Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lessons learned the hard way

You want me to do what???
OK so just call me stupid. As I mentioned I am entered in an APDT rally on September 18th. (actually 3 trials on one day) Jenny and I only need 1 more qualifying score to get our APDT rally level 1 title. That's very cool. I entered all 3 because I thought once we got that title I'd continue in level 1 to go for my rally level 1 excellent title. Well it turns out that to go for that specific title you need to get qualifying scores in both a level 1 and level 2 at the same trial. I am not sure of all the exact details (I need to go read more on the APDT website.) but this means I would need to move up to the next level on the 18th if we get that level 1 qualifying score.

Umm have I mentioned we don't know those signs yet? Did you know that level has a jump in it? And heeling off leash around bowls with FOOD in them??? My husband laughed when I told him about this exercise. He thinks we don't have a chance in hell passing this one. It is definitely going to be a challenge given her fabulous nose and predilection for anything edible. The off leash part of level 2 shouldn't be an issue thankfully. (aside from the food exercise) She has a beautiful heel.

~sigh~ Well I know we will have fun but I admit I am probably going to be stressing out trying to get all this practice in before the trial. It's all my fault. I was unprepared and made assumptions that were wrong. The good part is that Jenny loves to train, AND I have a jump we can practice with. That helps alot. I also managed to download all the signs today. I just need to go get some cardstock and page protectors so I can add them to my binder.

This may be an epic fail on my part. I need to learn and teach 18 new signs not counting the 6 bonus signs. Thankfully some of them are a variation on signs we already know. Let this be a lesson to others to read all of the rules BEFORE you enter a trial. Know what you are supposed to be doing before you are supposed to be doing it.

Methinks the video from this might be a doozy! VBG

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cooper has a home

The problem with having multiple facebook accounts and a blog is that I sometimes forget who I have shared what information with. In case I haven't mentioned it here Cooper has an adopter all lined up for him. He will be at the prison for one more week recuperating from his broken leg. He got the splint off last week and he still has a limp sometimes. The muscles have atrophied a bit so they need to get strong again. He is currently on "light duty". No running or jumping off stuff or playing roughly with Walker. We don't want to chance him ending up back at square one. Most of the bone looks great but there was still one thin spot that needs to fill in abit more. He was in the splint for 8 weeks and this will give him 2 weeks out of it total before he goes into his new home.

This is his leg one week out of the splint. It did a number on the fur as you can see. He's in good spirits though. I will be doing a training session with his new person at the time of pickup so I can show him what Cooper knows and how we taught it to him. He is retired and plans on taking him with him as much as possible on his daily travels. I think Cooper deserves a home where he gets a lot of individual attention. I do think he will miss his handlers, but as dogs can do he will adjust. I know he will be missed by us too.

I wish I knew the story of who left him at the shelter and why. My first reaction was disgust that someone would dump a dog in an outside pen after hours leaving us no history. Upon more thought however it is possible a good samaritan put him there. And even if it was an owner at least they didn't let him loose to fend for himself in the woods. Landing at the shelter turned out to be a very good deal for our sweet and shy Cooper.

If someone left him there to save him I wish I could let them know they did a great thing. If it were an owner, I hope it was because they couldn't keep him so found a better place for him, not that they didn't want to be bothered with him. If it was someone who couldn't be bothered, wow did someone seriously miss the boat on a great dog. He was rough around his edges when we got him but he sure smoothed out nicely.

I just love a happy ending.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A "stuff I am doing" update

