Monday, December 28, 2009

Moose Bones

A rather unusual picture today, Dals chewing on a moose bone. Since moose can be 8 feet tall, they have some mighty long legs! Bet Armani (Watson son) and Arya (Josie daughter) are impressed!

Enough Holiday Spirit, OK? I held up well this year and really enjoyed the holidays, but am relieved to get back to the old routine today. At least I hope it will be the old routine and nothing majors comes along to screw it up. Between car accidents and family health issues, I've had more than enough stress for THIS year at least. Got my insurance premium notice on the 24th (Merry Christmas from State Farm Insurance?) and was relieved to see that I still get the "accident free" discount despite a far too eventful year. My agent assured me that if my accidents were the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than errors in judgement on my part, that my rates would not go up. He was right, thank goodness.

This will be a fishy sort of week as I am redoing some tanks and making room for my new fish who should arrive on Wednesday, assume the PO gets things right. I'll have them held at the PO for pick up so they don't have to ride around in the delivery vehicle. That normally works fine and fish generally ship well in the winter. Billy has shipped many many fish over the years and packs them well with no over-crowding (in their fish bags) and with heat packs that work. Shipping fish in the winter is a bit of an art, but we've generally had very good luck when dealing with experienced shippers.

I purchased a lot of fish food in bulk several weeks ago, and repackaged and froze a lot of it yesterday. Like any other kind of animal chow fish food should be fresh as the nutrient value gets depleted over time. I keep out smaller portions and freeze the rest in resealable bags. Color flakes and veggie flakes, sinking pellet for catfish, sinking cichlid pellets, and very tiny "golden pearls" as a brine shrimp substitute for fry (baby fish). I used to raise baby brine shrimp to feed the fry, but it's one more chore that I don't have time for and all the baby cichlids are doing fine on brine shrimp substitutes and very fine flake.

The Thorichthys meekei (Firemouth Cichlids) have spawned again in the tank that also contains Angelfish. The fry I siphoned out last time are growing well in a tank of their own, but of course the ones I left with the parents all got eaten. I've taken the 5 large HRP (Honduran Redpoints) babies out of the parent's tank, but the other HRP spawn is still in with their parents who are doing a great job. I suppose I need to pull some out as I suspect if mom & dad spawn again they will wipe out the previous batch of youngsters. Need to raise up enough to sell at the upcoming fish club auction. The 5 larger older fry will be BAPPed at the next fish club meeting - auctioned off to club members with the proceeds going to the club. They will earn me 10 more BAP points towards the next Breeder Award level. I'll also have some albino Ancistrus sp "Mato Grosso" to BAP, but the Firemouths and the A. compressiceps will need another month to grow.

Time to feed dogs.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Beginning To Look . . .

a lot like a very weird Christmas! I remember snowy Christmases as a kid, and our family trips to visit the grandparents in northern Minnesota. We've had very few snowy Christmases during my adult life, and many very brown ones. Not this year, I guess! We're supposed to celebrate at home this year, and then do a family Christmas at my sister's on Saturday. We've ordered a pre-made Christmas dinner to take over to my mother's weather permitting, but it sounds as if we have one heck of a snowstorm on the way. Way too much to get done before all that happens!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Fun!

Argus & I had SUCH a fun weekend and it was a great way to end a really nice dog show year. Weather is always a concern this time of the year and things were not looking too good as we arrived in the Chicago area on Friday evening. Dry roads changed to wet ones with light snow and then to slushy roads with heavy wet snow. Ugh. I90 just north of the city, heading for a hotel I have never been to, and with no direct exit. I had programmed the address into Sally Forth my navigator and let her call the shots. Well done, Sally! Don't use her often, but navigators can be indispensable.

The hotel was great and the prices amazing affordable. I normally spend more to stay at a dump in Iowa than we did to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn, Des Plaines. Friendly staff, wonderful rooms, fabulous beds, and excellent showers. Even a good dining room. Wow. And the nicest part of all was the free shuttle that took us back and forth between the hotel and the dog show, any time we wanted it, and we took full advantage of it. One more "adventure" for Argus.

By a trick of the dog show calendar, these were the only shows in the country, so we had lots of dogs and handlers we would not normally see, which made the show larger and far more interesting. Excellent competition in the groups. I had entered for Friday as the Group judge has done well for Argus, but with all that has been going on we had to skip the Friday show. We had a judge change for Sunday, the only breed judge that had previously used Argus, so we basically went for the fun and a chance to visit with friends. Argus's half-brother Major was there (#2 Dalmatian), and won the breed on Friday & Saturday, but Argus won on Sunday which was a nice surprise under the substitute judge. He showed extremely well which pleased me, as he's been at this for two years and most dogs lose their sparkle. Not Argus, who is now showing the best he ever has.

The vendors were good and we got a great deal on dog coats - nice fleece ones for $5.00, end of season merchandise from Foster & Smith I believe. My dogs rarely wear coats or sweaters but I like to carry them in the car when I travel with dogs in the winter. Just in case . . . I also purchased a something for my tendinitis as it has flared up again this winter. A rice and herb filled "cape" that you heat up in the microwave. The heat, pressure & aroma really seem to make a difference and I'm delighted with my purchase. Merry Christmas to me!

Our friends Ginger, Laura & Cheryl spent the weekend, three of my favorite people. We agreed that this should become an annual get together - maybe I'll make my reservations soon. ;-) Meg & Mike came in for dinner on Saturday too. The Tiki Terrace is a Polynesian restaurant and was such fun! Could not have anticipated how much I would enjoy the show that consisted of dancing, singing, acrobatics and audience participation. It was an absolute blast and the food was even pretty good.

We didn't get out of the show until well after 5:00, took the shuttle back to the hotel (they were fine about our parking there even after we had checked out), and I was on the road by 6:00. The roads were perfect, and I made it home in record time.

I suffered dog show burn out about 7-8 years ago and vowed that I would never ever campaign a dog again. It just takes so much out of you. The highs are so high, but the lows are soooo low. Wasn't sure I would even show a dog again after I finished Josie, but it's in my blood I guess, something I have done since I was a teenager. I told Carrie when I purchased Argus that I would not special him, but when he proved too good NOT to special I made an agreement with myself that we would show FOR FUN, and when/if it was NOT fun I would not do it. When Mark & Ginger signed on to Team Argus, that was our agreement - when either Argus or I were no longer having fun it was time to quit. Never thought I would have this much fun or that I would still be enjoying it, but I've tried to concentrate on the friends & fun this time around. Argus is a blast to travel with, I've met some great people and made new friends, many of my old friends have been extremely supportive, the judges I respect have almost all liked the dog, and Mark & Ginger have been wonderful co-owners.

This ends Year Two, and again Argus finished #4 in the breed. The only dogs ranked above him are full time specials, shown every weekend by professionals, and we can't match that. I show dogs because I enjoy showing dogs, not because I have lots of money and want to BUY a top spot in the rankings. This is the only sport where amateurs and professionals show under the same rules, and again we are the top owner-handler team, beating out many dogs handled professionally. Additionally, Argus won more Non-Sporting Groups than any other Dalmatian this year.

Good dog Argus, it's been a blast! Only 2 1/2 weeks until the first shows of 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Off To The Dog Show I Hope

Things seem to be settled down here, so have hopes of going to Chicago this weekend. Looked over the panel and wondered why I'd entered, but hope springs eternal, or some such nonsense. Group judge today was our best bet, but there was no way I could get there for today's judging. Just hoping to have a good time with Ginger, Cheryl, Laura and of course my best buddy Argus. If all goes well I we will take off this afternoon, meeting Ginger at the Hotel in Chicago tonight and meeting up with Cheryl & Laura tomorrow. We shall see. Promised Argus we would try for one last motel/hotel stay this year as he loves to be "special" and sleep on the bed.

Got mom settled in at home yesterday, did her laundry, some cleaning, paid her bills and organized her medicine. Kris is coming in today for awhile, then it's sink or swim. It's either this or Assisted Living. The Physical Therapist said she could do all the things necessary for independent living - if she wanted to. It's up to her. The Physical Therapist is stopping by today, and I will talk with the visitng nurse. We still have to arrange for someone to come in to help with the chores like laundry and changing the bed. Not sure how much help she actually wants or needs.

Ron's doctors appointment went fine, although he has to go in again in a month to be checked out. Seems to feel fine - now if I can just keep him from shoveling (or sweeping) snow! My shoulder is still giving me problems so I do need to make arrangement for shoveling. Ugh. It sucks to get old.

Will be paying for my own Christmas gift today, some new fish that will be shipped after Christmas. Several species of Limia, and a couple of other wild livebearers. Need to reorganize some tanks to make room for the newcomers and need to move the A. compressiceps to a larger tank. Although it's a really slowgrowing species, the spawn of about 30 is outgrowing the tank they are currently living in. The fry normally have to be just 8 weeks for BAPPing (auctioned off at fish club meetings so I will get points/credits for spawning and raising them) but comps are so slow growing I will probably keep them for at least 4 months. I may sell off my colony of adults so I can try something else in that tank. I try hard not to get too attached to fish, but . . . Ought to sell one of the pairs of HRPs too, but the one pair are great parents, and the other pair are so gorgeous. The male would be perfect for showing at the fish show in April. The new planted tank is doing well and I need to decide what species gets to live there.

