Coolest Thing Ever

To an author, having a reader come up and tell you they enjoyed the book is wonderful. To get a five-star review on Amazon is over-the-moon. But I recently had an experience that eclipses both of those, by a long shot.

A couple came up to me at a Farmer’s Market, and the wife told me they loved Digger. The husband didn’t say much. He just leaned on a very long walking stick and smiled. It’s not unusual for readers to stop by with a compliment. (Those who don’t like the book probably don’t stop to talk.)

But this was special. The wife went on to explain that her beloved hubs had recently suffered a stroke, and was in the recovery phase. His cognitive therapist had looked at Digger, and felt it would assist in his recovery. As a result, they were reading the book together. The husband was using Digger to restore his reading and cognitive abilities. The wife would read with him, and then quiz him on what he’d just read. I’m no doctor, but I can only presume the “use it or lose it” theory is in play. Get those synapses firing and running again.

To know that a book I intended to provide a few hours of doggie-related entertainment is helping someone recover from a stroke is overwhelming. No five star Amazon rating ever made my eyes leak.

You can find Digger for yourself at

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No vs. Wrong

What do you say to your dog when it gives you the wrong behavior during an exercise, or even on a walk?

If you say “sit” and the dog lays down, should you say “No?”


Unless you believe the dog is deliberately blowing you off, you should have another word in your vocabulary that tells the dog it’s wrong, but won’t confuse it with “No.”  I like to use the word “wrong.”

“No” means that particular behavior is unacceptable. Would you ever tell your dog that laying down is unacceptable? Of course not. But you can use a word like “Wrong,” skip rewarding the dog, and continue with the exercise. If Ruger was doing a cadaver exercise and alerted on an empty box, I would say “Wrong. Back to work. Find Digger.” And I’d say it in a very even tone, with no scolding. We want to keep the game fun.

If the dog just makes a mistake, don’t scold or make it feel bad. Help it get to the correct answer and then reward like crazy. One of the best dog trainers I know once said “unrewarded behavior self-extinguishes.” If the dog gets no reward for an empty box, it’ll eventually stop alerting on them. If your dog gets no reward for laying down when it’s supposed to sit, it’ll eventually start sitting.

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