Friday, July 19, 2013

What About The Rights Of Others?

If all dog show folks lived in rural areas with no close neighbors and no zoning issues, things would be a lot less complicated.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and many of us live in residential areas with close neighbors and lots of restrictions.  Some of us prefer living in the city for convenience, easy access to schools, shopping, restaurants, elderly relatives or simply because that's where we lived before we got into dogs.  Others have found the cost of homes with any amount of property to be prohibitive, or to require too long a commute to work.  Whatever the reason, living in a neighborhood surrounded by other people brings with it a lot of responsibility.

It's not uncommon to read of a dog owner who is being harassed by neighbors, animal control, or their city because of the dogs, with the complaint generally being too much barking.  Far too many other dog owners immediately take their side and comment about "bad neighbors", "crabby retirees", "people with too much time on their hands", "troublemakers", "dog haters" and such.  But what about those neighbors?  Could it be that those complaints are justified?

When you own a home in a nice residential neighborhood and pay (often astronomical) property taxes, you expect to be able to leave your windows open and enjoy your yard on nice evenings.  Yes, there may be occasional noise from kids playing, loud music, late parties and early mowing, and an occasional dog barking when someone walks by the yard.  That goes with living in a community.  BUT the neighbors should not be expected to put up with endless barking from dogs left in the yard - OR left in the house with the windows open.  I've had a few inconsiderate neighbors over the years and I know how annoying even a small dog barking for hours in the yard or the front window can be.  What about a houseful of dogs?

Some people are not bothered by barking dogs.  You may not be, but many of us are!  Even though I am a dog owner, I truly hate listening to uncontrolled barking.  It gets on my nerves and makes me crabby.  I can't sleep, concentrate, or work in my yard.  You may have the right to own a dog - but I have the right not to have to listen to it for hours on end.  So do YOUR neighbors.  Why do you assume that your dogs' barking should not bother your neighbors?  Why should your neighbors have to put up with it?  Perhaps that neighbor works nights and needs to sleep during the day or has a serious illness that makes it difficult to sleep.  Perhaps the neighbor would like to sit on his patio without listening to your dogs.  Perhaps he'd like to work in his yard without having your dogs charge the fence.  Perhaps the neighbor would like to listen to the birds, or the sound of crickets, but all he can hear is your dogs.   How fair is that?

We are all in this together, dog owners, non-dog owners, and dog haters.  We are facing ever more restrictions on our rights to own and especially to breed our dogs.  Every inconsiderate dog owner who annoys their neighbors makes it worse.   Please, do your part.  Don't force your neighbors to put up with needless barking, and don't make things harder for the rest of us.  And PLEASE, don't use the excuse "dogs bark".  Yes, they can and do.  It's your responsibility as a dog owners to manage that barking, and to consider the rights of others.  To do anything less is to be selfish and irresponsible and will hasten the day when none of us will be able to keep dogs in the city.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Oops, time for some stacked shots of Miss Fern.  Looking through my picture file I only found "fun pictures" of her, but that's OK too, since our dogs are Fun Dogs a lot more than they are Show Dogs!   Although we only keep a new dog with the intention of showing it, the dog also has to be a good "fit" for our household, and Fern is turning out to be just that.  I've kept and later placed several young Dals over the past few years, waiting for the right one to come along and fill the vacant slot in my household.

When I bred Ch. Pauli to Ch. Louie, I was looking for a puppy bitch to keep.  Or female puppy if the word "bitch" makes you uncomfortable, but remember that show people refer to "dogs and bitches" (males and females).  Sorry, it's automatic!  Anyway, sometimes there are options, but in Pauli's litter the only brown-eyed bilateral hearing female pup with complete trim was Fern.  Her sisters were lovely dogs with terrific personalities and are doing wonderfully well in their pet homes, but one of them has unilateral hearing and the other has a blue eye.  Unis are fine for showing, but harder to breed as they have an increased risk of producing deaf puppies. The same is true of blue eyes.  They are fine according to the American Dalmatian standard and I don't mind them at all, but blue-eyed dogs are more likely to produce more blue eyes, and there is a genetic relationship between blue eyes and deafness.  We had no deaf pups in the litter, but that's always a risk, and breeding from unis and blues increases that risk.  (Yes, we keep and breed from really exceptional uni bitches, but it limits our options when picking a stud dog.)

Fortunately, Fern was always my favorite pup.  I admired her stylish good looks and sound structure, though I was not real pleased with how "white" she was as a pup, especially the enormous lightly marked ears.  My dogs tend to be more colorful, and Fern was decidedly more "open marked" than I was used to.  But she stayed, and I set about making a good companion and show dog of her.

Fern was NOT the easiest puppy to raise!  She was easy to crate train and housetrain, and very non-destructive, but she was more vocal than I liked, and inclined to startle and bark.  A very reactive personality, so she would see something new, startle, bark, and scare herself.  Not an unusual personality in some breeds, but not at all what I was used to.  We did our puppy obedience class and she did well until the night we played "pass the puppy" and she got spooked by people grabbing at her.  I saw her getting stressed, but stupidly did not step in to "rescue" Fern until she was thoroughly frightened.  Me bad!  By then the damage was done, and she was very uncomfortable with strangers.  One more thing to deal with, and because soon afterwards I broke my hand, puppy training was put on hold for awhile.

