Friday, December 30, 2011

A Mouthful Of What?


Baby fish?   Have had a lot of fun watching my female Haplochromis sp "Dayglow" tend her batch of fry.  These Haps are maternal mouthbrooders, which means that the female gathers up the freshly fertilized eggs in her mouth and keeps them there until the eggs hatch.  And beyond.  This is my first batch of Haps, so am not sure how long this behavior continues, but it's great fun to watch.  When I realized that the female had a mouthful of eggs (called "holding"), I netted her out and put her in a tank by herself.  One of the options is "stripping", forcing the female to spit out the eggs which are then hatched artificially, but I preferred to try it the natural way.  The fry have been coming out to feed for several weeks, but when the female thinks there is danger (such as when I siphon out the tank and add fresh water), she still gathers them up in her mouth for safekeeping.  They are so big now that she can't completely close her mouth when she is protecting them.  Too funny.  I suppose this weekend I will try to catch her when the fry are all out and feeding.  It's been great fun to watch, but I'm sure she will be pleased to get back in the much larger tank with her Cichlid peers.

One of my other Cichlid females is also holding, one of the Yellow Labs (Labidochromis caerulis), but I have been unable to catch that wretched fish.  I have a smaller tank set up for her and her family, so will have to take all the filters and rocks out of the big tank this weekend so I can catch her and move her out.
Yellow "Lab"
Fun with fish!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Own Dogs & Occasionally Sell Puppies


Call me old fashioned, but I can't get used to the idea of being contacted about "adopting" a puppy and being asked about my "adoption fee".  Although we rarely have a litter, when we do I SELL the puppies to new OWNERS.  Not "pet guardians" or "pet parents".  Dogs are not little furry people in need of parents - they are dogs in need of responsible caring owners who will raise them to be confident, well-adjusted, well-mannered dogs.  I do not charge an "adoption fee" - that may be what you pay when you get a dog from the Humane Society or other rescue group, but when you BUY a puppy from a breeder you pay a Purchase Price.

I am very concerned about the goal of many Animal Rights groups to take away my right to own a dog or breed a litter of pups, and feel some of the current language plays into their hands.  If you doubt that, go back and look at my posting on the goals of PETA.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Retraining My Blogging

Three days without posting and I could not even remember my Blogger password.  Not sure why I find time to blog on workdays, but not on weekends!  Password taken care of now, but no time left to post.  Lot of happenings, lots of picture, no time.  Guess I'll have to concentrate on catch up this week! 

We had a wonderful Christmas weekend and everything ran smoothly except when the washer stopped working, but we got that fixed too for now.  Saw the whole family, at least the ones that still live in the area.  Dogs had a great Christmas as well, and got lots of extra attention.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Err On The Side Of Caution

A friend from work gave me a large bag of dog treats that her dog could no longer eat because he is/was in kidney failure.  I was glad to accept them, knowing they would be much enjoyed.  Until I read the label on the bag of chicken jerky.  Waggin' Tails sounded familiar.  I checked the bag and saw that the treats were made in China, and quickly Googled the name.  Yep, my memory served me well (for a change).  The treats went into the trash and I explained to Ron why I was throwing them away.  Please check out the following link . . .

Because there are no regulations concerning the pet products industry in China, all imported food and treats carry a significant degree of risk.  You probably remember the contaminated pet foods from just a few years ago.  Dogs and cats died then and they are probably still dying now because owners are not paying attention to these issues.   Please read the labels on the edibles you purchase for your dogs, especially on the dog treats which are a hugely profitable business.  Rawhides too, can be risky.  Be sure they are MADE in the USA, not just packaged in the USA.   Many of them come from South American countries, and there have been many warnings about those too.

Many people scoff at these warnings and disregard them.  That's up to you.  I only know that my friend's 10 year old mixed breed dog ate these treats, as well as the inexpensive rawhides that are always imported, and is in advanced kidney failure.  Dogs that age should not die of kidney failure, and I will always wonder if the treats might not be involved.  I won't be taking that chance with my dogs. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Plenty Of Time To Worry


Got up early 'cause I couldn't sleep, even though I was tired.  One of those "worry nights" where the concerns that are manageable during the day seem overwhelming at night.  Mostly money concerns this time of the year, but also worries about what the new year will bring for senior members of my family

Why do I always spend too much at Christmas?  Why don't I budget and do a shopping list rather than depending on impulse buying, and why do I always find something I like better later on, but never return the original gift?  Why didn't I order one of Ron's gifts earlier?  It will not arrive in time for Christmas.  Why did I order other gifts so late that there is no time to get a replacement on an order that was filled incorrectly.  Who did I forget to send a card to?  Who did I forget to buy a gift for?  Why didn't I mail one of the gifts earlier so it would get there for Christmas?  What will all the Christmas lights do to my electric bill?  Do I have everything I need for Saturday's family get-together?   Why didn't I get the bathroom wall paper up last summer?  Will my mother be able to manage the stairs?

What if I can't find replacement filters for the humidifier?  Will I have to buy a new one?  Can I afford it?  What's the worrisome noise my car is making?  Will it be expensive to fix?   Where am I going to find the money to get whatever-it-is repaired?  And how much longer can I wait without getting that brake job done?  Now that the car is paid for, will it be nothing but trouble?  Was the bigger-than-average water bill worth it?  Will the trees and lawn survive the drought?   If we ever get snow will my back and shoulders survive shoveling, and will Ron insist on overdoing the shoveling?  How's his heart anyway?  Why doesn't he eat more carefully?

How many more years will we be able to do Christmas this way?  Will mom be able to stay in her apartment?  Is it time to think about assisted living?  How much vision has she really lost?  How much longer will she be able to walk with a cane or walker?  Will Ron still be able to house sit/dog sit next year?  How IS his heart?  What does the future hold for him?  Will I ever be able to sell this house or will I just have to walk away from it?   Where will I get the money to maintain it with no raises in sight, and everything going up, especially my house payment because of property taxes.  Why are the Republicans willing to let us suffer just to "get Obama"?  Why do people buy into that?  What's wrong with them?  How will my Agency, City, State, Country survive this economy?  Why can't politicians vote with their hearts rather than doing what their party tells them to do?

An hour later, after several cups of coffee, the rest of the cinnamon bread, numerous dog kisses, and being entertained by Letty's antics, I feel much better.  I can't change the past, or predict the future, so I'll enjoy the day, the holiday season, my friends & family & dogs.  We'll let the worries take care of themselves . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Time

To Do -
  • Finish cards
  • Finish shopping
  • Finish wrapping
  • Finish putting up lights

Enjoy the Holidays!

Sure would be easier to do the latter, if there was more time to complete the former.  My life is currently a madhouse, primarily because I am so busy at work that I'm exhausted when I walk out of there each afternoon.  Finally told my supervisor that I could NOT continue trying to keep up both jobs, given the current volume of work going across my desk.  My own duties, those I inherited when JoAnn retired (I inherited her complete job), the extra work required to complete those duties in the new system, and the fact that the accounting system continues to run so much more slowly than the old one.  Just amazing that we would spend all that money on a system and all that time on training to be stuck with something that takes forever to complete the various processes.  ARGH.