Well I missed the cut off to enter the upcoming AKC shows September 2 thru 5 at the Union Fairgrounds with the Mid-Coast Kennel Club of Maine and the Central Maine Kennel Club due to my inattention. It turns out that isn't a bad thing. Because of how the AKC shows are set up and my work schedule I probably could have only entered one day which would have been 1 trial. Not really worth all the stress to me. Mostly because I still get ring nerves. Being a member of the MCKC club usually means I work at the show anyhow. Not to mention the state of Jenny's skin. She has improved but isn't 100%. Every time I think she is on the mend she has a set back. Fortunatly she isn't itchy, she just looks awful. I'm not sure what the rules are about showing a moth eaten looking dog.
That's quite alright though because there are at least 2 APDT Rally trials I am planning to enter. The first is next month at Finish Forward Dogs in Saco. The premium list is out and my entry is hitting the mail tomorrow. I'm only entering on Sunday due to my schedule, however that is 3 trials in one day. THREE! Much more worth my time than 1 trial per day. The one after that is planned for November at Wag It.
I am also excited because it looks like I might be able to attend Woofstock this year. I've never been and always heard great things about it. Depending on the status of Walkers adoption I will either take him so he can get seen by potential adopters or I will take Jenny and consider trying for her CGC. It is for a good cause after all. Hmmmm I wonder if I take Walker if I should sign him up to try it? I'm sure he can pass and it would be a great feather in his cap to showcase his training. They are also having a rally demo where he can show his skills as well. I'm really hoping he gets adopted before that though. He is more than ready for his new home.
The Humane Society of Knox County's Fur 'N' Foliage Dog Walk is coming up as well. I will be having a "Free Dog Training Advice" booth and will be running the agility competition again. (Just a few beginner obstacles. Nothing official.) Last year it was a big hit so they asked me to do it again. It is a blast seeing all the kids having fun with their dogs.
In other news the tracking event I was looking forward to will be in the spring instead of this October. I'll just have to be patient. Truth be told I have been a slacker with our tracking so this gives us more time to practice anyhow. (Tracking is best done in the early morning. I am not a morning person hence the slackage.)
That's about it. I am resisting the urge to even consider attending a real agility class. I have enough things I don't do enough already.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

News flash: Pet care ain't free

Would you believe that there are people who think vets should just give their services away for free? Or at least for a huge discount because "They are supposed to care about the animals". Let's take a look at that logic for a minute.
How much does vet school cost? How much is the cost of living once you are out of vet school? What if you buy a practice and have the costs of running the hospital on your head too? This means buying the equipment, keeping it in working order, paying your staff, (I need to eat too.)purchasing supplies; you know things like vaccines, medications, suture and the like. The product companies certainly don't just send it to the hospital for free "Because they care about pets".
I have had several conversations recently with people who said, "The vets cost to much, they should know people don't have that kind of money. Times are tough." Umm here's the kicker, you chose to own a pet. No one forced you. Yes vet care costs money, but you don't have to be in a position to need it. You could simply not have a pet. I know, radical thinking right? By the same manner of thinking should all pet food be free as well?
Now I'm not suggesting you just give up your pet, I am merely trying to say yes pet care costs money. Just like having a baby, adding a pet to your home isn't going to be free or cheap in the long run. Think of it this way though, pets don't borrow the car or need a college fund. It could be worse.
Here is a another thing that I don't totally understand. Some people leave a vet they know and trust, for a different vet over the cost issue. Now I understand needing (or wanting) to save money when you can. What I don't understand is leaving a vet you know and like and trust for that end. To me trust is worth much more than saving a few dollars. Once I started working at the vet clinic I am at now I was sad to leave my vets behind. I had a great relationship with them! Now that I have been there awhile and know them I am happy to have them taking care of my pets. But it was hard leaving that previous relationship behind. I want a good relationship with my vet because I am trusting them with something very important to me, my family members.
I realize there are people that need the low cost clinics just to get their pet some basic vet care. But to me those should be for the people that clearly need the service. Not people driving around in their fancy Hummers. At the very least if you use low cost clinics for your pets vaccines consider going to your regular vet for a yearly (or bi-yearly if money is an issue) exam to make sure nothing sinister is getting overlooked. Most of those low cost clinics are only providing the vaccines after all without a full exam. (as a way to keep those costs down) Besides if you like your veterinarian, don't you want to show them some loyalty? Maybe I am to idealistic on that count.
I don't know, maybe I am jaded due to the phone calls and clients I deal with. To many people come in expecting us to let them do stuff on credit but do not understand we have been burned to many times in the past by "the sweet old lady" who would never do such a thing. Besides, do we not expect to pay our own doctors when we go for a check up? I know not expecting to pay for services provided would never fly at my Dr's office! (but neither would showing up without an appointment, or expecting one for a non emergency on the day I call but I digress)
I know one vet in my area that is scooping up people (by undercutting) that I wouldn't trust in my home due to a past history of theft at a previous clinic where they worked. There is another one with multiple complaints to the AVMA against them for lack of record keeping. And I won't go into detail about one that doesn't use pain meds during alter surgeries because "Animals don't feel pain the same way we do". Seriously, is saving a few dollars worth dealing with shady characters? Not in my book.
Now so you don't think I am totally heartless I DO understand that sometimes people end up in bad times unexpectedly. But surprisingly most of those people don't expect our service for free because of it. They try to make arrangements the best they can. We appreciate that and do try to help if possible. Let me tell you that attitude is everything.
The bottom line is that veterinary hospitals are a business, not a charity. I'm unsure why people don't realize that. Maybe it's because we take care of animals and not people. Is the expectation of care greater because of that? And for those people that think all vets are racking in the cash simply because they are a vet I can assure you that isn't always the case. I've worked at 3 clinics now and I can vouch for the long hours and lacking paychecks of many of them. (Who needs weekends with the family anyways?) Unless you have a huge interest in all things medical reconsider your dream of vet school if you want to help animals or have a career around them. Trust me there are easier ways to accomplish that task. (and perhaps more glamorous, ref above photo)
There are some very good programs out there for pet owners who are actually in need. Check out this link for information on The Penobscot Pet Pantry. It is a dedicated local group of people trying to help pet owners that cannot afford to buy food for their pets. Hopefully it is only being used by those who truely need it. I think for people in a temporary slump it is a great way to keep pets out of the shelter while they get their feet back under them. Obviously these are the people I expect to be at those low cost clinics.
I dunno, just venting I guess. What say you dear readers on this topic? Am I to close to the subject to see the big picture? What am I missing?