Time to feed dogs and head off to the office for awhile. Hope I can shake the headache I've been fighting all week!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Catching On Quickly

Jaime is doing well and learning fast. Having two days to work with him really helped, although I got a lot less done around the house than I should have! It's really important to put the work into young pups as you can never go back and do things quite as well later, and he already has some catching up to do. It's such a fun age though, and he's such a cheerful little guy and so responsive. He's quickly learned that a loud "Errrr" means to stop whatever it is he is doing.

Two days without an accident - good dog, Jaime, but it really means that we were watching him closely. He's out of his crate when we know he recently peed, and is crated or outdoors when no one has the time to keep an eye on him. He's teething now, which means he wants to try out his teeth on inappropriate items, so the supervision prevents other incidents as well. Pups are a lot of work, but it's so much easier to prevent bad habits than to fix them later. He's already much better about keeping his feet off the edge of the counter, and because we never leave food out when we have a puppy around, he won't have any successes at that either. Once a dog has gotten a few prizes off the counter, it's a lot harder to convince them to stop foraging.

Jaime went for a car ride and a visit to Chuck & Don's (pet food store) yesterday. The gals who work there really like Argus, so I decided to take his son there rather than to Petco where I normally socialize my pups. We'll do Petco next time. Knew Jaime had been getting carsick, but I suspect he had only gone for longer rides, so we will do lots of short trips and let him out to have some fun when we arrive. It's important that he enjoy trips rather than dreading them, or it will take a lot longer for him to be comfortable in the car. He rode in Argus's big crate with a blanket, a towel, a rawhide and some toys, and didn't make a peep. I stopped at the library, told him I would be right back, but did not make a fuss over him as emotional departures trigger separation anxiety. He was chewing on a toy when I got back so we drove right to Chuck & Don's. I snapped on his leash, and he walked through the door with a bit of apprehension. Everyone said, "Oh, a puppy!" and I warned them that I had just gotten him and that he might be a bit queasy from his car trip. Not to worry! Jaime greeted everyone with hugs and kisses and acted as if they were all old friends. Everyone offered him a cookie and he sat readily on command, then had a great time exploring the store and meeting other customers. The only thing that made him nervous was a big obnoxious dog who made me nervous too. Guess he needs to meet some of Argus's doggy friends in the neighborhood.

New furnace gets install today, so I'll go into work a bit late, after the installers arrive. Hope they don't find any "extra" costs. . .

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pups & Exercise Balls

Jaime is coming tomorrow night. It will be fun to have a puppy for awhile. Wish I had the time and room (and energy) to bring up his sister too. That's Piper on the left. Suzi is looking for a show home for Piper, and she'd be a great addition for anyone. Dark eyed, sound, great depth of color, and what sounds like a charming disposition. I'd really like to co-own her with someone in this area, but just want her to end up in the right situation.

Holiday today! Ron & I are off to Mystic Lake to waste a little money in slot machines. Haven't done this in years, so hopefully they still have nickel slots.

We had a good chuckle yesterday at work when an official (but poorly written) email informed us that we could NOT use exercise balls as desk chairs. What??? Had no idea that people did such a thing, but Googling the topic resulted in many interesting articles on the benefits of replacing your office chair with an exercise ball. Told Ron that I was replacing the computer chair with an exercise ball. He was not impressed. Apparently this is really popular - but I am way out of the loop.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Puppies & Coats - Not Puppies In Coats

What a cute puppy! The dog on the right, standing with his older, obviously very tolerant housemate, is theArgus/Read pup who was known as Light Blue, one of the two pups I thought were especially handsome in an over all lovely litter. Sounds as if he has settled in well, and his new mom has included me in the pictures she's sent to his breeders Suzi & Judy.

Charlie (Argus/Nikon) paid a visit to the Vet and got his rabies shot. He'll be starting obedience classes and needed his shots up to date. I had suggested the vet clinc where the pups got their check ups & DNA blood draws, and they ended up with Dr. Jim as their vet. Perfect! He spent lots of time with them, answered all Brooke's questions, and Charlie behaved well - except for the courtesy nail trimming, which does not surprise me at this age.

I received an email from one of the blog readers asking an interesting question I thought would make a good posting. She wrote,
We've noticed that some of the Dals we've met do not have the same type or feel of coat that ours has. One of them has a thick, coarse coat and its hairs are a bit longer than our girl's. Then another has the softest fur I've ever felt. It is smooth as can be and the hairs are so short and thin. What makes for the differences in hair length? I always thought that all Dals' coats looked and felt the same but I now know different! And also, one of the black-spotted Dals that we met had dull black spots and then the other one's spots are so black they look like wet ink. What causes the variation in that? Is one better than the other- or more preferable- in the show ring?
Although part of it is nutrition, most of the difference in coat length, texture and depth of pigment (that's the richness of the color) are genetic. The 4 Dals here right now all have slightly different coats.Liver Argus has very short fine soft glossy hairs and a really dense coat. Liver Coral has a short coat, not quite as thick as Argie, not quite as soft or shiny. Liver Josie has a longer harder coarser coat than the other two livers and her color is a darker shade of brown. Her father Peter also had a hard crisp coat but it was short. Black Watson has a bit longer coat (longer than Argus & Coral, shorter than Josie), super thick and soft, and his spots are shiny but not quite as shiny as those on Argus. The really satiny black spotted dogs with the super shiny soft coats I call "blue-blacks", the dull ones I refer to as "bad blacks" and the rest of them are just "black". The soft shiny livers are usually the red or mahogany in color, the duller ones are usually chocolate or brown. Genetically we are dealing with a short-haired black or liver dog (we won't get into lemons & long coats & such), but there are a variety of modifier genes that change the length, texture, and thickness of the coat, and shade of those colors.

The Dalmatian standard says the coat is "short dense fine and close fitting, neither wooly nor silky. It is sleek glossy and healthy in appearance". Because the Dalmatian lived in the stable and ran with carriages, he had to have an all weather coat, tight fitting so the rain ran off and he didn't pick up burrs. The densest coats are the hardest to bathe because it's difficult to get them wet to the skin at first, and because they have more hairs it takes longer to dry them. Dogs with those coats tend to shed more (they have more hair), but generally have healthier skin!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Major For Naughtia

A major for Naughtia last Sunday under one of our favorite judges. An excited phone from Ann who had driven (from Ohio) to shows in Tennessee. Bet the trip home was really easy! Naughtia has 7 points now, almost halfway to her championship. 15 points are required, including two "majors" which are wins of 3 or more points at one show. The number of points available at each show is based on the number of dogs and bitches who are shown, with only 1 dog and 1 bitch getting points. The maximum number of points available is 5, and most shows have far fewer. Dal entries are down, and it's often difficult to find majors, which can mean a lot of driving. Ann has some 2-point shows coming up for Naughtia, and is thinking of going to Michigan where there may be majors later in the month. It would be fun if Naughtia finished this year, but next year would be fine too. We're just pleased that Ann is hooked and Naughtia is doing so well!

When Tom Demma and I did a co-breeding of Boji to Argus, we split the litter between us. He took Rita as his first pick, and I took Ben. Then he took Sam & I took Naughtia. We both liked Lucy too, and she went up to Canada to live and be shown in breed and junior handling. I sent Ben to Diane to be shown, and later sent Naughtia to Ann. With Naughtia doing so well in the ring, I imagine that we will have to bring Lucy down next year to show. It would be fun to finish 5 as it was an exceptionally nice litter. I'm not big on showing everything "showable" just to pursue titles, but in this case all 5 dogs really are top quality.

Thanks to everyone who responded about the website. MAYBE by tomorrow it will come up with the correct address! This has been quite the learning experience. And once the site is back, I need to learn new software and start bringing the site up to date - but that's another story.

I need to do a bit of fishy research this weekend as I am really wanting an Elephant Nose. Nope, not on me. An Elephant Nose is a really odd looking fish, and I saw some nice looking healthy ones for sale last week. If I could get a tank redone, I'd give one a try, but they are good-sized fish with special needs, so it's not a decision to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Website Still Missing

I was surprised at how many people think my blog is down. Apparently they always connected to the blog by going through the website, rather than just creating a link to the blog or saving it in favorites. Hopefully the website will be back by Thursday. Everything appears to be intact, but it will not appear under until the domain transfer is complete. It is currently hosted by Yahoo at
(I'm posting this to see if this link works from anyplace other than the Yahoo site.) Not sure if the final move from Network Solutions to Yahoo is instantaneous, or if it take a bit of time. If it takes some time I may be unable to use my email for awhile, since that is tied to the domain name and is also being transferred between the two parties. I was assured that it would work out fine - we'll see!

