Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Bed for Hush

After a lot of research, I have selected the dog bed I will be getting for Hush. I have always had the traditional dog bed, the ones that are a giant pillow with a slip cover, round or rectangular, that sit on the floor. Milly actually has two of these, and while I like them, I want something that is a bit more sturdy and able to be disinfected.

As you know, Hush will be my first show dog, and once I get her, I would like to get a third Golden Retriever when she is a year old. With this in mind, I want to start buying products that will last a lifetime, so I don’t need to replace them with every new dog. The Kuranda dog beds have an incredible reputation. They are durable and made with furniture grade frames, the elevated beds give your dog orthopedic support and comfort, chew-proof fabrics make them long lasting, the beds can easily be cleaned and disinfected, and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The way the bed is designed provides dogs with a firm, even support, which no pillow-style dog bed could match; this is great for growing puppies and elderly dogs! You can order machine washable slip covers to give them more of the appearance of the traditional dog bed, and there are optional pads available for added comfort.

I’ve spoken with many people who exclusively use Kuranda beds, and the word on the street is these beds will last for years, and the life of the bed will easily outlive the life of the dog. These are great for houses or kennel situations, and provide plenty of support for the dogs. I know Hush will probably go through a jaws phase, and I want a durable bed that she won’t chew! This is perfect.

Now, to pick a color and fabric for the bed, and which slip cover! They all look so nice! Of course, I’ll be getting mine monogrammed! Here are a few of my favorite slip covers, I love the stripes and knots the best. But, the traditional cinnamon would be nice and neutral in any room. Which is your favorite?

These beds are not the cheapest on the market, but also not the most expensive by any stretch of the imagination. They start at $36.95 and go up to $159.95, with slip covers and optional pads costing extra. But, for a bed that will last me 20 years or more, this is a worthwhile investment, and shipping on all orders is just $5!!!

The company is a fantastic company that gives back to shelters. Don’t have a dog? Just go on the Kuranda website, and you can order a bed for your local shelter! How great is that? I would love to get a group of people together to go in on some beds for a couple of shelters, especially those with low budgets.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Washington, DC is Dog Friendly!

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Washington, DC lately. I live in Northern Virginia, or I did, but now I’ve been staying in DC. I have been amazed at how dog friendly the city is, I guess I never quite realized it. In the past week, I have been to many restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, where Milly was allowed.

Last weekend, I met up with a friend for drinks at Elephant and Castle. If you’ve never been there, it’s located on 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, and has wonderful outdoor seating. While dogs are not technically allowed inside the outdoor seating, they are allowed outside of the fence on the sidewalk. The servers are very accommodating and will arrange for you to sit along the railing so your dog can be beside you. They even brought Milly a bowl of water!

I really want to go to a restaurant called Art and Soul, where they offer a dog menu, complete with Bowser Beer and Marrow Bones. I better act fast though, because I think the dog menu is only available while the weather is nice. It’s been a neat experience to see what DC has to offer, I’ve never really spent much time there. Milly seems to love the squirrels of DC, too! I took her to the National Mall, and she eagerly wagged her tail at hundreds of them. We ended up having so much fun that we walked around for hours! She also has experienced riding in a taxi cab for the first time. A good tip about dogs and taxis, just let the taxi company know you will be traveling with a dog when you call them, and they will send a dog friendly taxi!

Milly has also toured many of the monuments. It's so much fun to tour the nations capitol with my four legged friend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, And Hard On Pets, Too!

“He might be cute and he might be furry, but he’s still property.”
— Trial judge in a New Jersey divorce case

With around half of all marriages ending in divorce, and half of those involving pets, what happens to the dog (or other pets) becomes a major issue when couples split. Legally speaking, animals are property, and the division of assets includes dogs. This is usually pretty easy to determine, especially if the dog was acquired before the marriage, but if the dog is legally marital property than things get trickier. Remember, dogs are not humans, but these days, many pet owners view their pet ownership as custody. This article published by the National Legal Research Group does a great job of explaining the legalities of divorce when pets are involved. Many Americans are marrying later in life now, than they were a generation before, and those that are marrying are statistically having children later in life, too. Dog ownership is on the rise, and the pet industry is booming, as companies realize dog owners want to spoil their pets. Before entering a marriage, you can even have your pet written into a prenuptial agreement. With this in mind, when break-ups happen, dogs are affected.

