By: Paige Figueroa
It has been quite amusing every month trying to blend informative, humorous experiences and facts into reading material. I’m not taking sides on this subject; however, I do want to express myself as someone who has stood knee-deep in fur and hair.

My question to you is: How do you keep cool when the thermometer gets up into the high ’90s, or keep warm when the temperatures in Alabama get below 40 degrees; what is comfortable? Through the years, I have seen “dreadlocks” on dogs coming in for grooming, especially on non-shedding breeds. There are two different kinds of hair or fur to be maintained on these dogs that mat up. Whether there are fleas or not, their skin itches; then to comfort themselves, they lick and scratch and rub themselves.

Maintenance on a dog’s skin and hair is very important. When a dog does not get enough attention paid to their grooming, they are just like us; they’ll start scratching and itching all over. When a dog’s hair is matted, what happens is that the skin will start to break down and underneath that matted hair, you’ll find infections and wounds. Disgusting as it sounds, I and other groomers have shaved dogs down and found maggots underneath all that matted hair. Yes, I said maggots!

Regular grooming of the skin and hair is very important in all breeds of dogs; in fact, even the hairless ones need a bath or wipe down. All breeds need to be maintained, or they can be a host for fleas and ticks which can invade your home. They can be spread from one animal to another and throughout neighborhood yards that back up to each other. Just remember that hair needs to be maintained properly. Oh yeah, I have even run into mites several times and had to bathe in Dawn. Creepy feeling.

Hair is an environment. Think about it. Dogs that have extremely dense coats are Pyrenees, Collies, Huskies, Malamutes, and Chows. Those are just a few breeds that have undercoats and guard hair to protect against Arctic cold. We also see this in dogs with wolf-like characteristics. So let’s put it this way…Go to the Swiss Alps or the Himalayas, strip down to your underdrawers and expect to be comfortable in a blizzard…you have another thing coming! So, reverse that analogy. You are an Arctic fur-bearing dog surviving in the Deep South with our sweltering summers, high humidity, and high heat index of Alabama; your hair is so dense; sitting in the sun makes your tongue hang out and the pads of your feet sweat. I would be begging, if I were a dog, “Cut my hair. Brush out my undercoat.”

What does hot hair feel like? Not bad hair when you get out of bed in the morning. I’ll tell you what hot hair feels like – it is being in a permanent state of menopause and hot flashes. If you men don’t understand that, then ask your wife or your mama.

So, let’s try to sum all of this up and simply talk hair and fur. Schnauzers, Maltese, and Bichons have non-shedding coats. As a responsible pet owner, it is wise to research the breed not only for temperament and energy, but your purpose. Ask yourself what you are willing to do to maintain the comfort of your animal in the Alabama weather.

So many of the short-hair breeds shed. I’ve actually clipped a few down not for their comfort, but because of shedding. Some of those breeds are Corgis, Pugs, and the Feist breeds. For your information, there are now de-shedding products. Also, there are hand mitts and baby wipes that can help.

Remember this, if you question your pet’s comfort, put on your long johns, mittens, scarf, and heavy coat in July and go outside in the Alabama sun. Then, you’ll be packing up and moving to Alaska to keep those Arctic breeds comfortable. Oh, and by the way, I’m too old to do those big dogs, so I don’t need money. This is 30 years of experience and compassion speaking.
By: Paige Figueroa

By: Paige Figueroa
Being a Christian and a dog groomer, as well as an ardent animal lover by nature, I have contemplated the evolution of the position of dogs in present society as compared to Bible days.

I have been in other countries where dogs skulk around, belonging to no one, always looking for a morsel of food, no particular breed, just a dog, a scavenger. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve groomed dogs that get their fluff and polish every week. These little darlings get special foods, are hand fed, go to the veterinarian for every little malady.

We are confronted with two extremes. Have you ever asked yourself about the historical journey through the centuries it took for our domesticated dogs to evolve into four-legged children in our society? A total spending estimate in 2016 for dogs and cats in 2017 was at 66.75 billion dollars. How did we get to the place where the word “dog” was a derogatory word, associated with eating the dead and lapping up blood, during Biblical days?

Dogs were scavengers. The greyhound was the only breed that had honorable mention. Proverbs 30:31, “A greyhound of the four animals mentioned which is ‘comely in going.’”

