My dogs are first and foremost my pets. But several years ago I got my first Keeshond. They look like a small Samoyed but in blacks and grays with black spectacles around their eyes. They're of Dutch origin, look like the Nordic type dog I like the looks of but without the eye-to-the-horizon independence. Believe me, this is a breed that needs to be involved with its people. They love playing with us.

My Casey was brilliant. I called him my little man in a furry suit. But because of his smarts, he was always a step ahead of me. So we went to obedience class. Hence began my foray into the most rewarding hobby I've ever had. Obedience competition. I got to travel around the lace>Midwestlace> to shows, made tons of new friends, and trained with some of best trainers in the country. I even got myself a book case full of trophies out of the deal. But best of all was doing this all with my beloved Casey.

As a result, my next dog, a collie named Fawn also trained for competition. Though injury kept her from acquiring titles beyond the novice level, she loved the attention training got her. She would have done anything for me, including risked further injury had I chosen to treat her with the drugs that would have enabled her to take jumps without ending up limping. But, she was my pet first and foremost.

Then came my second Keeshond, a tomboy of a little girl fittingly named Copy. I say fittingly because of the unisex nature of the name and because itís short for copyright and me being a writerÖ Copy made it through obedience training, but my focus was drifting away from competition and back to writing. Besides, Copy seemed to enjoy her Attention Deficit Disorder more than the stringent confines of walking at my side in proper heeling position. She was much better suited to the free-form nature of agility. Hey, itís a lot more fun. You can talk to your dog as you maneuver the course and she gets to run. We didnít go for the championship level. Not enough discipline on either of our parts. We just had fun. Pet first.

The point of this is, if anyone has issues with a doggie behavior, I might be able to help. Iím by no means The Dog Whisperer. But I did seminars with Dr. Michael Fox, one of the foremost animal behaviorists in the country and studied behavioral psyche in college. Iíve always been fascinated with why we do the things we do. Cause and effect. Motivation/Response. Perfect training for a writer. Especially when dealing with character development.

BTW, my last book, The Mating Game, is set against the world of dog showing. Look for it at Amazon, B&N, or your local book store.

Okay, thatís it for my shameless self-promotion. I really would love to hear about your pets, not just dogs. And Iíll do my best to answer any questions ďdoggieĒ bad habits or basic training techniques to create a well mannered dog. Sorry, I havenít a clue how to teach your iguana sit and stay or your canary to fetch.