Friday, January 29, 2010

Paw Prints In The Chimney

This evening I was reflecting on what I would want in my dream house: a good bathroom, a nice kitchen with a window overlooking the horse paddocks, and a nicely arranged grooming room. But the most important thing would be the chimney with a brick imprinted with a paw print.

Every house I have ever lived in happened to have a chimney with one brick emblazoned with a paw print. My family never planned it that way, we never commissioned a brick for this purpose, and we didn't notice them until long after purchasing the houses we lived in. But, without fail each house had this unique characteristic, adding puppy charm to our home.

Paw print bricks don't seem to be a trait associated with any particular geographical region. At least not in our case. Our paw print homes have been in Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina and Vermont.

The paw print chimneys have come to be something special my family shares. We often wonder how the paw print got on the brick - was it a naughty dog running across wet bricks, or did someone plan it that way? The bricks have brought a certain sort of charm to the homes we've lived in throughout my life, and is a great story when guests visit. There is something comforting to know when the homes were built animals were part of the process, and now, in the case of three of the houses, over 100 years later the animals are still a loving part of the household. It's nice to look down and see a dog with a wagging tail at your feet and turn your head to gaze at the chimney and see a paw print - as though the chimney is a reflection of the cherished pets that live there.

This is a tradition I hope to continue when I one day buy or build a house. I'm not sure how I would go about getting a paw print brick and I might have to find a brick maker. It would be neat to have a brick made with the paw print of one of my dogs and know that one day, perhaps more than 100 years later, someone would look at that brick and wonder about the animals present when the chimney was constructed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


After reading yesterday’s post you might be asking yourself, “What is co-ownership?” and why would someone want to co-own a dog or puppy? The contract surrounding a dog that is co-owned by the breeder and the buyer will vary from breeder to breeder.

When a responsible breeder sells puppies he or she sells them on AKC Limited Registration. This means the puppy can never be bred (usually the breeder will include a mandatory spay/neuter clause in their contract), and the puppy/dog is not eligible to compete in the breed ring (ie: AKC conformation shows). This is how a breeder will sell the majority of their puppies, as the majority of a breeder’s puppies will go to pet homes. A puppy on Limited Registration is still eligible to compete in all other AKC competitions except the breed ring – they are eligible to compete in rally, obedience, agility, hunt tests, etc.

A breeder may also sell some puppies to show homes. In order to be eligible to show the puppy must be sold on Unlimited Registration, and this includes the rights to breed. Selling a puppy on Unlimited Registration to just anyone can be risky, as irresponsible breeding can very quickly ruin the lines a breeder may have spent 30 years or more working to create. With this in mind, co-ownership comes into play, especially with female puppies, and/or inexperienced show homes. In my case, I will co-own my puppy with the breeder, but I still have to pay the full purchase price. The puppy will live with me, and I will be responsible for the care of the puppy. In almost all ways this puppy will be my puppy. The AKC papers will show two owners (me and the breeder).

The breeder will have a say in the puppy’s life, however. The breeders co-owning rights will come into play with showing and breeding the dog (in my case bitch), and these rights will be clearly written out in the contract before I purchase the puppy. In some cases, the breeder might co-own until the puppy becomes and AKC Champion. In other cases the breeder will have the rights to the bitch’s first litter, and the litter will have the breeder’s kennel name prefix on all the puppies. In this instance, I might be given one puppy. Another scenario could be the breeder getting pick of the litter from the first litter. Co-ownership can be risky, but it can be an amazing way to learn. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to purchase a female puppy on Unlimited Registration without co-owning. The breeder being active in the puppy’s life and career will help me learn about showing, grooming, the breed standard, breeding and much more. I am looking for a breeder to help mentor me, and be very involved with the puppy. This means I need to find a breeder I trust completely.

As far as expenses go, very frequently the buyer (me) would be responsible for all daily expenses and vet care. Sometimes, the breeder might split entry fees with the buyer, but this is rarer. Sometimes the breeder will assume the costs associated with breeding the first litter if the breeder has rights to that litter – vet care, stud fee, etc. – but not always. Sometimes expenses associated with showing and breeding (including health clearances) will be split down the middle, but sometimes these will be assumed by the buyer.

Co-ownership is more frequent with females than males, and many breeders will only sell a female on unlimited registration to an experienced show home. I am still learning, but from what I understand co-ownership is more prevalent with females because a female will only be bred a certain number of times in her life – usually two or three times, sometimes four times. So each breeding must be very carefully considered and planned. The owner of the bitch/dam of a litter owns the puppies and can sell them and ensuring responsible breeding and selling of these puppies is critical to preserving good show lines. A male can sire countless litters, but it is usually the bitch owner who picks the male to sire a litter, and not the owner of the male who reaches out to bitch owners to use their male. Of course, the owner of a stud has the right to be selective in what bitches they breed their stud to.