That's Penny at the top of the page. Although she is Nikon's daughter, she looks like a Josie pup! Laurie will be taking her to handling classes so that by the time Penny comes here to be shown, she'll know a bit about dog shows. Hopefully they can find a few fun matches too. Charlie starts obedience classes in two weeks, in Dawn's class as I had suggested. Dawn teaches a standard class, no clickers, no head collars, just basic obedience training which works nicely with Dalmatians. I'll have to stop down and watch the class from time to time.

Jaime is probably coming next week, so I'll have a pup to work with for awhile. If you are reading my blog, and interested in a handsome black-spotted puppy boy, he will be available after I get my puppy fix!

Yesterday I sat through a 6 hour meeting on vendor issues in the new statewide accounting system. The amount of work & time & preparation involved in a project like this is just mind boggling. The presentation was actually pretty interesting, but the part that affected the way I do business took about 10 minutes. I'll be back there this morning but probably not spending the whole day. My desk is a Code Red and looks like a disaster area!

Time to feed dogs. The turkey necks are not thawed enough to use my cleaver on yet, so I guess their rmb (raw meaty bone) meal will be chicken necks. We're out of their favorite chicken backs, although I ordered another box yesterday. Wish I could always get the smaller turkey necks, but this batch was the baseball bat size. Really good for their teeth, like a doggy toothbrush, but I prefer to chop them in half before feeding. We tried a number of ways to do this including knives, scissors & an axe. Finally purchased a big sharp cleaver so I can whack through them in one blow. Hope no one was watching on Saturday morning when I was out on the deck in my pajamas with the necks on a bread board on the deck rail. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Each neck cut cleanly in half. At least it doesn't take long!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Still No Website

As I figured, my website is gone. Two more communications from Network Solutions, one inviting me to call them and and another do-it-yourself message that tells me if I redelegate my domain name to the new website host I will lose my email address. Why should I? The domain name will still be registered through them, so why should it make any difference? This is all too crazy. When I call today I will get some flunky in India with no knowledge of the problems I have encountered, and no actual working knowledge of what needs to be done. Just a list of stock answers to stock questions that I already KNOW won't help me. I've now gotten 5 different solutions, none of which work and most of which don't even address the question I have asked. I thought by leaving my registration with Network Solutions I could preserve my email address, but that does not seem to be the case. What a mess. I don't want to have to understand this kind of crap, I just want it to work correctly. I'm SO pissed. And why the heck was I never notified that Geocities would pull the plug on websites???

Other than that continuing aggravation, things are going well. I spent the evening redoing several tanks and moving the extra Honduran Red Points out of the tank with the new babies. Mom & dad HRP are working really hard to protect their offspring so I made it a bit easier for them. Only other inhabitants are a couple of ancistrus that I added to remove the algae on the back of the tank, and a couple of Amano shrimp who survived the addition of the HRPs to the tank. The red swords that previously lived there are doing fine in a smaller tank with some of their non-red relatives, and all the cherry shrimp who also lived there seem to have been eaten. Fortunately, several of the other tanks are well stocked with cherry shrimp.

Have not seen one of the Firemouths for a few days, so hopefully she is guarding eggs. If not, I'll do a massive water change this week and try to get things moving along. Not sure they can raise fry in a tank with 5 Angelfish, so may have to siphon out any babies and raise them separately. No other tanks large enough for 5 large Angels.

Today I will call the furnace people and confirm that I want a new furnace. The price seems reasonable and it certainly won't be cheaper next year.

It's supposed to be near 60 today and sunny. We'll see. Think I need to leave work early and get some yard work done as this may be my last chance as it will be cold and windy and possibly snowy later in the week. What happened to fall?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hollie & Peter

Received this great picture last week. This is "Peter" Ch. Paisley Perpetual Motion (L) and his owner Hollie. (Pete is the sire of our beloved Josie.) We kept Watson & Peter from Coral's first litter, with the agreement that Watson would stay and Jess could finish Peter's championship and then we would place him in a suitable situation. He finished with a great record and later went to Hollie as a Junior Showmanship dog. They had a wonderful JS career, and Hollie finished his Canadian Ch. going BoW at the National, but when Hollie first went off to college Peter had to stay behind with Hollie's parents. Arrangement were eventually made for Peter to live on campus with Hollie and her friends, so off he went to college where he has reportedly been an excellent student! Hollie plans to be a Vet someday, and we hope she will always have a Dalmatian companion.

As Peter & Watson are now 9 1/2 I often wish I had repeated the breeding they are from. We tried a chilled semen repeat breeding and Coral missed, and when I was ready to do another natural for her last litter, Kramer had just been neutered (he was 10) . That breeding was by far Coral's best, with the two boys plus their major-pointed sister Cookie (killed by a car when she jumped the co-owner's fence) being the only three in the litter. Both Wats & Peter had great records, and could not possibly have better temperaments. Sigh . . .

More rain, no sun, what's new? This month is shaping up to be the wettest & coldest October EVER. Ugh.

Making progress on the website issue, get an email response from Network Solutions & a call back from Yahoo. Fingers crossed that this all falls into place and my website does not disappear. I've learned a lot this week, but am still really annoyed that I did not know that Geocities would pull the plug. Would have been nice to have a bit more time to get this done - but on the other hand, being a procrastinator I might have waited until the last minute anyway!

Plans are falling into place for Pauli who is working out well in her new home. She will hit a few show weekends next month and start learning the ropes of traveling with a professional handler to dog shows. I suppose she will beat Argus on occasion next year, but we are proud that he produced such an outstanding daughter and glad that she will have a chance to be campaigned and that *I* don't have to do it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

That's Gem on the left, the Argus/Lily daughter that I used to own. She's doing well in her new home, catching on quickly to training, and doing a bit of modeling on the side. This is a page from a children's book.

Haven't heard anything from Suzi about the puppies, so not sure whether they will be coming to Minnesota or not. Have to admit that it is awfully peaceful here with just the 4 oldsters, but I really want to see the Argus/Read pups get into the right homes.

Wendy says that Pauli is fitting in well with the Labrador boys, so hopefully she will have be a permanent resident at Wendy's. Wendy & Jess can plan Pauli's future show career - she sure looked great the last time I saw her. Pauli, I mean! ;-)

I've figured out the website thing and what needs to happen, but getting in touch with Yahoo Small Business & Network Solutions to coordinate things seems to be impossible right now as my emails go unanswered. Guess I will have to try waiting for hours on an 800 number . . . Am running out of time here. Geocities websites supposedly get pulled next Monday, and the way things are going the transfer will not be compete by then so my website will disappear - even though I have paid Yahoo the money for hosting it. Could be that thousands of others did not know about this, or waited until the last minute, and both companies are swamped. Had not realized that Network Solutions was the registrar for most of the domain names for websites on Geocities. Because there are apparently problems with Yahoo email right now, it could be that the volume (of everything!) is just too large. We shall see.

I've often thought about redoing my website, but probably would never have gotten around to it. This way I might have no choice! I set mine up in the 90s and did my html coding by hand. Things have changed a lot and putting up a new site should go faster, but I have over 100 pages on my site, and hundreds of pictures - many that I have no where else. I'll pick up a portable storage drive or whatever and download my pages this weekend, just as a precaution. I've already got the most important ones on this computer. What a pain . . .

I've been working on the fish tanks this week, along with fighting the Website War. Hope to get to the fish club auction this weekend, and although I am incredibly broke I expect to bring home some new aquarium denizens. Many of my fish are elderly, and I actually have several empty cycled planted tanks for new fish. What I really need are some new heaters though. The tanks that are not in the fish room require heaters as my basement tends to be chilly. My Firemouths & Honduran Red Points are in the spawning mood, so things are getting lively.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The 101 Dalmatians Musical

Jess & I went to see the musical last night as it opened in Minneapolis this week. We sat in the "cheap seats" and I'm not sure whether I was out of breath from climbing four flights of stairs to the 2nd-from-the-back row of the balcony, or it's just that the air was thinner way up there. We joked that we should have brought along a bucket of dog hair to fling into the air so that hair could settle on the audience! The orpheum is a lovely old theater and the show appeared to be a sell out.

Although it was entertaining, I would have to say I was disappointed. From the media hype one expects that the Dalmatians play a relatively large part in the production but that is not the case at all. This production is based on Dodie Smith's book, so the adult dogs are Pongo, Missus Pongo, Perdita & Prince and they are people wearing spotted clothing - not dog suits but white tops & slacks randomly splashed with spots - and yes Prince & Perdita appeared to be liver. The "puppies" are kids who might have been 8 - 14. Cast members were dressed as other breeds, and the "poodles" and the "sheepdog" were pretty good but it was hard to recognize the others.

The songs were all original I believe and some were pretty catchy. The dancing was quite good and it was interesting to watch. The sets were clever and the staging nicely done especially at first, but later in the production the lighting seemed to be off and you could see the stagehands in the background moving things around. Have to admit that I got a little bored during the second half. The kids who had come to see Dalmatians sure did.

