the northeast. I can speak from firsthand experience. Even after inspecting my previous Golden, Willy, every evening for ticks somehow he came down with Lyme’s disease. It was frightening. One of the main symptoms is lameness. Willy just wouldn’t get up from the shady spot he was in. If you see this behavior rush your dog to the vet.

Wherever we travel I always go online ahead of time and look for a pet store that carries Morgan’s brand of food. Traveling isn’t the time for switching. In San Francisco I was lucky to find a store just three blocks away from the loft. I also bring Morgan’s blanket and some toys with us to make him feel more at home. Even if he never touches them once we’re there.

I would love to hear how about some of the ways that you prepare to take your pet on vacation with you.