Pillow Fights & Boxing Tuesday

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to make sure your dog is popular and well-liked this summer



Now that the weather is finally getting nicer, you might be looking forward to getting your dog together with the dogs of your friends for walks, play dates, drinking games, hot air baloon rides... whatever, I don't know your life.

What I DO know is this video shows you the best way to introduce new dogs to each other. Please note that it isn't "friendly" to just let your dog run into another dog's personal space. It's rude and the quickest way to screw up a what could've been a good canine friendship.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Growing Up Gomez: Season Finale

Gomez with his teacher Sarah at Fido Personal Dog Training
At the beginning of January I started writing a column for the web site Your Pit Bull and You called 'Growing Up Gomez.' It just wrapped up with the last "episode" of the season, and you can find all of them here. Essentially, it's a column that highlights the stress that comes with adopting an adult dog — a subject that, from what I could tell after frantic Google searches and book references, seems to get glossed over in the whole, "adopt and save a life!" cheerleading of rescue and shelter proponents. I am a staunch supporter of adoption, but new adopters (most being people with far less dog experience than I have) need more support and encouragement through the initial year of adoption, especially during the first few months. These can be trying times, but what you find once you get over those bumps is priceless: a great, long-lasting relationship with your new dog.

I'm still kind of amazed I was offered the opportunity to write for the site. I stumbled onto YPBY's Facebook page one day and was immediately a fan. Excellent writing, force-free training advocacy and pit bulls? Yes, please! I wrote to them after coming up empty handed in the "light at the end of the tunnel" department and asked if they'd ever considered doing a column that dealt with "rags to riches" training stories. I did my best to word my initial email in a a way that didn't sound like, "Help! I just adopted my second dog and I think I might've ruined my life!" And I suppose I succeeded since the site's main lady, Lori Nanan, sent me the following response: 

Hey Laura!
I LOVE this idea....and I'm gonna toss it back to you. ;-)

Would you be interested in documenting your journey in a bit more detail- the highs, the lows, the ah-ha moments, the "I'm toast" moments?

Doesn't have to be exhaustive, but we could put together a post with your story. I have NO doubt, that like you say, it will encourage others to step forward and admit to their "been there, done that" moments.

Include some pics of him and your lovely family and I think it could be pretty awesome. People love pictures, which you no doubt have noticed!

Let me know your thoughts and Thanks so much! - Lori


My first thought was, "Did this lady, who doesn't know me at all, just offer me a chance to write for her website in response to a cold email? Who does that?" After all, how does this woman know I'm not crazy? A terrible writer? A jerk and a moron? My second thought was, "I immediately like this person because she used the expression 'I'm toast.'" I'm so thankful Lori took a chance on me. She's an incredible trainer, advocate and person and I'm fortunate to know her. 

I enjoyed writing these posts tremendously, not only because I forced myself out of my comfort zone as a writer, but because of the truly positive, thoughtful and just goddamn nice feedback people have given me. Not to mention the fact that the force free training community is full of amazing, intelligent people who are training dogs without pinch collars, "corrections," intimidation, choke chains, outdated pack theory bullshit or pain. For more about force-free training and how you don't need a "heavy hand" to train, check out this article that Lori wrote. Seriously. Read it.

So thank you to everybody who read the column, and if you know somebody who's recently adopted their own 70lb friendly caveman, please send them the way of Your Pit Bull and You! Not just to read 'Growing Up Gomez,' but because it's a tremendous resource no matter what type of dog you have. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Listen to this over and over again


The weather is starting to get tolerable-bordering-on-nice which means a reprieve from Seasonal Affective Disorder is on its way! You can expedite the process by listening to Karen Kilgariff's Live at the Bootleg over and over again.




Live at the Bootleg is funny and touching and warm and everything that this winter has not been in any way. Her in between song banter and jokes will make you want to be her best friend for life because she's so much more charming than any of your the dumb people you hang around with. And to top it off, she closes with a Daniel Johnston cover. So good. Listen to it on Spotify until your copy on orange vinyl comes in the mail. Orange vinyl? It's like she's reading my comedy dream diary.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Straight folks: Use your voice to combat anti-gay bullshit


This is a family. If you think otherwise, go fuck yourself.

The MI marriage case, attempts to legalize discrimination in Arizona and Kansas, the horrible anti-gay bill that just passed in Uganda... It is 2014, yet the attempts to marginalize and demonize LGBT people rages on all over the world. I've recently had some straight folks ask me, "What can I do?" I've given it some thought and here's my answer.

Speak up, speak out and stand up for us. Stop being silent when some willfully ignorant asshole starts saying horrible, inaccurate or ignorant shit about gay people. It doesn't matter if they're your best friend, your mom or your spouse. Stop shying away from confrontation. You don't have to make it an argument. But your silence is met as tacit agreement and gives bigots the illusion that they're part of a robust coalition of like-minded people. We need you to burst their little hate bubble.

