Stress-free Paw-liday tips

Stress-free Paw-liday tips

We can get so busy and stressed during the holidays that we often don’t realize that our dogs can get stressed too. If you’re looking for suggestions on how to help your dog cope with the holiday season, we’ve got you covered.
Everyone loves a peaceful holiday, especially when there’s the possibility of treats.
“10 Reasons Dogs Get Stressed During the Holidays” from PetHelpful – Understanding what triggers anxiety in our pets can help us to keep them calm and avoid serious problems like biting, indoor accidents, and unhappy pups.

“Tips for reducing your pet’s stress during the holidays” from UGA Today – advice from The University of Georgia’s School of Veterinary Medicine to help keep pets stress-free during the holiday rush.

Grady’s Birthday Blog!

Greetings to my friends and fans,

Today, July 21, 2020, I turn 9 years old!   I often tell Dawson it is good to slow down and reflect upon things so that is what I’m going to do with today’s blog.  This past year has been full of changes, all wonderful since it only increases Mom and me time.  What could be better than that?  Although, as I think about it, a tennis ball plus a treat plus Mom would be the best thing ever!!  One can only dream.

This past year was great!  Mom, Dawson and I moved to a new house and we love it so much.  I now have a pasture to run in and there are so many wonderful and interesting things to smell.  Recently, there have been several baby deer in the pasture so we can’t walk there but soon they’ll be big enough to leap over the fence and I’ll have my pasture back.  They’re so cute that I don’t mind sharing my pasture but they are very shy and after staring at me for a moment, they run off.  On the other hand, I have a very nice relationship with their mom, Natalie.  We touch base almost every evening, just to talk about the day’s events.  She is interesting but cusses like a sailor.

We also have a new pool which Dawson is absolutely in love with – he is a swimming fool!  I really shouldn’t spill the beans (but it is my birthday and the birthday rule is you get to do and eat what you want), but Dawson is developing a swimming routine that is is inspired by Michael Phelps and Evel Knievel – dare devil stunts combined with speed and stamina.  He about gives Mom a heart attack but, I’ll admit, he’s impressive.  I generally avoid getting in the pool while Dawson is working on his routine because he gets so focused on his work that his appreciation for physical boundaries is nil.  I do swim some because it is a good low impact exercise which, at my age, is beneficial for my joints (or so they say. Honestly, I think good exercise is simply doing what you love because love is the best for heart health).  I must confess that my favorite thing about swimming is rolling around in the grass afterward while Mom yells at me to stop.  It’s a fun game that I know Mom secretly enjoys so I make sure I do my part after each and every swim.  I can tell she especially likes it when I roll in the mulch!

I continue to enjoy my Nose Work classes.  Mom and my teacher place the hides in interesting places with less time to find them, a challenge that I appreciate.  The only hides that are a bit perplexing are the hides high above my head.  There’s just no way to get my nose on the hide so I just sit by the wall and hope Mom figures it out. Mom’s success rate for this is very low so I’m rethinking my strategy because I really hate to miss out on getting a treat when I’m not specific about where the hide is and Mom cuts me no slack at all on this.

As you can tell, I’ve had another fabulous year.  I have the best Mom ever and Dawson is the most agreeable brother and compadre one could have.   My birthday wish for this year is the passage of the Mandatory Two Treat Tuesday Initiative (MTTTI), a cause you’ll be hearing more about later.  Which reminds me, it’s time to stop writing so I can savor a birthday treat.


Grady Buford Huntley, AX, MX
Spiritual Advisor, Abolish the Crate Federation
PhD in Treat Management
Golden Extraordinaire

Cookie Jar Games Class: Choosing Non-food Hand

December 19, 2017

Cookie Jar Games

Week 1

My restless dogs.  In September, Dawson ran into me while running in an Open Jumpers with Weaves course.  I ended up with a broken bone in my right ankle; Dawson was fine.  Approximately ten weeks of recovery followed (my dogs’ interpretation? Approximately ten weeks of BORING followed.).  I’m still not back to running but I do miss working with my boys as much as they miss having something to do.  One of my teachers suggested doing an online Julie Daniels’ course that teaches the dogs delayed gratification.  The course is called, “Cookie Jar Games” and is six weeks long.

I’m going to document my journey through this course and it should be pretty interesting because currently Grady will focus on a treat until the end of time which can be a little annoying if you want him to focus on something else in order to get the treat.  Dawson gets very impatient and very excited all at the same time (and very barky which sometimes makes me very barky too!).

