Saturday, September 8, 2012

When Did Bad Become Good?

As I read through the Facebook updates every morning, I am continually astonished at the stories about dogs doing bad things.  I'm not astonished that dogs DO these things, but that the owners almost seem to be bragging about it.  Rather than correcting and training their dogs, or taking measures to prevent these things from happening again (like using a crate), these dog owners seem to take delight in trying to "one up" each other on whose dog(s) can be the worst.  Drives me crazy!

Whatever happened to the idea of raising your dog to be a good pet and companion?  One that can be left loose in the house without destroying things, doesn't steal everything off the counter, jump up on the table, threaten the company, and destroy the furniture?  Stealing the sandwich out of your hand between the plate and your mouth really isn't very funny, nor is it "cute" when your dog starts to scream and fuss when you walk out the front door.  An adopted adult dog may arrive with these behaviors (and that may be the reason he was homeless to begin with), but there is no reason to accept this for the rest of his life.  Train him!  And there is absolutely no excuse for accepting this from a dog that you raised from a puppy.  Yes, preventing these behaviors takes time, training and SUPERVISION, but if you don't have the time for training your dog, perhaps you don't have time for a dog at all.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Long-Coated Dalmatians

The pup in this picture is a liver long-coated Dalmatian.  The recessive gene for long hair can occasionally be found in this breed but it not very common, nor is it acceptable for the show ring.  There was a time when something like this showing up in one of your litters would be cause for concern, but because genetic testing is now available for such things, it's possible to breed this out of a line, or to breed around it.   However, many Dal owners (including show people) are actually quite fascinated by long coats, and also by well marked tri-colors.

This pup is AKC registered, and the owner found me on the Internet when searching for information on long-coated Dals.  Because I have coat and color pages on my website, people often contact me about such things - but rarely are the dogs this cute!  Long-coat is a simple recessive, meaning that both parents must carry the gene, but it may not be evident on them.  A dog must carry two copies of the long-coat gene to have long hair.  Dogs that just have one copy of will have normal short coats.  This pup had two short-haired parents, but was from a father/daughter breeding, presumably an accident, which increased the chances of doubling up on recessive genes.  Inbreeding does not "create" recessive characteristics, but does increase the chances of them being doubled up on.  As in the case of Nova!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dogs Welcome

People often ask where the dogs stay on dog show weekends.  With us, of course!  They stay in the motel room, or sometimes in the car if the parking lot is safe and well lit.  Although careless dog owners have soured some motel owners or chains on dogs, many of the moderate priced or low end chains are fine about dogs in the room.  Motel 6 even advertises that dogs are welcome.  Some chains charge an additional fee (this is typical of Super 8s), and we are fine about paying an extra $5.00 or $10.00 for that.  It's important that guests with dogs follow the rules though, to insure that we continue to have this option.  In some areas there are no motels that will accept dogs - it may be due to local regulations, but is often due to negligent dog owners.

Argus always stayed in my motel room when he was being campaigned.  He probably stayed in over 100 motels with never a problem.  I always packed an old sheet to put over the spread so he could sleep with me.  He's extremely trustworthy, but if I left the room for more than a few minutes I'd bring up one of those soft crates for him, and leave the TV on to keep him company.  Weather permitting, he went along in the car if I went out to dinner, but if I left him behind I knew that he would be quiet and well behaved in the motel room.

It's important to follow the motel's rules on where dogs may be walked, where poop bags may be deposited and what areas of the motel might be off limits to the dog.  Sometimes the lobbies are OK, at other times dogs must be kept out of all public areas.  In motels with restaurants or breakfast areas, dogs need to be kept away, and they are normally not allowed at poolside.  It is particularly important to ALWAYS clean up after your dog(s), never allow them to bark and disturb people in neighboring rooms, and never ever to leave them unsupervised.   Always report dogs when you check in, even when motels advertise that dogs are OK, and always report IMMEDIATELY any damage.  Dogs in elevators should be told to Sit and kept under control at all times.

If we are traveling with multiple dogs and staying at a motel in a safe area, we may leave two dogs (never just one) in crates in the car.  Because our dogs are used to being crated and are comfortable traveling, they are fine in the car if weather permits.  We check from time to time to be sure they are not making noise and disturbing anyone, and if they fuss we are careful not to park right next to any guestrooms.

Fern went along with us last weekend and stayed in her first motel, along with her Grandpa Argus.   We brought up her small crate, and she slept there at night.  We let her play in the room, but always kept a close eye on her, and when we took her out first thing in the morning we carried her down the hallway and out the door, to be sure she did not have an accident.  Her manners were perfect.

"Dogs Welcome"

A man wrote a letter to a small hotel in a Midwest town he planned to visit on his vacation.  He wrote: "I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well-groomed and very well behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?"

An immediate reply came from the hotel owner, who wrote: SIR: "I’ve been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware, or pictures off the walls. I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. And I’ve never had a dog run out on a hotel bill.  Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel. And, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome to stay here, too."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Socializing Fern

Whew, a break in the weather.  After yet another hot humid day, the promised cool front moved in and it's lovely this morning.  Unfortunately, the changing weather pattern didn't result in much rain which we desperately need.  The humidity dropped before the temperature did, and when I was working in the yard after dinner, the temp was 89 but felt like 85 because the humidity was only 21%.

