Tag Archives: dog companions


Having been a finalist in this prestigious competition in the past, I am thrilled to win with SAVING ANDI. This Romantic Suspense  is the first of my new spin-off series, St. John Sibling: FRIENDS. That my Great Green Bay Area Wisconsin Romance Writers of America group would honor me with a beautiful bouquet of roses puts me over the moon. Big THANK YOU to my fellow writers for your thoughtfulness. Having a community of fellow writers to share the good times with is priceless. And thank you to all of you readers who judged SAVING ANDI in THE WRITE TOUCH READERS’ AWARD CONTEST and found it worthy.

For those of you who haven’t enjoyed reading SAVING ANDI yet, let me share a little about the story and its characters:

Cole McCall is shot, dives off a bluff, and hits his head. Now he has amnesia and can’t remember who wants him dead or why. He doesn’t even know which side of the law he operates on.

Fortunately for him, Andi Johanson finds him at the camp he’s broken into. Given her family history of being on the wrong side of the law, her distrust of lawmen, and a guilt she carries over her younger brother’s death, she takes Cole home rather than to a hospital and nurses him.

All that togetherness feeds their attraction to each other. But their love is jeopardized by his unknown past, her secrets, and the fact whoever wants Cole dead has tracked him to Andi’s cabin.

CHECK my FB author page for snippets about what inspired me to write this story and what shaped these characters.

VISIT MY WEB SITE to read excerpts from all my books and learn more about me. Dog lovers, there’s a surprise waiting there for you. But above all know this about me. I love to write romances that will make you laugh and cry.

BUY “SAVING ANDI” from most online stores including: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, D2D, and Apple iBooks



CRAVING A HERO isn’t quite ready for release, but it’ll be out before the end of the month and I am EXCITED! I’m so EXCITED, I’m holding a launch party full of GIVEAWAYS like the following.

bags giveaway

Watch for MORE peeks at prizes in the coming days!

Watch for my posts on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/friends/requests/#!/barbara.raffin.3


Ever watch those AKC (American Kennel Club) agility trials on TV and wish you and your dog could do that. But they’re so fast! And some of those obastacles seem pretty complicated for your fluffy friend! Guess what. There are other agility programs available.

Katie and I recently did a fun day of agility, this time under NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council) rules with NADAC equipment. Where UKC (United Kennel Club) goes for precision (straight on and off equipment such as the dog walk) and safety, NADAC encourages speed along with precision. But there’s another step toward safety in their equipment. They like to use hoops (think big croquet hoops or see picture on http://k9corps.club/ an Appleton, WI NADAC club) for the dogs to go through instead of jumps, which is a great boon for dogs with joint issues. They have fewer types of obstacles and the courses are set up for good flow (not so many tight turns). They also have numerous types of course. If you have a dog particularly good at tunnels, there’s a course that’s almost all tunnels.

Our fun day wasn’t a trial, so there were no ribbons. But, because it was all in fun, we did “win” a t-shirt representative of our past winter. See the picture from June 1, 2014 from just north of where I live. Our ice-capped Great Lake Superior even made the national news. Have fun…whereever you are with your loveable, four-footed companion!



Our local Animal Shelter paired up with a professional photographer for a fund raiser. Of course I couldn’t pass up supporting my local shelter. So, please bear with me as I show off the results. And no, I’m not fond of having my picture taken, but I seldom am in the picture with my furry babies unless it’s at a dog show.

Slippers, on the left, has a big personality as you can see. She’s nine months old here. Katie, on the right, is my sensitive sweetie. She turned 3 years in October.

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Think you have a budding Lassie on your hands? Maybe you picked the little fluff ball in the corner because you felt sorry for her, but now that you have her home you still can’t get her out of the corner. Maybe you mistook eye contact with that feisty puppy as “bonding” only to discover he’s more inclined to rule the household than cuddle with you. Whether you want to head off behavioral problems or just insure your puppy grows up safe, secure, and happy, here are ten tips that will make your Fido or Fifi look and act like geniuses.

1. Beyond the rubber ball: Rubber balls exercise muscles and chew toys occupy the puppy who’s inclined to teethe on your favorite Reebocks. But, to stimulate the canine brain, try the Wiggly Giggly Ball, the Yuppy Puppy Treat Dispenser, or the Roll-A-Treat Cube; all available from national pet stores and catalogues. Not only is your dog occupied by “operating” the toy to get a treat, the toy’s problem solving aspect stimulates doggy brains.

2. The Find Me Game: During walks in the fields surrounding our house, my Keeshond Casey would invariably wander out in front of me. I’d then hide in the tall grass. He’d notice I was missing, track me, and find me.

You can do this in the house. Duck around a corner and call your dog or hide in a closet (leave the door open a bit so Fifi doesn’t scratch her way to you and create a behavioral problem). They get exercise searching for you, muscular and cerebral.

3. Obedience Train: How does obedience make a dog smarter? First, anything you teach a dog stimulates its brain. Second, it teaches your dog that you are their pack leader. Third, even if the dog isn’t smart he’ll look smarter if he’s obedient.

My collie Fawn was a prime example that Lassie was a myth. She’d walk through hot coals for me. Loyal, but not a smart thing to do. But, when commanded to sit and stay, she sat and stayed…and stayed…and stayed. This came in handy whenever my husband and I folded up the winter cover off the swimming pool and needed a third “hand” to anchor a corner. She looked like a genius just because she obeyed a simple command.