This week we worked on several fun exercises.  One of the exercises involved presenting both hands to the dog, a treat in one hand, the other hand treat-less.  The goal? To have the dog consistently focus on the treat-less hand in order to get the treat.  You’ll see that this was challenging for my dogs because they’ve been taught to simply leave the treat hand alone and that will get them the treat (a version of It’s Your Choice).  I added the clicker after the first session which seemed to help.  Here’s Grady doing the exercise and he’s still figuring out what to do.


Given that for the first five years of his life, he was trained to simply back off the food hand to get the treat, I think he’s doing okay.  Now here’s Dawson who catches on a little faster but he’s also had fewer repetitions backing off  to get the treat than Grady.


Dawson gets barky which tends to be the norm for him whenever he gets excited, impatient or frustrated.  I like that he does his barking, then gets back to figuring out the game.  Good boy!

2018 New Year’s Resolutions by Grady and Dawson

I was decluttering my desk and came upon some notes made by both Dawson and Grady.  I normally don’t pry into their affairs except when scheduling transportation but I couldn’t resist when I saw what appeared to be their New Year’s resolutions for 2018.  Dawson, as expected, has big plans for his year while Grady includes me in many of his goals.  I found their resolutions both inspiring and amusing so I thought I would share them with you. 

Here’s wishing you a 2018 filled with the kind of fun and adventure that only Grady and Dawson can dream of!


My goals for 2018 (by Grady Buford Huntley)
Love Mom more than last year (if that’s even possible)
Increase walking time with Mom
Snuggle 5 hours a day with Mom
Earn bonus treats every day
Help Dawson stay focused (and realistic)
Continue with plans for agility world domination with Mom
Figure out a way to get into the box of tennis balls

Dawson Earnest Huntley’s Best Year Ever: My plans for 2018.
Increase Abolish the Crate Federation membership by 50%
Petition the AtCF board to adopt as our theme song Tom Petty’s 1989 hit, “I Won’t Back Down.”
Present monthly seminars for Freestyle Agility
Run fast every day
Play with Grady three times a day
Finish my dissertation (current working title, “How Social Media Sabotaged the Return of Polka Music: A Grand Conspiracy, Part 1.”)
Earn an AKC tracking title because Mom would like that
Get clearance from AtCF legal counsel to present my research, “Einstein Got It Right: Incontrovertible Proof that All Crate Time is Relative.”
Go an entire year without running into Mom

A Winning Team


A Winning Team

Dear Readers:

I wanted to title this opinion piece, “How To Be Successful In Spite Of Your Partner” but Dawson was adamant that I stay positive and kind.  I’m always kind but as you all know, it can be difficult to stay positive when your partner (who has thumbs so therefore has all the power), doesn’t do their job.  Not doing their job correctly is something I can deal with but when your partner thinks that they’re doing their job when they are not and also thinks that you’re not doing your job when you are… well, I get a little bothered. Dawson believes that I am persnickety with my training but I disagree.  It’s just that I notice where my partner has room for improvement.

read more…

The Things You Love

Grady says "Happy Valentine's Day"!

The Things You Love
A Valentine’s Day Commentary by Grady Buford Huntley

Dear Readers,

Everyone says that Valentine’s is a day to express your love but I am compelled to say that I strongly disagree.  As my fellow canines know, one day of the year just doesn’t give us enough time to express our love so we believe love should be shared every minute of every day with everyone and every creature we meet.  In fact, it would simply go against our dog-nature to do otherwise.  Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

read more…

The Bullet


He sat still, looking out over the field, quiet as a church mouse.  The only thing I saw moving was the twitching of his nostrils.

I inhaled to calm myself since I was starting to feel very anxious.  “Deep breaths.” I said to myself, “You can do this.”  I was hoping this time would be different, easier, less painful than the other times. I secretly doubted I would be so lucky.

Meanwhile, he never moved a muscle.  Was waiting for the signal.



I reached over and switched his leash from his collar to his harness.  In response he whipped his head around to look at me as if to say, “Come on! I got this! What are we waiting for?!”

I paused and made sure I held the leash in such a way that my gloves would provide the most protection from the burning that was soon to occur.  Then, against my better judgment, I said the words he was waiting for.

“Find it!”

Like a bullet Dawson took off and I tried very hard not to grip the leash while simultaneously holding on for dear life.  “Just hold on to the leash but not too tight and let it slide through your other hand until he’s 20 feet away from you,”  my tracking teacher said,  “then you can move with him.”


