RSS Feed

Category Archives: kibble

Ninja Strike

We’re ready for ya!

Alrighty, I sing-song. Who’s ready for their breakfast? Are my dogs Hungry?

A powerful word, Hungry. It’s in the same attention getting genre as Getcher Food Bowl, Cookie, and that sound kibble makes when it hits the metal pan.

I come up the basement steps with three food bowls in delicate balance.

Dogs, I say. Assume your usual positions and we’ll …


Wha? I say. The bowls tilt, spilling a few kibble, as Holly bangs her head into the stack in my hands.

Holly! I say. Then add her middle name because she’s in trouble. Don’t! 

Didn’t see me coming, didya? says Holly.

Well, I say. That’s a given. What the heck are you thinking, you little stinker?

Not a stinker, says Holly. I’m a ninja. I am the Night. The cat said you wouldn’t know what a ninja was and it’d be so easy to get ya. He was right, huh?  He told if I jumped you with all the food bowls, I could score Jager’s, too.

Grrr, says Jager.

Hey, here’s an idea, I say, scooping the escapee nuggets back into a bowl. You want to play some games today? Yeah? Ok, here, I’ll give you half your breakfast …

Wait, says Holly. I just remembered I don’t like games. Just put the bowl down, Food Lady. I won’t ninja strike you again. Promise.

No, let me finish, Holly, I say. Let’s give you half now and the other half you’ll win back when we play.

I’m in!, says Micron.

Not talking to you, big guy, I say. This is just for the puppy. I’m gonna take her outside to play some “games.” I wink at him so he gets the secret code. 

Set down the coffee mug before you go out, says Micron. Caffeine and all. Your face is doing that weird tic thing again.

Game On

Bag o’goodness nuggets

So what’s a girl to do with a half bag of puppy kibble?

Oh, just what I should have done before the little missy jumped on me in her valiant, yet unsuccessful, attempt to improve the dull breakfast routine.

I appreciate a food motivated puppy. I really do. Because I truly don’t have the skill set to train a dog otherwise. I need the help of these power nuggets.

And now that our Miss Holly has been around for the last twelve weeks discovering the wonders of dog’s green earth, she’s certainly mature enough in mind and body to understand the basics. Plus some.

Gimme something hard, challenges Holly. Enuf with the Sits already.

Can I get up now? How about now?
Now? No? Ok, how about now?

Sure, ok, I say. You’re absolutely right. Here’s a tough one. Holly, Down!

Whatever, she yawns. There. Happy? She sits back up.

No, Holly, I say. Down! Then don’t move until you’re Released.

I have no idea what that even means, says Holly.

Actually, I say. Yeah, you do. Self-control, my beauty. You can do this. Because here’s the best part. Just stay there and think happy thoughts for a sec. I’m just going to step over here while you imagine the next yummy kibble.

And Holly, I say. Here!

Heck yeah! I know this one too! Crunchy kibble, tiny kibble, yummy kibble, she sings. I’m coming for ya!

There’s a crunchy with my name on it!

Well, I gotta say this is going smoothly so far. We’ve used positive reinforcement to work on those basic commands – Sit, Down, Here, Shake, Side, Heel – and now ready to introduce a real challenge for a food motivated puppy.

A kibble is going all temptation style
on that stick.

In the spirit of Nothing for Free, we want Holly to understand that she cannot just grab whatever food her tingling puppy senses tell her is available.

This is beyond the pleasantry of good manners, of course. All puppies learning the ways of a career as an assistance dog must learn to focus. Rewarding with kibble is a great start.

But there’s more to it than that. And we’re about to bump it up a notch.

Um, Food Lady, says Holly. Can I do that Down thing again?

You can do this, too, I say. It’s not as hard as you think it is. You can look at the treat if you want. But then I want you to look at me. 

After I eat it? she asks.

You know the answer to that, I say. I’m putting the treat here and all you have to do is just pretend it’s not there.  This one isn’t yours. But I have another one that is. Ooh, check it out. Blink! It’s now invisible to you, right? 

As one would expect, we make it through a few No’s and Don’ts just to enforce that not only do I really mean it, but I’m also paying attention. Our girl is nearly clever enough to try to oldest trick in the book of looketh over there just to distract me.

But hey, I’m onto her tricks.

Well, mostly. Except for the ninja thing, I guess. Those guys are pretty stealthy.

But could be worse, I guess.

Could be pirates instead.

I wanna be a helper dog when I grow up.
Or the Dread Pirate Roberts. 

Rising to the (Kibble) Challenge

Such a great response to the Kibble Name Photo Challenge, y’all.  I am just wondersmacked by these dogs and their handlers. So much so, that I have two things to tell you.

  1. I had the original and mildly grandiose notion to just post a few clever photos here. Click, click, done.  But was blown completely out of the water after receiving these fifty-some submissions representing more than one hundred awesome dogs. What a wonderful problem. So how do I get these out to the world without having a photo laden blog page that takes ten minutes to load?  In a flash of something I think was inspiration, I made you a photo gallery thingy. You’re welcome. I just hope it works.

    and . . .

