Photo Essay Documents Young Woman Who Raises Sled Dogs Off-The-Grid Brice Portolano‘s project No Signal is all about documenting the lives of people who have chosen to live “off-the-grid.” People like the subject of his first photo essay in the project who lives 180 miles away from the nearest town, raising sled dogs in the northern Finnish wilderness.

The essay, titled “Arctic Love,” follows a young Finnish woman named Tinja who, after 6 years studying Biology in southern Finland, decided to leave the urban comforts of the city, move up north, and raise sled dogs.

Now her days consist of taking care of and training a pack of 85 husky sled dogs, starting her days in -35°F (-37°C) weather and spending days on end in darkness during the polar night with her partner, a former professional skiier named Alex.“Tinja’s husky farm is off the grid,” writes Portolano. “She cooks and heats with a wood stove, lights her home with candles, and has to break the ice off the river every morning to get her water with a bucket.”

When people talk about reconnecting with nature, Tinja’s sparse lifestyle might even be more extreme than what they had in mind. But it has its advantages, and it’s exactly what Tinja was looking for when she moved back north.

“I like being on my own with my dogs and horses,” she tells Portolano. “I think being alone is the most peaceful way of life there is.”

“I didn’t set up a dogsledding business for commercial reasons,” she continues. “It’s about my own love of nature and living out here in the wild […] nature provides all I need.”

It’s this intense, and intensely personal, connection with nature that Portolano captures in Arctic Love. Nighttime sled rides under the northern lights, “farm work” in unimaginably cold temperatures, and a life lived by candle-and fire-light:

©Brice Portolano

(Via: PetaPixel)

Training dogs by computer and “smart harness” it’s important that dogs know some basic obedience commands at the very least, training them can be a monotonous and frustrating experience. Well, perhaps before too long, we could have computers doing the job for us. They’re already being used to teach dogs to sit, at North Carolina State University.

Utilizing technology from a previous project, the system requires dogs to wear special harnesses. Sensors within those garments monitor the dog’s posture and movements. Each harness also contains a microcomputer that transmits data from the sensors wirelessly.

In the recent experiments, the system was used to determine when dogs went from a standing to a sitting position. When they did, an automated dispenser emitted a beeping sound, and gave them treats.

To create the system, a team led by professors David Roberts and Alper Bozkurt studied 16 human volunteers and their dogs. In particular, the researchers were attempting to arrive at a trade-off between giving the rewards fast enough to be effective, and yet waiting long enough to make sure that they were rewarding the right behaviour.

In its present form, the system rewards the appropriate behaviour 96 percent of the time – that’s still not up there with the human trainers, who manage 100 percent. It is more consistent in dispensing rewards within a given amount of time, however, which is important in its own right.

“This study was a proof of concept, and demonstrates that this approach works,” says Bozkurt. “Next steps include teaching dogs to perform specific behaviours on cue, and integrating computer-assisted training and human-directed training for use in various service dog applications.”

(Via: Gizmag)

Step 1 – Recognizing MY Dog Duke’s Resource Guarding Issue

I post a lot of information on dealing with dog issues – a big one being dog resource guarding. This is just the fancy word for a dog being ‘possessive’ of items, things or places.

DEFINING THE TERM First, I should be clear about what I mean by “resource guarding” (RG, also known as “possessive aggression”). I define “resource guarding” as behavior that discourages another to take, or get too close to, an object or valued area in a dog’s possession. Usually this refers to food, treasured toys or sleeping areas, but I’d argue that some dogs guard their humans as if they were the best bone in the house. RG can range from a quiet head turn to a deafening growl, forward charge or an actual bite.

See more at:

My Story

While I experience this daily at the dogs parks, while meeting and greeting other dogs, I’ve been lucky to not have to deal with this directly in my household.

While I do have dog clients that resource guard food or special toys (especially balls), it’s something I’ve learned to quickly identify, and then completely prevent – basically creating a non-issue.

In a specific case, if I have a doggie client visiting who I know gets very possessive over balls, or toys, I will REMOVE all of these variables prior to the dogs’ arrival. Why set them up for disaster? I just remove them, and there is no longer any issue. I do these little things without even thinking.

Same with food aggression.

I almost always feed the dogs in separate areas. One in the bathroom with the door closed, another in the sewing studio, another in the hallway, and on it goes. It’s part of my everyday life, I never even think twice about it.

Until quite recently.
Duke was in bed, next to Logan. (Yes, both dobermans’ sleep in our king size bed).. I’ve been super fortunate that the 2 boys have never had a fight, and besides me getting used to having Duke squished up into my side, there’s never been an issue.

Matt, my boyfriend, went to shove Duke over and Duke growled. This was a definite ‘leave me alone and don’t touch me or I’ll bite you’ growl.

I quickly got out of the bed, and told Matt to do the same. Duke had quickly turned into an unpredictable dog. I had never heard him growl like this before (or at all, for that matter) and the tone of this growl and the his body language made me stand up quickly for safety. I was pretty sure Duke would have snapped at Matt if he had kept shoving him.


I quickly went into panic mode. And thought what most dog owners would think ‘oh my god! my dog is so alpha-me’ing right now! I need to push him off and show him who’s boss!!!’ – but I didn’t do that.

I quickly got my sense back, and just so I could process and think about what the next healthy step would be, I moved off the bed. I didn’t want to act on an emotional response.

Duke was growling at Matt, who was trying to move him away from me. Duke has given off very subtle clues prior, showing sings of resource guarding towards me. But I wasn’t sure enough to do anything about it.
Duke joined our family full time in January, and he’s still quite young, being 1.5yrs old and really just maturing as a doberman. Duke is still getting a full sense of his capabilities and intelligence. He has also developed a very close bond to me. As I have to him. We have a very special relationship. Much closer and intuitive than Logan and me.

My first concern as a dog parent is to handle the situation properly, and not emotionally. (hence: why i didn’t just drag him off the bed, and use my ‘mad’ voice at him, so he knew I was the boss).

The next step. I finally ordered the book, MINE! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding In Dogs

mineIt had been recommended to me as an extremely good quick read (it’s only 100 pages!) on resource guarding. My good friend, and trainer Renee who owns Bravo Dog Training mentioned it as the first step to handling Duke’s issue(s).

I’m excited to take the first step in getting help for this. I’ve read a lot on the topic online, but I need a real plan of action.

The book should arrive this week, so I’ll let you know how it goes …

Do you experience Resource Guarding with your dog? And if so, how do you handle it?