Friday, March 29, 2013

Please Wait!

Dear Fern,

Please wait!

Just a little bit longer, say about three weeks.  Is that too much to ask?  It would have been nice if you had already been in season, preferably at about 7 months, but since that didn't happen can you please wait until after the National?  I don't want to travel with you and your grandfather if you're in season - it's just too hard.  You may not show well during that time, and your grandfather most certainly will not!  He's OK about girls going through "difficult times" but keeping him quiet while sharing a motel room with you might be asking a bit much of him.

If you come in season within the next two weeks, someone will be staying home, probably you.

Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Won't Be Long Now!

How can the National be so close?  I am so not ready for this!  Entries in (two days ago), motel reservations made (long ago), vacation requested (even longer ago), car tuned up, new crates purchased, dogs in condition.  That's about it.  What the heck am I going to wear?  Who knows what the weather will be in St. Louis in 2 1/2 weeks.  Might be hot and sunny - or it might be snowing! What to pack?  Warm weather clothes, cold weather clothes, and definitely rain gear!

The National will be at the Purina Event Center in Grey Summit, MO., a wonderful facility.  No motels/hotels within walking distance, so everyone will be driving back and forth unless they are staying in motor homes, as many will be.  The headquarters hotel filled up early and was way too expensive for my taste, so we are staying nearby, at the same motel as some good friends of ours.  Can't wait to meet their gorgeous liver puppy girls, sired by Ch. "Taylor" a long-dead Paisley dog (frozen semen breeding).

Jess and I are taking three dogs this year.  Argus who is entered as a Veteran at the St. Louis Specialty and as a Special at DCA, Fern who will show in Puppy, Sweeps & Futurity, and Gemma who will show in Bred By.  We've had many good DCAs in the past few years, but I don't expect this one to be quite as successful.  Argus won the National a few years back, took Awards Of Merit the next three years, and won the Stud Dog Class four years in a row.  His daughter Penny was Best In Futurity two years ago, and her daughter Meribel was Best Of Winners last year, with an Argus son and daughter also going Best of Breed and Best Of Opposite.

Argus is showing his age a bit now, at least in markings as he has added some ticking.  Still moves very soundly and look great body-wise, and I'm sure he will show well, but he's 7 1/2 years old.  Fern is a nice finishable Dal, but probably not star quality, and doesn't always have her gait "together" yet. Gemma looks great, but what are the odds of her matching her sister's record of last year?  Well, fingers crossed.  If nothing else, I expect to have a good time!

I'll also be looking for a stud dog for Amery (sister to Meribel and Gemma).  She's almost old enough for the rest of her health testing, and then we'll think about breeding her.  Everyone goes to DCA looking for stud dogs!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Health Testing?

Why are some breeders still not health testing?   I just don't understand it.  If you truly love a breed, why would you not do everything possible to breed the very best pups?  There are so many great testing options available these days, tests to help us to breed the healthiest puppies in our selected breeds, and avoid passing on inherited health issues.

Testing is not inexpensive, but nothing about raising quality dogs is inexpensive, and health testing is a great investment.  Many breed clubs have set the standards for the most basic tests for their breed, and the dogs who pass those tests are given a CHIC number.  All dogs used for breeding should have a CHIC number, but sadly that is not the case.  For Dalmatians, the CHIC requirements are a BAER hearing test, hip xrays, and EITHER a thyroid panel (not just the simple T3/T4 test) OR eye certification.  These results are registered with OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) and the results are available on line for other breeders or puppy buyers to view.  Dogs who have completed the testing receive their CHIC numbers.

Additional testing and information include elbow xrays, cardiac exams, patella exams, Degenerative Myelopathy testing (a DNA test), and a complete dentition database, as well as a number of other tests specific to certain breeds, such as tests for Dilated Cardiomyopathy, PRA, and Copper Storage Disease.  New tests are being developed all the time.  Hopefully in the future we will also see valid tests for Epilepsy and Renal Dysplasia, health issues that can affect all breeds.

Although these tests all cost money, they are an investment in the future of our beloved breeds, and money well spent.   If you are looking for a purebred puppy, work with a breeder who health tests all breeding stock.  And remember that mixed breed dogs can have the same genetic health issues as purebreds.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fun At The Dog Show

Although only AKC shows seem like "real dog shows" to me, there are several other organizations that put on shows.  One of them is the United Kennel Club, a large and active organization that has been in existence for many years.  Their shows are smaller, less formal, include breeds not recognized by AKC, and it's much easier to finish a championship  There are generally two shows held each day, four per weekend.  We didn't have many UKC shows in this area until the past few years, but now there are a number of show weekends throughout the year.

The overall quality is not as high, but the best dogs are often very good indeed. Some of the dogs are already AKC champions, mature, well-trained, experienced showdogs whose owners are just looking to add new titles.  The shows are also a great way for young dogs to get extra ring experience without a lot of expense, AND they give awesome ribbons.  Argus, Pauli & Penny are already UKC Champions, and have also earned UKC Best In Show wins.

Because Fern and I needed more opportunity for practice, I had decided to enter her for one day of the recent show weekend.  Because there are also non-regular class for puppies (wins don't count toward their championships), Max came along too.  He'd never gaited on a showlead before, and was used to stacking only on a table, but he's a quick study and will do almost anything for food.

Fern visited the chiropractor on Thursday because I was concerned with her pacing, and the doctor felt Fern had sustained a minor back injury that was causing a problem with tight muscles.  She gave me some stretching exercises to do.  The exercises seemed to help because Fern moved a lot better.  More importantly, she was brave and friendly, stood well for the exam, wagged her tail at both of the judges, and didn't jump on either of them.  Good dog Fern!  She was the only Dal, so automatically went Best Of Breed.  Dals show in the Companion Group, where she went Group 2nd at the first show (behind a lovely Bulldog), and Group 1st at the second.  Even better dog, Fern.  No idea how many points she won, but we only showed the first day and will wait awhile before doing any more UKC shows.

Little Max showed like a star.  I was amazed at how well he moved on a showlead, and of course he was very friendly on the exam.  Both judges were extremely complimentary about Max, and I was very proud when he went Best Puppy in Show.  Good boy, Max.  Great start and he had a wonderful time.