While I have never been married, I went through a break-up with my boyfriend of over three years a few months ago. In those three years, we really shared Milly as our dog. Yes, legally, she is my dog, but emotionally, she became our dog. We lived together, we shared the responsibilities of caring for her, and we enjoyed spending time with her and taking her on a variety of adventures from wine tasting to hiking to trips to the lake and Chesapeake Bay. As many people know, the Washington, DC area is a mixing bowl of sorts, very few people are actually originally from the area, and on the holidays many people leave the city to go stay with family out-of-state. Because of this, the city gets quite lonely, should you happen to be from here originally. On holidays when I would leave to go see my family, I almost always left Milly with my boyfriend so he would have a companion. Milly adored him, and he adored her.

While our relationship did not work out in the long term, we have decided to remain friends, and I have been very careful to make this as easy as possible on Milly. For starters, he and I lived together, but I am now staying with friends. Milly is a great traveler, and having a schedule, has made this much easier on her. You might remember my post, "How Much Do You Trust Your Dog," where I discussed things like crating and feeding on a strict routine. I am so glad now that I don't free feed, because when staying with friends as a house guest, this could really complicate situations, especially with friends with other dogs. This said, she seems confused not being at home. To help her have some familiarity in her life, I let her spend four nights with my former flame, and he and I are planning on meeting at parks over the next couple of months so he can see her.

If you end a relationship, and you can remain civil, there are things to consider when it comes to the dogs. First, don’t stay in the relationship for the dog’s sake, if it isn’t working out. Dogs can sense stress and tension, and they will know if you are unhappy in the relationship. Relationships are teamwork, and responsibilities in life tend to be shared when two people become a couple. Many times, a couple will acquire dogs that together, they can care for, but neither person could care for on their own. This happened to a friend of mine a few months ago. Together, he and his significant other were able to open their home to three pugs, two of which were rescues, and gave these dogs incredible lives. But, when they broke up, neither of them was able to care for three dogs with time and financial constraints of being single. As a result, my friend kept one dog, and his ex was forced to rehome the other two. In deciding which dog to keep, he chose the one who was least attached to the other two, and would adjust to bachelor life the best. He and his ex carefully selected a forever home, from a pug owner they had boarded with in the past. The decision was not made lightly, but they did do the best they could to provide the best possible home for their beloved dogs. Even celebrities have to decide what to do with their dog when they break-up!

Should you break up, please try to be civil with your former significant other or husband, if not for your sake, than for your pets. The transition can be difficult for dogs, but maintaining a positive outlook on life will help your pet ease into the changes. In fact, according to vets at the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), dogs whose owners have split up have even been known to self harm under stress. Keep an eye out for unwanted or different behavior in your dog – things like digging, excessive barking, tail chasing, or excessive licking are all signs displayed under stress. Think about things like if your dog is suitable for an apartment, if you are moving to an apartment, perhaps the other person should keep the dog. Is your dog old, and will you be living somewhere where the dog is required to climb stairs? This may be difficult for a dog should you move.

Financial obligations of pet ownership – vet bills, toys, food, training, etc. are all expensive, and you need to make sure you are capable of providing for your pet alone. If your dog has trouble adjusting to new situations, perhaps a family member could keep your dog until you adjust to a new home life. Do you have children? If so, remember these are your kids pets, and your pets are attached to your children. Arrange visitations, or better yet, leave the dog with the parent with primary custody of the kids, if they are capable of caring for the pet. Separation anxiety in dogs occurs when there is a disruption in the life of your family dog, so please be aware of this. You may need to hire a dog walker, or start taking your dog to doggie daycare, if you are unable to provide midday walks that your partner used to be responsible for. If the dog is more attached to one partner, that is probably the partner the dog should go to, provided that person can properly care for the dog. In my case, while Milly loved my former boyfriend, she clearly views herself as my dog, and is very attached to me.

Most importantly, wherever the dog moves, make sure the vaccinations and medical records go with the dog. This will help the dog stay healthy and current on all shots. The responsibility of keeping medical needs up-to-date should lie with the person who can best do that. If you do move, make sure to update your dog’s ID tags, licensing, and microchip information. Should you move out of state, look into any dog-ownership laws you may be unfamiliar with, and remember, medical records are required legally for a dog to cross state lines.

This hasn’t been easy for Milly or I, but we’re adjusting, slowly but surely. Since I am currently not living at my house, I have put an ID tag with my parents address on her collar. This way, she still has the address for my house, I know should my boyfriend be contacted about her he would immediately call me, and she also has contact info for my parents, who would also contact me. I’ve been buying lots of fun treats and a few toys for Milly, to help keep her happy. I also brought her favorite toys with me, so she has things that are familiar to her. I know that by maintaining a friendship with my ex, and allowing him to spend time with Milly, this will be so much easier on both the dog, and us humans.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

37th Perfect 200 Score in Obedience!!

