Friday, April 8, 2011

Summer Pests

Hi Sue,

What kind, if any, heartworm prevention do you use? Also what kind of flea and tick prevention do you like?

It's definitely the season to start thinking about these issues.  Also time to get a blood panel done, one that includes a heartworm test.  Although most dogs do not need yearly vaccinations, a yearly blood panel is an excellent idea as it may indicate potential problems before the owner is even aware that one exists, things such a chronic kidney failure in senior dogs.  Also time to put the dogs on heartworm medication if they do not get it year around.  To answer the above question, I do not use heartworm pills as I think the price is outrageous.  I prefer to use the 1% solution of Ivermectin, and no I won't discuss the appropriate dosage here.  If you have a good relationship with your vet, he may give you the information, but you will be using a medication off-label.  If you live in an area that has mosquitoes, please use something!  Heartworm can kill.

Because I live in the city and do not take my dogs to dog parks, I use nothing for fleas and ticks.  We may see one tick a year, and I can't even remember when I last saw a flea.  If I had a problem with fleas I'd use one of the systemic products like Frontline, but because we do not (knock on wood) have a flea problem I do not treat my dogs for a problem that does not exist.  My daughter uses a spray she makes from Lavender oil mixed with water and she swears that it keeps the Shepherds virtually tick-free in the spring.  That would be my preference too, if we had ticks in the neighborhood.

I do have a bottle of Adam's Plus Flea & Tick Mist and we use that at outdoor shows if we are concerned there may be a problem with fleas - especially at fairgrounds in the late summer - or if mosquitoes are a problem. 

My preference is to use as few medications & chemicals as possible - in & on the dogs and ME.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring At Last!

It's amazing how these come up overnight!

Perfect weather.  Yesterday was gorgeous, today expected to be the same.  Rain in the forecast for later, but that would be OK too.  The grass would really green up if we got some rain.  It's tempting to uncover the flower beds that are buried beneath the oak leaves, but I think that can wait until next week.  The Daffodils that were buried in snow a few weeks ago seem to have survived, and their buds are getting plump.  Yay for Spring!

Chicago shows this weekend, primarily as a tune up for Penny who has not been out since last fall.  We'll stay with Meg & probably see a couple more of the lovely Ricky/Crystal pups - nice litter.  Jess & I both covet the brown boy Mac. 

Entries closed for the National yesterday and all we have entered are adults, mostly brownies.  Argus & Penny for Specials, Argus & Pauli for Top Twenty, Argus for Stud Dog, and Lucy in Open Black.  Wish we had something to show in the classes, but all we have are "Grandpups" to cheer for this year.  I'll volunteer at the health clinics since I don't have a Sweepstakes entry (same day), and we'll get some of the affordable testing done on our dogs.  Great price on the thyroid test, and this year they are offering cardiac testing for the first time.  Argus is up to date on thyroid & eyes, but will do the cardiac test.  Lucy is signed up for eyes, thyroid & cardiac.  Pauli & Penny will also get some testing done.  Because the girls will presumably be bred at some future date, we will get the testing taken care of now.  Much more affordable to have it done at the DCA health clinic.  Thanks, DCA!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Letters, We Get Letters . . .

If I’d been fishing yesterday, I’d have been very satisfied with my catch. Am always amazed at who reads this blog, shares what I have written, and how quickly people respond when they take issue with something. Because I use my blog to express opinions (of which I have many), entertain, practice my hobby of writing, and (hopefully) to educate, I do step on toes from time to time, but I never name names. My opinions as I have said before, are strictly my own.

Yesterday’s posting drew responses from four individuals, referring to three different dogs. Tails seem to be a touchier topic than trim. In one case if the tail was fixed it was a mighty poor job. In another case I don’t recall ever having seen the dog in the ring (but now of course I wonder about its tail).