Monday, August 23, 2010

There is no honor among thieves

To the person who lifted not one but TWO of my blog posts, and didn't even have the decency to give me author credit, you suck.



While I am happy to pass on the info that was in it, I am seriously PO'd that someone would try to take credit for work they didn't do themselves. Seriously. I wonder now how many training articles are also on other sites. I really don't mind sharing my stuff, I think it is good and worthy of sharing especially if it helps more dogs, but I do expect credit be given for my work and thoughts.

And for you "commenters" that are really trolling for people to hit your site give it up. If you do manage to get past moderation I can usually spot you later and you will be deleted. It's slimy. Get a real job or here's an idea, do your own work!

It's the little things

Our french bulldog Missy used to love popcorn. I don't mean a casual love like she loves her butt scratched, but loved as in I will do ANYthing for a piece of that heavenly food. She could even do a Jedi mind trick with her stare. "Give me the popcorn you will". (It's the only time she didn't speak in a french accent.) I don't know why and I don't remember how we discovered it. When she was still adjusting to living with us we used it to our advantage. Nothing worked to coax her out of her spot when she arrived except for fresh microwave popcorn. She would forget everything and literally come running skittering across the floor in our direction. I think we made popcorn every night for a month getting her to interact with us. It certainly did the trick. I even used it later in our training sessions. Talk about a cheap food reward! Some of the best photos I have of her were taken during her popcorn begging routines. (like photo above)
Jenny on the other hand thinks popcorn isn't even an edible food. Jenny our walking vacuum cleaner of crumbs and all things food. Toss her a piece and she might pick it up, usually just to grab it from Jack first. Then she'll chew once or twice and spit it out and looks at you as if you were trying to feed her styrofoam. You can almost see her thinking "What the hell are you trying to pull"? Popcorn is the only food she ignores and doesn't even think about begging for. I'm sure she wonders why we eat it.
The other morning after our chores (feeding and potty time) my husband and I were talking with Jenny up on the bed. Jenny likes to get under the covers and will sleep there if given the opportunity. (usually only if Don is working an overnight shift and I have the next day off to recover) Missy always used to sleep at the foot of the bed and sometimes in between us, like a proper dog. The memory made me miss her like hell. It also sparked a wicked urge for a frenchie puppy. Now logically I have NO urge for a puppy of any sort. I get to play with puppies all the time. I know how much work they are. And I admit I am a person that loves her sleep. Potty training cuts into that. But thinking of Missy and what a great dog she was just makes me reconsider adding a 3rd dog again. I could do it. It's been 6 months without her and the small things still get to me.
Damn popcorn!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

