Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pet Photo Contest

Well first off, I hope your Holidays were spectacular. I hope your guests were polite and gentle with your four legged roommates. There were some two legged guests who came over to our house that we had to speak with - sometimes they can be so pushy and rude! The two legged ones often forget that the four legged ones live here and thus should be accorded the same sort of deference as my husband and I.

I received an email over the holidays that after some investigation, I thought I would share with you. I couldn't find anything overly weird about it other than the fact that the website is offering money to the winners (I can't help it - I always ask questions when they are giving away money!). There is a pet photo contest that has daily prizes of $25 and weekly prize of $125. You can find info about it over at under "PetPhotoContest". If you decide to join up and participate, please post and let us know that your pet's picture is on the site. The website is a "social network for pet lovers".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Featured Rescue Followup!

Well, I've been posting for a few months now and thought I'd put a follow up post about the Featured Rescues that I've blogged about. I'll try to remember to do this periodically.

Pepper the Border Collie
Featured on October 14, 2008
Follow blog link here to read.

Edwin the Labrador Retriever
Featured on October 17, 2008
Follow blog link here to read
Edwin had 10 brothers and sisters *he was #11* and it looks like they are all adopted. YAY

Ginger the Airedale Terrier
Featured on October 22, 2008
Follow blog link here to read

Jake the Australian Shepherd
Status: Assumed ADOPTED - Petfinder Listing removed
Featured on October 28, 2008
Follow blog link here to read

Sebastien the Boxer
Featured on November 3, 2008
Follow blog link here to read

Calli the Cocker Spaniel
Featured on November 7, 2008
Follow blog link here to read

Riggs the Shih Tzu Puppy
Status: Assumed ADOPTED Listing Removed
Featured on November 21, 2008
Follow blog link here to read

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lazy Owner Rant? Or Concerned Parent? Re: Allergies

I like to keep an eye on Craigslist to see what's going on in my local area. I also check out other major cities just in case I find something of interest. I found this posting and it made me think a lot about allergies and how it has become a big problem but also a convenient excuse.

Before I go further, here's the post from CraigsList. For your ease, I have made a screen-cap of the posting. Below is the direct link. Or, click on the picture to the left to enlarge.
This poster brought up a good point. There are MANY people who get rid of their pets due to allergies. Either themselves or their children develop allergies to the pets. Some of them really do have severe allergies, but I have found that most really don't. Most people find that if they have a runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, etc then they get rid of their animals.
Don't forget the others who have begun using this as a good excuse to dump their unwanted animals at shelters that would otherwise refuse (even if they don't have allergies).
For most people's allergies, they get irritated eyes, nose and throat. This can easily be controlled by taking common allergy medications. I had always thought that allergies were something to be managed - my father has asthma and allergies to both dogs and cats that send him into asthma attacks. He can manage this with the use of meds and willpower.
Severe allergies can be more than problematic and often can't be controlled with meds - where one touch can send the skin into a rash that may break open or bleed. I hadn't realized that this existed until I met my husband who can't touch a cat (he's fine with dogs though). Perhaps you have to cover your baby with cream to prevent the dander/hair from touching? For those who have severe allergies, I know your frustration ...
That being said, however, I do believe that you CAN manage all allergies if you will it to be so. How? Below are some examples of what you can do:
- Have your dog/cat groomed regularly (every 3-4 weeks) This removes excess hair and dander
- Keep good quality bathing supplies handy so that if the dander gets too much you can bathe them yourself between grooming dates (no more than once a week though or you'll do damage to their skin and fur!)
- Brush them every day for minimum 30 minutes. Change types of brushes every other day to get different fur/dander out.
- Get a hepafilter vacuum and vacuum your house daily
- Keep your house dusted
- Wash your curtains regularly
- Vacuum your couches, etc.
- If you have carpets, you could have them removed or have them steam cleaned regularly (we own a steamcleaning machine to keep costs down)
- Keep your furnace filter clean (you'd be surprised how much hair and dust is caught here!)
- Go to a naturopath and ask about allergy shots - most people don't know you can desensitize your body by taking a shot once every 2 weeks for a few months!
Holidays are coming everyone ... why not put one of these things on your wishlist? All those people who want to get you something? Tell them all to contact one another and pitch in to buy you a steam cleaner or hepa-vacuum. Tell them you need the good quality, Oatmeal shampoo and conditioner for your dog but it's $30 each bottle and you'd like it for your Stocking.

Allergies can be bad and they can affect your life, but don't let them control it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Training Rant - Further to the Dog Walkers Rant ...

So, further to my rant a few days ago, I found this post on CraigsList after putting together my previous training post. I thought I'd follow up with it. An interesting look at Dog Walkers.

Here's the link to the CraigsList posting. It's too long to Screen-Cap, so I copied and pasted instead. I have not edited this posting, nor have I removed the name of the Dog Walking company mentioned. Everything below this dotted line is verbatim to the post.

After reading this, do you find that it changes your opinion of Dog Walking? Do the good things still outnumber the bad? (Personally, I don't think it's changed my opinion either way)


dogwalker/petsitter to avoid (mississauga, ontario)

I recently had a bad experience with a person offering dogwalking and dogsitting services under the name "At The Very Leash".

She had been walking, feeding and exercising my dogs on weekends. I was also looking for someone to stay with the dogs for 5 days while we went away, and she said she was available. She had references, is involved in cat rescue, and said her schedule would be very light that week.

The entire time I was gone, I was unable to reach her by phone or email. The one time I did finally reach her, she was very vague about what was going on.

When I came home, my dogs were highly stressed. They clearly had not gotten sufficient exercise. Our young dog had an open sore on her paw, which I now realize was because she was left alone and confined for so long that she licked her paws raw.

There was a very bad smell in our spare bedroom, and the couch in that room was covered in white fur that was clearly not from either of our dogs.

I called and emailed her. Her response: the key left in the mailbox. She is supposed to walk my dogs on weekends - the only way I can go to work, as I work very long hours on weekends - and this was her way of quitting. No notice, no discussion. Just left me high and dry with no explanation.

Several phone calls and emails later, she finally emailed me. (She has never returned my phone call and has not spoken to me about this to this day.) She had a long story about how busy and insane her life became the week she was supposed to house-sit for us.

She admit that the dogs were alone from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day. That may not sound like much to some people, but it is not what we agreed. My younger dog is crated when we're not home, and we *never* leave her crated for that long. And that's if this person really came home at 4:00.

I understand that life happens and we can all become busier than we expected. HOWEVER, most of the things she was so busy with, she would have known in advance. If she was too busy to house/dog-sit, she shouldn't have accepted the gig. And other things that came up that week, such as cat rescue, she could have turned down for one week.

The bad smell and white fur in the spare bedroom turned out to be critically sick kittens she was fostering. She never asked my permission to bring kittens in the house, or informed me she was doing this. Obviously if I hadn't seen the fur and asked about the smell, she never would have told me about them.

I have asked repeatedly what condtions the kittens have. I would like to ask my vet if it's contagious to dogs. She has never responded.

"At The Very Leash" is not mature enough or reliable enough to run her own dogwalking and pet-sitting business. Please avoid her!

In case she changes her "company" name, her own initials are LH.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Featured Rescue - Dharma the Dachshund

When I went looking for a Dachshund in rescue to post as the Featured Rescue for today, I hadn't prepared myself for the alarming numbers of this breed to be listed as "No Kids, No Cats"!
Does anyone have experience with these dogs who can tell me why this is found more often with this breed than others? My initial reaction is the "Small Dog Syndrome". I have never owned one myself so therefore it is just a theory/opinion, but have seen this occur with others. What do you think?

Anyway, that aside, I have found a lovely looking dog called Dharma. She seems to do well with other dogs and is guestimated to be 2 - 3 years old.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

News Reel - Shelter Fire Kills 150

150 Cats Killed in Animal Shelter Fire

Here's the link. An Ontario Shelter in the Durham region caught fire yesterday in the wee hours of the morning. News articles have only given us estimates on the numbers affected ... 150 cats. 5 dogs.

