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Making a canine connection

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When Woodbury resident Donna Chicone got her first dog, a Portuguese water dog named Breezer, she thought she did everything right.

"I think at that point I was a typical pet parent," she said. "I brought the dog into my life because I was in love with the idea of having a dog and I was in love with the appearance of that dog."

However, Chicone eventually learned with her second dog, that what she previously did wasn't necessarily the best way to be a pet parent.

"I brought the dog home, loved the dog, fed the dog but did not engage the dog for being the dog he was," she said. "He was just sort of there and he was there at my convenience.

"He wasn't neglected, he wasn't abused, but he wasn't integrated and engaged in the family as much as he could have been."

Chicone is hoping to help others learn from her mistakes in order to have the best relationship with their dog that they possibly can with her new book "Being a Super Pet Parent."

Chicone released "Being a Super Pet Parent' in November.

Chicone has two Portuguese water dogs, an 11-year-old male name Jazz and a 7-year-old female named Jive.

"There's a connection with a dog that isn't like connections with anybody else," she said. "It's based on a kind of love that is always not judgemental, is always constant and is always there."

Being a good pet parent

Chicone is no stranger to sharing her dog wisdom. She has hosted a weekly program called "The Dog Show with Jazz" on local cable access.

After Chicone's show ended in 2012, she still wanted to help dog owners be the best pet parent possible, so she decide to put out a book.

"By being more informed," she said, "that can only enhance their relationship with their dog."

In the book, Chicone discusses a number of topics related to being a pet parent.

Chicone first discusses with readers the importance of researching the breed that they want and researching everything that goes into owning a dog before ever bringing a dog into their lives.

"Dogs are all bred for a purpose and that purpose influences their behavior," she said. "Every dog is as unique as every human."

Chicone also discusses how important it is to understand and respect the differences between dogs and humans.

"Because we think like humans all the time, we impose that on our dog and we expect our dogs to behave like human children sometimes," she said. "The dog wants to please us, they want to make us happy, but they don't speak human and we don't speak dog. They need to learn how to live in our human controlled world and we need to help them."

Other topics that Chicone addresses in her book include training, exercise, grooming, socialization and nutrition.

"If we ate the same dry cereal every day for our entire lives, our immune system would become compromised," she said, "and that's the same for dogs, they need balance, they need variety.

"We need to make sure what you're feeding your dog is as healthy as what you're feeding yourself."

Chicone said she would like to take her book on the road through television appearances and speaking engagements in hopes of helping everyone become a "super pet parent."

"My intention with the book is to really say 'Hey pet parents, we've all been there. I've been there too, and it can be better and it can be exciting,'" she said. "When you spend time with your dog, that's the only way you can build that relationship, it doesn't happen with the dog sleeping all day when you're at work."

Donna Chicone's new book, "Being a Super Pet Parent" can found at or at Chicone's website,

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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