A dog in profile

The Emergency Recall Saved My Ass

Our backyard fencing situation is finally improving — we found a fencing contractor we like who has sane prices, and the new fence will be going up shortly.  Best of all, the side door to the house will be behind the fence, so I can open the side door and let the dogs directly into the back yard, instead of having to lead them through the gate that we have.

Speaking of the gate … Jackson has learned how to open it.  Not that it’s particularly difficult to do so, just it hasn’t been an issue before now.  And yesterday, it became a BIG issue.

Clover is in season, so Jackson has lost his brain, and we’re doing a lot of crate and rotate.  I had the boys in the backyard, and like he normally does, when Jackson was done with his bio-business, he went to stand by the gate so he could go back inside.  I wanted to do a little Recallers training with Loki, so I just kept an eye on Jackson while I played tug games and grabbed Loki’s collar.  Until I looked up to check on Jackson and the gate was open, and Jackson was gone.

I immediately ran up the hill, through the gate, and yelled out my emergency recall word:  COOKIES!!  Jackson came galloping around the corner of the house and we went inside and I showered raw dog food on the kitchen floor for him to scarf up.

I condition all my dogs to expect that when I yell the word “COOKIES” that amazingly good food is going to get tossed on the floor/ground and they better hurry to get some or the other dogs will eat it first.  Steak bites.  Kibble.  Cheese cubes.  Hot dogs.  Really really yummy things.  COOKIES happens unpredictably, but semi-frequently so that the value of the word stays high.  COOKIES can happen at pet stores, in the back yard, at the park, anywhere.

And COOKIES never happens except that I have AMAZING food to give them.

If your dog doesn’t have a great every-day recall, you can still teach an emergency recall, and you should.  It takes less than 30 seconds per session and absolutely no effort on your part.  Pick a word that you can yell out, stand in the kitchen, yell the word like you would if your dog was running into traffic, and then drop the food on the floor.  If you normally feed kibble, then that won’t work for this.  Neither will boring foods like milk bones or treats that they get every day.  Really really good treats, though, that’s the key.

It could save your dog’s life.  And in the meantime, until the new fence and gate are installed, there’s a carabiner on the current gate to keep a certain someone in the backyard.


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Show report: Springfield, MA

Well, we survive the 4th of July show cluster at Springfield, and I have some fun stuff to report!

Friday Results:  Rhodesian Ridgebacks | Canaan Dogs
Saturday Results:  Rhodesian Ridgebacks | Canaan Dogs
Sunday Results:  Rhodesian Ridgebacks | Canaan Dogs

(See my brief explanation of how dog shows work.)

Friday, under judge Joan Goldstein Loki placed third in his class, but litter brother Dante won the class and went Winners Dog, looking like a million bucks.  Toren, Loki and Dante’s sire, took Best of Opposite Sex.  Clover’s sister Poppy was judge Jacqueline Stacy’s Winners Bitch/Best of Breed.  She just came into the ring like she owned it.

Judge Stacy stopped me on my way out of the Canaan Dog ring to ask if I was Clover’s breeder, and I called Amy back in.  The judge had a question about Clover’s bad ear, and explained that while she liked many things about Clover, the ear bothered her because the standard was explicit about ear carriage (both ears should be erect). Amy thanked the judge for her compliment and said that, between Poppy and Clover, the judge couldn’t make a bad decision because both girls are very nice examples of the breed, with some features more favorable on one girl, and other features more favorable on the other girl.  She explained that Clover’s ear had been correct (as in this photo) prior to the development of some significant scarring in Clover’s bad ear from ischemic dermatopathy.   The judge thanked us for showing our dogs to her, and we went on our way.

This post’s featured photo is of Clover on Friday, resting in her crate after showing.  Amy thoughtfully made sure we had space to set up our crates.  Without her, we’d have been scrambling because the show site was packed!  After showing, we were joined by dear friend Caryl-Rose Pofcher, who came to do some shopping at the vendors and to visit my dogs.

Saturday, Clover was Winners Bitch/Best of Breed over her half-sister Rose under judge Patricia W. Laurans.  Loki and Clover were scheduled to be in different rings at the same time, so we arranged for Nathan to take Loki in, but Ridgebacks had a tiny delay and Canaans finished quickly.  When I zipped over to the Ridgeback ring, Nate said he wanted to take Loki in anyway, so I stood back and let him go.  He would end up with a very respectable Reserve Winners Dog on Loki from “Red” Tatro III — great result for Nathan’s very first time in the show ring, ever!  There was much rejoicing for Nathan by the observers on the sidelines.  Dante took Winners Dog again on Saturday, and sire Toren was Select Dog.