On Thursday Fern starts puppy classes.  It's going to be a busy time, as Thursday evening is also fish club, and I need to be there as well.  Fern's class begins at 6:00, and the club meeting at 7:15.  Tight.  Because she'll be tired, and is used to being crated, Fern will  be fine in the car while I'm in the meeting.

Fern had a great time at the dog shows last weekend, and it was a marvelous opportunity to expose her to a variety of new things.  It's important that pups be introduced to as many new people and novel situations as possible.  Pups that sit home and grow up in the yard never develop appropriate social skills with dogs and people, and are either overly stimulated or fearful when they encounter new situations.  The time period between 4 weeks and 4 months is particularly important, and a pup who does not receive appropriate socialization during that period can never catch up on what he has missed.

Fern has a middle-of-the road sort of temperament.  She is neither fearless nor fearful, just sensibly cautious. She's socially attracted to both dogs and people, but will occasionally startle in new situations or act overwhelmed if too much is happening at once.  She recovers quickly, so the goal is to introduce her to as many different situations as possible.  If properly socialized she will grow up to have an ideal companion-dog personality, and should make a good show dog as well.

Last weekend Fern was exposed to lots of vehicle noises at our motel, and by the end of the weekend was oblivious to the roar of trucks and buses when waiting to cross the street.   At the dog show she met dogs of all ages - but it's important that she meet friendly dogs.  A bad experience with an aggressive dog will leave her cautious about meeting new dogs.  She spent the weekend in a motel room, sleeping in her own crate, but playing and exploring the room with Argus. Walking down the long hallway and up and down the carpeted stairways was another new experience.  At the dog show she was walked or carried, depending on the situation, and if she seemed a bit overwhelmed when too much was happening, she was picked up or taken back to her crate in the car.  When a pup gets a bit nervous on the floor, picking them up so they can meet people face level, rather than surrounded by a forest of legs, will make a big difference.  Because most dog people understand the need for socializing pups, there is never a shortage of people willing to interact with pups at dog shows!

Fern's socialization continued over the weekend, when I picked up my mother for a picnic.  Pups need to meet people of all ages.  Children and seniors smell, sound and act different than your average adult.  She loved my mother, who was only too willing to give Fern extra attention.  When I took mom home, Fern went along to my mother's senior building, where she got to ride in the elevator (something she will often do on show weekends), and walk down the long hallway beside my mother's walker (another novel experience).  We gave her a chance to explore mom's apartment too, another totally new place for her.

Definitely a good weekend of Socializing Fern.  No need to take her to more new places for a couple of days, but tonight we'll go for another walk on leash - wish I could say her leash manners were great, but that is not yet the case!  Young pups need to visit a couple of new places every week.

At least once a day I put Fern on the grooming table and we do some stacking - for food of course - and I examine her all over and check her bite.  Then we sit on the deck and work on sit, down and watch - also for food.  Takes only a few minutes, but it will give her a head start in puppy class, and if she should get nervous, we have the familiar commands to fall back on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dog Show Weekend

Where to begin?  With the dog shows?  With the people?  With the places?  Or with the dogs?

Maybe the dog shows.  It was a lovely long weekend, although the weather was not particularly cooperative.  Jess & I drove to Amana, Iowa for the shows that included the Greater Twin Cities Dalmatian Club specialty shows - held in Iowa because we can no longer draw majors in Minnesota (so few Dals here).   The Amana RV Park has acres of parking for motorhomes, as well as a very nice air conditioned building for some of the show rings.

Although there were five shows we were only entered at three of them.  The judging panels did not appeal, and there were too many things we wanted to do at home to spend the whole weekend at the dog shows.  We had heard some bad reports about the one judge on the panel we had never shown to before, but we thought she did by far the best job.  Although we did not win anything very exciting under her, she sorted and placed her dogs extremely well, ran a great ring, and was nice to dogs and exhibitors.  The judge I had thought would do the best job was extremely disappointing.  I had watched her do a nice job in small entries, but with a larger one she seemed to lose her way and made some bad decisions, particular as far as being far too forgiving of bad feet.  Good feet are of major importance in a breed that was supposed to run with a carriage for a whole day.

Argus and Pauli were both competitive, with Argus earning a Select and an Award of Merit his two times in the ring.  He'll be 7 on Friday, and I am delighted that he can still hold his own in any competition.  I look forward to showing him as a Veteran from time to time.  Argus's daughter Ch. "Rita" did extremely well, earning the points she needed to finish her Grand Championship.  New dog Gemma looked lovely in the ring but needs to learn about standing still and paying attention.  She gaited well and was very confident, and the shows were a training session for her.  We were delighted when she went Reserve at one of the Specialities - a very nice start for a totally inexperienced and untrained dog.  Eddie showed well but did not win and we all agreed those were his last shows.  As a puppy we did not consider him a real show prospect, but we tried him out last fall and he did well at the some Specialties from the Puppy Class.  Maturity didn't help though, and finishing his championship would be too time consuming and expensive. He's showable but not really show quality - a big difference.  He's got a fabulous disposition and loves to show, but will have just as much fun being a Therapy Dog.

One of the big downers for the weekend was another Dal with an "enhanced tail".  What's wrong with everyone?  Why are they trying to cheat the system?  It seems to be all about winning, and ethics be damned.  (Please do not ask me the identity of this dog - just look for floppy tails.  If it flops for a day or two it may be an injury, if it flops for weeks, well . . . )

Out of time - tomorrow, Socialing Fern.