And the Dalmatians? In the beginning we saw the shadowy actics of a real Dal before we met the spotted cast. At the end of the first act we saw all the Dalmatians in stage for perhaps a minute. Some were sitting, a couple were dashing around the stage. We assumed we would see more of them during the second half, but that did not happen until the very end, when the Dearlys were in their new home and we saw the dogs playing around in the garden. We saw one dog at a time move across the stage, some of them doing clever things, some of them just dashing around. One did a semblance of weave poles which was cute but lasted perhaps 5 seconds. It was hard to tell what most were supposed to be doing and the whole segment lasted perhaps 2 minutes. That's all folks. Somehow with Purina as a sponsor I expected DOGS.

When the cast came out for a curtain call, I assumed we might see the Dals then, but nope, just the folks in spotted suits. The highlight was Cruella, who was definitely the star of the show. Her cat was well done too. Cruella could have studied under Glenn Close and put a lot into her performance. The kids loved her.

It was entertaining if you like musicals. If you don't enjoy musicals, DON'T go just to see the dogs. Hopefully, with experience the dogs will play a larger part in the show, but I suspect they are only meant to attract media attention (through the rescue dog thing) and make this look like a family show - but some of the adult humor (and it was funny) belies that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hot Water!

Yay, I have hot water this morning and that's a big relief. Ron called yesterday to say that we did not "seem" to have any hot water. Because there's only the two of us and a 50 gallon water heater, I can't recall that we have ever run out of hot water. No hot water? My fault! I did it! While talking to Jim The Boilerman on Monday, I had jokingly noted that my water heater was getting up there in years and was probably due to go out. Did it? Did I make it happen by saying that and then NOT knocking on wood? I KNOW I should never say things like that. I'm not superstitious but . . .

So I stopped at Sears on the way home and got prices, stopped at Menards and got more prices. Way too much, at least twice or three times what I paid to have the current one installed. Argh. Came home, found the manual (amazing), read the manual, read the label on the water heater and noted all the WARNINGS! Got brave and took off the panel to find the pilot light. Thank God, it was working. Being paranoid about explosions and fires, I was not looking forward to trying that. Read everything again. So why was it not heating water? Must be broken. Wasted another hour researching water heaters on the internet. Still no idea. Gotta buy a new one, but how to afford a water heater AND a new furnace. Went to dinner, walked dog, sat down in front of the water heater again. Hmmm. Little dial is set on Pilot. What other options are there? OFF. ON? There it is, under the dust. Switched the little dial to ON, and WHOOSH! It will either blow up now, or heat the water. And this morning I have hot water. YAY! The mystery is how the water heater happened to be set at Pilot rather than ON. We NEVER EVER fuss with the water heater. Another mystery.

Argus found a new treasure last night. Several days ago he came home with a special prize, a squashed Hi-C juice box. I made him leave it outside, but he picked it up the next evening to take along on our walk, I presume always watching for a suitable burial site. Last night he forgot the box and had nothing to carry and started hunting the gutters, for something, anything, and came up with a prize. I could see cardboard so knew it was not a dead thing, and he was not inclined to let me take it (I didn't push) so I figured it might be a cigarette package, his favorite. We did our two miles, he peed on trees, greeted several other dogs, and never let go of the prize. When we got home I reminded him it was NOT coming in the house and took it from his mouth. A DOUBLE! No wonder he was so pleased with his find - a Marlboro pack AND a squashed Caribou Coffee cup. Very special indeed. So now he has all three treasures laying in the grass by the front steps, handy if he wants to pick one up on the way out tonite. Such a guy.

Love the face shot of Argus that I added this morning. THAT is the real Argus, with sparkling eyes and a near-smile!

Lots of new baby fish to attend. Last year I purchased some stunning Red Delta Guppies from a local Discus breeder. Terry had invested in good stock and was offering the option of "show quality" or "pet quality" guppies. Snob that I am, I purchased the show quality fish and they were stunning. Really lovely. A cherry red male with an enormous tail, and three beautiful females with bright red tails - yes, females in some show strains are by no means drab. The Guppies have done well in a 20L tank with some fancy LD08 Plecos and lots of Cherry Shrimp. A few youngsters have survived and are quite handsome, but decided I needed to raise up more babies so I could select for any show quality youngsters to carry on. Guppy parents tend to eat their youngsters, so I have been removing the babies and putting them in small net tanks attached inside the parents tanks. Have about 25 of them now, which should be enough, but means fish to feed three times a day and more water changes for that tank if I want the youngsters to thrive.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Argus Pups Coming To Minnesota

I was pleased to hear that several of the Argus/Read pups will be coming to pet homes in this area. Hopefully I will get a chance to see them and meet their new owners. Sure am tempted to make Suzi an offer for Light Blue or Green. It always amazes me that so many people insist they will only consider a female pup when male Dal pups are so delightful and adult males are so charming and funny. Give me a Dal Boy ANY DAY! More fun to show, and more fun to live with. Of all the girls I have owned, only Marla & Josie have been as much fun as the boys have been. If I could only have one Dal, it would most certainly be a male.

It's nice having a good Italian restaurant only a block or two away, two of them actually as there are sister restaurants half a block apart - "Luci" and "Luci Ancora". Particularly handy when roads are bad, and also nice to know that if I have an extra glass of wine I don't have to worry about driving home. Honest to gosh, they do have the best bruchetta and Ron swears by the Caesar salad (don't care for it myself). The homemade fettuccine was excellent last night - I'd sure order that again. Crowds seem to be down in restaurants, but the ones that offer good food, good service and good value will hopefully survive!

Because I will be in town this weekend, we'll be able to pick up my mother and take her to dinner. Mexican? Italian (I could eat pasta every day)? Steak or burgers? I also had Ron pick up some Marsala as I have always wanted to make Chicken Marsala. You can tell it's fall (at least on the calendar) as I am getting the urge to try recipes again. AND I need to have a few more BLTs, as I have the expensive cook-in-the-bag bacon, and a bowl full of perfectly ripe (today) Big Boy tomatoes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another Beautiful Friday

Another beautiful Friday morning. Watson & Argus are outdoors hunting mice, their current obsession. There are mice (and who knows what else) in the alley so the dogs dash out every morning to hunt along the fence line. When I went to bring them in yesterday morning, Argus was "playing" with something which he gulped down before I could take it out of his mouth - have to say I am just as glad I did not have to pull out a slimy mouse! Josie used to catch and kill them and leave the bodies for me to step on in my bare feet. Ugh! Now they eat the evidence.

Josie & Coral are in the family room, Coral nestled down in the cushiest dog bed (she's not an early riser) and Josie playing with a small rubber mouse that she can only have when there is no one to compete for it. The dogs all love to play with the squeaky mouse, but get too competitive and I worry that someone will gulp the toy to keep it away from the others. So Josie plays like a 54 pound cat, tossing the mouse in the air and pouncing on it. I hope she will stay a puppy forever. I've never before owned such a playful middle-aged girl. Such fun and so endlessly entertaining.

The backyard is fragrant with the smell of Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) which reseeds every year and creates billows of tall plants with fragrant flowers. The Nicotiana takes over the raised flower bed this time of the year, but that's fine. It's a rather handsome plant, and the smell is fantastic.

Pauli went off with Jessica yesterday, to stay with her German Shepherd friends for a few days and meet up with Wendy on Saturday. Pauli will go along with Jess who has organized the Dal booth for the AKC event on Saturday. (Be sure you attend if you are local - it sounds like fun. See the flyer I posted earlier this week or email for additional information). Wendy will be working at the Labrador booth and will visit Pauli periodically and introduce her to the Lab boys in a neutral setting. If all goes well, Pauli will go home with Wendy. She's going "on approval" as we always do with adult dogs if we place them. It's important that a dog fits into it's new home, and although Dals are amazing adaptable we want to be sure a new situation will work. If you snuggle with an adult Dal, take it for walks and FEED IT, Dals normally settle in almost immediately! I updated Pauli's webpage last night too. Maybe if I do one page a night I can get my website up to date.

Argus & I will be attending a couple of UKC shows (as opposed to the AKC shows we normally attend) in hopes of finishing his UKC championship. We hit the same shows last year, earning a Best In Show on Saturday, but we did not go back for the Sunday show. That was the day my gorgeous Argus/Tess pups started dying of Herpes (a respiratory disease in dogs, very uncommon and very unpreventable) and the beginning of one of the hardest weeks I have ever endured. Not sure I will ever get over watching a litter of 8 gorgeous pups die before my eyes, knowing there was not a thing I could do to save them. But we moved on.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Blog For Argus Kids & A Celebration Of Dogs!

I created a new blog, this one just for posting pictures of new Argus pups when the owner does not have a website. I created it because the person who does Suzi's website was not getting the puppy pictures up - and they showed up right after I posted mine. Surprise! You can see the pups at Suuurrrreee are cute!

No Argus pups due for awhile now, but a number of visiting ladies planned for later this year.

I received this in the mail because I recently sent Penny's registration application in. My daughter Jess is orgainzing the Dalmatian portion of the AKC Canine Experience, so if you are free on Saturday, stop by to say Hi to Jess & "Watson", Stephanie & "Tate", and Colleen & "Pinky". Bring your whole family and your dog too, and enjoy a Doggy Day!

