Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right pet for me?

Too often people make this choice by going to a pet shop, breeder or shelter, and “falling in love” without enough investigation of the animal’s history and temperament. Prior research is important too. While each individual is unique, there are genetic traits associated with the various breeds that will influence the temperament and behavioral tendencies of the animal. Have an idea of which breeds might best fit your situation and household, even if you aren’t necessarily going to bring home a purebred. If you do want a purebred, be aware of physical and temperament problems associated with a particular lineage. Common sense is useful too. A big active dog isn’t the best choice for an apartment dweller, and a person who works away from home might consider adopting a pair of cats rather than just one. Katherine is available to help you select a pet that’s right for you and your situation.

What are the basics that I need to provide for my animal?

The basics are — of course — food, water, shelter, attention, adequate exercise and stimulation, healthcare, and protection. There’s a huge amount of literature available on all of those topics — and so one more of the “basics” is learning enough about each of them to provide educated care for the animals you own. Rudimentary behavioral training is an essential as well. Having a pet who’s a good citizen in your household and in your neighborhood will make your life and your pet’s life easier and better.

Your website mostly talks about dogs. How do you approach behavioral modification with horses or cats? What other animals do you work with?

As dogs are genetically hard-wired by centuries of dogpack dynamics, horses are genetically hard-wired to herd behaviors. Relocation is particularly traumatic for horses as they form a strong bond with the people who care for them and other animals they live with. Cats, on the other hand, are more self-sufficient and solitary. A happy day for them will include some time away from people and other pets. Understanding the genetic framework that underlies the animal’s perceptions and behavior is an important first step to increasing communication with that animal and bringing about remedies to behavior issues. Katherine works with all animals, large or small, warm or cold-blooded, to increase communication and harmony and bring the animal’s environment more in sync with its intrinsic needs.

My six-year-old is begging for a puppy or a kitten. I said she could have one when she’s old enough to take care of it. Just between us grown-ups, when exactly is that?

Having a pet is a great experience for children, teaching them responsibility and empathy, and giving them a great deal of fun and happiness in the process. But parents should oversee all pet care, even when older children and teens are involved. Pets are not toys and shouldn’t be made to suffer if your child forgets to perform a daily task. Bringing an animal into a household with children makes it that much more important to get the right dog or cat from the outset, and to have a plan for integrating your new pet into your family.

Is aggression a reason to remove a dog from my home?

Each instance is a little different, but an important thing to know is that aggression — untreated — always escalates, so this is a behavior you never want to ignore. A dog who growls this time (at your toddler or a houseguest or the neighbor’s dog) is likely to bite the next time. In most cases, dog aggression towards humans can be alleviated by tactics that reinforce to the dog that people always “outrank” dogs in the dogpack order. These tactics are gentle and humane and over time actually increase the dog’s sense of security and position. Aggressive behavior is more often prompted by fear and insecurity than it is by a desire to dominate. Aggression can also be caused or increased by brain imbalances. Katherine can test your dog for this and provide treatment with flower essences as part of an overall program to end aggressive behavior.

Success Stories

The Bug

This tiny 2 pound cross between a Pomeranian and a Chinese Crested was one of my most memorable animal rescues.

I rescued The Bug from a dysfunctional household, where she lived behind a couch amid domestic strife and drug trafficking. When dog food was provided it was a standard brand perfectly appropriate for a Great Dane. For The Bug, every kernel exceeded the span of her tiny teeth and she developed mouth sores and an infection so severe it earned her the name “Stinky” from her owners. I was called on to intervene — and took her home, treated her infections, fed her broth and boiled chicken, and hoped she would survive. And survive she did – becoming a bright and happy dog that was social, loving and accomplished in tricks and charm. Mad about kittens, fearless with dogs many times her size, and totally accepting of humans despite her early mistreatment, The Bug was a tiny package of everything that makes us love dogs.

Buckley

A handsome line-back dun quarter horse, Buckley’s new owners brought him home and were alarmed to see him become lethargic and dispirited.

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“All this horse does is sleep and mope” his owner told me when she called.  “What are we doing wrong?”  The vet had been out and couldn’t find a physical cause.  I researched his history a little more, and found out that Buckley had been relocated after the death of his previous owner.  The new owners had taken a “hands off” approach while they waited for him to adjust to his new surroundings, but that was exactly the opposite of what this horse needed.  Grieving and insecure in new and unfamiliar surroundings, he needed extra attention and interaction to help him bond with his new owners.  We developed a schedule for daily grooming and riding, and they followed my advice to include him, as much as they could, in outdoor family activities.  In a few weeks, Buckley was a different horse and interacting well in his new situation.


Jasm

Weimaraners often have dominant personalities and this one was taking over.  When he got aggressive with his family’s toddler it was cause for concern, especially with another baby soon to join the family.

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I received a call from Jinx’s owner, Jenny, after he had lunged at her little boy, giving him a black eye.  “You need to do something right now” I told her, “the next time he could bite.”  And it was was clear from his attitude when I entered the house, that this dog was a danger.  Jenny was pregnant, newly relocated to Rapid City, and her husband was deployed to Iraq.  The dog was missing the family member he most respected, disturbed over the move, and a classic example of a dog filled with fear and confusion reacting with mounting hostility and aggression.  Jinx’s reactions were so fear-based and persistent that they suggested a chemical imbalance so I treated him with drops of pear and orange flower essences.  We also had multiple sessions – sometimes difficult at first — reinforcing to the dog that his role was subordinate to that of Jenny and her toddler.  After some training and behavioral work, Jinx became a more secure and relaxed dog, giving up his threatening behavior towards family members and visitors.

Midnight

Wendy had 3 cats and 3 dogs already, but still she opened her home to a stray black cat, who — it turned out — had no qualms about biting the hand that fed him.

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Wendy had an experience that’s not all that unusual. When you rescue a stray it can seem docile and gentle at first only to become after while, well, a whole different animal. In poor physical condition and initially keeping a low profile in his new household, Midnight seemed like he would fit right in. But as his strength increased, so did his attitude. Soon he exhibited an unhappy tendency to unprovoked biting. We had to teach Midnight the difference between good behavior and bad behavior — praising him lavishly for the former and using a form of kitty “time out” for the latter. Soon he was a rehabilitated cat and living harmoniously with his new clan.