The only blessing is that moral is very good, better than I can ever recall, in the agency, the office and our unit.  I attribute much of this to our Commissioner and our CFO who exemplify the concept of Servant Leaders.  Our CFO in particular has done a really good job with management, stressing teamwork, and the fact that we are all in this together.  No more looking over our shoulders, and a lot more working together.  I NEVER in the past would have requested help, but I've been told on several occasions that if I need help just ask.  I did.  If I could just pass off some of the time-consuming, repetitious duties that are part of every job, it would sure make a difference.  We'll see.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dog Shows On-Line

I enjoyed watching the Eukanuba (sponsored) dog show on streaming video on my computer Saturday and Sunday evenings.  Thought the quality of dogs was wonderful in most of the Groups, and the Group judging was uniformly good.  Loved 6 of the 7 Group winners and could have been happy if any of the 6 had gone Best in Show, but was absolutely thrilled to see the win go to my all time favorite Poodle, a gorgeous black Standard called "London", handled by one of the nicest professional handlers in the business.  Great fun! 

One of these years, IF they ever select a decent judge for Dalmatians, I'll go down and compete.  Generally have at least one dog qualify for the show (this year we had several) but the breed judges for Dals are such downers.  Breed results from this year confirmed my suspicions.  The BoB dog is a nice one, but some of the award winners were pretty marginal indeed, and there were no livers in the final lineup - despite the fact that the quality in livers was good.  Have to say there are very few foreign judges I would waste my money to show under.  The British judges generally come up with questionable selections and most of the Canadians are totally incompetent.  While there are certainly poor American judges (way too many, in fact) the percentage of poor Canadian judges seems to be much higher and they seem to be far more political.

Sparkle is now up in Canada, living with the Pella family for awhile.  She'll have a lot of fun for the next couple of weeks while Patti and kids are home on vacation.  She'll be back eventually, and looking for a home.  If you would be interested in co-owning a show dog, keep her in mind.  She's going to do well in the ring and I would love to show her, just don't need another dog body around here.

Letty was at loose ends yesterday, missing Sparkle, but enjoyed a trip to PetCo and a chance to run off leash for awhile.  Told her she had better be totally house-trained now, because everything got scrubbed yesterday, and all the rugs will be washed this week as we are expecting company on Saturday.  Tonight her cousin Meribel comes for an overnight, so Jess & Don can attend a Christmas party.  Because we got the backyard cross-fenced yesterday, it will be easier to keep the girls from tearing up the yard.  Good timing on the nice weather, and the ground being thawed enough for pounding stakes.

Still a lot to get done before Christmas, but no way to take any time off work.  My desk is buried in parcel files that need to be handled.  It used to be that the two weeks over Christmas and New Years were a bit slow - sure hope they are slow this year so I can get caught up, but I'm not expecting that to happen.  I can do the work required for my two jobs (inherited JoAnn's when she retired) but not the volume, primarily because the new accounting system continues to run so slowly.  I will be oh so ready for a couple of three-day weekends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Picture Perfect

Love this picture of Meribel!  Jess brought her by for pictures yesterday, and we got good shots of her, Letty and Sparkle.  Meribel's sister Amery was the pick of the girls from the Cruise/Penny litter, but Meribel was a close second and is maturing well.  She's very together for her age, and although she's got more color than we'd prefer (a few too many spots for my taste) her depth of color (the intensity of her liver coloring) is fabulous, and with a short shiny coat she really looks good.  "Fancy", we call it.  Meribel is very fancy.  She also has the wonderful dark eyes that are extra nice on livers.  We took this particular shot because Meribel also inherited her mother Penny's beautiful neck and forechest.  So far so good.  This one does look like a keeper.

Meribel came along at just the right time too, as Jess & Don needed a little "therapy dog" to help them get through the loss of German Shepherd Pepper who recently died of cancer.  A funny, cheerful, extra-cute puppy is definitely good for the soul!  The elderly Shepherd Simmie really like Meribel too, so it's made things easier for her as well.

Things are still on for Sparkle to go up to Canada for awhile.  She goes in for a rabies shot today, and we'll meet up with the Pellas tomorrow in Duluth.  Looks as if the weather is cooperating - fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Surprises Can't Wait


Last night there was a looonnnggg list of chores on my To Do List, but as is so often the case I got side-tracked.  Ron had picked up my main Christmas gift, and because the store only had a 10 return policy (for immediate replacement) he wanted me to "try it out" to be sure it worked the way it should.  Although I personally prefer Christmas surprises, I was pretty sure this would be under the Christmas tree anyway, so it wasn't actually a surprise.  A new Nikon Coolpix L120 camera, the one I had decided on since I've been very satisfied with my current Coolpix, it was supposed to reduce red eye, got good reviews and has a wonderful long zoom.  Had considered a fancier camera with more bells and whistles, but I really do NOT need another hobby and this one should do what I need it to do.

Unfortunately, it does not totally eliminate "red eye", a real problem when taking flash pictures of liver Dalmatians, but it definitely reduces it (see above).  This I can live with, although I guess it's time to learn to Photoshop red eye, since many otherwise good shots get deleted because of the distracting eye glare.

The trees DID get decorated though, the real tree with traditional ornaments plus many of my Dal ornaments, and the porch tree with fish ornaments - courtesy of Ginger, of course - and a few of the bulkier Dalmatian ornaments.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Feelin' Groovy, No, That's Gloomy


I thought the weather was getting me down, cool & gray are not my thing, but I realized this morning that it's really the fact that I am not going to Eukanuba, an invitational dog show being held in Florida this weekend.  www.eukanuba.com

Don't even recall how the darned show got started, especially with a dog food company's name - when Pro Plan is actually more supportive of dog shows than any other dog food company.  After a number of years being held in California, it's back in Florida this year.  Dals never get good judges, and have an English judge again this year - and last year an English dog won under the English judge, leaving a bad taste in MY mouth, since English dogs are often much larger than the American standard calls for.  But the Specials entry is 43, and it sounds as if lots of people are just going to watch as well.

Dogs qualify by various means, winning a Best in Show, placing well in the breed rankings for the previous year, finishing their Grand Championships, etc.  Argus and five of his kids qualified for this year, so we could have gone, but the judge did not appeal, this is an incredibly busy time at work, and to be honest I don't have the money.  It would have been an expensive trip, and now that Argus no longer has co-owners and I am paying all his bills, there's no way to fund all the little extras - or in this case BIG extras.  With pups to show in the spring, I need to watch my $$$, such as they are.

Because the Republicans continue to refuse to tax those who can actually afford it, those of us who actually CAN'T get stuck picking up a bigger part of the bill.  My house payment goes up almost $100.00 next year, due to the huge increase in property taxes.   I'll be lucky if I can continue to make my house payments next year . . .  I can understand the wealthy people who vote Republican - it's in their best interests to do so, unless they actually have a conscience, but I sure can't understand the lower and middle class people who do.

Hmmm, that did NOT help with the gloominess either.  Guess I will go play with Letty.

And Good Luck to the Argus kids who WILL be showing at Eukanuba!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letty's Back


Letty's back and she got a good report card for manners.  Took her about 10 minutes to settle in with Alana & Mike, and just a bit longer with Brodie who was thrilled to have a house guest.  Remembered her house manners, good in a crate, and didn't embarrass me!  It's nice to have her back, but it WAS a lot easier with just Sparkle over the weekend.  Two pups this age certainly increases the activity in the family room!  Weather permitting, Sparkle goes off this weekend to spend some time in Canada.   Looks as if I will be doing Christmas Eve day here, so it will be easier with one less resident pup, since Jess will be bringing Meribel along.