Training Rant - Dog Walkers?

I have read many things about dog walkers, and I often see many advertisements for them. I view them with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, they can be a valuable resource for the busy person. They will take your dogs and walk them daily for a fee. This may offer an outlet for extra energy as well as bathroom breaks to your dog. They will also likely have other dogs with them which may offer your dog some socialization on leash that it may otherwise be lacking.

On the other hand (I feel like Tevye from Fiddler On the Roof!), most dog walkers aren't trained in any formal program, they may not have the ability or resources to work with behavioural problems, and may not be bondable. There is no guarantee that your dog will be safe in the hands of a Dog Walker, and if your dog has a bad experience you may be in for more than you bargained for. What is your Dog Walker training your dog?

What do you think? Are dog walkers worth the gamble? Would you take the risk not knowing the other dogs that person is walking at the same time?

Personally, I wouldn't use one for fear that something may happen. (I'm a control freak, have you figured that out yet?) I find that long hikes on weekends (4+ hours or more - less in winter) will sufficiently tire most dogs out and regular walks/play time through the week uses energy and prevents boredom. I like to spend time with my dogs as I find it calming. Even taking your dog outside for some good one on one ball/retrieve time.

(Not to mention the question of, why would you have a dog if you don't want to spend time with it? Why not get a cat??)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Search Feature

Just a quick sidebar note - I have created a Google Search Feature. This allows you to search my blog for keywords. (It uses the Google Search Engine, but will not search Google - only

From my testing, it seems that it will NOT pick up keywords in the titles - only the body of the posts. Hopefully this will allow for easier navigation through older posts.

Rescue Numbers - Curiousity Killed the ...?

Sorry for not posting for a few days - busy times around the holidays! Also, I was asked to start working another dog (there are 5 actually, but I am starting with 1 - they learn in stages and I can only have 1 dog in stage 1 at a time otherwise I couldn't work my full-time paying job!). BYBer GSDs ... nice dogs, but scaredy cats right now - if they're not developed properly, they'll turn into fear biters. They always take more time in the beginning - once they enter stage 2 or 3 I can start looking at working another one.

On October 17, I posted some numbers from petfinder listing the amount of certain breeds available for adoption. I may be odd, but I sometimes wonder how things are going for all those animals and whether or not things are getting better or worse out there (especially when I start working a new dog!). I'm not posting this to depress anyone, but I believe that people should all be aware of the sheer numbers we face out there.

Here are the numbers from that day:
Beagle - 8,106 dogs
Black Lab - 5,197 dogs
Border Collie - 4,794 dogs
Boxer - 5,792 dogs
Chihuahua - 7,895 dogs
Dachshund - 3,888 dogs
German Shepherd - 7,852 dogs
Labrador Retriever - 20,075 dogs
Pitbull Terrier - 9,984 dogs

I chose these 9 breeds because they are the breeds we see most listed in rescue. They have the highest numbers. Why? Probably because most people aren't properly prepared for the high level of maintenance these dogs require.

Here are the updated numbers as of today (2 months later):
Beagle - 7,851 dogs
Black Lab - 4,860 dogs
Border Collie - 4,829 dogs
Boxer - 5,793 dogs
Chihuahua - 7,434 dogs
Dachshund - 3,787 dogs
German Shepherd - 7,504 dogs
Labrador Retriever - 19,845 dogs
Pitbull Terrier - 10,355 dogs

Is that different? Yes, some. The numbers went from 73,583 to 72,258. That's 1325 dogs. That's a lot of dogs! Considering since they often come in just as fast (if not faster) than they get adopted and go out. If the number went down by 1300, we can hope that the dogs are being adopted faster than they are coming in *knock on wood* Let's hope we don't get a resurgence of all those "Holiday" puppies.

I'm going to add 6 other breeds that have high numbers from petfinder.
American Staffordshire Terrier 3,276
Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler 3,212
Australian Shepherd 3,424
Rottweiler 3,535
Shepherd 8,650
Terrier 7,204

Don't forget that some of these dogs will be listed twice due to mixes listed. Anything over 3,000 I have listed - anything less than that I have considered a managable number. That brings our running tally to 101,559.

What does this mean? Spay and neuter your pets people. We don't need any more dogs regardless of how kyoot your poopsie-poo is. Take a note from those dogs in shelters and rescue and remember what breeds they are ... we don't need any more of that breed unless they are super duper dogs (think their parents should be winners of ... SOMETHING other than the kyoot awards!).

If you want to breed your lab (or other) because you feel like it and think you could make some money off it ... think about those 19,845 labs waiting for homes! Maybe you think your children should see the "miracle of life"? Don't you think the owners of their parents didn't think the same? Do you care?

And for everyone else, please remember, don't give an animal this holiday as a gift. If you are going to give something like that, go to the shelter and Sponser an animal! Often, that person you want to give a puppy/dog/kitten/cat to doesn't have one because they don't want one. The dog/cat you buy them will just end up in a shelter so you may as well just sponsor. It would do more good and the person may appreciate it more.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Featured Rescue - Tahne the Cocker Spaniel

This is going to be a short and sweet post today. Went searching through the adoptables and came up with this little gal.

Today there are 2,279 Cocker Spaniels available for adoption. The one I chose to feature is located in OH.

She is a 4-5 year old red and white Cocker. She was a puppy mill dog and as such is still very shy. Her foster home is working to bring her out of her shell.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Asshat Rant - Think we could spay/neuter the asshats?

I received this ad from a concerned reader. It was inspiring ... it inspired me to roll my eyes, call out obscene words to my computer monitor (much to the amusement of my coworkers), and generally think terrible things about the world's asshat population. I just wanted to bang my head to my ... oh what the he11 ... *headdesk, headdesk*

Here's the link:

The gist of it is that they don't want to keep their Great Pyrenees because "he was supposed to be a guard dog and isn't hanging around the house ... he's wandering around the neighbourhood" ... uh ... hello? earth to asshat? You know your dog would likely minimize his wandering if you got him neutered?? Oh yeah, I forgot - you don't have enough money to neuter him. The owner is a single mom on a limited income, so she wants $400 for him to "recoop some of what she spent" - a 4 year old dog with little training that isn't altered ... asshat.
The most ... "inspiring" ... thing about this entire ad? They are looking to replace him with another large guard dog. Who, by the way, must be good with their kids, not look like a Shepherd, not bite the kids, guard the house, and not be too expensive. *headdesk*

Here's a screen cap of the ad in case it is removed.

Do you think that we could put forth a new bylaw requiring all asshats to identify themselves? This way we could offer a spay/neuter clinic for the people ... no, not their dogs - the people ... can we really say we want these people reproducing?

So much for "spay and neuter your pets" being the coin phrase ... soon it will be "spay and neuter your asshat relatives".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

News Reel - Strategies when you're attacked

Sorry for posting two news reels in a row, but I found this one and thought it builds somewhat off the discussion we were having earlier this week. Here's the link to the news article:

Strategies When You're Attacked
(What to do when you're out with your dog and are attacked by an agressive dog)

It is sound advice. Doesn't touch on what to do if it is your dog doing the attacking, but rather the "victim" if we should call it that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

News Reel - Why anthropomorphize dogs?

One of my pet peeves is when people anthropomorphize dogs. They are dogs. They are not humans. Sure, they think, but they don't think like humans - they think like dogs. I don't know why it irritates me, but it does. Probably bothers me because those people who anthropomorphize dogs are also the ones that have dogs that are 'uncontrollable'.

A dog was caught on video surveillance in Chile. They assume it is a stray dog and that it was trying to "save" another dog's life. I read the headlines and thought how sweet ... then I realized after watching the video surveillance footage that it doesn't actually show what the dog did when reaching the median.