Apparently greyhounds were already recognizable as a breed. There are only a few positive references to dogs in the Bible. However, in Isaiah 56:10 Israel’s sinful leaders are compared to dumb dogs, nothing like Old Yeller, or Lassie Come Home, or any of our many lovely dog stories that make you cry and laugh. Dogs were despicable creatures, with most vile people described as and compared to dogs. In 1Kings 14:11, King Jeroboam was a real jerk and brought calamity on his lineage. Of his bloodline, 15 were told that in cities the dogs would eat the dead cadavers and in the fields birds would pick their bones.

The main job of dogs throughout scriptures was devouring remains of dead stuff. Remember Jezebel? “On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel…”

There are numerous places which mention that the innate behavior of a dog, whether it weighs 4 lbs. or 170 lbs. is as a scavenger. We had a 10 lb. Shih Tzu mix, Ping Pong, and a Shetland sheepdog; they loved to venture into the cow pasture. Yeah, you guessed it. They rolled in manure, and dragged home dead stinky stuff. Our cute little fluffy friends were still dogs. Thousands of years did not change their nature.

I quote from Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to dogs,”… the comparison of dogs to humans who are ungodly, scavengers, skulking about associated with that which is rotten and dead. What about Proverbs 26:11, “like a dog to its vomit, so a fool repeats its folly.” Boy, how many times have I seen this used against humans.

Our habitual behavior makes us keep repeating the same broken behavior. Evil people in Philippians 3:2, Revelation 22:15, people compared to dogs, along with sorcerers, immoral people, murderers, idolaters, people that practice lying. Seems like throughout the Bible, dogs do not have a position of adoration and appreciation like in our society today.

Have we, someplace along the way, misplaced the real value placed on pets? I want to leave a thought with you, though. In the Garden of Eden everything was influenced by the fall of mankind. In my own weird thinking, I have a “what if” hypothesis: Dogs had a higher placement before sin entered into the garden, but when sin came into the picture, there was a need to have something to clean up human messes. Could that possibly be true?

A bright spot in all this is knowing that full restoration is promised and is coming our way. Just like for our lives, there will be a redeeming power of life as well as a balanced appreciation for God’s creatures. As redemption brightens up our understanding, it has shed light on God’s creation, especially as it pertains to dogs. After all, they are man’s best friend.
By: Paige Figueroa

A Dog Story – Dog Barker

By: Paige Figueroa
His dark brown eyes, with the innocence of a new soul, crawled up in the warm arms of the human soul. He thought he belonged, his thoughts were of giving, his sweet puppy breath and wet tongue reaching through smells all new with finding a place in a human who shared his new found love.

Six months later – the first weeks of whimpering for momma and the wet spots in the night. He created in the form of chewed shoes, garbage strewn all over, couch corners chewed, and the need for carpet cleaners. For his owner, it was time for something along the lines of Dog Training for Dummies, and the downside of puppy’s poopies behind the chairs or under the table. For the puppy parent, there was the frustration of working 10-hour days not counting the commute. Going out of town meant spending lots of money for a doggie hotel, not to mention the hundreds of dollars in vet bills for shots and the sock he swallowed.

The Commitment

Four-legged “children” depend on you, look for you, are excited to greet you, and can be ashamed if scolded. This puppy will lick your grime, sweat, and skin off when they are happy. Then there are the baths, nails, haircuts, ears, and of course THE glands. You know that old “scratch-your-buttocks-on-the-carpet trick.”

What about belly aches, diarrhea, dry hot nose, the limping paw? It’s all part of being a pet parent, with the never-ending responsibility to raise them up to be a part of your pack. Many times we consider what is best or works for us, not realizing they live 12 to 15 years to our 70 (if we are blessed). They are interactive creatures, and it doesn’t help them to be locked up in a crate 8 to 12 hours a day. Maybe you can consider doggie daycare, a dog walker, a dog sitter, or perhaps think twice about buying or adopting someone that might not fit in your program. Get fish, a cat, a gerbil, or a hamster if you need a critter.

Dogs are meant to be companions. If they are not companions they are hunters, herding dogs, retrievers, working class. Some breeds are great at varmint control. Think about their purpose, and not just the human perspective.

