Monday, March 29, 2010

If In Doubt, Read Instructions

I'd been having problems with my little Nikon CoolPix camera and could not get the flash to come back on. I remembered how to turn it off and on, one of the few things I had taken the time to learn, but that was no longer working. The problem started when I decided to take a video of Argus on the treadmill, which I eventually did, but then I could not get the camera out of the video mode and spent hours fussing with it, changing this and that without a clue as to what I was doing. FINALLY, I broke down and spent a couple of hours studying the manual, something I have never done before even though I've owned the camera for a year.

Wow, it does so many cool things like taking pictures in sepia (see above). Could be interesting to do a group of liver Dals in sepia. And a sports mode of continuous shots, one per second. I was jealous that a friend's camera did that. Never occurred to me that mine did too. So many interesting things to try! Reading the manual, what a concept!

A reader asks, "What exactly does it mean when someone says a dog has good bone or a lot of bone? Don't quite understand the meaning."

The AKC standard says that the Dalmatian's legs are "straight, stong and sturdy in bone". Not really a very good description, but it means that the Dalmatian is not fine-boned. He does not have skinny legs! Some breeds are heavy in bone, like the Rottweiler, with big thick legs, while others are light in bone like Italian Greyhounds and Miniature Pinchers, with thin delicate legs. Dalmatians are actually moderate in bone, but it's rather common for Dals to not have quite enough bone for their size. By saying that a dog has good bone or heavy bone, we normally mean that he has plenty of bone - neither big thick legs like treat trunks, nor skinny little legs like toothpicks. To complicate the matter, some standards call for oval bone, while others call for round bone (which is usually heavier bone for the size of the dog). Hope that helps!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dewclaws Optional

The handsome boy on today's posting is "Krash" Ch. Choco Chip Krash Asteroid, a son of Argus & litter brother to Bad Pauli. His owner Jordan is new to the show ring, but finished Krash with a nice record that included a couple of Specialty majors. He's pictured here going Best of Breed at a recent show. Jordan also works Krash in Agility. Everyone starts as a newbie, and Jordan & Krash caught on fast!

An interesting question from one of the readers.
Do dewclaws have to be removed in order for a Dal to show in conformation (and actually win)? and if they can compete, do judges frown upon the intact dewclaws? I have often wondered that.

The Dalmatian standard reads -

Feet are very important. Both front and rear feet are round and compact with thick, elastic pads and well arched toes. Flat feet are a major fault. Toenails are black and/or white in black- spotted dogs and brown and/or white in liver- spotted dogs. Dewclaws may be removed.

The standard is always our guide in such issues as this varies from breed to breed. It tells us dewclaw removal is optional. Most breeders remove dewclaws most of the time, and when we share information on rescue dogs that is always one of the things that comes up. In general, dogs without dewclaws come from show breeders, who (if they are responsible breeders) want to know if any of their dogs are in a bad situation. Commercially bred pups and pups from pet-bred litters normally have their dewclaws.

Dewclaws are removed for safety reasons, cosmetic reasons, or both. They may be removed because of the risk they will get caught and torn or even ripped off, a painful, messy, and bloody business. A friend at work used to give me grief about having this done on puppies until her adult Pitbull cross tore a dewclaw while playing in the yard. The injured dewclaw had to be removed, a much more serious surgery than dewclaw removal on pups.

Dewclaws are generally removed when pups are about 2-3 days old. The little "thumbs" are attached only by cartilage at that age and can easy be snipped off, with a single stitch (or not) to prevent bleeding. Most of them don't bleed at all, and although the pups object vocally (probably to the restraint as much as the snipping) they quickly go back to sleep.

Whether or not a dog has dewclaws (or whiskers, for that matter) makes no difference in the judging. Dewclaw removal may create a "cleaner" look to the leg, especially if the dewclaws would have stuck out or been loose and floppy. Most Dalmatian dewclaws are small and tight and barely noticeable.

We've removed dewclaws on most of our litters, but a few litters did not get done because of weather or health issues. One litter would have needed a vet visit during a blizzard, another during an incredible cold spell. Just not worth the risk. Our last litter did not have them removed because we had a difficult whelping and most of the pups were very small and we were not sure if they would make it. So lovely Penny still has her dewclaws, but we don't expect that to handicap her in any way in the show ring.