There are two stories, here are the links:

Homeless dog tries to save dog hit by car in Chile
Little hope for Chile's highway hero dog

The way it was written in the first article, it sounded as though this happened recently, however, upon reading the second article, we realize that it actually happened in the spring (March 23). On the second article there is a link to the video footage so you can see the dog crossing traffic, then pulling the hurt dog in.

So here's what made me start thinking. This dog was so badly injured that it died from its injuries (per the second news clip). Why would a stray dog risk itself by crossing all those lines of traffic for a dying dog? hmmm ... Makes you think, right?

Perhaps it's true and he really was trying to save the dog. I know at this time of year, it sure is nice to think of these things with a good spin on things - unfortunately, for my cynical mind, I need facts. All I see in this footage is a dog going out to drag the carcass of another animal off the road.

Let's assume that the news casters are correct in their theory that this dog is a stray. Do we know for certain that this stray dog wasn't hungry/starved (being a stray dog and all)? Could he not have been pulling this other dog to the median to have a nice lunch?

I noticed that they don't show the dog reaching the median in the news video, but if you go to the YouTube video found here, you will note that although they do show the median, they still cut part out and you don't actually see what the dog did with the injured one once the median was attained.

Dogs are dogs. I have never met a dog that doesn't enjoy a nice snack of roadkill. They usually don't care what it is; the smellier the better. I know it isn't the prettiest thing to think of ...

What do you think?
Hungry Dog = Roadkill snack?
Hero Dog = Trying to Save Another (Dying) Dog?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Cheer - I Rescued a Human Today

It's been over a week since I posted the last bit of mushy stuff for the Holiday Season. I thought I would post another. This one circulated around an email list that I receive. I didn't write this, but figured I'd post it for something good to read while I'm working on my next rant. :)


Source unknown.

I rescued a human today.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life. She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved.

At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today

Monday, December 8, 2008

Training Rant - Alpha Roll or Omega Roll?

In one of the comment threads I mentioned that I'd post a blog entry about why I don't think that Cesar using the "Alpha Roll" is good - regardless of what "Zone" they are in. Cesar is not the only trainer that uses the "Alpha Roll", but he is probably the most popular one. This blog is not about Cesar, but about the Alpha Roll (or as I call it, the Omega Roll). Because Cesar has become such an idol, I have used his training methods simply as an example.

Before I begin, I will reiterate my opinion of Cesar Millan. I have watched his show and read the books that he has published. I have investigated and come to my own conclusion. While I like and agree with many of Cesar's theories about dogs I do NOT agree with his "hands-on" approach to things. By 'hands-on' I mean him tapping the dogs with his hand or foot (note - I have chickens and we teach the dogs no touch without smacking them at all, let alone hitting so hard that the whole body moves), rolling the dogs and also hanging them by their collars. Each of the three linked videos above are less than 1 minute long with no audio.

Please note that this is a highly controversial topic and usually brings people to an argumentative state rather quickly. (Sounds like it's just an interesting topic to me!) The topic today is the Alpha Roll. Or as I like to call it - the Omega Roll. I will explain this in a bit. First I will describe what the Alpha Roll is very quickly:

The Alpha Roll is when a dog handler takes the dog and forcefully lies him on his side.

Yes, there are a lot more graphic ways to describe it such as "flipping" or "hurling", but I'm trying to be politically correct. It is called the "Alpha Roll" because you are supposed to be showing your dog that you are the "dominant" dog, commonly referred to as the "leader of the pack".

Some people do this quite forcefully as you will note in this video of a popular dog trainer (Cesar) where he picks the dog up and puts him quite hard on the ground (yes, it's carpeted, but how about you have one of your family members do this to you with the same force and let me know how fast the breath comes out of your lungs and how long it takes you to regain it, k?) You will also note that this same trainer gets bitten at the end of the video.

So that's how to do it ... what's so wrong? Well, please take some time to read the articles I will link to. You will note that I've provided you with articles to read about this topic. This is because I don't have the certifications that these authors do (psychology, etc) so really, my opinion is simply that of a person (much like Cesar, eh?). You may lose your dog's respect and it will likely make the problem worse.

Alpha Roll or Alpha Role? Explains where this technique came from and comments on research that has since disproven the effectiveness of the "Alpha Roll".

This article explains that using force to train your dog can result in these things happening:
  • The dog will never attain the beautiful rapport gained from training with a friend- ly, affectionate owner.
  • Intimidating tactics cause timidness and a dislike of training.
  • Methods that cause friction between you and your dog can make an otherwise friendly fellow become aggressive towards people and other dogs. Aggression in dogs has increased since compulsive Alpha - wolf concepts of training - became popular.
And finally, this is the last article for everyone to read. It is called Being the Alpha Dog and it details many ways to be the Alpha or Leader of the Pack without using force.

Your dog is not trying to take over the world (not my coin-phrase, but a true one all the same!). He just needs some guidance from you and he needs you to act like a leader (without brute force!). Yes, this includes shelter dogs, rescue dogs, reactive dogs, agressive or shy dogs and also dogs that enter that popular "Red Zone".

Feel free to comment on anything I have posted (including Cesar if you wish).

I said that I would explain why I call the Alpha Roll the Omega Roll. Well, I'm not going to spell it out for you, but Alpha comes first in the Greek Alphabet ... Omega comes last. Get it?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Training Tools - Prong Collar

I know I've already posted about the choke chain and this is a variant of that, but I REALLY want to put up a posting about this. For those of you who are not familiar with it, this picture is a prong collar.

The way it fits is it goes around the dog's neck like a choke chain. The martingale will tighten as the dog pulls and the prongs push on the dogs neck. In theory, it is supposed to teach a dog not to pull.

Now, I need to insert a comment here that if your dog wants to be with you, then he wouldn't be spending all his energy trying to run away from you and pulling on leash, would he?? If your dog is pulling on leash then you have other issues underneath the pulling problem and you should start looking at your relationship with the dog.

Many people feel they need to use prong collars for their dogs to keep them under control (especially large breeds). These collars are often used for dogs that pull on the leash. Used properly, I hear they can be a safe and effective training tool. To use properly, the dog must be able to walk on leash without pulling excessively and without lunging. If they do, you risk damaging your dog. (now, if your dog walks on leash without pulling excessively and lunging then why do you need a prong collar??)

If they are not used properly, this can happen. If the dog lunges or pulls or the owner pulls too hard, the prongs have the ability to enter the animal's neck.

Now, this seems a bit like an oxymoron to me ... if you have a dog that pulls too hard, you may want to get a prong collar, but you can't use the prong if the dog pulls too hard otherwise you may harm your dog ... are you confused yet?

In order to use it safely and effectively, the dog needs to be a NON-puller. So then why would you feel that you need to resort to the prong in the first place??

Obviously, this is a tool I have never used and won't, but I wanted to point it out. I do know owners who swear by it. If you can't figure out how to teach your dog to want to be with you, then why would you think that forcing a dog in this way would make it want to do it any more??

Friday, December 5, 2008

Featured Rescue - Kobe Swims ... GSD or Kelpie?!

Ok, so I couldn't resist. I thought I'd find and list a nice looking GSD (German Shepherd Dog) today, but when I was looking, I stumbled over this guy. I thought "why not?"

He's listed as a rottweiler GSD mix ... Now, I don't know about you guys, but I really think he looks like an Australian Kelpie!

Here's the link for his petfinder profile:

Most of the time, rescues need to use their best judgement when looking at the dogs that come in. They have to guess at the breeds and if the people working/volunteering for the rescue are not familiar with the breed, then they will guess at what they know.

Now, for everyone's enjoyment, I have pictured two pics of black and tan Australian Kelpies from some of the sites I found online. I mentioned in one of my comments that a friend of mine has a Kelpie that she bought from a breeder to herd and work. (He's currently learning to work Sheep) He looks identical to the above guy - floppy ears and all! She was rather disappointed that his ears turned out floppy and don't stand up pointy as is normal.

