Sept 27, 2011 Issue #19 Published by Sue Skiff


Hi everybody!

Here’s my latest issue. Tonight, I will be participating in a local area humorous speech contest, representing my Toastmaster’s Club. I will be telling a version of the first part of my crow story. I’m getting a little nervous, since I’ve only practiced it four times, over the last month, so far. Anyone who would like to check it out, come on by. The contest will be at Temple Isaiah: 3800 Mount Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette, starting at 7:00.

Today’s issue contains an article giving tips on teaching your dog to lie down on command. It also has a story about when my cat Ahwahnee, first came to live with me. There may be more to follow. By the way, Ahwahnee was what the Native people of Yosemite called Yosemite Valley. I named her for a plae that I love. She is not named after the hotel in Yosemite Valley, nor for the town of Ahwahnee, but for Yosemite Valley, itself, a true jewel in the natural world. By the way, if you have not seen Yosemite Valley in the fall, the winter, or the spring, you need to. It is definitely at least pretty in the summer when most people visit.

You know what I am going to say here…..

Please let me know what YOU would like me to write about. Or, send me your comments, complaints, or questions.

See you next week!.




The “down” command, and when I say that, I mean the command to lie down, not a command to stop jumping, is an important command. It helps to teach your dog to relax; and it is helpful when you want your dog to hang out with you when you’re away from home.


A dog which has trust or respect issues will fight lying down on command. Wait until you have developed a working rapport with your dog before you attempt to teach your dog “down,” especially if your dog is at all fearful or dominant. Lying down places a dog in a vulnerable position. It can’t defend itself when it is lying down. Wait until you have your dog doing well with learning other commands, and you can see that your dog really wants to please you, before teaching the “down.”


It is far easier to teach a dog to lie down when it is sitting down. To begin teaching your dog to lie down on command, have your dog sitting next to you. For small dogs, you will initially want to be on your knees, or sitting on the floor. Once your dog has learned how to “down,” from a sit, you can progress to teaching it to lie down from standing, if you like.


Once your dog is down, you want to get it to relax. Encourage it to roll over onto one hip, rather than lying in a straight line on its belly with its back legs on each side of its body. A dog lying on one hip is relaxed, and is more likely to stay lying down. A dog that is lying in a straight line is tensed to pop back up at any moment. While your dog is down, get down at its level, and give it a lot of attention to encourage it to stay down. Pet it, scratch its belly, tell it that it’s wonderful, whatever, just make staying in a “down” a pleasant experience for your dog. However, avoid acting excited, or petting your dog in a way that’s going to stimulate excitement.


To help your dog understand the “down” command, say “down” as you see it lying down on its own. Then, give it attention when it is down, so that it associates the word “down” with the action of lying down. If you have a dog that has any tendency towards hyperactivity, you can help it learn calmness by giving it treats and attention when it is lying calmly, rather than giving it attention while it is being hyper.

Once your dog gets in the habit of lying down when you want it to, you will open up more opportunities for having your dog out in public, such as at outdoor restaurant tables. You will also be giving your dog the chance to practice just hanging out with you calmly; definitely a win-win situation. Good luck!


In Dec, 1998, I was living in an old, run-down trailer, on the side of Mt Diablo, outside of Clayton, Ca. To say that I had a mouse problem in that trailer would be a serious understatement. I had no choice but to set mouse traps around the house, regularly. Otherwise, I would have been overrun.

One day, my old dog, Silver, took an interest in the board covering the space that held the drainpipe under the sink in my bathroom. I figured that mice must have taken up residence there, so the next time that I was setting mouse traps, I pulled the board away, and prepared to set a trap in there. Much to my surprise, there was already a mouse trap there, a live mouse trap, in other words, a cat. That’s how my oldest cat, Ahwahnee came to live with me.

From the beginning, Ahwahnee loved it when I checked the mouse traps in the house. She would follow me around, getting excited as I checked each one. When I found a mouse in a trap, I would give it to her, and she would have a nice, fresh meal.

This was all well and good. However, I kept hoping that Ahwahnee would take over the job of mouse catcher. From time to time, I would see her with a live mouse. The problem was that she always seemed unable to hang onto it; the mouse would always get away. I began to really wonder about her.

my opinion of her abilitY to catch mice soon changed when she started bringing mice to me in the middle of the night; live mice, that is. And, when I say “in the middle of the night,” I, of course, mean while I was sleeping. Yep, she would bring them right to my peacefully sleeping face, and watch me wake up. Then, she would let them go, on my bed. Now, I am not one of those people that gets freaked out by the sight of a mouse. However, I really didn’t appreciate having a live, wild mouse running around on my bed, esp. if it managed to get under the covers. I would do my best to convince Ahwahnee to pick the mouse back up, but she seemed convinced that she was giving me a great gift, and would not even consider taking her gift back.

I have never been the soundest sleeper. It doesn’t take much to wake me up. And, here is the strangest, to me, part of the story. I actually learned the feeling of a cat jumping on my bed with a live mouse in its mouth. Thus, as I was waking up, I was able to sit up, grab my cat as she landed, and throw her across the room, before she was able to drop the mouse. No, she never got hurt when I threw her; don’t worry. After a couple of experiences of being abruptly tossed off of the bed, Ahwahnee gave up on the live mouse gifts, and simply ate her prey.

I am happy to say that once the above happened, the mouse population in my trailer went down significantly. Ahwahnee had earned my gratitude. Prior to her moving in with me, I had not had a cat for over 20 years, since I was 13. Now, I have three. And, despite what Thunder said last week, they all work for me. They are still keeping my space free of mice.


It’s part of life in the 21st century. You get the kids off to school, work all day, pick the kids up at daycare, make dinner, and collapse. But, what about the dog? How do you find the time to train it to be a good citizen? Maybe, you managed to get your dog into a puppy kindergarten class, and then a basic obedience class. But, you really didn’t have time to practice the way the instructor wanted you to, and now, well now, it’s all kind of fallen by the wayside.

You know that your dog can do better. Perhaps, your dog has some behavior issues. Whether or not they’re serious issues, they make your life harder, don’t they?

So, what do you do when you’re already stretched, and you know your dog needs more? The answer is “day training.” Day training starts with a meeting with me where you describe your dog training needs, and your dog’s behavior issues. I then come to your house for an hour or so, on agreed upon days, to train your dog. You get to get on with your life, while your dog gets training and attention from a professional. And, that training and attention is customized to your and your dog’s exact needs.

Maintaining what your dog learned is also built into the day training program. At the end of each week of training, I meet with you to go over what your dog has learned, as well as what you need to do to maintain the learning. After the agreed upon number of weeks has elapsed, I return for a follow-up or two, to make sure that you and your dog are on the same page, and everyone’s happy. For more information on day training, visit my dog training website

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Silver Linings is a publication of Silver Linings Pet Services, and is published for the purpose of marketing services. The current address of Silver Linings Pet Services is: 5555 Merritt Drive Concord, Ca 94521