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.