Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Family Gathering

Gram gives Davis a hug,

A family get together last night at Boca Chica.  We tried last week, but the nasty weather got in the way.  This time it came off nicely, and we "all" made it, except for Jess's partner Don.  My nephew Davis will be stationed in Australia for two years, and it was our last chance to visit with him before he flies back to Maryland for some additional training before the trip to Australia.  With Al & Alison in Costa Rica and Davis heading for the red center, our small family will become smaller, and although no one actually mentioned it, we all knew that last night might be Gram's last visit with Davis.  She's doing well at almost-87, but . . .

Ron enjoys these get togethers, and he and my brother-in-law Bob always have spirited conversations.  Because my Bob & Kris are staunch Republicans and my mother & I are equally staunch Dems, we normally try to stay away from politics.  My mother just shakes her head and wonders how a daughter of hers can be so misguided.  I've never heard my nephews Eric & Davis comment on politics at all, probably just as well if they don't agree with their father!

My non-Techy sister will be able to talk with Davis using Skype.  Fortunately for her, Eric IS a Techy, and works hard to keep Kris up to speed.  We wondered if she would ever use email and were delighted when she actually showed up on Facebook.  Hopefully Davis will post to Facebook too, so we can all share his adventures.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I received this email question last week and thought it would make a good blog topic.

While my husband and I were working in the greenhouse we were talking about co-ownership of show dogs which I had to admit I didn't really know much about.  I suppose each breeder sets their own rules but if you could explain briefly how co-ownership works for you I'd appreciate it.

Co-ownerships are commonly used by "show people" when placing pups.  They generally work well for all concerned, but depending on the terms and the people involved they can also cause problems.  Even when contracts are used, there can be misunderstandings, and for this reason they are discouraged by the AKC - but are perfectly legal and extremely common.  They are used extensively by Dal breeders, and many long standing friendships started with the co-ownership of a puppy.

Because very few show breeders have kennel situations, they are limited as to the number of dogs they can keep.  Because a litter is done with the expectation of producing quality dogs, possibly better than the parents, most breeders would prefer to keep a pup from each litter.  That might be possible if one is breeding small dogs, but very unrealistic if one is raising Dals and raising a litter more often than every five years.  Because Dals need time & attention, training & exercise, we are limited as to how many dogs we can keep.  Limited by time, space, and often by neighbors and local regulations.

Our co-ownerships normally consist of placing a show potential pup in a pet home, with the agreement that we have the right to show it (at our expense) and possibly to raise a litter (if it is a female) or use it at stud (if it is a male).  Co-ownerships generally have an end date, at which time we sign off.  This allows us access to a dog that we can show and that may become part of our breeding program, and it allows the pet owner access to a dog that might not otherwise be available as a companion, and also introduces them to the sport of dog showing.  We've finished many champions this way, but also encountered some difficult situations when the co-owners were not willing to follow through on the agreement, or did not take appropriate care of the dog.  We always enter into co-ownerships accepting this possibility.

Some dogs are sold outright to "watch homes", where we keep an eye on how they are developing, and if they turn out well we will show them at our expense.

Co-ownership are also used on show pups going to proven show homes, where we may want to show the dog in Bred By Exhibitor class, or where we are placing the dog with new show people and need to keep some strings attached.

Co-ownership should never be confused with the old Pyramid Scheme where well bred dogs were placed in pet homes with the agreement that they would be bred and the seller would get back puppies or even an entire litter.  This used to be an unfortunately common practice, but is rarely done anymore.  Because health testing is expensive but absolutely required before dogs are bred from, raising a litter of pups is time-consuming and expensive, and because I am responsible for the pups produced by dogs of my breeding, this is never an option. 

Oops, out of time and I just touched the surface . . .

Monday, March 28, 2011

How Can It Be Time?

Dal watering can & fish planter.

OK, where did my hour for writing go?  I'm supposed to let dogs in and out, drink coffee, check my email & Facebook, and work on my blog from 6:00-7:00.  Lost some time uploading pictures from my camera when the software decided to be difficult, but how does my precious hour always go so fast?

A most productive weekend that included a lot of much-needed housecleaning and lunch with my mother.  Hopefully the Weather Dudes are correct and this week WILL eventually make it to the 50s.  I'm rreeaallyyy tired of snow and ice.

One of my friends at work surprised me with the cute Dal watering can, pictured above with the fish planter that Connie gave me for my birthday.  It will be nice to be greeted by two smiling faces when I enter my cube.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Staying Ahead Of Dog Hair. Hah!

21 degrees and sunny.  It's going to be a gorgeous day!  A long list of household chores need my attention, but I'll find time to walk the dogs this afternoon and to take my mother out for lunch or perhaps pie & coffee.  Because I have a new John Sandford mystery CD to listen to, the trip out & back should be enjoyable.  I'd like to stop at the Como Conservatory to see the new spring flower display but parking will be impossible.  I'm SO ready for spring.

A variety of brushes!

A sure sign of spring is an increase in loose dog hair - on the floor, on the furniture, in my car, on our clothes.  How does one stay ahead of it?  Not possible, it's a fact of life.  Dogs grow hair and then they shed it (except for the breeds where it continues to grow, but those dogs require serious grooming).  Growing new coat and shedding old coat just happens.  My dogs shed some hair year around, but it is somewhat worse in the fall, and MUCH worse in the spring.  In a way, it would be easier if they all shed at the same time, but that's never the way it happens.  Watson is almost done now.  Josie & Mariah haven't started.  Coral and Argus are shedding like crazy.  Because Josie and Coral don't have such thick coats, their shedding is more manageable.  Watson and Argus have extra thick soft coats and shed lots more, but Watson sheds everything quickly, while Argus drags it out.  Many variations in Dal coats and shedding patterns. 

When Watson started shedding, I gave him a warm bath and some serious brushing to speed up the process. The faster they shed, the sooner they are done.  Coral gets a warm bath and serious brushing today.  Because I don't want Argus to lose too much coat at one time and because he is bathed more often (if the coat is thinner the spots may temporarily look less distinct) he gets bathed for shows in cool water, something he does not appreciate!

Everyone will get brushed today, outside on the deck, where the wind can whisk the hair away.  I've been brushing Argus in the basement before he is bathed, but normally I brush them outdoors.  I HATE being covered with dog hair, so that works better for me.  I've tried every kind of brush on the market, including the ones that attach to a vacuum cleaner hose.  My favorites are the brushes on the left side of the picture above.  The ones that fit over my hand and can be used either right or left handed (because my arm gets tired!).  I usually dampen the coat slightly - but probably not today as it is too chilly - brush against the lay of the hair and then with it.  It's important to brush the shoulders & legs as well as the back.  There's a lot of coat to be shed on the upper & lower thighs.

One thing I have found over the years though, is that if the dog has any kind of skin issues, such as seasonal allergies, they should NOT be brushed then as it will only make things worse.  A rubdown with damp hands, following the lay of the coat works well.  Actually, a rubdown with damp hands works anytime.

Like many Dal owners we wear a lot of denim because it does not show the hair.  Unlike many of them I keep my dogs out of the bedrooms & living room so the hair & noseprints tend to stay in the family room & kitchen.  At least that's the idea, but a lot of hair still finds it's way through out the house.  That's the price we pay for owning Dals.