Friday, October 29, 2010

Balls, of the tennis variey...

I know many of us have ball obsessed dogs. When you think of many dogs, especially retrievers, throwing a tennis ball with your faithful fur friend probably is one of the most common images to pop into your mind. But, did you know, the classic tennis ball is actually dangerous, and for reasons beyond choking hazards.

Tennis balls, a classic amongst us dog lovers, are coated in a yellow fuzzy coating that is actually quite abrasive. While for some dogs, this won't ever be a problem, for the truly tennis ball obsessed the abrasive coating can quickly wear down teeth, and wreak havoc on your dog's teeth and gums! Scary.

Of course, I would never say get rid of the tennis balls, because, after all, so many of our dogs love them, I know my Milly loves hers. Instead, I offer you an alternative. Kong is now producing "tennis balls" they are manufactured in the same factory as the balls made for tennis playing, but the yellow outer layer is softer and less abrasive, because it is made of felt. This truly will save your dogs teeth. But, at about 3x the cost of a tennis ball, these are not balls you want to lose.

For dogs like Milly, that enjoy squeaky things, they even make a tennis ball with a squeaker inside. Are you worried about the choking hazards associated with tennis balls? They make tennis ball material toys in all different shapes and sizes - I buy the over sized round tennis balls, with squeaker, for Milly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Incredible Article on Proposition B

The below article is from the Humane Watch, and I recommend everyone read it. This article proves that Missouri's Proposition B will weaken animal care laws currently in place in Missouri. The solution should be enforcing current laws, educating judges, educating the public and hiring more inspectors (currently there are 12, to inspect over 3,000 animal breeding facilities each year) - not re-writing the law!

Oct 14 2010

Putting on an Act in the “Show Me” State

As Election Day draws near, we're hearing a tremendous amount of emotional chatter (both here and on Facebook) about Missouri's "Proposition B" initiative, a ballot question financed almost single-handedly by the Humane Society of the United States and heavily promoted by HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle.

Farmers in the Show-Me State are paying attention, connecting the dots to HSUS’s larger goals. And this year's controversial political darlings in the “Tea Party” movement are also making noise.

The question of whether or not to crack down on "puppy mills" is a self-answering one. As with "factory farms," the term itself is designed to be pejorative. But while Prop B has generated a lot of debating "heat," not much light has emerged. And that's because most people (on both sides) are getting emotional instead of using their heads.

Emotional ballot campaigns like the one HSUS is waging seem designed to discourage people from actually reading what they're voting on. And it's unreasonable to expect the average voter to place a ballot initiative in a meaningful context (historical or otherwise).

But that's what is needed most, especially because Prop B isn't really very different from the animal welfare laws and breeding regulations that are already on the books in Missouri.

The Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) has posted a helpful document comparing, section by section, the text of Prop B with current Missouri laws and regulations. It’s one of several versions of this exercise that we’ve seen, which indicates at least that there's someone with his or her eye on the ball. (The Columbia Missourian actually printed, in article form, a line-by-line comparison last week too.)

One section of the MVMA's document caught our eye in particular. "Prop B" would require dog breeders to provide:

  • Sufficient food and clean water;
  • Necessary veterinary care;
  • Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
  • Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend his or her limbs;
  • Regular exercise; and
  • Adequate rest between breeding cycles.

Sounds good, right? But Missouri already requires:

  • Wholesome food and clean water.
  • Must have an attending veterinarian; adequate veterinary care, health and husbandry; and provide socialization of animals.
  • Addresses aspects of housing (primary, temporary, indoor, outdoor and mobile housing) and animal transportation including: type of structure, building materials, surfaces; maintenance, cleaning, pest control; employee training; shelter from extremes in temperature and weather; ventilation, humidity, lighting; water supplies, drainage, electric; and storage areas.
  • Sufficient space to allow each animal to turn about freely, to stand, sit, and lie in a comfortable, normal position and to walk in a normal manner.
  • Each animal must be given opportunity for regular exercise with an exercise plan approved and signed by attending veterinarian.

There are really only three major differences between current law and Prop B. The first one is the above-mentioned requirement for “adequate rest between breeding cycles.” (Who defines "adequate," anyway?) Number two is making sure dogs can stretch (as opposed to being able to turn and lie down).

These could easily be implemented by a simple bill (or a much shorter ballot initiative). Instead, HSUS is using things like food-and-water requirements as its main talking points to play hide-the-ball with the real meat of its proposal.

