dog training, Poetry

Puppy Toes

Light rain falls during morning walk

Inside, puppy races from couch to floor

escape not an option

comfortable with towel-off

growing hound terrified of toe touches

Petite brute, I wrassle him to carpet

hold tight wriggling body

breathe deep calm for us both

gently wipe between toes

cleaning one toe nail at a time

builds lost trust

Now quiet on the couch

head in my lap, eyes closed

Sad for scared sweet pooch

only time heals invisible wounds

Shari Elizabeth Berk

Goldsboro, NC

March 26, 2015

dog training, Poetry

Colby Comes Home

Puppy belly crawls to sunny spot

sniffs mailboxes and flowers with equal enthusiasm

Home from morning walk he chews a favorite toy

falls asleep at my side

deep breaths, twitchless dreams

We adopted each other a week ago

both anxious to do good, be good

learning from each other

I realize the reality

that he did the rescuing.

Shari Elizabeth Berk

Goldsboro, NC

March 19, 2015

hiding colby

Baking, dog training

Microwave Cheese Treats for Dogs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder

1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tsp. sugar

1/3 cup shortening

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 tbsp. instant bouillon granules – either beef or chicken

1/2 cup hot water


  • Combine flours, milk powder, rolled oats, cornmeal and sugar in medium bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg to dry this mixture, and stir. Add bouillon into hot water until dissolved. Slowly pour hot water/bouillon into flour mixture with a fork till all is moistened. Form dough into a ball and knead on floured board 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough in half and roll out each half to about 1/2 inch thick. Make cut-outs with cookie cutters, or make nuggets by rolling round into 1 inch diameter log, and cutting into 1/2 inch pcs. Arrange six cut-out shapes or 24 nuggets on a 10 inch plate. Microwave at 50% (medium) for 5 to 10 minutes, or until firm and dry to the touch. Rotate plate every 2 minutes and turn shapes over half way through the cooking time. Cool on wire rack. Shapes will crisp as they cool.

dog training

Campbell Puppy Temperament/Personality Test

Choosing a dog can be very nerve-wracking, especially when choosing from a litter. Do you choose the one that seems to be the leader of the litter? Do you choose the one that seems shy, afraid, and sad? Do you choose one in the middle? Maybe the really lazy one? It can be hard to decide which one to pick. Sure, you may have your preference, but how can you best guess what that dog may be like later on? One way to test how a puppy might act as it grows older is to use the Campbell Puppy Aptitude Test. This test allows anyone interested in adopting a puppy to be able to guess at how a dog may act once it is a bit older. According to, here is how the test works:

Test 1-Attraction Test:

This test evaluates how dependent the puppy is. In this test the puppy is carried and then placed in a quiet area. After placing the puppy on the ground step away about three to four meters, kneel down and get the puppy’s attention by clapping your hands slowly. Watch the puppy’s behavior carefully.

  1. Does he run to you immediately with tail high and then jumps on you licking your hands?
  1. Does he come to you immediately with tail high and scratches your hands with its paws?
  1. Does he come immediately to you wagging his tail?
  1. Does he seem a bit unsure and hesitates but comes to you with his tail down?
  1. Does he not come to you at all?

Test 2-Follower Test:

This test evaluates if the dog has an instinct to follow. Standing up next to the puppy step away slowly ensuring that the puppy notices you leaving. Watch the puppy’s behavior carefully as soon as he sees you leaving.

  1. Does he follow you with his tail high and bites your feet?
  1. Does he follow you with his tail high but this time without biting?
  1. Does he follow you with his tail down?
  1. Does he follow you hesitating a bit with his tail down?
  1. Does he not follow you at all?

Test 3-Constriction Test:

This test evaluates the puppy’s reaction to being forced into submission. Kneel down next to the puppy and turn him around gently belly up. Place your hand on the pup’s chest and hold him down for about 30 seconds.

  1. Does he struggle a lot and resort to biting?
  1. Does he struggle a lot until he is free?
  1. Does he struggle at first and then gives up and calms down?
  1. Does he not struggle and rather licks your hand?
  1. Does he not struggle at all?

