Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tips on Finding the Perfect Walking Companion – a Dog!

A conversation with Kate Varns, CPDT-KA, Training School Supervisor at the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota 

The Animal Humane Society in Minnesota is a wonderful, nationally recognized leader in promoting animal and human health and interaction.  My sister, Rose, is a big supporter of their cause, having had several wonderful shelter dogs in her life.  On Sunday May 5th we joined their annual Walk for Animals – the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year.   If you haven’t had a chance to donate to the animals, you can go online through their website and contribute to this well-run organization.

We walked last night and this little dachshund/poodle mix was the PERFECT walking companion, trotting along neatly on a loose leash.

Q:  Kate, we’ve heard the research, that people with a good walking dog companion are healthier, that they stay on their walking programs when they have the right dog.  So how can someone find the right dog?
A:  The first thing to think about is what kind of dog you’d like:  how big or small, how energetic, how old.  How fast do you want to walk?  How long?   Puppies are cute and fun, but they take a lot of supervision and training, and they can’t do a lot of walking until they are about a year and a half old because their bones are still growing.

If you really want to start walking, look for a slightly older dog, two years and older.  Look for a calm, easy going dog, because you’ll be around a lot of people when you are walking.  The cuter the dog, the more you’ll be stopping to talk to people and their kids.

Size isn’t that important—but there are a couple of exceptions to that.  Toy breeds, such as Yorkies, and Papilons, may not be able to tolerate a walk longer than a mile.  If short strolls around the block are your goal, a toy might work.  If you walk longer, you can always train them to a back pack or a stroller!
On the other end of the spectrum are the dogs that really require a lot of exercise.  These include the breeds that are bred to run, like sled dogs (Siberian, Huskies) or pointers (Vislas, Dalmations, German Short Hair, Weimeraners, and any retrievers that are “field bred” to run all day.)   But an older dog of one of these breeds matched with a walker that likes to walk longer distances, say four miles or more a day, might be a great partnership.  Some of these larger dogs can be trained to carry their own water in a dog backpack.  A bit of caution:  these dogs are great athletes, and the more exercise they get, the fitter they become, and they will need even more exercise to be happy.

On the opposite end, some dogs can’t walk far because of their “design.”   The short noses of English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih-Tzus make them prone to heat stroke, so they are not candidates for intense exercise, especially in hot weather.

Q:  Once I have picked out a dog that matched my personality and my activity level, how do I make walking a pleasant experience for us both?
A:   The key to a successful partnership is early training for you both.  I strongly recommend taking an obedience class with any new dog, so you can forge a partnership, and learn to work together.

Q:  Are certain breeds easier to train to walk nicely than others?
A:  “Biddable breeds” were bred to pay close attention to the cues from their handlers.  These include the sporting dogs, the herding dogs, the spaniels, English Springer, German Shepherd, Standard Poodles.  These are bred to respond quickly to cues from their handlers and are usually quick to train.  The opposite are the “non-biddable breeds.”  These can often be lovely animals, but they were bred to be more independent of humans to do their jobs.  These would be the terriers, the pointers, the sled dogs, the scent hounds.  They can be trained to be great walking companions, but sometimes they need training to understand what we really want them to do.

Q:  So how do you like to train people (and their dogs) to walk nicely together?  Can you give us some tips?
A:   At our school we use positive reinforcement rather than punishment.  We use anything the dog enjoys:   treats, toys, balls, whatever they love.   Make it fun for the animal and keep them close to you.   Always keep them on a leash.  We recommend a four or six-foot nylon web leash.  We DO NOT recommend retractable leashes for walking.   I’ve seen too many near misses in traffic, and people can get hurt or even lose fingers in the long leashes.

Q:  How do you get started right?
A:  Say the dog’s name, get their attention.  Reward them occasionally when you ask them to sit.  Always catch them just when they do the right thing and praise them and give them a treat.   Take the entire dinner of kibble on your walk with you so you can do a lot of rewarding.  Why leave all that opportunity in the dog bowl?

Q:  How do you train a dog not to pull or drag on the leash?
A:  Bring your treats in a pouch you can get to easily.  Start out first in your back yard, because the first few times you really won’t be going far!   On leash, with the dog on your left, start walking, and when the leash tightens, just stop—don’t talk.   When the dog turns around to look at you, and the leash loosens, immediately praise and give a treat.  Then start walking again, the leash tightens, stop, wait, loosen--praise, treat!   If your dog lags behind, use gentle sounds to encourage him forward:  patting your thigh, whistling, making “kissy” sounds, and so on.  When you start walking, remember to occasionally ask the dog to do something you want, like sit, so you can praise the good behavior.  Focus on rewarding the behavior you like rather than punishing the behavior you don’t like.  With more practice, anticipate your dog’s correct behavior by giving them a treat just as your catch them starting to do the right thing.  You’ll be amazed how fast they learn.