Here's Wayne Pacelle last week, speaking to KFVS-TV12 in Cape Girardeau:

We're just talking about giving them vet care once a year, giving them a little bit more space, giving them clean water, good food. These are the basics. Any responsible pet owner would think that these are the most elemental obligations of keeping animals.

Absolutely, Wayne. Everyone agrees. That's why it's been state law since 1992.

But what many Missourians might not agree with is the third difference between Prop B and the Missouri "Animal Care Facilities Act." The way we read it, the biggest "new" ground HSUS is trying to cover is the portion of Prop B that says breeders can't own more than 50 dogs. (To be precise, that's dogs over 6 months of age that aren't spayed or neutered.)

A few modest questions:

  1. Who's going to enforce this law? Is the Missouri Department of Agriculture planning to outfit hundreds of inspectors with sonogram machines and train them to determine whether or not a dog is sterile?
  2. What if two breeders decide, in the interest of efficiency and economic common sense, that they want to merge their operations. Will they be permitted to keep all of their animals?
  3. And, for that matter, what's to stop a larger breeder—there are those who do things right, we're told—from splitting into two, three, four, or even more separate legal entities in order to escape the "cap"?
  4. HSUS is fond of calling Missouri the "puppy mill capital of America." If this is true, and that distinction developed while the Missouri Animal Care Facilities Act was in force, why should anyone believe that conditions will improve just by passing another law?
  5. One last thought: the Missouri "Animal Care Facilities Act" requires dog breeders to feed their animals "at suitable intervals of not more than twelve hours." Prop B, on the other hand, says dogs must have access to “appropriate, nutritious food at least once a day.” Why on earth would you want to weaken the feeding law from twice, to just once per day?

The bottom line is that HSUS is trying to establish the precedent of setting limits on the number of animals a businessman or woman can own. That shouldn’t comfort Missouri farmers and ranchers who are in the business of producing egg, beef, pork, cheese, milk, or chicken.

Meanwhile, the animal rights group is building up its name recognition and political credibility with a mostly redundant ballot initiative. (In at least one case, the new law would be weaker than the existing one.)

This is all a pretty neat trick, like lobbying for a bill that would ban child molestation if the victim is a redhead.

“There ought to be a law!” Oops. There already is.

If this sort of idiocy had more proponents, we might see New York City passing the “Taxi Fare-Jumping Prevention Act” to stop tourists from bailing out on their cabs without paying. Maybe Washington, DC could enact an “Anti-Lock-Picking Referendum” to stop home-invasion robberies. Floridians could vote on a “Magic Kingdom Mascot Protection Act”—you know, to stop Disney visitors from kicking Mickey in the Jimmies.

You get the picture.

Ironically, we noticed this on the Prob B campaign website:

There are over 200 rescue organizations in Missouri ready and willing to take surrendered breeding dogs and find them loving homes.

That's good to know. But just don’t expect HSUS to fund those shelters. It has future ballot initiatives to save up for.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Flight is Booked

I bought my plane ticket today to go pick-up Hush. I work in politics, as you know, and I've been putting in 12-16 hour days for the past 6 weeks, 7-days a week! It's been brutal to say the least, but on Sunday, October 31st, I have the day off. If my boss decides to change that, it's too late now, because I've already booked a flight to go to Michigan and pick up Montague's Don't Tell Daddy aka "Hush"! In the meantime, the breeder is taking Hush to the vet to get an up-to-date Health Certificate, it has to be within, I believe 10-days, of flying, and includes info like our flight numbers, as well as proof that she is in good health.

I am ecstatic, to say the least! Hush is getting pretty big, so it is imperative that I fly out immediately to pick her up, otherwise she won't be able to fly in the cabin. The breeder helped me select a good airline to fly, based on her personal experience flying numerous show dogs all over the country, and we are going to be flying Delta. In order to fly in the cabin, I had to purchase a Sherpa bag, in size Medium, and it will be a tight fit for Hush, as she is now 9, almost 10 weeks. Sherpa brand bags are airline approved, and the medium is the largest that is allowed under the seat in front of you for transporting an animal on a flight. Did you know only a certain number of pets can fly on each flight? Because of this, it was important to call the airline and book a flight that had not already met the animal quota before purchasing my ticket.

As a back up plan, we have a small airline crate, and should she not fit in the Sherpa, she will have to fly in cargo in the crate. The weather is perfect right now for a puppy to fly in cargo, and at such a young age, this shouldn't be a traumatizing experience, if we end up needing to.