When it comes time to draw up a contract I will require everything be spelled out ahead of time. Who will cover what expenses, what rights the breeder has, what assistance the breeder will give, if full ownership will ever be transferred to me the circumstances surrounding that, etc. It might sound like a lot, and sort of a less than ideal situation, but if done right co-owning a dog can be an invaluable learning experience. I will be able to avoid many novice mistakes by having a breeder there to help me along the way, and at the end of the night, it will be in my house that the bitch lives, and when not showing she will be my beloved companion. With a breeder I trust this could be one of the greatest opportunities of my life, and now it’s finding a breeder I trust, and the right litter that is so important!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Golden Retriever Puppy

It's been more than two years since I decided to get a Golden Retriever puppy, and as you know, I still don't have the puppy. I'm grateful I did not get a puppy when I first started looking, because I don't think I really knew what I was looking for, and I'm embarrassed about some of the breeders I considered at the time (one with recorded hip dysplasia in the lines! but I didn't know that!). I now have a firm grasp as to what to look for when selecting a reputable breeder.

Well, after a bit of a pause for various reasons, the search for the right breeder and litter is back on!!! I am so excited to start looking, but I'm willing to wait for THE LITTER! This puppy will hopefully become my first show dog!

I want another Golden Retriever, and a female puppy. Because I'm a newbie to showing I will probably need to co-own the puppy with the breeder, and I'll also need a mentor. Co-owning has risks, but it also has the potential to be GREAT! If I find the right breeder, co-owning will provide me with a wonderful opportunity to be mentored, and this will help ensure I don't make common dog show novice mistakes.

I just wanted to let you all know the search is back on!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This commercial drives Milly absolutely insane!!!

So the other night this commercial came on and Milly ran all over the house looking for the squeaker and started licking the TV!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Doggie Must-Have Wish List:

Now that I’m committed to researching the right products and stopping impulse spending, I’m busy saving for the better products I should have bought in the beginning. Here are the tools and products I am pinching pennies and saving for.

I’m simply dying to purchase the Chris Christensen Kool-Dry dryer (in pink!). This is the crème de la crème of dryers! Known as the professionals’ choice, especially if you have more than one dog to groom, it’s sure to be a favorite once you use it. The Kool Dry features a variable output blower from whisper to blast, and dries quickly without added heat to damage the coat. This dryer is powerful yet quiet, it’s compact and comes with an extra long (nine foot) hose and two styles of nozzles! As you know I gave up professional groomings for Milly last summer and put aside the money saved to make this purchase, the money is ready, but it’s hard to convince myself to fork over $350 for a dog dryer!

I love to bargain on EVERYTHING! I’m planning on seeing if Chris Christensen can throw in a free brush with the dryer purchase whenever I get myself mentally prepared for such a big spend. The brush of choice is the Chris Christensen 20mm Fusion Brass Oval Pin Brush! At $50 normally this is one I’m really hoping to be able to bargain in as the freebie! This is a brush that will last me a lifetime of grooming!

Another Chris Christensen brush I’d love to get is the new wooden pin brush – ¾” pin length, 8 ½” body, in oval. This is great for detangling the coat without damaging it! The Carpino Wood pins work to delicately separate out the area of the tangle from the rest of the hair, then work gently to loosen by drawing individual hairs upward and out to the side yet away from the knot. The wooden pins eliminate painful pulling on individual hair follicles that can possible damage or break the hair under the strain. This will also eliminate tightening any knots which are already present. The wooden pins utilize the natural oils to polish the hair by distributing sebum and/or applied oils. It’s also 100% static free! At a cost of $35 it’s not cheap, but well worth it!

With all these brushes there are also times I need a good comb. Metal combs are optimum, and the best comb available is the Belgian Greyhound metal comb. The prices I’ve seen vary on these, but I’ve found one for $28 (plus shipping) and I’m ready to splurge!

Before I can groom I need to be able to give a great bath, while I’m really hoping to one day have a grooming table and a grooming tub, those are on hold for now – along with the Isle of Dog Royal Jelly Shampoo! For now I'll stick with my Cowboy Magic Rosewater Shampoo (diluted, of course).