Need to get Puppy Eddie entered at the January shows, and have to figure out a time to go pick him up so he can stay with Jess for a few days and get some training.  Meribel will probably come here during that time - still playing Musical Dogs.

Obedience went well last night and I'm really pleased with Argie's progress.  Each class sees him much improved in one area or another.  Last night it was his sits.  We've been working very hard on straight sits, as he has a tendency to swing in slightly toward me when we stop.  It would be so much easier if I could just explain to him the concept of "straight".  It IS amazing what they can pick up though.   My footwork is much improved, but I've been working hard on that, even walking patterns without the dog.  Proper footwork (by the handler) makes a lot of difference in a dog's performance. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

ARGH! I just wasted ten minutes fighting with the html coding for this page. Finally deleted the whole thing. Sometimes the pictures go up so nicely and the text formats the way I want it, while other times nothing seems to work. There was a time when I could have figured out the coding problems, but do so little of it now I'm obviously out of practice.
The Oldsters, Josie, Watson & Coral
It was a Letty-less weekend as she went off to camp with Alana, Michael and their Dal Brody.  Again she was suspicious at the start, settled in quickly and fit in well.   She's definitely a bit slow to make up to strangers, but settles in quickly.  Hopefully as Letty increases her circle of friends, she'll become quicker to make new ones.

Sparkle did well on her own and enjoyed her trip to a new pet store.  Argus filled in as puppy entertainer, but will be glad to give up the duty, I'm sure!   One more puppy class on Thursday and then she's off to Canada for a month, assuming all the pieces fall into place for the trip.  Letty can do Sparkle's 4th lesson, and then we'll concentrate on Christmas!

Finally got the lights on both trees, the artificial one on the porch, and a small live tree in the living room.  Checked the old 100-light string before decorating the porch tree and all worked fine, but by the time I had the lights on the tree 1/2 the lights no longer worked.  Hate it when that happens!  By then it was too dark to look for a bulb that may have fallen out or worked loose. 

The inside tree has red LED lights, nice and bright and cheerful.  Tempting not to even put on bulbs, but I suppose I will.  Maybe I should decorate the porch tree with the assortment of fish bulbs, gifts from Ginger of course,  The doggy ornaments don't always get used, but this year they will as I will have company on Christmas Eve day - weather permitting.

Friday, December 9, 2011

An AKC STAR Puppy


Letty graduated from Puppy Class last night and that included running through the test for the AKC STAR Puppy Program.   Pups do a series of exercises that include a recall, sit, down, walking on leash, giving up a treat, jumping over some low jumps, running through a tunnel, and allowing the owner to handle feet, tail, etc.  Letty did well, and it was great fun to watch her classmates perform.  Amazing how far some of them have come in six weeks!   I was very pleased with how well Letty did.  It was a terrific class, lots of fun, and Letty learned so much and developed a lot of self confidence.  I'm sorry it's over!

Unfortunately, most training schools have classes for pups up to the age of 4 months (when starting) but they are not eligible for the next level until they are 6 months old.  Letty is now 5 months old so will be sitting out for awhile.  I need to find places to take her every week to keep up the socialization.

She goes camping at Alana's this weekend.  We'll miss her, but it will give me a chance to put some extra work into Sparkle who also did well last night in her second week of class.  While Sparkle did her 6:00 class, Letty stayed quietly in her crate and watched all the activity - good dog, Letty.  That's another thing dogs need to learn.   While Letty was in her 7:00 class Sparkle fussed a bit but was not as bad as I expected, and she spent part of the hour being tended by one of the Pet Junction employees.  More useful socialization as Sparkle got to "help" at the counter!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Never Say Never



Puppy Camping is starting to fall into place.  One spot for a few days this weekend, and multiple weeks in Canada with kids over the Holidays.  Have to decide which dog matches each "spot" the best. 

Have to admit I would prefer to have Letty home for Christmas though!   Just amazes me how sappy I am about this silly little dog. Never say never! I have always vowed that I would never keep a dog with a higher tail, and certainly would not keep one that wasn't bold and fearless in all situations.   Letty flunks both.  Her tail is much better thank goodness, but it will never be perfect and I accept that.  And she still prefers to be handled by me and a select group of "special friends".   She's been that way from the age of 4 weeks, so I guess that's who she is.  She is not a "pet me" dog with strangers, and prefers that they just leave her alone.  She's fine in new situations and gets along well with other dogs, just has no interest in being handled by strangers, unlike her father and most other Argus kids who consider everyone a friend.  Have not had a Dal like this for many years, although it used to be quite common in the breed.  But she is so darned pretty, so great around the house, and so much fun to work with, I don't see her leaving any time soon.  Sigh.  I must be getting soft.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Was I Thinking?


What was I thinking?   Why did I think I could socialize two puppies in December, while working full time, keeping up a house, preparing for Christmas, working Argus in obedience, and tending 4 adult Dals and almost 40 tanks of fish?  While laying in bed this morning, planning my day, it suddenly occurred to me that I might be crazy!   Is this what it feels like?

Had thought Letty would go camping for the month of December, but that did not happen so I have two needy pups - both need more socialization, more time and attention, more training, and more patience on my part.  Both
are good pups, but the two together are challenging, especially now that Sparkle is jealous when Argus or Letty go downstairs for training.   My basement is my "training room" and each puppy as well as Argus gets a short training session every evening.  Argus works a bit of obedience, and the girls work on their basic commands plus do some stacking.  Not really enough room for heeling or gaiting there, but we try a bit of that too.  Now Sparkle has decided that only she should come down there with me, and fusses when the others get their turns.  Not good.  Ron will have to keep her amused until it's her turn, I guess.

Sparkle is teething seriously now, and testing her teeth on a variety of things, so she needs more supervision than Letty who normally just chews on her Nylabones.  Last night I caught her working on the bar stool rung - no, she didn't do all that damage.  This particular rung has been a "favorite" of many pups - that's cumulative chewing!   It's now coated in Bitter Apple.  Just hope she does not try the corners of the cabinets on Ron's "watch" - I use the term loosely!

Anyone want a camper this weekend, or any other time?  Both girls need to get out.  Both are house-trained and good in crates, know basic commands, are easy to feed, but pull like sled dogs on leash.  Good lap-sitters too - warm furry pups come in handy on cold winter evenings!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Economy vs Comfort


COLD weather coming, possibly below 0 temps and highs only in the teens, and once again we wrestle with economy vs comfort.  One of the quirks in this old house is the two furnaces.  The old section of the house (almost 100 years old) has a hot water boiler furnace with radiators, while the addition (about 25 years old) is heated with a forced air furnace, which was just replaced two years ago.  The thermostat for the new furnace is in the family room and the thermostat for the old furnace is only about 12 feet away in the dining room.

Until the weather gets really cold, we primarily use the forced air furnace for heat since it is more economical to run, and because we spend most of our time in the family room/kitchen.  The adjacent dining room stays comfortable, while the living room is cooler.  Upstairs the bedroom (with a radiator) stays cool, which is fine, but the bathroom is a bit chilly.  When the weather get COLD, we use the boiler furnace a bit more, but when the boiler warms up, the forced air furnace cuts back.   Because the patio door gets opened a lot as dogs come and go, the family room starts to feel a bit chilly, and the radiator in the bedroom makes that room too warm.  I do like my radiators, and the old boiler has certainly been reliable for many years, but it is not easy to keep the old house comfortable!