More Pit Bull Idiocy

Some people get on my last nerve. Check out this idiocy that was in one of our state newspapers recently. Thankfully they printed a nice rebuttal opinion. I also wanted to share another response from one of the founders of SOME Pit! a bully rescue here in Maine, Jessica Dolce.
A response to Fritz Spencer's call for a breed ban in Maine
Loyalty, affability, gentleness, and strength – Fritz Spencer, author of "Maine should take the lead on the prohibition of vicious dogs," believes these are the finest canine attributes and ones that we should strive to protect as responsible citizens. I also value those wonderful canine qualities and that is why I own a pit bull. In 2008 I co-founded the group Southern Maine Pit Bulls (SOME Pit!) to improve the lives of pit bull type dogs here in our community. Unlike Mr. Spencer, I spend every day surrounded by pit bulls (I have all my fingers and toes, if you're wondering) and it is heart breaking and frustrating to read un-informed, prejudicial views such as the one published today in the Press Herald.
Mr. Spencer has crafted a sensational, myth-based opinion piece in support of banning three breeds, the "pit bull", Rottweiler, and the Presa Canario here in Maine, despite there having been only two dog related fatalities in our state in the last 45 years. I can't be sure where Mr. Spencer found his dog bite statistics (since he failed to quote a source), but if he is basing his opinion on the oft-cited Center for Disease Control study of fatal dog attacks, he might like to know that the CDC strongly recommends against breed-specific laws, noting that data collection related to bites by breed is plagued with potential sources of error, such as the common misidentification of breeds. But before we discuss the larger problems of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), let's do some myth busting.
First we can debunk the ridiculous notion that pit bulls attack with, as Mr. Spencer said, the "force of a shark." Pit bulls have been proven, in a test by Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic, to have a bite pressure that is the same as other large dog breeds –
approximately 320 pressure per square inch (psi). To put that in perspective for your readers, human beings bite with approximate 120 psi and a crocodile with approx 2,500 psi. Pit bull type dogs are strong, but not stronger than other dogs of their size, and they do not have locking jaws. They are anatomically the same as all other dogs. If they weren't they couldn't be classified as canines.
Spencer also states, with no authority, that pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Presas are "vicious by nature." In contrast, the American Temperament Test Society, an independent group, reports that the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier (the three breeds lumped together under the generic term "pit bull") consistently score as high as Golden Retrievers in their yearly assessments. They are steady and loving companions that, if temperamentally sound, are proven to show no aggression towards humans. If Mr. Spencer would like to learn more about pit bull type dogs, he's welcome to attend one of our free Pit Bull 101 for the Public Seminars where we break down myths just like the ones he's perpetuating, with actual facts.
Myth busting aside, what proponents of BSL choose not to discuss, because they focus on inflammatory falsehoods and unreliable bite statistics, is what actually makes a dog dangerous. Any dog of any breed can become dangerous in the hands of an irresponsible owner. These dog owners are careless, reckless, abusive, and not law abiding and they will continue to own what ever type of breed they choose – banned or not. If you take away their dogs, they will move on to another breed and continue to create dangerous dogs. We cannot ban our way out of that problem.
What needs to be recognized is that dogs (of all breeds) that are typically involved in attacks are usually allowed to run loose or are chained around the clock, they do not receive training or vet care, are bred relentlessly, are intact, and poorly socialized. They are not pet dogs. According the American Veterinary Medical Association, three quarters of all dog bites involve intact male dogs and the overwhelming majority of dog bites involved chained dogs. It seems obvious that the real culprit here it the human chaining the dog, not the actual dog.
What makes communities safer are not breed specific laws, but focusing on enforcing dangerous dog laws, anti-tethering rules, and creating affordable spay/neuter options. Additionally, enforcing dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, and laws that require guardians of all dog breeds to control their pets are proven to reduce dog bites and make communities safer. By enforcing these laws in a consistent manner, reckless owners are caught before their dogs are put in a situation where they could potentially harm a person.
Mr. Spencer points out a few locations that are implementing breed specific legislation and urges Maine to do the same. He conveniently left out cities like Denver where there has been a breed ban for more than two decades at a huge cost to its tax payers, but its citizens continue to suffer a higher rate of hospitalization for dog bite injury than Colorado's breed-neutral counties. Across the pond, the United Kingdom, after almost 20 years of BSL, reports that serious incidents involving dogs have continued to increase. Progressive countries like Italy and Denmark have repealed their BSL in recent years because there has been no decrease in dog bites despite the bans. Perhaps Mr. Spencer would not like your readers to know that in Council Bluffs, Iowa, following the enactment of a Pit Bull ban in 2005, Boxer and Labrador Retriever bites increased sharply, and total dog bites spiked. The same thing happened in Winnipeg. Breed Bans do not work.
The fact is that Maine is a safe place to live and we do not currently have any breed specific regulations in place. The National Canine Research Council reports that over the last 45 years, there have only been two fatal dog attacks in Maine – one in 1969 and one in 1999. Considering that there are thousands upon thousands of dogs living in Maine, I'd say we're doing something right and there is no need to proactively punish dogs for crimes they haven't committed here.
Not only is it short sighted to ban a breed, but it penalizes the countless law abiding, responsible dog owners in our communities. If Mr. Spencer thinks that pit bulls and their owners are menaces to society, I'd like to invite him to attend one of Southern Maine Pit Bull's free pit bull training classes held in Westbrook so he can meet our dogs and see them in action. Each week we work with a dozen or so pit bull families (and a handful of adoptable pit bulls from our local shelter), who are excited, motivated, and committed to learning how to be responsible dog owners. Among our group members are architects, judges, vet techs, animal welfare agents, police officers, teachers, nurses, day care workers, therapists, and dentists, to name a few. Many of their dogs have passed the Canine Good Citizen Test and a handful are working as therapy dogs here in Maine. We're hardly a group of thugs and our dogs are beloved family members. I'd bet that if he got know us and the facts about our dogs, Mr. Spencer would like to call many of us his neighbors.
~ Jessica Dolce ~
My only two cents to the fight is to consider this: If pit bulls, or any other breed for that matter, are so dangerous then WHY aren't professional dog trainers refusing to work with them?? I can answer that, it's because all dogs are a dog first and a breed second. We work with them as individuals and we teach people how to be appropriate with all dogs and how to communicate effectively with them. It is sad that because people fear what they do not understand they just want to kill the dogs as their response to the problem of irresponsible dog ownership. Breed bans equal killing due to the nature of how it works. Think about it, if you take a persons dog away because it has been labeled dangerous what is your next step? Sometimes the actions of the human race makes me want to vomit.
The beautiful dog in the photo above is Jameson and is available for adoption. Click this link FMI.