Busy and Yappers

Loving dogs should not just be about what they do for us and what makes us happy. We need to have the courage to ask what we are taking away or adding to their lives. Will we abandon them when they become an inconvenience or a burden? Being a pet parent is a choice, and it is extremely important to make the right one. In the world of a dog, there is no divorce court, no alimony, no child support, just overcrowded shelters as the result of too many returns of adopted pets where the people made bad choices. Please think about all of these things before you take on the responsibility of being a pet’s parent. They are depending on you.
By: Paige Figueroa

By: Joel Allen
There is a lot of confusion about service dogs, especially when it comes to entering restaurants. Years ago people were comfortable with “seeing eye dogs” being in restaurants, but now there are many kinds of “service dogs.” According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.” (

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.

Now, there are many reasons for confusion or the desire for casting out someone with a service dog from a restaurant. One is cleanliness. We Americans do not want a dirty animal near our food or the area where we make our dinner. I get that. I don’t want dog hair in my food either. But, if the service animal in question is really a service animal, it will be well groomed. This is because none of us with service dogs want to be frowned upon and shunned when all we want to do is sit and eat our meal in peace. Another reason or desire to ask someone with a service animal to leave is allergies. Not everyone can be around animals without having an allergic reaction. For example, there may be a situation when a service animal is on a commercial flight where there is a passenger who is highly allergic. The airline cannot necessarily remove the service animal because the ADA Law protects the rights of the disabled person. But reasonable accommodations can be made for both parties by placing the person with allergies and the service animal as far from one another as possible. It needs to be understood that under the law, the animal cannot be removed just because someone claims to be afraid of it.

We need to address the attitude and training of the “service animal.” Unfortunately, there are people who are fraudulently attempting to pass off their pets as “service animals.” If they are acting out in public by barking, lunging at people, begging for food, not listening to their handler at all, or just plain everywhere like a 2-year-old kid, they can be removed. However, if there is a physical need that the animal is providing its owner, the business has to assist the disabled person with that need.

The need for service animals is growing, and they are used for many conditions. We have them for diabetes, where they can alert an hour out before someone’s sugar goes too high or too low. They carry medicines for those who need to keep their medicine close and can call their service animal to them the instant they need the medicines. Some service animals are trained for specific needs such as pushing open and holding doors for the wheelchair bound. They are even taught to retrieve items for the disabled. Ever seen a dog taught to turn on lights? I have and it is amazing because it improves the quality of life for the person in need. There are service animals for those with mental disorders; they help to calm, bring back to reality, or alert someone that they need to pay attention to themselves and take their medicines. We even have service animals for those who suffer from sensory overload and may try to run out. The animals are trained to stop or deter this behavior, and possibly prevent the disabled person from getting hurt by running out into traffic. Like I said, there are many needs. We are meeting those needs one disability at a time. Those of us with service animals need those of you with businesses to understand we are not trying to bring in a pet, but we are trying to enhance our quality of life by using a service animal for our specific need.

As stated before, service animals are not pets. They are working animals. They have a specific job to do. Parents, please watch your children in public when there is a service animal around. I see so many parents who just allow their kids to approach someone with a service animal. I get that seeing a service animal in Walmart or any other public place is cool, but let your kids know why they are there.

Lastly, I would like to remind everyone there is no certification for a service dog. I wish there was, but there is not. The ADA Law is clear on this and again I ask that you not believe me but read for yourself at

A quick note to my readers, I have turned off my cell phone due to the number of telemarketers that have called it. I can be reached via Facebook or my home number listed below. May everyone have a great month.

“Remember to love your dogs because they love you. Maybe not the way you want them to, like chewing up your favorite shoes or what not, but that is just love-chewing. Be thankful for the time you have with them always.”
By: Joel and Zues Allen

Hello, Dog World! A quick recap for many who know and some who do not know. In December, Zues passed away. He was what I called the unofficial Athens Walmart mascot because when we were out, we always stopped into Walmart.

Meet Zoey. She is training to become my next service dog. It may surprise a lot of people that many have already met Zoey. She is the black and white dog on the Limestone Veterinarian commercial that we see when we go to the Athens Cinemagic Theater. That’s right, I adopted her from the pound. As far as I can tell, she has Border Collie and Blue Heeler mix. So why Zoey for my next service dog? Let me explain what, in my opinion, makes a good service dog (SD).