Hopefully whoever adopts Kobe Swims is able to deal with his energy properly ... I could just see what happens when someone who wants the character/temperament of the Rotti/GSD and ends up with a Kelpie!! Yikes - that's a recipe for disaster. (Keep in mind I really like Kelpies but they are definitely more active than a GSD or a Rotti!) Hey ... maybe I'm wrong? Maybe he really is a GSD / Rotti mix ... you'd never know unless you ran one of those DNA tests on him.

FYI, there are currently 7,721 GSD dogs listed on Petfinder. There are 183 Australian Kelpies listed.

If I were looking to adopt a Kelpie, personally I would look under multiple breeds ... you never know where you'll find one!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Training Rant - Snapping rewarded with a hit?

I have a poll to the right of the page asking everyone what they would like to see more 0f. The first two answers I received were Training Rants, so I thought I'd oblige (please vote to add your opinion so I can work with what you want). This one is one I've been stewing over since I ran into it in the summer while working with a dog that was housed at a boarding facility.

A comment was made that started me thinking about something that I ran into earlier this year; Smacking, bopping or hitting your dog if it snaps a treat out of your hand. I have known many people who hit their dog for the wrong behaviour. It is not a training tool I use or condone. Unfortunately, it is usually used because the people don't know a better way to train.

Have you heard the expression "A Little Bit of Knowledge is Dangerous"?

Here's my example ...

I know a person who breeds and shows dogs who showed me his way of fixing snapping. You know how a dog will sometimes snap a cookie out of your hand? Maybe take it a bit too hard and bite your fingers? Well, his fix is to make a fist (with the cookie in it, of course) and bop them hard on the nose. He guarantees me that it fixes the problem every time! He did admit that sometimes they bite their tongue, but he assured me that it doesn't happen often and that it doesn't usually bleed. *Yeah, 'cause that made me feel better!*

*Asshat* This same guy teaches the dogs to jump up and gives them cookies as a reward for that, so I've already been disappointed by his "training" techniques. Yes, he's moronic. And like so many dog owners out there, is too busy looking for the fastest way to train rather than the best way to teach.

Ok, so I'm not one to be bopping any dog on the nose for this or any other behaviour. Honestly, there are some dogs that come in that I work with that you don't do anything other than feed cookies and "make friends" for the first while. (I'll post a short story about one soon!)

I am a rather average sized person. I have never found force to work with any factor of dog training. I am not loud and don't have a commanding voice. Thing to remember is ... you don't need to be big, scary or mean for the dog to listen and do what you ask. You just have to ask the right way!

What techniques have you found to resolve the snapping cookies behaviour?

I have used the closing your hand on the cookie (but NOT bopping the dog!!). I have also used "Gentle" or "Be Gentle" where you offer the cookie and if the dog is too assertive, the hand is withdrawn. Though I have used this successfully, I have found that both of these techniques used with the wrong dog will actually increase the snapping as they get more worked up when you remove the reward. Like every technique, you have to be careful.

I have also found that if the dog is calm, the chances of a snap for a treat are less likely.

Some of the dogs I work with don't get handed treats. You just don't put your hand that close to their mouths in the early stages either because of safety reasons or because you just can't. (Keep in mind these are the ones that are cowering in the corners of the kennels, can't be put on leash, may try to attack you in the beginning, you can't get near, etc.) Unfortunately, that means you end up tossing the treat to them, which also means they snap it out of the air. I usually try to aim the cookie for the floor in between both of us to reduce the catching, but that doesn't always work. (Like all things in life, you need to pick your battles.)

Akin to all behaviours, cookie snapping is a learned one (I'm sure there is a better word/name for it!). If the dog uses it, and it works, he/she is rewarded and will use it more often.

We can only hope that dog owners can get the word out that hitting your dog teaches it nothing but frustration and may create worse behaviours than the ones you are trying to eliminate.

So do yourself and your dog a favour and don't be like all those owners out there, looking for the fastest way to train. Find the best way to teach. Trust me, it will give you marvellous results when you are done.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Puppy Mill Seizure and Closed Down

Ok, so I've been trying not to post more than once per day, but I couldn't pass this one up. I flew through the roof this morning when I saw it on the news. Here's the link to the news article about yet another puppy mill being shut down in my area. The basics are:

- 100 dogs seized from puppy mill in deplorable condition
- The breeds seized included Bichons, Pekingese, Papillons and Lhasa Apso types
- Upon conviction, the accused could face a maximum fine of $60,000, two years in jail and a lifetime prohibition of owning animals
- If charges are laid, this will be the fourth puppy mill raided by the SPCA in Ontario this year.

Please remember that I am glad they shut the place down. Quite honestly, I wouldn't want them to continue running. But that nasty little common sense voice inside my head is saying "WOAH!!" (Just like when Barrie OSPCA seized 300 meat rabbits from a farm and then couldn't figure out what the heck to do with them all.) So here's my issue ...

What are we going to do with 100 more dogs going through the shelters in Ontario? I thought all the shelters were already full ... guess not? This brings me right back to the post I made earlier about working with the owners, spaying and neutering all the dogs and having the owners house and feed the dogs until suitable homes could be found.

Don't EVER forget that the OSPCA is NOT a no-kill. It will euthanize the dogs and cats if they are too full, don't have the right behaviour, or sometimes just have a bad day. That means that if they don't find adoptive homes, foster homes or even just kennels at other shelters, fast for these dogs, the dogs' time will run out.

The kicker that sends me through the roof? Read that last point again ... it reads IF ... not when ... IF. That means that this person may go away from this without being charged because that the OSPCA is not sure whether or not they have enough evidence to convict.

Not to mention that not one of those dogs will be adoptable until the owners surrender them! They are all still owned by that person! Ugh ... let's not even get into THAT one!

I wonder how many of those 100 dogs will be euthanized?

Movie Day! Today's Special? Dog Fighting

So have you ever taken a few days off and deemed one day as "Movie Day"?? We do on occasion (like twice in the winter...) provided the weather is too rough to be out. On those -40C days here, we don't go outside for long. Just long enough for a quick run for the dogs, feed the animals in the barns, and do any other quick chores there are to do.

So, in honour of "Movie Days", this is my first ever here on the blog. I hope you enjoy the ones I found and I hope you comment to add your own in today's list!


This one's called Peace for Dogs

This one's called Pitbulls: it's never too late

And for the finale, since my theme for today seems to have been dog fighting and pit bulls (though I hadn't originally meant it that way!!), here's one about good ol' Michael Vick. It's called Dog's in the Kennel.
It's not as graphic as I would have liked (personally, I would have liked to see one where he gets his butt kicked in the ring ... or maybe euthanasia ...) but it is still a pretty good short video. I hope you enjoy it

And that's all for movie day! If you have any dog fighting related videos that you'd like to share, please do. I will post another Movie Day later on about something else, so please keep on topic if you can.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

May as well call the collectors ...

The following ad was sent to me by a reader who thought it was somewhat odd. It is a bit OT, but I thought I'd post it anyway since it is an interesting topic that I'd like to comment on. First, here's the ad:


Free Kittens
Price: Free
Location: Red Deer Date Listed: 01-Dec-08
We have three 9 week old kittens to give away, we'll give $20 towards kitty food and litter with each one, kittens are black with white socks and white markings on their faces, they live with 2 adult cats and a dog, love attention and cuddling and most of all playing. 1 male, 2 females. Will Deliver.

Here's the web site address that has this listing. It does list their phone and email.


When I read that ad, the first thing that came to my mind was that these kittens are going to end up in a research facility or, just as bad, in a collector's home. This happens more often than not. You'd be surprised at how often whole litters will be dumped in ditches (kittens more often than puppies, but we see litters of pups too!).

