Friday, August 6, 2010

Good Question

I received this email recently, and thought it was a good topic for a posting.

Hi Sue,
Question for you: Read in your blog about flaws in dogs that are severe, such as extreme cow hocks. This is probably a very silly question but what constitutes extreme? How do you know if it is minor or a big problem? My pup is almost five months old and has just hit a major growth spurt and it was in the midst of said spurt that I began to notice that when he stands a certain way, his hocks go in and his toes point out. Sometimes just a hair, sometimes it's very noticeable. Two weeks ago we met up with two of his siblings and I took the time to compare and they both looked to have perfect back legs...they were also considerably shorter than him. I spoke to my vet who said it could be due to the growth spurt and that he will likely grow out if it. In your experience, what do you think? Is it something they can grow out of or something that improves with age or will he always stand that way? Thanks so much.

We often joke that you should pick your pups at 6 weeks and then close your eyes for the next 8 - 10 months, and it's often true, although I prefer to pick mine at 6 - 10 weeks as some need just a bit more time. IF a pup is sound and well balanced at 6 - 8 weeks it will generally go back to what it was, although there is no guarantee. Some pups grow up as nice little well-proportioned packages, while others go through growth spurts and/or horrendous stages of development, and even littermates do not grow up at the same rate. If the puppy mentioned above was a sound, correctly proportioned puppy, he will most likely be a sound, correctly proportioned adult. It would be better to evaluate his hindquarters when he is stacked or moving. If he can stand with his hocks and stifles correct, and if he can move correctly going away, he's fine. Pups often look gawky when they are relaxed.

On the other hand, there are lots of OTHER things that can go wrong as a puppy grows up. It can go oversize (a Dal over 24 inches tall at the withers is disqualified), its spots can all run together (a nicely marked pup may have spots that grow together - we call that "exploding spots"), or it can develop secondary spotting/ticking, its tail may come up and be carried too high, or its bite can go bad. Overshot or undershot bites are a disqualification. A dog can have no major faults at all and still not be top quality - a lack of faults does not mean the dog has the opposing virtues! Unfortunately many dogs get sold as show quality pups who are only "showable" pups - they have no disqualifications. Show QUALITY pups should excel in the characteristics that make a good Dalmatian. No dog is perfect of course, but merely adequate should not be good enough for the show ring.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Help, My Computer Is Out Of Control!

Computer keeps telling me that it finished doing automatic updates (of what???) and needs to restart. Well sorry, ol' boy, this is MY time to be in charge and you will just have to wait. Seems as if the computer is always automatically updating, scanning for this or that, guarding me against pop ups (including the ones I am trying to look at) and generally making things difficult. Whenever I need to check Facebook, do a Google search or start some kind of a project, the machine is already busy doing something that will make my job either slow or impossible. I've lost track of what it should be looking for and when, but I have a feeling that it is probably scanning the heavens for alien life forms and trying to make contact!

Great family get together last night. My brother Al is visiting from Costa Rica as he does every summer. Stays with mom, rents a car (since she no longer drives or has a car), connects with lots of old friends and shops for things he can't find in Costa Rica. Alison stays home and tends the critters (she is involved in rescue so they always have an assortment of dogs, parrots, and other more exotic creatures like sloths). My sister Kris had the day off so we all met at Boca Chica for Mexican food. Mom, Al, Kris, her husband Bob and son Erik, Ron, my daughter Jess, and me. Kris's son Davis is still on a Navy ship in the Persian Gulf somewhere, Erik's girl friend Angela had to work, and Jess's partner Don was home tending the critters (the logistics of leaving work to tend the critters and getting back to SSPaul were a bit much), but it was nice we were able to collect as many as we did! Mom & Al are coming for dinner on Saturday, and I'm taking him to the airport on Sunday.

Amy asked -
So glad you mentioned exercise and proper condition. How much is too much for a six month old? I jog with my just turned six month old bitch twice per day every day, about a mile and a half each time for a total of three miles per day. Plus we have a fenced in yard where we play fetch and frisbee daily and she runs and plays with the other dogs as well. She handles the jogs quite well and still has energy to spare when we return. When will it be safe to take her on longer distances?