Amy had a treat for the dogs — pork shoulder bones to chew on in their crates!  We had a little bit of time to socialize before we had to zip out  – I needed to get home so we could drop off dogs before heading to Cambridge to the butcher to get a case of chicken backs, and then over to my friend Eric’s apartment.  Eric is moving, and I had a ton of moving boxes and a box of packing paper to donate to him (which would free up some much needed basement space for me).

On Sunday, judge Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine would place Loki second place in his class, with Dante winning the class and going Reserve Winners dog.  Over in the Canaan Dog ring … actually, this deserves its own paragraph.

I said previously that I try my best to make sure that any dog that will be showing poops before we leave the house to go to the show site.  Sunday was no exception:  Clover pooped, pooped again, peed, and pooped a third time when I took her outside at 4:30am.  I thought, “Great!  No worries about whether or not she’s empty today!”  Loki also pooped, so without thinking about it further we loaded up the car and headed to Springfield.  Saturday’s win in Canaan Dogs left Clover needing a single point to finish her Championship.  Because both dogs had pooped and they were on in the 8am block, I thought we were all set.  This would prove to be a mistaken assumption.

In the Canaan Dog ring, judge Robert Stein asked us to set up our dogs, then move them around the ring before setting up again for his exam.  As we rounded the corner to where we would be setting up, Clover dug her heels in with a very characteristic rounding of her back and … she pooped.  Right there, in front of the judge for his exam.  No amount of praying for the floor to open up and swallow me would save me, however, because after the exam and the down-and-back, she would poop again on the go-around.

Now, you need to know that Clover is an extremely regular once-a-day dog.  So far, by 8:10 am Sunday morning, she had pooped FIVE TIMES, and two of those were in the judging ring.  I was mortified, and at the same time trying my best not to laugh.  I mean — what else was I going to do?  So, no surprise then when Poppy would win Winners Bitch and Best of Breed — leaving Poppy nearly singled out, and just needing a major to finish her Championship.  I spent the rest of the day on Sunday being puzzled by this change in her schedule, but then Jackson and Loki would also have several more “movements” than normal!  Everything was otherwise normal for raw-fed dog poop, if not bordering on slightly too dry and crumbly and then … aha.  I figured it out!

I stopped giving recreational bones to my dogs when Jackson got two slab fractures on his upper carnassial teeth (one on each side).  While most dogs can do just fine with beef knuckle bones, Jackson’s a power chewer and he does not gnaw as he should.  He wants to get the bones between his teeth and crunch down to consume them.  Instead, they have cow hooves, a water buffalo horn, and Nylabones.  The pork shoulder bones that we gave them on Saturday were soft enough I wasn’t worried about Jackson, and each dog happily consumed the bones — meaning they got a huge dose of bulky fiber that their bodies were unaccustomed to.  In essence, I gave them doggy colon blow.

Anyway, both girls (Poppy and Clover) are well-positioned for finishing their Championships soon.  Poppy is chasing her last major, and Clover just needs a single point before we can put that elusive CH in front of her name.  All in all, even with the poopy parts, it was a great weekend and I’m glad we went to Springfield!

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Pedigreed temperament vs mixed breed temperament

This is a conversation I had with Facebook friend Jen (who is disabled and has a pedigreed Doberman as her service dog, and a second dog who was taken from a feral pack on Canadian reservation lands).  She begins by quoting something told to her by another dog owner:

purebreds have latent anxiety and bad temperaments due to inbreeding
hubby is a vet and he knows!


yep.  Cause science.

I pointed out that, if we were to be fair, that it’s true that all pedigreed dogs are to some point inbred (some more than others) because of the existence of closed stud books, and that any pedigreed dog who was the product of anxious parents with poor temperament was likely to be anxious and have a poor temperament, given that we know predisposition for temperament is heritable.

my ‘anxious and poor temperamented purebred’ last night was jogging with me, when a car hit a pothole, blew off its entire axle and wheel went flying
10m away
slammed into a car 5m away
that one skidded, hit the pothole, blew its tire
Evan flicked an ear
fireworks were going off over his head so he assumed the kabang was just a loud one

My anxious purebreds are sleeping through fireworks every night

Sarge would have gone Chicken Little on me

We must be doing it wrong

horribly horribly wrong
Evan is more concerned with the parades
he’s wondering if the drunks will invade his yard

Purebreds are so hard

ours must be statistical freaks

Here’s the upside of keeping actual records:  human perception is notoriously flawed.  In a group of people that is mixed with men and women, when the number of women approaches around 20% of the group, men report that their perception was the numbers are equal for men and women.  It’s a failure of perception.