First, the person looking to get an SD must have a documented disability. I say documented because there are those who just want to take their dog into every place they can, so they tell people that their dog is an SD. In a lot of cases, these frauds cannot truly control their dog and the dog does what it wants, like barking at people or doing other things no one would see an SD do. An SD, a true SD, regardless whether they are in training or not will remain calm and not think everyone has to pay it attention. Zoey is in training, and I limit the attention that the public wishes to bestow on her. So, when I tell someone she is still training, I am not trying to be rude. I am trying to politely keep anyone from breaking her training that I have successfully built upon. Can an SD have a bad day and act like a regular dog? Yes, if the circumstances were just right. That is why, even after the SD completes their training, we always reinforce their training.

Now when looking for a service dog, always let the dog pick you. Zoey chose me, and I was not looking to find her. But that is how God works. Just because they are beautiful to look upon or cute does not necessarily make them the ideal SD. Unless someone is dealing with a reputable breeder that has the proven track record of producing an SD for their certain disability, I would always recommend meeting the potential SD and see if they choose you. Depending on your disability and need, always consider what your SD is needed to do. If they are for pre-seizure alert, they should have an outstanding sense of smell. A dog with a mashed in muzzle does not normally fit this criteria. Zoey, in my case, does because she has a long muzzle ideal for a strong sense of smell. She will be my next diabetic alert dog, and she will be able to alert me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour whether my sugar levels will be going high or low. She also carries my medicines, just as Zues did for me. Let me say that just because the dog has a mashed muzzle does not disqualify it as an SD. There are other disabilities that need an SD and do not require a strong sense of smell.

Secondly, federal law allows for anyone who is able and willing to train their own SD. Many of us do not want this headache, so we hire someone or we go to a private entity that charges a huge sum of money. If the option is to train your own SD, they must have basic obedience taught to them. After the basics are taught, we can build on what the SD knows and then get to the advanced levels of training which will lead to their SD training. If one decides to purchase an SD, investigate the company claiming to “certify” their training. The law states there is no certification; so be careful. Also, be aware of any contracts signed with the entity claiming to train your SD; many have a hidden clause stating that if the SD is not fully paid for by a certain date, the entity can take the SD back. I always recommend training the SD yourself because one can customize the training exactly as needed. Most companies or businesses that train SDs just train with a “cookie cutter” style of “one size fits all.”

Zoey has done her public access training and she has done well. She is now training for her diabetic alert abilities, and she has blossomed in this area with surprising speed. Her trainer has stated that she has caught on faster than expected. I cannot wait for her to finish training and watch her alert.

Again, everyone please welcome Zoey into our community, and when we are out, say a quick “Hello” but don’t cause Zoey to break her training because then I will correct her and she will learn. I hope this article helps everyone understand about SDs and if anyone has questions feel free to call me.

“Remember to love your dogs because they love you. Maybe not the way you want them to, like chewing up your favorite shoes or what not, but that is just love chewing. Be thankful for the time you have with them always.”
By: Joel and Zues Allen

In Genesis, of the Bible, God allows Adam to name the creatures of the Earth. Even the name Eve was chosen for his wife by Adam with the meaning of “mother of all living.” We witness names being given throughout the Bible, because they each mean something about the one named. Eve’s name showed who she was. So, why preach about it you ask?

Who has a Canine Family Member named Chloe? Is your Chloe loving, mischievous, and destructive, (i.e. socks, underwear, furniture, beds, and much more). Our Chloe was the same.

How about Samson? Our Samson is the epitome of Love Out Loud (LOL). He is proud, barks when excited and doesn’t like to be ignored. When you catch him doing something wrong, he always cocks his head sideways and gives you a look like, “The cat did it!”

What about the name Zues? Our Zues is a take charge, no one else comes first, likes-to-talk-when-I-am-watching-a-show type of guy. He acts like a snob to people by letting them think he will let them pet him, and then he pulls the “PSYCH” move and walks off. He is like this when he is not working.

We have a Matilda. So far our Matilda has seemed obsessed with Uncle Herman and me. She whines and dances for my attention. At dinner time she will stand outside the kitchen window looking in with her half blue right eye and the rest brown and cock her head sideways whining and talking. Her eyes make her look crazy and I have nicknamed her my “Stalker”.

Then there is Maggie. She is sweet, kind, loving, and quite pushy with her affections of sopping wet kisses and a dog’s version of a hug.

We also have a Brock. He is built like a bull and tiger striped. He is larger than some Danes and looks very intimidating when you first meet him.

Lastly, but not the last of our “brood,” there is Ollie. Ollie is a large Dane who is considered to be a Silver Merle. His blue/silver eyes betray nothing as to what he might be up to. Every time I look at him I think I see the expression, “I’m not doing anything.”
These are names of some of our Canine Family Members. Their names seem to fit them perfectly.