And those are the lucky ones.

The lucky ones are the ones that are found in the ditches or wrapped up in bags dumped in the forest. Why? Because they were the ones that are ultimately going to end up in someones home. They are found by good people who gather them up and take them to a local rescue facility. They aren't the ones that were drowned. They aren't the ones that will go to research or a collector/hoarder.

We see the ads all the time - Spay and Neuter your pets. It's unfortunate that some people don't heed these recommendations.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Something mushy for the Holiday Season

Ok, so it's December. Therefore it's time to spread a little good cheer. I will, for my part, try my best not to mention anyone specific Holiday because I don't believe this is the right place for that discussion. However, at this time of year, I'm always looking for something nice and mushy to warm my heart. Especially when I see the animals start piling into the pound!!

Besides, I really should put some happy things in between the sad or cranked out posts! So, for everyone who needs something a little mushy at this time of year, here it is. I have copied and pasted a CraigsList post ... one almost lost between all the posts of people trying to get rid of their pets ...

A Poem to My Foster Dog (GTA)

I am the bridge
Between what was and what can be.
I am the pathway to a new life.
I am made of mush,
Because my heart melted when I saw you,
Matted and sore, limping, depressed,
Lonely, unwanted, afraid to love.
For one little time you are mine.
I will feed you with my own hand
I will love you with my whole heart
I will make you whole.
I am made of steel.
Because when the time comes,
When you are well, and sleek,
When your eyes shine,
And your tail wags with joy
Then comes the hard part.
I will let you go -- not without a tear,
But without a regret.
For you are safe forever --
A new dog needs me now.

- -- Diane Morgan

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Featured Rescue - Noah the Labrador Retriever

So I thought I'd post a Labrador Retriever as the Featured Rescue for today. There are still 20,302 Labs listed on

This is Noah. He's a lab mix. He was found in a trap ... doesn't say what kind? He's located in Rochester, NY. If you can offer him a home, he would be eternally grateful.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Training Rant - Bean Bags and Chains

Ok, so I know this lovely Golden Retriever. He's almost a senior, has been owned by the same people from the day he left his mama's side. Lovely story, eh? Well, here's something to think about ... This dog has some agression issues. Mainly it was in and around the food bowl. It started innocently enough, as a puppy, he would growl at his food while eating it as fast as he could. The owners thought it was cute.

**I can NOT stress enough to people ... If it's not going to be cute as an adult, then why is it cute as a puppy?**

Ok, so that sounds not so bad, right? Well as the dog got older, the growling increased. It was so subtle that the owners didn't notice. As the growling increased, so did the obsession. He began turning his head towards people and growling while eating as fast as he could. This increased until it turned into charging.

Well, you know the people didn't notice or worry about it until their own dog started charging at them! Why oh why didn't they care when he was growling??!!? Ok, so now they have realized they have a problem. At this same time, the agression flooded into anything the dog had or wanted ... toys, bones, food, couches, floor space.

So they call a big name dog training team who come in to assess the dog. The company says "no problem, with a little training, we can stop this behaviour!" The company gives them some very detailed instructions, invites them to weekly training sessions and gives the owners a handful of bean bags and chains.

"What is this all about?" ... is what you might be asking if you had experience with dogs. Unfortunately, these people did not and they took the word of these "professionals" as gospel. So they did as they were told. Every time the dog was eating and growling, they threw bean bags and chains at him. The training company said it would "desensitize" the dog.

What do you think this did?? Well, you'd better believe that this increased the behaviour!! I would like to pause in my relaying of the story to say ... asshats! *headdesk, headdesk, headdesk*

At that point, instead of fixing the problem, it got worse (no kidding!). When it was meal time, the people took the food to the kitchen, dropped the bowl on the floor for the dog and were forced to turn and run out of the room for fear that their own dog would attack them.

They have since found a NEW trainer who is helping them to work through these agression issues, but it has become a long and hard struggle when it should have been something so simple to fix! Luckily for the dog, their owners (who may be dumb people!) really love that galoot.

Now I need to say something that may end up controversial and remember, this is my opinion. A lot of people "test" dogs by playing with their food. In the home ... Why would you do that?! What better way to create a food obsession by saying, "here Fido, here's your food ... nah I changed my mind, It's mine ... ok, here's your food ... nah changed my mind". Good grief, just by typing that it makes me frustrated!! I hate to say it, but if I were a dog, I certainly would NOT respond well to that. (Yes, I am aware that many professionals do this, but I don't agree that it is a necessary test)

If you do see signs of agression, please talk to MULTIPLE behaviour specialists, read some books on your own (I recommend any books by Dr. Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, or Karen Pryor), and make your own conclusions about whether or not that professional is offering you sound advice. If you choose to trust that professional, then hire him/her on and have them help teach you how to train your dog.

I would like to suggest that the person should have their CPDT papers (Certification for Pet Dog Trainers), but unfortunately, this does not guarantee that the trainer will be any good with behavioural problems. Most CPDT's are great with obedience, but many aren't versed overly well when it comes to complex behavioural problems (note that I did say "many" ... some are good with behaviours, I'm sure - just not any I've met). For those trainers that I know, the ones that are awesome at training obedience don't know how to deal with serious behaviours, and vice versa.

And please remember people ... there is NO circumstance that would require you to throw chains and bean bags at your dog ... it will only make the behaviours worse and prove to the rest of us that you are an asshat that shouldn't own a dog. Go get a pet rock. I have a few for sale if you'd like?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Police Dog Not Dead.

So get this one ... Dog not dead: Fake K-9 Claim

Two police officers and a police chief have been charged with filing a false police report and filing a false insurance claim. Turns out they lied and said one of their dogs died in a training accident. They then claimed a $5,000 insurance claim. Money ... what some people will do for it, eh?

Here's another article that has a bit more detail.

I know this isn't directly affecting the dog (for all we know, the dog might be happy where it is..), but aren't these guys supposed to be working on the side of "good"?? Upholding the law ... blah blah blah??

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MA Votes to Ban Greyhound Racing

Forgive me if you were already aware of this, but I thought since I've been talking about such negative things, that I would change the subject! The voters of Massachusetts have spoken and they have approved a state-wide ban on Greyhound Racing.

Read an article that details here. Reports say that dog racing will be slowly phased out by 2010.

For a long time, there has been controversy regarding dog racing and animal rights. What do you think on this?

Personally, I've never been a race fan ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Puppy Mill vs. Euthanasia

Ok, so I have a question for everyone. This thought started swirling around in my head after my last post about mills being shut down. I have considered it before and tend to waffle back and forth. I know what my ultimate answer is, though it isn't a pretty one. Maybe some of you would like to give your opinion??

Here it is.

Do you think it is better to pull dogs out of a mill only to euthanize them for the lack of space to house them and food to feed them?? (This is assuming that the dogs are fed and watered regularly at the mill, of course) This would prevent the dogs from breeding more and making the problem bigger.

If not, what could the resolution be? We all know that the people running the mill won't stop breeding. Could we give them orders (as in written orders by an APS agent) to sell off all their dogs but keep them until that point??

I know we're going to start playing the politics game here and people would say either they need to be removed or not, but forget all that for now. Or even, how would you deal with that (the politics)?

What's your opinion?

Monday, November 24, 2008

How much is that Doggie in the Window??

So, I'm sure by now we've all read articles asking us not to buy puppies from Puppy Mills, right? But what, by definition is a "puppy mill"?? Well, Wikipedia defines a "Puppy Mill" as such:

- sometimes known as puppy farms[1],
- are large-scale dog breeding facilities that operate under substandard breeding conditions,[2][3]
- causing the development of chronic health problems, temperament issues, and hereditary defects in puppies that come from the mills.[2]

For those who aren't aware, Canadians have been seeing a whole lot of newspaper articles lately about Puppy Mills and Quebec. Quebec has long been known in Canada as a "Puppy Mill Capital". The newspapers are finally pushing this information on us, though this has been a problem for a very long time. Those of us here in Ontario no-kills are constantly taking the Quebec's shelters' overflow because they shutdown large-scale operations multiple times a year and then have nowhere to put the dogs.