Things that make you go ewwww

Check out this post from Frogdog on using rendered pets in pet food. For those that don't know rendered means boiled down until it is a paste. It is then used as an ingredient in food as protein source. For those that want to know more about this practice read the book "Food Pets Die For" by Ann Martin. While I love her book she isn't a fan of people feeding raw diets. A fact I find odd because she totally disagrees with vets who sell what she considers substandard food and considers it a conflict of interest, yet then sides with them on the raw food debate. Regardless it is a great book on how to read pet food labels and I love that she lists HOW she got all of her information.

Aside from the issue of if it is right to use pets as food for other pets, (Remember that mad cow disease began because people fed rendered cows to other cows as a cheap feed filler.) there is the issue of using pets that have been euthanized. Think about that, is it a good idea to have euthanasia solution as an ingredient in pet food an any amount??? Because if you think they are just using roadkill pets think again. Don't kid yourself. The pet food business is about money. Buying cheap ingredients saves them in the long run. Learn how to read those labels so you can find good pet food companies if you feed kibble food. Your other option is to either cook for them or feed a raw diet. Both acceptable options with some research on your part.

Kinda glad I went back to feeding raw after watching that. I'd say this might be a wake up call for people to consider what is going into their pets food.
As a side note because I lived in London during the mad cow era I am ineligible to give blood in this country. A fact that if I think about to much kinda freaks me out.
(Photo - When I did a search for a good photo to accompany this post I actually found one I considered to graphic to use here. I have to admit I will be much more careful about what words I plug into a search engine from now on.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The word of the day was socialization

As you could see by the past photos we had a visitor for a couple of days. He was a 9 week old smooth coated chow chow. I am friends with a fabulous breeder and when she has a litter I usually get to help socialize some of the pups before they head to their new homes. (More photos of her beautiful dogs are here and here. ) I have had quite a few "puppy slumber parties" over the years. It is fun but a lot of work. This guy got to meet lots of other dogs (9 total including my 2) and many different people while he stayed with me. We also had a couple of fun outings including one to The Loyal Biscuit to meet Fenway. (photo above) People are always willing to love on a chow puppy. You have to admit that they are pretty darn cute!

If you want your dog to be social when they are older it is important to expose them to many different people, dog friendly dogs, and new situations while they are young puppies. It is a window of opportunity that closes which is why trainers recommend puppy classes whenever possible. Interestingly the studies they did to learn that puppies needed this critical socialization took place in here in Maine. (In Bar Harbor to be precise.) For anyone interested in a more in depth look at this information check out the book The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior by Clarence Pfaffenberger. Geek alert: This book may be a little dry unless you have a serious interest in dog behavior.

For the average person who wants to know more about what to do to help your puppy become that social dog check out the book After You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar. It explains step by step what you need to do teach your puppy everything it needs to know to grow up to be a safe and confident dog.

There is some debate about the risk of socializing your puppy before their vaccinations are complete. Here is a quote that I think sums that up nicely:

“The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life… For this reason, the AVSAB believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated… While puppies’ immune systems are still developing during these early months… appropriate care makes the risk of infection relatively small compared to the chance of death from a behavior problem.” - The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior *

*Read the full statement here* It is sad that there are dogs that get euthanized for behavior problems that could have been prevented simply by socializing them in the beginning.