Lots of possible solutions, but all cost money  The new furnace was great investment, and I probably should have gotten a new thermostat for the old one, but that cost money.  Replacing the old boiler and radiators would have been great, but that was money I certainly didn't have.  Having the old section re-insulated would also be a good investment - of money I don't have.  With the increase in my property taxes, I'll be lucky if I can afford to stay here at all, so we'll spend another winter adjusting the thermostats, enduring the drafts, using lots of blankets on the bed and a small heater to warm up the bathroom in the morning. and wearing lots of sweatshirts.  But I will have a radiator to warm up my jacket and dry my mittens, and THAT is nice.   

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday. Again?


Sitting at my computer, looking through new Facebook message.  All is peaceful.  Then - A scream of agony! Coming from my yard! A dog in great distress!

Boys and pups were out in the dog yard when an earth shattering scream made my hair stand on end. Incredibly loud & shrill & frantic. Up & down the scale. Amazing that it can come from a dog. Sounds like a Wildebeest being torn apart by a pack of Lions. That's Argus. The Rabbit must be in the yard, and he can't get to it. There is NO WAY to quiet him when this happens.

He's back on his chair, and all is quiet again. He's only 99% perfect. 
Do wish he would not do this, but that's my boy.  Such a good dog, and his quirks are normally easy to deal with.
 
We had ring time yesterday and worked hard for a solid half hour.  This was the first time I've had his full attention for that long, and he worked really well.   Our heeling is improving rapidly, really good change of pace yesterday, excellent corners, awesome about turns when I remember MY footwork.  Sits could be better, that's going to be our bugaboo.  Fronts continue to be excellent, finishes are much better.  The things he did not know for his advanced class last week are looking good now.  He's learning to back up (but does not like that exercise), pivot, signals are much better, and I can now step back and forth over him on a Down Stay.  (He almost had a heart-attack when I tried that last week - apparently thought I had lost my mind and was going to step on him.)

Much fish work done this weekend and the tanks are looking really good.  Need to dash down and turn a light on in the fishroom, so the Cherry Barbs think it's daylight.  Am hoping they will spawn today.

Friday, December 2, 2011

In Defense Of Dog Breeders

In Defense of Dog Breeders


In Defense of Dog Breeders
How Animal Rights Has Twisted Our Language

by the late great JOHN YATES
American Sporting Dog Alliance
Reprinted here with permission of Donna Yates

“You’re a dog breeder!!!!!!!!!!!!”
In today’s world, that is a very loaded statement. It’s more like an accusation.
“I told the television news reporter that I breed dogs,” a friend from Dallas told me recently. “He looked at me like I was a harlot.”
Dog owners have allowed the animal rights movement to redefine our language in order to paint everything we do in the worst possible light. If we say that we breed dogs, the looks we get ask us if we own a “puppy mill” or if we are a “backyard breeder.”

If we reply that we are a “hobby breeder,” someone immediately asks how we can consider living creatures a hobby. Some of us try the word “fancier.” We fool no one.

The most pathetic response to the question is when we call ourselves “responsible breeders.” Responsible to whom? Who defines “responsible” and “irresponsible?” Some bureaucrat? A politician? Animal rights cretins who say there is no such thing as a responsible breeder? Animal rights fanatics would rather kill all animals than see someone love them. In fact, that’s their plan.

If we say we are not breeders, it makes us “pet hoarders.” We are tarred as mentally ill people in need of psychotherapy.

The entire language about dog ownership has been hijacked by the rhetoric of the animal rights movement.

The worst part is that we have allowed it to happen. We are too fearful and wimpy to stand up for ourselves. We keep searching for inoffensive euphemisms to describe what we do, so that we don’t open ourselves up to attack.

By doing that, however, we have engineered our own demise.

The animal rights movement will not go away. Its agenda is to destroy our right to own or raise animals. Animal rights groups have declared war on all animal ownership, and they won’t stop until they either win or we finally have the courage to stand up and defeat them.

They have not taken that kind of power over us. We have given it away. We have surrendered our beliefs to the enemy.

We apologize for what we do. We make weak excuses for things like animal shelter euthanasia, accidental matings, dog fighting and dangerous dogs. We take at least part of the responsibility for these problems onto our own shoulders, when in truth we have no responsibility at all for creating them.

None whatsoever!

I am sick and tired of watching dog owners constantly apologize and grovel, and allowing themselves to be put on the defensive.

Enough! It’s time to stop sniveling about who we are and what we do.

Let me state clearly and for the record: I am a dog breeder. I breed dogs. I raise puppies. I like it. I’m very proud of it.

If you don’t like it, you are free to take a flying leap. I don’t care what you think of me or what I do.

I raise two or three litters of English setter puppies a year. I wish I could raise more puppies, but can’t figure out how to do it without driving myself into bankruptcy.

My dogs work for a living, just like I do. They have to be good at their jobs, just like I do. If they aren’t good at their jobs, I don’t keep them and I certainly don’t breed them.

They are hunting dogs, and they have to be able to perform to a very demanding standard of excellence to be worthy of breeding. They have to meet the exacting standard of championship-quality performance in the toughest competition.

They are professional athletes.

Most of them don’t make the cut. Those dogs make wonderful hunting companions or family members.

I have never had a dog spayed or neutered, except for medical reasons, and I don’t intend to start now. If a dog is good enough for me to keep, it is good enough to breed.

Nor have I ever sold a puppy on a spay/neuter contract. With performance dogs, it takes two or three years to know what you have. There is no way that anyone can know the full potential or worthiness of a young puppy. I hope every puppy that I sell will become a great one that is worthy of being bred.

I do not feel bad (and certainly do not feel guilty) if someone decides to breed a dog from my kennel that I did not choose to keep for myself when it was a puppy. It still will be a very nice dog, and I have worked very hard on my breeding program for 35 years to assure that very high quality genetics will be passed along and concentrated in any dog that I sell.

On occasion, I have a puppy that has a serious flaw. I don’t sell those puppies, even though they would make many people very happy. I give them away free to good homes, and the definition of a good home is mine because it’s my puppy. I own it. You don’t.

My responsibility is to the puppy. It is not to you, and it’s not to some gelatinous glob called “society.” I consider myself to be personally responsible for every puppy I raise, from birth until the day it dies. It always has a home in my kennel, if its new owner can’t keep it or no longer wants it.

That’s a contract written in blood between the puppy and me. It’s a contract written with a handshake with the puppy’s new owner.

I laugh cynically when someone from the Humane Society of the United States or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ask if I am a responsible breeder. HSUS and PETA are two of the most vicious, bloodthirsty and dishonest snake pits on Earth. Their moral credibility is a negative number. PETA butchers more than 90-percent of the animals it “rescues” every year, and HSUS supports programs and policies that result in the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of animals every year.

By now, I assume that I have pushed all of the buttons of the animal rights crazies. I can hear them snort and see their pincurls flapping in indignation. It makes my day.