What you DON’T want to do is to continue walking forward if the dog is dragging or pulling on you.  Don’t reward that!  If you are walking with others during your training period, let them know there will be a lot of starting and stopping.  It takes time to teach dogs to walk in a straight line with you.   Keep it nice and happy and positive.  If they do the wrong thing, show them what they should do instead of punishing them.

Q:  What about dogs that really just love to pull?  Can they really be trained out of it?
A:  Dogs have a natural tendency to pull when they have tension.  Its’ called the opposition reflex.  They aren’t being stubborn or willful, they are just doing what their brain naturally tells them to do.  We are teaching them a new behavior, and it takes time.
However, some kinds of equipment can be helpful.  For example if a dog is a powerful puller, the “Gentle leader” head collar is great.  It does not cause pain.  You control the entire body because you control the head.  We are big fans of those.  Many people who have difficulty walking a larger dog can have a nice walk with this.

Another option is a front clip harness, which has the leash clip on the dog’s chest.  It is very difficult for the dogs to effectively pull against tension with the clip on the front.  Neither of these leashes cause pain and they work very well.   You can use the same training I described with either of these pieces of equipment.

Q:  What about other safety tips?
A:  Children should never walk dogs that are more than a quarter of their body weight.  Retractable leashes have their place, but should only be used by experienced handlers and well away from roads or shared paths.

Q:  Other thoughts?
A: Walking with a dog is simply one of the most rewarding activities we can do.  Hiking with my dog is my hands-down favorite leisure activity, since we can both spend time together and get exercise.  Living with a dog that enjoys walking is a great reason to get outside, enjoy the outdoors and live a healthy lifestyle.

Q:  Can we call you?
A:  Yes!  You can call the Training School anytime at 763-489-2217 and leave a message.  We also have a Free Behavior Helpline which is staffed  seven days a week, from 10a.m. to 6:00pm Central Time for public questions about companion animal behaviors.  Call 763-489-2202. If you are calling from out of state we won’t have vet listings, but we are always happy to help.  We don’t ask for any fee, but we are always appreciative of contributions.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Canoeing: Why it’s Special

They call it God’s country, and when you are sitting around a fire, looking at stars that go on forever, with the sound of a loon calling in the distance, you just have to agree.   Silence has a new definition. You stop to listen, and there is not a machine-made noise to be heard.  An odd feeling the first couple of days, then you feel a sense of true relaxation creeping up on you.

I find myself talking more quietly in the woods, not wanting to shout across a lake.  It seems wrong, and a little irreverent.  The few other canoeists we see must feel the same way, as they wave, smile, nod, but only rarely say something, and then only if they are close.

Animal sightings were scarce this trip into the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, on the border with Canada.  They are there, you see the signs.  Moose scat, well worn deer trails, bear poop dark with blueberries.  But the space is so vast, and with the silence they can hear humans coming from so far away.  We did see many birds, and a very angry big beaver who broke the silence with a huge tail whap!  Last time we saw otter, moose and bear, so my hopes were high, but this was not the year.

We picked raspberries on the portages this year.  A couple of the portages were hilly, but since I had the light load, there was no whining for me!  I’ve learned that slow and steady will get me nearly anywhere!

The weather was beautiful this year, and the paddling was easy.  I’m always surprised at how easy on the body canoeing is.  Sure, the second day I was tired, but even then there was none of the soreness that usually comes from doing something you haven’t really trained to do.  Anyone can do it, from kids to elders.  Really.

Although I have to admit I loved canoeing with my very strong and experienced son in the stern.  He’s not a perfect role model.  I noticed only when reviewing our trip pictures that he never wore his life jacket!  But I’ll forgive him because he can cook!  We ate great on the trail.

We had one wet morning packing up the tents and getting going, but since we were all sensible enough to leave anything cotton at home, we dried out pretty fast when the sun came out.

Being out in the middle of the wilderness is really special.  You notice how little it takes to survive, and how simple can be beautiful.  Coming home this time I did experience a little re-entry shock.  Bill boards, noise, hurry, hurry.  It was interesting to notice.  However, I did enjoy the hot shower and cup of coffee!
To next time in a canoe!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Motivation Corner-Are You Mad?