Here are two recent articles about Quebec's Mills:
Quebec battles reputation as puppy mill capital
Puppy mill foes turn on pet stores

What can you do? Don't buy that puppy in the window. It may seem like you're "saving" that puppy from the store, but the problem is that there will always be another dog to replace that puppy you saved if you buy it. If you leave it there, it will still get food and water ... it's not like you're leaving it there to die. The puppy may not be enjoying the standards of life that you or I expect dogs to enjoy, but neither are the many dogs and puppies living in your local animal shelter. Why not go save one of those??

The difference between the two dogs?

The pet store dog will be replaced by another and you are giving the Mill another excuse and another reason to keep on breeding (not to mention to potential problems you will have to deal with with a mill puppy).

Unless you're at a no-kill animal shelter (which are few and far between), you are giving that Shelter dog a chance at life. Even if you are at a no-kill shelter, there are always animals that the shelter has to turn away (and in turn, often doom that animal to euthanasia or life on the streets), but if one more animal is adopted from that shelter than that is one more animal that that shelter can help.

Do everyone involved with rescue a favour and don't buy from the pet store. You aren't helping anyone but yourself and the puppy mill that dog came from. Do you have any rescue stories you want to share? I know many people enjoy talking about that so I figured I'd open the panel - feel free to share!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Training Tools - The Walk

Wanted to put in a word about walking your dog. Walking is important, but PLEASE use your common sense! We wouldn't want you to get tasered ... read this article to learn what not to do and how to prevent being tasered while walking your dog. Here is another article about the same guy that is a little more ... well, you'll see.

Please look into the laws of the area you live in. If you are not allowed by law to walk around nude, than chances are good that walking your dog nude is not a good idea. There may be ones you aren't even aware of, such as walking your dog in cemetaries. Check out this article for an example of this and what could happen if the laws of your area dictate that you should not have your dog in a cemetary.

That being said, we all have to remember that walking with your dog is good for them. It provides mental and physical stimulation. They take everything in - people, places, dogs, squirrels, cats, cars, sirens - whatever they see and hear. Walking is as important to their physical health as mental health.

The length of the required walk is, of course, dependent upon the individual animal as well as the goals you have set. If you are walking simply to relieve your dog, than perhaps 15 - 30 minutes will suffice, though I don't recommend that that be all the walking your do that day! If you are walking to provide stimulation and exercise for your dog, then longer will likely be required (probably more than an hour depending on the dog).

The physical state of your dog should not be ignored. If your dog is overweight, underweight or has medical conditions, you will have to adjust your walks and exercise to accommodate.

Walking is an important training tool. If your dog is reactive or has other leash issues, then why don't you go somewhere that you can be pretty sure you can walk without too many distractions? What about a quiet parking lot in an industrial area?

Not all dogs can simply put on a leash and walk down the street. That does take training (though not everyone is aware of that). However, that does not mean that you should neglect this basic tool simply because you have to teach your dog how to use it. It is important.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Featured Rescue - Riggs the Shih Tzu Puppy

An interesting comment was made this week about certain dog breeds and their high demand. Now, please keep in mind it was a simple comment and likely wasn't made to suggest that these dogs should be bred because they are in demand, but I am going to comment on this topic in general. Don't take offense and don't think that I am making this post in reply to the comment. I am simply grabbing the topic and expanding on it. (like my disclaimer?)

While I will agree that certain breeds of small dogs are in "high demand", this does not mean that they should be bred because they are a certain breed. Below are some numbers pulled from today...

There are 1,769 Shih Tzu's or Shih Tzu mixes listed in Petfinder as looking for homes.
684 Bichon Frise
1,019 Boston Terrier
3,890 Dachshund
2,427 JRTs and 633 PRTs
708 Lhasa Apso
604 Maltese

With this many "high demand" dogs currently seeking homes in rescues listed on Petfinder (not to mention all those that are not listed on there!), I don't see that there is too high a demand not being filled. What I do see is that people are too lazy to look for a dog - it's easier just to get their dog from the breeder up the road, right? Of those listed, there are a fair amount that are purebred. There are also a fair amount that are puppies. Yes, many are adult or older dogs, but that is not the whole of it.

Also, if searching for a dog of a specific breed, why not contact a breed-specific rescue? They are not all listed on Petfinder.

Regardless of the breed of dog and whether or not it is in demand as a pet, I still believe there are certain accomplishments that any dog bred should reach before breeding.

I don't believe that dogs should be mixed on purpose since there are so many people who have Oops's in their backyards. That said, IF you DO choose to mix two breeds together, both parents should be registered with a LEGIT registry (I'm thinking AKC or CKC here people) and they should also have something to their name in an accomplishment. Did they win a show? Did they achieve a certain level of Obedience Trials and recieve a prize or acknowledgement? Did they earn a certain level of herding or ... SOMETHING!

I don't believe dogs should be bred without reaching some level of potential and I don't believe that untrained dogs should be bred.

I think that puppy mills should be illegal in all provinces and states and animal control (or Animal Protection Services through SPCAs) should have the ability to charge the people running them. Not only that, I think that they should be charged with hoarding. Maybe give them a fine for every dog that doesn't have a dog license??
I have added this picture of a 16 week old Shih Tzu puppy that is available through rescue.
I hope I've explained my opinion well enough? Is this so?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sweet Justice - Man who cut off dog's ears

Well, whoever says there is no justice in the legal system of Ontario is only somewhat correct. Turns out that there remains a certain amount of "jailhouse justice". One of yesterday's headlines is:

Man jailed for cutting off dog's ears gets taste of own medicine

Check out the article ... it is an interesting read. I always have to smile when an animal abuser gets something of his/her own medicine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Asshat Rant - Retire your old dogs, don't dump them!

Every day I could find fodder for an Asshat Rant. That's unfortunate and I wish it weren't so. Today's 'fodder' is only one of many. There are so many out there who do this, that is only one of many. Here's the ad on craigslist. I have screencapped it and jpg so if the ad is removed, you can still view it.

How sad is this? 12 year old beagle needs a new home ... why in the world can't his owners keep him for a few more years and give him the retirement he deserves? Always makes me angry to see this sort of thing. We have one senior dog currently "in the wings" so to speak at the pound and I feel sad for her. She's estimated to be somewhere around 10-12 years old and her owners never came looking. It's always hard to find homes for seniors regardless of how sweet and gentle they are.

If we can give our old dogs one thing, it is to love them to the very end. Were I a dog facing euthanasia in the next couple of years, I would hope that my owners would be there for me and hold my hand until the last. Maybe whisper some nice thing about seeing me on the other side. Something to keep me feeling confident and loved.
When I worked at the vet clinic it pained me everytime someone would bring their animal in for euthanasia and wouldn't stay with him / her. It hurt too much, they would say. Well, how do you think the pet feels? Being surrounded by clinic-smelling people who hold you and put needle in you and then you sleep. How scary is that. For that matter, how do you think the vet tech who is working feels?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Fugly ... Design-A-Puppy

While surfing this week I came across an ... interesting breeder. Company's name is Design-A-Puppy ... Good grief. What will we think of next?? I'm thinking ... beware ... BYBer ... possibly of the worst kind (if there IS such a thing ... 'worst kind' ... perhaps all BYBers belong in this category)!

Taking a parusal around their website, you may note that the only pages that have any info are the Index (home), Designer puppies for sale, Shopping (where you can get some paintings), and Contact Us.