I’d like to purchase some shammie towels (the generic ShamWow) which are only a few dollars. I’d also like a good microfiber mitt for Milly’s face (she’s very sensitive and a little head shy), and these work great - you can get them for less than $5 at your local auto parts store and they are soooooo soft!

And of course, I really need a Dremel! This is on the top of the list for ideal nail grinding (this reduces the risk of the nail splitting, and it’s harder to hit the quick if you grind the nail as opposed to clipping them). I'm debating between getting a regular Dremel, or buying the Oster nail grinder (I've heard this is good). If you are thinking about getting a nail grinder I'll warn you to stay away from PediPaws (unless you have a toy breed), as it really is not capable of grinding larger nails. A Dremel would be useful for non-dog projects, but is more expensive than the Oster Nail Grinder. The Oster would save me money, but is really only useful for nail grinding. Oh the choices!

I hope you enjoyed reading about the items I hope to one day purchase! They're very expensive, especially when you add them all up, but a girl has got to dream!

Stop Burning Money on Useless Pet Products!

I’ve spent a lot of money on dog related products over the years, I shudder to think of the amount spent, and I’m grateful I don’t have the receipts from every dog-related purchase or I might have a heart attack if I ever saw the grand total! One thing I’ve found is I buy a product, try it out, and then find a product I like more, or learn why the product I bought isn’t quite as wonderful as I initially thought or marketing told me it would be.

I’ve gotten sick and tired of this. I waste money by not initially buying the better product, usually a bit more expensive than my first purchase, because I end up buying the cheaper product and then the more costly better product. I have a dog supply graveyard, a basket full of no longer useful training aids, grooming tools, and toys. I could have avoided this by just buying the better grooming tools and training aids from the get-go, but the toys are a bit trickier, as every dog has their own personal opinions regarding what is fun to play with!

What’s in the basket you might ask? Two slicker brushes – they work, they do the job, but I feel like they actually kind of damage the coat. They’ve since been replaced by a Chris Christensen slicker brush (which I love!) that cost the same as the two inferior ones. A Gentle Leader halter – Milly hated it, and I prefer actually training her to walk loosely on a leash. A Sporn Harness – this worked, but I’ve since replaced it with a prong collar for walks and Milly has really learned loose leash walking (even on a flat collar)! A retractable leash – they’re dangerous, they can literally decapitate your fingers, and they promote leash pulling. Nail clippers – many different types. Shampoos – many contain high amounts of alcohol and dull the coat. And that’s just the first layer of stuff in the basket!

In a world full of so many doggie doodads it’s hard to know what the better product actually is. Believe it or not, often the best dog products aren’t even available at big pet supply stores like Petsmart or Petco! They’re instead made by smaller companies who cater to the extremely educated dog owner or dog professional – whether it is a show breeder, handler, groomer, or dog trainer – and can be purchased online, at pet expo’s, dog show vendors or specialty boutiques.

In an effort to end this silly frivolous spending I contacted a Golden Retriever breeder whom I admire and respect greatly. I asked her what the best grooming tools she owns are, and why. What exactly I need, and don’t need. I’m slowly acquiring them, but there are many I’m still saving for.

Want to do the same thing, but own a different breed? Join your local breed club and contact other members for advice! You might spend a bit more up front, but you’ll save in the end!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Flying Chihuahuas To Where The Odds Are Better

In an effort to ease the overcrowded population of Chihuahuas in California, Virgin America flew 15 Chihuahuas from San Francisco to New York this week.

West Coast shelters, inundated with Chihuahuas, have been searching for help from shelters on the East Coast, where Chihuahuas are few and far between, and there is a high demand for the pint sized pooches. Cooperation and teamwork between shelters to transport and relocate dogs is a common practice to facilitate more adoptions.

Influenced by red carpet Chihuahua toting celebrities, like Paris Hilton and Hillary Duff, and movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua, irresponsible breeders and puppy mills realized they could profit off of this celebrity trend. The irresponsible breeding and media attention the little dogs received have contributed to the high volume of Chihuahuas in West Coast shelters, and the struggling economy has not helped, dog experts have noted. Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes have become the most common dog in California shelters, even outnumbering the Pit Bull.

With a veterinarian escort, the Chihuahuas were scheduled to arrive at JFK airport where they will be picked up by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which will work to find the dogs foster families and adoptive homes on the East Coast.

To garner more support, and raise awareness to the plight of homeless animals, Virgin America’s Facebook page documented the flight, complete with photos and videos posted mid-air!