Can’t you hear them, too? They are calling me an exploiter of animals. They are saying that I ruthlessly cull and manipulate the genetics of my dogs. They saying that I make the exploited poor beasts work for a living and live up to impossible standards. They will say that I do this to feed and gratify my own fat ego. They will say that I sell them for money and exploit them for personal gain. Then, of course, they will say that I use them to viciously hunt innocent wild animals.

Terrible, terrible me! My mother should have a son like this! She was such a nice woman.

Well, I plead guilty to all of the charges. Know what else? I don’t feel guilty, not even a little bit. I do it. I like it. I feel good about it.

Now I will speak in my own defense – as a dog breeder.

I happen to love dogs. I love being around them. I love working with them. I love watching a puppy grow up and discover its potential. I love having the privilege of experiencing a truly great dog in its prime. I love sharing supper with my dogs, wrestling with puppies, and sacking out with them on the couch. I lose sleep when they get sick, and work myself unmercifully to care for them. I spend almost all of the money I have on them, and some money that I don’t have. My heart breaks when they grow old and die. I have a dozen lifetimes worth of beautiful memories.

What do the animal rights freaks have? They have their ideology. They look in the mirror and feel smug and self-righteous, as if God has personally anointed them to protect animals from the likes of me.

What they have is nothing at all. Utter sterility. A world devoid of life and love.

They can keep it.

My life is filled with love and joy and beauty, and I owe most of it to my dogs. They have helped to keep me sane when sanity was not a given. They have given me courage on the days when all I wanted to do was lie down and quit. They have given me strength to endure on the days when all I wanted to do is run away and hide.

I owe them my life.

The animal rights folks are right. I ruthlessly cull and manipulate genetics. To make the cut, my breeding dogs have had to live up to the most exacting possible standards and pass the most strenuous tests.

I am very proud of doing that.

The result is that the vast majority of people who buy a puppy from me love it. When I sell a puppy, chances are that it has found a home for the rest of its life. The puppy will have a great chance of leading a wonderful life. I produce puppies that make people happy to own them and want to keep them. That’s my job as a breeder.

I have done this through rigorous selection. My puppies today are the result of 35 years of my stubborn insistence about never breeding a dog that does not have a wonderful disposition, perfect conformation, great intelligence, exceptional natural ability, breathtaking style and that mysterious ingredient called genius.

Every puppy born in my kennel has six or eight or 10 generations of my own dogs in its pedigree. All of those ancestors possess a high level of each of those desirable traits. I have raised, trained and grown old with every dog listed in several generations of each puppy’s pedigree.

Simply put, my puppies today are a lot nicer than my puppies of 35 years ago. Today, there is a much higher percentage of good ones, a much lower percentage of deficient ones, a much higher average of good qualities, and a much higher percentage of true greatness emerging from my kennel today.

That’s what it means to be a breeder.

Does that feed my ego? Yep. I like having my ego stroked. Don’t you? If you don’t, you are in very deep trouble as a human being.

But I’ll tell you what else it does. It makes for happier dogs. It makes for dogs that lead better lives, find permanent families and homes, and get to experience love in many forms.

It also makes for healthier dogs. Generation after generation of perfect functional conformation means that the dogs are less likely to get injured, wear out or develop arthritis. Many generations of selection for vigor, toughness and good health means that they are able to laugh at the extremes of climate, weather and terrain.

I also have virtually eliminated genetic health problems from my strain of dogs. For example, hip dysplasia is the most common genetic problem in English setters, afflicting a reported four-percent of the breed. In the past 20 years, I have had only two questionable hip x-rays, which both would be rated “fair” by the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA). The last one was 10 years ago.

Yes, I am very proud of being a breeder. I did that.

I am proud, too, that I am producing dogs that are so intelligent that it’s scary, so loyal that they can be your complete partner in the field while also possessing the extreme independence needed to do their job well, so loving that you want them with you every second of the day, so bold and brazen that nothing bothers them, and just plain drop-dead gorgeous to boot.

They make me smile a lot. I think I make them smile, too.

But, the animal rights whackos say I am doing it for the money. They accuse me of exploiting animals for profit.

Yep. Every chance I get. I am very happy when I am able to sell a puppy for cold, hard cash. It makes me feel good.

It makes me feel good because it shows me that someone appreciates the work I am doing. It makes me feel good because I have earned it, and earned it honestly.

My only regret is that I have not made more money as a breeder. With all of the sacrifices I have made and the hard work I have done, I should be rolling in money.

Alas, I am not.

It has been years since I actually have made money on a litter of puppies. Usually, I lose my shirt.

For every puppy I sell, there is another one that I keep to evaluate, and a couple of other ones that I am keeping for two or three years to evaluate for their worthiness to breed. Then there are dogs that are in competition, and that costs bushels of money, not to mention old dogs that are retired and have a home here until they die of old age. Almost a third of the dogs in my kennel are elderly and retired, and it takes a lot of money to care for them.

It takes money for dog food, supplies, veterinary bills, kennel licenses, repairs, vehicle use for training and field trials, advertising, internet, phone bills, and four pairs of good boots a year. It takes money. Lots of money. Bundles of money.

Oh, Lord, please help me to sell some more puppies!

Besides, what’s wrong with making money? It is a rather fundamental American value. Making money is something to be proud of, as long as it’s done honestly.

Even animal rights bozos have to eat. Someone has to make money to stuff veggies down their gullets, and organic veggies are rather pricey. Most working folks can’t afford them.

I also can’t help but notice that most animal rights activists over the age of 30 drive pretty fancy cars (we are talking about the Beamer set, folks), live in rather fancy houses and dress very well indeed. I can’t help but notice that many of the leaders of animal rights groups have pretty cushy gigs, with high-end six-digit salaries, fancy offices, and all the perks.

I guess they are saying that it’s ok for them to make money by the truckload, even if making money turns dog breeders into immoral greed bags. There is no one in America who exploits dogs for as much money as the paid leaders of animal rights groups. Their fat salaries depend on having animal issues to exploit. If there were no animals for them to exploit, they would have to get a real job.

It’s a rather perplexing dual standard, don’t you think?

Well, maybe it’s not perplexing after all. The only thing perplexing about hypocrisy is that so many people can’t see through it.

My next sin is making my dogs work for a living. The animal rights people try to paint a picture of whipping dogs beyond endurance, exploiting them, creating misery and causing unhappiness. The poor, downtrodden, huddled masses. You know the tune.

Only problem is, my dogs don’t agree. They love to work. They love their jobs. The only time they are sad is when it is not their turn to work. For my dogs, working is sheer joy and passion! They love every second of it.

What animal rights groups live for is creating imaginary victims. Helping victims makes some people feel better about themselves and, of course, it helps them to part with their money so that animal rights leaders can live high on the hog. Oops. I mean high on the carrot. How callous of me. I guess I’m just not a sensitive kind of guy.

Back to the exploited masses of bird dogs. Try an experiment sometime. Read an animal rights essay, and substitute the word “proletariat” for the word “animal.” You will find that animal rights philosophy actually is pure and straightforward Marxian doctrine.

I guess my dogs are not natural Marxists. They love their jobs. They are excited about their jobs. Their jobs make them very happy.

Animal rights people can’t seem to grasp that people can feel that way about their work, too. It’s how I feel about the very hard work of being a dog breeder. It makes me happy.

Another way of putting it is that both my dogs and my own example provide proof that life is not pointless drudgery and exploitation. We provide living proof that joy, beauty and personal fulfillment are possible in life.