Check out this page for even more great links on the subject. If you don't get your puppy socialized when they are young you may end up having to do behavior modification using counter conditioning to get your dog to be ok with everyday events or around other dogs later. Think of it as laying a strong foundation. Like going to a reputable breeder can statistically improve your odds for your dog not having a serious health issue, socializing your puppy will cut down on the odds you'll end up with a serious behavior problem down the line. That said there will always be dogs that you do everything right with that can still end up with some issues. There are no guarantees with puppies. However the more work you put in when they are young is more likely to mean less work you need to do later. And let's be honest here, working with them when they are puppies is a LOT more fun and easier than trying to undo problems when they are bigger and older down the road.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walker makes a friend and my 1st razzy award

Walker did great at the boat show today. He made a new friend named Price and they played together a lot. (Price is also available for adoption at HSKC.) He went back to the prison quite exhausted. We also found out that Walker IS food possessive with another dog around. This is excellent information to find out before his adoption. We can warn potential adopters so it isn't a deal breaker for anyone. (which will hopefully prevent him bouncing back) I can also give tips for management and come up with a behavior modification protocol to change the behavior if he does go into a home with another dog.

It was a beautiful day and we collected a lot of money for the shelter. I even learned how to run the dog tag machine. I also had one of the most amazing chocolate chip cookies and a quadruple chocolate ice creme cone. Yum!!

And now for my FIRST EVER Razzy award!!

The only down part of the day was our neighbor in the booth next to us. I am so mad about it I could just spit. But that is unlady like so I shall use my only superpower and blog about it instead. I am not sure if she was the gallery owner but the booth she was in belonged to the Franciska Needham Gallery. Just after I arrived at the shelters booth to help out she loudly pronounced that we had "Excessive signage" and that it was "Poorly done". Wow, how truly tactless! First if we were in her way at all there are nicer ways to ask us to move our stuff. (which we did anyhow to be polite) And how incredibly rude for an "Art" person to tell us our signs are not nice considering a volunteer painted them and did what we think is an incredible job! (They were the same signs we had on our float for the parade.) Pardon us, a non-profit organization, for spending our money on things like food for the animals and vet care instead of professionally made signs. What were we thinking?? Then later she walked by with another person and we over heard her say that this was the art tent and she had "No idea why we were there." Ummm we were there because that's where the event organizers put us. Sorry if that downgraded your property. So for your efforts and kindness today lady the Razzy goes to you.

Yes I feel a little better now.

Thank you to Maine, Boats, Homes & Harbors for not only giving us space at the event but matching ALL donations this week. Bravo to you for being so supportive!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A K-9 Corrections update

The bad news is that Cooper didn't get his splint off the other day as expected. The x-ray wasn't quite what the Dr. wanted to see so he gets two more weeks to make it 8 total. It is better to be careful though so he doesn't re-break it and we end up back at square one. The good news is that he met a potential adopter and it looks like a match. He is going to finally get a great home with an owner that will dote on him as every dog should have. It is a little sad as I know he will miss his handlers. He has really bonded with one of them and I know he will do some owner searching in his new home for a while. I've explained it to the person so they know what to expect. Once he is out of his splint he will be headed to his new home. He has come a long way on the program and looks great now too. Fingers crossed for a smooth transition when the time comes. Walker is now also available for adoption. He had a slumber party last night at the shelter so he could be seen by the masses. Tomorrow he is headed to the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show so he can be seen by even more people in hopes he stirs up some interest. This will be his first public appearance. I'm sure he'll make a good impression even though he is not there as a Boatyard Dog contestant. (They put the kibosh to shelter dogs entering after we were the crowd favorite the year we won. VBG) He'll just be there for the parade and meet and greets at the shelter's tent. I really want to find him a home with another doggy buddy to play with. He has a LOT of energy to burn. If not a doggy buddy he will need an active owner that wants to take him running daily. (or maybe they will have friends with dogs he can play with)
He is a very smart 10 month old neutered male hound mix who has learned a lot on the program. He is also a dog that will need an owner that will continue to practice what he has learned because he needs the direction to keep him out of trouble. For those that may be interested contact The Humane Society of Knox County for an adoption application. He is house trained and crate trained on top of knowing all the basics like sit, down, come, and stay. (And how to drink out of a water fountain.) The other thing we taught him was some APDT Rally Obedience basics. He knows how to swing left to get into the heel position for instance. I know that's not exactly something an average adopter may be interested in. Learning Rally is a great way to practice the dogs skills and teach the handlers how to train specific exercises which is why we use it on the program.
I've heard the weather is suposed to be great this weekend so if you're in the area tomorrow swing by and say hello. Walker would love to make a new friend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Support your local shelters!!