Are you mad? 
Do you find your language filled with “If only they…” or “Why don’t they…” or “Nobody ever…”? 

True enough, other people can be annoying.  But the question to consider it this:
What’s MY goal here?

If you are really mad, you might have trouble answering that question. 
But try:  What is YOUR goal?
Life gets easier when you are clear about your goal, but it also requires action on your part.

Sometimes it is easier to just stay mad—it’s a great excuse to not take action.
Staying mad keeps you right where you are.  Is that what you want?
So just for today, write down YOUR goal, and rein in your “madness.” 
Watch what happens and remember to Embrace Your Active Lifestyle!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May is National Bike Month!

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”  ~H.G. Wells

I’ve been meaning to start biking to work for years now—so with it being May, and with it being National bike Month, this is the year to get my butt in the saddle again!

May 14-18 is National Bike to work Week, and May 18th is Bike to Work Day.   Did you make it to work on your bike?  

I keep thinking if I could just bike once or twice a week it would be a great workout—and I love to be outside.  I just need to plan ahead a bit more so I’m not car dependent on those days.  I have a great trail I can ride, and my house-to-office is a perfect distance, with eagles and wild turkeys to boot.  I also have great Junonia padded shorts and leggings that make the ride comfortable.  No more excuses!

Do you usually ride to work?  Are you going to keep riding to work after May 18th?  Send us a picture of you and your bike and we’ll post them throughout the summer.

If you need to brush up on the rules of the road, or for advice on any bicycling question, check out the League of American Bicyclists at 

And of course, If you are looking for fabulous padded bike shorts, leggings and fun bike tees, check out Junonia!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Turn Your Job into a Gym

Too busy to exercise?  Turn your Job into a Gym!  Here are some easy ideas:

1. Sit on a ball.

  •  People with back problems swear by them, and the micro movements really add up.  A friend who is a masterful third grade teacher has a lot of kids in her class with problems focusing.  She put the whole class on balls (with the rule “butts on the ball, feet on the floor”) and she now has a quiet, focused, happy classroom.  Try it in your office!

2. Stand up!  Look everywhere for possibilities to stand rather than sit.

  • On the phone?  Stand up.  Not only healthier and burns more calories, you’ll sound more enthusiastic to person on the other end of the line.  Why not?
  • Meetings?  If they are less than 15 minutes – have everyone stay standing.  You’ll be more creative, and you’ll save time.  
  • Longer meetings?  If they are one-on-one put on your walking shoes and meet while getting in a walk. A great way to build personal chemistry, too.
  • Put a desk side table up on blocks so you can stand up and work on your computer.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money (although those adjustable hydraulic desks look amazing) just find something to elevate a second work surface.
  • OK, if you really like this office gym idea, you have to get a slow moving treadmill with the desk installed.  

3. Walk around.

  • You don’t have to be a top executive to manage by walking around.  Reduce your emails and just walk over and ask that question.  Find reasons to jump out of your chair.
  • Use the stairs.  Start with one flight up and two down.  You’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll adapt.
  • Use the parking lot or ramp as your personal treadmill.  Park far away from the door, or take a lap or two before you head home for the day.  
  • Keep walking shoes in your desk and in your car.  Walk to your favorite lunch spot instead of driving.  Walk there and ride back with colleagues.  Have them order for you and you’ll be right on time!
  • Stop halfway home to walk your favorite park, shopping mall, or high school track.  Squeeze in that time for yourself before you pick up the kids or get involved in the hub-bub of family life.

4. Bend, Stretch, and Muscle It!

  • Stretch at your desk, especially those upper back muscles.  
  • Get up and do a big stretch every hour at least.  This is the most important thing you can do to prevent clots.  Stretch those calves and hamstrings with yoga forward folds.  You’ll feel more awake with all that blood going to your head.  Be slow rising. We don’t want you getting dizzy. 
  • Why not do a few knee push ups while you are at it?  If you don’t have a place where you can shut the door, can you find a spot just behind your desk?  And while you are down there, how about a few crunches?  Create a set and do it 3 times.  It should take only about 5 minutes and you’ll feel great.
  • How about wall squats?  30 seconds whenever you use the washroom?
  • If you have carpal tunnel tendencies, remember to stretch your hands!