THEN she started to pace.  Rather than trotting normally, Fern moved with both legs on the same side moving at the same time, like camels and pacing horses.  It's an "easy" gait for dogs since there is no interference between the front and rear legs - normally the front foot lifts off the ground just an instant before the rear foot on that side hits the ground in the same spot.  "Timing" can be an issue for young dogs who then pace, sidewind, or straddle to avoid the interference between front and rear foot.  In Fern's case, her short body, hard back, and lots of angle made it difficult for her to manage her very long legs!  I was also concerned that she may have hurt herself slipping on the ice, but nothing showed up on a chiropractic visit, so we decided we would wait it out.

So Fern was just raised as a pet.  She went to another puppy class, went many places for extra socialization, and I concentrated on raising her to be a confident, well adjusted companion dog.  By then we knew she was a "keeper" because even though showing was on hold, Fern was already an excellent companion dog, and she was lovely as well.  Going through her first season helped a lot, as we had hoped, and Fern developed more confidence as she grew up.  We covered many miles on leash giving Fern a chance to "work on" her trotting, and she eventually began to trot more than pace as she developed foot timing and grew into her legs.

Last weekend was our test and Fern passed in style.  She was friendly at ringside  - a bit too friendly perhaps as she mugged many ringsiders - nothing startled her, and she was perfect on the exam.  She only won her class the first day and did a few "happy bounces" when she gaited, but no pacing at all.  On Sunday we finally felt like a team. Fern went Winners Bitch for her first major, got lots of compliments, and the judge told me later she'd considered Fern for Best of Breed.  Good dog, Fern!  It was a Cheeseburger weekend for sure!

It was definitely worth all the work, and we finally filled that vacant spot with a dog who is both a beautiful show dog and a wonderful pet. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Check Off One More

Sue & Laurie - Stone Arch Bridge in background

There's a small list floating around in my brain called Things To Do Before I Die.  I've never put the list on paper so it just sits there with things added or removed over the years.  Some are eliminated because I've forgotten about them, a few others because I've actually done them.  Two things at the very top of the list were to see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and to ride a Segway.  Now they are BOTH checked off - Australia a couple of years ago, the Segway just this month.

When Segways first came out there was an interesting display in the Technology Building at the Minnesota State Fair.  At that time it was predicted that the futuristic Segways would become popular and widely available for the average rider - the commute of the future.  Unfortunately that didn't happen, but they can be rented, and tours are available all over the country.

Laurie and I have been talking about doing a Segway Tour for several years and this year we finally did the Minneapolis Historical Tour along the Mississippi Riverfront.   I made reservations a week or so in advance, which was a good thing as apparently 4th of July weekend is their busiest time.  We were in a group of about 15-20 people, one of three groups scheduled for July 5th.  Segways are amazingly easy to master, and our tour included a quick private lesson, a 10-minute video, and another 10 minutes to practice as a group.  Although I felt awkward at first, it soon felt as if the Segway could read my mind and anticipate what I wanted it to do.  Amazing machines!

We did a 6-7 mile, 2 1/2 hour tour of the Riverfront, with stops at a number of historic places.  Our tour crossed the Stone Arch Bridge, and we rode on bricks, cobblestones, asphalt, concrete, gravel paths, wood chips and grass.  The tour took us along both sides of the river, with a short break at the Mill City Museum for coffee and cookies.  What fun we had, and I wished our adventure would never end!  Of course I purchased a t-shirt, and we took advantage of the free passes to the Mill City Museum and the discount at a nearby restaurant that were part of our tour package.  A very memorable day!

It was interesting to see how many people stopped to watch us as we passed, many of them smiling and waving.  I wonder if they added Segways to their own lists of Things To Do?

Note: Now I know what I will do when I retire!  I'll get a job helping with Segway Tours!  Then I can get paid to ride - what could be more fun than that? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

That Kind Of Day

Time to get back to work on my blog.  I've been shamed into it (you know who you are), but I do sort of miss it.  There's lots of posts lurking on the edges of my brain that I just haven't gotten around to putting on paper and there's certainly been lots going on in Paisleyland.  Plenty of pictures to use too, so starting tomorrow I will try to do better.  But for today . . . 
Ugh, not a good way to wake up! The sound of piteous crying finally penetrated my sleepy brain, cutting through the hum of the air conditioner and fans. (We sleep upstairs with the door closed when the window ac is running.) A terrible keening sound. Oh my gosh, what's wrong?

Dogs sleep downstairs, on various pieces of furniture, with Max and Fern in crates in the kitchen (poor Fernly crated... to keep Max company.). Seniors greeted me at the gate with happily wagging tails, pleased to start the day early. Fern still curled up in her rug (how can bitches make "nests" out of a single crate rug?) Max however had had an accident, "the runs" in his crate and was horrified - and how long had he been standing there asking for help? Eeeewww, not a good way to start the day. He's too big to carry and I didn't get that option anyway as he bolted from his crate and dashed to the back door, leaving a trail of "stuff" on the 5 throw rugs he stepped on getting to the door. Poor Max has never ever had a crate accident. He seems to feel just fine, so it must have been something he ate - wood, plastic, leaves, a dead bird? He gets to skip breakfast, and hopefully will be fine later today. And hopefully this is NOT something he will share with the other dogs. Haven't had an episode of loose stools in years. Sure hope there is nothing going around!

Hope it's not going to be THAT kind of day.
NOTE:  No picture to go along with today's post!  Thought you'd be grateful for that!