How Would Your Dog Respond to Danger?

How Would Your Dog Respond to Danger?

Thanks to Julia Thomson from Home on 129 Acres for her regular articles on That Mutt.

I consider Baxter to be a pretty selfish dog. He’s independent and chill and likes his alone time—and we love him for who he is. He’s just usually the centre of his own universe.

I’ve often wondered what he would do if Matt or I was in trouble. Would he be able to pull a Lassie? (My assumption was likely not).

Last week, Bax and I were out for a hike when we got caught in a bad storm. One lightning crack was so close I ended up crouched in a ball on the ground—and Baxter sprinted away in terror. However, he did not go very far.

When we each regrouped, he put himself about 20 feet in front of me and determinedly started down the path. Every few steps he’d look over his shoulder to make sure I was behind him and still coming.

How would your dog respond in a crisis?

For a guy who usually can’t go five steps without stopping to sniff something or who ends up hundreds of feet behind me because he’s distracted by his nose, this was very unusual behaviour.

Now, you could argue that he just wanted out of there, but he felt safer with me. Or he knew I was his ride home and didn’t want to have to figure out how to hotwire the car. Or he was tired of being wet and wanted me to hurry up. Or perhaps, just maybe, he wanted us to get out of there safely together and he was watching out for me.

Or maybe I’m ascribing higher level thought to him than I should.

I do know we were both very happy to finally climb into the car and head for home.

Have you and your dog ever been through a crisis? How does your dog react to trouble?

If you have any examples, let us know in the comments. Thanks for the great discussion on Julia’s last post about dog licensing.

(The picture is a re-enactment during better weather!)

Should You License Your Dog? Two Views

Should You License Your Dog? Two Views

With Baxter’s gotcha anniversary recently, it was time to renew his license with the city.

Pet licensing can be a contentious issue, so I reached out to two people to get perspectives on both sides.

Karen Edwards is an animal services advisor at the City of Hamilton where we live. She works in the Licensing and By-law Services department.

Wendy is a dog owner who chose not to license her dog. She asked not to be identified by her real name or city.

Karen estimates there are between 70,000 and 80,000 dogs in Hamilton. At the end of 2016, 39,844 dogs were licensed (50-56%). It’s the law in our city that owners must get a license before their dog is three months old and attach it to the dog’s collar.

Dog licensing laws vary quite a bit depending on what country, city or county you live in. In the comments, it would be interesting to hear from some of you about what’s required in your area.

In our case, we have to renew Baxter’s licence every year. The cost is $33 (CAN). There are reduced rates for puppies or for lower income people. The rates are higher for unneutered or unspayed dogs or if you renew after the deadline.

If you have a dog without a license, you may be fined $180 up to $10,000.

Should you license your dog?

Should you license your dog?

A dog license is required by law in many areas

Karen says the simple answer of why people should license their dogs is, “It’s the law. The long answer is that with a license tag on the dog, Animal Services staff can get a dog home quickly if it’s lost.”

In Hamilton, licensed dogs get one free ride home a year, without the dog going into a shelter first, she says.

“If a pet was found injured, it allows staff to contact the owner immediately so the owner can make the life-altering decisions regarding its care.”

One dollar from each licensing fee is also used to create and maintain leash free areas in the city of Hamilton.

Many dog owners don’t license their dogs

For Wendy, there were many reasons she decided to stop buying a dog license in her city. For one, she didn’t see a personal benefit for her and her dog.

“The only benefit… promoted by the city is Animal Control picking-up and temporarily housing any lost dogs,” she says. “But part of my job as a dog owner is ensuring my dog is healthy and safe, and I take that very seriously, so I am vigilant and take many precautions to ensure my dog will not be lost.”

Baxter wearing his license

Where do the funds go?

I was pleased to learn from Karen that all licensing revenue in our city stays with Animal Services and helps maintain the city’s shelters—feeding, medically treating, vaccinating, and caring for stray and unwanted animals. In fact, $1 million of the Animal Services’ $4-million budget comes from licensing fees.

For us, we haven’t been in a situation where Baxter has been picked up by Animal Services, and we’re not huge users of the off-leash parks. So, the benefits that Animal Services lists on our annual license renewal form aren’t big sellers for us. Learning that we’re helping other needy animals in the city is more incentive for me to maintain Baxter’s license.

For Wendy, another factor in not licensing her dog is her own feelings on animal control practices in her city.

“My city tends to use a lot of fear tactics, particularly when it comes to dogs,” she explains. “Some of the information they put out is misguided and completely inaccurate.”