I will be bringing a leash and collar, so she can stretch her legs on our layover. I'll also bring a pee pad, though she will not have had any food or water prior to the flight. I'll bring some food in case of an emergency, and bowls, too. I'll have to find out whether or not I should give her water on our layover, or withhold that until we land in DC Sunday night.

This is the best Halloween of my life, and it hasn't even happened yet!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Political Pup!

As many of you know, I work in politics for a non-partisan research firm. I like to think of myself as a very politically involved person - I devote a lot of time to researching legislation, analyzing political media, and trying to reach informed decisions on a variety of issues. But, sometimes politics is a bit too serious for me. I think it's important to be able to laugh, or at the very least smile, so I like to incorporate Milly into my campaigning. No matter your politics, when you see a Golden Retriever sporting a campaign sign on a walk, you are bound to smile!

This photo was taken last November during the Virginia Gubernatorial campaign cycle. As a Sporting Dog Owner, animal legislation is incredibly important to me. I am very careful to research animal legislation to ensure there is no hidden language in bills that might hinder my rights as a dog owner, especially of a pure bred sporting dog. I support hunting and the second amendment, as I am planning to compete in hunting trials one day with Hush. I support the rights of dog owners to make decisions on their pet's welfare independently. I support the right to breed, though I acknowledge by supporting this education of the general public is key to eliminate irresponsible breeders. Political issues that apply to pet ownership are simply fascinating!

If you aren't already registered to vote, I encourage you to register. This year is going to be a fascinating and historical election year. Every citizen should embrace their right to vote no matter what your beliefs and views are!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Here's Hush

I know that you are all just dying to meet Hush, I know I am. While I haven't met her yet, there is now an actual real live puppy named Hush. She was pick of the litter when the litter was evaluated, and the breeder says she looks exactly like her grandmother, CH Birnam Wood's, did at that age.

Isn't she just the most amazing puppy ever? We're currently arranging a time for me to go to Michigan and pick her up! I am just ecstatic!

Of course, here are some more puppy butts. I'm not sure which butt is Hush's, but she's in there somewhere!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Puppy Update

I spoke with my breeder recently, and the puppy temperament tests will be performed this weekend, and evaluations will soon follow. The temperament tests will be the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Tests, and the Volhard scoring and interpretations will be conducted after all of the tests have been performed. From there, the breeder will be able to combine physical structure and movement evaluations with the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test findings to determine placements with future homes.

Like many responsible breeders, my breeder thoroughly interviews each future puppy home, and makes selections of the puppy that will best suit each homes needs and expectations. This is much better than allowing puppy buyers to pick the puppy themselves, because the breeder knows the personalities of the puppy so well, after being around them for many weeks. It could be disasterous if a family wanted a mellow puppy, and picked the puppy themselves based on which was the most relaxed puppy in the bunch, and ended up with the wildest, who happened to be sleepy that day from lots of activity. Spending just an hour with a puppy is not enough to know the in's and out's to the puppy, and allowing the breeder to select a puppy for you based on your wants and needs and the Volhard findings will result in the best possible match for you and your family.

Because I want a show dog, the aptitude tests combined with the evaluations will show us which puppy the personality needed to succeed in the show ring, and the physical structure that is closest to being an ideal specimen of the breed standard for an optimum show potential puppy. I highly recommend checking out the link for the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Tests and learning about these temperament tests, they are truly fascinating!

I'll keep y'all posted when I learn which puppy will be my Hush! In the meantime, here are some puppy butts to look at. Are they not the cutest little fuzzy bums you've ever seen?!?! These particular butts are from a previous litter this breeder bred.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Fun Activity To Do With Your Dog

The weather seems to have gone directly from burning-up, nearly 100 degrees to cold and rainy fall days virtually over night. In a week the temperature has dropped nearly 50 degrees, which has me wondering if another snowpocalypse is just around the corner.

The shift drop in temperature is making my wardrobe selections difficult, but it is making it nice to spend time outside with Milly. I'm perfectly comfortable during the day (when it isn't wet and rainy) in jeans and a fleece, and the chilly air seems to have give Milly a rush of youthfulness that makes it very enjoyable to spend time with her outside on various adventures.

Last year, Milly and Tina and I all went on an apple picking adventure at an Orchard off I-66 in Northern Virginia. If you haven't checked out Love, Tina Marie, I highly recommend you go over to her blog for the latest crafts, recipes and life adventures. In my research, I have found apple orchards to be extremely dog friendly, and Milly loved her time picking apples with us last year.