Now, look at yours. Do they act anything like their name? Some of us name our dogs by their actions. There is nothing wrong with this. I just warn you all to be careful what you name your dogs. It could come back and “bite” you, literally. Just being superstitious and humorous…

No one. What am I talking about? I am talking to those of us that have that stubborn dog that wants to give us the obedience commands and eat the treats as we obey them. All the time, I train “people” and their dogs, and I would venture to guess 85 percent have passed their final test. Did the other 15 percent fail? Not in my eyes. What many would consider a failure, I consider a moment for retraining. For those who have taken the basic obedience with me and did not pass, I have always kept the door open for them to return. It is a win-win situation if everyone thinks about it. The dog gets additional socialization, and also gets to perfect their training.

Many dogs take to the basic obedience without a problem. They are the ones that their family began to teach manners from the moment they were brought home. Usually this is the quiet puppy that seems to just sit there at first, and when they feel safe and secure they open up and shows us who they really are. Puppies adapt quicker than adult dogs, and they usually take a few days. Adult dogs take a week to two weeks. Most of the best family dogs are the ones who choose their family. They are the ones that come to their future families out of the litter, or they choose their families through kennel doors and windows, or they just show up on your doorstep.

The few dogs that do not take to the basic obedience training are usually from a stubborn breed. One commonly stubborn breed of dog is the Shitzu. Picture a cat’s soul trapped in a small dog’s body. That is a Shitzu. There are additional breeds, but the Shitzu is the most common I run into. This dog requires a lot of patience. In rare cases, they take to training, but in most they tend to give the trainer the look of, “Yeah, right! You want me to do what? No way! You do it and I will eat the treats!” For those of us who have this issue, don’t give up. Come back and see me. We will see the training through.

What are some types of failures that allow dogs to get away with rebellion? Timing is everything. What do I mean by this? When a command is taught we use praise, love, treats, or the reward the dog desires, which could be a toy. It is when we reward the dog that makes or breaks the command. If the dog is rewarded, but breaks the command before they are rewarded and received the treat, they have learned to break at that point. An example would be the sit command. The dog is given the sit command, and just when they are about to take the treat, the dog stands up. There are many causes for this. The trainer could be holding the treat too far away, the hand is not closed around the treat, or the trainer could be pulling the treat away as the dog begins to break command.

Then there are some people who sign up for dog training and only complete the commands during the training classes, which are scheduled for once a week. I plainly explain to everyone who trains with me that during the week they should be working on the commands. Each week, we add two more commands, and then when the fourth week arrives we test on all the commands.

The success of your training depends on you. I would like to express to everyone who has trained with me, they can return to retrain their dog at anytime. I would love to have you.
By: Joel Allen

How many of us have looked at our Canine family member and asked ourselves, “What did I do to deserve this?” Whether your dog is the best behaved dog in the world and you’re asking that question in gratitude or you are rolling your eyes to heaven, while your dog seems possessed and is chewing holes in your furniture, we have all been there a time or two. Just remember there is always a reason why “Fido” is in your life. Now for those of you who have the “Bad Dog”.

Let’s start by asking:
“When do you feed your dog?” – It is important to feed your dog after YOU eat. This establishes the ranking hierarchy. You are the leader, not the dog. Dogs have a “Pack Mentality”. If you don’t lead, the dog feels insecure and will take the leader role from you by assuming you are there to serve them. This leads to them not listening when called, uncontrolled barking, impatience, thinking they come first by running into the room before you, growling at you when you tell them to get off the furniture, and many other issues that stem from this.

Solution – At feeding time, instruct your dog to sit. Those of you who have never taught your dog to sit, here is an easy way. Give the command “SIT” firmly. Then with the feeding dish in one hand, keep it at nose level, and with the other hand grab the dog’s collar. Hold the collar and move the dish toward their face. The dog’s head should bend back, following the dish. By doing it this way the dog is least likely to jump up and will sit easier. If the dog does not sit, repeat the command again. Remember not to yell. Let’s say this did not work. Then holding the dog in the same position, place your foot that is closer to the dog’s rear behind the dog’s closest leg, and gently nudge behind the leg. Like us humans, a dog will buckle when someone bumps them behind their knees. Once they sit, give the command firmly “STAY”. Then place the dish down. Before they move, give them a release command, “OK”. If the dog moves before the release command repeat the above steps again. Be patient. This takes time in some cases.