I just don’t think of those qualities when I think of the animal rights fanatics I have known. They seem a rather sad and sorry lot to me. I’ll take my dogs’ company any day.

Oh, but the icing on the cake is that I use these poor exploited creatures to hunt innocent birds. How terrible!

Hunting, of course, is a subject of its own, and I won’t attempt to cover it here.

Suffice it to say that opposition to hunting flies in the face of a few million years of human evolution, the entire balance of nature everywhere on Earth, and common sense.

I know one thing for certain. The fact that we have healthy populations of most species of wild birds and animals today is only because hunters have cared enough to support strong conservation measures. We have preserved millions of acres of habitat that are vital to the survival of many species, saved more millions of acres of wilderness from development, supported the protection of endangered species everywhere, and put our money where our mouths are.

Animal rights groupies do nothing but blow hot air, when they aren’t too busy destroying the land and the animals that live on it to create vast wastelands of industrialized monoculture.

I am proud to be a hunter, too.

It’s time for every dog owner and breeder to stand up proudly and be counted.

Each one of you has done far more to enhance the quality of life of both people and dogs than all of the animal rights activists put together.

So stand up and shout it to the rooftops!

Stop crawling around on your bellies and apologizing. Your dogs deserve better from you. You will just have to get a little tougher if you want to live up to your dogs.

What you are doing is right.

It’s just that simple.

We Survived


Whew, we survived!  Good thing I did not expect to be able to go to the fish club meeting after taking two puppies to Puppy Class.  I was wiped.  Came home & had a beer, walked Argus, played on the computer and went to bed.  And I was wrong in thinking this was Letty's last class - she has one more week, so I get to do it all over again.  Sparkle at 6:00 and Letty at 7:00.   Actually went better than I had expected, and the girls were very good when they had to take their turns in a crate.

Sparkle walked in a bit nervous but settled in quickly and enjoyed the class.  She made up to the trainers and some of the other dogs, quickly learned to do a Sit in the distracting environment and she mastered her Down as well.   Walking nicely on lead, not so much!  Like Letty, it will take more than a pocket full of treats to get her walking without pulling.  We were delighted to see that Letty's brother Herbie (Virgil/Marshmallow Face) was in Sparkle's class.  Herbie is very handsome now, but quite dog dependent as he has not been getting out on his own, but going everywhere with his Weimaraner & Dalmatian housemates.  This class will help him a lot.  Although it's easier to take dogs out together, that does them a disservice and they need to do things on their own.

Letty was such fun in her class!  I really enjoy working with Letty as she is so smart and enthusiastic.  Because she has such a reactive personality, we work a lot on the restraint exercises, Sit Stays and Down Stays.  It's helped her a great deal and she was distinctly calmer last night and did not have such a wild-eyed look after puppy playtime.  She actually came to me on both Recalls, rather than racing around the room trying to stir up the other pups.   She's also become a lot more confident about people leaning over her (that was her downfall as a little pup), and went up to a number of people on her own last night.  One classmate even had Letty doing Sits and Downs for her.  While we were standing around listening to our instructor, Letty generally sit quietly beside me, looking up at me, waiting to see what we were doing next.  Good Dog, Letty!

No word on whether we are still on for Puppy Camping in Canada.  If it's going to happen, we need Rabies vaccinations.   I put them off until my pups are 6 months old unless there is an actual need to get one sooner, and crossing the border will require a rabies vaccination.  Had planned to send Letty, but am thinking that Sparkle will get more out of it, since she will eventually be placed in a home as a companion AND show dog.  She's got a nice average sort of personality and would have a great time in a family with kids.  Was really pleased with how much she has picked up already.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Conflict


Ugh, my hobbies conflict tonight.  BOTH puppies have classes tonight, Sparkle at 6:00 (her 1st) and Letty at 7:00 (her 6th and last).  Fish club meeting starts at 7:30 and the program will begin about 8:00.  Plant night tonight, with lots of good aquarium plants available at very reasonable prices.  It's supposed to get down to 15 degrees, too cold for the girls to wait in the car, so it looks as if I will have to bring them home.   If the fish club meeting was not held in a church I would just bring in a crate and they could spend the time people-watching, but that's not a possibility either.  I could get back in time for the auction after the meeting.  We'll see.

Fish are doing well right now, as I'm spending some time working with them every night.  A number of tank tops have been scrubbed recently, filter media replaced, and sponge filters cleaned.  I'd like to pick up some more plants, but aquarium plants are not really my focus, and most of the tanks have at least Najas (guppy grass) growing in them.  The planted tanks are looking good as I have changed the florescent bulbs (they lose their effectiveness and get changed at least once a year) and have been dosing them with Flourish Excel which has really helped plant growth.  Thought about using CO2 in a couple of the tanks, but it is such a hassle.   I do NOT need to become a plant geek too.  Not enough time or money for another hobby!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Time For Reading!


My bedside table is overflowing with things I hope to get read!  Although I try to fit in time for reading every day, the only time I always read is when I go to bed - hence the reading material beside my bed.  Reading in bed is a luxury I enjoy, especially on Saturday morning if Ron brings up coffee.  Night time reading is usually limited to about half an hour before I fall asleep.

Current projects include a John Sandford novel (the last of the Kidd series), and the new issue of "Practical Fishkeeping" (a British magazine).  There are a number of copies of "Cooking Light" on the table as I was looking for new Mexican-style dishes.  A trip to Half-Price Books, resulted in a new fish book as well as a copy of "Animals In Translation" by Temple Grandin (I just finished "Animals Make Me Human" by the same author.)  There's also a Nevada Barr novel (I like some of hers and can't get through others, so we'll see about "Blood Lure".)  Also a copy of  "Inside Of A Dog - What Dogs See, Smell & Know".  Buried somewhere in the stack will be past issues of "Discover" magazine which I give to Ron for Christmas so I can read it too, "Consumer Reports", and an assortment of other magazines that catch my fancy.  The Nook Color also contains a number of books including a several by Psychologist Oliver Sacks that I want to re-read.

Now, to find more time to read!  Thank goodness for audio books to listen to in the car, and my trusty little iPod that I can wear around the house while doing chores!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sigh . . .

The Jade Plant is flowering!

Back to work.  Sigh . . .   I really needed those days off, but how did they pass so quickly and what did I accomplish?  I made a point of NOT using a list, so I did not feel pressured to get things accomplished, and although I did get a lot done I did not feel quite as pressured.  I needed that.  Now, back to reality, and the world of To Do Lists!  

Because I finished the work week on a high note, completing a couple of nasty projects that were hanging over my head, at least I am going back to the office without a big guilt load.

Over the long weekend I finished the audio book "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin.  Amazing book and I learned so much about animals and their core emotions.  Chapter Two (which I listened to three times) dealt with dogs and was full of new (to me) information.  One of the topics covered is the fallacy of "wolf packs".  Apparently wolves only live in packs with an "alpha wolf" when groups of unrelated wolves are thrown together in unnatural situations such as the pack of wolves released in Yellowstone, and the Wolf Sanctuaries where wolves are studied in totally untypical situations.  Wolves actually live in small family groups with two parents plus offspring, sometimes younger cubs and their older siblings.  The younger wolves do not challenge their parents for dominance.  This actually answered a lot of questions I've had over the years as I observe my own dogs who do not really have a hierarchy, and never challenge one another.  So the question is am I "alpha" of an unnatural pack, or the "parent" of a peaceful family group?  The latter seems to fit much better and explains why my various boys have gotten along for years, and why none of my bitches has any interest in running the show.