During the long struggle for LGBT equality, way too much "equal time" has been given to "both sides" of this fight. It is rarely acknowledged that those fighting for equal rights have a way stronger case. In fact we have the only case. WE have the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bar Association, American Medical Association and virtually EVERY SINGLE REPUTABLE, PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION IN EXISTENCE on our side. They have a Bible from which they cherry pick, fear of change and basically nothing else. 

Sure, they occasionally present “studies.” But these studies rarely hold up to peer review or a modicum of intellectual scrutiny. Sure, they bring forth “experts” but these "experts" represent a far-right fringe element of their various fields of expertise. These people are easily discredited as every major court case decided in favor of LGBT equality over the last few years has proven.

You have truth on your side. So use it to be a voice for change. Challenge those who try to justify inequality with hand-wringing and vague notions of “family values.” At best these people are ignorant and ill-informed. At worst they are hateful and full of shit. Stand up to them. Let them know you don’t share their views. Let them know you have heard enough. Let them know that you have gay and lesbian people in your life that you care about. Let them know they do not speak for you. Stop letting the hateful, ignorant things people say go unchallenged. 

That’s what you can do. Start today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nobody has to be alone on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is tomorrow which means some people will inevitably feel sad or alone or both. But honestly? Nobody has to feel that way on Valentine's Day. How do you quell the heartache? Adopt a dog. Seriously. You've been talking about it for years now, right? And you keep finding reasons to put it off. But if you're really looking for unconditional love and a strong bond, there's really nothing better than adopting a dog. Have you always wanted to be somebody's "one and only?" Go to any shelter and you'll find countless dogs who are running out of time. You are, quite literally, their only hope. "But dogs are a lot of work," you say. Yup. What good relationship isn't? In this case, the hard work is a bonus because you'll be so busy acclimating your new dog, that you won't piss away the day feebly scrolling through Tumblr posts and feeling useless. Your new dog needs you! You've got shit to do. And to clean up! A lot of rescue groups and shelters have specials and adoption events this weekend. Home Furever is just one of them. Look how cute:


Now stop feeling sad and lonely and go save a life! You'll automatically be the hero in a love story.




Oh. And if you're a dog person who is looking for something to read to occupy yet another goddamn snow day, my column on the site Your Pit Bull and You will totally do the trick. 'Growing Up Gomez' is about my experiences adopting an energetic pit bull. I am so thrilled that the folks at the site let me share my embarrassing experiences and occasional successes. The feedback I've been getting from my dog nerd fan base has been resoundingly positive. I'd love to hear what you think as well. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Morrissey's 'Autobiography' play lists

AutobiographyAutobiography by Morrissey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One of the things I've always loved about Morrissey is his intense love of music. So while reading 'Autobiography,' I made two Spotify playlists. One features individual songs he mentions in the book, the other whole albums he points to as important to him. There are a few missing as not everything was available on Spotify, but a lot of really great stuff to explore. Enjoy.

Spotify playllist of songs mentioned by Morrissey in his Autobiography

Spotify playllist of whole albums mentioned by Morrissey in his Autobiography


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Landfill Dogs deserve love too

Quinn is waiting for a home after 592 days in the shelter

I try not to dwell on the pure horror show that is our society's throw-away attitude toward dogs. The municipal disposal of unwanted animals happens, for the most part, out of public eye in unassuming buildings with little in the way of signage. We may as well call these places, "We Don't Want to Know." Most people don't know the first thing about the animal control policies, facilities and employees of their given city. Though many shelters are open to the public for adoption, too often folks turn to other avenues like breeders, pet stores and "free to a good home" ads because going to a shelter is "too sad." And it is sad. But "avoiding sadness" isn't a good reason to turn your back on these dogs. Or to perpetuate the overbreeding that causes our horrible overpopulation problem. Dogs deserve better lives than this.


Greyson is waiting for a home after 520 days in the shelter

That's why I love the Landfill Dogs photo project so much. Mary Shannon Johnstone's photographs of dogs at the Wake Forest Animal Center in Raleigh, North Carolina force viewers to confront a stark reality. One that certainly isn't going to change just because we as a society refuse to acknowledge it. But she does it in a way that doesn't make us avert our eyes in shame and sadness. These photos are beautiful and captivating. They evoke something these dogs desperately need people to see in them: potential.
From the artist's statement about the Landfill Dogs photo project:

"The landfill site is used for two reasons. First, this is where the dogs will end up if they do not find a home. Their bodies will be buried deep in the landfill among our trash. These photographs offer the last opportunity for the dogs to find homes.

The second reason for the landfill location is because the county animal shelter falls under the same management as the landfill. This government structure reflects a societal value: homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures."


Channa is waiting for a home after 108 days in the shelter
Please visit the site and take a look at these pups experiencing a few hours of pure peace, freedom and joy. Read their stories. For some of these dogs, this photo shoot will be a rare and much needed respite from the noise, cement and cyclone fencing of daily shelter life. Or the last moment of freedom before their time runs out. But for those who've been adopted as a result of this project, these pictures represent the moment somebody really saw them outside of the context of shelter life. Thank you, Mary Shannon Johnstone, for using your amazing talents to help those who can't speak up for themselves.