“Do you just leave the food out?” – If so, you are sending the Canine family member the wrong message. You are telling them you are there to serve them. Stop placing the food out and follow the suggestions above for feeding your dog. For many of us, leaving food out can be hazardous to our dog’s health. They can over eat causing obesity and bloat. Bloat affects barrel chested dogs mostly. There have been some cases where it affected small breeds. Another reason for a feeding time is it establishes a disciplined structure and shows the dog that you control their food. A hungry dog makes for a focused dog that can be molded into a well behaved dog.
By: Joel Allen

If you have a large breed dog then you know why I asked. But, I have seen small breeds succeed in this area too. Alright, imagine you are in the kitchen and you set your plate of food on the counter and turn toward your refrigerator. You open the refrigerator and “UHOH” no ketchup. Without a thought of danger toward your food you walk to the pantry. Now, enters the Villain, the Family Dog, drooling. Who, unbeknownst to you, has been stalking his prey (your plate), you conveniently left unguarded. There you are, your back to the counter, in the pantry with not a worry in the world, thinking, ‘this steak is going to taste so good with this Lea and Perrin’s and the fries are going to go good with this ketchup’, and you turn back toward your plate. “WHAT!? Where’s my dinner!?,” you scream as you see that someone has cleaned your plate. You look to see who did it and while you walk one way the Villain, known as the Family Dog, makes his escape in the other direction. Look at the bright side, you still have the plate so you are able to go back for more and it is clean too, LOL.

Does all this sound familiar? I can be a prankster myself and I have witnessed this before. No, I didn’t warn the victim. I couldn’t help but not say something because it was too good to pass up. Let’s just say that person learned the hard way because I had warned them before. You know kids, “I know, I know”, is their favorite saying when you give them advice.

What does this have to do with counter surfing? What I just told you is only the beginning. Our Canine Family Members tend to surf our kitchen counters when they know there is food to be found. Cats are worse. Ever seen a Cat and Dog team up to get what’s on the counter? Neither have I, but wouldn’t that be a sight? So, how do we stop a sneaking, counter surfer?

The first option to try cost as much as a meal at your favorite restaurant. You will need one aluminum can, 22 pennies or washers, duct tape, and fishing line. Place the 22 pennies inside the can, tape the opening closed and tie the fishing line to the tab on top. Next, place the can on a shelf above the counter. (The higher, the better) Now, let the fish line fall to the counter and tape it down near the edge of the counter. Ensure the line is tight. Set up quite a few for better results. Now when the trap is sprung you will know when it happens and be able to firmly say, “Out of the kitchen! or Bad! or Gotcha!” One thing is for certain, they will be less likely to repeat the event again and you will have a cool “Redneck Motion Sensor and Alarm” device. “Hey look ya’ll, it’s easy to reset.”

The second option you can try is a chemical deterrent called Boundary. It helps keep dogs and cats away from areas you don’t want them accessing. This product can be found at your local pet store. It is used indoors and outdoors. Be careful about its use in your food prep areas and be sure you read the instructions carefully before applying.

Option three is a shock collar. Shop around before settling on one. I would advise that you look at a rechargeable system, with a remote. The collar should be waterproof and have the option of a tone or vibration, and shock levels. Next time you hear them in the kitchen holler out and hit the tone or vibrate button. If they don’t comply then hit them with the “lightning”, but use the lowest setting first. “Sparky” will get the idea. Additionally, if you get the right collar you can buy an accessory known as “Zones” made by INNOTEK, an instant pet proofing barrier device that can pair with the collar. You place it where you don’t want your Canine Family Member to enter or get near and it signals the collar if they approach. If they ignore the warning it will activate the collar and stop when they are out of the zoned area. Some of these devices come with a collar already. Now, if Fido or Fidette, is still bucking the system, call me. Don’t wait until you have scorched their hair off please, LOL.
By: Joel Allen

Dog Barker – Zues

As many of the Athens community and a few across the nation have heard, Zues has passed away. He was my “boy”, companion and service dog. He lived to be 8 years old. Will I have another service dog? Yes. In fact, I have already been blessed with an 8 month Border Collie. I will train another Great Dane also so I will have 2 service dogs and I don’t over work them.