Apples are great. I love to munch on them, and the act of picking them is quite fun. There is something neat about going back to your roots, in an extremely controlled setting, and paying someone to let you pick your own fruit. It gives you a sense of being somewhat self sufficient, without the added cost and headache of maintaining an apple orchard, which in the DC area probably requires a very large bank account, which I do not have. It's very easy to pick entirely too many apples while at an orchard, but if you ask me, there's no such thing. You can come home and throw them all in a pot and make apple sauce. Don't think you can eat all that apple sauce, toss the apple sauce in the crock pot and with a few simple additions you have apple butter by the time you get home from work!

Enough about the human side of apple picking, what makes it great to do with a dog? Well, first, you will run into other apple pickers, and running into strangers is great socialization for your pooch. Apple orchards are in rural fields, and dogs enjoy getting out of the city just as much as you do. Apples are a healthy treat for your dog, and aid in digestion, just don't over do it. Milly loves to snack on apples, she prefers them sliced, but she has been known to eat the apple whole. I do not allow her to have more than one apple per sitting, though. Apple orchards also have a variety of apples, so you can pick one, take a bite, if you don't like it, maybe your dog will! I know Milly and I have slightly different preferences in apples, and it's fun to each take a bite of an apple and compare notes, or in her case, tail wags. I recommend you bite the apple before your dog, unless you're into dog slobber, in which case, have at it. I am not, however.

So before winter sets in, look up your closest Orchard and go out for some fun picking. Call ahead to make sure they allow dogs, but many do. I only found 2 out of 20+ in my area that did not allow dogs. You also will probably want to pack a water dish and a jug of water, as being outside on a sunny day, even when the temperature is below 60 will make your dog parched, especially if they snack on apples like Milly does! This weather is truly perfect for excursions with your favorite canine companion!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Himalayan Dog Chews

I am always on the market for good alternatives to rawhide, as you know, I believe rawhide is far too dangerous to feed. I just tried a new chew treat, and I'm pretty happy with the results. Recently, I bought two different brands of himalayan or churpi dog chews. One, was made by the Himalayan Dog Chew company, and the other was made by Churpi Chews and produced by QT Dog Chews. Both brands contain four simple ingredients: yak milk, cow milk, salt, and lime juice. The treats are all natural, and contain no additives or chemicals, which is nice to find in a dog product. Both brands have the exact same guaranteed analysis, same color, same shape, and same scent.

I decided to give this new chew a try after reading about it in a few articles, and it did not disappoint. These treats come from an ancient recipe that the people of the Nepal Himalayas have been making for generations. These chews are actually made for humans from an ancient recipe that locals can use as a snack that they slowly work in their mouths throughout the day while working in the fields. Of course, knowing the origin of the treat, I had to give it a try myself before I gave it to Milly. And, it didn't taste bad, but I don't think I'll be knawing on one myself again. It has a slight parmesean cheese flavor, and a smokey aroma, that smells nice to me, and tastes like Heaven for Milly.

Milly has tried both brands, and she hasn't even made a dent in them after hours of chewing. This is an incredibly long lasting treat, but I do recommend making sure to get a size appropriate for your dog. I went with the Jumbo size, and it is just right. In order to eat the treat, dogs must slowly work the end of the treat for hours, softening it with their mouths before small parts of it can slowly be scraped off and dissolved. This treat is actually a type of Himalayan cheese, that is long lasting and naturally preserved with lime juice and salt.

Milly seems to really love this treat. The process of which the treat is made, and the use of yak milk, makes it easily digestible for dogs. This said, this treat is extremely high in protein, and if you feed it, especially to an older dog, I would recommend limiting the amount of time your dog can chew on it, and then cutting your dog's next meal back in size to prevent diarrhea. I've found Milly can safely enjoy this chew for about an hour and a half, and then I cut her next meal back by 30% without any diarrhea. However, I am not a veterinarian, and this is simply what works for me and my particular dog.

These chew treats are not all cheap, but in the case of Milly, they last a long time. I paid about $15 for each treat, which to me is quite a bit of money. That said, you probably get 10 times the chew time out of these than you would a bully stick. I purchased one of mine from Best Bully Sticks, and the other from Wylie Wagg in Arlington, VA.