  • Dear AKC®-Registered Dog Owner,
    As the owner of a newly registered dog, the American Kennel Club® invites you and your dog to participate in an AKC Canine Experience educational event on September 19, 2009 at the Washington County Fairgrounds, 12300 North 40th Street, Lake Elmo, MN, 55042.
    Join fellow dog owners and longtime dog experts to learn the basics about AKC dog events. Then, have the opportunity to practice showing your dog at an AKC-Sanctioned Match in a relaxed environment.
    Members of AKC-affiliated clubs from the surrounding area will be available to meet with you and discuss a variety of dog show topics. Additionally, the AKC Clubs in this area will be offering free educational programs to teach dog show basics. This will be followed by a sanctioned match where you can show your dog. Exhibitors may run their dogs through an Obedience or Rally course as well. The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program will be explained and evaluations will be offered. A dog supply vendor will be onsite with an assortment of products available for purchase.
    What to bring:Bring your whole family and dog at least three months of age with current vaccinations, AKC registration or PAL/ILP number, dog lead, water and bowl, and crate (recommended if you have one).
    Planned educational activities include a continuous flow of:
    Meet the Breeds
    Handling classes for both adults and children (Junior Showmanship)
    Grooming tips and demonstrations
    Dog Show procedures
    Dog Show entry assistance
    Equipment advice for show and grooming
    AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluations
    Therapy Dog International
    Obedience and Rally run-throughs
    Agility Demonstrations
    Licensed dog show superintendent information concerning dog shows in your area will be available
    The educational programs begin at 9:00 AM and through noon. The all-breed conformation match show entries will be taken from 9:00 to 11:00 AM with a start time of noon.
    For additional information click here or contact Pat Cunningham - (218) 828-1690 or

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dog Nails

Ugh. Everyone needs their nails done tonight. I try to do dog nails at least once a week, but somehow missed last week, except for Argus. Not one of my favorite chores, although the dogs are pretty OK with it. I've got an Oster grinder that I can use, but it takes longer than just cutting the nails. For years I used the Resco guillotine-style clippers, but they must be made in China now. . . Seems as if the blades get dull sooner, they don't cut as cleanly as they used to, and the whole thing falls apart. After wasting money on three bad clippers in just a few months , I switched to a clipper made by Bamboo, and a year later it is still working well. Strong & sharp & sturdy. Wonder if "Consumer Reports" could do an article on dog nail clippers?

Cutting nails is a lot easier for me in the summer as I have a grooming table with a grooming noose set up on the deck for year around use. Taking the dogs outdoors one at a time, with a pocket full of treats and a bottle of Quik Stop, I can do them all in less than 10 minutes. Because I have AMD, Pigment Dispersion Syndrome and a few other eye disorders (or is it just that I am getting old???) I need good light to trim nails. In cold weather it's tougher for me to do a good job unless we brave the elements, brush the snow off the table and try to avoid frozen hands. If I use a grooming table in the basement, the light is bad. Bringing the outdoor table into the family room is a hassle, so if I do nails in the family room the dogs generally sit on a rug by the patio door for decent light. Sounds as if I am making excuses for not doing nails, but they DO get done regularly. It was easier when Jess lived at home - it was HER job.

It's interesting how the length of the quick varies from dog to dog. Argus has extremely short quicks and it's easy to take his nails way back. Morris was like that too, and even as an old dog he always had short quick and short nails. Murphy was the first Dal I had with those super-short quicks, and Cheryl used to joke that she bred to Murphy for short toenails.

Pauli on the other hand has long quicks, always has. Even though her nails are done every week, she will always have longish nails. Until I started biking her I could always hear her nails on the floor, even after I had just cut them. Since she has been biking, they are a bit shorter, but still bother me. I "could" bleed them, cutting them back a ways and try to keep them that length, but that's messy and painful and not something I enjoy doing. Because she has excellent feet and narrow nails, Pauli's feet look fine.

Josie also has the long quicks, but she has longer toes and thick ugly nails so her feet don't look as nice as Pauli's. Because her toes are not as arched as Pauli's, her nails don't click even though they are longer than Pauli's. We just try to keep Josie's nails "under control". Coral has those same long nails, but she too has gorgeous tight feet. Wats is somewhere in between and is the worst about having his nails done. He doesn't fight it, just tries to collapse on the grooming table. That's his passive-aggressive personality at work.

Argus was very bad about his nails as a youngster. Never really fought and never ever tried to bite, but he vocalized. Oh how he vocalized! Made the most amazing noises, singing and crying and crooning as if he were being killed, all the while wagging his tail. I quickly found out that was Argus's response to stress of any kind. Sing about it! When he had his hip x-rays done for OFA he did the same thing. Sounded as if he was being killed. That's my Argus. Can't remember when he last responded vocally to anything, but I know some of his kids have very large vocabularies! Argus is great about his nails now, swapping kisses for cookies, and standing patiently for clipping or grinding. I use the grinder for indoor show weekends, just because it give the foot a nice look when the nails edges are smoothed off.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Allergy Season

"I think my dog has allergies," she said. "You mean because he chews his paws constantly, always has ear infections, rubs his face on the rug, and now he's scratching like crazy?" I responded. "I told you a long time ago that his foot licking and ear infections were probably related to allergies, and this is just about the worst time of the year for most allergic dogs in this part of the country."

Buddy is a designer dog, a Schnoodle. Remember, one of the reasons people buy designer dogs is because they are supposedly healthier than purebred. Hahahaha. You ought to ask about Buddy's vet bills. To be fair, he was not purchased for that reason, but because he was small, cute and needed a home. But, he is pretty miserable right now.

We discussed some of the home remedies she could use to make Buddy more comfortable. Bathing him with a hypo-allergenic shampoo, using an oatmeal-based cream rinse, cold water rinses to cool his skin, and the use of antihistamines. Seasonal allergies in dogs are the canine version of hay fever. While humans have histamine receptors in the mucus membranes, causing running noses, watery eyes, post nasal drip and the like, it's the skin that is affected in dogs, and they get itchy. Really itchy. Some dogs like some people have year around allergies, but many of them (like Buddy) are much worse in the summer due to pollens, molds, mildews, and other "outdoor" problems. Buddy is worst when he is up north at the trailer in the woods. There are many other possibilities, like new carpeting, fabric softener, rug cleaners, dog shampoo, you name it, someone is allergic to it. Dogs too. One of the big problems for dogs as it is for people is house dust mites. (Remind me to shake the rugs and vacuum tonight!).

Antihistamines can be quite effective for dogs, and most Dalmatian owners carry Benadryl when they travel. If a dog pops hives, starts to scratch, or gets stung by a bee, quick use of an antihistamine can make him more comfortable. An allergic reaction that disturbs the skin surface can also leave a dog vulnerable to a staph infection. The staph is always there, it just causes problems when the skin surface is damaged from allergies or itching. A pyoderma caused by a staph infection normally needs to be treated with an antibiotic, so it's much better to prevent the problem in the first place!

Dogs can also have food allergies, but food allergies cause only 5% to 8% of the allergy problems we see in dogs. It's more likely that a dog would have a food intolerance and develop gas, loose stools or vomiting. My Josie does have a food allergy though and can not tolerate beef. Any kind of beef product, including a nice beef bone will make her incredibly itchy for several days. Beef is the only food that affects her that way.

Josie also has mild inhalant allergies, and in late May, and again in mid-August she will develop bumps on her forehead - remember, the histamine receptors on on the skin. She does not wheeze, cough, sneeze or get watery eyes like she would if she were a human. If I am proactive and have her on antihistamines at the time, nothing happens. If I am careless, she will pop hives and if they are not resolved quickly she will develop small hard dry pustules - Dalmatian Crud. A staph infection that "normally" responds to Cephalexin.

Some dogs get very itchy from inhalant allergies, like poor Buddy the Schnoodle. The Beagle I had as a kid was that way, and would scratch frantically in August. I've never owned a Dal who did that, other than Josie's response to beef. Dals seem more likely to pop hives and later develop the little staph bumps on the top of their heads and/or down their backs. I suppose Dals in flea-infested parts of the country are more likely to have the all-over itching, as many dogs quickly become sensitized to (allergic to) flea saliva.

While Benadryl is the most commonly used antihistamine for dogs, not all dogs respond the same way, and it may take some experimenting to find the right antihistamine. The others generally used are Hydroxizine (available by prescription from a vet) and Chlor-Trimeton (the generic chlorpheniramine maleate is much cheaper). Antihistamines can be sedating, which is not always a bad thing!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Potato Salad

A cute picture of Argus's daughter Viva today. She picked up two specialty weekend majors a couple of weeks ago and needs 4 singles to finish, so hopefully will be done soon. Her breeder/owner Donna kept Viva as an Agility dog and is really excited about her potential.