My personal opinion is that young dogs who are still developing should not be doing any kind of forced exercise, and that includes jogging and biking. They should get leash walks and off leash running (such as playing in the yard or park) but should not have regimented exercise until at least a year of age. Catching Frisbees is not something I would encourage in a young dog. Leaping for a disc, especially when competing with adult dogs is NOT safe. Pups are loose-jointed and less coordinated, and can fall and be damaged. If a pup is jogged it should not be everyday, and certainly not twice a day. Jogging moderate distances several times a week might be fine, but walking & playing are really the best exercise for youngster. This is my opinion but it's based on watching a lot of young dogs grow up, and also on based on articles and observations that I have read over the years. I teach my young dogs to run with a bike and take them for a few blocks once in awhile, but never roadwork a young dog, ever.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Weather Really Sucks

As I recall, there is an old expression that goes something like, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." YES! The air is dripping again this morning and there's a fog warning. If it's going to be this wet, we ought to have rain, but no such luck. Tonight the grass will get a drink. A lawn needs one inch of rain a week in the summer to stay healthy, and it's time to step in and help out. Think we've only watered the lawn 2 or 3 times so far this summer, a huge improvement from the past few years of summer with NO rain.

Audrey has grown a bit more the past week, because the flower stalks add to her height. Need to get her measured tonight as the information on her says 8 - 10 feet and she appears to be getting to the top of her range now. She's covered with dozens/hundreds of 3 inch yellow daisy-type flowers now, and as an added bonus she is a popular feeding site for Goldfinches who rest on the spent blossoms and apparently eat the seeds that are forming. If I had had a good telephoto lens I could have gotten terrific pictures yesterday noon.

The tomatoes are ripening on the Giant Tomato and her Nearly Giant partner. Think we will be freezing tomatoes this year, as the patio tomato has decided to survive (not sure if the dose of Epsom Salts helped, but it sure seems to have made a difference) and the hanging basket has tomatoes ready to pick - and no we did NOT put it back up on the neighbor's fence. A hanging tomato basket freshly watered is incredibly heavy. It's hanging from an old plum tree on the other side of the yard -doesn't get enough sun to do it's best, but it's doing well enough to provide more tomatoes than we can possibly eat.

The daphnia pond is prospering, and the fish are eating live daphnia several times a week. I really want the Limia tridens, the Alfaro cultratus and the Brachyrhaphus roseni to spawn this summer or fall. Spell check does not help with those names, and the latter two don't quite roll off my tongue (fingers?) yet.

I'm 85 points away from the next breeder's level in our fish club's breeder awards program, and I'd like to get to that level this winter. I've spawned and successfully raised 39 different species of fish so far, and am currently 32nd on the club's all time list. Because this is my secondary hobby (although it probably takes more of my time on non-show weekends than the dogs do) I have to fit in my fishy chores when I can. This winter I want to concentrate a bit harder and get those 85 points. I've still got a lot of tanks with 3 - 5 year old fish who are "pets" - they take up space I could use for breeding fish, but I get attached, and some species like Edd Puffer and the Mudskippers do not breed in captivity anyway. Some of the fish are just breeding stock, while others are strictly pets, but all of them are interesting in their own ways.

The picture is Charlie, son of Argus and Nikon, brother to Penny. Not a perfect shot, but one we got on the way home from the shows, so Jess would have a picture for Facebook. Can't wait to see how the show pictures look. This picture shows Charlie's excellent proportions, balanced angulation, beautiful neck and shoulders (and the way he flows together so smoothly over the withers) and the fact that he "stands over" his front just like his sister Penny, a trait that is unfortunately uncommon in Dalmatians. His forelegs are set under his body, rather than coming right off the front of the dog, as they do when shoulders are too straight - which is typical of the breed, and a common fault in many breeds. He also has a level back rather than the ski slope topline that goes with straight shoulders.

Jess & I took Charlie and Argus to Waukesha where we met up with Laurie and Penny who drove in from Virginia. We had a bang up weekend, taking the points in both dogs and bitches both days, as well as going breed with Argus both days. Doesn't get much better than that. I was SO proud of the puppies - although they are almost 15 months old, they will always be the puppies, I guess. Charlie picked up both majors and proved that he was a fast learner by showing quite well. Penny remembered what she needed to do, although she was not tremendously impressed with the wet grass, picked up another major and went BoS over a special both days. Two weeks off for the pups, and Charlie gets to be a pet. Penny came home with us and is on a conditioning program - actually Penny and Jess are on a conditioning program - Penny just came out of season and is a bit soft. Charlie goes jogging with Brooke & Michael, so he's already optimally fit, as is Argus who gets exercised every evening. Part of being a successful showdog is being in perfect condition - perfect coat, perfect muscle tone, perfect frame of mind.

Coming soon - the other type of judge - the crooked one, and an answer on cowhocks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Please Check Back

No time for blogging right now, had entries to get in for Charlie (he earned his trip to Colorado), and a meat order to place, plus emails to answer and pictures of Charlie to download. Whew, time to feed dogs!