Just so you know, it’s counterintuitive to stand still when you are all but certain that doing so will result in being pulled so suddenly that you never recover your balance.  It is as if you can see the punch coming your way but you can’t move because you’re frozen with fear.  So you surrender to the inevitable and hope to make it out alive.

This is tracking with Dawson.  I call it, “Bullet Tracking.”

Sound a little dramatic?  Well, by this point I had been through two sets of gloves that Dawson burned a hole through because he pulled so hard and fast on the leash that it simply ripped through the material.  Did I mention the burning sensation that is produced as a result?  Pain plus fear equals trauma.

On a brighter note, thanks to the kind and patient salesman at REI (You rock, Ryan!), I had finally found a pair of tracking footwear that was light enough to run in while providing extra ankle support in case I landed in a hole or was unable to move fast enough to keep up with Dawson.  One of my fears is that he would pull me so fast that I would fall and break my ankle.  This in spite of my teacher’s helpful suggestion, “Don’t let him pull you.”  As if I have a choice?

So that’s where we are now, Dawson and I.  A green team for sure with one of us enthusiastic beyond words and the other nursing a sore hand (but with a really cool pair of tracking shoes).  It’s a good thing Dawson and I love each other like we do, since we are forever partners in our quest to, “Find it!”  And I suspect we will be tracking for a long time because no matter how painful (or in Dawson’s view, slow moving), tracking can be, finding the glove at the end is a great feeling.

Even if I need a stiff drink afterward.


Humble Pie

Once, when one of my dogs behaved in such a manner that I didn’t recognize him (of course it was in front of a group of people), my teacher commented, “Dogs have a sense of humor.”  I wasn’t sure if that explained my dog’s unexpected behavior or if he decided I needed to be humbled.  Can you really control that which doesn’t want to be controlled? Apparently not.  And what happens when you try? You get to eat humble pie.  Not funny.

I’ve been taking agility lessons from a well respected teacher and I was thinking about the first time I took my dogs to work with her.  It wasn’t one of my proudest moments.  Let’s just say Grady and Dawson decided to display their mischievous side and double team me in the process.  Which is strange because Grady is very close to perfect so his behavior surprised me.  Dawson, well, Dawson still pays a visit to “Crazy Land” whenever he gets really excited about something.  Some weeks he visits “Crazy Land” three or four times.  It’s exhausting!

Here’s what I recall about those few hours. (To best capture the spirit of the story, please imagine circus music playing in the background.)

It was a long drive to our lesson so the dogs were well rested by the time we arrived. Since the weather was unusually cool, each dog was left in the van while the other took his turn.  I started with Dawson and left Grady in his seatbelt harness in the front seat.  A few minutes into Dawson’s turn, the teacher says, “There’s a dog out there,” and there’s Grady standing at the closed door of the barn, whining.  I’ve no idea how he got out of his harness. I took him back to the van and put him in Dawson’s crate.  Grady wasn’t pleased with being crated but he left me no choice.  I proceeded with Dawson’s lesson while giving Grady time to think about how unfair life is.

After Dawson’s turn, I switched dogs and put Dawson in his crate with a bully stick to chew.  Mind you, Dawson’s mind is toast and he’s tired – he had worked hard.  And he loves bully sticks.  I take Grady to the barn and hear very little from Dawson which makes me believe the bully stick worked to keep him occupied (hooray for me!).  There are even times I forget he’s out there he’s so quiet.

After Grady’s turn, the teacher walks out to the van with me and I put Grady in his harness and hook him in the seat.  The teacher and I chat for a bit and then we walk into the barn for her to show me something.  A few minutes later she says, “The dog’s out again,” and there’s Grady walking in the barn like he owns the place (are you kidding me?). I escort Grady to the van, tighten up his harness and hook him back in his seat.  Afterward, I explain to the teacher why Dawson is crated and show her where Dawson chewed the seatbelt during the only time I used a dog approved seatbelt harness on him (chewed in less than 10 minutes). I say these words which quickly come back to haunt me, “Dawson’s a good boy, not much of a chewer now.”  Then I notice on the van floor a bungee cord chewed in half that had been attached to Dawson’s crate.  Was the bully stick chewed on?  NOPE.  Not even a tooth mark.  How Dawson was able to get a hold of the bungee cord still eludes me.

“They’re not always like this.” I said weakly, apologetically.  The teacher simply smiled.

I’ve never liked the taste of humble pie.




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