This video is truly inspiring! Of course, you know I love Golden Retrievers, but this takes my admiration to a whole new level! Watch how this dog is so dedicated to doing exactly what is asked, and is so focused! Even with distractions, this dog performs absolutely perfectly. This dog, Spirits GMOTCh, Am OTCh Zim Zam Zoom, is shown competing at the Utility level in obedience, which is the third and highest level of competition.

For those that don't realize, when the dog goes to retrieve the barbell, the dog must select the barbell that the owner held from the pile. This is called scent discrimination, and shows the dog's ability to select the owner's scent from a variety of articles.

The jumping, known as directed jumping, is where the dog must go away from the handler, turn and sit. Then, the dog must clear whichever jump its handler indicates, and then promptly return to the handler.

Other exercises included in Utility obedience are signal exercises, directed retrieve, and moving stand and examination.

I hope you are as inspired by this performance as I was!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Obedience Class Updates

Milly has always been absolutely perfectly behaved, mind you, not perfectly trained, but perfectly behaved. Since the day I adopted her, she will quietly sit under a table or desk while I work. She has always been a gentle doll with children and other dogs. She is house trained, she knows not to get on furniture, she is relaxed, and happy. Basically, she’s amazing.

With such a well behaved dog, it was very easy for me to overlook her obedience training. She knew the basics: sit, down, and stay (usually). Though, her recall leaves much to be desired. I decided to enroll in a basic obedience class a few weeks ago.

I researched all of the classes in the area, and settled on the Mt. Vernon Dog Training Club for many reasons. First, they are the cheapest class in the area. The course is eight weeks long, and each class is an hour, at just $10 a class you can’t beat the price. Second, the classes are taught by volunteers, all of whom are passionate about obedience, and compete in AKC obedience competitions. Third, the classes use a combination of praise and light corrections in their training, which I like.

Many classes these days are purely positive training, which can be good, but I believe it is important for dog owners and dogs to know how to safely use a training collar (commonly called a choke chain). Corrections can be very useful, and Milly seems to respond very well to gentle corrections when combined with tons of praise.

On the first day of class, I was a bit cocky. I knew Milly already knew sit, down, stay, and thought we would be the best in the group. Really, to me, I viewed the classes as a way to gain socialization, and practice what we already knew with some distractions. Boy was I wrong! While Milly does know the basics, I taught them to her facing her. Therefore, she does not sit beside me, in the heal position. The first class was devoted to sit and heal. Since then, we have mastered sit, heal, about turn, come front (the foundation to training a recall), sit stay, and are working on down stay. We are working on sit stay while someone comes up and pats her on the head, too.

She’s gotten really good at healing and walking on a loose leash. She is so much better with distractions, and is grasping the idea of sitting beside me (in the heal position) whenever I stop, and before we cross the street. Hopefully by the end of the class we’ll pass our Canine Good Citizen with flying colors, and then I’d like to move on to the next level of classes, which is the first step towards basic obedience competitions.

If you are in the Northern Virginia area, and looking to train your dog, I cannot recommend this training club enough. Not only are they half the price of the rest of the training classes, but they also truly know obedience and are passionate about dogs. Whenever I have a problem or question that comes up between classes I email my trainer, and she is more than happy to respond with tips right away.

If you don’t live in the Northern Virginia area, I recommend looking on the AKC website for their obedience club affiliates. Working with a dog training club tends to provide top notch training, and is also a fraction of the cost of most “obedience schools”. It really is the most economical way to have a well trained pet, and if you catch the obedience class bug after your first series of classes, you can usually become a club member for even better discounts on your training. Most training clubs do not pay their trainers, and the cost of the classes only goes to pay for the training facility, so costs are able to stay very low.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Canine Camper

As you can see, the Midwest Canine Camper is quite spacious. I decided to test it out, and Milly loved having me in there with her. The Chihuahua is our friend Madeline, who Milly has known since Maddie was just 8 weeks old, and smaller than a squeaky toy.

For a long time I've wanted a portable soft crate. A soft crate is perfect for safe car rides, and many come with carrying cases. They are light enough that even little me can easily lift and maneuver the crate. Plus, many have great options like outside pockets to stash your portable bowl, a brush, a leash, or a copy of your dog's records.

After lots of thought, I went ahead and ordered the Canine Camper. I found mine new on ebay, and saved $35 by buying it there. It's a very nice hunter green, it has removable flaps that roll up to give your dog windows and ventilation, or can be left down for privacy.

