Guilt in Relationships

I recently had a breakthrough around my Guilt, and i think it is relevant to how we interact with our dogs as well.

I have big goals, and am attracted to so many awesome projects happening in the amazing Bay Area. So i tend to have a super busy schedule.

Because my job revolves around dog care, Pepa gets plenty of stimulation. So my Guilt doesn’t manifest with my dog so much.

Instead it comes up around my relationships with people. Friendships and romantic relationships are where i tend to feel guilty for not putting enough of my energy. If the relationship is about to fall apart, I’m all on it. If we need to talk and feel bad about how busy i am, I’m all on it. Well that just feels crappy, and isn’t a sustainable dynamic.

The same goes for guilt in our canine relationships… When the dog has acted out so badly that the we’re is forced to do something, we’ll put energy into it. And so many people are content to spend a bunch of time feeling bad and talking sad about what they need to change about their dog’s life, and all the reasons they’re not able to.

We get comfortable in the Guilt stage. Then we make exceptions to the training protocol, to feel less guilty. And we spend a bunch of energy dealing with the fallout from these exceptions.

My breakthrough came in adjusting how i deal with my Guilt. I’m still busy as hell. But i don’t spend time putting this guilt into my relationships. I’m making a conscious effort to instead spend the limited time i put into relationships in a positive and enriching manner only.

In the case of my human relationships, this means being present and positive when i DO finally have time to hang out. It means not spending time feeling crappy, or processing crappy feelings, about something that i won’t actually change. It means high quality interactions and positive dynamics!

In dog terms, it means taking those guilty feelings and turning them into quality time with your dog, and quality planning. Why layer the guilt of not following training protocol on top of the guilt of not having enough time for your dog? And if you have limited energy to put into your dog, why set yourself up to spend that energy working on the fallout from not following the training protocol?

When you DO have time to spend on your dog, if you spend it in ways that enrich your dog’s life (not just temporarily relieve your guilt) i think you may find your guilt fading away, and your relationship with your dog blossoming.20171230_111414.jpg

Announcing Your SCRUF Pet Care Collective

Over the last year+, I have had the privilege to work with two other amazing pet care providers to form a worker-owned cooperative business. We do all the normal pet business stuff, AND run it democratically. It is a ton of work, but all that I’ve learned over the last year, and the interpersonal growth, has been incredible!


After completing a 16-week Academy and several months of legal and business coaching, we officially launched our business in June 2016! There is still much work to do, of course. And I couldn’t have found two more wonderful people to work with on this project.

My Van, Hilary Abell of Project Equity (our business coaches), Pepa, Diego and Corbin – our last meeting of our Project Equity follow-on coaching
Corbin writes our business’s first checks, in the back of my van next to a XXL dog crate of course
Corbin writes SCRUF’s first paychecks! On the sidewalk outside of the East Bay Community Law Center, after a meeting with our amazing legal team.

That means I’ll be updating this blog less, so I can focus on SCRUF’s development. Instead I welcome you to explore SCRUF’s internet presence.
We have a website:
A Facebook page:
An Instagram:
An email address:

Six Dogs in Sibley

Barney is going on a long hiatus soon, and I was fortunate to be living with Diablo, so we did a special six dog hike. Packed everyone up in the amazing new van and trekked Sibley Volcanic Preserve.

I tend to take on more challenging clients, and six of those at once is a lot of work. But having very clear expectations already established with each of these dogs on an individual level is what made this possible and fun. Prior practice + clear communication = happy healthy hiking. It also helps to leave the extra crazies at home. :)

Samson vs. Snake

I’ve been doing a lot of learning on Samson’s behalf lately. Today it all came together.


As you can see in the picture above, Samson is hanging out with the group for the photo. Unlike the last photo I posted where he was represented by just a tiny tip of a leash, as he walked out of shot to do whatever he damn well pleased!

I was giving Samson small-dog slack for a long time. He was manageable even though I knew in the back of my mind that he knew he was getting away with not listening. Then I eventually got tired of him straight up ignoring me. You know, the kind where they look at you, consider their options, and then blatantly opt to not follow your directions. So for the past few weeks Samson has been doing more earning of his off-leash roaming privileges. This includes holding a spot for photos.

I feel like kind of a jerk, or an egomaniac or something, making this “harmless” little guy listen to all my obnoxious bossiness.

Until Today!

These five dogs and I were hiking in Sibley. Beautiful, hot day. Walking under some shady trees. All of a sudden: rattling! right under my feet! I pick up the pace with Tootsie in tow, “come on everybody let’s go!” Thankfully Banner, Ani and Pepa were already up ahead, as usual. Samson was hanging back, typical, leaving his mark every ten feet. With Tootsie out of harm’s way, I look back to see Samson seriously walking TOWARD this giant rattling snake in the middle of the path that is coiled up ready to strike anyone’s tiny little head. So I get majorly intense and moderately hysterical in my commands, “SAMSON! NO! SAMSON! COME!” Thankfully this time he took me seriously and zipped up the trail, and we left that big scary snake in the dust. Of course everyone got lots of praise for being such good snake-avoiders.

It was a stark reminder that this is the scary stuff we’re planning for in all our group sits, on-leash breaks for non-listeners, millions of recalls, chill car rules, and the obedience practice practice practice. Good safe hikes for good dogs!



Pepa and I recently got to spend some quality time with a (1 year old, intact, mouthy :) ) German Shepherd named Finn. Once he figured out that Pepa prefers to not have her whole head inside his mouth, we were well on our way to a lovely weekend. It helps that Finn has a lot of training under his belt, so it was easy to tap into his good manners even when he was playin wit me.

In our adventures, we found some sculptures. We also practiced better obedience in the house with the help of a long leash.


Speaking of long leashes, we also hiked Leona Canyon (with Finn on a long leash, as pictured above). I had heard rumors that the trail had been very degraded by the masses of dog walkers who use it for their daily hikes, but I had yet to see it for myself. It was immediately apparent that the “No Dogs in Creek” signs are not respected (whether by dog walkers or dog owners, I can’t say). I would suggest that if people can’t keep dogs out of the creek, to try using a long leash like Finn is sporting happily above. Not only does it help with listening, but it helps protect our beautiful East Bay Regional Parks.