These pages are "Under Construction". About Design a Puppy, Scrapbook Gallery, In The Press. I wonder why their Scrapbook doesn't have all sorts of pictures on it? I'm sure they have many pics of their "little darlings".
I have added these pictures of one of their dogs that was recently "Adopted" (uh ... perhaps they mean "SOLD"??). Personally ... I think it's fugly. What is with those ears? They just don't seem right on that face. Is that eye goop on it's nose? The colour under the eyes doesn't seem to match the rest of the pup's colours ... so I would conclude that it probably is something that most people would want to wash off before taking a pic.

Make your own decisions ... don't take my word for it. What do you think about this breeder? Design-A-Puppy ... WTF?!

Don't forget ... This is only my opinion. What's yours? What do you think??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Training Tools - A Tired Dog

I'm going to touch briefly on my mantra of a Tired Dog is a Good Dog. I know that some people know this - but I wonder some days at how many people know it but don't fully understand it.

I'm sure that we can all agree that your dog is a blank slate waiting for you to teach it. Each and every behaviour is a learned one - whether you meant to teach it, it came with your dog, or it was a behaviour that was inadvertantly rewarded without you realizing it.

So, you want to teach your dog something, but he's bouncing all over the place. Maybe you want to teach how to walk on a leash? Or perhaps you want to teach them something else like a cute trick or rally-o or something. Perhaps a soft skill such as not to eat things off the living room table?? Regardless what you want to do with him - you don't have a dog that is ready to learn if he/she is bouncing all over.

True, some dogs have more energy than others and are often classified as "hyper" dogs. Regardless of the energy level, you can tire a dog out if you try, it just takes different things for different dogs. I've seen dogs with more and less energy, but it's all the same ... it is up to the owner to know their dog and be able to provide him or her with the stimulation that he requires.

You wouldn't try to make a child sit down and learn to read when he's in this state, so why would you try to make your dog do this? It is simply setting the dog (and child!) up for failure. Then it is really the owners who fail the dog, not the dog who fails.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Go to Jail ... Do not pass GO

I was moseying around the internet and found this tidbit about a self-proclaimed "rescue" turned convicted animal abuser.

In the first week of October 2008, Sandra I. Cortes, 44, of Annandale was found guilty by Judge Peter W. Steketee in General District Court of 27 counts of animal cruelty. See the news report on the Washington Post site here. Brenda E. Dodson, 30, a caretaker with the foundation, pleaded guilty to 27 counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced to 18 months in jail and 20 years of supervised probation, during which time she is not to have contact with animals.

Turns out Cortes was running a "rescue" called Assisi Animal Rescue Foundation. They were originally charged in May 2008, but their latest court date was early October. If you would like to read the info on, here's the link.

Their original website was according to this Washington Post article. Of course, the site is no longer working.

Cortes, Dodson ... I have something to say ... Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Pay lots of legal fees. Hope you go broke. Stop posing as a rescue - you drag their names down to your muddy level when you do. *Asshats. Asshats. Asshats.*

Friday, November 7, 2008

Featured Rescue - Calli the Cocker Spaniel

For those interested in a Cocker Spaniel, why not consider adopting one from a shelter? This is Calli. She was a mother at a puppy mill. She is living with a foster home who has reported that she is coming along well.

There are currently 2,365 Cocker Spaniels available for adoption from shelters and rescues across North America.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Training Tools - Choke Chain

So, how many people out there have been told that their dog should be trained on a choke chain? I was told I should use one for my reactive dog.

I know they work and I know that some people swear by them. Personally, I don't like using them. We are required to use them at the Pound for all the dogs that come in (with no history on the dog, it is difficult to work with anything else), but on my own dogs, I don't. (Once I've worked with a Pound dog for about a week, I will usually switch to a martingale collar, but that is another post!)

I like using positive methods - such as rewards - for proper heels and not pulling on leash. I know a lot of people find that the quick-tug works for their dogs. Although it can work for some dogs, it doesn't for others. Each dog is different and training should be different for each accordingly.

Personally, I have found that the quick-tug doesn't work well for many dogs and have had much more success with more dogs by using positive rewards (toys/treats/etc).

Do you use a choke chain? Have you used one in the past? Would you consider using one if you ended up with a large dog (possibly close to the same weight as you?) that was reactive on leash or would you use something else??

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Breeding - ACA and Puppy Mills

I did a little research in the last week or so about an organization called American Canine Association (ACA). Why did I do this research? Well, I had contacted a breeder and asked if their dogs are registered. When I received their response, it said that their dogs were all registered with ACA, I decided to do a google search and see what I could come up with.

ACA is a dog registry, yes. After parusing through the web site, I found little evidence that the requirements for registering are any higher than an ant hill. You need to report the dog's colour, breed, tattoo and microchip (if it has one). Then you need to attach any files about the dog from your computer. Online, they will only take payment through your credit card. Here is their Web Site.

Of course, continuing my research brought me closer and closer to full understanding.

This is a web forum discussion about ACA that touches on the topic of puppy mills and BYBers.

Here's a Yahoo Answers FAQ sheet that tells you the differences between ACA and AKC. There were some comments about ACA being a bogus registry that puppy mills use. There is even some info about AKC.

One more interesting posting about Mills and ACA. Yet another instance where ACA is in a bad light.

Here's one site that explains how to spot a puppy mill. This is probably the best one I found that looks at the facts. It discusses both the AKC and the ACA in a different light than any other place I had looked (so far).

Have you run into ACA in your travels through the dog world? What were your experiences with it?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Training Rant - Couches

Well, life is a bit crazy at home right now. We're dog sitting, so we have 5 dogs at home. Now, normally 5 dogs is not a problem - provided they are all trained properly and are able to live together. Don't forget we live in a 900 sq ft loft. Yes, we have acreage outside, but the indoors are somewhat lacking for space. We have had to do some retraining with the 2 extra dogs and I thought I'd drop a short line about it here. The first target for a training rant? Couches. They are mine. You can use them, but ask first.

Both these dogs think that our furniture are their playthings. I understand that they are little - both Cocker mixes - but it's like they don't know how to play without jumping all over my furniture.

So here's my disclaimer, I don't have an issue with dogs on the furniture, but it is a priviledge that should not be abused. Our dogs are all allowed on the furniture, provided there is enough room and they ask first. These two dogs don't. They are all over the place, jump on the furniture, jump all over people/dogs/cats with no regard and don't bother to think twice about it.

Now, I have a 14 year old Cocker/Beagle mix who really does NOT like to be jumped on. These two are a bit much for her. She sort of pushes herself into the couch corner and makes herself as little as possible.

So, we are working on livingroom manners. They are allowed on the couch, but only if they ask first. They are NOT to jump on or roll on top of people or other animals while on the couch, or they are told to get off. So far they seem to be learning ... I just hope they figure it out before my oldest dog takes a chunk out of them!

Do your dogs get up on couches and chairs? Do you have certain rules for this or is it a free for all?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Featured Rescue - Sebastian the Boxer

Boxers are beautiful, often misunderstood dogs. They can be high energy or can be quite calm and cool. Today, there are 5,844 boxers available through that are looking for new homes through rescue.

Sebatian is one of those many dogs. He is about 1 year old and is currently located in NY State. If you can offer a place in your home for Sebastian, contact Best Friends Boxer Rescue

Friday, October 31, 2008

Send these guys to Jail!

This has been a bad week for animals, as is often the case in the week coming on Hallowe'en (aka Samhain, Third Harvest, Samana, Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest, All Hallows Eve). October is the month that you should keep your dogs and cats inside and hidden away from the nasty ghouls out there ...

Dog found hanged from tree East Finley, PA (US) Oct 26, 2008
Dog shot with shotgun Omemee, ON (CA) Oct 25, 2008
Horse stabbed to death Linwood, KS (US) Oct 26, 2008
Cat shot with arrow, dies Houston, PA (US) Oct 25, 2008
Dog found dead in oven after break-in Dillon, SC (US) Oct 22, 2008

Law Enforcement Officers Need Your Help. If you have any information about these cases, I strongly urge you to contact police. Let's hope the guys (or gals!) who did this are caught and thrown in jail.