We are glutons for punishment so we did another float. This time for the Maine Lobster Festival parade. Here are just a few of the photos I took before the parade.

We updated some of our signs. This is cat litter boy.

I love the back!

Check out our new volunteer mobile! Our awesome volunteer co-ordinator Joan Vargas not only thought up the idea but volunteered her own smart car for it. Yay for volunteers!!

It rocks!

A shelter that covers 22 towns needs all the help it can get! Visibility is important!

It is quite the attention getter.

Advertising that helps the shelter too!

Before the parade.

Fenway our superstar! Thanks to Heidi of The Loyal Biscuit for being a good sport and helping show off what shelter dogs can do! (She got to ride in the truck being the star and all.)

Our "pitch in to help" pool.


Side 1.

Side 2.

Our sign maker did an incredible job!!

We had alot of info we wanted to get out to the public.

I think we did a great job. We even have some ideas for next time! Thanks to everyone who helped out. Making signs, walking with the signs, collecting donations during the parade, handing out dog biscuits with wish lists and volunteer help cards to the crowd, driving the car/truck, walking with the banner. SO many hands together can get alot accomplished!!! When it comes to supporting your local shelter remember that every little bit helps.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Itchy dog

Tonight's oatmeal bath was a soak instead of the usual rub down. I have to say I think it worked very well. And for those who think their dog will always respond to verbal cues, try asking for a sit or a down in a tub of oatmeal water. I'm pretty sure she thought I was nuts. I had to bring out the treats and do an in water training session so she understood what I wanted. The good news is that while her skin isn't looking so great she seems to be less itchy. So the oatmeal baths may be time consuming but I think it's working.

On the food front I will be headed to a local butcher tomorrow to pick up some organ meat and the grocery store for some sardines. All I have from the deer is muscle meat and there is a certain method to feeding raw which means making sure there is a balance to what you are feeding. It isn't just throwing some raw ingredients at your dogs and hoping for the best. For those interested in a great how to book on the subject check out Raw Dog Food by Carina Beth MacDonald. I know there are more books on the subject out there but this is the one I have found that takes the stress out of feeding raw. And if that isn't enough information for you there is a great e-mail list called Raw-Lite which is also extremely helpful.

In the vet visit front I have decided to hold off for now. After talking to a few different people it turns out that allergy and itching issues are hard to pin down for ANY vet, holistic or otherwise. What I am looking for, a definitive diagnosis and treatment that will make it all just go away, is like asking for my unicorn to be blue instead of pink. Yeah right. Neither request is very probable. So I'm going to try to relax and go with what tips I have been given and see how it plays out. My biggest worry is just in keeping her comfortable while waiting for the new diet to kick in. (and I hope it works for her because there are sometimes cases of raw not being right for all dogs)

I also think I came up with a better way of storing the meals that is more "earth friendly" so to speak. I'll keep you posted after I give it a try.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A dog trainers version of the age old question


Pavlov: we fed the chicken on the opposite side of the road each day at 4 p.m. until the chicken’s autonomic system actually began causing the chicken to cross the road at 4 p.m. without even questioning the “why.”

B.F. Skinner: on prior occasions when the chicken voluntarily crossed the road, this behavior was followed immediately by a reinforcing consequence.

Cesar Milan: I bullied, chased, poked, and intimidated the chicken until it raced across the road, because I am a strong leader…

Barbara Woodhouse: You just say, “Walkies” with the right accent and place a crumpet on the other side of the road…

Karen Pryor: by associating R+ with road crossing and P+ with standing still, with a VR schedule, and offering a reward in keeping with the Premack principle, we increased the intensity and frequency of the road crossing behavior.

Bill Koehler: a few well-timed pops on the choke chain and the chicken was happy to cross the road.

Ian Dunbar: I lured the chicken across the road with a treat and then gave it the lure/treat as a reward.

Nicholas Dodman: I gave the chicken fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, carbamazepine, and azapirone and then it was happy to cross the road.

Patti Ruzzo: I crossed the road, pausing every step to spit a treat out of my mouth like a human pez dispenser and the chicken followed along catching the treats.

Electric Collar Advocate: whenever the chicken does not cross the road I give it an electric shock. But do not worry, the shock is no more than you would feel if you walked on a carpet wearing socks and it does not bother the chicken at all. The feathers standing up and the smell of burning flesh mean nothing. In fact, they are happier having nice clear communication than they would be otherwise.