She cites an example where her city stated that dog owners who get a license usually take better care of their dogs and are better dog owners. “Of course, the city didn’t provide any data or proof to back-up that claim.”

She also notes that dogs are the only domestic animal required to have a license in her city, yet many cats roam freely without a license.

Should you license your dog

“I did have a license for the first few years of dog ownership, but after becoming educated about the city’s animal control practices, I chose not to renew the license,” she says. “I suppose this is my way of protesting… even though it means I may have to pay for it, literally!”

Wendy admits that getting a ticket is always a threat and a possibility, but she feels that due to understaffing in her city’s by-law and animal control departments, the chance of getting caught is relatively low.

As for Hamilton, Karen emphasizes that Animal Services has a zero tolerance policy in place for unlicensed dogs.

Educating dog owners on dog behaviour

Wendy would like to see education be a focus for her city’s animal control department.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and ignorance surrounding canine behaviour, but I think proper education would better equip owners and benefit the community as a whole,” she says. “I’d like to see the City implement a mandatory course as a condition of the license. However, I recognize the challenges this idea presents, including the politics involved in sourcing that education. ”

Karen says Animal Services staff work there because they truly care about the pets in their community. She and other Animal Services staff are continuing to improve services and offer additional incentives that encourage more dog owners to license their dogs.

She says she’s aware of the objections about licensing, from “it’s a cash grab” to “my dog never gets out.”

For us, incentive or not, we will continue to buy a license for Baxter.

Do you license your dog? Why or why not?

How does licensing work in your city?

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Related posts:

Baxter the escape artist

Why are so many cats killed in shelters?

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Happy Fourth Gotcha Day to Our Dog Baxter!

Happy Fourth Gotcha Day to Our Dog Baxter!

The beginning of July is Baxter’s “Gotcha Day.”

This year is the fourth anniversary since Baxter came to live with us. Inspired by Tracey at Love lives on, I have a tradition of writing a letter to Baxter on the anniversary of his gotcha day. You can see the letters from year 1 , year 2 and Baxter’s adoption story on my blog. Since I started writing for, I’ve been sharing the letters with all of you, starting with last year’s third anniversary letter.

Dear Baxter,

Can you believe it’s been four years? I imagine you’re probably saying, “Four years? What? I’m all about now.” I like how dogs live in the moment, and it’s something I try to practice often when we’re together.

A sunbeam, a hike, a good neck scratch, a soft bed. It doesn’t take much to make you happy. I’m grateful that you make it so easy for us. We knew from the start that you were a pretty mellow dude, and that has not changed.

I’ve probably changed more than you over the past four years—early wake-ups so that we can go for a walk before work, driving to weekend hikes, extra money on vacuums to deal with all of your fur. I don’t begrudge any of these things and love what you’ve brought to our life.

I’ve seen a few changes from you over the past year. You’re a bit slower now, and I can see your hip is stiff some days. You’re a little more grouchy and opinionated sometimes. But usually your easy-going nature wins out.

I love how people ask how old you are when we’re hiking. You’re so wiggly and excited to meet everyone that you seem like a puppy. But the rest of the time, you’re an old man. Your commitment to snuggling and sleeping is fun to watch.

I’ve enjoyed spending more time with you this year and doing some different things now that my work schedule has changed. There are going to be some more changes coming, and I hope that we get to have even more time together. We certainly have a lot of fun.

Happy fourth gotcha day.


How long have the rest of you had your dogs?


I’m Not My Dog’s Mom

I’m Not My Dog’s Mom

I’m not my dog’s “mom.”

As we wrapped up Father’s Day last weekend, my husband Matt turned to me and said, “No one wished me happy Father’s Day. And I’ve been a parent to a cat and a dog for five years!”

The thing is, my husband and I don’t consider ourselves “Mom” and “Dad” to Baxter and Ralph. Shortly after we adopted Baxter, I remember a conversation where I said to Matt, “Don’t call me Baxter’s Mom.”

We’re good buds. Ralph is our best girl. Bax is our dude. He and Matt are bros. But they’re not father and son (although Ralph and I are occasionally sisters-in-arms to balance out the testosterone).

I hear a lot of “pet parents”—there’s another label—called Mom and Dad. And that makes complete sense. Our pets are absolutely part of our family. We love them and care for them. Mom and Dad just wasn’t how we chose to identify ourselves. For our dog, we’re called Julia and Matt. As in, “Where’s Matt? Go find Julia!”