When we were in Ohio last weekend, Phil drove over from Pittsburgh with Como so we could see how she was doing. She remembered me of course, and if she doesn't see me for another year she will still remember me. What a cutey. It will be fun to follow their tracking career.

A nice group of Dals training at Animal Inn on Tuesday. Tate, Sam & Jax were in the handling class practicing for the upcoming shows. Sam is a brother to Chs. Ben & Rita, and needs a major to finish his championship, while Tate (and his owner Stephanie) & puppy Jax will be making their debuts. Stephanie has Tate entered for the whole weekend, so they are doing Dog Show Immersion. A recent trip to the chiropractor really made an enormous difference in Tate. He was bought back from a home that turned out to be far less satisfactory than I had anticipated, and Stephanie & Mauro have done a great job restoring his self esteem and getting him in condition. Puppy Jax is doing great. His family has put a lot of work into raising him properly - and it shows.

Darling Charlie/Calhoun was at class too, doing his first night of Puppy Kindergarten. He looks stunning and has a wonderful personality. Like his dad Argus, Charlie seems to think life is a party, put on his personal enjoyment. Spotting is really spectacular and he has as pretty a face as you could put on a Dal pup. Gotta take my camera next week. Brooke & Michael seem to be enjoying him, and Brooke says there is nothing like a happy puppy to lift your spirits at the end of a hard day at work. I couldn't agree more.

Perfect Potato Salad
Potato salad is not something I enjoy or eat by choice as it is normally tasteless & gummy. Ick. My mother makes good potato salad, but mine never tastes quite like hers so I rarely try. Ron loves potato salad, any potato salad, so I've been watching for an interesting recipe. I recently came across an article on potato salad - can't recall the publication - and the author lamented how bad most of it is. By a process of trial and error he came up with an easy solution.

Cut red potatoes in half and boil until just cooked (do not overcook), drain and cut into chunks. Now here's the trick. While they are still hot, cover the potatoes with a mixture of equal parts vinegar & water, including any herbs you wish, and let them soak in the vinegar for half an hour. They will absorb the flavor from the vinegar & herbs and will no longer be tasteless white blobs. I used red wine vinegar plus fresh oregano, thyme & basil (because they grow in my garden) but any vinegar will do, and herbs are optional. Drain, add any extras & dressing of your choice. I added finely chopped onions & celery, chunks of hard cooked egg & sliced radishes and used a dressing of Light Miracle Whip, mustard, sugar & vinegar. Mayo would have been better of course, but we watch the cholesterol around here. It was excellent, and what little was left over was even better the next day. Takes a bit longer to make, but it is well worth the effort - even if you think you don't like potato salad.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

Why do people blog? Why do I blog? I was contemplating that last night after I got an email questioning some of the comments I made in a recent posting.

Bloggers blog for a variety of reasons including
  • To educate
  • To influence
  • To share information (not the same as educate)
  • To entertain
  • To brag
  • To stir things up
  • To share pictures
  • For money

    I started my first blog as a way to share information on a large litter of pups. Because I had 12 pups and lots of reservations, the blog allowed me to share information & pictures without having to communicate with a dozen people every day! It saved me an enormous amount of time and allowed the puppy buyers to watch the litter develop. It also provided me with an opportunity to share my thoughts on puppy socialization, puppy placements & health testing. Many newer breeders wrote to tell me how useful the socialization information was to them and that they used my blog as a guide when they raised a litter. The blog ended when the pups were placed, but I did a similar blog for Josie's second litter and yet another for Boji's litter.

    This blog was started for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I enjoy writing. Some people read the paper while drinking their morning coffee. I write. I find it relaxing to sit down and put my thoughts on paper. It clears my head and gets me ready to start the day. I'd also like to write another book someday, but because I am a terrible procrastinator and have a problems starting major projects, I decided that it might be helpful for me to get in the habit of writing for a short period every day. We'll see if that works! I have to admit that I am hooked on this, and really look forward to my 15 minutes of daily blogging. Hopefully I can address of variety of interesting topics, and add more humor in the future, but it's primarily a blog about dogs & fish, with a few other things mixed in.

    A blog generally reflects the author's opinions, his view of the world based on life experiences. We all have things that we feel strongly about, whether it's something we approve of or find extraordinarily aggravating or offensive. My opinions are often strong ones, and things that bother me bother me a lot. No one has to agree with me. My opinions are MY opinions.

    My opinions on temperament are based on 40+ years of observing Dalmatians & Dalmatian owners. Temperaments vary a great deal in this breed, from fearful, sharp-shy, and soft & timid through dangerously aggressive, with the vast majority of Dals falling somewhere in the middle. The problem is that the bad ones can appear in the well bred & carefully planned litters. Not often, but it happens and it's up to the breeder to recognize, accept, and deal appropriately with the unfortunate ones. Although proper socialization and training can modify a dog's personality, it does not affect his basic make up. Who he is. Both nature & nurture matter, but to a dog breeder the nature part must always be acknowledged.

    Temperaments vary a great deal in many breeds, not just Dals, but Dal breeders seem more inclined to make excuses for the dogs with incorrect temperaments and often breed from these dogs. They also train & show dogs that should never make it to the ring. I refer to those dogs as Well-Trained Spooks, although some of them are aggressive rather than timid. It's really interesting to watch a dog's body language & the expression in it's eyes - you can tell a lot about a dog's temperament by watching it's face and ears, posture & carriage. It's not fun showing (or watching) a dog who is on the verge of coming unglued!

    Several years ago I was watching a dog show on TV where the Dalmatian totally freaked out in the Group ring and the announcer made some comment to the effect that "Well, Dalmatians are like that". I wanted to leap up, shake the TV, and scream, "NO! Dalmatians are NOT like that!" Every Dalmatian that appears in public, whether at the dog park, in obedience class, walking through the neighborhood, or at a dog show is representing our breed, and influences public perception of Dalmatians. Unfortunately, we have gotten a lot of bad PR from situations like this one, and it should not be happening. DALMATIANS are not "like that", but unfortunately some dogs ARE "like that". What a shame.

  • Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Rain . . .

    Not hard, but at least it is happening today. Hard to believe that we have had less than half our normal rainfall so far this year. That's on top of being down 7 inches last year. We don't need a gully washer, but could sure use a few days of steady rain. Lawn and flower beds look good, but my water bill will be large. Again. No watering restrictions yet, but it will certainly happen if things don't pick up. I worry the most about all the beautiful trees that have gone through four or five years of drought stress. People seem to forget about the trees, and many boulevard trees will be lost again this year. Wish this weather cycle would come to an end.

    The family room floor is covered with "green guts" this morning, as Josie and Argus brought the big stuffed spider in from the deck to play with, and things got rough. How they love unstuffing toys! The spider is now on top of the refrigerator, but Josie is sitting there watching it, like she watches squirrels in trees. The spider was a gift from Cheyenne & her mom and makes a wonderful puppy toy, so I'll stitch him back together for future use. Just minor damage so far. Josie and Argus absolutely adore the toy, but they play far too rough.

    A mystery similar to the one that involves missing socks (how can you put pairs of socks in the wash but end up with singles?). I dropped off two items at the library on Sunday evening using the same drop off box. The book was logged in, the tape was not. When I stopped in to pay my overdue fine yesterday noon, they had no record of the tape being returned. So where did it go? Presumably it will turn up. I finished an excellent tape AND an excellent book last weekend. Both the kind that is so good you just hate to see it end. Since getting a new library card this spring (or was it winter?) I have gotten maximum usage out of it and have enjoyed a number of excellent mysteries, as books, tapes and CDs. The latter sure make long trips easier. I have a stack of dog and fish magazines next to the bed, that I SHOULD read, but the mysteries are hard to resist. When Jess was a toddler, before I went back to work, I used to enjoy mysteries. When I started working full time I let my library card lapse and only read an occasional mystery usually a Dick Francis horsey mystery. Now I have discovered Michael Connolly, the Kellermans and others. After a lapse of 30 years (OH MY) I have rediscovered the joys of juicy mysteries.

    Gem is doing great in her new home. I sometimes regret that I did not keep her to show and especially to breed, as Gem had a number of particularly nice features including a gorgeous front (very hard to get in this breed, any breed), but she has a perfect such a perfect home, and gets to do so much more than she would have done here. A recent email from Michelle mentions -

    Gemmie LOVES water and swimming. We hiked a bit and came along the Brushy Creek and an awesome area to let Anna and her cousin swim. I don't force a dog to get in the water. I let them choose with their trust in me and the situation, especially now that we are forming our bond. Well we walked the creeked and the girls swam the deep portions, while Brook and I went to the bank. We didn't have suits on. Spyder is a huge swimmer and Gemmie followed her lead. She would run up and down and jump in, leap in the air. It was fun to watch.

    Gemmie also had the photo shoot at work. They put her on a seamless background to clip her out. She had to sit and lay down with a birthday hat on and "pose". I told them we would see how it goes. No guarantees as she is a young dog with a short attention span and I wasn't going to push her for a couple interior book shots at her age and this stage in our relationship. Well the photographer had all the shots she needed within 10 minutes. Gemmie posed beautifully. Afterward we toured the Creative dept. where I work and everyone met her and gave her a treat. We were in and out of work within a 1/2 hour. Very positive experience.

