“I don't know,” Conway said. “I've never talked to him. He doesn't say a word. We keep saying 'What is your name,' and he just looks at us.”
When Moore reminded Conway that most dogs think their name is No, her guest had a ready reply. “We've never said 'no' to him,” he deadpanned, “because he has his own teeth.”
Turns out the dog's name is Leo, a bichon frise and, according to Conway, the cutest thing on four legs. It's true that bichons are absolutely adorable animals—but in seriousness, Moore is on to something when she jokes about the No part. The command is legendary in the dog owner's glossary of terms, and too often, she said, it's thrown around without a lot of thought to its effect on its target.
Enter Moore,a tireless advocate for pets, pet owners and the very special bond between both.
“Oh Behave,” the Oceanside resident's weekly radio show (carried by PetLife-Radio, the world’s leading pet podcast network) is only one entry in a litany of efforts in this behalf—she's written more than 20 books on pet behavior; is a frequent guest on the likes of Today, CNN, Fox News Channel and Martha Stewart Living; travels the continent helping millions understand their pets; edits several pet-centric publications; and is a certified pet first aid, CPR and safety instructor with Pet Tech, the international firm based in Carlsbad.
Pet Tech holds instructor training classes in first aid, dental care, caring for the older animal and techniques to apply before seeking emergency vet care. Moore instructs throughout the West Coast, but focuses her teaching in San Diego County and Coachella Valley. Pet Tech even offers an app that contains your pet's health information. For more on Pet Tech, go to pettech.net.
Moore shares her home with her “furry fab four” plus one—two dogs, two cats and, according to her website, “an overworked vacuum cleaner.” And just as her joy lay deep in the animal kingdom, she understands our profound responsibility to and within it. To Conway, Leo's a super dog and a loyal companion. To Moore, he's a fellow traveler, an indispensable link in her quest “to help people laugh, love and learn about their pets” and to help the pet do the same with you.
“Zeki,” Moore said of her Turkish Van mix cat, “should be the angriest animal on the planet and shouldn't like anybody” amid a life of abuse (which included a brutal knife attack). “But here she is, going up to people, so good with other cats and dogs. She's a totally spunky personality. She goes out in public with me, and she just wants to love you and get to know you and who you are.” There's an invaluable lesson for humans in there, Moore said, about second chances and self-empowerment, as was evident at SuperZoo, a major pet trade show in Las Vegas. Zeki, of course, was the hit of the day, even scoring an autographed baseball by Hall of Fame pitcher Orel Hershiser and tolerating a butt sniff from Tillman, the famous skateboard-riding Bulldog.
Most recently, Zeki and Moore were seen at last month's San Diego Pet Expo, with Zeki acting as a visual accompaniment in a first aid demonstration—without so much as a hiss or a nasty glare, Zeki let Moore apply a head hood that works as a safety muzzle.
The rest of the family includes Chipper, Moore's golden retriever-Husky mix named for Moore's love of golf; Cleo, a miniature breed of poodle and Basset hound and an avid surfer (Moore and Chipper are members of SoCal Surf Dogs, a group of dog owners who hang ten with their pets aboard); and Murphy, a molly cat that likes to cackle at birds. All are females, and all have escaped the mean streets in one way or another, thanks to Moore, whose early life in her hometown of Crown Point, Ind. included teaching her cat Corky to swim but certainly carried no hint of a career involving animals.
An education at Purdue University and newspaper gigs in Indiana and Florida would keep her out of the typical office environment for more than 20 years; one stint as an investigative reporter found her working a few desks away from John Grogan, author of the debut bestseller Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog. Grogan wrote the foreword in Moore’s best-selling book, The Dog Behavior Answer Book. An excerpt reads: “Had I followed Arden’s wise advice in this book, Marley might have been so good I never would have been tempted to write a book about him.”
Moore moved to California in 1999. A reporter's insight and a spirit's soul took over, opening the path to the pet field and the animal's unrivaled place in human affairs.
“When I was growing up,” Moore explained, “I always had animals. But I didn't realize I had a connection with them until I was older. I saw the need to tell everyone what pets can bring us. They teach us to live in the moment and to be up front with people around us.
“Animals don't have to speak in English or Spanish or Swahili. They speak in their own languages and are probably better multi-linguists than we two-leggers. All our dogs and cats and companion animals have to adapt to the one that's the benevolent leader. In order to get their meals and playtime, they have to amend some of their ways to fit into the people world. If I can help people understand their motivations, the people are happy, and the pets get to stay in the home.”
Moore, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants, must complete a certain level of continuing education to maintain her membership. Meanwhile, she said, she feels most comfortable resolving “mild to moderate” issues of pet behavior “interwoven with a medical condition. Between the pet owner and the vet, maybe care can be done a little faster and less expensively.”
Moore tells of a caller in New Hampshire who was at her wits' end—her cat was refusing to use its litter box, fueling the owner's thoughts about giving him away amid a lifelong relationship. Turns out it was simply becoming too difficult for this feline (then 12) to navigate downstairs to the box. A box at each level of the house (and treatment for a urinary tract infection) did the trick, and what could have been a tragic parting morphed into a resurgent relationship.
“Sometimes,” Moore said, “people will call you and say, 'If you don't help me, I'm going to have to put this animal down.' That’s hard. I can hear their frustration. I do my best to offer some solutions or refer them to professionals in their area”.
“Our companion animals read our energies. They're looking for a lot of clues, because they don't speak English, but they communicate very consistently and very candidly. They don't care if you're Bill Gates or Joe Schmoe. All they want to know is if you're gonna love them. They don't care about anything but you.”
Locally, their questions are answered and then some.
“People love their pets here in San Diego,” Moore said. “They like doing things for their pets and with their pets. Yappy hours, pet parades, dog surfing, cat shows, the [San Diego County] Humane Society, [the Helen] Woodward [Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe], PETCO, great vets, two Oceanside clinics that in the past two years have quadrupled in size: There's a lot going on if you happen to be a pet owner. This isn't just a place where people have a pet and pet them on the head. I've been coast to coast, and this is pet heaven.”
Still, extremism rears itself every so often. “People mean well,” Moore explained, “but there are still those who handle their companions like trophies, like the Chihuahuas that don't get to walk a day in their lives because people pick them up. That's sad. I want to be the voice of moderation. I'm more about showing you every day how you can sneak in manners. Have your dog say 'please' [like with a sit] before you give a treat. They learn to earn.”
Meanwhile, Moore is the creator of silly pet songs, PawPoint presentations (her version of the PowerPoint show), “Paws up!,” her signature catch phrase, and she has become the expert of the three Ps—pee, poop and puke. On top of it all, she launched National Dog Party Day™ last June as a shout-out to everybody's best friend, complete with doggie disco, doggie games, doggie treats and celebrity bakers. She's behind it all as a celebration of the animal-human connection.
Pet owners go with the flow by the millions, with Moore listening intently for the one signal that heralds their understanding.
“If they're laughing,” she said, “they're learning.”
For much more on Moore's books, radio show, classes and other pet-centric activities, go to FourLeggedLife.com.
Check out these videos of Arden Moore too:
Below are some of the many guests Arden Moore has interviewed on "Oh Behave"