If you live with multiple dogs - or even if you just have one dog - I recommend this book/tape.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Know Your Enemy

Before you make a charitable donation to an Animal Rights organization, be sure you understand their goals. Please support Animal Welfare NOT Animal Rights!

"One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild ... they would have full lives, not wasting at home for someone to come home in the evening
and pet them and then sit there and watch TV."
- Ingrid Newkirk, The
Chicago Daily Herald, Mar 1990

THE NATIONAL ANIMAL INTEREST ALLIANCE VALUES STATEMENT
The Responsible Voice for Animals and the People Who Care for Them
We support the responsible and humane use of animals for food, clothing, medical research, companionship, assistance, recreation, entertainment and education.
We believe that the people who keep, utilize and care for animals have a duty to assure the well-being of their animals; providing appropriate housing, nutrition, medical care, humane treatment and handling, and when necessary, humane euthanasia.
We support the ethical and regulated hunting and fishing of abundant species as vital components of wildlife management programs, which help sustain and perpetuate healthy wildlife populations and natural habitats.
We support the enforcement of state and federal laws that mandate the proper treatment of animals and provide penalties for animal abuse.
We believe that using sensational media campaigns to promote radical animal policies undermines the democratic process by promoting a misinformed electorate.
We reject the anti-human philosophy of the animal rights movement, which often places the interests of animals ahead of people, even when human lives are at stake.
We are committed to preserving the human-animal bond, the special bond that exists when people live and work with animals.
We believe the animal rights campaign to limit and ultimately abolish human-animal interaction is unnatural, misguided and harmful to both people and animals.
We support laws that punish animal abusers for their misdeeds, but reject legislation that seeks to penalize everyone – responsible animal owners and industries alike for the misconduct of the few.
We reject legal standing for animals, believing that the welfare of animals is best protected by retaining current laws that recognize animals as property.
We believe that others are entitled to disagree with our point of view, but not to break the law or use threats, lies, intimidation, harassment or violence to force their views on others.
For more information, please call on the National Animal Interest Alliance at www.naiaonline.org
or at 503-761-8962

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Holiday Bites The Dust


What a lovely Thanksgiving we had!  Ron & I loaded up Sparkle, food & wine, and drove over to pick up mom & pies.  Then we met Jess along with Letty, Meribel & more food at a Park & Ride in Wisconsin and drove to my sister's.  Jess's partner Don was having dinner with his daughter's family, nephew Davis is overseas for a couple if years, and nephew Eric had dinner with his friend Lisa's family, so we were a smaller group this year, just Gram, Ron & me, Jess, sister Kris & her husband Bob.  Eric and Lisa joined us later for pie, so Jess & Lisa had a chance to meet.  It was a typical doggy holiday with the three Dal puppy girls, Kris's Rat Terrier LD (that's Sparkle & LD in the picture, with Letty chewing a corn stalk in the background), and her huge new dog Maxx who is most likely a Lab/Great Dane cross.  Kris calls him a Great Dab.  Huge dog, but very sweet & amazingly sound & athletic for such a big fellow.

Because my sister cooks at a nursing home, she is super organized, and everything runs so smoothly.  She says it's easy to cook for 6 when you are used to cooking for 40!  I guess.  We joked that none of us needed to have our food pureed either - some of the nursing home residents get their food pureed - hard to envision turkey & dressing served that way!

Everything turned well - I don't remember a better Thanksgiving dinner.  Plenty of leftover cut up veggies (we always stand/sit at the bar in the family room and enjoy wine with veggies & dip while waiting for the turkey to cook) and some cranberry sauce too.  I'm baking a crustless pumpkin pie (made with egg substitute & condensed skim milk) and plan to enjoy more pie than I can manage on Thanksgiving.  Am going down to check for turkey or turkey breasts on sale - the only thing about not hosting a holiday dinner is no leftovers - and I love leftover turkey.  So much you can do with it.

Sparkle did very well other than a little bit of crate fussing when we first took off.  She settled in well, though her eyes were pretty bugged out when Letty & Meribel joined us.  She made friends quickly though and was soon part of the group.  We took the pups for a couple of off leash walks across the farm fields and around the out buildings, and they had a wonderful time racing & wrestling with one another & their cousin LD.  Letty even found a freshly killed rat, which she thought was a particularly exciting find!  The Great Dab is varminty and leaves the evidence laying around.

The girls were exhausted when we got home, but had to sit and get "sniff over" from Argus, Watson, Josie & Coral.  Coral was very pleased to see Letty again, which continues to amaze me as she normally has little time for pups.  She does like this one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Progress


Sparkle has settled in nicely and learned some of the important rules. 
  • Do your business outside.
  • Be quiet when you are shut in the dog yard for a few minutes.
  • Wait without jumping while your food is prepared
  • Sleep quietly in your crate at night.
  • Do not bother Coral when she is sleeping.
Next we will work on riding quietly in the car, and she'll get lots of practice when we go to my sister's for Thanksgiving!   A long weekend will give us a chance to visit Petco, go for walks, cut nails, and do lots of short car trips.  Because Letty comes home tomorrow, there will be LOTS of time for wrestling too.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Missing Letty


Missing my Letty Girl.  She's such a funny little elf and makes me laugh, plus I love looking at her cute face, beautiful spots, and wonderful gait.   She's just so asthetically pleasing to my eye and I catch mayself smiling when I watch her.  That's Letty and her neice Meribel sleeping on Jess's couch.

Sparkle seems to be well settled in here and acts quite at home.  Not sure Watson & Argus are very happy about it, as she is quite the pest, but they're putting up with it, especially Argus who is endlessly patient.   When Letty comes home it will be a madhouse around here, but they will have each other to harrass and the big dogs will get a break! 

Am a bit concerned about what will happen to the yard if I let them have the run of it.  The grass stood up well to Letty, but not sure that a muddy yard can survive two of them.  Last weekend's snow will soon be gone, and the yard will be wet and vulnerable, but colder weather can't be too far behind!

House-training is going well and Sparkle seems to have caught on to the idea of going in the yard rather than on the deck, and we are gradually getting her used to doing her business in the dog pen rather than in the yard.  She's adjusted well to our raw diet, as pups always do, and after my bad-things-happen-when-you-yell-in-your-crate demo last night, she slept through the night without a fuss.  We did a bit of stacking after she explored the basement, and this evening I hope to take her for a short car ride - and convince her that shouting is NOT acceptable their either.  Maybe a lead walk around the block too, if there is any daylight left when I get home from work.  She's got a lot to catch up on before she starts her Puppy Class in 10 days!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Another New Puppy? What Was I Thinking?


What was I thinking?  Why did I think I wanted another puppy as we go into winter?  Ron has taken it all in stride and never even said "I told you so" as we took Sparkle outdoors 150 times yesterday.  But we're surviving, and Sparkle has been pretty good so far.  The adults have all been great with her, even long-suffering Coral.

Ann arrived with Sparkle & Baci (Baci just along for the ride) on Saturday in a snow storm (I am so not ready for winter!).  The pups were a bit overwhelmed by everything  as this was their first long trip.  Fortunately Ann has been working on housetraining, which is NOT easy with 5 pups, and the two girls were pretty cooperative.  They all went along when I took Argus out to the training center (not an easy trip as the roads were crummy) and got some extra socializing. 