  2. I can say with confidence, that I missed somebody or something somewhere. Simply let me know. Really. Easy peasy to fix and repost.  Just pop me a note to

One more thing. You’ll note some abbreviations in use.  Let me offer up a quick little glossary to help you along as you view the photo captions.

AT:  Advanced Training program
COC: Change of Career Dog (released from the training program and adopted as a pet)
FD:  CCI Facility Dog
HD:  CCI Hearing Dog
PIP: CCI Puppy in Program
PR:  CCI volunteer Puppy Raiser
SC:  CCI Skilled Companion Dog
SD:  CCI Service Dog
Photo Gallery by

TIP: Pass your mouse over the top right corner of the photo gallery to see the navigation buttons and options for full screen view and slide show.

What’s that you say?  You want more? Oh, we got ya more. Facebook, dog blogs and even a recently published book written from the viewpoint of CCI puppies. Enjoy! 

We’re on Facebook because dogs can’t read Dogbook

Bright, SD (Help on Four Legs)

Dog Blogs

A Novel Pup (Karen & Novel PIP)
Endless Pawsibilities, Adventures of a Pacific Northwest puppy raiser (Cassie & Helaine PIP)
Jeb’s Dog Blog (Marianne & Jeb PIP)
Help on Four Legs (Alex & Bright, SD)
Raising a Super Dog (Donna & Euka II, PIP)
Redwood Musings (Constance & Renelle HD)
Still I Can’t Be Silent (Natalie & Cassius SD)
Paws for Independence (Ellie & Haddie (at AT) & Kolby (PIP)
Paws to Hear (Leslie & Nettie HD)
Pooch Smooches (Jackie & Rita, a rescued dog)


Let the Dogs Speak, by Marianne McKiernan

Table for three, please

 After I fed the boys their kibble this morning, Micron came up to tell me how much he enjoyed his bowl. Just the right crunch, he says, wagging his plume tail into my coffee mug,  absolutely delicious stuff.

Then he released a full two-second burp in my face. While holding a dirty sock in his mouth. Ah lovely, thanks so much for sharing that spring blossom with me, Micron.

Compliments to the chef and all that. Better out than in, as they say.

The boys watching dinner prep like it’s a sushi bar or something.

As puppy raisers, CCI tasks us with introducing thirty commands and behaviors to these pups. We work towards proficiency of the basics any well-trained dog would know – sit, down, wait.  Then some higher end behaviors like being comfortable walking by the handler’s side on either the right or left. And Under, which we use to tell the pup to go under a restaurant table and lie down.

Now these are labs, goldens or a cross between the two breeds.  Chow hounds, all of them.  (Well, most of them.  I’ve heard of the occasional pup that is a picky eater, but those stories do tend to lean towards the anecdotal.) A food motivated dog is a dog that is easy to work with. And with kibble eaters like these, you learn behaviors, too.  Like spelling out the words hungry and eat while making dinner plans with a fellow human bean.

So while we don’t really have a command to Eat Kibble, we do ask the dogs to maintain a level of self-control at mealtime. To help prepare them for their service dog careers, it’s important that they know how to sit quietly with a full bowl of kibble in front of them and wait for the release command from their handler.

crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch [burp] crunch

Ok, I will admit that in my youth I had no idea this was even possible. Mealtime with the pet dogs involved a quick finger count after the bowl was set on the floor. What a difference a Wait command can make.

And if you need convincing that dogs can indeed tell time, just put them on a strict feeding schedule. And their doggy circadian rhythm takes over. These boys get fed at seven o’clock in the morning and again at seven o’clock at night. The new guy, Yaxley, gets a noon meal as well, until he gets a little more room in his adorable puppy gut to move the kibble through. Not that that blows the minds of the older dogs or anything.

‘Scuse me, Food Lady?  I asked for a private table.

So indeed, whatever I may be doing in the evenings, I’m never alone. Every room I enter, twelve paws are echoing my steps. These are my bestest buddies. Until chow time, of course.  After the kibble goes down the gullet, they’re like uncles at Thanksgiving looking for a comfy spot to loosen the belt and take a nap.

Sleeping off the kibble.

At a recent CCI presentation, I was asked about any tips for housebreaking a pup. My advice? Portion control feedings on a tight schedule – never free feed. If you know what’s going in and when, well then it’s just a matter of time until it makes its way on out. Easy nuff, logically speaking, to forecast your pup’s recycling schedule.

Hey Food Laaady!  It’s seven o’clock!

It’s good to have a household of chow hounds. Never a complaint about what’s set in front of them. Always appreciative and more than willing to compliment the chef in their special doggy way. And of course, that’s just fine with me.

Ya know, the sooner we get these groceries put away, the sooner we can E-A-T.
They call me Chicken Legs.  Dunno why.
%d bloggers like this: