Blu's Guide to Rat Care....Chapter 3

Hello, BLU here again.  Have you ever wondered what went on in the BOSS Rat Room after everyone leaves?  We have so much fun.

One of the first things we all do is waiting for the lights to go out.  Then we wait again.  We hear the door close and the bell ring.  There is silence, well almost.   Now we all stand still for want seems forever.   Robin Hood and his Merry Men are in the human office so they tell us when it is all clear.    Little John runs to his wheel to run as fast as he can then sits in the wheel.  Robin Hood comes out also and hits the water bottle three times.  He does it better than anyone.  Once the alarm is sounded the Merry Men all come out to play.  They hold a boxing match in their tank.  They have a 100 gallon tank so it is easy.  They also have 4 Merry Men living in their tank.  Robin Hood keeps us all informed of who is winning.  Sometimes they are funny.  They have gotten so fat that they cannot box for long.  They fall over often.

The babies from the Nursery will then wake up and start playing hide and go seek.  Actually they are not very good at it yet.  We can spot then from across the room.  They still run around the tank as if they are in the woods.  The little white with grey are really easy to spot.  Poor thing should have been black to play that game.    The Nursery race then begins.  They scurry around all over the tank as if they were race cars.  Now that is entertaining.   The shavings start flying and they even managed to knock the wheel over one night.   They are so funny because they have no clue how to stop. 

Huey, Duey and Louie live in the snake tank in the middle of the rat room.  Please don’t tell them, no one else wants to live in their tank.  At first we thought it was the tank that bad rats went to but, NOT.    These rats are comedians.    They spend their evening dancing and standing on their head.  They also sit on top of their log house pretending that they are on top of a mountain.    It is a rumor around the rat room that there must be something in their water.

Light Foot and I watch the tank next door to us. There are four very unusual rats.  I understand the human will be getting another 100 gallon tank and they will be moving to it.   They brag about it every night.  This has been going on for some time so not all of us believe them.   None the less, they spend their night playing Army. First they roll all over the floor of their tank.  They tell us it is to change their scent so the other rats cannot find them. Light Foot and I have pondered this thought but we think that they would smell MORE like a rat.  Oh well it still is funny.   They stalk each other and even get on top of their house.  Once on the house, they spend the evening jumping on each other as they come out of the house.  Then they will laugh and roll all over the tank.  I would think that after you jump on me once or twice coming out of my house, I would stop coming out.    This is what makes it so funny. 

Soon the night comes to an end and the fun is all over and everyone is tired so we all go to our houses and wait for the next night.

Blu's Guide To Rat Care....Chapter 2

BOSS Rat Care

Chapter 2

Hello again,  BLU here.  Yesterday a couple of my friends were moved out of their tanks and into a smaller one.  I asked the older rats why.  They said that the rats were loosing weight and getting older.  They were not going to be allowed to play the Barn Hunt game anymore.  What will happen to them?   They are placed into retirement homes where they can receive special care.  A RED tag is on their tanks that says “RETIRED” and they are able to live out the rest of their lives in retirement.  BOSS takes very good care of their rats.  I am glad that I am a BOSS rat.  

A couple of weeks ago new baby rats arrived to the Nursery.  Wow they are so cute.  The babies are grey and white, solid black and a grey rat. Baby rats that are about 6 -8 weeks old go into the Nursery.   They are a little scared but all the BOSS rats are telling them that they have come to the best place ever.  The new babies are handled each day and will stay in the Nursery until they are about 6-8 months old.  The human will then place them in a clear tube so that she can see if they rollover when the tube is rolled.  If we can keep ourselves up right then we get to play the Barn Hunt Game.     

It is very important also not to bite the humans. I have never bitten one but I am told that they bleed just like us.  One of my friends has bitten them and said they tasted nasty.    Most of us do not try to bite but every once and a while a new human tries to catch us.  Now that scares us.  We just may bite by accident.      

Sometimes my human will leave the top off our tank.  Not sure why but it did not bother us.  We went to our house and covered up the door until our human returned.   Once, one of our friends, named BOB, decided to leave his tank.  It was so scary.  We all watched to see what he did.  He only ran around the room yelling “HELP”.   He just wanted back in his tank.  He had no water or food.  We thought he would die!   We all felt sorry for him.   He had to sleep on the cold concrete floor.  Our human returned the next day and picked him up and put him back in his tank.  His friend Rex was soooo glad to see him.   He thought he was going to have to live in his tank alone for the rest of his life.     That evening we all chattered great sounds of joy because he was home.       

comfort wheel.jpg

Almost everyone has a rat wheel.  These are great.    Kaytee Giant Comfort Exercise Wheel, 12-Inch, Colors Vary by Super Pet     You can get them off Amazon or at PetsMart.  I like to keep in shape for the Barn Hunt Game.  We also have hiding logs and pipes.   I do not fit in the logs any more but they were fun when I was young. 

You never know when our human will give us a roll with white paper on it.  Now we all love that.   There is not a lot of paper but just enough to make a soft bed.  Not sure where that comes from but we love it!  It does not have a lot of smell to it either but boy is it soft.                                                                                                                                                                    

Blu's Guide to Rat Care....A three Part Series

BOSS Rat Care

Chapter 1


Hello, my name is BLU.  I am a BOSS rat.  I have the best life EVER!   I live in a 40 gal fish tank with my best friend Light Foot.  We have lots of room to play and goof off.   I have a wooden house that is really nice.  Actually we have one of the better homes we think.   Our house has a window and a patio on the roof.  Light Foot and I enjoy changing the shavings in our house.  We can even push all the shavings and close off the door.  Light Foot and I did this and got a good chuckle when the human lifted the house just to see if we were in there. Silly human, where would we go?

Once a month the rat room at BOSS is bustling.  Lots of things happen.  One at a time our tanks are changed.   I love this time.  The human takes all of our litter out and we get new Aspin Litter.  Our human said this was the only kind of litter that we get.  Aspin Litter does not cause dust.  When our tanks get dusty then I begin to cough.  My human checks our litter often to see if it is dark in color.   IF it is dark, then we get new litter.  Light Foot and I like to play a good trick on our human by coughing or sneezing.  She is so soft she will soon change our litter.  Silly human. 

Our water bottles are cleaned often.  Not sure why she does this but I like it.  The other rats tell me that she does this so we do not get sick. COOL!  Along with the water bottles, our tank glass is cleaned.  This part I do not like.   It takes me months to get all the glass marked with my urine so no one will come in our tank.  What is she thinking?  Now Light Foot and I have to start all over again.    By the time we get it marked up she is back again cleaning.

The best part of our tank life is the feeding.  We get fed every other day.  What a feast.  We get the same feed most of the time but we actually do not know when fun things show up in our bowl.  I am told that our Rat Food comes from Amazon.  Kaytee Supreme Mouse and Rat Food, 20-lb bag by Kaytee.   I also understand that the UPS man is not happy when our food arrives.   Our human never buys just one.    My favorite food is the Honey Nut Cheerios.   Light Foot and I fight over who will be able to eat the most.  They are the yummiest little circles EVER!   The next best thing is the Sunflower seeds. 

Some of the other things that we get are carrots, cheese, broccoli, almonds, walnuts and even Cheetos.  Cheetos are awesome to... but we only get them every once in awhile.   All the Rats at BOSS know when a Barn Hunt is going to happen. Our food changes about two weeks before and our tanks get a little stinky.  When our tanks stink…. It is a feast that Kings would get.    I do not care what I have to do for this food, I am ready.

Every day is a training opportunity... Even a Pub Crawl?

 Bob and his "fuzzy buddy" - Spirit

Bob and his "fuzzy buddy" - Spirit

Author: Bob Davis

Let me lead off this installment by congratulating everyone for getting into that training class.  Just like the prep for “swim suit season” everyone is fast preparing for spring and getting those dogs out to the parks and cafés.  That perfect time of the year to get out and do stuff with your fuzzy buddy.  Those urban excursions that will test all you have been practicing, your first entry into the competitive world.  WAIT! What?  How is an afternoon pilsner at Foothills a competition? It appears you have had a few too many stouts yourself.  That is very likely, but let me explain.

    Every day, every walk, every encounter is a competition.  That walk for a frothy beverage to your favorite watering hole will illustrate all three of the universal competitions we as humans experience.  We will compete against the environment we traverse.  Good heals, perfect waits and sits, the most difficult down stay as fuzzy buddy yearns for a sip of that latest craft brew.  You’ll have to navigate all the less enlightened non dog pedestrians who will do everything possible to break that focus and obedience.  And the internal struggle, as you strive to mark all those successful sits and heals, the focus and obedience you will have to achieve personally, as you compete against yourself.  And you will compete against others when you demonstrate all that solid training you’ve developed.  Because, who doesn’t want the coolest dog in the bar.  So for a beer you basically have to undergo a classic Greek Saga.

    The same abilities you and fuzzy buddy have developed and refined for that evening brew stop is exactly the same type of competitive skills you will need for performance sports.  Doubt me…  Let me explain.  That long down stay as you sip your ale is perfectly transferable for an agility lead out.  That sidewalk healing, with waits and turns will go really well with a Rally-O career. And you’ll do this in every manner of distraction possible, exactly the same as a formal competition ring.  And you got a beer.  HA!  That’s my kind of positive reinforcement.  

    Obedience and focus goes along way in life or in the ring, don’t ever underestimate it.  Even if you are still reluctant to enter the competitive ring, I will strongly suggest to at least practice and play regularly in a dedicated sport. My secondary choice would be to investigate all 4 variations of the AKC CGC program (Canine Good Citizen).  Either of these paths will provide a job for your dog, give you confidence, a bigger skills tool box, and build that next set of crucial elements you will want: communication and team work. 

    And an invitation to B.O.S.S.'s new Urban CGC title holders: an urban excursion to your favorite dog friendly brew house… first round is on me.

Get the Ball Rolling: New Canine Sporting to Improve Skills and Have Fun!

 Photo: American Treibball Association

Photo: American Treibball Association

Author Teri Emmi

From the American Treibball Association …“Treibball (pronounced Tribe-ball) originated in Germany and means “push ball.” In Treibball, your dog learns to go out into a playing field and push balls, one by one, to the handler with direction and control. The game is simple to play and train, requires nothing more than inflatable balls and a great love of working with your dog. The sport is low impact for both the handler and dog, and since dogs work one at a time in Treibball, mildly reactive dogs can join in the fun, too.”

So what is it - Treibball is a herding-like game/sport that can be played and enjoyed by almost any dog and their humans. Treibball is a strategic game for both you and your dog(s) that uses problem solving skills.   An exercise ball appropriate for the size of your dog is really all you need to start! A full game uses 8 balls in a reverse bowling pin pattern with a Soccer ball like goal at the end of the “field” and a “launch pad” for your dog. The most important characteristics are patience and diligence. It builds a close connection between you and your dog and enhances team work.  Above all, the main purpose is fun!

What do you gain?

·         Improved basic obedience and develops fundamental herding like skills;

·         Learning more about your dog and achieving a higher level of connection; 

·         Improves your teams performance in other sports and builds confidence;

·         Applies “Positive Reinforcement” training methods using treats, toys, affection etc..;

·         Targeting objects for touch response;

·         Building skills for “working at a distance”;

·         Controlling sudden urges and stimulus control;

·         Shaping for accuracy;

·         Chaining behaviors which adds more and more activities before formally reinforcing.

Where does it lead?

You can compete in trials just like dog agility, Flybball, Barn Hunt and more.  You can use this lower impact sport to improve mental problem solving and expand range of exercise via diversified movements. Treibball will improve team connections, awareness and overall participation in other sports or just having FUN!

 Patch waiting to go

Patch waiting to go

 Teri and Patch having fun!

Teri and Patch having fun!

I want My Dog to do.... reflections on relationship with your dog.

Author: Killian Davis,

 Killian and  charlotte - just being....

Killian and  charlotte - just being....

After some reflection, it has become increasingly interesting to me how our relationships with our dogs manifest, especially in relation to ourselves and our vision for those dogs.

2-3 years ago when Charlotte was new to me and I was determined to get her in a competition setting (didn't really care which one, just wanted to "compete" and be a "real dog person" like those around me who seemed to be able to do all kinds of things with their dog), I had a poor relationship with her, but more than that, I had a very poor relationship with myself. After a year or so of frustration (on both ends, for sure), I decided to let Charlotte "be" and stop any type of formal training.

Since that decision, I have learned to love Charlotte and to train Charlotte where she is, as who she is. I only worked on behaviors that had no real meaning to me (hence her repertoire of tricks and fitness training) and those that I needed in order to take her out in public (leash manners and impulse control). Along the way, I was figuring out how to accept myself for who I am, where I am, and how I am. As I have worked on coming to terms with that and moving into a more collaborative mindset with myself, my relationship (and thus ability to get the training results I wanted) with Charlotte hugely improved.

With that being said, it makes me wonder about how much people project their own issues onto their dogs, and how much people could improve their relationship with their dog by improving their relationship with themselves. How you speak to yourself matters, and how you speak to yourself sets the tone of your interactions with other people, thus carrying over to your relationship with your dog, who is a type of an extension of self for many people.

So my question to anyone who has read through this long post is this: are your dogs behaving the way they do (insecure, fearful, reactive, aggressive, etc.) as a mirror of yourself and your own issues? (Obviously I'm not talking about major behavioral issues here, but the more subtle energy of your dog and their behaviors that you attribute to their own personality, which is certainly partially informed by yours). How could you improve your relationship with your dog and your dog's voice and perspective through changing your own thought processes and how you approach life, including the challenges it brings?


Considering Animal Rescue? Some thoughts before you begin your journey....

Author:  Lynn Graves

Animal rescue means something different to everyone who has ever been involved with it.  For some, it means following social media accounts of various municipal or county animal shelters and cross-posting the pictures and descriptions of the animals available for adoption.  For others, it means organizing massive efforts to remove hundreds of animals at one time from hoarding situations.

Most of us fall somewhere in between.  Taking in the odd animal here and there as we have time, funds, and space.  We care for them until they find a permanent home.  Sometimes that home is with us, occasionally with friends, but most often with people who were complete strangers until they contacted us about adopting one of our “fosters.”

Fostering can last anywhere from a few days, to several years, depending on the needs of the individual animal.  I seem to have inadvertently specialized in hospice rescues; animals that, due to either behavioral or physical problems (or both), are simply unadoptable.  These hospice rescues have ranged from a 14 year old Shih Tzu mix with a mild seizure disorder and skin allergies, to a ten year old horse with a fractured pelvis (he gets around fine, he just can’t be worked).

More and more people are deciding to adopt their next pet from a rescue agency or shelter every year, and that’s a wonderful thing.  HOWEVER.  When choosing a pet from a rescue, you should put the same amount of time and effort into your search as you would if looking for a pet from a responsible breeder.

Speaking as someone who has been involved in animal rescue for 15 years now, I would never offer an animal for adoption that I had in my possession for only a few short hours.  How can I possibly know if that animal is going to be a good fit for your family, if I haven’t watched them interact in a variety of situations?  How can I assure you that you’re adopting a healthy animal, if I haven’t kept them for at least 10 days (the minimum incubation period for most communicable pet diseases such as parvo)?  How can I be sure that you are going to provide the best home for that animal, if I haven’t seen where you live, or seen the animal interact with your family in your normal home environment?

There is a reason that experienced rescuers like myself have developed requirements and criteria for adoption.  We’ve learned through experience that it’s best to keep a pet in our possession for a couple of weeks before vaccinating, to ensure they haven’t already been exposed to a virus.  We’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that it’s best for us to take the risk of exposing a rescue pet to various stimuli that could cause an aggressive reaction.

So, if you are considering adopting a pet we cheer your efforts, but take your time.  Get to know the rescue group or person you’re dealing with.  Meet all of their adoptable pets, not just the one whose picture caught your eye online. (More than once I’ve had someone come out to meet one dog, and end up adopting another.)  Choosing a rescue means more than just picking out a cute furry face - you’re entering into a relationship that will last for years if you do it right.  Some of the best friends I have today, are people who came to me years ago in search of a pet.

Wonder about your ability to try Canine Performance Events? Check out this article by Bob Davis.....



Ever wondered if you and your canine buddy could get started in canine training and sporting events.  Take my dog Spirit and I as an example of hope that canine performance events are within everyone's reach.   Our career is a collection of dramatic fails and "oh so close" moments.  I've even publicly stated and honestly feel that both me and my dog are only mediocre.  No great athleticism exist in either of us, no great intelligence in either of us, no great anything really. The techniques, abilities and insight of those well versed in all things canine will always exceed my abilities.  The refined precision of multiple generation performance dogs will always exceed that of my prized kennel of one dog. So what credentials do I have for conveying information to you the reader? I don't.  

Yet, here I am writing and here you are reading. The reason is because of our very broad vitae of experiences and our consistency. And if there is anything I can say is the secret to our success is exactly those things "experience" and "consistency".  If that is the secret then those two things reinforce the other.  More varied experiences creates a higher level of consistency and a higher level of consistency allows for more experiences. Did that just make your head swirl a little? But the only thing that can allow you to create this perpetual cycle of elevated performance is the "Big O", Obedience. It doesn't have to be formal positions and movements but, solid, basic, practical obedience: recall, stay, stop, leave it, drop it, go, all with distraction proofing. There are a few others that are event specific but not many.    

To truly get the level needed your dog must have focus.  The ever so difficult and elusive focus. Focus makes the difference, all the difference.  So as you begin to explore the dog world and you see freestyle dance and hunt trials and go wild for the level of ability you see don't get distracted by the training techniques.  Don't worry about the latest marketed gizmo for the best training aid known to planet earth.  These will mean nothing until you can focus the dog on you and get the basic obedience to 100%. The best resource for this is a quality obedience class.  A class serves to train human and dog and gives novel distractions at the same time. 

Ingredient One of my recipe for success is focus and obedience. Focus that you can get and hold in any environment for extended periods of time.  Focus that allows you and the dog to make and keep eye contact. General obedience, nothing fancy just good basic obedience.  But those commands have to be 100% under any circumstances. I make it seem simple and in description it is but, in application it is much harder, it takes lots of time to get there. Fortunately, it's time spent with your dog.

(Bob and Spirit are avid Frisbee competitors and enthusiast as well as barn hunters, FAST Cat competitors....and and and...)


Looking for fun things to do with your dog? Check out Fast CAT!

What is a Fast CAT?


Fast CAT is the fastest growing AKC sport.  This is a sport that anyone and every dog can participate in. There is no practice or training necessary.   If your dog loves to run, this is the sport for you and your dog.  This is a 100 yard dash in a fenced 9 to 10 foot wide corridor.  You dog is turned loose at the start line and they chase a lure (plastic bag) and run toward you at the end of the 100 yards safely into a catch pen.  

Your dog’s time will be recorded at the beginning and end of their run by electronic timers.  The time for the 100 yard dash is then converted to Miles Per Hour.  Dogs that are 12 inches or smaller have a 2X multiplier handicap.  Dogs that are between 12 and 18 inches have a 1.5X multiplier handicap.  Dogs greater than 18 inches do not have a handicap.  The dogs MPH is multiplied by the handicap and that will be your AKC points.  Once your dog reaches 150 points you earn your first title. 

All dogs need an AKC number to play this game.  If you do not have a number then you can register for one here:  Registering Here 

This event is a very positive and exciting sport for you and your dog.  BOSS provides numerous sports and events that you can do with your dog.  We provide classes to help you connect with your dog to become a better companion.  We have a jammed packed Calendar for 2017 that will fit both your and your dog’s schedule.  Check us out at

BOSS Presents a new blog - hope you enjoy!

 Photo by: SIghts and Hounds Photography 

Photo by: SIghts and Hounds Photography 

Welcome to "The Dog Bone" where we hope to give you something to chew on.  

I know – it is a little corny – but fun -right?  We hope you think so.  Our goal is to provide meaningful articles, helpful hints and some doggone fun to help you enjoy your canine buddy.  We have a kennel of talented writers that bring a great deal of experience in canine training, sporting events, outdoor life with dogs, dog health, tricks and ideas on better living with dogs…you get the idea. 

We will be launching new content every week or so…and if you haven’t – provide us with an email address and we will let you know when a new blog post is published.

Stayed tuned we’ll be launching soon….Bruce