If a client brings in their Flat Coated Retriever and the dog has cancer, the vet will shrug and say, well, you know Flat Coats.  But if a client presents a mixed breed dog with cancer, then it’s “just something that happens.”  There’s no governing body that tracks adverse health outcomes in mixed breed dogs.  We know about the health problems in pedigreed dogs, because they’re counted and tracked.

Jen quotes the conversation with the other dog owner again:

My vet husband sees it every day. The inbreeding inevitably down the line causes problems that actually dont tend to occur in well mixed dogs. Mixes represents the survival of the fittest

I suppose it would be in bad form to point out to this other dog owner that “survival of the fittest” is not used in modern biology because it does not accurately represent the mechanism of natural selection.  If a dog is genetically predisposed to a late-age cancer but reproduces before the onset of the cancer, then guess what?  His offspring may also have the same genetic predisposition.  Whoops.

I guess Sarge is a purebred.

Crap. That means Jackson and Loki are mixes?

Ridgeback x Awesome
Evan is Doberman x Ridiculously Awesome
cause I’m biased


Given the length of the pedigrees for Jackson, Loki, and Evan, really we should say that they’re crossed with Concentrated Awesome, because it just pops up again, and again, and again!


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Show Report: Wrentham, MA

Loki was entered for three days at Wrentham this weekend.  How did he do?

Friday Results
Saturday Results
Sunday Results

Friday we competed under Judge David Ojalvo.  Loki was a single entry in his class, and was awarded Reserve Winners Dog.  I’ve given a simplified explanation of how classes and points work in AKC, but the general gist of this is that Loki got the equivalent of second place for non-champion dogs, or as Amy puts it, “If it is determined that Miss America is unable to complete her tenure, then the first runner up …”

There were majors every day we were entered this weekend, and going Reserve to a major is nothing to sneeze at.  I was plenty happy when I walked out of the ring!

Saturday, we were entered in Sweepstakes as well as regular classes.  Sweepstakes are non-regular classes that award prizes instead of championship points.  Generally it’s a small cash prize, and frequently there are trophies as well.  Sweepstakes judges are often long time breeders or breeder judges, or sometimes provisional judges.  They are age-limited classes, usually for puppies or veterans (dogs over 7 years of age).

Loki was a single entry in his class in Sweepstakes and awarded Best of Opposite Sex in Sweepstakes by Judge Kevin Shimel and got his first ever trophy.  It’s a darling statuette of a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Loki Sweepstakes Trophy

In regular judging with Judge Enrique Jorge Filippini, Loki would go second place in his class.  I’ve been following the dog who won the class on Facebook, and he’s got a lovely head, good substance, and can really move out well, and I like him quite a lot!  We stayed to watch the breed judging with Amy and get some socialization for her Canaan Dog puppy Atri (a Clover half-sibling), and then found out that because it was a club supported entry, that there was cake and light refreshments available.

You guys, that cake was amazing.  It was (as described) a golden cake with mimosa icing.  Yes, like champagne and orange icing.  You have never tasted anything so delicious and I’m determined to find the recipe for it.

After judging, we came back to the house for dinner with Amy and Company, introduced Atri to Clover, and then made an early night of it.

Sunday morning was bright, sunny, and warm.  Our judge in Sweepstakes was Mr. Roland Masse.  Loki won his class in Sweepstakes.  In regular judging under Mrs. Celia Hoffman, Loki would go third place in his class.  Honestly, I was pooped just by the time his class finished, so I can’t say I was too upset by it.  It gave me the opportunity to stay under the tent in the shade, which would turn out to benefit me in another, unexpected way, but you’ll have to come back tomorrow and read to find out how!

As usual, I was a bad blogger and didn’t take many photos, but here is a look at what it’s like under the tent when it’s empty, and how crowded it gets when the judging is going on!