So, let me tell you how Zues lived. Zues was born in my home on 29 September 2008, and I had the privilege of watching him come into the world along with his siblings. In 2009, I was retired from the US Army and began my journey into the dog training field. During this time, Zues began to pay a lot of attention to me, like licking my arms and legs. I had no idea at the time, but I was becoming a type 2 diabetic. Within 6 months after I retired, I was informed I was a diabetic. I denied it at first. I even found myself in the Emergency Room being told I had to start taking medicine for the diabetes.

All this time, Zues was becoming what I thought at first was overly obsessed with me, more adamant toward me, until one day when my glucometer was reading 500 plus, and I was feeling terrible. A friend of mine told me that Zues was trying to tell me about my sugar levels. I thought he was nuts, but I began to pay attention to Zues’ actions when my sugar levels were high and low. When my glucometer was reading high, Zues was licking my finger tips, arms, or legs (when I wore shorts). When my glucometer was reading below 100, he would paw at me or push me with his muzzle and give me a direct look like I needed to pay attention. That probably saved me from being in a car accident a few times. I even learned through research that there was such a thing as diabetic service dogs also known as Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD).

Let me tell everyone: from the start, I never intended Zues to become a service dog. But Zues was born with the ability to detect sugar levels and was not trained for this. It was all natural for him. After I trained him for basic obedience, I began to test and ensure that he would act properly in public. As many of our community saw, he was very well behaved. So began our journey together for 7 years that he would serve me. Folks, having a service dog is such a blessing because with Zues, I almost always knew when I needed to take my insulin. Did he miss sometimes? Yes, but that would be due to different situations.

Zues met a lot of people over the years. When people asked to pet him, I allowed it. For those who think I should not have, Zues was a big dog and I wanted to ensure if I became incoherent or unconscious he would not panic. I exposed him to thousands of people over the years, and he still was able to do the job he served me for. Through me allowing him to meet different people, there are those here in the Athens area that found they were either pre-diabetic, diabetic, or even hypoglycemic (low blood sugar levels). I really got a kick out of him alerting on my Mom. I would hear her say things like “Tattle Tale,” “Snitch,” or “I know,” and the eyes rolled with that. But his Grandma loved him so much.

Now I didn’t just throw a vest on Zues and walk him into the stores, restaurants, and hospitals. I made sure I was in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for service dogs. I found that there are quite a few people who are ignorant of this federal law passed by Congress, and I had to face different kinds of ignorant people in different places. However, I remained diplomatic, even to the point of a Huntsville Police Sergeant threatening to arrest me. That was a shock for me because I believe if someone holds the position of supervisor, they should be well aware of the law. But, I lived through that and learned.

As the years passed, Zues would go to different functions and places with me. Athens Walmart was one of our favorite places. Another place we frequented was the Madison Planet Fitness as seen here with us leaving after a workout.

We were asked to speak at different events, and at one we advocated for service dogs through a Boy Scout meeting at a friend’s church.

Our last event together was the Athens 2016 Christmas Parade. We rode on the back of Maggie Chandler’s parents’ truck, representing her dog sitting business called “It Takes A Village.” During the last part of the parade, I saw my mom in the crowd, and she videoed us going by. When I said “There is Grandma,” it shows him popping his head up looking for mom.

On 9 December 2016, I was having Zues re-evaluated for a class 2 heart murmur he had been diagnosed with in December 2014. Apparently, the excitement was too much, and he went into cardiac arrest at the vet’s office. The vet did all he could, but Zues passed on.

Let me tell you all, there is life after death for a dog. Some of my readers will know what I am talking about. On the night of 19 December 2016, I thought I heard Zues barking in the backyard, and of course, when I looked he was not there. (No, my cheese has not slid off my cracker, yet.) Later that night, I heard his dog tags rattling, and I awoke. I went to where the noise was coming from, and I promise that the noise came from where his ashes were in a box, sitting on top of his collar and tags in a beautiful velvet bag given to us by Paws Memorial. The next day, I had a pain block procedure done where they put me under. When I awoke in the recovery room, my mom said I kept talking about Zues being there and I even pointed to where he was. She said I kept talking about him being a good boy.

So, I know that he is with me, even now. I look forward to the day we meet again. Another treasure in Heaven for me.

“Remember to love your dogs because they love you. Maybe not the way you want them to, like chewing up your favorite shoes or what not, but that is just love chewing. Be thankful for the time you have with them always.”
By: Joel Allen