We opted to walk down to Luci for dinner rather than braving the roads again, and saw a multi-car accident right in front of the restaurant.  We had a particularly good meal though - maybe Ann brings the same kind of luck that Laurie does as we always get great food and awesome service when she is here!  The pups slept with Ann in the guestroom, so we all got a good night's sleep.

Ann & Baci left for home on Sunday morning.  Fortunately, they drove out of the snow & ice pretty quickly and made it all the way home.  The first day/night with a new pup is always the toughest, and we all survived.  Ron was good natured about the addition and took over puppy duties when Argus & I ventured out for a run (for him) and new shoes (for me).  Because the puppy has excellent control, it's hard to know when she really needs to go out, so she gets taken out a lot and occasionally pees.  It's almost easier to housetrain a baby pup who pees each time you take it out!  But we got through the day with no peeing in the house - and a lot of fresh air!  Bet the heating bill for Saturday and Sunday will be as much as for the whole rest of the month!

Because Sparkle is used to being crated with another dog, we had some crate issues and several "discussions", but got past that too and she slept through the night, by herself in a crate in the kitchen with Josie and Coral.  We're on our way!  Ron is in charge today and I hope he keeps a close eye on Sparkle as she is just as likely to chew a rug as a dog toy.  We're spoiled by Letty who is not destructive and keeps herself amused with dog toys.  This one will need some supervision for awhile.  Each puppy is a new adventure!

Sparkle will likely be available in the future to the right home on a co-ownership.  I'd like to show her, but she does not have to live with me, so if you might be interested in co-owning a showdog, let's talk.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Puppy Antics

From my Facebook posting yesterday evening -

FREE TO GOOD HOME. Former Puppy Prodigy, now turned Life Of The Party. Letty has been a quick study at Puppy Class, catching on to everything amazingly fast. She's gone from cautious about other dogs, to determinedly friendly and MUST meet and play with all dogs. Tonight on the recall, when I called her and the trainer dropped her lead, Letty took off racing around the ring, saying hi to each dog as she passed it, and staying just out of my reach. When I finally tackled her, I'm sure I was red-faced (but laughing). It's always been funnier when OTHER PEOPLE'S dogs have done that.
Letty got way too stimulated yesterday evening, like a kid on a sugar high.  I could see it in her eyes.  Although I'm pleased that she is now comfortable with other dogs, she is having just a bit too much fun at school.  Rather than concentrating on her math, she's always waiting for recess.   Time to work a bit more seriously at home.  She knows sit and down quite well, but it's time to work harder on stays so that she learns to concentrate for longer periods of time.  Lead walking is fine if there are no distractions, but like her father she misses nothing, and always notices things that she wants to check out.

This afternoon Letty goes to stay with Jess & Don for a few days.  She'll have a huge yard to race around in, and Meribel to run with, so hopefully won't drive them TOO crazy.  Ann will be arriving with Sparkle tomorrow, possibly bringing sister Baci along for the trip as well.  Sparkle will get a few days to settle in here without Letty, and I can start her training.  We'll be taking her to lots of new places over the next few weeks, as the socialization that is not done by 4 months can not be made up.

Argus has ringtime on Saturday, and Ann will ride along with us.  Pet Junction is a good place to socialize pups, so while Argus and I are working, she can walk Sparkle (and possibly Baci) around.  Weather permitting, Jess may join us for a bit of extra socialization and possibly some puppy pictures as well.  I haven't seen Meribel for a few weeks, and Jess says she is looking good.

Thanksgiving will be at my sister Kris's house, pups in attendance.   I'll probably pick up Letty then, assuming Jess has not sent her home in a box before that.  Am sure we'll reminisce over the Holidays spent at Kris's or my brother Al's (before he moved to CR).  Everyone brought dogs, and they all had a wonderful time too.  One year we had two Labs, two Dals, two Westies, a Foxhound and a Rottweiler.  Now THAT'S a mixed pack!  Kind of a doggy family!  This year we'll meet Kris's new dog, a Lab mix who has settled in nicely with her Rat Terrier.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

And Suddenly, Cold!


"Can someone PLEASE get her out of my chair?" Argus asks.  Letty certainly keeps things lively around here.  The big dogs take turns playing with her, and they will all share their crates, beds or chairs, but you just know that sometimes they wish her gone.  Things are a lot more peaceful without a puppy, but a lot less entertaining!  She's currently out doing laps in the yard while the big dogs share a collective sigh of relief.  Of course she will come back inside jet-propelled because it's only 16 degrees here right now and that only serves to stimulate young dogs.

Puppy class tonight, Letty's 5th lesson, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we will teach the pups and how we will teach it.  These very modern methods are particularly interesting to this old-fashioned dog trainer. 

Sparkle is already signed up for the puppy class that begins in December.  Now, to get her here!  There's a possibility of snow on Saturday, but we'd all prefer rain.  We need some precipitation in the ground before it freezes, or there are going to be lots of trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns that do not survive the winter.  Friday should be warm (relatively warm given it's the second half of November) but Saturday is ???   Assuming things go as planned, Letty will be at Jess's this weekend and I may miss her reaction to the first snowfall of the year.  I'll be notably bummed by that!

Hopefully USPS does a good job with my fish today.  They are supposed to arrived Express Mail, and I will pick them up at the Post Office.  Paid for a heat pack, so hope the shipper did a good job of packing them . . .  Tanks are ready and waiting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Update On Mariah


Hard to believe that's Mariah shown here with her owner Kay.  She sure changed!  And she grew legs!  No longer looks like she is running down hill.  Honest to gosh, she went through some homely stages, but it looks as if she ended up a very attractive girl.  Pups normally go back to being what they were at 6-7 weeks, but I sure wondered about this one.  Mariah went to Kay with the agreement that she could be shown, if the right things happened.  They did!  How exciting!  Kay loves her, and Mariah gets to be a special dog, exactly what all good dogs deserve.

Argus has been such a good sire.  I'm really delighted with the quality of his kids, especially his lovely daughters.  Although Argus has not been used very much, he already has 17 champions and is a Register of Merit sire.  Three more and he will be Register of Merit Excellent.  I presume Mariah will be one of those champions.

New puppy coming on Saturday, weather permitting.  Ann is driving Sparkle up - she says its her practice run for driving to the National in Tulsa next year.  Hope the weather co-operates.  Shipping would be just fine with me, and faster for the dog, but it will be fun to see Ann again, and the guestroom is ready.   Am hoping she will also bring Baci, the lovely black-spotted girl she is keeping.

Sparkle is already signed up for a Puppy Class that starts the first week in December.  It's hard to socialize pups here in the winter so I decided to get that taken care of immediately.  Puppy class insures that pups get out at least once a week, no matter how tempting it may be to stay home and stay warm!  Sparkle has been living with littermates and will benefit from socialization with pups of other breeds.  Hopefully the weather does not interfere with Ann's travel plans.

Someone asked if the pups still available can go to pet homes or if they must be shown.  That's Ann's call.  Both are very attractive pups, but they do need homes and she may decide not to wait for show homes.  There's a liver boy and a liver girl still available.  You can find her contact information on her blog (check my earlier blogs for the link).