4. Play dates: AFTER little Fido/Fifi has had his/her vaccinations, arrange play dates with other puppies who have had their shots and are healthy, or adult dogs who are non aggressive with puppies. The more your puppy interacts with other dogs in a structured setting (you being the structure that dictates play level), the more appropriately Fido/Fifi will act with other dogs.

Why is this smart? Because puppies need to learn how to respond appropriately to other dogs’ body language in order to prevent being attacked. Don’t assume your puppy learned all his social skills while in the litter. Some dogs mature more slowly than others, some are bull headed, and some are taken away from the litter too early.

5. No more stay at home dogs: Take your dog in the car with you. Go to parks. Do you like the water? Introduce Fifi to your favorite swimming hole early.

Think introducing Fido to wheelchairs, walkers, and canes is only for pet therapy dogs? With the baby boomer generation maturing and weekend athletes over-doing, such apparatus are a common part of our environment. The more socialized to different situations your dog is, the less likely he or she is to be shy; and the socially adept always look smarter.

6. The dreaded slippery floor: Does Fifi lose bladder control at the mere sight of linoleum?

When I picked up my second Keeshond from her breeder’s, the puppies were climbing on a fiberglass tub turned upside down, slipping and sliding gleefully. You don’t need expensive equipment to familiarize your pup with various surfaces. Just use things from around the house like the breeder did to provide different types of footing for the pups to experience.

This made for an easy transition as I brought my 9 week old Copy, as in copyright, home in the middle of a remodeling project. Tarpon covered piles of lumber became her jungle gym. Ropes her tug toys. Cement blocks her personal obstacle course. By the time I introduced her to agility equipment, this dog had already developed a good sense of balance and was surefooted on a variety of surfaces.

Even if you aren’t interested in agility competition, a beginner’s class is a fun way to introduce your dog to a variety surfaces. Or you can play fetch on any hard-surface floor. Don’t rush it and make it fun. A dog who has learned that skidding off a slippery box didn’t hurt, isn’t likely to freak on linoleum, tile, or wood floors.

7. Handle Your Puppy: Touch their toes, feel their ears, lift their lips, rub their gums, brush their teeth. Not only will this make your dog easier to handle for grooming, but your veterinarian will think Fifi is brilliant because she stands still for an examination.

8. Quality food: Junk food in, groggy behavior out. Same as for humans. Yes, quality food is more costly per pound. But, you feed less because it takes less to nourish the dog. My 87 pound collie ate a mere 2 ½ cups of a high quality dry food a day and was not thin. You’ll also be grateful when you pick up after your dog. All that filler in cheap food eventually comes out as doggy waste.

9. Imprinting: Think of imprinting as long-term memory that never gets erased. Remember the movie about the little girl who taught orphaned geese to migrate by getting them to follow her in her ultralight? She had to show the geese the route because they thought she was their mother. Her presence as their caregiver had imprinted that on them.

In the case of dogs, you have about 16 weeks to imprint them. Whatever you do with your puppy in its first 4 months of life will be hard wired in their brains forever. This means fear behavior as well as good behavior. So be careful how you introduce those new experiences to your puppy in his/her early weeks.

But do take advantage of the opportunity. This is a great time to start with basic obedience such as sit or simple tricks like shaking a paw.

10. Tricks for treats: It never fails. I finish an obedience demonstration with my multi-titled dog and someone invariably asks if my dog knows any tricks. My Casey could jump a hurdle, fetch a dumbell, and return to me, yet he couldn’t shake paws…which generally netted a disappointed, “Oh.” Tricks. Everybody loves them. So, your final tip will help you decide which tricks Fido or Fifi have the aptitude for and how to break any trick down to trainable segments.

First, take advantage of your dog’s natural quirks and mannerisms to train a trick. Does your dog lift one paw when sitting? You’ve got the start of a handshake or a wave. Does your dog like to wriggle around on its back? You’re half way to a roll over. Combine a word with the action along with praise, praise, praise, and a treat or toy. Your dog will soon be rolling over on command.

Second, break the trick down into rewardable segments. I taught Copy to operate her bubble-gum machine-like treat dispenser by rewarding each small step she took toward completing the task. This is called shaping. I shaped her behavior by utilizing her natural curiosity and her tendency to use her paw.

The first time she touched the dispenser with any part of her body, I hit the lever and she got a treat. Next, I waited until she touched the dispenser closer to the lever before treating her. Next, she got a treat only when she touched the lever. When she touched the lever with her paw the first time, I made a huge deal out of it. She not only got extra treats from the dispenser, I whooped and hooted praise. After that, she got the treat only if she touched the dispenser with her paw. In about half an hour, she went from sticking her nose against the glass dome containing doggy treats to pressing a lever with her paw and rewarding herself.

Now this was a pretty complicated behavior. If you are thinking my dog is smarter than most, this proud doggy mom would love to agree. But, the fact is, Copy will leap into the air after a Frisbee without any thought on how she’s going to land. A couple crashes onto her hip and air-born Frisbees were banned from our backyard. What Copy had in her favor, however, was the benefit of the previous nine steps in this article.

She’d been stimulated with toys and games, handled properly, fed quality food, socialized to a variety of environments and situations, and taught that I am her trustworthy pack leader. That’s how you increase a dog’s smart quotient.