Test 4-Submission Test:

This test evaluates the dog’s ability to accept submission. Kneel down next to the new puppy, pet him and apply pressure to his head and back for about 30 seconds.

  1. Does he struggle and fight by scratching, turning over, growling and even biting?
  1. Does he struggle and turns over to scratch only?
  1. Does he appears to struggle and then seems to relax and lick your hands?
  1. Does he not struggle and voluntarily turns over his back and licks your hands?
  1. Does he move away?

Test 5-Elevated Test:

This test evaluates the dog’s ability to accept your dominance over him. Bend down and lift the puppy from the floor holding him from under the chest at a height of about 20 centimeters for about 30 seconds.

  1. Does he struggle a lot and resorts to bite?
  1. Does he struggles until he is free?
  1. Does he struggle at first and then gives up and calms down?
  1. Does he not struggle and rather licks your hands?
  1. Does he not struggle at all?


Check if you have answered a majority of letters a, b, c,d, or e. While these results can give an idea of the temperament of a puppy they are not set in stone. The puppy may change as it matures and goes through socialization and training, even though the basic genetic component may still remain vivid.

Majority of Answers A:

You are dealing with a dominant and potentially aggressive dog. Not recommended for first time dog owners and owners with children. Requires a lot of experience. This puppy however can make a good working or guarding dog if owner is capable of providing leadership and appropriate training.

Majority of Answers B:

You are dealing with a stubborn dog that may be difficult to train. Requires experience. Not recommended for first time dog owners. Can make a good working dog but requires a lot of training and leadership from owners.

Majority of Answers C:

You are dealing with a well-tempered dog that most likely has a stable temperament. This can be a good dog for new dog owners. Dog is adaptable and training should not be much of a big deal.

Majority of Answers D:

You are dealing with a submissive dog that can make a good family pet. This type of dog may not be suitable for work. Dog may be sensitive to harsh corrections.

Majority of Answers E:

You are dealing with a very inhibited dog. This puppy may have weak nerves and can be unpredictable. May be prone to behavior issues such as anxiety and phobias.

Mental Health, Poetry

Leaving My Carbon Footprint On Your Self-Righteous Asses; Why I Will No Longer Donate to The Bryn Mawr Alumnae Fund

Bryn Mawr College sends emails to overweight students



Leaving My Carbon Footprint On Your Self-Righteous Asses;

Why I Will No Longer Donate to The Bryn Mawr Alumnae Fund


Taught that the political IS personal at Bryn Mawr ;

Seven Sister bastion of femi-nazi liberal young women,

and a few moderately conservative angry young punks.

Exceedingly bright, dangerously neurotic adolescent academics

whose Foreign Diplomat Mothers, Supreme Court Justice Fathers,

paid for these young daughters of the revolution


to confront their white racism, hold conferences to give voice

to their violated souls/bodies/selves

take back the night wearing a sea of purple t-shirts

crucify Oliver North in poli-sci class, fight Bork’s nomination

bussed en masse to the White House lawn

saw Debi Thomas skate to victory at the Olympics


watched Thirty-Something, hosted innumerable Teas.

Learned that the most intolerant people often preach tolerance loudest

I sing the unapologetic white suicidal minority

… Praise the Administration for raising awareness of racism –

whose, by the way? –

Damn your simple plan


escorted those with mental health issues

beyond Pembroke Arch.

Too disruptive , Dr. Bazelon?

An issue you’re not yet ready to address?

Twenty year later, Virgina Tech haunts.

I lived through Kurt Cobain, Columbine.


The year I transferred to Bryn Mawr

rumors rampant that a Mawrter suicided in Erdman,

my dorm.

You told me my bulimia was “disruptive” to the campus.

Go on telling yourself

that I was the problem.


Shari Elizabeth Berk

Louisa, Virginia

May 6, 2008

Blogging, dog training, Mental Health, prose

Saving the World, One Puppy at a Time – January 21, 2015

Perry Champion is speaking on the phone with a perspective rescue parent. “No, P-E-R-R-Y. Like Perry Mason or Perry Como,” he emphasizes each word as I begin to understand the lapse in communication. “You know who Perry Mason is, right?”