Yuppie: chickens are just like little people in feather jackets, and if you love them and give them diamonds and feel sorry for them all the time, they will be happy to cross the road for you.

Paris Hilton: Because I put it in a Gucci bag and carried it.

Shelter director: Any chickens that do not cross the road will be euthanized for their own good, and the others we will “adopt” out tomorrow for only $200 each. Please send us money so we can keep doing more of this important work!

HSUS member: I do not know anything about animals, I have never been around animals and am not really fond of animals, but we passed a law mandating that chickens be kept without cages because animals belong only in the wild and cannot be happy coexisting with man, so now they are walking wherever they want.

PETA member: chickens have the right to live in world without roads. Any chicken that lives within a hundred miles of a road is suffering an inhumane existence and might eventually be hit by a car so we should kill it today to ensure that it does not die tomorrow.

~Unknown author but brilliant! Hat tip to Finnegan's Paw Print. (I may steal that pawprint design as my next tattoo.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jack is "The man"

I was having a conversation the other day about multiple dog households. It was about how some dogs just require more attention than the others. I can identify. Jenny is a dog that NEEDS attention. She is a busy body and has always been our high maintence dog. If we don't keep her busy she will find her own fun and it isn't always what we humans consider acceptable. Throw in her allergies and POOF, she gets alot more of the attention.
Jack on the other hand is like the muscle at a high end club. He is there to do a job but he isn't obvious about it. He is content with daily belly rubs, some tug play and the occasional run in the woods with his friends. He is a great couch potoato dog. But when someone is in the yard, HIS yard, or at the door stand by. He let's us know. It's what he does.
When I chose my first akita I specificly wanted a dog that would intimidate people. Not because I thought it would make me seem cooler, but because at the time I was a corrections officer and living alone. Having a guarding breed in the home made me feel more secure. It still does. When my husband works nights I do not worry. While sometimes I find myself becoming a small dog person, I am unsure if there will ever be a day I don't have at least one big dog in the house for that reason.
Aside from the guarding instinct of the breed I admit that I was also drawn to the look of the akita. I have a thing for huskies and other northern breeds but know I don't have the energy to live with most of them. I loved that the akita was a breed that would adapt to the owners energy level. Plus silly me saw the sentence "Can be a challenge to train." inviting. I had just gotten out of the Marines so challenges were exciting to me. Little did I know THAT would be my introduction to dog training as a long term interest. (It turns out akitas aren't hard to train. You just need to find their motivation and not bore them to death with repetition. Keep it fun is the number 1 rule.)

If you have told me back then that one day I'd have small dogs too I would have called you crazy. I considered myself a big dog person all the way. Funny how things change. He may not grace the blog quite as often but let it be known that Jack is "The Man". He's always here sucking up his share of the love, (and I cannot express just how much I love this big galoof) he's just more of a behind the scenes kinda guy. Thankfully he's ok with that.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To war we go

I hate waiting for anything so I put the plan into play today. Jenny's rash is getting worse so I went at it from both directions.
First I gave her an oatmeal bath to address the outer direction. I finally learned the trick. I kept hearing about using some fancy oatmeal and it turns out the fancy part is to crush it first. I used my daughters blender. (And now I may need to buy her a new one. I kept shaking it and by the end of the session it was making a very unhealthy noise.) Next time I may try the soaking her in the tub with the oatmeal added in the water. (which is how people use it) This time I used the oatmeal as a paste and massaged it into her coat. She found this to be a very tasty bath.
Then I mixed and measured out the thawed deer meat into meals to refreeze. (after feeding both of the dogs some for dinner) I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. It will be just like the primal patties only they are already in the right size for Jack and Jenny. This will make it easy for everyone in the family to feed if I'm not home at mealtime. Next time I may need to use a different calcium source according to the list I just joined. I also need to add some organ meat. I used to add liver but that was the only food Jenny flagged for in her allergy test. Fortunatly I have total control over my recipe so I can change it each time as needed. Jack is going to do 1 raw meal a day and 1 kibble meal at least to begin with. The last time I jumped him to full raw he had some horrible diarrhea. Not fun in a dog that size.
I got just over 2 weeks worth ready to go. I went with freezer bags because they don't take up to much space. It makes me feel un-eco-friendly though so I will either try washing them to reuse or invest in flat tupperware type storage containers. Maybe I'll check to see what I can scrounge up at the local Goodwill store as a way to recycle some.

She was very excited when I started measuring. Eventually she got tired and relaxed a little. She was very happy to lick the bowl when I finished.

Tomorrow I'll be calling the holistic places to see about an appointment.