It’s not just California shelters that are flooded with Chihuahuas. In Phoenix, Arizona the pocket pet trend has caught on and Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelters are packed to the gills with Chihuahuas. In December, the shelters were forced to have a $36 weekend Chihuahua special following a two month period where the shelters received 821 Chihuahuas, 230 more than the year before, according to the Associated Press.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Collection of Poems by Billy Cosby, Guest Poet!

Animals are the focus of much of my life, and through my love of animals I’ve created many friendships. When I was 12 or 13 I became friends with a fellow equestrian named Anndy, and our friendship took off. Had it not been for our mutual love of all things furry, especially the variety with four legs and a tail (whether it is a dog, horse or cat), I doubt we’d be friends today. Our love of animals has been a part of our lives we’ve shared with each other, and it has been one constant that no matter how much we each grow and change, we will always have. Having grown up in the same town, Anndy and I make it a point to see each other and catch up when we visit our families for the holidays.

A few years ago, things changed, it wasn’t just Anndy anymore, but now she introduced her boyfriend Billy into the mix. At first, I was hesitant to accept Billy, after all, he knew nothing of being a 14 year old girl driving a moped, gossiping about boys, and picking up every stray we found. However, I soon realized he too was an animal lover, and quite a cool fellow (animals aside). A couple of years past, and I was able to spend a little bit more time with Billy, each visit getting to know him better. I was not at all surprised when I got the phone call that Billy would be moving in with Anndy, nor was I surprised when I got the phone call that Billy had proposed, and I was thrilled when they included me in their beautiful wedding at the National Steeplechase Museum. I knew this was a match made in heaven when their wedding website noted their dogs as flower girls, bios and all! Anndy and Billy now reside in Lexington, Kentucky with their beloved dogs Crunch and Barlee.

I am now pleased to say that Billy has become one of my friends, and we’ve been able to share three loves: Anndy (obviously, in very different ways), dogs, and the English language. As a teacher, Billy spends a great amount of time discussing poetry with his students. His class loves when he shares his own dog themed poems with them. I was thrilled when Billy contacted me to see if I’d like to share some of his poetry with my readers. Billy has a beautiful way of molding the English language into poetic music, and reading these poems makes me feel like I am in the room with the dogs he so vividly captures through words.

So without further ado, I present a collection of puppy themed poetry written by Billy Cosby.

She hears me.

She hears me

put my shorts



she cavorts

in a flee.

She lies down

at my socks



not like rocks,

streak of brown.

Barlee wags,

thinking jog,



a rock blog,

leaving nags.

At the door,

leash in hand:



my last stand,

she straight tore.

Her feet roar,

lion canned,



pulls my hand,

so fast, “Foooooorrre!”

When the shorts

go on up,



true this pup,

revved blood quarts.

Do Not Bring that Stick in Here

Do not bring that stick in here.

Do not share the wild.

I don’t sell the wind.

Our home is too soft.

Do not bring that stick in here.

Do not stretch our comfort;

our easy-going, snap-button wonder.

Our home is not ready.

Do not bring that stick in here.

Do not invite her in.

The Oriole will be the next to R.S.V.P.

Our home is not a cage.

Do not bring that stick in here.

Do not store kindling.

I won’t risk friction.

Our home is frisky enough.

Do not bring that stick in here.

Do not wave it like a wand.

We will not turn into cats.

Our home is for dogs…

…eh, and I guess sticks, too.

Barlee Marks


Year of the Barlee:

marked by exclamatory,

pawed, parallel marks.

A summer season

of sunburnt, three-pronged marks

and beach balls popping.

Antiseptic fall;

displaced leaves and displaced skin

fall in a clawed fall.

A winter of youth,

Barlee still young, still wreckless,

young claws contact cells.

Ailing spring and flesh;

marks here and marked tulips spread

a landscape of scars.

Year of the Barlee:

marked by young marks; innocent

but somehow guilty.

The Dog Poet Laureate

You are the dog poet laureate:

designated per life,

diligently peeling language.

peeing, leg-lifting.

You are the dog poet laureate:

developing Pekinese landscapes,

devouring Poodles’ leaps.

You are the dog poet laureate:

deaf, paralyzed laps =

diary painfully laden.

You are the dog poet laureate.

Dalmation pairs lollygagging.

Dachsund princesses lazily…

You are the dog poet laureate:

daffodils pressed lastingly,

dahlias perfumed: lagoon.

You are the dog poet laureate:

danger-privy Labradors,

deserting privateer Leonbergers.

You are the dog poet laureate:

delectable pastel litter,

dancing, perpetual lifeguards.

You are the dog poet laureate:

dredging pawed labyrinths,

doggedly pursuing leashes.