I scratch behind Ginger’s ears. Ginger, Perry’s service dog, is always at his side, a few bounds ahead, or a few steps behind, as needed. I know she senses my frustration, mitigated by hope; which translates into anxiety that perhaps only poets and dogs can detect. I think to myself that invoking “Katy Perry” might be a better mnemonic for this Millennial, but Perry has the situation totally under control.

He has been rescuing and training service dogs for over a decade. It is his passion and his mission to save shelter dogs and train them to rescue and assist people with medical conditions. Saturday January 18 was my first day working with the pack, or as we say in Yiddish, the “mishpachah” (i.e. “tribe.”) I knew upon meeting Perry at a charity event in the fall that I had met my dog mentor.

I am currently on a mission of my own. I want out of the Social Security Disability System in which I became mired in 1983, five years after my parents dragged me to the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, where I was promptly diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and major depression. I fired my first psychiatrist after three months. He insisted on calling my mother “Mom,” while referring to my dad by his honorific, “Doctor,” and the disparity in respect infuriated me.

When I called to fire him, he had sussed me out; accepted my termination of his services with the caveat, “I think you have serious issues with men, it may help you to speak with a woman therapist.” He was only partly correct. I have a problem with abusive, patronizing people, and an even bigger problem with professionals who are defensive because while they have a string of initials after their names, I consider myself the expert on what ultimately works for me.

I jumped through enough hoops to graduate valedictorian from my high school class of over 900 students, but I crashed and burned by age 17 from the pressures of juggling a dysfunctional family and unresolved trauma issues. I never learned the life lessons my peers learned because I spent so much time in hospitals between the ages of 17 and 35, so at 50 I am playing catch up , learning to fly under the radar, and that “normal” is a matter of perspective and statistics.

I never learned how to tolerate phoniness, injustice, hypocrisy, and competition for competition’s sake. I was repeatedly hospitalized, stays that lasted from two to ten months, between 1982 and 1998. Between 1980 and 2011, I was given nearly every stigmatizing misdiagnosis the psychiatrists at the teaching hospitals were trying out in the clinical trials for DSM approval. I came to the conclusion that I had educated enough medical students, and paid for the psychiatrists’ children’s college and graduate school. I was done being fascinating. I knew something was terribly wrong, I just needed someone to meet me halfway to help me fix it.

In 1997, when I first started my research into psychiatric service dogs, the medical community derided their effectiveness and refused to give them credibility. Those of us who knew the powerful bond that grows between a person and an assistance dog were seen as whack jobs who wanted an excuse to take their “pets” everywhere. So, like I did when I was fourteen, I waited for the medical community to catch up to my conclusions.

Please don’t mistake my tone for arrogance. I have been humbled and humiliated enough times in my life to write a treatise on my “strengths and weaknesses.” A bullshit job interview question, by the way, a trick question the answer to which few people really want the truth, so it becomes an oxymoron of sorts, at least for people like me who see my weaknesses as opportunities to learn. At this point, I don’t care what assumptions people make about me. I do my best not to make assumptions about anyone or anything. They are often wrong, downright rude, and can be avoided by asking the right questions. Asking the right questions is integral. Not easy, but critical to problem solving.

The first of many lessons I learn from Perry is that an adoption is not complete until the dog is settled in its forever home. As I proceed in my sixth decade, I realize I am still looking for mine.happiness is a warm puppy


Baking at 4 am

I’m a morning person. I’m also an insomniac. These are “ranger cookies” a recipe from a friend whose mom used to make them decades ago. I love old family recipes. Have fun! I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and baked for 12 minutes, but YMMV :)ranger cookies recipe ranger cookies I creamed the margarine with the sugar, then added the eggs, then the rest of the ingredients. Many thanks to my dear friend Linda Kannan for giving me her mother’s recipe from Roseburg, OR.