All in all, I give this product 4-stars and 4-paws. This might be Milly's new flavorite treat! Just make sure to supervise your dog with this, like you would any chew, and remember, it is very high in protein and can be overdone, especially with older dogs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Great Host, Hostess and Hounds!!!

Hamilton is kind enough to share his big bed with Milly, but they don't touch or snuggle! As Annie said, they are like two junior high students at school dance.

As you all know, I am currently between homes, and staying with a variety of friends. These life changing circumstances have made me really grateful for the incredible friends in my life, who have given me so much emotional support, and provided me with warm loving homes to stay in.

I am currently staying with my friend Annie and her husband Frank, and their two fur children (of the basset variety) Hamilton and Rutledge. It has been wonderful staying with them. The one great thing about being homeless is you are able to spend gobs of time with friends that you otherwise might not get to see, and I have loved being able to catch up with them. If you don't already follow Annie's blog, In Case Something Exciting Happens, I highly recommend it. She blogs about a variety of topics, but I love all of the photos she posts of her darling dogs! Basset hounds have so much expression, and I swear they cannot have a bad photo taken of them.

Milly has enjoyed it too. As you all know, Milly is excellent at adapting. She doesn't require much in life - a few squeaky toys, food and water, lots of belly rubs and some play time - to be happy in basically any situation, in any location. She is absolutely milking being a house guest for all it's worth. I think she thinks our current traveling is all for her, and a way for her to be pet and rubbed by as many people as possible, while playing with a variety of dogs.

They aren't afraid to relax around each other!
Milly's head is shaved because of a hotspot, in case you were wondering.

She has had a great time with Hamilton and Rutledge, and these boys seem to be very smitten with her too. Rutledge, who is just under a year old, is most obsessed with Milly, and likes to stand outside of our door making basset noises in hopes of winning the blonde older lady over. Milly is more than happy to give him and Hamilton the time of day, and seems to really like watching their boyish rough housing. It's so nice for Milly to have canine companions. We've lived without any other dogs for so long, that sometimes I think she really misses that dog socialization. She seems so happy with these young wild boys!

Little Rutledge is so cute! His personality is very much that of a little brother,
"Hey guys! Look at me!"
Oh no, "Big kids!... wait for me!"

The Canine Camper has been a life saver with all of our traveling, and Milly has really taken to it. I leave the door, well in this case flap, open at night and let her come in and out of it as she pleases. She has really started to view this crate as her safe haven, and likes to go in it for some alone time.

It sure will be sad to leave these hounds and humans at the end of the week! They have all been such a joy to be around!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Teaching A Recall

Image credit: Google Images

As you know, the main motivating factor with signing up for obedience class was to teach Milly a recall. Well, here are a few steps we are working on now, in obtaining a solid recall. At this point, anytime I use the word, “come” she needs to be on a leash, that way, if she does not come when I call, I can pull her in with the leash and praise her when she gets to me. If she is loose in the yard and I call her, I now use “Here Milly!” so that if she decides to blow me off, she is not associating her optional recall with the word “come”.

You’ll first want your dog to have a decent concept of healing (on your left side), sitting, and a sit stay. With your dog on a six foot leash to start, you can move up to a long lead, or use your Flexi lead (only use the Flexi brand) in time, ask your dog to heal, walk to a specific spot, and ask your dog to sit. Don’t worry, if you can’t get a sit, place the leash in your right hand, and immediately press with your left hand on your dog’s hind end. Once seated, ask your dog to stay and step in front of your dog. If your dog has a solid stay, you can walk all the way to the end of the leash, if not, stand as close as you need to for your dog to stay seated. Just make sure that if you decide to go to the end of the leash, you walk straight out, and then turn and do not back up to get to the end of the leash, as this can confuse your dog with contradictory body language.

With both hands on the leash, say your dogs “name + come!” for example, “Milly come!” immediately start running backwards, as you run real the leash in to you so you are eventually holding the leash in the same position you would to walk your dog, and your dog is no longer at the end of the leash. As you are running backwards and reeling in your dog, continue to encourage your dog by saying, “Dog’s name come” in a very excited voice. Once your dog has reached you, ask it to sit, and give tons of praise… “Great come! Good girl, Milly!” I like to say good or great + the command that was accomplished to reiterate what that word means while I praise. You can also give treats when the exercise is complete!

To start, you only need to run backwards for 5-10 feet. As your dog gets the hang of this, you can progress to a longer lead. Should your dog not immediately come, start reeling it in, but continue to encourage this behavior of moving towards you when called.

Happy Recalling!