I also took a few snaps of Loki waiting to come out of his crate and head to the ring.  You can see the crate fan we use for extra ventilation on warm days, and his water bucket.  Gotta keep those puppies well hydrated!




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Competing at a dog show, Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

The day of the dog show has arrived.  Now what?

Before we leave the house, no matter if it’s at 5am or 11am, every dog that will be shown must poop.  Dogs that are “holding it” move funny, and it’s embarrassing to have them stop to poop in the ring.  I mean, yeah, they’re dogs and shit happens, but if at all possible, I want them to make a deposit at home.  If I can’t get them to go at home, I will try walking them at the show site, and if that doesn’t work, I will try putting them in the public exercise pens and hoping the scent gets the point across.

Nathan, too, prepares for the show, even though he normally doesn’t take the dogs into the ring.


The first thing I do when I arrive at the show site is determine if there’s shaded parking available (if it’s an outdoor site); and if not, decide on whether it’s warm enough to require keeping the AC on in the van.  Indoor shows are usually air conditioned, but if I want to take advantage of that, there needs to be space to set up crates.  If I am at an indoor site, after the dog crates are arranged and dogs are inside the crates with fresh water buckets, I’m careful to loop their show lead through the crate bars so it’s at hand and can’t get lost, or covered up by a purse or a bag or something.

Next, I go and find my ring, so that I know where to pick up my armband and where to take the dog when it’s time.  I’ll check out the vendor situation, meet and greet, and generally just relax until it’s time for us to head into the ring.  About 20 minutes before ring time I’ll check in with the ring steward and pick up my armband.

If I have Clover with me, then right before we head to the ring, I’ll put her up on the grooming table, mist her coat with some water, and use a blowdryer to blow out the coat real quick to remove any last-minute shedding and fluff her up a bit.  I’m not trying to style her coat any (not necessary with Canaans), just freshen her up a bit.  Loki will just need to have any loose hair brushed off his back a few seconds before he goes into the ring.

I see a lot of people that show up at their ring WAY early with their dogs (why, Wolfhound people, why do you do this?) and I try to avoid that.  I’ve been taught it’s better to keep your dog relaxed and fresh for as long as possible; don’t tire them out with the hustle and bustle near the ring.  If Loki goes in at 12:45, I want to get him to the ring at 12:40.  A few minutes for him to settle before we go in is all he needs.  He’ll pee on the way to the ring, so when he goes in, he’s all emptied out and can focus on doing his job.

If you have a dog that is especially anxious, you might find it helpful to walk them around the show site before your ring time, but if not, then it does not do your dog any favors to wait around the ring for half an hour before you show.  They’ll just be tired and bored, and boredom is a bad thing, because it leads to acting out, inside the ring and outside the ring.  At outdoor sites, it gets very crowded under the tents and there’s no reason to add to the crowd with your dogs before it’s time.  Plus, if you want to watch another breed being judged, you’ll have an easier time of it if you’re not having to keep your dog out of everyone’s way.


Finally, it’s time to take your dog into the ring.  Listen to the ring steward who will call out armband numbers for each class.  That’s the order you should arrange yourselves inside the ring.  If you paid attention to what the judge was doing with the dogs ahead of yours, you should have noted where the judge will want you to set up your dog, and what their ring pattern will be (whether they want you to go straight down and back, or at a diagonal to them; if they want you to gait the dog around the ring before setting up, or if they want to look at the dog first, and so on).  Try to not crowd the exhibitor in front of you, and when gaiting try to not run your dog up on theirs.  If you’re showing a bitch who is in season, it’s polite to let your judge know before the exam starts, and to let your fellow exhibitors know as well.

After your class finishes and you exit the ring, try to not block the ring entrance as you wait with your dog if you are going back in for the Winners class.  Other classes need to be able to enter and exit the ring without tripping over you.  Watch the judging, but also watch your fellow exhibitors, especially the professional handlers; they know all the ways to show a dog to its best advantage and you could learn something to help your dog.

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Seven Great Quotes About Good Dogs

“I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we werent certain we knew better. They fight for honor at the first challenge, make love with no moral restraint, and they do not for all their marvelous instincts appear to know about death. Being such wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they need us to do their worrying.” — George Bird Evans, Troubles with Bird Dogs

via Seven Great Quotes About Good Dogs | SportingClassicsDaily.

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life is better when your paws are muddy