    I'm looking forward to seeing Gem's pictures. With her cute expressive face, sparkling black eyes, and rich coloring, Gem should be very photogenic.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    No Time To Post

    Sorry. A million emails to deal with, and a puppy pen ever more difficult to clean in the AM - pups are into shredding newspapers. I need to get Mr. Calhoun promised as I am growing attached to him and do not want to keep a pup right now.

    Laurie due to arrive today, health exam and DNA blood draw this evening. Tomorrow Laurie can get to know the pups while I am at work. Her assignment will be to PLAY WITH PUPS. A tough job. ;-)

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Post Puppy Crazies

    Nikon is now afflicted. At about the time bitches finish weaning their pups, they normally turn into lunatics! I suppose it's hormone related, but perhaps it's just their relief at finishing up a tough job. About 7 weeks post-whelping, all they want to do is play - wildly. Nikon is in the family room dancing around with Watson who is flattered at the attention. Pauli is outside with Argus & Coral, but I imagine she will be thrilled when Nikon invites her to play, as she is really missing Gem.

    And me, I'm glad the four-show weekend is over! I'm more of a two-show weekend kind of person, and this was a bit much. BUT wonderfully successful. Argus did his best yet yesterday and went 3rd in a VERY competitive 220 dog NS Group. He showed very well, and I kept it together too. A good performance all around, although Jess said she could tell Argus was tired, but giving it his best shot. What a good dog he is.

    From my posting to one of the Dalmatian lists -

    Four days of outdoor shows and I am TIRED. I much prefer air conditioned shows with rubber matting, but that was not an option this weekend. ;-) Wonderful shows, excellent judges, good rings and a zillion handlers. In a year when all the other shows are down in numbers, these shows were actually up about 200 dogs each day, a tribute to a very hard working show committee of real dog people, and an excellent panel that drew dogs & handlers from as far away as Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. Lots of awesome dogs to admire in the groups! Weather was a bit warm/humid for those of us who have not actually had any hot weather yet, but we did our best. Tomorrow I will see a doctor about the large purple swollen toe that I apparently broke this morning - if I can get a shoe on it - BUT I did not even feel it while racing around the group ring. It was great to have BIG N-S Groups for a change, averaging over 200 dogs each day. Points sure accumulate faster that way.

    This moring my foot looks a little strange with a weird purple sausage where one of my toes should be. Does not really hurt though and did not keep me from sleeping last night, but putting on shoes and walking across the (big) parking lot to my office may be a chore!

    A couple of pups were acting a bit dumpy yesterday, but their stools were normal so I figured it was from eating something they shouldn't have in the yard. We carefully pick up the mushrooms that are springing up before letting the pups out, but I always worry about them. The pups have been real bad about playing in the mulch too, but it's just regular cypress mulch, not the toxic cocoa bean mulch that can kill even adult dogs who eat it. Gave them both a dose of kaopectate to settle their stomachs, and they were feeling better by bedtime. I'll have Ron keep an eye on them today though and be extra careful about checking the yard before sending the pups out. Vonda was going to take them camping, but that fell through, and the next couple of days are going to be too hot for them to travel I think.

    Guess I need to do some pictures tonite or at least post some of the ones that are sitting on my computer. Time has been the issue!

    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    A Good Day, All Around

    Well, I decided that the problem was mine, not Argus's. A mentor once told me that when a well trained dog has an off day, it's usually the HANDLER that had a off day and needs an attitude adjustment . . .

    I let Argus make the decision this morning, and by 9:00AM he was ready and waiting to go to the show. With later judging we did not have to leave until almost noon, but almost cut it too close because of a road closing (that I knew of, but forgot). We made it on time and Argus showed really well in breed. The Group was 5th today rather than 7th, which was nice, and although it was hot the humidity was not as bad. I worked real hard on MY attitude, went in with a positive outlook, and did a good job of handling today. Argus showed very well for me today and we went 4th in a HUGE (235 dog) Group behind dogs from Michigan, California and Texas, all with professional handlers of course. We've been playing in hot company this weekend! The two group placements in such large shows gave Argus a large number of all breed points which will really help in the ratings. Tomorrow is another day, but we'll go with a good attitude.

    The shows have been a lot of fun because of all the quality entries, and handlers from all over the country. Many excellent dogs I have never seen before, including an absolutely spectacular Doberman girl from the east coast. Because there are Chow and Shar Pei Specialties with large entries, both breeds have been fun to watch each day. In a year when virtually all shows are down in numbers, this cluster was up by 200 dogs each day, pretty amazing but due to quality shows, a good facility and an excellent judging panel.

    Pups had a great time today as well. Vonda and Bill came over this morning, and may pick up the pups for "day camp" tomorrow. That will be excellent socialization. Stephanie & Mauro had already arrived by the time I got home from the show today, and Mauro had fallen for the two lightly marked girls. They want a puppy bitch eventually, but because they have a liver Josie son they want a black spotted girl next time. When they are ready I will help them find just the right girl.

    Early judging tomorrow, so it will be another long day, and the trip home will be slow because of all the cars coming back from going "up nort" for the weekend.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009


    Ants, ugh. I fight them in my yard every summer, but occasionally fight them in my house as well. Ron went down to retrieve Nikon's food bowl last night and came back to announce that there were ants all over the newspaper around her bowl. UGH. Always amazes me how they can find food. We had an ant attack in the basement two years ago when I was thawing a 40# box of chicken backs over the floor drain. That was nasty, but easily resolved. Hope it is this time too. I dashed off to Walgreens to pick up ant bait to stash in odd corners of the basement, where dogs wouldn't find it. Have to remember to collect these before the pups are out and about and put the baits in super safe spots. I noticed that a lot of the ant products were on sale, a few of the selections were sold out, and the clerk noted that the ants must be "hungry" as they had sure sold a lot of ant products this week. Because I have fish, and bits of dried fish food inevitably get spilled, I normally keep ant baits in the basement, but when I cleaned over the winter I collected and disposed of them. Note to Sue, "Always replace ant bait".

    One year I had a colony of flying ants get in to the basement. THAT was nasty, and I found hundreds/thousands (seemed like millions) of them everywhere. I kept lots of Bettas at that time and they were in open topped jars. Every morning for a week I had to scoop drowning ants out of the Betta jars. I couldn't spray because of the fish, and had to manually collect and destroy the little #@%&. Figured out where they came in, thru a small crack behind my front steps, and have not had that happen again. So far. Mother Nature is always in charge though.

    Speaking of Mother Nature, Argus met one of her disciples last night when he treed a raccoon - yes, in the city, while on a flexi. Thank goodness the thing went up the tree instead of standing his ground. As Argus was leaping and dancing at the base of the tree, the racoon was standing in a crotch of the tree looking down at us. Big sucker, larger than the neighbor's Beagle. Josie might be able to stand up to such a critter (probably not) but Argus is not nearly as varminty as my girls. If Tess was still here she probably would have climbed the tree and dragged him down! We see racoons from time to time - caught one in a squirrel trap and had to call animal control, and confronted another on the front porch where he was eating dog food from the dog food barrels we used to keep there back in Kibble Days.

    "The procedure" went well and I survived. A couple of minor polyps removed and sent off to be analysed. No reason to suspect they are anything but benign, but always good to know. Kind of a weird experience to lay on your side and observe the inside of your colon on a nice big screen! They don't let you drive home, so Ron waited with me, and we stopped at White Castle on the way home (please, no gagging, I like them) and each had a couple of cheeseburgers, hot and fresh. Delcious. God, I was hungry! Had a glass of milk at home and later picked up my mother and went out for Mexican food. Low fiber for a couple of days because the polyps were cut out, but seafood enchiladas filled the bill nicely. No chips and salsa though . . . No alcohol either they said as it might react with the medication, but I do love Margeritas!

    Used my time at home to work on DCA business and some housecleaning. Ron cleans a bit, but spring shedding requires a lot more serious attack on dog hair! Someday I would like to take a day off and do nothing - but that's not likely as there are always things that need to be done around here.

    Ron making plans to replace some of the wooden lattices with the nice sturdy plastic privacy lattice that is on sale at Menards. That will make the back yard look nicer for the neighbor who likes to spy on us from her upstairs bedroom window.

    Nikon is all settled in and today is day 58. I once had a litter born on day 58, but normally do not see puppies until at least day 61. Before I leave for work I will take her temperature for the first time. She'll hate it but will have to get used to it being taken 3 to 4 times a day. A normal temperature is supposed to mean that whelping will not begin within the next 24 hours. Of course once the temperature drops you don't really know how soon whelping will start, but you better keep an eye on things. Because I am entered at dog shows this weekend, I need to keep an eye on things here. Jess volunteered to sit in with Nikon if need be, and because Nikon knows her, and Jess enjoys whelping pups, I took her up on her offer. We shall see how this plays out.