A little bit here, a little bit there, pretty soon you’ll notice the difference.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Express Yourself Re-Sale Clothing Store: A training store for young high school students

By: Anne Kelly

Junonia likes to donate its past-season inventory to charities in our area.  One is Youth Express.  They train high school students in business skills, and provide them an amazing leadership experience.    The re-sale shop is called Express Yourself.  It is located at 1154 Selby Avenue in Saint Paul, MN  55104. Be sure to visit when you are in town!

I spoke with two of their managers, Perquila and Stella and store intern, Hannah.  Perquila and Stella started out with the store as high school students and they are now in college.  I was so impressed with their savvy, maturity and vision for their business.  They really run the show, with backup from the organization for space, accounting and training.

Q:  What’s the best part of being on staff here?
It’s the clothes.  It is especially fun working with fashion design students from our area colleges and university.  They select clothes from the store and completely re-work them into new really unique fashions that we then sell at special trunk shows.
It’s also fun to working and learning, growing as a group and a store.  I have been here since the start.  Over the 2 ½ years I have been here, we have really improved in our people management skills.  When we started we just didn’t know!  We had ugly clothes-horrible!  We would put out whatever we could get.  None of that stuff would sell now.  Now we have the hang of it.

Q: What help did you have getting started?
Randy and Chris at Youth Express really helped us, but they also gave us a lot of latitude.  We got a grant from the Sundance foundation for youth entrepreneurship, and paint from the Valspar company.  We also got help from the local colleges who allow us to do clothing collection drives.

Q:  Who is your target customer?
She is not the girl still in HS and still in the Mall.  She is the young woman at college or in her 20’s who is on a budget and wants to reduce, reuse and recycle.  She wants a variety of things to choose from in her limited budget range.

Q:  What is your pricing strategy?
We keep prices reasonable.  We peg our prices to about 1/3 of what “Lola” at the Mall of America charges.  We buy clothing and give cash or store credit.  A typical buy would be in the range of $1-3 but sometimes to $5-6.  The highest retail price we have is around $20, unless we get a real Chanel wallet—that sold for $50!

Q:  What have you learned about managing people?
People are so different!  We work with each new intern very closely, to figure out how they work and to see what they do well.  Some people work great from a task list, others come up with their own ideas.  We want them to grow up to our level.  We have really improved as people and grown up by working here.

Q:  Hannah, what have you learned as a new intern?
I’ve learned how to work a till, all about spreadsheets, and how to take care of a customer.  Be friendly, but give them enough space.

Q:  What type of items sell best for you?
Fashion jeans always sell, but tops are probably our best category, if we have enough variety. Some shoes do well. In the winter, any riding boot flies out of here, and in the spring sparkly prom shoes are very popular.  

Q:  Where do you find most of your clothing?
We do clothing drives at the area colleges, when students need to clean out their closets.  It also spreads the word so they come and shop here.  That’s our best resource, but we also take donations, like from Junonia, and we buy used items from people.  We tell them to clean out the back of their closet and then to come shopping to fill in the front of their closet!  We also use social media to get the word out.

Q:  What’s next for the store?
We are working on a campaign to push the name Xpress Yourself.  We want all women, no matter what their size, age or whatever, to express loving themselves.  Our thought is, “If mirrors could speak what would they say? They would say ‘You Rock!’”  (The mirror in the store says “Hello Gorgeous!”)  We want women to be who they are and to dress to express that individuality.  We think the magazines for women are terrible.  They say you should look a certain way.  Why do you need to look that way?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Walk for the Animals!

Walk for the Animals!
By Anne Kelly

My sister Rose is an animal lover.  She always wanted to be a vet, but she is so allergic she became a doctor.  Oh, well!  So now she just takes lots of antihistamines so she can enjoy her dogs and her horse.  She says the best thing in life is to wake up with the thump, thump, thump of her huge mastiff/lab mix’s tail on the bed.

This is her favorite fund -raising event of the year, and I love it too.  It’s a fun and crazy day, filled with more dogs than you can image, all well-loved and mostly acquired through the animal humane societies. There were hundreds of people and their pets.  This event provides 75% of the funding for the year!

 There was everything!  Huge Danes and Wolfhounds, tiny Mini Poodles (really cute!), my lovely Beagle, Stella of course, Rose’s gentle giant Jack, and a friend’s equally gentle and huge German Shepherd mix.

The organizers really have it down!  We all park in remote lots and take the bus to the starting line.  It is funny to see those huge dogs sitting up on the bus seats.  I didn’t see any goats this year (my favorite) but there were birds and bunnies and even some pet rats. I only heard one or two short growls the whole day!