Right now, I'm staying with some friends, and the soft portable crate is ideal. This way, while I'm at work, Milly can be crated, but when I'm at my friends house I can quickly and easily disassemble it (you just lift it up and zip the sides to assemble it, so it's super fast and easy, no true assembly required) and put it out of the way so there is no mess in the living room.

Milly seems to love it. I highly recommend the Canine Camper to any dog owner. I got the 36" size (that is the length), which is a bit smaller than Milly's metal crate, but she still has plenty of room in it. This size is perfect for riding in the back of my Subaru Outback, too! The 36" does fit most Golden Retrievers that are within the breed standard, just an FYI.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's In A Name?

What’s in a name?

Well, if you are talking about your future show dog, a lot. Many breeders will use a “litter theme” for each litter. For example, the litter theme may be “cars or travel” or, the theme may be “bodies of water” or even animals. From there, the new owners of the puppies come up with the registered name. For example, “Kennel Prefix Four On The Floor.” Litter themes are handy, because they enable an informed dog fancier to quickly know which mating a particular dog came from, and when a breeder has been breeding dogs for over 30 years, this comes in handy. When litter themes are used, the breeder will always insist that the name start with the breeder’s kennel prefix, and then the puppy buyer can pick the rest of the name based on the theme.

At times, a breeder might not have a theme, and in those cases the breeder will most likely insist that his or her kennel prefix be used to start the name and owners will typically come up with names having to do with both the sire and the dam’s registered names. For example, Kennel Prefix What a Hoot may be bred to Kennel Prefix Legally Blonde, and the owner may decide to name the dog Kennel Prefix (decided upon by the breeder) Legal Laughter.

Once the registered name has been selected, the puppy buyer will come up with the dog’s “call name”. Much like show horses have registered names, and barn names, dogs are the same. While, most breeders will allow you to pick any call name you so desire, it is generally assumed that should you pick a call name that has been used on a different puppy the breeder has bred, that you ask the breeder’s permission. For example, if in 2006 the breeder had a litter and one puppy had the call name Mikey, if you wanted to name your puppy Mikey, it is proper etiquette to ask for permission first.

Many dog owners, particularly with dogs that compete in a venue, will want the call name to have to do with the registered name. For example, the father of my future puppy is Nitelite’s Who’s On Deck, with a call name of Crew. My puppy’s grandmother, on the dam side, is Birnam Wood’s, call name Zoom.

I love coming up with names for dogs and horses. A lot of them are somewhat politically incorrect, and I just laugh at them, knowing they will never be used. But, I also have a lot of fun coming up with names that actually will be used. I have a long list of names that I like, that I may use at some point in the future.

One such name is Kennel Name’s Don’t Tell Daddy. I’m not going to divulge the litter theme just yet, but it looks like I will get to use this name for my puppy!!! Once I came up with that, I decided to start thinking of relevant call names, and my favorite, and I believe the one, is Hush.

I really hope that I am able to name my puppy Kennel Name Don’t Tell Daddy, and call her Hush! I absolutely love this name combo! Don’t you?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Amazing video!

I think Milly needs to learn to dance like this! Talk about fantastic training and talent! I hope you enjoy the video!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My puppy at two weeks old :)

The puppies are doing great. Very healthy, and very vocal for their age. You can see this in all of their open mouths in these pictures. The already have nice heads, good bone and substance, and their coats feel like mink they are so soft.

Their eyes are starting top open, and look at those cute little nails. At a pretty young age, the breeder will start getting the puppies used to being handled, having nails trimmed, and other basic things that will become a part of the puppies life once it arrives at its new home. Their open mouths show their vocalization, which is a good development sign to see at this age.

You can look at a Golden Retriever puppy's ears to see a close idea of what color the puppy will be as an adult. You'll notice in these photos the ears are almost always darker than the rest of the puppy, as the puppy grows into a dog they will darken and match their ears.

The short fat otter-like tails are a very good sign that these puppies will be well balanced with nice structure. Long, stringy tails usually result in a lanky less balanced dog. I am learning so much about puppies and what to look for as this litter grows and I communicate with the breeder.

The breeder thinks this puppy might be the one for me! She is very beautiful and really the standout in the litter!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Mandy taking a little break

With Anna's passing, I have not had much time to blog. I meant to post these pictures over a week ago, but then my life was turned upside down.

Here are the puppies, my pup is in there somewhere, at 3 or 4 days old.

Mandy has been a great mother, and the puppies are all healthy and doing well!

I can't wait until I get to meet my little wiggly puppy! I'm counting down the days!

These pictures always put a smile on my face!