I have never understood the mindset of animal abusers. Of course, abuse comes in all sorts of different forms and types from setting an animal on fire to simple neglect (forgetting to feed and water it).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Training Rant - Chewing

How many of you out there have a dog that chews your belongings?? How many of you think this is a bad behaviour that can be removed with training? Here's my opinion ... you don't train your dog not to chew - you teach your dog what is and is not appropriate chew toys! Most of the time, destructive chewing is caused by boredom. The big, bad, "B" word.

95% of the time, chewing is something that you can fix SO easily because it is caused by boredom and people don't even realize it! That means that if you start challenging your dog mentally and/or physically, you can usually stop the boredom chewing.

I was working in a school this week speaking with the custodian about her Dane. Her dog is 2 1/2 years old. She's had the dog since a pup. Her dog chews. Not only does she chew - but she destroys things! The latest victim of her chewing?? The livingroom couch. The lady I was speaking with had been waiting to hear from her daughter who was on a mission to find matching fabric to replace a couch cushion ... before the hubby got home!!

This dog has chewed large holes in mattresses, furniture, tables, shoes, remote controls, and pretty much anything else that she can get her large mouth around (which is a LOT!). Because she knows another Dane who has the same behaviours, she is convinced this is a breed specific trait.

I suggested that her dog is probably bored and asked how often she goes for walks (not simply putting the dog in the backyard). Of course, I got the standard answer of "we walk her ALL the time! We even take her out for runs". I spoke with her for a while giving her some ideas on what to do about the 'chewing' problem ... She wouldn't accept that she's not exercising the dog enough, so among other things, I suggested a treat ball and that she should put one of the dogs daily meals in it instead of in a bowl.

Here it is at Petsmart
And here at Petacular

Mental stimulation is more tiring than physical stimulation. As always, I will recite my favourite motto ... A Tired Dog Is A Good Dog.

What boredom busters have you used to prevent your dog from entertaining himself?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Breeder Update - Miniature Australian Shepherd - Buyer Beware

Ok, so I thought I'd post my findings on that bad breeder that I mentioned in my previous blog post (see post here), O'Neill Horse Farms (who not only breed horses, they also breed Miniature Australian Shepherds ... Um ... woo hoo??).

Now, I have found that the AKC does not recognize the Miniature Australian Shepherd (hereby referred to as MAS). From what I have found, neither does the CKC. Both organizations do recognize the Australian Shepherd, but neither "Mini's" or "Toys".

As stated below, I would have retracted my comments and "bad" classification had the breeders (who I emailed last week) offered any sort of proof that their dogs should be bred. (Proof other than "they're pretty" or of "good temperament"). Hello? Do you know how many "pretty" dogs there are in rescue with a "good temperament"?? Puppies, Adults, and Seniors ... oh my!

Their website states that if an interested buyer would like to contact them they will be happy to share the dogs' pedigrees with you. So, I emailed them. The reply I got was not overly encouraging - it stated very much the same as the website. Here's what it said:

Thanks for your email about our pups ..Yes they are registered with MASCA and NSDR. If you call me we acn go over the pedigrees of my dogs. Are you looking for anything in particular?? Be fun to talk to you, Thanks again , Donna Oneill 563 568 2197

I emailed back asking if the pups are AKC or CKC registered, among other things such as colour, temperament, etc. The reply I received is not encouraging. There was no mention of registration for either AKC or CKC, no comments about temperament.
I asked about a specific dog on their website (#1 Blue Merle Female) and asked to know what dogs they had available as a blue merle and / or red tri. In the reply sent, there was no mention of the dog I had asked about. She sent me 5 pictures of dogs available ... I checked and don't think that any of them are listed on the website (unless I need to cross my eyes when comparing the pictures?).

This little guy is 5 months old, male. That's all I know - she didn't give me any info other than that. I'm not overly partial to his face ... and he doesn't look much like a blue merle or red tri to me ... but maybe it's bad light? Could I give them that as an excuse?? Personally, I think he's kinda Fugly ... but that's my honest opinion ... I find his muzzle isn't as short and cute as most Australian Shepherds ... maybe it's just a bad picture angle.

To be fair, here is another picture of one of the pups she sent to me. The picture is named "red tri female sittingcuteface". Now, if I look at the difference in the two picture qualities that we have here ... I would swear that these pics were taken with two different cameras. In fact, this one almost looks like it was a very old pic that was scanned in. Mind you, with today's cameras, there sure are a lot of neat and funky things you can do with them - perhaps that is why it looks so faded and different. (WHY you would do that purposefully if you are trying to sell your dogs is beyond me!)
Again, I have no information on this dog. No age, etc. One of the dogs pictured on their website is supposed to be 4 months and the pic looks like it is closer to 8 weeks ... so I'm ready to accept that this dog could be ANY age and probably isn't the same age now as when that picture was taken.

Now, I did a little research and looked up MASCA (Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America) and NSDR (National Stock Dog Registry). I'm not suggesting that either of these organizations are not qualified in any way - they are probably great clubs. I would only like to point out a few facts that I have learned about them. Here's what I found about each one:

- The minimum membership fee is $7.50; the highest membership fee is $25
- To become a member, you should own Miniature Australian Shepherds. You don't have to provide any proof, nor do they need to be registered with the AKC.
- You don't register dogs with them - it is simply a club that your become a member of
- Breeders are able to be listed on the MASCA website by putting a checkmark in the box on their application form. The most interesting thing about all this? O'Neill Horse Farms is NOT on their Breeders Directory!? Why do you think that is?

I couldn't find any interesting information on this at all! There are no forms, no descriptions about the organization ... nothing. The only interesting bit of information I did find was that there is a breeder's directory which costs $50 to be listed in. Again, when searching for O'Neill Horse Farms, they are NOT listed.


So, to conclude - I have asked this breeder for information that the website states I am encouraged to ask about. The little information that I have received from the breeder is not impressive and after a little searching, really doesn't state anything other than "I know a few acronyms in the dog-world" and "I am trying to impress you with big words - aren't the pictures of my doggies cute?"
The unfortunate thing in all this? People fall for this tactic. Potential buyers think they should ask certain questions because the "how to find your perfect puppy" article they read told them to. They don't understand what any of it means, and can't be bothered to find out - which is a problem.

When you are looking for a dog, don't just read a list of what you should do. Learn what it means! Understand what the term 'registered' means and if they start throwing acronyms at you, ask them to write it down so you can go research that particular organization - who knows ... you might just save yourself an awful lot of money.
You may want to remember this post when thinking about buying a puppy from O'Neill Horse Farms ... I certainly wouldn't buy from there! Unless you really want to pay $1500 for a dog that isn't really worth that much? I'm sure you could find a dog with more interesting bloodlines and conformation for less.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Featured Rescue - Jake the Australian Shepherd

Spurred by my post about Australian Shepherd breeders, I would like to post a featured rescue for one. There are currently 3,391 Australian Shepherds looking for homes listed on petfinder. There are many more that are listed elsewhere and are not on petfinder.

Jake is an older dog (7-8 years) who really needs to find the right home. He is reportedly blind due to cataracts in his eyes. This guy just needs someone to take him home, love him and care for him until the end of his days.
Jake is currently located in New Casle, PA.
Blind dogs can be wonderful additions to a home. Once they get to know an area, they are often just as playful and rambunctious as normal dogs. Building up trust between the handler and the dog is extremely important for these dogs to ensure that they have a full life. The handler should take all steps necessary to ensure that the dog feels safe and secure - which isn't that difficult.
See for more information about blind dogs.
Also, I have been working on a follow up posting regarding one of the breeders I mentioned below. Waiting on an email to come in (figured I'd give her a few days to reply) - I will wait until tomorrow to post it.