If you are looking for a walking companion, consider adopting a shelter pet.  These beautiful, well-behaved animals and their happy owners were an inspiration.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Women Have it Rough

Women Have it Rough.
by:  Cyndi

Everywhere we look we are bombarded by magazine covers and television programs that entice us by promising to show us how to get bodies like movie actresses or facial features like our favorite reality tv stars.  I know every woman alive has flipped through the pages of a magazine and said aloud or under her breath "I wish I had her nose (eyes, ears, cheekbones, thighs, knees, chin, etc, etc, etc...)".  

As women, it's our personal responsibility to show young girls what self love is.  It starts so early, and little girls are so impressionable.  Girls who see their mothers diet and complain about their own body their whole life become women who don't like themselves very much.  The mirror becomes a source of pain. 

Why can't we just love ourselves?  

As a nanny, I know I have to watch what I do.  The littlest elephants have the biggest ears.  When someone pulls out in front of me in traffic, I can't say ugly words because the little mouth in the backseat will say them right back to me.  And when I step in front of the mirror I don't dare say one negative thing in front of her.  We have a ritual every morning when I get her dressed.  I walk her over to the mirror and say "What do you think?". Her precious two year old eyes scan the mirror and she usually does a little twirl or dance and says "I look fantastic!". Then I spend a few minutes telling her how smart and beautiful and kind and caring she is.  I tell her that she has an adorable nose and pretty eyes and the cutest cheeks I've ever seen.  

I hope she grows up believing it.  And I hope that we as women can come together to empower little girls to see the beauty in their own faces, because what you see in the mirror is more important than what you see on any magazine cover. 

About Cyndi:
Born and raised in Alabama, Cyndi is a former truck driver turned nanny now living in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia.  

She blogs openly about self love, fitness, and her lifelong struggle healthy body image at . 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Write for Junonia!

Junonia invites plus size women from all walks of life, from all corners of the world, and with all kinds of interests and ways of living their lives to the fullest.  If you have a story to tell and would like to participate in the Junonia blog we invite blog submissions that meet the following criteria. 

Topics:  Themes that will inspire the plus size woman to live her life to the fullest.  Positive, motivational, funny, personal, heart-warming, uplifting, generous, kind, commonsense, realistic, surprising.  The kind of stories people will want to send to their friends. 

No-no’s:  Foul language, intolerance, judgmental language.

Nice to haves:  Photos for illustration that enhance the story.

Editorial Policy:  Junonia reserves the right to accept or publish at its discretion.  The author agrees to allow Junonia to edit the blog and post on its site.  Junonia will give credit to the blogger’s “home” blog if the author wishes.    Blogger may re-post the blog after Junonia’s publication on their Home blog with a credit to Junonia of as posted on Junonia

Compensation:  Guest Blogger will receive a discount code worth 50% off their next order, good for three months after the blog is posted.

Submit articles to:

Susan Noble
General Manager

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Small and Large Cell Cervical Cancer Sisters Unite

The following is a letter received by our President Anne, from a very strong woman and we at Junonia wanted to share it with you.

Dear Anne,

I had wrote you several months ago about donating outfits to a group of women, all diagnosed with the same rare cancer I had called “Small Cell Cervical Cancer” or other wise known as Neuroendocrine Cervical Cancer. We were going to Vegas to a cancer conference and most were meeting for the first time. Your company was very generous in your donation. I ended up with more girls bigger then I thought, due to gaining weight from treatment. Without hesitation, Susan and Tori were wonderful in helping me with this gift for my cancer sisters. All the ladies were very surprised and happy when they found out they were getting a new outfit. So I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have been very lucky and done very well. I will be 5 years since my prognosis and this trip was a very big deal to these ladies. Meeting women who understand what each one is going through is a tremendous gift.

Due to the rare nature of this cancer no research is done so we found a doctor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas named Dr. Michael Frumovitz who is a Gynecologic Oncologist. He has joined forces with our small group and helped start a research fund at MD Anderson. Our goal is to start a national registry to collect data in hopes that some better treatment options will be developed to give women diagnosed with small and large cell cervical cancer a better outcome. Dr. F as I call him, flew all the way from Texas to meet us and let us know that even though we have not reached our $200,000 goal, we are ½ way there and our project will begin.

Giving these ladies a new outfit helped this weekend be one they will never forget. Enclosed you will find a picture taken at our dinner where 40 people attend from the USA, Canada, Norway, and Australia. In this picture are 19 of the cancer sisters and our beloved Dr. F So many thanks for the wonderful donation to our ladies.

Thank You Again
Melanie Cummings