Let me just say that I have owned and bred more than my share of dogs with high or hooky (curly) tails, and have had stud dogs that sired them on a regular basis. We’ve placed as pets some very handsome teenaged dogs with tails we’ve hated, and finished but never bred from other dogs with tails we’ve hated. When I see those dogs later their tails never improved with time. Heck, I can breed together two dogs with perfect tails and get bad ones. I even bred a dog whose owner had his tail fixed – badly. It went from a common flagpole tail, to a flagpole tail where the last 4 inches dangled limply. I can also recall several aspiring specials (not mine!) whose careers were ended by bad fix jobs. When half of the tail dangles loosely for more than a few days, it’s generally a bad fix. The first few days it might just be what’s called a “cold tail”, a tail injury that is not uncommon in Dals and other long tailed breeds, after that well, perhaps it was shut in the car door. . .

One thing I have found to be true in ALL the major lines I have worked with over the years, including Watseka, Melody, Coachman, Long Last and many generations of Paisley, is that tails do not miraculously get better on adult dogs as they mature, and they often get worse. Puppy tails may go up by 6 weeks and come down by 4 or 5 months (the trick is to guess which ones if any WILL come down) and a few others will come down before the dog is fully grown (sometimes after a bitch’s first season). Teenaged dogs may carry their tails high when excited, as will dogs of both sexes when they first walk into a dog show, but in 40 years of tail watching I have never seen a consistently high tail correct itself on a mature adult dog. The same holds true of hooks, only more so – they are even more likely to get worse.

Wrapping can bring a tail down for a while, but timing can be a problem as the tail does not stay down for very long, and in a large entry it may well be up again before judging is over. I once wrapped a dog’s high tail and got through Winners Dog for a nice big major. By the time we came back in for breed, the tail was up and the judge actually commented on the difference – but still gave us Best Of Winners. I think that was the last time we tried it and that was many many years ago.

If YOU are truly blessed with an animal whose tail did correct itself, I hope that trait is the one passed on to its offspring. I'm sure this posting will generate emails from people who will swear it happened to them.   Lucky you!

At a Judges Education Seminar I attended years ago, someone asked the late Annie Clark how hard one should penalize bad tails in Poodles. She replied that she did not judge them “too harshly” as that would cause more people to get tails “fixed”, which would make it harder for the breeders to tell what they were breeding to and actually make the problem worse. Unfortunately, Dal people seem to be so used to bad tails they don’t even care.

Helen – hope that answered your question on tails. On noses I was referring to enhanced coloring, usually tattooing, but sometimes help comes from a bottle or a tube. Fixes are illegal, but most are virtually impossible to detect and a judge has to judge the dog as it appears on that day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Locked In/Out

Eddie meets Murphy, a Landseer Newfoundland.

Came home to some cute pictures of Eddie's visit to Canada!  He'll come back here when Lucy goes home, and will move on to his forever home with Lisen.  We haven't decided if he'll be a show dog or just a companion, but he seems to be coming along well.  Lisen can show him if she wishes, or we can borrow him to show which will work out nicely.

An interesting trip to Clinton/DeWitt Iowa.  Lucy lost to her cousin Maggie both days, so did not pick up any points, but it broke from 2 to 1 anyway.  She showed well for Jess.  Guess she does better at larger shows!  So glad we got both the majors out of the way.  Argus went BoB on Sunday, and showed extremely well both days.  Good specials competition, and nice honest dogs with solid dispositions.  It's a lot easier to lose to "natural" dogs than to dogs with doctored noses or tails or "enhanced" attitudes.  Most of us try to play the game fairly - but unfortunately not all of us.  Fixes are illegal of course, but fairly common in many breeds, fortunately not too common in Dalmatians.  Too bad the enhanced characteristics are not the ones passed on to the offspring.  Dog shows were originally about judging "breeding stock", but now they are more about winning.

Because we had early judging on Saturday we had a very nice touristy day exploring the old river town of Clinton.  Unfortunately the museum is not open on Saturdays.  Went through some antique stores full of "real" antiques, spent a bit of time and money at the Casino and had dinner overlooking the river.  Fun day.  Big adventure was being locked in/out of our motel!  Jess locked in, me locked out.  The maintenance man finally had to kick down the door!  Fortunately the motel had another room available for us - this one with a good lock.