I'm not my dog's mom

I don’t feel like eschewing the label of Mom and Dad signifies that we love Baxter any less. I often feel uncomfortable calling myself a dog “owner.” Baxter’s my family. I don’t own family members. And I certainly anthropomorphise my dog. Just not to the point that I consider him my offspring.

Interestingly, we have no problem calling our parents Grandma and Grandpa in relation to Baxter. And they identify themselves that way too. My Mom had a whole conversation last week with Baxter about how he was her favourite grand-dog. (He’s her only grand-dog for now, but I chose not to mention that).

What do you call yourself for your dog? Are you your dog’s Mom or Dad?

We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Baxter and Matt:


Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar Review and Coupon Code

Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar Review and Coupon Code

Thanks to Julia for her review of Mighty Paw’s padded sport collar.

The Mighty Paw Sport Collar is a padded collar with a snap buckle and adjustable Velcro. It comes in sizes small, medium, large and extra large and in black or grey.

Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar Review

This post is sponsored by Mighty Paw. Use code MP20Mutt to get 20% off all products in its Amazon store. Click here.

My thoughts on the Mighty Paw Padded Sport Collar:

I am very impressed with this collar. The online description says that it is light weight but heavy duty and that is absolutely true. I feel like the padding likely makes it comfortable for my dog (Baxter’s not saying).

When I first saw that all of the adjustments took place with Velcro, I was skeptical. Would the Velcro really hold, especially if Baxter was pulling? In using the collar, I have complete trust in the Velcro’s ability to stay securely fastened.

Mighty Paw padded sport collar review

Baxter tends to be between medium and large in most collars (his neck is 18 inches around). The large collar fit perfectly right out of the package. I like that the large collar is extra wide. This is mostly personal preference, but I like the look of the thicker collar.

What is the cost of the Sport Collar?

The Mighty Paw Sport Collar is $12.99.

Use code MP20Mutt for 20% off. Click here.

What’s unique about the Mighty Paw Sport Collar?

The Sport Collar is padded with neoprene, which makes it comfortable for your dog. As well, the neoprene resists odor. Baxter took it wading (dude doesn’t swim), and it dries very quickly.

Baxter with his Mighty Paw sport collar

You adjust this collar with Velcro rather than buckles or loops.

The collar has two D-rings, one of which I use for Bax’s tags and the other that I clip the leash to. I like that they’re separate. Every once in awhile, we’ve accidentally clipped the leash to Bax’s tags, which is not at all secure. Because of the way the sport collar is balanced, the leash and his tags carry to the side, which I really like. It gives Bax less chance of tangling his leg in the leash and walking with the leash in his armpit.

Pros of the Padded Sport Collar:

  • The collar is sturdy and I feel like the buckles and material can stand up to a very active dog.
  • I love the padding. I feel like this makes it more comfortable for my dog, no matter what we’re doing. However, the padding does not make the collar bulky or heavy.
  • The collar has reflective stitching so your dog is more visible in the dark.
  • The balance of the collar and the separate rings for tags and leash are something I’ve never encountered in another collar, and I really appreciate them.

Baxter's Mighty Paw collar


  • I wonder if the Velcro might attach itself to some dogs’ fur. I have a very short-haired dog, and the fit of the collar ensures that no Velcro is exposed. This might not be the case for every dog.
  • As much as I’m confident in the construction and materials of this collar, the buckle is plastic. If you have an incredibly strong dog or as the collar ages, the strength of the plastic may be an issue.
  • This is marketed as a Sport Collar, but if you have a truly active dog, the rings for the tags or leash may get caught, depending on what activities you’re doing. A completely flat collar might be better.

Mighty Paw padded sport collar review

I would recommend the Sport Collar for…

I would definitely recommend the Sport Collar for anyone with an active dog. If you’re outside a lot, playing, hiking, running or swimming this collar is a great choice.

The variety of sizes and the Velcro adjustment make it easy to fit the collar to any dog.

Order the collar on Amazon HERE.

Ace and Remy wear the Mighty Paw sport collars too:

Ace wearing his Mighty Paw collar

Remy with his Mighty Paw sport collar

Would you like to try a new Mighty Paw product every month?

Everyone at the $7 reward level or higher on That Mutt’s Patreon page receives a new product from Mighty Paw every month.

Claim one of the remaining 8 spots HERE. In June, you’ll have the option of a treat pouch or a double-dog leash. Sign up here.

Other Mighty Paw reviews:

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

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