    Good news on Gem's brother Jax who Jess and friends purchased from the Argus/Lilly litter. When I saw the litter at Jody's I suggested that Jess take Jax as I thought the boys were better over all than the bitches and Jax was just a doll, with a wonderful personality. Jess had not seen Jax for several months and was delighted with how he is developing, and says that his co-owners are doing a fantastic job of raising him. He probably won't be ready to show until later in the summer, but she will borrow him from time to time and start his show training. One more dandy Argus kid.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    Packing List For The National

    My updated list of things not to be forgotten is sitting on the dining room table now. I keep a list on my computer, and update it for the seasons and for particular show weekends. This updated list is longer than usual because we will be away for a week. I won't be able to pack enough raw frozen food for the dogs and we'll probably have to pick up more bread, milk, and fruit, but hopefully I will have included everything else needed by two women and two dogs. We'll take the biggest cooler and freeze two gallon jugs of water to use instead of ice. Amazing how long those jugs stay frozen!

    My list includes various categories such as Purse, People Supplies, Dog Supplies, Suitcase, Garment Bag, Tack Bag, Spotted Bag (a huge sturdy bag Eloise won at a dog show in the 1980s!), Food (for people) Bag, Cooler, and Special Items and each is followed by a list of things that should be packed in that particular item. I also have a category called Car, for gas, oil change, Fix-A-Flat and such things. I work on the list for several days before I leave, checking things off as I know they are packed, and go over it again just before leaving. So WHY do I ALWAYS manage to forget SOMETHING???

    This year we will bring three sets of crates too. Car crates, collapsable crates to set up in the room, and pop ups to use in the grooming room down by the rings. Carrying extra crates makes loading and unloading much easier if you are staying for a couple of days. Of course my trusty dolly is also included for transporting crates, suitcases, cooler, water jugs, and assorted gear to the room. We will be arrving early afternoon on Saturday (as of now) so will have plenty of time to get the room set up the way we want to before the show officially opens with the Welcome Party that evening. Of course much of the fun surrounding a Specialty show takes place on the grounds as we meet friends while walking dogs, in the hallways, in surrounding restaurants, and of course in the motel bar. We got to know the surrounding restaurants in Fort Mitchell, KY where the past 4 specialties were held. This year we will have to figure out where to eat in Lawrence, KS. I'll sure miss the Bonefish Grill this year!

    The week's events will include the Welcome Party, a health clinic with eye exams, an educational seminar with Eddie Dziuk from OFA (and co-owner/breeder of the Westminister Beagle Uno), the DCA Annual Meeting (chaired by the new DCA President Meg Hennessey), the Gala which is a fundraiser for DCAF, the Top Twenty competition (a formal event with last year's 20 top winning Dals invited), a Sweepstakes, the annual Futurity and the regular judging of 250 Dalmatians. There is also obedience, agility, rally and a road trial. The National will end with a banquet on Wednesday evening, and then we will start all over again with the Heartland (KS) Specialty on Thursday and Friday, with a barbeque on Thursday. The regional will be much smaller as many folks will head for home Wednesday or Thursday, especially those who want to be home for Easter. Jess and I will stay for the whole thing, God willing, and get together with my mother and sister's family for Easter. Busy busy week!

    We hope that Argus does well and that Pauli is successful, but it would be pretty hard to top last year when Argus went Best of Breed! The entry is down about 100 dogs this year because of the location (a tough drive from the east coast), the economy, and the time of year (earlier than usual and weather is still an issue). Still a large enough entry to be lots of fun though, and most of the regulars show up no matter what. A great time to see old friends and meet people we often just know from email lists. Can't wait!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Balancing Two Hobbies (Two Obsessions?)

    When I was getting burned out in dog shows some years back (after 35 years) I went back to fishkeeping thinking I could do it in a small way, forgetting that I never do anything in a small way. I had been one of the 1960s fishkeepers with a metal frame tank and hang on the back filter full of angel floss and charcoal that replaced my fish bowl full of guppies. Got my tank for Christmas from my dad, and we set it up right away and added black mollies, moon fish (platies), zebra fish and some catfish that were presumably bronze cories. Angel fish too later, and Kuhli loaches. They never lived very long but I enjoyed them. No one knew about cycling a tank or doing regular water changes, and everyone said that "old water was good water". When we did massive water changes or scrubbed the tank, all the fish died from shock because we replaced the water they were slowly pickling in with fresh. I kept fish off and on for the next 35 years, sometimes tropicals, sometimes gold fish, never taking the time to learn much about the hobby.

    When I got back into fish I purchased a betta at WalMart and put him in a vase with a plant (argh!), kept him on the kitchen counter, started reading about bettas and discovered websites full of wonderful show type Bettas. Soon set up a small tank with Dalmatian mollies (white with black spots) and albino corys, and started reading and learning. THEN I joined the Minnesota Aquarium Society, went to my first fish show and was HOOKED. My one gallon betta tanks soon lead to an upstairs bedroom full of betta containers and an increasing number of aquariums. A water spill (they go with fishkeeping) would have been a real problem upstairs, so I eventually built a fishroom in the basement. So much for doing it on a small scale. . . (pun)

    I was not destined to get out of dogs either, really missed dogs shows and dog people, and tried to balance fishkeeping and dogs. When Argus came to stay my life got even busier. Although he was a wonderful pup I explained to his breeder my good friend Carrie that I did NOT want to campaign another dog, no matter how good he turned out to be, but I might be willing to let someone else do it if they wanted to. I was still grieving for my beloved Rob and did not plan to get too attached to Argus. We did dog shows only on weekends where we could also party with friends, and I started to enjoy shows again. Argus turned out even better than I had expected, and also won my heart and I knew that if he were to have a Specials career I would be the one to campaign him. Having campaigned Morris to a wonderful record, I knew how much time, work, and money Specialing entailed, BUT such a nice dog deserved to be campaigned, and as a handler friend once said, "How will the judges know what a really good dog looks like, if he sits at home?". My friends Mark & Ginger came on as co-owners, we gave it a try, and what a year we had! Winning the National and a couple of all breed Bests in Show, always owner-handled by me, #4 Dal over all shown only part of the year and never professionally handled. It was quite a ride!

    The fish survived the year, although my fish club activities suffered. I missed the club's show last year and will miss it again this year, leaving for the Dal National the first day of the fish show. I won a Best Of Show with a betta several years ago, and attended the betta national too. Argus will be the last dog I campaign, and when he retires I will be able to spend more time on my fishy hobby. I still have almost 40 tanks up and running, but rarely purchase new fish as many of my tanks contain older "pet" fish. I've bred quite a few species of fish and really enjoy that part of the hobby, but have cut way back on that for now, as raising fry can be very time consuming.

    Maybe next year I will be able to balance both hobbies a bit better! We'll see!

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Backcross Continued

    Although this project has gone on for 35 years, little progress has been made in the appearance of the dogs, which tell us there is a relationship between the Dalmatian markings and the possibility of forming urate crystals. All Dals are presumed to have two recessive copies of the gene that allows for the formation of urate crystals/stones - a trait the breed shares with primates, including humans!

    Although the use of backcross dogs sounds great and has lots of potential, the project does not include appropriate record keeping and follow up. More seriously, we don't even know if a dog that inherits TWO copies of the dominant LUA gene (which means it would not carry the gene that allows for the formation of urate crystals/stones) even looks like a Dal. Very few breedings have apparently been done between LUA dogs. Most of the breedings have been between dogs carrying a single copy of this gene bred to registered Dals who do not carry the gene, which give approximately 50% dogs carrying the LUA gene. By breeding LUA dogs together, dogs could be produced that do not carry the urate crystal/stone gene at all, and could produce 100% unaffected dogs. The fact that these breedings are not being done, and in the few cases that have been done pictures have not been made available of the offspring, makes us wonder what these dogs actually look like.

    And because these breedings have not been done so the dogs can be tracked, we don't even have proof that by changing this gene we could eliminate urate stone formers. Although in theory this sounds good, we don't have sufficient results to prove that it is valid. This may be a useful project but it is not yet ready for prime time.

    The big problem is that the backcross proponents think that we should accept these dogs for registration NOW, without even being sure this will work, and whether or not there are other issues that may need to be addressed. By opening the stud book to these "mostly Dalmatians" we are accepting that the theory is valid, that the dogs will look like Dalmatians, and that there will not be other problems down the road. So one side (which I am on) is asking for more test breedings, particularly LUA to LUA with resultant LUA/LUA dogs tracked - and photographed! We'd really like to know what they look like and how it affects their markings!

    Dalmatian markings are one of the things that makes this breed unique. By settling for less than that to resolve a problem that is not very widespread, is manageable, and has been with us since the early days of the breed, we are taking the risk of changing our breed forever.

    The people who want registration NOW and are unwilling to provide the information we need to accept this, are tearing our breed club apart and making things extremely unpleasant for those of us who are only asking for more proof that this is a valid project. Very ugly indeed!

    Note: The above is a very simplified version of what is going on. If you would like more information, please contact me directly.