Safe Trees, Happy Dogs


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We’ve published two stories in the past year that might help you get through the next few days. In last January’s storm, Marjorie Williams, a member of the Verona Environmental Commission, put together a piece on helping your shrubs and trees recover from ice and heavy snow. Believe it or not, the best course of action is to do nothing:

Shrubs will slowly unstick themselves as the snow melts. That means slowly, by themselves. Do not try to help by prying, picking, pushing or pulling them. The shrub does not need your help, especially when your “help” is going to split the limb or snap it in half.

I know it’s hard, and you will make some mistakes. You will say, “oh this one is almost loose. I’ll be gentle, really I will.” Not gentle enough were you? It broke didn’t it? It bled sap for weeks, making you feel its quiet reproach every time you saw it.

And since it is probably not going to be safe for dog walking, we’ll refer you back to some tips that Verona-based dog trainers Chris and Natasha Burns sent during Hurricane Irene:

Play Biscuit Ball:
Cut a hole in a plastic toy ball. stuff with carrots, treats, or your dog’s food (must be something the dog really likes). Place the ball (filled with treats) on the floor with one treat set up to fall off or out of the ball when the dog touches it with his/her nose. This teaches them that when they touch the ball a treat will fall out. You can keep a few loose treats in your hand and squat down to their level right next to them and the ball. Each time the dog touches the ball with his/her nose, drop a treat near the ball so it reinforces their touching the ball behavior. Do this in a sneaky manner so they don’t think the treat is coming from you, rather it comes from the ball. Once the dog begins “rolling” the ball around with his/her head/nose/paw to obtain a treat, you’ve trained them how to play biscuit ball!



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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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